11/6/12

Donate money to me to save the earth!


Left: Planet Earth (as seen from Earth)

Massive hurricanes, super tornadoes, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, El Nino, floods, mudslides, mass extinction of species... each and every one of us is all too aware of the horrendous and tragic calamities befalling planet earth each day as a direct consequence of the effects of global warming and climate change. The good news is, all of those problems can be solved if we throw tons of money at them. But how do we begin? What can we do? Where do we send our much needed donations? Well, every great journey begins with a single modest step. So take that first step, dig deep into your pockets, and send me as much money as you can so I can then donate that money to all the relevant and absolutely legitimate earth-saving charities and organizations around the world.

I know I know, this looks like another one of those websites that ask you for money. Well, this is not one of those! Ok, yes, technically I am asking you for money on a website, but it's only so I can donate that money to worldwide relief organizations that are dear to my heart. Take my word for it, this is different. When it comes to getting your money to the right people, I'm your guy. I've done the research, I know what's legit. Whether it be organizations like the Center for Overhauling Nature (CON), or Living In Ecology (LIE), or one of my favorites, Seeking Conservation Answers for Mother (SCAM) Earth, there are plenty of organizations out there which I can donate money to on your behalf and which definitely do exist. These organizations that I certainly didn't just make up off the top of my head are so legitimate that they can't even be Googled, because they are so committed to their non-profit credentials that they don't even want to be listed on a major search engine like Google that relies on advertising for close to 90% of its annual revenue. That should prove to you the legitimacy of these 100% real organizations that are obviously in it for no reason other than to save the earth and humankind, and which, like I said, exist for sure.

But what if you don't have any money to spare for all those worthwhile charities? No matter! Why not donate clothes instead, preferably size L t-shirts and size 32-33 pants along with size 43 shoes, though 42 1/2 would be ideal... or even Adidas sneakers, because some people really like Adidas? It could be literally anything, even tennis rackets could help save the environment! Anyone with a Head Ti titanium series mid-plus L5 with 4 1/2 inch grip, say, would be more than welcome to donate. Or what about donating your old computer, something a bit bigger than an HP Mini 110 netbook, preferably an old Macbook Pro? Seriously, there are any number of things you can donate to charity through me: two movie tickets to see Skyfall, Kindle gift cards from Amazon, your old iPhone 4S or iPad 2, maybe a Playstation, dinner for two at any fancy Istanbul restaurant, plane tickets anywhere from Istanbul, a larger fridge, a counter-top oven, maybe even a new duvet, something thin and light that breathes well, perhaps 85% goose down and 15% feather, with a tog range of say 4.5 to 8, something that could save someone a long and expensive cab ride out to IKEA or Habitat? Seriously, you could donate anything! It's a small price to save the earth, so start looking around the house to see what you can give to me so I can pass it on to charity, but maybe send me a photo first so I can tell you if charity could actually use what you're going to send them because I know exactly what charity needs and what charity doesn't need. For example, try not to send any flannel shirts, because I think charity has enough flannel shirts as it is, and might even be considering giving away some of its own flannel shirts... oh, but of course they're going to give them away, they're charity! Silly me!

Two things charity really likes are old books and even food that's just sitting in your fridge and which you're not eating but which hasn't gone bad yet either. Charity could definitely use those. Charity will read and eat virtually anything. Also, now that I think of it, socks and underwear are also always appreciated by charity, as is gym membership anywhere near Istiklal avenue in Beyoglu, Istanbul, for example.

Our fragile planet is in dire straits. We can't just wait for the next Hurricane Sandy to come along before we take action. Let's not just sit around till the polar bears are dead and gone, or until we deplete our planet's last remaining tropical rainforests. It's time to take action NOW. All you need to do is write an email to john_peters344@yahoo.com and we will send you our account details at the First National Bank of Nigeria so you can begin donating today! My Nigerian associates John Peters and Michael Edwards guarantee that your donations will be partly channeled directly to me via an anonymous private savings account at a major Turkish bank, and partly through various Nigerian environmental NGOs, all of which will be passed on to all the relevant earth-saving environmentalist charities around the world in due course! If you're not planning on donating money but are planning on donating any of the items I mentioned above like clothes or food or tennis rackets, then send an email to wowtag-bon8@hotmail.com so I can provide you with contact information concerning the name and address where you can send your donations.

Do NOT try to contact me directly!

11/5/12

Being a great nation is all about believing in yourself


Being a great person isn't just about having great looks, shiny hair, nice clothes or a great smile. Being great is about believing you're great. Would you let anybody tell you otherwise? Of course not. Everybody has greatness within them, you just have to believe in yourself, believe in your greatness, and then you will be great.

The same principle also holds true for nations. Just as being a great person doesn't involve having fancy expensive possessions like cars or money, great nationhood doesn't involve just having fancy institutions, like a system of political checks and balances, or an independent judiciary, or a free and fair electoral process, an accountable government, a free press, freedom of speech, respect for minorities, human rights and all that superficial nonsense. Great nationhood involves one thing and one thing only: believing you are a great nation. I will take as an example Turkic countries, because if there's one nation that believes in its greatness, it's Turks. Ask any Turk, including me, and we will tell you we're the greatest nation on earth. We believe we're number one, and that's what counts.

A person may have a wonky eye, big ears, a limp or a speech impediment... well so what? Your state may imprison journalists, or torture political dissidents, or silence opposition, or repress its people, or use state institutions to forward its own governing clique's ideological agenda, or murder opponents, or tap people's phones, or dismiss international law when it suits its interests, or arm clandestine terrorist cells, or oppress minorities and women, or engage in shameless nepotism and cronyism, or disregard even the most basic human rights for the sake of its own power interests... well too bad! Does that mean anybody has the right to say they are not awesome? Of course not! All you have to do is believe in yourself as a nation and stand by your nation state, just as you would an individual, and always think positive.

But how do you stay positive? How do you keep your self-esteem? What makes us Turks so successful in this regard? Here are some things the rest of the world can learn from us:

1) Build really big things
That's right, the bigger the better. How about aiming to build the world's tallest building, like in Azerbaijan? Or building the world's largest indoor ferris wheel, like in Turkmenistan? Or what about a whole artificial city with big shiny lights and a whole bunch of bright colors like Astana in Kazakhstan? Or one of the largest shopping malls in the world, in Turkey? Or the world's largest golden statue, again in Turkmenistan? You know what all those big things mean? They mean WE ARE THE BIGGEST AND THE BEST. Case closed. Big monuments = big belief = GREATNESS.

2) Have a president for life
Aliyev, Karimov, Nazarbayev, Niyazov, Berdimukhammedov, and soon Erdogan... All great examples of how once you have a leader, you have him for life. Nothing is as reassuring for a nation as knowing that you don't need to keep wondering who's going to lead you. It's one less issue to worry about. Change the constitution if you have to, just make sure you have one supreme leader until he dies and passes power down to his son or hand-picked deputy. Nothing says self-belief like knowing who your leader is and sticking with him forever.

3) Ignore negativity, focus on the positive
Let's face it, somebody's always going to say "Ooooh, you tortured so and so number of dissidents!" or "Oh no, you have the largest number of arrested journalists in the world!" or "Gee whiz, your elections are a sham!" or "You're squandering your petro-money on ostentation while your people live in poverty, ignorance and fear!" or "Golly, you imprisoned hundreds of people following show trials based on clearly falsified evidence!" Well it's important to block out other nations' negativity. Just block that right out. What would you do if someone came up to you and said all that negative stuff to your face? "You have bad hair!" or "Ew, look at your zits!" You would just smile and say "Well I believe I'm GREAT!" Good for you! That's what nations should also do. Look at Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey or Turkmenistan. Do you think they have any self-esteem issues? Of course not, because they BELIEVE in themselves.

