when do you send in the army?

So if you were a citizen of Brussels, then at this point you’ve been robbed of a whole week of your life earlier this year and now, all of New Years.  Why?  Terror threats.

Well, what is that?  Apparently it’s whatever somebody says it is.  Just ask your Los Angeles school district neighbor.  I’ve already ranted about this without purpose, it is what it is.  You just need to read the remarks of Belgium’s leader to understand what happened here, he cancelled all of New Years because of:

“…information we have received.”

How long do leaders figure their people are going to just put up with this?  How long are the average working folks of Brussels going to put up with having their lives altered because of information their leaders have apparently received?

With this kind of weak leadership, it is any wonder folks are turning to new fringe political parties and leaders?

I have no idea.  Neither does Donald Trump or Francois Hollande.  I just would think, at a certain point, that your normal average human would eventually get aggravated to the point that they’d expect something to be done about it.  Instead of doing what Europe does best: muddle through.

For now, the European answer, and I suspect the American answer is you just put the army on the streets.  Europe’s armies now guard the streets.  And the American police are mostly armed and equipped the same way as European armies, so it’s all the same to me.

And armies now guard museums, government buildings, mosques, synagogues, and the freaking zoo.

If you live in Brussels, and the Islamic State is responsible for ruining your life, when do you draw the line and demand your leaders deal with the problem at the source?

I fear, the answer is, you don’t.  You muddle through.  Particularly because as it stands, Belgium virtually has no deployable army.  Which is sad when you look at what they did in 1940.

So you’ll say, well, I’m a lunatic.  True.  But where do you draw the line?  If you honestly prefer a life where every public occasion you attend with your family requires a cop / soldier armed with an automatic rifle?   Just say so.  Tell me you want to live like that.

But I’m wondering if the lesser evil to the West’s freedom is a brief army of say 100K troops, mostly American and French, who carve a swath against the Islamic State for about 3 months and destroy it.  Then everybody wags their fingers and says, “Don’t do that again.”

And then you leave the Middle East to figure out the wreckage on their own terms.  And if they screw it up, and the Islamic State emerges again, you do another 3 month invasion all over.

Do you think this is a shit idea?  Maybe.  My idea might suck.  But at least it’s an idea.

The only idea on offer from idiots like Trump is to expel an entire religious group. The only idea on offer from all the leaders of Europe is to cancel New Years.  I’ll stand by the lunacy of my idea.  It’s better than anybody else’s.

belgian police

What’s really creepy about this shot, is that the Belgian police are all wearing masks while inside their own capital city.  And, look closely, the BBC has blurred the faces of those cops who aren’t wearing masks.

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Coba – where humanity doesn’t make sense

I got distracted last night during what was without a doubt one of the better games of the year in Bengals – Broncos. For you see, while the game is great, the commercials are long and the flags are many. So I flipped, and ended up watching a documentary on the Mayans on the breaks.

It was on some C-grade network I’ve never heard of called AWE, and it was a Japanese production. According to the Internets, it was called Secret Civilizations: Incan and Mayan Worlds Royal Dynasties: Deep in the Jungle. Which is quite the mouthful, and in any case, I only saw the Mayan portion.

It truly grabbed my interest to the point that at times I was actually annoyed that I had to flip back to the game. It certainly didn’t help that most of the middle 75% of the game it was just straight 3 and outs for both teams. But I still didn’t catch the whole documentary, just parts.

My travel to Mayan lands was a brief one day trip to Coba from Cancun where I attended a wedding. But my fascination with Mayan culture both on-site and last night is that it just doesn’t make sense.

Ponder the Mayans for a moment:

1) Established a complex city-state based system that mirrored the period and technological development of other advanced cultures; but built this civilization literally out of the floor of a jungle

2) They didn’t let the jungle destroy them and prospered for 2000 years; but then essentially almost completely faded from existence until the Spanish put the final stake in them

3) Achieved some of the world’s most advanced discoveries in astronomy, mathematics, writing, and agriculture; but decided not to use the wheel

4) Practiced some of mankind’s more disciplined humane tactics of warfare and dispute resolution; but also had a penchant for human sacrifice that involved flesh and organ removal on a live subject

Given how far the Mayans advanced, you could certainly talk yourself into the game of, “Why didn’t the Mayans conquer the Spanish?” A post that answers this question would take a long, long time. But, I think, in short it comes down to:

a) It’s just really, really freaking hard for humans to live and prosper forever in the middle of the jungle

b) When a critical component of your religious and political culture involves live human sacrifice, it speaks to a deeper malaise that likely caused all kinds of other problems we can only dream of

c) It’s just really, really freaking hard for humans to live and prosper forever in the middle of the jungle

I didn’t take any pictures in Coba because I had it in my head that this would be my single, one day journey where I put away the lens, and just looked around with mine own eyes. My only memory of that day is forever inside my brain. I’m content with it.

When in Cancun, just about any tour company has day trips to Coba available. It’ll take you a few hours early van ride, you visit multiple sights, and you’re back just before dinner. You’ll not regret it.

You can climb the pyramid in Coba and get a full view to the horizon of the surrounding jungle. And you’ll bask at just how vast that jungle is. And how miraculous the Mayans were that they built such things in such a place. The Mayans don’t make sense, but they were quite the culture with what they did, and it’s inspiring.

the gifts that keep on giving

Did your Christmas gifts backfire? Did you accidentally give a dog toy to a person who owns a caterpillar? Did you give a copy of Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason only to have the person tell you they got another copy earlier that morning? Or perhaps you forgot Christmas entirely because our culture inhibits you from thinking more than 18 minutes ahead, and so you showed up empty handed?

