Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

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Sex: The First and Last Temptation of High Tech

THERE EXIST A PLETHORA of quotes about how things change but remain the same, so I'll spare you. It just seemed to me that two decades in high tech closed in my own little mind this afternoon as I was clicking through some of my back pages. In 1993, Wired was about to be launched and I was asked to write something for the first issue. The article, Wired 1.01: This Is A Naked Lady is found below, somewhat updated as is my habit over time. But what is really interesting, at least to me, is how little updating it needed. What was more interesting, at least to me, was this curious conjunction of Wired's current cover to an article from its first issue that closes with a meditation on the probable rise of robots for other, more wetware uses than just spot welding SUVs.

wired1.jpg

It all goes to show that while high tech may be tempting, we'll not see the end of that temptation in our lifetime. Then again, why would we want to?

UPDATE: I'm not the only one out there with memories of the "Naked Lady:"

James @ SciScoop does as well.

"I remember her from back when I subscribed to The Source!!! I accessed it with a diskless TRS-80 Model III and an external Lynx 300 baud modem. Man, those were the days. I upgraded my TRS-80 myself from 16K to 64K (that's K-as-in-kilo, kids!!!) RAM and never did get the RF shield back on right, there was always TV static when I fired it up after that. "

Ah, there's RAM and then there's Mem'ries...

"This is a Naked Lady" -- 1993-2004

Back in the dawn of online when a service called The Source was still in flower and 1200 baud was blazing,, a woman I used to know, would logon to that service as "This is a naked lady."

She wasn't naked of course, except in the minds of hundreds of young and not so young males on The Source, who sent her unremitting streams of detailed wet dreams night after night, hoping to engage her in online exchanges known as "hot chat"; a way of engaging in a mutual fantasy often found only at 900 services. In return, "The Naked Lady" egged them on with leading questions larded with copious amounts of double entendre. She also kept an open file on her computer where she kept copies of all her "conquests".

When we discussed this during the time in 1984 she spent writing a book on information services for me (Confessions of an Infomaniac Houghton Mifflin, Boston), she initially put it down to "just fooling around on the wires."

"Its just a hobby," she said. "Maybe I'll get some dates out of it. Some of these guys have very creative and interesting fantasy lives."

At the start, she was a rather mousy person, favored gray clothing of a conservative cut, and was the paragon of shy and retiring womanhood. Looking at her on the street, you'd never think that her online persona was one that excited the libidos of dozens of men every night.

But as the months online progressed and she became (through the dint of her blazing typing speed) the kind of person that could keep a dozen or more online sessions of hot chat going at a time, a strange transformation came over her. She got a trendy haircut, and had it streaked. Her clothing tastes went from Peck and Peck to tight skirts slit up to the thigh with tight sweaters to match. She began to regale me with descriptions of her expanding lingerie collection, and ask my advice on condoms and other personal items of nocturnal intent.

Her speech became bawdier and her jokes naughtier. Her choice of lipstick changed from Chapstick to "Passionfruit". She started to resemble an aging cheerleader gone to seed. After a while, it dawned on me that I was witnessing the total transformation of her character. In short, she was becoming her online personality; lewd, bawdy, sexy, a man-eater.

After the book was delivered, I left town. The last I saw of her, she was using her online conversations to get dates and favors from the men foolish enough to fall into her clutches.

The bait was an old bait....sex without strings attached, sex without love, sex as a fantasy pure and simple. An ancient profession whose costs always exceed expectations and whose pleasures invariably disappoint. The "fishing tackle", however, was way new at the time: online telecommunications. The "new twist" was that you didn't have to look your best and there was nothing to clean up afterward.

In the two decades that have passed since then there have been a number of other new wrinkles added to the text-based fantasy machine of online sex stories and erotic conversations that consumes an unknown and unknowable portion of the global telecommunications bandwidth. Groups have formed to represent all sexual persuasions. On the Internet for awhile there was a group called alt.sex.bondage.golden.showers.sheep. Most people at the time of its creation thought it was a joke. Alas, it was not, but neither was it's membership limited to Greek shepherds with cable modems.