4) Remember, everyone's just jealous of you
You know where all that negativity comes from, right? Other nations are jealous of you. Imagine you're at a party and you overhear someone spreading bad rumors about you. What do you do? You simply dismiss it, because they're only jealous of your power. Same with nations. Just believe in yourself and all that negativity will fall by the wayside. Believe in what you're doing and don't let other nations try and change you and bring you down just because they're jealous of you. Simply dismiss what the rest of the world says, because you're Number One!

5) Rewrite history
When you read history, you can come across some nasty slanders against your nation. Well guess who wrote all that slander? Foreigners who hate you because they're jealous of you and want to be you but they can't so they say mean things about you instead to try and bring you down but you shouldn't let them because you're better than that because you believe in yourself. Do they accuse you of genocide? Accuse them of genocide back! Or just say YOU were the target of genocide. Just flip it on them. Do they say you massacred this and burnt that and oppressed those? Deny it and say you did the exact opposite. Simple as that! After all, it's just history, you can say whatever you want and then print it all in a single textbook that you can make all your children read and memorize so they maintain their all-important belief in their own greatness for the rest of their lives.

6) Be self-critical without being self-loathing
Ok, sometimes it's important to be able to be critical of yourself, but don't confuse that with self-hatred. After all, nobody's perfect. Sure, you might have massacred so and so or abused power in such and such a way or wrongfully imprisoned these and those, but doesn't that happen everywhere? Sure it does. Why be so hard on yourself? Nobody's perfect. Focus on the positives, like isn't your football team winning? Or don't you have one of the biggest armed forces in the region? Don't you build frigates and fighter jets? Isn't your economy bigger than your neighbors'?

7) It's just a conspiracy
You're great, you're fine, so then why are there people in your country who aren't happy with some things? Why are there people in your nation who seem so critical about their own nation? Why are there those who seem as negative about your nation as jealous foreigners are? Relax. They are being negative because they've been brainwashed by those jealous foreigners into becoming discontented with themselves. In other words, they've succumbed to negativity by letting foreigners convince them that their nation isn't perfect. All you have to do is ignore them, or better yet, help them see the positive side of things with a little help from some positive institutions, like the police or state prosecutors or patriotic and nationalist associations.

8) Repeat after me: God is on MY side
That's right, everybody claims God is on their side, but God is actually on YOUR side. YOU are correct, and those who do not believe in the things you do are INCORRECT and not to be trusted, and may even need to be corrected. Proof? Look deep inside yourself, think about what you believe in and hold dear... does that seem fake? Does that seem insincere? Of course not! It feels true, it feels right, doesn't it? That's because it IS. If it weren't true, then how could you feel deep down that it was? How could most of your nation (apart from traitors) be wrong for believing in the same thing?

9) Acquire legitimacy through money and geography
Got a whole bunch of money from oil and gas? Got geo-strategic importance? Use those as leverage to gain admittance to international organizations because other nations need to buy your energy or need an ally in that particular piece of geography and can't afford to NOT turn a blind eye to the things they (unfairly) criticize you of in the first place. Remember, EVERY country is run by opportunistic hypocrites who would easily overlook ethical considerations for the sake of their state power apparatus' interests. Relax, yours isn't the only hypocritical opportunistic criminal state in the world you know!

10) Say one thing, do something else
Say you support free and fair elections then imprison all the negative people in your nation who might cast a shadow over your greatness. Say you support women's rights but then turn a blind eye to gendercide and promote religious beliefs and traditions that limit women's role in public. Say you support Palestinian/East Turkestani/Burmese Muslim/ethnic Turkish rights in countries where they're oppressed but turn a blind eye to people oppressed in your own and other Muslim countries. Meddle in the affairs of foreign countries like Syria, Israel and Iraq, but cause an uproar when other nations criticize you, accusing them of meddling in your own internal affairs.

11) Claim every other nation is related to you 
Us Turks are good at this, we can claim that Hungarians, Finns, Japanese, American Indians, Kurds, Sumerians, Hittites, you name it, are all originally Turks, and we can do it with a straight face. Even our school textbooks say so. We even claim that Adam (of "first guy in the world" fame) was Turkish! Why not? Just BELIEVE. Balkan nations are already good at this, Serbs claim Sanskrit is Serbian, Bulgarians claim everyone's Bulgarian, Greeks think the sun shines out of Greece's ass. So why not do the same with your nation? That way, if anyone criticizes you, you can say "Hey, you're a Turk [or whatever your nationality is] too you know!" Handy!

12) Tell people if they don't like their nation they can leave...
...or be imprisoned. Give them a choice. Remember to keep plugging the notion that the government represents the will of the people and your dear leader is the father of your nation.

Follow those steps, and you're on your way to becoming a great nation!

10/25/12

Life advice from a powerboat journalist


As an international powerboat racing commentator and journalist, I'm used to being approached by people everywhere I go asking me for answers to some of life's most difficult questions. Where is my life going? What does it all mean? What is the secret to happiness? I'm not saying I have all the answers, but, being a powerboat journalist, I think it's clear that I have one or two things to say on such matters. So, with an aim to sharing with others the life wisdom that naturally comes with any form of professional involvement in maritime motorsport media, I've compiled for you a list of questions that I typically encounter when I'm away on one of my powerboat Grand Prix weekends. I have answered each one as best my humble powerboat journalism skills and experience have served me.

Dear Powerboat Journalist,

I'm 37 years old and I feel like I'm stuck in a dead-end job, although I can't complain about my salary, and I also have a 401k along with medical coverage, including dental. But I've been in this company for ten years now and I wonder if I shouldn't pursue my dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker while I'm still young. What do you think I should do? - Dave, 37, Selena Heights, OH.

Dear Dave,

I'm glad you asked me this question. With over five years experience in Class 1, F1H2O, Aquabike and F1 Nations Cup world championship series media coverage, I like to think I've learned a thing or two about this crazy aquatic motorsport race we call Life. Basically, from what I understand, you have a successful and longstanding career founded upon a tried and true propeller and gear set-up that guarantees a well-balanced acceleration-to-top speed ratio around the average seven-to-twelve lap race circuit that I will use as a metaphor for life, if you don't mind. The problem is -- and correct me if I'm wrong here -- this: Do you choose a smaller prop to pick up acceleration, forsaking overall speed in the process, or do you go for a larger prop that may not be so fast around those sharp 45-to-90 degree turns that life throws at you in the form of yellow and green buoys, but which will guarantee high top speeds overall as you cut the distance down gradually with those boats -- or "colleagues" -- up ahead and maintain a comfortable lead from those chasing you from the back of the pack? Look, every powerboat driver (and person in general) has the same dilemma in life. You just have to pick the prop and gear ratio that's right for you on the day, depending on water, wind and weather conditions, and whether or not you're racing on a lake, an inshore circuit, or an offshore course. Each is a challenge in its own right, and each is very demanding on your boat... of life. The boat of life. So my advice to you is to take it day-by-day, if not hour-by-hour, and keep trying and changing different prop-gear set-ups that best suit you in life. Good luck.


