Tag Archives: history

Circa 1948

1948

We break the taboo tonight and de-segregate the post-war Blues era, co-mingling  syncopations signaling a broader tolerance, “a world in which there shall be an equality of opportunity for every race and nation.”

But I do fear a social conformity will take hold with all this fear-mongering and witch-hunting!

PLAYLIST
In The Hall Of The Mountain King – Will Bradley-Ray McKinley Band
As Time Goes By – Arthur “Dooley” Wilson
One O’Clock Jump – Count Basie & His Orchestra
Butterfly Strut – Ziggy Elman And His Orchestra
Artistry in Rhythm – Stan Kenton & His Orchestra
Jersey Bounce – Benny Goodman & His Orchestra
Boogie Woogie – Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra
Flying Home – Hamton, Lionel & His Orchestra
Drumming Man – Gene Krupa
Tschaikowsky (And Other Russians) – Danny Kaye
Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition – Kay Kyser & His Orchestra
I’m My Own Grandpaw – Guy Lombardo
You Keep Coming Back Like a Song – Dinah Shore
Don’t Get Around Much Any More – The Ink Spots
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah – Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers
Besame Mucho (Kiss Me Much) – Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra
Brazil – Xavier Cugat And His Orchestra
Heartaches – Ted Weems & His Orchestra
Ciribiribin – Harry James & His Orchestra
C Jam Blues – Duke Ellington & His Orchestra
Canned Heat – Chet Atkins
That Lucky Old Sun – Frankie Laine
Deep In The Heart Of Texas – Horace Heidt And His Musical Knights
Riders In The Sky – Vaughn Monroe
Pistol Packin’ Mama – Al Dexter and His Troopers
Detour – Spade Cooley
Move It on Over – Hank Williams
Cool Blues – Charlie “Bird” Parker
Sophisticated Lady – Duke Ellington
I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm – Les Brown
Bebop – Charlie “Bird” Parker
Elmer’s Tune – Dick Jurgens And His Orchestra
Snowfall – Claude Thornhill And His Orchestra
Stardust – Artie Shaw & His Orchestra
Do You Dig My Jive – Sam Price and his Texas Bluesicians
Mean Old ‘Frisco Blues – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup
Knockin’ Myself Out – Lil Green with Big Bill Broonzy
Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby – Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five
Open the Door, Richard – Count Basie Orchestra
I Wonder – Cecil Gant
Laura – David Raksin
Nature Boy – Nat King Cole

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-03-09: Circa 1948 by The Stranger on Mixcloud

The convention of Americans for Democratic Action was winding up today in a lather of resolutions giving scant sign of enthusiastic support in November for President Truman. The ADA, heavily representative of the old Roosevelt New Deal group, gives the back of its left hand to the Wallace third-party people the back of its right hand to the Taft Republicans. Yet in three days of debates seemed to bury Mr. Truman in censure rather than praise him. A phrase borrowed from Europe may have political significance here, “the third force” which is used to describe the non-communist left, intellectuals opposing “both the tyranny of reaction and tyranny of Communist totalitarianism.”

While Senator McGrath of Rhode Island sounded off against Henry Wallace’s third party, saying “a third party has as much place in American politics as does a third party on a honeymoon” adding the Wallace campaign and supporters “will either waste their votes or give aid and comfort to reactionary candidates.”

Speaking of those Reds, the Communist Police State Action in Czechoslovakia was legalized as the Czech President accepted the Red Cabinet and their brutal plot, who will not be working with any opposition parties, whose ministers turned in their resignations last week. New Cabinet members told foreign reporters that the events of last month giving Communists controls were the ‘will of the people.’ There are no numbers on how many persons in the former government got the bum rush from their positions/arrested as “reactionaries”. Legal elections have been promised the Czechs by Communists, but many other grand promises to workers and farmers have also been made by the Soviets.

Finland, conversely, has turned down Stalin’s request to join a Russian Defense Pact Ring, fearing a loss in their liberty.

The pressure, many Washington correspondents in-the-know fear, may quicken the pace towards a shooting war, and a military pact aimed at Russia.

So while the US has written off Czechoslovakia, here at home Gov. Arthur Coolidge of Massachusetts charged that Russian agents are busy in Hawaii. He claimed to have evidence, but hasn’t spilled it to the public as of yet.

(We remember well how) Soviet diplomats obstructed the UN founding meeting in San Francisco, dormy spy rings uncovered…

Meanwhile, the United States called for nation-wide elections in Korea in defiance of a Russian boycott. China immediately joined with the United States in the proposal laid before the United Nations little assembly. Both powers agreed that steps toward establishment of a free and independent Korea were of utmost importance to world peace, and that Soviet non-cooperation should not be allowed to stand in the way.

(As for Russia, I do highly recommend reading ‘A Russian Journal’ by John Steinbeck with photographs by Robert Capa of that country’s reconstruction, a special correspondence with the New York Herald Tribune).

The U.S. may also remain isolationist regarding the Palestine issue, declaring it firmly stands for diplomatic peace; this despite a recent bomb plot in the Holy Land admitted by Arab hatchetmen. The United Nations is holding special sessions to consider and cope with the crisis. The surprise resolution moves that a council be formed to set up a committee to study the advisability of such a special assembly. The Jewish Agency for Palestine had no comment pending a full study of the speech, but there are those contending that a Palestine partition and peace are inseparable. The British, for their part, have declared that they will fire upon both Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land.

So support the United Nations as they punish future aggressors before they launch WWIII. See “a world in which there shall be an equality of opportunity for every race and nation.” (Wendell Willkie’s One World)

All while Truman chops are busted by segregationist southern governors who came to Washington to protest civil rights legislation. Here is the exchange from the stenographic record, Gov Strom Thurmond: “Will you now, at a time when national unity is so vital to the solution of the problem of peace in the world, use your influence, as chairman of the DNC, to have the highly controversial civil rights legislation, which tends to divide our people, withdrawn from consideration by the congress?” Senator McGrath: “No.”

Just who is dividing the people, and on whose terms is this so-called unity, and whose problem with peace? Our strength is in democracy, a spiritual strength that derives from our freedom, fair-play, tolerance, and the guarantee of civil rights in our Constitution. Though we have not achieved these things completely, that is the ideal we raise before the world. What would the world say if we went backward as that chiseler Governor Thurmond suggests? We can only move forward, even if slowly. Who is dividing the people; those who want to realize our ideals, or a few noisy Southern politicians and a minority of southern people.

The Dixie Democrats are hopping mad over at least four of the 10 points in Truman’s proposal, and began serious talk of convening a split from the Democrats on the civil rights issue. (1. federal anti-lynching law, 2. permanent fair employment practice commision, 3. and end to Jim Crow laws and 4. outlawing state poll taxes). The remainder of the points were a permanent commission on civil rights, a joint congressional committee on civil rights, a civil rights division of the justice department, toughening of existing civil rights statutes, home rule for the District of Columbia, statehood for Alaska and Hawaii, equalization of naturalization opportunity, settlement of evacuation claims of Japanese-Americans (who got a bum rap). The program is in particularly hot debate due to the election year.

But I worry that the conservative con to brand New Dealers out of touch, arrogant bureaucrats is a short hoof from labeling them Communists! How soon they forget! Look! Truman didn’t keep government-built or backed plants at the war’s end! They went right back to private owners.

You’ll remember how Daddy Warbucks was revived, gloating at the corpse of FDR!

And the fix is in, government contracts were rescinded, plants closed up, flat soldiers come home expecting jobs instead to join picket lines against fat head moneymen. Gallup polls show 62% of the public fears another Depression in the next ten years.

“Yet once the war is over its backwash smears over us, and the nation succumbs to greed, fear, ineptitude, fumbling of the morning hopes, shoddy dispersal of the evening dreams. That in late 1946, the two most painful and pressing shortages in the land should be the most primitive necessities of life; food and housing, is evidence enough of the disintegration, no matter how temporary these shortages may turn out to be… Does show that to become efficient this country needs the stimulus of war? Does it mean that 295,000 Americans have to be killed in order to give us true effectiveness as a nation?” -journalist John Gunther, 1946

So Truman places a $15 billion ceiling on defense spending, bolsters social welfare. Truman; small-business populist, anti-monopoly, distrusting of Big Trust, Big Labor and Big Business.