You can send graphics from here to there and everywhere. NASA sends graphics of the Space Shuttle. Singles groups of all persuasions send photos and state preferences. And, yes, a large amount of traffic in these images is erotic in content. Sounds are starting to be sent. Movies, short clips called Quicktime, are being "netcast". All harbingers of ever more raunchy things to come. Because, for all the ho-ha that grows every louder by the day in our over-connected and soon to be entirely wireless world, the web reveals everything we are and that includes the fact that when it comes to sex, there really is no bottom to the human soul.

It is as if all the incredible advances in computing and networking technology over the past decades boils down to the ability to ship images of turgid members and sweating bodies stuffed with bodaciousness everywhere and anywhere at anytime. Looking at this, it is little wonder that, whenever this is discovered (And someone somewhere makes the discovery about twice a month), that a vast hue and cry resounds over the nets to root out the offending material and burn those that promulgated it. It is especially ghastly to the Guardians of Public Decency that this new technology, the flower of American Research and Development, supported by tax dollars, should have one bit of a byte devoted to shipping the image of an overweight Princess Leia in a leather body-suit brandishing a whip while stoking her beard. High tech is being perverted to low ends, they cry.

But it was always so.

There is absolutely nothing whatever new about the prurient relationship between technology and sexuality.

Sex, as we know, is a heat-seeking missile that forever seeks out the newest medium for its transmission. William Burroughs, a man who understands the dark side of sexuality better than most, sees it as a virus that always is on the hunt for a new host; a virus that always gets there first. There is something hard wired into the human psyche that simply and persistently likes to think about sex and see sexual images. Different genders and psyches have different tastes, but the overall desire seems about as persistent over the centuries as the lust for bread and burgers. To see how this works, lets look back in time to when other media were hot.

We could go back to Neolithic times when sculpture and cave painting were young. We could pick up the prehistoric sculptures of females with pendulous breasts and very wide hips -- a theme found today in pornographic magazines that specialize in women of generous endowment. We could run our flashlight over cave paintings of males whose members seem to exceed the length of their legs. A theme echoed in magazines with alliterative titles such as "Hung,Horny,Humpy and Hongray Honchos Rode Hard and Put Away Wet." We could travel forward in time to naughty frescoes in Pompeii, or across continents to where large stones resembling humongous erections have for centuries been major destinations of pilgrims in India, or to the vine-choked couples of the Black Pagoda at Ankor Wat where a Mardi Gras of stone erotic activity has been on display for centuries.

We could move up a little closer to our time and culture and remind people that movable type not only made the Gutenberg Bible possible, but it made cheap broadsheets of what can only be called "real-smut-in-perfect-English" available to the masses for the first time. You see, printing not only made it possible to extend the word of God to the educated classes, it also extended the monsters of the id to them as well. It is well to remember that one of the first novels, Clarissa, dealt with the seduction and deflowering of a young girl by a reprobate. Hot stuff for the times although it wouldn't make it past the slush pile in today's publishing companies.

Printing also made for the cheap reproduction and broad distribution of erotic images as well. Woodcuts at first, then etchings, then lithographs, and with the coming of chromo-lithography in the 19th century, color got added. All was not Currier and Ives in the 19th century, bogus themes from the walls of Pompeii were also very popular.

Depending on the tenor of the era, the trade in these images was more or less sub-rosa; always there as background noise in the communications mix.

"Psst, got any French postcards, my good man?"

"Come up and see my etchings sometime."

"Lord,check out this deck of playing cards! That's what I call a one- eyed Jack, if ya know what I mean. Nudge. Nudge. Wink. Wink."

All these widely distributed images were carefully drawn and portrayed, in various positions and acts, to excite the libido of many and make a tidy living for a few.

And then along came photography, a new medium and one that, until recently, did more to advance the democratic nature of erotic images than all the previous media combined. When you joined photography with photo-lithography, you created the first medium that could be used by many. It suddenly became both economic and possible for lots of people to enact and record their fantasies and then to reproduce them for sale to many others. Without putting too fine a point on it, the Stroke Book was born.