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

I'm a divorced 43 year-old mother of three. As I've gotten older and the kids of grown and gone off to college and moved out of the house, I've found myself feeling like my life has no meaning or purpose anymore. I've tried hobbies, but I just find myself picking up a pastime half-heartedly and then quitting in frustration or boredom a few weeks later. I feel like there's just a big gaping hole inside me and sometimes I think there's no point in living anymore. What should I do? - Jane, 43, Plimpton, NJ

Dear Jane,

I know exactly where you're coming from, and I think I can help. I like to think of life as a super-fast dual-hull two-ton fiberglass powerboat catamaran. At some point in life we all find ourselves strapped into a powerboat canopy gliding gracefully along the surface of the water at average top speeds of over 160-170 kilometers-an-hour, depending on how choppy the conditions are, and they can be pretty choppy, as you well know. Sure, everything seems to be going smoothly as we race along without a care in that inertial bubble of bliss. But when you think about it, at the center of every catamaran is a big gaping hole, much like the hole you may sometimes feel inside yourself. But Jane, remember: you need this hole, because this hole is not just a hole, it is a wind tunnel. The air that passes over your hull when you're hitting speeds as high as 200 kilometers an hour keeps the boat from flying off into the air, and the air that passes under the boat gives you an air cushion that provides significant lift with which just a few inches at the very back of your hull touches the water, enabling you to glide smoothly over the surface of the water of life, buoyed by that emptiness that you once thought was a curse. The trick in life is to find the right speed where you can get into "the zone" that enables you to glide along as if you were floating in the air. So use that hole inside you, Jane, use it, and increase your own chances of making it to the podium of life where they will play your national anthem and hand you a trophy as the reward for a race well-raced. Remember, what you find inside you is not a hole at all... it is an air tunnel to success, a success that may even win you the 2013 UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship title (although probably not, because you're a 43 year old housewife who's never raced before, so realistically your chances of becoming a Class 1 world champion, or champion in any motorsport really, are zero-to-slim, but I'm just using that example figuratively to indicate that you can do anything you set your mind to... almost anything, anyway). Hope that helps!


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

My eight year-old son has recently developed a fascination for trains. Everything is train this and train that. He's now in third grade and I'm worried he's not paying enough attention to his schoolwork. Also he's having trouble making friends as he's often off playing with his toy trains by himself instead. The only thing he ever wants us to buy him are train sets! Help! - Elena, 36, Wingham, Mo.

Dear Elena,

This is confusing. Why would anybody be into trains when they could be into powerboats? It doesn't make any sense. How fast does a train go, honestly? Definitely not as fast as a powerboat. I ask you, has your little boy ever seen a Class 1 boat? We're talking aerodynamic catamarans with fighter jet canopies powered by twin 1500 horsepower Lamborghini V12 bad boys. Meanwhile, your kid's fascinated by something that requires coal being shoveled into a furnace. Have fun with that. Also, powerboats don't need tracks to move around on. They can go pretty much anywhere AND they can do it on water AND they can do it really fast. That's why they wear helmets in powerboats. The only person wearing a helmet anywhere near a train is your retarded son clapping moronically every time his choo choo train passes a miniature tree in Loserville. I suggest you and your nerdy son move to someplace with a sea, quick.


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

When are you going to find a real job, get married, and give me a grandchild? - Your mom, Istanbul, Turkey.

Dear mom,

This is so embarrassing, and not cool at all. This is an ADVICE COLUMN, not a griping board. So my advice to you is to stop griping about that stuff all the time, and especially here, OK? Just because all my friends are married and have kids and proper jobs doesn't mean I have to as well. Life is not a race. OK, yes, I know that sounds confusing considering how I'm always comparing life to a powerboat race, so when I now say life isn't a race it sounds like I'm being a hypocrite, I get that. But in this case it really isn't a powerboat race. You know why? Because in powerboat races, when the team manager is constantly yapping away about when to do the penalty lap or take the long lap or relaying important tactical advice regarding the race at hand through a wireless receiver connected to the racer's helmet, he's not throwing in shit like "Oh, by the way, are you planning on having a kid some time soon so we can see some grandkids in our lifetime?" So as you can see, this is one of those rare cases where powerboat racing is NOT like life AT ALL.


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

My girlfriend and I have been together for three years now, and although we love each other, I'm not sure if I want to continue with this relationship. I feel like the spark is gone, but I'm also afraid that I might regret it if I broke up with her. Maybe I'll be throwing away a good thing, but I just don't realize it now? What should I do? - Eric, 29, London, U.K.

Dear Eric,

This is quite a conundrum, and one I am all too familiar with. Basically you're asking whether you should stick with the two-pilot throttleman-driver combo in Class 1, or whether you should go solo and try your luck in a single-seat F1H2O or F1 Nation's Cup powerboat. On the one hand, you have a relationship built on trust, where one partner is in complete control of throttle and trimming duties, while the other's job is to steer the boat; but on the other hand, you can throttle, trim and steer the whole thing yourself in a single-seat F1H2O boat, despite knowing that you're all alone out there, with no-one to share a cockpit with. Powerboat offers many examples of those who have either left their partner to pursue a solo career, or who have been ground down by the loneliness of life racing in a single-seater, seeking instead the warmth and companionship of a racing partner to share those precious racing moments and memories with. For example, take multiple F1H2O world championship-winner Guido Cappellini of Italy... yes, THE Guido Cappellini. We're talking no less than ten world championships, which makes him the most successful F1H2O racer of all time. He was a star on the single circuit, partying it up on podiums all sticky with champagne as the Italian national anthem blared from loudspeakers following every one of his grand prix wins. And yet he grew sick of it all, leaving the F1H2O tour behind to take up a partnership in a cozy DAC Racing Team cockpit alongside his Poliform Spirit of Gabon teammate and throttleman Giampaolo Montavoci. But then, on the other hand, consider Norwegian sensation Marit Stromoy, also an accomplished F1H2O racer, who tried her luck on the Class 1 tour, only to leave after just one grand prix and return to single life in an F1H2O cockpit again, where she was obviously more at home. Of course, there are others who manage both Class 1 and F1H2O duties, like Majed Al Mansoori or Rashed Al Tayer from Abu Dhabi. They are among those lucky few who have managed to balance single life in F1 with a long-lasting and rewarding partnership in Class 1. So, all in all, there is no one correct answer to this question, everyone has a different path to success. Good luck with your choice Eric, whether it be F1 or Class 1, or both.


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

WTF?! In my last email I asked you for advice regarding my 13-year-old child's schooling and whether my taking up a job in another city would be too disruptive to her at this stage in her life, as it would mean she would have to leave behind her friends and the place she's grown up in all her life while having to start again in a new place and adjust to a whole new environment. But instead of addressing that question, you wrote back telling me some shit about how there is no significant difference between the performance of V12s and V8s in Class 1, although the V12's have a higher torque range, even though V8s have superior RPM!!!?? What does that even mean?! - Frustrated Dad, Brisbane, Australia.

Dear Frustrated Dad,

First of all, nice name you've got there. Secondly, what's not to understand? The ampler torque range means those V12s get in and out of turns a couple split seconds quicker than the boats with V8 powerplants, and while that might not seem like much, if you add up how many turns there are per your average ten-lap race with about an average of eight turn buoys per lap, you'll realize why most of the boats out there in Class 1 use V12s, and why they have been significantly more successful than the V8s, especially in the last ten years. Honestly, I don't know why you're making me repeat this when my previous email was quite explicit regarding this crucial aspect of Class 1 engines. I hope we're finally clear on this point!


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

I am an avid Class 1 follower, and I'm especially a big fan of the greatest Class 1 racing duo of all time... I am of course referring to Bjorn Gjelsten of Norway and Steve Curtis of the U.K. They won no less than six world titles together in the Spirit of Norway team. What I want to know is why Steve Curtis is always referred to by you as the "most successful racer of all time" when he won all his world titles alongside Gjelsten, yet has failed to achieve any world titles with other drivers. Should we not then consider the greatest Class 1 racer of all time to be a tie between Steve Curtis and Bjorn Gjelsten? - Anonymous, 60, Oslo, Norway.