Indeed, 1947 had seen a boom set off by the savings of both war worker and war profiteer, pent-up demand and rising wages! And demand means more jobs! Hundreds of houses built in a day! But it’s not all silk!

Truman lifted price controls on meat when conservative businessmen raised prices and fears and turned up the heat. He blamed “reckless group of selfish men”, the same group that “has opposed every effort of this administration to raise the standard of living and increase opportunity for the common man.” By appeasing them, Truman tipped his mitt again, his policies gummed up by cheap flimflam! Inflation accelerated, cost of living up, special interests feeding frenzy, prices raised by the greedy.

Federal subsidies work when directed and divested correctly; housing, swimming pools, playgrounds, baseball fields, suburbs accessible by highways… Mortgages guaranteed by the GI Bill.

Hayek (free market anti-socialism enthusiast) and Keynes (that economic interventionist) both agree that antitrust laws and minimum wages are necessary!

Blind ‘stereotypes’, referred to by head shrinks, are fixed attitudes towards an idea, event, or person. A blind spot in the mind, the cause of which is emotional and irrational, disallowing the person’s attitude to change with changes in factual evidence pertaining to the object of prejudice. Pertinent illustrations such as race prejudice, an extreme sort where individuals are vilified in generalities incorporating all the evil traits which may have ever been found or imagined in any one past member of the race. Attitudes expressed about the late President Roosevelt and his ideas often fall into this same category. His name has been slandered with such intensity and emotion that one could almost feel the murderous hatred in their hearts; there is nothing analytical or thoughtful in what they say.

It’s an excuse to ally political highbinders with big business high pillows and their dough, fear-mongering the pliant into cheesy loyalty, making chop suey of the rest. Right-wing groups are firing off their ‘confidential’ (re: unsubstantiated) dope to HUAC and the FBI, fueling Hoover’s inquisition. Now we’re grilling not only union leaders but teachers, book reviewers, social workers, and librarians. the Chamber of Commerce is demanding that authorities ban whomever they deem too pro-Communist off of radio airwaves. Even social gospel ministers ousted from their pulpits! No totalitarianism or infringement on freedom of speech here, my friends.

I do fear a social conformity will take hold.

The jingle-brained conservatives are enjoying a counterrevolution with William Jenner, John Bricker, William Knowland, Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon… even the once pro-New Deal Hollywood liberal Ronald Reagan is espousing more conservative malarkey, see what they know!

Texas Tom Clark (Attorney General) architect of the list of subversive organizations, making guilt by association a national security policy.

And Adolph Menjou (Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals) spilled to HUAC last year, “I am a witch hunter if the witches are Communists”.

They dress it up as a Christian crusade to despoil your children. But they’re putting the screws on the working man, gunning for all of us, with the convenient moniker that they’re protecting us from the reds, when they’re really putting us behind the eight ball. One of HUAC’s loudest mouths, John E. Rankin, is a notorious racist and anti-Semite, as are several other committee members. That’s why they’re spending so much energy giving the up-and-down to Jews who escaped Germany. It’s all pretty hinky, I tell you.

After all, unemployment for blacks is three times that among whites; their pay only 30-70% what whites make.

So the fat cats have ginned up big support for their Crusade, even though a few short years ago in 1945, Americans sick of war, some 70%, opposed a “get-gashouse” approach with the Soviets, lousy with post-war blues: triumphalist despair. But ever since Dean Acheson said we have to be on ‘permanent alert’ against some unknown phantom forces, resources and scratch are diverted to purely military industry. They see their support now against the Communists as an egotistical Holy War to save Christianity and Civilization. There are those who don’t believe the War ever ended. We’re being given a Hobson’s choice between appeasement and containment, disarmament and military strength- ignoring all diplomatic alternatives. They’ll use the crack-up in Czechoslovakia as a crummy excuse to drop atom bombs on more babies.

And that means there’s little bumping gums for progressive programs without a crisis. Truman’s campaigning on the messages of national health insurance, federal aid to education, and civil rights. He may be in the right, but he’s in real Dutch if the guys in graft tell him to take it on the heel.

It doesn’t seem like much of the Fair Deal or New Dealer policies have much tooth any more, the final being the GI Bill. We still do not have an Economic Bill of Rights.

Gin up Solidarity among veterans, workers, the common man. The saps.

1947 Gallup poll shows one-third of veterans feel estranged from civilian life, either in a jam or off their noodle, and 20% feel ‘hostile’ to civilians. War Department survey replicates this; one in five is “completely hostile” to civilians. Survey finds there are 15.8 million vets, average age 29, 80% of them under the age of thirty, 33% went directly into service from school, only 25% finished high school. Veterans and their families make up one-fourth of the population.

The divorce rate today is more than twice that of 1939. But the marriage rate and birth rate are also spiking. So is the homicide rate, as any of these Joe Palookas could go off the track in a moment!

HUAC and the blacklists has made it impossible for any picture to get made taking the side of the workers, who for their part have seen hourly drops in pay since VJ Day.

And Truman himself overestimates the power of the unions to make his points. He wants to draft men who strike during peacetime, as in Germany or Russia! That’s the crop of it! He seized the mines after criticism that he was too pro-labor. Most unions are on the square, hostile to Communists, fearing it damages their cause.

A late challenge to the Taft-Hartley law is entering our courts. The act restricts the activities and power of labor unions. Named after sponsors Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr., overcame Truman‘s veto last year; labor leaders called it the “slave-labor bill” while President Truman argued that it was a “dangerous intrusion on free speech”, and that it would “conflict with important principles of our democratic society”. The latest orderly and properly challenge is by CIO News and its president Philip Murray, trying it in the courts in a democratic manner. Mr. Murray said he and the CIO were acting in complete respect for the “law of the land” and not in a spirit of “defiance or bitterness.” This refreshingly constructive and calm way of tackling the issue hits on all eight, and may end up in the Supreme Court, a matter on which Congress will be called upon to expand, condense or clarify.

In Chicago, the National Lawyer’s Guild charged in a policy statement that there is a ‘co-ordinated and unrelenting’ attack being made against civil liberties in the U.S. Over 200 delegates to an annual meeting voted their approval yesterday calling upon Congress to repeal the Taft-Hartley law and abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities, for violating four amendments to the Constitution. Benedict Wolf, New York lawyer, read that recommendation to Congress to investigate the Federal Bureau of Investigation itself.

This is the Age of Distrust – engineer enemies for the upcoming election; if the Nazis and Japanese won’t do, use Communism. Without recommending an advocation of the tenets of Communism, one does not need then to fly into the arms of right-wing fascism or “narrow nationalism” (Wendell Willkie’s One World). Upton Sinclair warned us that it can happen here. Fears of totalitarianism abound when there are disingenuous geezers in charge! Hard facts have a way of melting into the shadows of ambiguity.

Ah, TINSEL TOWN!



Stay tuned for all that plus hokum, bunkery, science and more! On this time-displaced episode of a Stranger in a Strange Land!

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-03-09: Circa 1948 by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

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Voynich

voynichThis week we eschew that media violence to discuss the mysterious Voynich Manuscript with aaronJacob, some of the more ridiculous beliefs surrounding it, and even the more sane claims. We’ll hear clips from Terence McKenna and Brian Dunning, and consider everything from Rosicrucians, secret alchemical societies, spirits and seances, psychedelic visions, time travel and even the Necronomicon.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2012-12-15: Voynich by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
Hall Of The Mountain King – Self Diagnosis
the history of utah – camper van beethoven
The Magic City – Sun Ra
Music For Electric Violin – Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa
The Garbage State – R. Stevie Moore
Man Of Mystery – The Shadows
Strangers From the Sky – Kim Fowley
Song of the death machine (1970) – Bruce Haack
Polaris – Man Or Astroman
Principles Unknown – Man Or Astroman
Space Prophet Dogon – Sun City Girls
Dengue Fever – Flowers
Misterioso – Thelonious Monk
Sap Alan On The Tellial – Mong Hang

We spend the rest of the show discussing skepticism, science, atheism, bias and reasonable reactions to political travesties.

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

Ancient Peoples

If you watch any of these “historical documentaries” about visitors from outer space interfering with our ancient progenitors, you’d see the proponents of these theories claim that there is no way that massive sculptures and architecture could have been done without extraterrestrial help. Those mainstream historians and archaeologists just don’t understand when they claim that the evidence of UFOs and aliens in old artwork or texts is something more reasonable, when they posit some Earthly, mundane explanations.