Implicit within these early black and white tomes featuring a lot of naked people with Lone Ranger masks demonstrating the ways in which human's could entwine their limbs and conceal large members at the same time, were the vast nascent publishing empires of Playboy, Penthouse, and Swedish Erotica. Still, the point was made that the new medium of photo-lithography was, if not exactly a people's media, at least ripe for the entrepreneur with a vision about what people really wanted to see when they looked at pictures. It may have made them outlaws, but they were at the outset more like Pretty Boy Floyd than Al Capone. It wasn't to last, alas, but what does?

The point here is that all media, when they are new or become cheap enough, are used by outlaws to broadcast unpopular images or ideas. The same printing press that could run off copies of Fanny Hill could also be used to print up copies of The Rights of Man, the Declaration of Independence, The Communist Manifesto and other highly unpopular screeds. When a medium is created the first order of business seems to be the use of it to advance religious, political, or sexual notions and desires.

Indeed all media, if they are to get a jump start in the market and become successful, have to address themselves to mass drives -- those things we hold in common as human needs: Food -- Gourmet Magazine and The French Chef; Shelter --- Better Homes and Gardens, and This Old House; Fashion -- Vogue and GQ and 90210; Knowing the News of the Week, Money.......TIME, LIFE, and FORTUNE.

But of all these, the old stand-by SEX is the drive where it is easiest for the consumer to know if the medium is effective. SEX is like a horror movie or novel in this way. We are talking real basic instincts here. You are either hot/scared, or you are disgusted/turned off. This is why so many people who are excited by the idea of eliminating pornography from the earth have recently fallen back on the saying "I can't define what pornography is, but I know it when I see it." They're right. You can't define it, you feel it. Alas, since everyone feels it in a slightly different way and no one can define it, it becomes very dangerous to a free society to start proscribing it. We can only get about as far as proscribing pornography that involves children, since within limits that is pretty much self-evident, and doesn't have many public advocates outside of the woe-begone ragtag assemblage of NAMBLA.

And now we have come to the "digital age" when all information and images can be digitized; when all bits are equal but some are hotter than others. We are in a land and an age where late-night cable can make a sailor blush. An endless Edgecity strip mall where for every family-style Blockbuster video outlet, you have three Mom and Pop Vid Shops whose prosperity depends on a continuing turnover of "Debby Does Everything In Sight." We are a collection of urban monads where dialing 900 and seven other digits can put you in intimate contact with pre-op transsexuals in wet-suits who will talk to you as long as the credit limit on your MasterCard stays in the black.

It is little wonder that the religious right in this nation is fit to be tied, and has discovered that there is no end to people who would be happy to oblige. SEX has come rocketing out of the closet and into the everyone's terminal. In addition, the sex industry has transmogrified itself from the province of a few large companies and individuals into a massive cottage industry.

It used to be that, at the very least, you had to drive to the local (or not so local) video shop or "adult" bookstore to refresh your collection of sexual fantasies. Now, you don't have to leave home. Just dial it up and pump it in. What's more, you can make it yourself if that's your pleasure and transmit it to others. It is a distinct harbinger of things to come that better "Needless to say..." letters appear online than in Penthouse Forum, sexual images in binary form form one of the heaviest data streams on the Internet, and that "amateur" erotic home videos are the new hot category in the porn shops. People in the digital age are not only reaching out to touch everyone, they are reaching out to touch everyone everywhere.

Since it depends on basic stimuli that is widely known and understood, erotica is the easiest kind of material to produce. Quality isn't the primary criteria. Quality isn't even the point. Arousal is the point, pure and simple. Everything else is just wrapping paper. "Art" is something you add if you are a classy kind of person and don't want to admit you just like to get off. If you can pick up a Polaroid, run a Camcorder, write a reasonably intelligible sentence on a word processor and can set up a BBS, you too can be in the erotica business. Talent has very, very little to do with it. Desire and access is all in this game. This makes the barrier to entry very low, and has a similar effect on the quality of the material.

You have to know a lot to run a good conference on law or even gardening. You have to study. You have to know the territory. But everyone thinks they know how to present sex. To do it well takes talent, true. But to just do it so that it "works" for most people, takes very little ability at all.