Dear Anonymous,

Come on Bjorn, this is obviously you again. You've been sending me the same email every week. Stop it. Also, like I keep having to remind you, Curtis won the 2005 world title with Bard Eker, so that disproves your point that he could only win a world title with you in the driver's seat. If you can't deal with this, then boo-fucking-hoo. By the way, I found a picture of you I thought would be nice to share with readers:


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

What makes you think a powerboat journalist is in any way, shape or form considered capable of answering questions usually reserved only for trained psychologists? - Ahmad, 24, Doha, Qatar.

Dear Ahmad,

If there's one thing I've learned from my years of powerboat journalism, it's that powerboat racing is ALL ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY. That's right, it's all in the mind. Commentating and writing about it? Doubly so. It's a mental game out there, and if you don't have the right mindset, that's the difference between winning and losing. As a powerboat journalist, my job is to get into the mind of the racer. Once you get into the mind of a racer, you think like him, and once you think like him, you can BE him. And let's face it, once you ARE a racer, how hard could it be to get into the mind of, say, a troubled housewife, or a confused teenager? Pfff that would be easy as fuck compared to getting into the mind of an awesome steely-nerved powerboat daredevil. The latter is hurtling over an undulating liquid surface at 200 kilometers an hour risking life and limb... what's a confused teenager or a housewife doing? Worrying about math? Stressing over what dinner to prepare their husband when he gets home? Yeah, that sounds like a challenge!


Dear Powerboat Journalist,

Race boats are very big and heavy. How do they float and not sink? - James, 4, Surrey, U.K.

Dear James,

That's a great question, but I'm a powerboat journalist, not a scientist. I am also not Albert Einstein, nor am I God. So I don't know by what magic a big huge two-ton boat can float around on water. How did Jesus walk on water? We'll never know. I will, however, forward this question on to some kind of water and/or boat expert.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading the world's most popular advice column by a powerboat journalist!

10/10/12

9/2/12

Great books with awful sex


Below are excerpts of terrible sexual passages that I came across while reading otherwise great books. It just goes to show, no work of art is perfect.

Left: The Pride and Prejudice lesbian orgy passage came second in tastelessness only to Elizabeth Bennet's disturbing boudoir flick-off 

From "Fiesta, The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway 
"He took out his penis. It was a fine penis. It was hard and fine. She looked at his penis. She thought a penis was a fine thing, good and fine. And long. The matador's was a long penis. Good, fine and long. It was a man's penis. Most penises are. They embraced. His penis was erect. It was squeezed up between their two bellies as they embraced, like a fine penis-and-belly sandwich. It pushed into her belly. It was a fine embrace, fine and long, although the penis was probably feeling a little squished. The man who loved her watched secretly from behind the partition, in his wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. He did not have an erect penis. He could not have an erect penis. It was not good or fine. He was pretty pissed."

From "Notes From Underground" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
"Hah! So she thought she had me in her snare! But I have her in mine! I'll show her! I'll move in and take her, I'll ravish and grab her, she will experience the pleasures that I have in store for her and then... oh no... ooooh... hrgghhh... hmph... aaah... damn it, not again, I got all excited, and now this! A big wet patch in my breeches? Never fear! It can happen to the best of us, so it can happen to me too... I'll still show them! It happens to all men! Curse all men, yes, curse them all! Yes, it's no big deal, right Natasha? Right? Oh, you don't care? Ok, fine. How much do I owe you? Really? That's highway robbery, I mean technically we didn't even have sex, not together anyway... ok ok, take it easy, no need to call Boris, here's the money."

From "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
"As I lay supine in my boudoir, my imagination got the better of me, and I could heretofore only presume that Mr. Darcy would consider it pleasingly germane, if not flattering, that, with thoughts of him afresh in my mind, I had taken the liberty of removing my corset and exposing my bare breasts so indiscreetly despite my complete privacy as to cause somewhat of an instantaneous gush in my demeanor, which, when augmented by furious fondling as I pictured his arrogant yet now somewhat charming mien, had enabled me to overcome my feelings of disdain and reserve, and I felt I had softened as much in heart as in body, such that if love were a moist rolling wave of wet velvet drapes, he would be the first invited to push them aside and let me bask in the light of a... a... feverish, fervent frottage... oh god... oh yes... OH GOD OH GOD YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES"

From "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
"Alice was feeling flustered. That curious looking caterpillar had got her super stoned with his funny looking bong, and the mushroom she ate was starting to space her way the fuck out. The Cheshire Cat was like 'Dude, seriously, you're tripping balls' but Alice had had enough of it all and suddenly felt sad on her comedown. So she cried and she cried until a sea of tears had welled up all around her. Then she took all her clothes off and went skinny dipping in her own tears, which is like, whoa, pretty deep symbolism and all... Anyway, so then she's all naked and the mock turtle, swept up by the rapid flood of tears, swims right into her, I mean literally right into her, man, and Alice was all 'Oh dear!' and the mock turtle was like 'muffle muffle muffle'."

From "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick
"He wasn't sure if she was an android or a human. She was a Type-6, you just couldn't tell, except through a special psychological test that only a few detectives were experienced enough to give. He moved in tentatively and kissed her lips. They were warm, like a real woman's lips. He moved his hand down and cupped her breasts. They were supple and firm, just like a woman's breasts. He ran his fingers through her hair, smooth and silky. Sure enough, it was like a real woman's hair. He then ran his hand down to her buttocks, they were soft and fleshy, just like a woman's buttocks... except that he noticed the electrical cord running from between her legs to a socket in the wall where she was plugged in. Wait a minute, he thought, there's something fishy going on here. Then one of her eyes sprang right out of her head, going 'BOING!' and just bouncing around in the air on the end of a spring coil. This isn't quite right, he thought. Steam started piping out of her ears. Then she started doing the robot dance, hands Karate-chopping through the air as she bent up and down turning her head left and right, repeating over and over in a metallic voice 'I AM A ROBOT, I AM A ROBOT, I AM A ROBOT' He knew something was up, but what? Maybe he could find out what it was by making love to her? They had sex, it was like having sex with a real woman... except maybe for the spring coil eye, the steam still piping out of the ear, the Karate-chopping arms, electric cord running out from her legs, and her strange bed talk, which went 'OH YES, DO ME BINARY STYLE, ZERO ONE ZERO ONE ZERO ONE ZERO ONE IN OUT IN OUT IN OUT ZERO ONE ZERO ONE' This is odd, he thought..."


From "In Search of Lost Time" by Marcel Proust
"If she had been inclined from the first to ensnare me with her sedulous charms, I could only perceive a delinquency on my part for not having inquired why she would bother to enact so fervently a melodrama of the highest order -- one so reminiscent of a Coubert one-act set against the backdrop of an inferior early period Adomblie sampling, or perhaps more in line with a Rembart 'Mistletoe Tryst' -- that it was now past even my own reckoning as to who was leading on who, and besides, Madame Camembert was in on the thing all along, yet I couldn't help but wonder, if the eloquent flow of my tedious sentences didn't at least intimate -- if not disconceal (for want of a better, and more real, dissertation) -- the fact that I did not have the least intention of lasciviousness regarding her exquisite feminine airs, considering the fact that I am super, super gay."


From "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville
"The male sperm whale produces powerful clicks to attract the female sperm whale. Once she has chosen her partner, usually the larger of competing males, her genitoanal slit at the base of the belly near the tailstock will contract, and the nipples on either side of her genitoanal slit will harden. The male's penis protrudes from its genital slit, midway between the anal slit and the navel. Increased blood pressure and muscle contractions lead to an erection in the male, and the two sperm whales copulate belly to belly as the male inserts his penis into the female to deposit his sperm. All of which is very odd, considering a whale is a fish."