Our ancestors, the ancient alien experts claim, weren’t stupid. And the official story makes them seem dumb, by not giving them the full credit they deserve for recognizing obvious aliens when they saw them, and then sitting back as said aliens (or gods, or whatever) did all the work that our stupid, useless ancestors could never have figured out on their own.

But they weren’t stupid. They were able to make complex astronomical calculations, invent forms of art, agriculture, writing, and design marvels such as the pyramids. Some of them would have been smarter than others, of course. Some of the people of that age probably believed some really weird things; perhaps they believed that their ancestors were visited by even more ancient aliens, whom they gave all the credit for all previous human efforts, without any evidence.

I’m just saying that their knowledge and sophistication was limited by the understanding of their time. People would have made dumb logical fallacies back then, like arguments from antiquity or arguments from ignorance.

Hm. Come to think of it. If we had aliens helping us out throughout history, we’d probably be a lot further along, and wouldn’t fall in such intellectual gaps.

10 Cliches That Try to Take the Place of Legitimate Argument

We’re all guilty of it, whether in our daily conversations, debates or blog posts. Analogy and illustration serve to simplify our understanding and answers to life’s complex conundrums. Sometimes, however, these over-used aphorisms over-simplify to the point of absurdity. It may even amount to pseudo-intellectual name-dropping, hoping to fool your audience into thinking that because you know who George Santayana was, that being in such good company means your reasoning must be thoroughly sound!

They may have a legitimate point, they may even be saying something you agree with, but “a broken clock is still right twice a day,” and fallacious logic can still coincidentally lead to a correct conclusion.

1. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

-Albert Einstein

Which is why he stopped trying to comb his hair after a while.

But how else would mutation and evolution have happened, innovation and invention, or the replication of experiments, the very foundation of falsifiability and the cornerstone of scientific discovery?

Actually, I prefer to think that Einstein wasn’t really talking shit on replication, but merely accurately describing that most everything that happens in the cosmos is insane. If you have some stupid theory of everything but your experiments can’t prove your pseudoscience, you’re not wrong to keep trying. Just insane.

People have used his phrase in political arguments, critiques of opponents, constructive criticism of peers, matronly advice, and internet comment sections, all hoping to wow one another with their undeniable wisdom.

When this fails to happen, they do it again and again.

This may be because, as we know, there are no original ideas.

2. “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

-T. S. Eliot

And immature artists sue you for stealing

It’s not that I agree or disagree with any of these clichés (although some are undoubtedly ridiculous, as we shall soon see), it’s just that many of them are offered up instead of saying anything valuable at all. Of course creative people steal from their influences, we are all the product of our experiences!

Plagiarism is an even thornier-than-usual issue these days, however, so you had better be careful what you use this old quote to justify!

But I don’t think it’s fair to say that there is no original content. And not everything has to be mash-up or a modernization or a cover or a sequel or a gritty revisioning. Nobody like Ramses II existed before Ramses II (not even Ramses I). And the aforementioned Einstein was obviously thinking on another cosmic plane! To say nothing of Edison, Newton, Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Archimedes… okay, now I’m just name-dropping! And certainly each of them drew on the accumulated knowledge of the great minds that came before, but that’s not really saying anything more than the obvious. We need these mutants to inject genuinely fresh and new ideas because, after all, the rest of us are so stupid.

3. We only use 10% of our brains.

In some cases this is true.

In addition to being on this list for overused phrases, you’ll also find it listed in collections of commonly cited phrases that aren’t even true. Those in the pseudosciences and radio arts often hold Einstein as an example of a God-king who could somehow magically harness 20% of his brain power, with the rest of us catatonically drooling down our fronts with glazed eyes. Many misattribute the quote itself to Einstein, or imply that special training (expensive books and tape) can “unlock” the remaining percentile, or even that impressive psychic powers or a sixth sense reside in the bulk of our unused gray matter.

Although many mysteries regarding brain function remain, every part of the brain has a known function.

According to wikipedia, it may have been early neuroscientists who used the 10% figure when referring to the proportion of neurons in the brain that fire at any given time or to the percentage of the brain’s functions that had been mapped at the time (accounts differ).

No matter, this commonly held misconception has proliferated through our pop culture, and is claimed by paranormal believers so much that one cannot help but wonder if they just want it to be true because it applies more readily in their case. Luckily, for about as many people who use this trite falsehood, there seems to be just as many ready to counter and ridicule it.

4. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

– George Santayana

Which is why they'll be remaking this movie soon.

I’m not a big believer that history repeats itself in any verifiable or scientifically useful way. That being said, similarities can be found between any two time periods, or probably, between any two things one cares to draw comparisons or confirmation-biases with.

And just what are the parameters? Are my neighbor and I doomed to repeat the events of the Peloponnesian War? If I suddenly forget the Nineties will I wake up one morning with a mullet?

I guess I’m mostly annoyed by the politician’s usage of this gem. When describing the economic collapse of recent memory, it could behoove one side or the other to compare either to the policies that led to the Great Depression, or to the recovery policies that dug us back out.

Invariably, someone uses a shade of this quote to wreak their foul Godwin’s Law, implying that because we are not diligent against the current administration (or whatever), that they must be Nazis readying for a blitz.

But Nazis were all about history! They had a storied passion for their firm place in history, for better or worse, and deliberately chose which facets to glamorize and which to destroy. There was very little unintentional lapse of memory at work.

Ironically, today nazis are often treated as a sinister joke, the sheer ridiculousness itself guarding against tyranny in that very specific form

5. “First they came for the communists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Martin Niemöller

This seems a very reasonable statement of our human nature to ignore problems until they are at our doorstep, or how we willingly bow to authority, no matter how triumphantly evil. Zimbardo or Millgram in action.

Call it survivor’s guilt, guilt by association, criminal negligence… no matter what it’s called, it’s still just a slippery slope argument. Granted, when cases of genocide are concerned, it’s best to err on the side of not imprisoning and slaughtering millions, but I would still be remiss not to point out that logical fallacy.

And even still, assuming Martin’s speaking for everyone in Reichland to make his point more valid (or at least assuming that the decades of quoters do), then each person up the chain would have also been a varying degree of guilty. There was no one left to speak out for you, because no one was speaking out for anyone, any time, anywhere, anyway.

Another similar (and just as overused) quote is Edmund Burke’s “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” 

No… I mean… evil sort of had the most to do with it… call it 80/20

6. “God does not play dice with the universe.”

-Albert Einstein

Unless this is a tabletop RPG. In which case, God uses many dice.

Einstein’s been proven wrong on many things in the years since his death, as he was just a man, and a product of his time. But this quote should be understood in his context and time, with the understanding that  Neitzsche proclaimed God dead, and that Spinoza proclaimed God to be a sort of pantheistic representation of all being. Similar to Dawkins or Hawking’s assertion of the non-necessity of a God, a reasonable and scientifically literate individual does not need a God to play dice with the universe, but admitting its  irrelevance to science does not render moot the possibility of a personal, non-interventionist deity.

Moreover, religion has nothing to do with it, so people who use this quote to claim that even the infallible Einstein was a believer are missing his point. Einstein was referring to the (then) burgeoning theory and study of quantum mechanics, which in the decades since his death have had numerous verifications and observable interactions with established physics. In fact, the very early precursors to the field are thanks to Einstein himself.

And really, what kind of scientific method would it be if it all just stopped after Einstein? Just because he said or did or thought or believed something, doesn’t mean we all have to!

7. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?

Hey, man, go with the flow.

Some version of this argument can be heard by desperate debaters and scolding mothers worldwide, and implies that following the herd will bring us to a nasty end. But really, it all depends… Is there a bungie cord? Is the bridge taller than 4ft? Is the goal itself to commit suicide? Am I going to be the very best at it? Has the pile of bodies gotten tall enough to comfortably break my fall?

With its equally clichéd antithesis, “50 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong”, the appeal to popularity or appeal against popularity really tells us nothing about the original argument, or the wisdom in group-thinking. People who follow the “herd” have a “sheep” or “lemming” mentality. And yet, 4 out of 5 experts agree, everyone else is doing it, and you do want to be popular, don’t you?