The other irritating thing about sex is that, like hunger, it is never satisfied. It recurs in the human psyche with numbing regularity. In addition, it is one of the most commonly stimulated, but never satisfied, drives by the approved above-ground media (Is that woman in the Calvin Klein ads coming up from a stint of oral sex, or is she just surfacing in the swimming pool?) Mature, corporate media can tease. New, outlaw media have to deliver the orgasm. They can't get by on production values, because they have none.

The good news for the eternal guardians of morality is that as any new medium matures, the subject matter expands and the sexual percentage of material tends to become marginalized, even if it is growing in volume. With the VCR the ability to own x-rated tapes through the mails (so that no one would know these "private things") drove the market for a number of years. Now, it is a much lower percentage of the total video market although still sizable. Same thing happened with 900 numbers.

Computer networks are going through the same process that has characterized new mediums since the days of cave painting. First hot chat, then whole BBS systems and networks....perfect for sexual material since it is private and yet somehow communal at the same time. .GIFS came along just in time to revitalize a group that had grown jaded on Cindy's Torment. And now we'll be seeing the advent of QuickTime movies transmitted over the Internet and giving us the best of Marilyn Chambers or a clone thereof.

The author, Howard Rheingold, made some waves in the early 90s with his vision of a network that will actually hook some sort of tactile feedback devices onto our bodies so that the fantasies don't have to be so damned cerebral. He called this vision "dildonics" and had been dining out on the concept for years. It's arrived and Howard has long since moved on to making mad monkey mindlove with young mob-bloggers. Soon you'll have virtual reality and the ability to construct your own erotic consort for work, play, or simple experimentation. On and on it will go. Robotics will in time deliver household servants and sex slaves. Then of course the robots will have a movement for equality and liberation. Every new technology matched by a use for it by the libido of the young, the restless, or the bored. Until, of course, the users and the technology outgrow it.

I saw that "Naked Lady" about three months ago. I asked her if she was still up to the same old games of online sex. "Are you kidding?" she told me. "I'm a consultant on computer security these days. Besides, I have a kid now. I don't want that kind of material in my home."


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 12, 2012 1:39 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Electicle Dysfunction

soma-cola.jpg Electile Dysfunction: "The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year."

Quick, break out the Soma!

"Awful? They don't find it so. On the contrary, they like it. It's light, it's childishly simple. No strain on the mind or the muscles. Seven and a half hours of mild, unexhausting labour, and then the soma ration and games and unrestricted copulation and the feelies. What more can they ask for?" -- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

HT: The Homchick Report


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 24, 2008 8:30 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Think of the Internet as a Highway."

"THERE IT IS AGAIN. Some clueless fool talking about the "Information Superhighway." They don't know didley about the net. It's nothing like a superhighway. That's a rotten metaphor. Suppose the metaphor ran in the other direction. Suppose the highways were like the net:

A highway hundreds of lanes wide. Most with pitfalls for potholes.

Privately operated bridges and overpasses.

No highway patrol. A couple of rent-a-cops on bicycles with broken whistles. 500 member vigilante posses with nuclear weapons.

A minimum of 237 on ramps at every intersection.

No signs. Wanna get to Ensenada? Holler out the window at a passing truck to ask directions.

Ad hoc traffic laws. Some lanes would vote to make use by a single-occupant- vehicle a capital offense on Monday through Friday between 7:00 and 9:00. Other lanes would just shoot you without a trial for talking on a car phone.

AOL would be a giant diesel-smoking bus with hundreds of ebola victims on board throwing dead wombats and rotten cabbage at the other cars, most of which have been assembled at home from kits. Some are built around 2.5 horsepower lawnmower engines with a top speed of nine miles an hour. Others burn nitroglycerin and idle at 120.

No license plates. World War II bomber nose art instead. Terrifying paintings of huge teeth or vampire eagles.

Bumper mounted machine guns. Flip somebody the finger on this highway and get a white phosphorus grenade up your tailpipe.

Flatbed trucks cruise around with anti-aircraft missile batteries to shoot down the traffic helicopter. Little kids on tricycles with squirt-guns filled with hydrochloric acid switch lanes without warning.