From "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac
"Ew, gross, I had sex with Allen Ginsberg! Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck, shower shower shower, I have to wash myself clean, I have to wash myself clean... How the hell did he convince me to do that? Eeeeew, I feel so dirty! I gotta get back to one of my wives... I can't get the image of his beard off my dick. So gross!"

From "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte 
"Come here Catherine, you bitch! I'm going to stomp the living shit out of your spoilt little face! Where the fuck are you, you brat? I hope you like it rough! Maybe this fist in your face will change your mind? Beg for mercy! Say 'No, please Heathcliff, let me go'. Fat fucking good it'll do you! You wanted a torrid, steamy, passionate love affair, right? Well here it is, on the end of my boot as it connects with your dainty little chin! I don't care if you're a ghost! Fuck you! Fuck the world! I will butt-rape EVERYONE!"

From "Ulysses" by James Joyce
"Cunt"

4/27/12

Could one of these be the next Harry Potter?


Ten brilliant billion-dollar children's book and movie franchise ideas!

The Harry Potter book and movie series did wonders for the self-esteem of depressed unemployed car-dwelling single mothers writing children's books on napkins all over the world. Now that JK Rowling showed it can indeed be done, here are some ideas for what may prove to be the next hit children's fantasy franchise, with a little less of all that silly wizardry and a little more something pretty much almost exactly along those same lines actually.

Above: Hortense Cumberbatch is on the case!

1) Barry Cotter and the Thinker's Rock
Young orphaned magician Barry Cotter discovers a magic gateway to a magician's school called Pigzits where he befriends a young Penn and Teller as they learn magic from douchy magicians with mullets and capes, mastering tricks like pulling a rabbit out of a hat and sawing an assistant in two. They thwart an attempted comeback by the evil magician Lord Copperfield, who killed Barry's parents with boredom when Barry was one year old, and somehow magic-tricked Claudia Schiffer into marrying him, all with the help of another magician, Gob Bluth, whose own magic tricks -- or "illusions" as he calls them -- save the day at Pigzits thanks to his special "unseeability blanket", a.k.a. the Aztec Tomb. Any resemblance to the Harry Potter storyline is purely coincidental.

2) Hortense Cumberbatch and the Myopic Mugwump
Mike Leigh's unforgettable children's character from Secrets and Lies, Hortense Cumberbatch is back! This time the orphaned optometrist has to crack the case of a mysterious near-sighted tergiversating politician from 1884 who can't figure out which side of the political "spectrum" he's on until Cumberbatch saves the day, building him a pair of "perspectacles" with which to gain a more "long-range view" of his and his nation's political interests as he "sees" that Grover Cleveland is the best man for the job! Cumberbatch's success silences her "myopic" critics, who are perplex(iglass)ed! Also, she hates herself in the mirror.

3) Gregor Samsa and the Penal Colony
A hilarious melange of beloved children's author Franz Kafka's adorable Gregor Samsa from the Metamorphosis on the one hand, and his enchanting tale In The Penal Colony on the other! Gregor Samsa wakes up to find himself a giant insect in a penal colony where his family disown him and eventually torture him to death with a machine that carves Samsa's crime into his exoskeleton, which, being chitin, is hard to penetrate, so then his assistants -- who are the two bouncing balls from Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor -- bounce repeatedly on the giant needle so as to gradually nail it into Samsa's body as he's ripped to shreds while "I AM A DIRTY BUG" is carved over and over, even after he's virtually disintegrated! This educative book will also introduce children to fun new words like entomomorphicide, meaning "the killing of those in insect form", and will have very graphic illustrations to help focus on the story! There's also a moral dimension to this tale that asks "Is it a crime to be a giant bug?" to which the answer is: OBVIOUSLY.

4) JK Rowling and the Napkins of Starbucks
A napkins-to-riches tale of a depressed down-and-out single mother and English literature graduate who, during a train ride from Manchester to London, finds inspiration to write a novel about a wizardry school on napkins in cafes. While going cafe to cafe in search of napkins to write on, she finds the perfect napkin, durable, firm, smooth and unyielding, in her least favorite cafe: Starbucks. As Rowling reconciles her love for these napkins with her hatred for an evil billion-dollar corporate franchise that gets rich off virtual slave labor and overpriced beverages, she finds the winning formula that propels her to launch her own billion-dollar franchise based on what she has written on the napkins of Starbucks. There is a happy ending, of course, as Starbucks and Rowling make a deal to join forces to create a successful merchandising deal whereby Starbucks creates Harry Potter-themed coffee mugs and also makes magic brooms handily available in every Starbucks establishment in case anybody who works there magically decides they'd like to clean the fucking toilets once in a while.

5) Topsy Turvy and the Upside Down People
Young Topsy Turvy's family have just moved into a new home and she's feeling lonely, until, after climbing her bookshelf to catch a pretty little butterfly that flitted into her room, she touches the ceiling and discovers that there is a whole other invisible upside down world of creatures who share the same house, and for whom the ceiling is their floor and Topsy Turvy's floor is their ceiling! Topsy Turvy makes friends with them, but nobody believes that this upside down world exists, and they tell her it's a figment of her imagination, which it is, because it turns out Topsy Turvy is demented and the book ends with her being committed to a children's mental asylum. This story will inspire kids all over the world to climb bookshelves and touch the ceiling in a misguided attempt to recreate the magic of the book! It's a recipe for success, and also maybe a few lawsuits.

6) Kallamazoo Shitfly and Splosh the Magic Shitbucket 
An endearing scatalogical story about a child who falls into a bucket of shit when he's just 2 years old, where he remains for three days because his alcoholic valium-addicted mother is passed out on the kitchen floor, dying of cirrhosis. While in the shitbucket, he forms a heartwarming fecal bond with the flies buzzing around him as they lick the shit off his face with their tiny little fly tongues (illustrations a must!). The flies become his shitty lifelong companions and Kallamazoo Shitfly always carries a magic bucket of shit around with him (whom he affectionately names Splosh) as they solve shitty mysteries and get into shitty adventures. The shitbucket has predictably shitty special powers. It changes form, shape, smell and texture to suit the shitty situation at hand (eg: when things go to shit, it turns semi-solid and hits the nearest fan, or when Kallamazoo and friends are in a shitty part of the world, it transforms into diarrhea and is very hard to control). The main idea here is shit, a billion dollars worth of shit.

7) Skeeter Granolaeater and the Hacky Sack of Hemp
Hippie hero Skeeter Granolaeater meets a circle of hippies from whom he hears of the fabled hacky sack of hemp, a magical ball with many uses, but he gets stoned instead and just hangs out and eats granola bars and completely forgets about the magic ball of hemp as he plays hacky sack all day with a normal old hacky sack. The End.

8) Inky McBlotter and the Messy Essay (Messay?)
There's ink all over this, so it's not even legible, but the title's pretty self-explanatory anyway.

9) Lord of the Flies
A children's book where children kill each other on an island!

10) I'm too bored to figure out a tenth one. So, I don't know... Farty McFart Fart and the Fart of Farts?

Ugh, what a waste of time.

4/23/12

A Dialogue on Existence



- I have a feeling I may not exist.

- Are you kidding?

- No seriously, I feel like I'm not here. I feel like I'm not anywhere.

- Well if it's just a feeling then it will probably pass.

- Maybe, but when I think about it, what proof is there?

- Proof?

- Yeah, I mean I may just be in a dream believing I'm real but no more real than anything anyone dreams. I mean, what's the proof I exist at all?

- I don't know, why do you need proof?

- Well, I think I'd like to be sure of something as important as whether I exist or not, wouldn't you?

- I guess not, I've never needed it before. It just seems unnecessary.

- Oh, so you think it's unnecessary to know whether or not you exist?