We need individual thinkers to point out that the Earth is round and goes around the sun, but we also need group cooperation to build roads, operate government, form protests, fight wars, make the trains run on time and populate Coachella.

These fallacious nuggets appear everywhere, but just because everyone else uses them, doesn’t mean you will. Right?

8. “Won’t somebody please think of the children!?”

-Helen Lovejoy

After epochs of stuffiness and reactionary noisemaking by parental associations and nosy church busybodies, imagine how much slower our society must have progressed due to whatever scary monster-of-the-week was lodged in their collective craws.

We basically ended up with violent Prohibition in the U.S. because of ‘The Boogeyman’, and this ‘reasoning’ still wreaks havoc in our schools, on our televisions, and in our libraries. All sorts of censorship have been implemented to protect our defenseless children, from comic books, video gamesplastic-propelling toyssex in music and the cartoons in cigarette advertising. More accurately, censorship is put in place so that one group of vocal zealots can get their way, or to disenfranchise another group, or to help facilitate half-assed under-parenting.

The entirety of Jenny McCarthy’s insane and factually-vacant crusade against vaccination can be summed up as ‘for the sake of the children.’ You know what the children really need? Intellectual discourse and critical thinking to engineer a better world for them to grow up in. I know, it sounds batty.

At the same time, the really cool, really old people remind us how easy kids today have it. How back in their day, they only had a jagged shard of metal to play with, or how they used to have to work in a factory for seventeen hours a day for pennies, or how they used to be afraid of things like… y’know… polio.

Come to think of it, back in my day, we had playgrounds made of concrete and steel. Kids have it so easy.

9. “Greed is good”

               -Gordon Gecko

For all your conniving and success, you still couldn't avoid LeBeouf.

For all your conniving and success, you still couldn't avoid LeBeouf.

Especially true in this era of class warfare, where the top blah-blah-blah-percent blah-blah-blah against the bottom blah-blah-blah-percent! We hear this from the right-wing media, the corporate elites, and their bought legislators. It’s the defining principle at work in ‘Trickle-Down Economics’, deregulation, free market principles, and Citizen’s United.

I could write multiple separate essays on all that Ayn Rand nonsense (and I have), but mostly I just hate it when cautionary tales are taken out of context, idolized and seen as divine inspiration. How soon we forget how things ended for Gordon Gecko, or Tony Montana, or Don Corleone, as instead we are bedazzled by the short-lived success and glory. Unfortunately, things do not turn out as bad for the baddies in real life, who seem to rarely see their downfall from massive hubris. It’s nefarious, it’s ignorant, and it’s bitter irony.

Which serves as a reminder that the original cautionary tale was Satan’s.

10. Those who choose not to vote shouldn’t be allowed to complain.

Good enough reason for anyone to complain.

Or any other fascistic (though perhaps well-meaning) platitudes of intellectual treacle. If somebody exercises their freedom of speech and vote by abstaining, then that’s a perfectly reasonable choice. As if a dictatorship or some other undesirable federal form of government would affect non-voters differently than voters! In fact, it’s the political ideologues and loud patriots who would hear the boots marching first, not the apathetic whiners.

Why is it that if someone chooses not to perform one constitutionally granted right, they should be stripped of an entirely different enumerated one? Just how well would the following fly with these freedom-flinging pro-voting bigots?
  • Those who choose not to practice freedom of religion should have troops quartered in their home.
  • Those who choose not to assemble shouldn’t allowed to bear arms.
  • Those who skip jury duty shouldn’t petition their government.

Okay, well maybe that last one is a bit hypocritical, but still…

Of course, the abstainers will still have to listen to the clichéd proselytizers, because they’re just exercising their First Amendment Rights, after all.

BONUS: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes!”

-Benjamin Franklin

This one only annoys me because people like to quote it and then add their own third thing, completely missing the entire point. ‘And taxes’ is the punch line, implying that they are as detrimental and damning as death itself, when clearly they’re just a damned nuisance. To add your own third option, whether to make a point or attempt to be humorous, underplays the quote. Quit it. I’m sick of hearing it.

Awesome Source

If anyone were to ask me (they never do) what sort of sources I use on the internet as News Director for Mutiny Radio, for my own show The Stranger in a Strangeland, or just as a web surfer, blogger, podcaster or podcast-listener, I wouldn’t have had a list readily available. Modern technology, however, would allow me to whip up an answer in the form of the feed aggregators on Google Reader, Blogger and iTunes. All the same, I thought I’d have a “little” entry prepared with some words about each and why I use/enjoy them, should anyone become inquisitive in the future, or for posterity.

News Sites/Aggregators

Generally, I have a preponderance of news waiting for me to skim in my Google Reader each morning. This includes the wealth of information from the New York Times, BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and Russia Today (RT), all of whom I trust to varying degrees to deliver a broad picture of what the world looks like at the moment. I typically do not trust the NYT’s coverage of Iran (or hardly any American sources for that matter), but agencies like Al-Jazeera, RT and the Conflict Monitors of the Human Security Report Project are usually reliable for producing a look at international issues from every side. Talking Points Memo (TPM) showcases what would be considered the progressive side of the news, but often without comment, with links to entire quotes and context, and a diligent job of muckraking. Their charts and analysis are great fodder for any news feed.

To get at the real heart of matters, however, we want journalists and researchers who will more deeply cover the stories than the national conversation would normally dictate or allow. Intrepid newmen and editors from Alternet, Truth-out, Democracy Now! and the Real News Network provide hard-hitting watchdog journalism, and pose incisive questions to power. Salon is a refreshingly progressive source of news, comment, and blogs written by the likes of Glenn Greenwald and Mary Elizabeth Williams, and Truth Dig, which features progressive columnist Chris Hedges. The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur is perhaps the greatest news resource on the internet or anywhere if you want to escape the drudgery of big corporate-driven conservative media.

Regardless of politics, I choose not to read the Huffington Post due to their abysmal science reporting. Without a good sense of the scientific method, I cannot trust their standards for journalism.

For science news, there are more resources than time to read in a day, with my inbox overflowing more in this category than any other, a reminder of the rapidly developing times we live in. New Scientist (both the magazine and the site) and Physorg provide a constant stream of scientific discovery, with timely technorati Ars Technica and WIRED revealing where the state of technological advancement has us (WIRED recently broke the story of the NSA’s mega-base in the Utah desert). The Electronic Frontier Foundation combines civil libertarian advocacy work and news with parsing large amounts of technical and legal information, “defending our rights in a digital world.”

For an alternative view, Disinformation aggregates strange and conspiratorial stories from around the web, defiant of the Big Brother states that allows their continued existence.. for now.

Whereas sites like Laughing Squid, Flavorpill and Neatorama offer up pop cultural items, mashups, fun topics and much needed escapism, in other words, all things neat-o. Neat facts, and topics can be had at Mental Floss and life’s big questions at Soul Pancake (co-created by Rainn Wilson). Gizmodo’s (itself a tech news giant) sister-site io9 (as well as Syfy’s own Blastr) keeps us at the cutting edge of science-fiction, which of course could be light years ahead of science fact reporting, or as their tagline boasts “We come from the future.” Whereas Lifehacker helps you get your shit together with easy, simple fixes, showcasing shortcuts to life’s tedium.

And just as general resources go, you’ll find that Snopes has been the greatest defender against internet and urban legend chicanery for years, and that the TV Tropes wiki will help you understand how fiction, culture and memetics works a whole let better. You won’t believe they actually have names for some of these things!

Podcasts

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe is hosted by Steve Novella, neurologist, professor, president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, with his panel of skeptical rogues, brothers Bob and Jay Novella, Rebecca Watson and Evan Burnstein. The interesting science topics, audio games and quirks, in-depth interviews, numerous sci-fi references, and of course the irreverent, conversational and casual wit of the skeptics makes it a welcome treat on my ipod each week. These usually go over an hour, but I consistently find myself wanting more.

Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid are a much smaller, so if you want your dose of critical thinking in a fifteen minute dose, enjoy his cool presentation of the self-researched topics ranging from Bigfoot to the Denver Airport. Now over his 300th episode, he somehow manages to uncover a seemingly endless array of new and intriguing myths, legends and misinformation.