NO OFF-RAMPS. None.

Now that's the way to run an Interstate Highway system."

(From my clipfile. Author Unknown)


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 15, 2005 9:30 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Digest, 2004: The Condensed Version

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A look back at what seems, for now, to be worth keeping. I've lost track of how many entries there have been in the last year, but I am determined that there will be fewer in the future -- at least by me. That's the good news. The other news is that, as is common in this medium, I've compiled a list of what seems to me to be of more than passing interest from the last year's entries.

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 31, 2004 1:58 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How to Canoe in Five Sentences

"The bow paddler is only an engine, paddling straight ahead. The stern paddler is the captain and makes all decisions: "Paddle, stop paddling, switch sides, back paddle." The stern controls direction by paddling with a J-stroke -- back and out - or using the paddle as a rudder. The passengers sit still in the middle. Nobody stands up."
-- Robert Fulghum


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 14, 2004 7:40 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Ad Apple Does Not Want You to See

FROM THE SUBTLE AND TWISTED MINDS @ Red vs Blue comes this last gambit in the endless Mac vs. PC Religious War.

This ad has been all over the net and tech-related TV shows. It even went all the way over to France where it was shown on French TV. There, it met a young French girl and spent one wild month backpacking through Europe. Now it has returned home for your enjoyment.

The QuickTime ad is: Right Here.

It's 10 megabytes so you might have to be patient, but it is worth it.

(Suggested by American Digest reader M. T. Anderson.)


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 17, 2004 7:57 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Very Model of the Metaphor
The essential paradigm of cyberspace is creating partially situated identities out of actual or potential social reality in terms of canonical forms of human contact, thus renormalizing the phenomenology of narrative space and requiring the naturalization of the intersubjective cognitive strategy, and thereby resolving the dialectics of metaphorical thoughts, each problematic to the other, collectively redefining and reifying the paradigm of the parable of the model of the metaphor.

-- Chip Morningstar , How to Deconstruct Almost Anything


Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 13, 2004 11:04 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
He's Got A Not-So-Little List

IF YOU LIKE BLOGS, you'll love Jon Garfunkel's funny-because-its-true Bloggers from the A-List to the Z-List @ Civilities

There's been a lot of talk about the "A-List" in the blogosphere-- the top bloggers who et all the attention-- and this often inspires speculation about parallel B-lists and C-lists. What many people don't know is that the designations go all the way to Z.


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 30, 2004 11:09 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
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SIDELINES

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By Mail: Gerard Van der Leun | 6616-D Clark Road #176 | Paradise, CA 95969

Your Shower Is Lame, Your Dishwasher Doesn’t Work, and Your Clothes are Dirty

It’s not just about the showerhead.
The water pressure in our homes and apartments has been gradually getting worse for two decades, thanks to EPA mandates on state and local governments. This has meant that even with a good showerhead, the shower is not as good as it might be. It also means that less water is running through our pipes, causing lines to clog and homes to stink just slightly like the sewer. This problem is much more difficult to fix, especially because plumbers are forbidden by law from hacking your water pressure. | Foundation for Economic Education [HT: Never Yet Melted]


In 2016 the Western political system had a stroke.

The American political system is operating in the curious condition of being an impaired state.
It's not really thinking -- about China, Russia, Syria, Kurdistan. It's not really thinking about anything except half remembered slogans from 1968. Like a person afflicted by a stroke, it can't take a consistent view of external reality because it's regressing into atavisms by a loss of brain function. Impaired


Fake News. At the same time of the political putsch, the mainstream media outlets,

in particular the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks, via broadcasts and social media, began an orchestrated campaign of defamation and delegitimization.
The crazier and more diverse the media mythologies, the better. Melania Trump was a former call girl and illegal alien. Ivanka Trump was peddling her business wares from the West Wing. Jared Kushner was a profiteering collusionist. Steve Bannon was a racist, Sebastian Gorka an unrepentant Nazi. Baron Trump was a spoiled, autistic child. The late elder Trump had run a racist campaign for mayor. And on and on. Resistance & Regime Change: Any Means Necessary – Lies, Leaks, Violence | National Review


Crime simply does not pay as well as politics or banking.