- Mmm, yeah. I mean, think of it this way, is there any proof you don't exist?

- Hm, I guess I couldn't prove that either...

- Right, so lack of proof that you exist doesn't necessarily mean you don't exist. It just means that maybe it's something you can't logically prove either way, and perhaps existence is proven because, paradoxically, it's not subject to proof.

- Hold on, that doesn't sound right. So you're saying absence of proof may be the proof I'm looking for that I exist?

- Well, no, not the proof you're looking for, but it just may be the indication that your existence is unique, and not subject to the rules of logic and reason and truth and certainty, at least not in the way that you think. Perhaps the fact that you're always inescapably at the center of your whole experience of life, a center which you can never extricate yourself from so as to see yourself with objective certainty the way you may think you see all else, perhaps that is the greatest indicator that there is someone who experiences the world, and that that vantage point from which it is experienced can only be you and nothing else. In other words, there must be someone, a subject, for there to be any experience at all. A tree can stand in the place of a house, a dog can stand in the place of a cat, a mountain may be where once was a river, but you and only you can be where the world is experienced, where the world exists all around you, and of which you are an inextricable part. So like I said, the fact that you can't stand outside your experience or your being to verify objectively your existence is itself all the proof you need, though like I said, it's not exactly the factual and empirical kind of proof that you're looking for.

- Then what good is it? What good is it if the dearest and most precious thing on earth, my, our, existence, cannot be proven, cannot be demonstrated as empirical fact, cannot be known for sure?

- Why's that such a big deal? Even if you're just a figment of some strange God or devil's imagination, that doesn't mean your life doesn't have any meaning. I mean, you, we, live as if there were meaning, as if we and the things we live amongst, this world we inhabit, were all real, all meaningful, right? There seems to be logical and temporal consistency to our lives, certain set patterns, rules of cause and effect, interwoven events connected through what has been, things that everyone can agree exist outside of us because they are shaped by all of us... events, memories, language. We can agree that that's a road, this is a bridge, that's the Empire State Building, and this language we communicate through is English. Everything seems to point to a world inhabited by you and others.

- Yes but that could just mean that the dreaming demon has conjured a very elaborate and perfectly constructed dream world of consistency in which each and every one of us has the illusion that we exist, a world in which all those memories, that language, those things we see, the roads we drive on, the laws of causation and physics, all of it may only have been plotted and planned out in an elaborate way to give the semblance of an organic and intricate wholeness, that is really just a world constructed within a mind of which we are mere figments of imagination, simulacra...

- You seem to overestimate the powers of one mind. A mind creates all the illusion of all the languages, all the stars and phenomena of the universe, right down to the quantum level, all the memories and events and histories that form the foundation for our existence... a mind creates all that? What kind of being could do that?

- God, obviously. Or a Godlike demon who wants to trick us. Perhaps a malicious God who's toying with us?

- But if this Godlike being were trying to trick us by not offering the requisite logical proof that we exist, wouldn't it actually be tricking itself? If anything, the joke would be on the God, not you. If the God has set out to create the perfect illusion that you exist but then fails to offer the necessary logical foundation that can prove that existence, isn't the God imperfect? I mean, God would be imperfect either in the sense that it created an imperfect world without logical proof of existence, or it created an imperfect world without the ability to enable its creation -- you and I -- to be logically tricked into the certainty of the creation. So either way you look at it, such a God must be imperfect. Yet you cannot imagine an imperfect God, because God is by definition perfect, therefore such a God is not God. And if only a God can create the sort of imaginary world you and I inhabit as simulacra, then it seems nothing has created such a world, or ever could create such a world, so therefore, the world is actually there, albeit still imperfect, but that's fine now, because once God is out of the equation, perfection is no longer an issue. It is an imperfect world with no proof of our existence, because proof is reliant on a sense of perfection -- in this case, the perfection of understanding the logical foundations of our existence -- and so in an imperfect world, it's precisely the lack of proof itself that is what "proves" our admittedly imperfect existence.

- Ok, that holds if we assume this illusory existence was the work of a God, but what if it were a malicious demon? A malicious demon bent on tricking us that we exist, toying with us?

- Well then maybe you could fall back on the Cartesian cogito: I think, therefore I am.

- Well, that doesn't work either. Something thinks, yes, because we can't deny there is a thought of our existence, but who's to say that thought is my thought? Who's to say it's not I who thinks I'm thinking, but is actually a malicious demon making me think I'm thinking, when really both I and my thought are thoughts conjured in the head of the demon?

- Well then there's an equivalence of value by which you would be proven to exist. Here's how, it's simple: You accept the thought is there, whether it be yours or the demon's, correct?

- Yes.

- Well if the thought is true, regardless of there still being doubt as to the origins of that thought, then it follows that if you consider a thought of the malicious and duplicitous demon to be true, you must then assume any thought of the demon must have an equivalent chance of being true -- after all, the demon is tricky and trying constantly to fool you. Therefore, if the thought "one thinks therefore one is" is true in the duplicitous demon's mind which you inhabit, then it's just as likely that "I think, therefore I am" is also true, as this statement also is conjured in the same demon's mind. If there is an absolute equivalence of meaning, and if some thinking thing must exist because there's no doubt that the thought of existing exists, then it follows that there is as likely a chance that you exist as does the demon. So which of the two seems more likely then to exist? You, whom I see here before me, thinking and speaking, or some demon? I will pick you.

- Ok, but that still doesn't prove I exist, there's still doubt, right? It could, logically, still be the demon that thinks and exists. It's improbable, sure, but not impossible.

- Yeah, but it's also not impossible that you are a unicorn in human disguise. But do you doubt you are a human based on the slim possibility that you may be a unicorn in human disguise?

- I guess not, no, but it still doesn't satisfy me that I can't prove I exist. I think I think, therefore I think I must exist, but what if another thinks instead and tricks me into thinking it is I who thinks?

- Well then think of it this way: you will never prove your existence, nor should you try. You cannot stand outside of yourself and the world and say, from an objective standpoint, "There I am, I see me there, I must exist". But you can see yourself in the world, in existence, in and amongst the things that have meaning for you, entangled with all around you, with other thinking beings, entangled through experiences, communication and shared lives. So you can choose instead to revert it and say: I am, therefore I think. Without your existence, there would be no thought.

- I am, therefore I think. Not much proof to it, but I guess it'll do.

- It does do, and you don't know it. It does for all of us. It may not be subject to a process of rational, objective proof, but look around you, who actually doubts their existence?

- Well, me.

- Then think of it this way: what is the worst that can happen to you in life?

- I could die.

- Yes, death. If lack of proof of your existence bothers you so much, then just take comfort in the fact that death is also an illusion.

- But it's cold comfort to say death is an illusion to someone who suspects they never were alive in the first place.

- I guess so. But I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.

- Why not?

- Because you're just a figment of my imagination.

4/22/12

C'mon everyone, let's read something I wrote!


It's about time you showed me a little interest and took some time out of your day to read what I have to say about something or other

Time is limited. With the amount of material there is out there to read, not to mention all the films and TV series there are to watch, all the computer games there are to be played, along with all the work we have to do in between, it's no wonder very few of us have time to read what I write. So that's why I thought I'd take this opportunity to convince you to do so. In fact, why not start with this?

Hear me out here. If you've come this far, you're already on the right track. So why not continue? Do you like what you've read so far? You probably at least don't hate it, because you're still reading. So just trust your instincts and keep in mind what I have to offer. First off, the technical stuff is all there: punctuation, grammar, spelling... check, check, and check (notice my perfect use of commas). Next off, I offer content. In this case, I offer excellent motivational content on why you should be reading this. Also, I offer self-betterment, because there is no better way to be informed about why you should read me than by actually reading me. So all three or four or however many of those points there were, are all there, in favor of me. Why not keep giving me a go?