Big Picture Science (formerly Are We Alone?) is hosted by Seth Shostak and Molly Bentley of the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute. With the big picture question of ‘Are We Alone’, the goofy gang of serious scientists have springboarded into the world of the atom, the future, the cell, the virus, the planets, the brain, and any other area where an inquisitive microphone can go. Ideation of this magnitude can also be found by watching Dr. Michio Kaku expound on science’s great questions on Explorations in Science.

Neuropod, hosted by neurogeek Kerri Smith, comes out once a month (with a few bonus episodes here and there), to fill you in on some of the latest discoveries in the world of Neuroscience. Not all of the aspects catch my interest, but the ones that do really do. And since it isn’t as prolific as some of the others, and the information not as time-sensitive, I can enjoy it at any pace without them piling up.

Two more that have been around for a while but I am just now beginning to check out and delve into are the BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific and the backlog of wonderful TED Talks (both audio and video).

Though I am now well-planted in the firm reality of scientific discovery, a nostalgic craving, sense of zany fun, and a smirking incredulity keep me coming back to Coast to Coast AM hosted by George Noory, with John B. Wells, George Knapp and Ian Punnett playing weekends and backup. I have been hooked on this show (along with many other listeners, of which there are now estimated 4.5 million listeners every night, making it the most listened to late night show in North America) since the mid-to-late-90’s, when Art Bell‘s grizzled tones would part the airwaves to spook us with the most arcane topics. Today’s shows are sometimes less esoteric, and the format is more formalized, but George Noory is absolutely charming in his innocent and nonjudgemental inclusion of a wide variety of topics in the realms of politics, conspiracy, the paranormal or speculations on the future.

The Psychedelic Salon with Lorenzo features lectures from some of the world’s strangest and deepest thinkers, such as Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, Albert Hoffmann, Alexander Shulgin, and of course the inimitable Terence McKenna. I must admit that I skip some shows that do not feature McKenna’s brilliant form of rhetorical styling and intellectual mastery. Of late, however, I keep coming back for Lorenzo’s faithful coverage of the Occupy movement, and related audio, which I sometimes use on my own show. Another fun nugget of mind-body awakening can be found in the Alan Watts Podcast, rebroadcasting short philosophical bites from the Alan Watts Library.

The Philosopher’s Zone with Alan Saunders, whose received pronunciation may at first seem strange on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio National, nonetheless perfectly mixes deep, philosophical questions with silly, simple ones. Part history lesson, part mind expansion, don’t allow your own life to go unexamined without at least inspecting some of the introspections bound to arise while listening!

Similarly, philosopher Tim O’Connor‘s Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot (taken from a Carl Sagan line), raises startling, tortuous questions about God, self, reality and being with atheists, agnostics, deists, and religious scholars of every faith. The show aims to “take philosophy to the street, illustrating how conversation… can be carried out in a careful, civil, and constructive way by people who disagree.”

When I first started listening to The History of Rome, I thought I would listen through the reign of Augustus or perhaps Claudius and then get bored. Here we are near the beginning of the Dark Ages, and I’m still hanging on to Mike Duncan’s carefully researched and recited dissertation on the storied lives, politics, drama, battles and intrigue (with a little cheesy humor thrown in at times) of Rome’s expansive civilization. To jump around in time, the adorable and well-read Deblina Chakraborty and Sarah Dowdey present Stuff You Missed in History Class from HowStuffWorks.com. Thrilling and yet sometimes obscure historical stories, often examining a subject from as many angles as possible, revealing personal stories from time in the process, heartbreaking, brave, humorous and epic.

The International Spy Museum SpyCast is a great bit of history and political science education if you’re into the worlds of espionage, military history (and present), and the skullduggery of terrorists and intelligentsia alike.

Even the hilarious and conversational entertainment programming I subscribe to, Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s Smodcast and Ricky Gervais‘ podcast with Steven Merchant and Harvey Pilkington, present a sort of primer on critical thinking. Often revealing stories of science, religion, and history in the same casual manner as pop culture or scatalogical humor, the more skeptical Mosier often guides Kevin gently through the scientific method, whereas Ricky and Steve will taunt and ridicule Harvey’s mistaken notions of how the world works, ultimate culminating in an Idiot Abroad. Two different examples for how friends interact, and two different methods for how skeptics or atheists can talk to believers, and either way, all in good fun. The Onion adds another satirical bit of aural pleasure to your inbox, giving you some sensationally fraudulent talking points for the week.

And finally, X Minus One (X-1) has been my constant ipod companion since my first Nano. Classic tales of science fiction and horror from the 1950’s and 1960’s, the same spine-tingling diversions into space and time that probably elated my father when he was a boy.

Blogs

The frequently updated blogs on WIRED are some of my favorites, and I think I’ve been following them the longest, as they equally rate with other news in my feed. Epicenter, which puts the reader in the heart of the constantly changing world of digital media industries and business. Writers like Kim Zetter and David Kravets present absolutely essential information on Danger Room, closely following military gadgetry and national security, or Threat Level which, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, highlights the latest threats to our privacy, individual freedoms or civil liberties pertaining to technology and surveillance.

Nick Bilton, tech blogger for the New York Times’ Bits, is also the author of I Come From the Future and This is How it Works, a stunning analysis of how the shifting media and technology landscape is affecting industries, our culture, and our brains. As a blogger he is adept at finding and focusing in on lesser talked about yet important issues in technology, often raising stirring points about the trends and transactions.

Michael Anissimov (who was interviewed on the Strangeland) is media director for the Singularity Institute and co-organizer of the Singularity Summit. He is co-founder of the Lifeboat Foundation, which seeks to find safe and responsible developments for emerging technologies. His blog, Accelerating Future, bring our minds closer to the future of nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, transhumanism, Artificial Intelligence, the Singularity, and extinction risk.

Harvey Silverglate (another former guest), criminal defense civil liberties litigator, author of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of of Liberty on America’s Campuses and Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, former ACLU attorney, partner of the aforementioned EFF, and co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), has many articles available at Reason Magazine, which is aptly named.

Whereas Law and the Multiverse serves to illustrate how legal actions might come to be decided in the worlds of fiction; comic book superpowers, science fiction, and even AMC’s drama Breaking Bad are all made the subject of legal analysis.

Micah Allen’s Neuroconscience researches brain plasticity and cognitive neuroscience, while Mo Costandi’s Neurophilosophy deals with

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy is astronomically great, and is hosted along with several other fascinating science blogs at Discover Magazine. If you enjoy a good skeptical dose like his, I would check out the above-mentioned Dr. Steven Novella’s NeuroLogica blog, his advocacy on Science-Based Medicine, or the contributions to Skepticblog along with the likes of Brian Dunning, Micahel Shermer and others.

Illusionist/Future World Dictator Derren Brown has lots of fun updates of stunning imagery, science, magic, psychology, skepticism and the supernatural, all especially appealing to my eclectic tastes. Author, psychologist and skeptic Richard Wiseman offers up puzzles, brain teasers and illusions each week that will make you want to show someone else.

Mind Hacks keeps readers abreast of the news in neuroscience and psychology, with the bold assertion that with such understanding, such tricks will help figure out one’s own brain.

I’ve recently become addicted to the grand ideas presented at Big Think. Similar to TED, you can find great links, lectures, and interviews, but in a much more condensed and potable form. Politics, science, society, and the mind are all game to their host of editors.

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is yet another brilliantly curated web resource for intellectual pursuers with a love for art, literature, photography, biography, science, philosophy, and historical oddities. I cannot emphasize how much I love Brain Pickings!

Especially significant of late in the wave of psychopaths taking control of our democracy, the Ponerology Blog details discoveries in the science of evil, spearheaded by Andrew M. Lobaczewski, Ph.D.

I also put together a little tumblr concerning the fate of the publishing and retail book industry in this historically significant shifting media landscape, dramatically titled Likely In Store.
As for food blogs, dire decadence demands that one consume updates from Fancy Fast Food, Insanewiches, Cook to Bang, This is Why You’re Fat and the Cheese Underground.

I’ll also occasionally head over to the Brothers Brick or Brick Testament to get my LEGO on, but I do worry that this may open up into a black hole of LEGO blogs for me.

Webcomics (Bonus!)