That may be the way to look at something like the Clinton Foundation and, coming soon, the Obama Foundation.
These are not explicitly criminal organizations, but they certainly play outside the spirit of the laws. Obama is out of office and prohibited from running again, but he still controls the Democratic party. The Clintons would be in charge, if not for the fact that the voters took their under boss out in the Tuesday Night Massacre, otherwise known as the presidential election. Even so, the Clinton Family is still a player. Late Phase Capitalism | The Z Blog


Bodymore, Murderville”

Most whites have become habituated to the reality of life in this part of the world.
Everyone, white and black, knows the reality on the street. The blacks with anything on the ball do exactly like the whites and that’s put distance between themselves and the black ghetto. That does not stop the Progressive maniacs from ranting about racism, but they do it from high up in the towers of their whites-only neighborhoods. As a result, no one hears them and so they can be ignored. The Killing Season | The Z Blog


New Blog Arriving Soon

Some have asked, "Gee whiz, Unca Gerard, where is that thar new blog you keeps a promisin'?"

I am hoping for sometime tonight. Hoping. We've been having some issues getting this winged dinosaur landed.


Drink Tea

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Drink tea, together with your friends; pay attention to the tea, and to your friends, and pay attention to your friends paying attention to the tea. Therein lies the meaning of life. The Essence of Peopling

We would love to cut a deal with the noble indigenous peoples across the Earth—

you can have your Navajo panties and aboriginal dot paintings and every last freaking burrito on the planet so long as you give us back our computers and cell phones and cars and indoor plumbing and electricity and air conditioners. Deal?

If people go their separate ways such a divorce would be an astonishing defeat for the Left.

As late as 2016 it was possible to imagine an America led to a "progressive" future by Hillary Clinton;
an EU guiding all of Europe to a similar destiny and the G20 taking the whole world to the same destination. Indeed everyone told they were fated to follow an Arc of History. Yet after Brexit, Trump and G-Zero it is no longer possible to visualize this outcome. A blue-red division would confirm the failure to create a "progressive" world. No conceivable rollback will ever put Humpty Dumpty together again. Opportunity


Trump, Julius Caesar, and killing tyrants

The Roman lower classes, with whom Caesar was popular, became enraged that a small group of aristocrats had sacrificed Caesar. -- neoneocon

Execute Trump? Nah, You First.

Draining the swamp means not only ejecting Trump from the presidency,
but also bringing himself and everyone assisting in his agenda up on charges of treason. They must be convicted (there is little room to doubt their guilt). And then — upon receiving guilty verdicts — they must all be executed under the law. Impeachment Is No Longer Enough; Donald Trump Must Face Justice | HuffPost [Retreived from GoogleCache after it was expunged from the Huffington Post]


A bee in her bonnet

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Thousands of bees took over a car in the UK and beekeepers are struggling to make them leave -
At first it wasn't clear why the bees chose the blue Nissan car and he and a colleague were trying to determine whether this was just a temporary stop or a new nesting site. But as the bees moved to the inside of the bonnet, filling every nook and cranny, things got more serious. "They're building a lot of wax in there now, and of course once they start doing that, they're reluctant to leave it, because it's the start of building a house. They put a lot of effort into producing the wax," Coulson told Hull Daily Mail. "I've got a feeling this might be their chosen permanent home."


[Bumped] "They send one of ours to the hospital, we send two of theirs to the morgue."

Baseball Shooter a Big Wake-Up Call for the Left | Roger L. SimonRobespierre is alive and well in 2017 USA.

This pathetic character in Alexandria is, now was, the left's ungoverned id. By any means necessary -- that's for sure. They will undoubtedly try to shove him under the rug as quickly as possible, just one more aberrant individual to be forgotten, just one obscure Bernie volunteer gone bad. Sanders did his best to separate himself within minutes of the revelation. Yes, it's undoubtedly true that this was just one rotten apple, but it's also true that only five years ago Bernie was recommending Venezuela -- now ground zero for starvation, kidnapping and murder -- as a path for us to emulate.