Still here? Good! You've already made it nearly halfway through my article. That's already a huge effort on your part, because you could've instead spent the last few minutes reading Twitter or Candace Bushnell or The Huffington Post or Shakespeare. But instead you picked me. And just think of what that means. First off, the fact that you're reading me is very good for how I feel about myself. Being read is a great motivational boost, and that will mean that I will be even keener to write more stuff, knowing that you and others like you are reading. So the more you read, the more I write, and the more you read what I write the more I write because you read what I write and the... Secondly, you reading what I write is a great way to find out about the qualities that make me interesting enough for you to read, because there's no better place to find my readable qualities than in what I write, and so the writing speaks for itself -- myself -- in a way... actually in both ways. Thirdly... never mind, let's stop at two. Two reasons seem sufficient to me there and it was getting a little confusing anyway.

Notice how I divide my writing up into paragraphs? That makes the article a little more digestible and a little less like just one big block of text. Notice how the paragraphs are more or less divided up into equal numbers of lines: paragraph one is five lines, paragraph two is 10 lines, paragraph three is 15 lines. Ok, that's not equal sized paragraphs but that is steady growth by five lines with each paragraph... But that would mean this paragraph should be 20 lines. I have to be honest, I'm intending to end this paragraph here because I don't know what more to say about paragraphs. This paragraph was seven lines. The pattern is screwed now, I guess. Maybe I shouldn't have written this or you shouldn't have read it. But if I told you not to read it, this whole article I've been writing would be pointless, so let's not let that happen. So read it, but just sort of gloss over this paragraph, if you like. (amendment: this paragraph ended up being 12 lines, but it's still not good if you're looking for a pattern)

To conclude, there is a lot to read, and I really want you to read me, and others to read me too. I write, so you can't say "You have nothing for me to read". So you can't use that excuse. There's this and other articles like this too. Secondly... assuming the thing I said just before this sentence was "Firstly"... secondly, I'm very interested in being read because it gives me recognition, which makes me feel better about myself, releasing endorphins that make me feel happy, and that's important. Also important is feeling self-important, and nothing says self-important more than a blogger looking to get read by as many people as possible. Thirdly... never mind, the third point can wait, just those two points should do. Fourthly... well, thirdly, actually, because I just thought of a third point now on the fourth point... thirdly, you should tell others to read me and exaggerate how amazing I am.

You've made it to the end! Congratulations to both you and me on you having read me!

1/30/12

Louis the Lousy Levitator


Louis was a lousy levitator. His main problem, everyone recognized, was that he had chosen a pretty stupid profession. The fact is, levitation isn't possible. The reason being, gravity. That's not to say that there aren't magicians who do levitation tricks. There are, but Louis wasn't a magician. He knew there already were magicians who did levitation tricks. But he wanted to be unique, something different, and so he believed he'd found something nobody else did: actual levitation. He coined himself "The World's First and Only Levitator", ignoring the fact that there were guys in India who also apparently levitated (although probably not, because like I said, it's impossible).

Despite his poor choice of profession, Louis had some pretty good friends, even though they never ever supported his decision to become a levitator. They all pretty much thought it was a dumb idea from the get-go and kept trying to convince him to do something more productive with his time, but Louis was not just a lousy levitator, he also had the misfortune of believing in himself, which, when you're a levitator, is not really a good thing. Furthermore, as a former CPA in a large accounting firm, he was financially well-off, and he'd recently come into a bit of an inheritance from his father-in-law, so he was financially independent enough that he could, at least for a while, pursue levitation full time. A bad idea, no doubt, for a lousy levitator.

But through his own perseverance, and largely through the kindness and patience of his friends, Louis managed to get gigs. Naturally, they were not very good. They mostly involved birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs, and even, on occasion, country fairs, where people would gather round and watch a pudgy freckled and slightly balding 42 year-old guy just sit there cross-legged with his eyes closed. At first the crowd would be interested, fixing their eyes on Louis, waiting for something to happen. Louis would call for absolute silence, always pointing out before every levitation (he would never call it a "show") that what he was about to do was not a magic trick, nor an illusion, but that he was actually going to levitate, and that he needed absolute quiet in order to attain the level of concentration required for such a task.

After about a minute, the crowd would begin shuffling and getting antsy. Most of the people there would be kids, and unless you can do something spectacular and quick, kids would lose interest very quickly. A murmur would break out, people would shuffle off, or start talking among themselves, and sometimes even just shout out "you're a lousy levitator", or things to that effect. Louis would lose his concentration, of course, insist on silence, often angrily, and this would just rile up the kids and the onlookers who would quickly come to feel that Louis was either a con artist or an idiot, usually the latter (because Louis never levitated for money), and the whole event would just turn into a back and forth taunting session. The more Louis lost his temper, the more the kids jeered and the adults laughed and people began throwing things at him. The typical end to a levitation was Louis storming off hurling curses and abuse, and his friends apologizing to the party host or the fairground manager, who would always say something like "I knew it was a dumb idea" or "I can't believe you convinced me to do this".

This isn't to say that funny things didn't happen. Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that Louis was dead serious in his claim to be a levitator, his always failed attempts at levitation would nevertheless lead to some pretty humorous situations. Once, on a plane, Louis mentioned he was a levitator and so people asked him to levitate. He crossed his legs and closed his eyes, but because the plane had begun its descent, the air stewardess wouldn't let him unfasten his seatbelt. Louis at first protested, but eventually had to agree to keep his belt on, but he proceeded with his levitation anyway. After about a minute, he opened his eyes, quite satisfied with himself that he had in fact levitated, although, he admitted, nobody could've seen it because the belt had kept him down. He showed where the belt had left a mark just under his belly, supposedly from the pressure exerted through the upward force of his levitation, but the other passengers were skeptical, albeit entertained.

There were further comical episodes at his levitation events. Once he was given an unsteady, makeshift platform to sit on so the fairgoers could see him, but just after he began concentrating for his levitation routine, the platform gave out from under him and he crashed down to earth with a roar from the highly amused onlookers. Another time at a birthday party, a five-year-old put a party hat on Louis's head just as he was entering deep concentration. Louis tried to ignore it at first, but then when the other bored kids started painting and drawing on his face, he sprang up, lost his balance, and landed face first in the birthday cake. The birthday girl wept, the children cried, the mother told him to leave at once, and the whole thing ended badly. It wasn't until he was at the ATM taking money out to buy a new cake to take back to the party that he realized he was walking around with a party hat on his head, two big red spots on his cheeks, and a drawing that resembled a horse or a monkey on his forehead.

So all in all, Louis was a lousy levitator. Although his friends were as supportive as could be expected for a lot longer than could be hoped for, eventually they too lost patience. Louis could get no more gigs, nobody would have him, nobody believed he could levitate. But Louis believed in himself. He knew he could do it, because when he was by himself he could feel it, he could feel his body rise up from the ground, he could feel a sudden lightness overcome him, and when he was in the deepest state of concentration, he could feel that he was floating above the ground, suspended in the air. He felt as if his body, his big lugubrious hulking sack of a body, would disappear, and that he was just there like a phantom, suspended in the air, a pure consciousness in a pure state of being, drifting, floating, flying over the earth, disembodied and free. It was an incredible feeling of elation for him, and he could think of no other time when he felt so alive, so happy, and so spirited.