Of course I’ve been a lifelong fan of Penny Arcade and PvP, (as long as they’ve been live), and Brian Clevinger’s spritely 8-bit Theatre back in its day, and Diesel Sweeties, the robot romance webcomic. I’m also stunned by creatively experimental and remarkably crafted works like Scott McCloud’s Zot! Online, yuumei’s Knite or Demian5’s When I Am King. Pervs will enjoy S.S. Myra or Chester 5000 XYV. And just about anything anything with art by Scott Campbell, John Allison, or Kate Beaton.

I know I just fired a lot at you, and it’s all just the tip of the iceberg! But with an overabundance of digital information, news, discovery, curiosities and entertainment, we all have to be our own curators, or as author James William Powell puts it, our own ‘SPAM filters.’ Hopefully by pointing toward some of my favorite daily, weekly or monthly sources, I can help some curious internet wanderer in the future. Of course, it may all be different by then! At the very least it stands as yet another blog time capsule to what I ‘fed’ on at this point in my life.

I’m always looking for new sources! Of course, it goes without saying that Mutiny Radio should be your source for a much more streamlined helping of these sources! And Mutiny Radio is always looking for intrepid journalists, editors, aggregators or bloggers! Get a hold of me at thestranger@earthling.net!

Reading List

Some of my top favorite authors and titles as per my Good Reads profile.
My tumblr follows the publishing industry, retail books, the e-book revolution, libraries and other bibliographical, bookish-type things at Likely In Store!