Greatest antitheft device when the thieves are millenials:

Man leads Jeffco deputies on low-speed chase in stolen flatbed truck after unable to get out of 1st gear The driver - later identified as 29-year-old Randy Dewayne Vert - refused to stop and continued driving south on Center Point Parkway, Christian said. Vert was apparently unfamiliar with the complexities of a modern manual transmission.

The natural impulse of a political system in institutional crisis is to dig in.

Too many institutions in the West remain decades after their birth, frozen in the moment of their creation.
NASA, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the university system and the United Nations rule us from the past. Public life has become a museum of memes from which nothing can escape without a mummy hand dragging the fugitive back into the darkened interior. It is perhaps no coincidence the two most popular leaders of the Western left, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, might credibly impersonate Boris Karloff. They are here to lead us back to 1968. Stuck


The Japanese. Nuked Too Much... or Trying to Get Their Mouths Around Fujiyama Volcano Plate

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We put Japan's most phallic-looking roast beef meal into our mouth at VolcanoKitchen | SoraNews24
Since we’d already become somewhat desensitized to the initially unsettling sensation of peeling strips of meat off the top of the shaft, we mercilessly crushed the egg, sending viscous, gooey liquid running down to the base of the meat rod.
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The power of the press is a figment of the imagination -- humbug --

Oscar Diggs behind the curtain projecting the image of Oz the Great and Powerful!
The Internet did not kill the power of the newspapers. It was suicide. And not just because most of them had Marxist editorials, editors, and reporters. Newspapers lost their sense of community -- and their credibility -- when the heirs to hometown publishers didn't want the paper, sold it to a chain for $1,000 per subscriber to a chain -- Gannett, Knight-Ridder, Thomson -- and moved on. Don Surber: Craigslist killed newspapers


When terrorists enter your children’s school and begin to execute them...

will the gun ban (you favored) in school that prevented abiding staff and teachers from saving your child, come to mind as a good idea?
If the answer to any or all of these and many more reasonable questions, is 'yes,' then you may be a delusional liberal, and likely a coward, and almost as big a threat to our nation as the terrorists who are at war with us." - Morgan K. Freeberg


"Happy birthday, Mr. President...."

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First truth which has been grounded into dust, must spring forth from the earth again.

At the present time . . .he who practices loving-kindness is esteemed and sought after, while he who champions the truth in word and in deed is persecuted and shunned. 
For men desire to base their affairs on everything except the one incorruptible truth which has been set down before us by God , and therefore these affairs have no permanent value . . . only when love and truth meet together, only when men come to understand that the highest act of loving-kindness is to bring men to know and practice the truth, only then will the marriage of love and truth produce that condition on earth in which everyone and everything will occupy the place which has been assigned to it by the will of God. Truth and Peace - Men Of The West


What happened to Nuclear Winter?

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As the media glare faded, its robust scenario appeared less persuasive;
John Maddox, editor of Nature, repeatedly criticized its claims; within a year, Stephen Schneider, one of the leading figures in the climate model, began to speak of "nuclear autumn." It just didn't have the same ring. A final media embarrassment came in 1991, when Carl Sagan predicted on Nightline that Kuwaiti oil fires would produce a nuclear winter effect, causing a "year without a summer," and endangering crops around the world. Sagan stressed this outcome was so likely that "it should affect the war plans." None of it happened. Raconteur Report: Aliens Cause Global Warming by Michael Crichton


If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus.

I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks.
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. - - Woodpile Report


Joe Biden’s niece dodges jail after $100K credit card scam

She walks on a major felony? Of course she did. And who believes she'll keep her end of the deal? In her defense, we're assured she's "a very complicated girl who has a lot of feelings and a lot of issues." Oh ... okay. That explains everything. Hugs from all the little people. Woodpile Report

Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?

There is exactly one language on Earth whose present tense requires a special ending only in the third‑person singular.
I’m writing in it. I talk, you talk, he/she talk-s – why just that? The present‑tense verbs of a normal language have either no endings or a bunch of different ones (Spanish: hablo, hablas, habla). And try naming another language where you have to slip do into sentences to negate or question something. Do you find that difficult? | Aeon Essays



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