Louis believed that he was levitating, he believed in it firmly, and he wanted to share that experience with others, to show them just how amazing it was, and just how wonderful it could make you feel. He thought, if only others could see, if only they knew, they too would join him, they too would levitate with him, and he believed that once a person levitated, they would do nothing else. What was the point? To levitate, to experience pure disembodied incorporeal bliss would be the height of experience from which one would never turn back. It would perhaps even cure depression, heal the sick and the mentally ill, maybe even become a cure for loneliness, nihilism, even, dare he say it, bring an end to war!

Even though Louis was known as a lousy levitator, he believed in levitation, he believed he levitated, and he wanted to believe that others could too, that we all could.

But like I said, it's impossible. Because, you know, gravity.

1/12/12

On the need for ethical autonomy


In the face of a growing and unchallenged discourse of jingoistic totalitarian bullying in the news media, the need for ethical autonomy has never been so pressing as it is today.

Recently, the Prime Minister of Turkey denounced France for a bill approved by the French senate that makes it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide, calling it a slide to "fascism" in Europe and a "blow to free speech". This is coming from the leader of a country where its own Nobel Prize laureate author Orhan Pamuk was prosecuted simply for referring to "killings" of Armenians and Kurds in an interviewand he didn't even use the word "genocide". He was hounded by the media, received death threats, and now spends most of his time away from his beloved Istanbul, preferring to live in New York. Another well-known Turkish writer, Elif Shafak, was also prosecuted for referring to the Armenian genocide in her book "The Bastard of Istanbul". They were both heckled, spat at and jeered by crowds as they entered the courthouse in Istanbul. These are just the most prominent and well-known of dozens of other cases brought against writers charged with "insulting Turkishness" because they simply expressed their opinion (or a character in a novel expressed the opinionsame thing, right?) that what happened to the Armenians in 1915 was genocide. And yet the Prime Minister of Turkeythe leader of a country in which it is, to all intents and purposes, a prosecutable offense to refer to what happened to the Armenians as "genocide"can say that the bill passed by the French senate is a slide to "fascism" and a travesty of democracy and freedom of speech. Not only can the Turkish PM say this unashamedly, the entire mainstream news media, and most probably an overwhelming majority of the Turkish people, can accept this with no sense of hypocrisy, shame or double standards. No newspaper will dare criticize it. No one will dare challenge it, but not even in a cynical way. People will sincerely agree with it and not see the inherent ethical flaw of their position.

How can this happen? What went wrong here? Why is there no ethical and moral perspective by which to judge right and wrong according to universally applicable standards? Instead of universality, we find that our ethical standards are solipsistic; they delve not on right and wrong committed in general, or to "people", but instead revolve around right or wrong committed to "me" or "us". That means that when we are subjected to wrong, this is known to be wrong, because it affects us, but when we subject others to the same wrongs, we fail to see any wrong there, because that wrong doesn't affect "us", "me", "we". It affects "them" and is therefore, from the solipsistic ethical viewpoint, irrelevant.

This may be due to a variety of factors, chief among which is perhaps no formal and thorough education of ethics in school, and a system based on indoctrination and instruction rather than education. Another is a predilection toward a "might makes right" kind of attitude. Just as we admire and follow strong men of history, political parties today still revolve around the strong man, not to mention the kinds of violent thugs who are canonized on Turkish TV series and films.

Religion also has a major part to play, in that we mostly follow a religious ideology that is based on an unquestioning devotion to one almighty God, a kind of faith that can easily lead down that slippery road where massacring children or blowing up innocent people can be made to sound righteous if committed in the name of that almighty power figure which graciously bestows good and justice upon us and which we should be humbly grateful for, avoiding wrong by fear of eternal torment in Hell and choosing right in return for the blissful reward of an eternity in Paradise. It's not hard to see that a mindset that can accept that kind of foundation to morality, ethics and justice can expect the same kind of approach toward and from a powerful political leader as well.

In short, we seem to have a cultural propensity to see the question of right and wrong not as independent and universal ethical standards above any and all, to be adhered to by all, but as standards graciously bestowed on us from above by authority figures, who are themselves exempt from those same ethical standards, and who bestow them to us in return for unquestioning devotion and loyalty, but who can just as easily take them away, or deny them completely to those not from their fold. Good and righteousness is bound tightly with devotion to the power source from which it emanates. Whether it's your leader, your state, your father, your God, your prophet, your founder, your teacher, your imam, whatever, this mentality holds fast. To stray is to fall out of the sphere of good and right, and to become unworthy of it as a result. There is no independent frame of ethical reference outside of the sphere of the good-giving power to which you must show unquestioning loyaltyeven (and especially) at the cost of hypocrisy.

Here's another example of this kind of solipsistic ethics, again relating to the Armenian Genocide issue (although there are many other examples):

When we've been accused of genocide by a foreign government or parliament, our media and leaders like to accuse the accusing nation of genocide back. Sweden, France, the U.S. and other countries are all found by Turkey to be guilty of genocide if Turks feel they are accused of being guilty of genocide by that country's legislative committee, or one or both houses of the legislature, or indeed the government itself. Now, besides it being obviously childish and reactionary, this approach is also a prime example of solipsistic ethical standards. Why? Because what is at issue for us isn't the topic of whether genocide was committed against a people which deserves recognition or compensation or healing, etc... which is also always what the issue is about in those parliaments that discuss recognition of the Armenian genocide. What is at issue for us is that we are accused of genocide. So we accuse them of genocide back! In other words, we are not concerned about whether we have committed wrong, we are only concerned with the wrong that is being committed against us by this recognition (to us "accusation"), and therefore we accuse them of the same -- even though these countries often already openly accept, discuss and have condemned whatever wrongs have been committed in the past by their own forebears because they are wrongs in themselves that deserve condemnation, regardless of whether it was their own countrymen who committed them or not.

But when it comes to our country, you'll find an overwhelming consensus that we are victims of French suppression of freedom of speech, when our own country is just asindeed far more sohorrific a violator of human rights standards and freedom of speech (e.g. Turkey ranks 154th in Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index, France ranks 38). And yet, even if our government didn't actively and mercilessly try to suppress and silence opposition and criticism (which it does), the sad truth is that the majority of our news media (and public) would still see things the same way, according to this kind of solipsistic ethical viewpoint. In other words, ethical solipsism seems to be ingrained in our culture.

So what to do? Maybe we can't change the predominant mindset over night, but those who have the capacity (everyone has the capacity, perhaps propensity is a better word) must practice ethical autonomy in the face of an increasingly totalitarian, dictatorial and solipsistic ruling elite; in the face of an increasingly less critical, cowed, silent and self-censoring media; in the face of an increasingly marginalized opposition; in the face of fewer and fewer outlets for free speech and critique; in the face of a growing intolerance of opposing viewpoints from an increasingly nationalistic and religious conservative discourse in politics, society and the media.

But what does ethical autonomy mean exactly? It could mean this:

- It means applying your own ethical standards to the world around you, and shunning the ones that are being forced upon you for the purpose of making you condone the perpetuation of crimes on the part of megalomaniacal and psychopathic institutions that have been corrupted in their pursuit of power through profit or riches or blood or domination.

- It means questioning any and all absolutes and eschewing any world view that uses black-and-white dichotomized expressions to justify the perpetuation of crimes committed against others (e.g. martyr/terrorist).

- It means dropping mainstream media and seeking information from alternative sources, sources that have relatively very limited or no ideological or power interests to promote, cover-up, propagandize or sell.

- It means seeing right for right, good for good, wrong for wrong, by no other standards but your own, from no other but your gut.

- It means applying an ethical magnifying glass to everything. It means sniffing out the turns of phrase and corruptions of language by which lies are sold, it means dragging them out of the equation, and it means not only seeing, but also uncovering and extracting the inherent hypocrisies of all absolutist totalitarian viewpoints.

- Most importantly, it means being a human being first and foremost. It means loyalty to humanity before loyalty to nationality.