By Genre

Classics & Fiction
Things Fall ApartThe Canterbury TalesParadise LostSilas MarnerWhite NoiseHeart of DarknessThe Picture of Dorian GrayInvisible ManUp the Down StaircaseA Clockwork OrangeThe New York TrilogyThe Sadness of SexFuck MachineA Modest ProposalIt Can't Happen HereFlowers for AlgernonTo Kill a MockingbirdThe Catcher in the RyeThe Great GatsbyAnimal FarmOf Mice and MenThe Grapes of WrathCannery RowTravels with Charley: In Search of AmericaMe Talk Pretty One DayLord of the FliesLittle WomenA Tale of Two CitiesThe Count of Monte CristoMoby-DickMemoirs of a GeishaMiddlesexLolitaGone With the Wind1984Veronika Decides to DieAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAnd the Hippos Were Boiled in Their TanksBeowulf: A New Verse TranslationBig SurOn the RoadThe Call of the Wild, White Fang and Other StoriesCandide: or, OptimismThe Brothers KaramazovDemonsThe Old Man and the SeaThe Sun Also RisesTo Have and Have NotA Hunger ArtistIn The Penal ColonyThe MetamorphosisThe TrialR. Crumb's KafkaThe Cheese MonkeysOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestThe ChosenThe Tevye Stories and OthersAdventures of Mottel: The Cantor's SonA Christmas CarolOliver TwistThe Divine ComedyDoctor FaustusThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeTreasure IslandNaked LunchLove is a Dog from HellHam on RyeThe Most Beautiful Woman in TownHot Water MusicThe StrangerThe Satanic VersesPortnoy’s ComplaintAtlas ShruggedChokeDiaryRantLullabyFight ClubCatch-22FaustLife of Pi
Poetry
Budget Travel through Space and Time: PoemsThe Collected Poems, Complete and UnabridgedPoetry as Insurgent ArtA Coney Island of the MindHowl and Other PoemsSongs of Innocence and of ExperienceThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other PoemsMeditations in an EmergencyLord Byron: The Major Works
Drama
Les MisérablesThe Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector, and Selected StoriesOedipus RexArsenic And Old LaceThe Odd CoupleRosencrantz and Guildenstern are DeadThe CrucibleDeath of a SalesmanFocusThe Portable Arthur MillerThe Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus at Colonus / AntigoneHamletA Midsummer Night's DreamMacbethThe TempestOthelloRomeo and JulietShakespeare's SonnetsThe Taming of the Shrew
Mythology
Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round TableArthurian LegendsKappa; A NovelThe Saga of the VolsungsThe Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One NightsEgyptian Ideas of the AfterlifeAncient Egyptian MagicSir Gawain and the Green KnightAesop's FablesThe Hero With a Thousand FacesBeowulf: A New Verse Translation
Paranormal
The Coincidence File: Synchronicity, Morphic Resonance or Pure Chance?The Young Oxford Book of AliensFaces of the VisitorsThe Mothman PropheciesCasebook on the Men in BlackThe Lost Continent of MuCommunion: A True StoryThe Celestine Prophecy50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals
Science
CosmosBonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and SexElephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre ExperimentsThe Golden Section: Nature's Greatest SecretThe Man Who Tasted ShapesI Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work & Brain Are Being Creatively DisruptedThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat & Other Clinical TalesFlatland: A Romance of Many DimensionsThe Man Who Tasted ShapesWhat We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of CertaintyWhat Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today's Leading Thinkers on the UnthinkableWhat Are You Optimistic About?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting BetterWhat Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink EverythingTricks of the Mind
Business
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and RealityHey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great AdsThe Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing CapitalismThe 48 Laws of Power
History
The Iliad & The OdysseyThe IliadThe OdysseyI, ClaudiusNazi GermanyWhat a Way to Go: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to DeathGuns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesA Little History of the WorldOne Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear WarThe War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-08Lincoln's DevotionalLies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got WrongCrossfire: The Plot That Killed KennedyBenjamin Franklin: Wit and WisdomNightThe Diary of a Young GirlNickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaThe Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian SuperpowerA People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the WestYou Can't WinThe Prince
Philosophy
A Little Book of LanguageA Little History of PhilosophyMeditationsGod's Debris: A Thought ExperimentUniverse and EyeCommon SenseThe Communist ManifestoThis Is Not a PipeAstonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday LifeDo You Think What You Think You Think?The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair PhilosopherComing of Age at the End of HistoryThe Society of the SpectacleOn BullshitGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden BraidThe Five People You Meet in HeavenAristotle and an Aardvark Go to WashingtonPlato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through JokesZeno and the Tortoise: How to Think Like a PhilosopherWays of SeeingLateral ThinkingDo You Think What You Think You Think?Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?The Michael Eric Dyson ReaderBullshit and PhilosophyTwilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ
Media Theory
Extra Lives: Why Video Games MatterThe Medium Is the MassageArt & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of ArtmakingMad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s AmericaHow to Watch TV News: Revised EditionDon't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives50 Things You're Not Supposed to KnowImpro101 Things to Learn in Art School
Humour
The Devil's DictionaryThe Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus; All the Words Volume OneNapalm & Silly PuttyBrain DroppingsLies & the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair & Balanced Look at the RightThe Illustrated ManStuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of MillionsWhere's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never ArrivedHow To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming RebellionHow to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!!I Am AmericaCurb Your Enthusiasm: The BookThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme EditionThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and SexThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: TravelThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookHeaven and Hell: A Compulsively Readable Compendium of Myth, Legend, Wisdom, and Wit for Saints and SinnersOur Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet EarthOur Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News SourceI'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have YouThe Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st CenturyThe Joy of Work: Dilbert's Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-WorkersThe Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace AfflictionsGreat Comedians Talk about ComedyHow to Rule the World: A Handbook for the Aspiring DictatorThe Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx
Horror
At the Mountains of MadnessThe Complete WorksFrankensteinThe ShiningThree Ghost StoriesWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living DeadRudyard Kipling's Tales of Horror and Fantasy
Don QuixoteThe Confidence-Man
Crime
Homicide: A Year on the Killing StreetsThree Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the InnocentThe Maltese FalconThe Big SleepThe GodfatherThe Complete Sherlock HolmesDetection by GaslightThe Big Sleep & Farewell, My LovelyThe Murder of Roger AckroydAnd Then There Were NoneThe SicilianOmertaThe Thin Man
Science Fiction
The Challenge Of The SpaceshipTimelineJurassic ParkThe Lost WorldPrey2001: A Space OdysseyR Is for RocketThe Martian ChroniclesA Sound of Thunder and Other StoriesThe VeldtVenus on the Half-ShellMore Stories from the Twilight ZoneStories from the Twilight ZoneBrave New WorldFahrenheit 451The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Time MachineStar Wars: A New HopeThe Lost WorldThe HobbitEnder's GameDuneStranger in a Strange LandParis in the Twentieth CenturyThe First Men in the MoonNeuromancerSnow CrashThe Island of Dr. MoreauWhen the Sleeper WakesThe Country of the Blind and Other Science-Fiction StoriesThe Best Time Travel Stories of All TimeFrom the Earth to the MoonJourney to the Center of the EarthThe Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th CenturyBrave New World/Brave New World RevisitedStarship TroopersMona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Children’s
Mr. Popper's PenguinsWatership DownBunniculaThe Complete Grimm's Fairy TalesMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHThe Indian in the CupboardFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. FrankweilerA Wrinkle in TimeA Wind in the DoorRikki-Tikki-TaviJust So StoriesThe Jungle BooksThe Princess BrideOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishHorton Hears a Who!The LoraxGreen Eggs and HamThe Sneetches and Other StoriesFox in SocksOh, the Places You'll Go!The Cat in the HatThe Butter Battle BookThe Cat in the Hat Comes BackHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!I am Not Going to Get Up Today!Where the Sidewalk EndsThe Giving TreeThe Little PrinceThe Polar ExpressSix MenStrega NonaWhere the Wild Things AreThe Night Before Christmas
Art
Mad Men: The Illustrated WorldThe Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly AreGnomesThe Complete GnomesThe Magic Mirror of M.C. EscherThe Graphic WorkH.R. Giger's NecronomiconDynamic Figure DrawingEx Libris: The Art of BookplatesThe Small Stakes: Music PostersThe Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese InventionsBanksy Locations & Tours Volume 2: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs from around the UKBanksy Locations & Tours: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs in London, EnglandWall and PieceStreet Art San Francisco: Mission MuralismoGraffiti World: Street Art from Five Continentsi am 8-bit: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80sThe Art BookThe Cult of LEGOCartooning: Philosophy and PracticeWreck This JournalThe Book of TikiInfinite City: A San Francisco AtlasMid-Century Ads: Advertising from the Mad Men EraUnpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
Graphic Novels
Rex Libris, Volume I: I, LibrarianHandmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home DesignScud: The Disposable Assassin -The Whole ShebangThe Sixth Gun, Vol. 1: Cold Dead FingersThe Perry Bible Fellowship AlmanackThe Walking Dead, Book OneCats are Weird and More ObservationsI Kill GiantsInvincible, Volume 1: Family MattersJack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 1Action Philosophers Giant-Size Thing Vol. 1Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodThe Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse SuiteSweet Tooth, Vol. 1: Out of the Deep WoodsDaredevil Legends, Vol. 1: YellowThe Sandman: King of DreamsFrank, Vol. 1The Complete Far Side, 1980-1994Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 1: The RoninDarth Vader and SonKick-AssAmerican Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey PekarDr. Horrible and Other Horrible StoriesTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetChew, Vol. 1: Taster's ChoiceEverything Can Be BeatenBatman: The Long HalloweenWiener Dog ArtThe Far Side GalleryChris WareHow to Draw Comics the Marvel WayEverything is Its Own Reward: An All Over Coffee CollectionAll Over CoffeePaula Scher: MAPSKirby: King of ComicsY: The Last Man, Vol. 1: UnmannedThe Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other StoriesThe Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy TalesPinocchioThe Complete Calvin and HobbesThe Complete MausMaus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles BeganRamayana: Divine LoopholeEssential Doctor Strange, Vol. 1Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 2Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1The Art of Steve DitkoStrange and Stranger: The World of Steve DitkoNew GodsSavage Dragon Archives, Vol. 1Mouse Guard: Roleplaying GameMouse Guard: Winter 1152Mouse Guard: Fall 1152Moomin Book Five: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Four: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Three: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Two: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book One: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripTintin in the Land of the SovietsCigars of the PharaohTintin in TibetThe Complete ConcreteDiesel Sweeties: Pocket Sweeties Volume 1A Zits Treasury 02: Big Honkin' ZitsEditorial WorksLittle Nemo: 1905-1914Zippy: Walk a Mile in My Muu-Muu (ZippyZippy StoriesAre We Having Fun YetHow To Go To HellAkbar and Jeff's Guide to LifeWork Is HellChildhood Is HellThe Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite FamilyBart Simpson's Guide to Life: A Wee Handbook for the PerplexedSimpsons World - The Ultimate Episode GuideThe Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of HomerSchool is HellThe Big Book of Hell: The Best of Life in HellThe AlcoholicScott Pilgrim's Precious Little LifeScott Pilgrim Vs. the WorldScott Pilgrim & the Infinite SadnessScott Pilgrim Gets It TogetherScott Pilgrim Vs. the UniverseScott Pilgrim's Finest HourUncle SamDrawing Words and Writing PicturesSilver Surfer: ParableThe Halo Graphic NovelZot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic NovelsUnderstanding Comics: The Invisible ArtReinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art FormRed Meat GoldThe Goon, Volume 8: Those That Is DamnedThe Goon, Volume 9: Calamity of ConscienceThe Goon, Volume 7: A Place of Heartache and GriefThe Goon, Volume 6: Chinatown and The Mystery of Mr. WickerThe Goon, Volume 4: Virtue and the Grim Consequences ThereofThe Goon: NoirThe Goon, Volume 5: Wicked InclinationsThe Goon, Volume 3: Heaps of RuinationThe Goon, Volume 2: My Murderous ChildhoodThe Goon, Volume 1: Nothin' but MiseryThe Collected Sam and MaxThe Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the HuntersThe Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to SufferThe Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind BarsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind UsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone ByeSin City, Vol. 7: Hell and BackSin City, Vol. 6: Booze, Broads, and BulletsSin City, Vol. 5: Family ValuesBatman: The Dark Knight Strikes AgainSin City, Vol. 4: That Yellow BastardSin City, Vol. 3: The Big Fat KillSin City, Vol. 2: A Dame to Kill For300Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard GoodbyeBatman: The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: Year OneElektra Lives Again Beanworld, Vol. 1: Wahoolazuma!Beanworld, Vol. 2: A Gift Comes!Arkham Asylum: MadnessWolverine Legends Vol. 1: Wolverine/HulkThe Maxx, Vol. 3The Maxx, Vol. 2The Maxx, Vol. 1Empowered, Volume 1Empowered, Volume 2Empowered, Volume 3Empowered, Volume 4Empowered, Volume 5Bigfoot: I Not DeadIn Me Own Words: The Autobiography of BigfootBoneCagesThe Fate of the ArtistThe Big Book of the UnexplainedThe Big Book of ConspiraciesThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black DossierSwamp Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp ThingThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2From HellThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1Batman: The Killing JokeV for VendettaWatchmenThe Amazing Screw-on Head and Other Curious ObjectsDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentHellboy, Vol. 10: The Crooked Man and OthersHellboy, Vol. 9: The Wild HuntHellboy: Odd JobsHellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness CallsHellboy, Vol. 7: The Troll Witch and OthersHellboy, Vol. 6: Strange PlacesHellboy, Vol. 5: Conqueror WormHellboy, Vol. 4: The Right Hand of DoomHellboy, Vol. 3: The Chained Coffin and OthersHellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the DevilHellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of DestructionDonald DuckPogoTales from Outer SuburbiaThe ArrivalMirrorMaskThe Sandman: Book of DreamsThe Day I Swapped My Dad for Two GoldfishThe Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly OnesThe Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream CountryThe Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's HouseThe Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and NocturnesMarvel 1602MarvelsThe Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the RenaissanceCartoon History of the Universe II, Vol. 8-13: From the Springtime of China to the Fall of RomeCartoon History of the Universe I, Vol. 1-7: From the Big Bang to Alexander the GreatBat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in JapanBeasts! Book OneGorillaz: Rise of the OgreTank Girl (Tank Girl, #1)Sloppy SecondsHair HighMutant AliensThe Sleazy Cartoons of Bill PlymptonWhen We Were Very MaakiesMaakiesAlias, Vol. 1GoldfishPowers, Vol. 3: Little DeathsJinxPowers, Vol. 7: ForeverPowers, Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?Fortune & Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book StoryPowers, Vol. 11: Secret IdentityAlias, Vol. 3: The UnderneathPowers, Vol. 9: PsychoticPowers, Vol. 5: AnarchyPowers, Vol. 4: SupergroupAlias, Vol. 2: Come HomePowers, Vol. 8: LegendsPowers, Vol. 6: The SelloutsPowers, Vol. 2: RoleplayPowers, Vol. 10: CosmicAlias, Vol. 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica JonesHouse of MSecret InvasionTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Book IThe Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie AvenueWill Eisner's New York: Life in the Big CityThe Best of the SpiritTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1, Revised: Back on the StreetBatman: Joker's AsylumX'ed OutLiberty Meadows Volume 1: EdenLiberty Meadows Volume 2: Creature ComfortsLiberty Meadows Volume 3: Summer Of LoveClerks: The Comic BooksChasing DogmaBluntman and ChronicCerebus, Vol. 1Cerebus, Vol. 2: High SocietyCerebus, Vol. 4: Church and State IICerebus, Vol. 16: The Last DayCerebus, Vol. 6: MelmothCerebus, Vol. 9: ReadsCerebus, Vol. 7: FlightCerebus, Vol. 3: Church and State ICerebus, Vol. 5: Jaka's StoryCerebus, Vol. 11: GuysCerebus, Vol. 10: MindsCerebus, Vol. 8: WomenCerebus, Vol. 13: Going HomeCerebus, Vol. 14: Form and VoidCerebus, Vol. 12: Rick's StoryCerebus, Vol. 15: Latter DaysDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentBlanketsThe Acme Novelty Library #17The Acme Novelty LibraryThe Acme Novelty Library #16The Acme Novelty Datebook: Sketches and Diary Pages in Facsimile, 1986-1995Quimby the Mouse: Or Comic Strips, 1990-1991Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on EarthThe Acme Novelty Library #18The Acme Novelty Datebook, Vol. 2The Acme Novelty Library #19The Acme Novelty Library #2The Acme Novelty Library #1The Acme Novelty Library #3Kingdom ComeThe Best of Gahan WilsonJohnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director's CutSquee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable HorrorsFillerbunny in My Worst Book Yet!JellyfistI Feel Sick #1Fillerbunny #1Revenge Of The FillerbunnyI Feel Sick #2The Bad Art CollectionA Right to Be Hostile: The Boondocks TreasuryAmphigorey TooAmphigoreyAmphigorey Also

Favorite Authors

Douglas Adams
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxySo Long, and Thanks for All the FishLife, the Universe, and EverythingThe Restaurant at the End of the UniverseMostly Harmless
Isaac Asimov
The End of EternityDavid Starr, Space RangerThe Foundation TrilogyFoundation and EmpireFoundationSecond FoundationMort
Philip K. Dick
UbikDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?The Man in the High CastleA Scanner DarklyThe Collected Stories, Vol. 4: The Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 2: We Can Remember it for You WholesaleThe Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown OxfordPaycheck and Other Classic StoriesThe Shifting Realities of Philip K. DickThe Philip K. Dick Reader
Hunter S. Thompson
Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. ThompsonThe Gonzo Tapes: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. ThompsonGonzoGonzo: The ArtFear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamThe Joke's OverHell's AngelsThe Rum DiaryBetter Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of ChampionsCat’s CradleWelcome to the Monkey HouseGalápagosThe Sirens of TitanMother NightGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A NovelA Man Without a CountryPlayer PianoTimequakeDeadeye Dick: A NovelBluebeardBagombo Snuff BoxGod Bless You, Dr. KevorkianWampeters, Foma and GranfalloonsArmageddon in RetrospectLook at the Birdie: Unpublished Short FictionSlaughterhouse-Five
Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom SawyerA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtThe Prince and the PauperThe Complete Short Stories of Mark TwainPudd'nhead WilsonThe Diary of Adam and EveLife on the MississippiThe Bible According to Mark TwainThe Mysterious StrangerThe Wit and Wisdom of Mark TwainMark Twain Tonight!Mark Twain's San FranciscoThe Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other SketchesThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Only the Beginning

I recently watched ‘Trancendent Man’ a documentary about the futurist thinker and inventor Ray Kurzweil (on Netflix Instant), which talks about the future of technology, integrating with machines, the singularity, and a post-Digital-Revolution society, and ALL THE WHILE transfixed to both the televisor screen and the nearly intravenous flow of twitter on my phone, WHEN IT STRUCK; the hard jolting pause of realization that large majorities of people and societies around the world (and many in this country) do not have the slightest inkling, desire, ability, resources, freedom, or IO port to hang their digital hat on. It took hold of me like the cracking clear bolt of a metaphysical electromagnet coil, like billions of souls crying out for porn and pictures of cats saying stupid things, suddenly silenced.

With the unequivocally ever-rapidly snowball effect of technology (whether you agree with Kurzweil or not about some of the extreme implications this has on the future), society will be bracketed even further than it already has by divisive class policies and repressive economic imbalances. As we fully intersect with technology, many will be left behind. While those pre-borg immigrants will jump through every fiery hoop to lapse into digital escapism, the expendable income necessary is not available to large segments of the human race, still forced to face a harsh physical reality of hunger, war, disease and rape every day.

Three separate, earlier senses of foreboding combined into one bone-chilling premonition; the constantly recurring thoughts of dread for the starving and down-trodden of the world, the nagging wrecking ball of a mysterious and unknown future world, and the obvious historical tendency of those in power to abuse those viewed as below them. We have seen the brutal reality of war and genocide repeatedly played out over limited resources.

There may be a temptation in lazy thinking to assume that it will be primarily voluntary luddites of the future resisting this technology, but this is a reminiscent leftover of dogmatic Christian missionary mentality, and not everyone is able to join the wiry fray, nor does the trepidation of the unwilling-yet-able make them boorish peasantry, but perhaps there are a myriad of unfortunate circumstances or other considerations. As the singularity exponentially widens the chasm between the technocrats and the new order of plebes, does anyone really believe that those humans+ will have found some magical insight in the machine code that makes them suddenly retroact on hundreds of thousands of years (if not millions) of ingrained biological selfishness and power-mad despotism? That they will provide for the unassimilated as anything more than a slave class?

Ray Kurzweil, ever the optimist futurist, seems to hope so. Terence McKenna, too, when he speaks of a similar event in consciousness, Time Wave Zero, occurring at the crux of a historical quickening. A sort of critical mass, which he has proposed could be anything from the invention of time travel, some sort of mass awareness, or a finding and meeting with the ‘other’, deep from our inner shadows, perhaps the collective anima/animus or “soul image” from Jung. This is all well and good, but barring some actual social or political revolution, gas prices will rise, policy-makers will adversely affect markets, and companies will try their damnedest to price-gouge and choke-hold streams of “free” information.

But what of those unpredictable social ramifications? Will there be cyber-wars on a regular basis, will the hackers and terrorists be able to outpace the nth more well-funded forces of organizational infrastructure? (Who, incidentally, are still somewhat behind the game). Will the assimilated be able to or even care to break programming long enough to fight for social justice of others? As the borg grows and leaves humans further in the dust, how long before they are no longer equals, how long before the meatsacks remnants are expendable?

We haven’t left our emotionally-binding forms of flesh just yet, and a sense of freedom and human rights prevails as certain groups have already emerged and entrenched themselves for what will surely be a long and arduous struggle. Wikileaks, Lulsec, Anonymous, and countless other hacker collectives and rebels in areas even as restrictive as North Korea and Iran continue to fight with their particular electrons, 1s and 0s, for a totally free dissemination of information. Other violations of human spirit are coordinated, encouraged, and energized by digital social media as seen this year during the Arab Spring revolutions, UK riots and looting, and here in San Francisco more recently the Anonymous-led BART protests. For better or worse, humans all over the world are making it very clear to the cognoscenti of politics, authority, mainstream media and high finance, that censorship and restrictive policies can and will be met at some point with severe pushback.

These humans, I tell ya, you give them a little total freedom and it’s like they think they’re entitled to it or something.

This was all inevitable, no doubt. Some fires will rage, some systems will either crumble, alter, or steel themselves so furiously that their hollow insides dry-rot out. Our arrogant cliques of domineering world authorities will froth hard enough to lose all control at some point, furious of the hard fact that though the march of time may lead the universe to entropy, it also leads our species to a wider understanding of freedom.

Perhaps we will only settle into our proper and humbly sated nation-state period of equality, mutual understanding and dignity once the generations of globally-connected democratic-thinking individuals fully survive the repression of a resource-hungry egomaniacal post-WWII society.

XBox live digital natives notwithstanding.