 

santa_claus

Santa’s certain you were naughty. No more Christmas for you. Come back one year.

 

Well great news, folks! You still have a chance to make up for it. Give the one re-gift that only the planet’s greatest lunatics would buy: Vladimir Putin’s cologne!

For the low, low price of $85 you too can ensure your man exudes the fragrance of “pine and fir cones” on their way to the top as “Leaders Number One”. Bask in the glory, and manly rustic scent, that will inspire the lucky recipient of your choice that they too can become one of history’s greatest monsters.

But why stop there? Odds are you likely screwed up more than one gift. So don’t forget to load up on Uncle’s Joe’s Leader One Number winter coats! You don’t think this unseasonably warm winter’s going to last forever, do you? Buy now so that when January exiles you to Siberia you’ll be ready for the bone chilling experience that awaits!

 

Joe-Stalin-thumbs-up-113849714263

“You simply can’t beat the comfort and style that comes from my ever-present presents!”

 

Oh my, all these kooky dictators are so awesome.   They’re the gifts that keep on giving. They provide amusement, you get to learn about history, and it’s just awfully validating to your own existence on your journey to a bleached skeleton status.

Think you’re doing badly in life today? Great news! Although you may have been rude to your co-workers, or cut somebody off in traffic, at least you didn’t rob one of the world’s poorest countries of $15B, or liquidate 50 million people, or produce some of the planet’s shittiest art.

So it’s a virtual guarantee that there’s hope for you. You just have to make up for your Christmas failures. So don’t forget to get in on the high-horsepower action of Timur’s New Model Vacuum. You too can erase dust and banish it to the next life! Just ask the Great Khan himself:

 

timur

“I fully endorse this product and/or service.”

 

Shop now while you still can!

Seriously, you seriously have to buy things. If you don’t, they’ve all said they’ll consider this post a failure. Do you have any idea what terrible things these crazies will do to me? They said they’ll load me down with all the unsold cases of Leaders Number One! My place really, really isn’t that big.

 

leaders number one

“Leaders Number One. For the number one Leader. In You.”

“Uh, Mister President, could we, could we perhaps just spice up that motto a little?”

“No.”

what is that?

Do you ever go through your camera’s memory, and you’re like, “what the hell is that shot?”  This doesn’t happen to me often, mostly because I don’t take many pictures.  But it sure happened here.  I had to conduct detailed forensic analysis to find out where they flowers came from.

And by detailed, I mean beer assisted.

flower1

It’s at my Parents place.  I can tell by the sliver of brick on the right, which is the side of their house, and the touch of concrete on the left which is their walkway.  It took me forever to figure this out due to:

a) beer

b) the Where’s Waldo of the brick hiding in the lower right of the shot beneath the shadows laid by the plant

For those of you who are a bit young, Where’s Waldo is the most popular smartphone app of 1982.

flower2

I’m going to have to show these to Mi Ma in a few days and ask her what these are.

we’re all apparently going to die

While driving down the highway carrying on with my joyful day, bound for a cool Christmas party, I was interrupted by the government to remind me that I’m going to die.

For you see, the highway information signs told me “if you see something, say something” and provided me with a number to call.  This was on every single electronic sign.  All of them.

So this is of course the government approved way of telling you to be vigilant for terrorism.  Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!  But don’t forget to watch out for pipe bombs!  You don’t want to see your Holiday Season ended with some bloody flesh infused shrapnel, do you?  Love, Your Government.

But the sign didn’t tell me any of this.  It just said, “if you see something, say something”.  Well, I see things all the time.  Should I call the number every time I see something?  If I didn’t think it would get me added to the terrorism watch list, I’d call that number and be like, “Hey, I ah, I see a bird.  Just thought I’d say something to you about it.  Talk to you all again soon.”

They also posted these signs all around my work that say the exact same thing.  The government is of course doing this because they want you to know they’re on the case.  They’re here to fight terrorism and keep you safe.  It’s why Obama has given a couple of speeches about it lately.

Let’s leave aside for the moment that folks who actually see something tend not to say something for fear of being accused a racist, which is why the San Bernardino killers’ neighbors said nothing.  This is a worthy concern when you can’t read any online publication nowadays without seeing at least two or three people accused of various kinds of racism each day.  Even your 18 month old cousin is a dirty racist I’m sure.

Let’s also leave aside that probably about 100 Americans have died in domestic terrorism related gunfire since September 12th, 2001.  In that time, over 400,000 Americans have died via gunfire.  You can be pro-gun or anti-gun, but those are the facts.

So what’s really going on here?  To me, it’s quite simple, all you need to do is read between the lines of the placard:

dhs

The Department of Homeland Security needs their logo on this, why?  Why would they need to put their logo on there, why not just leave the statement as is?

Because, of course, the DHS needs to exist.  The first goal of any human organization is to ensure its survival.  DHS wants you to know that they care.  DHS wants you to know that if you see something, you should say something.  Even though you’ll never see anything.

You’ll be struck by lightning before you’ll see one pipe bomb in your life, I assure you.  But thanks DHS, it’s good to know you’re there, because when we’re scared, you have a reason to exist.

when you really think about it, this Santa concept is rather creepy

My mental priorities are usually out of alignment. I sometimes can’t even check off simple daily tasks that require coherent thought to avoid problems. For instance, I had to walk to the mailbox from work today and was rather shocked to discover it was pouring rain. And I was like, “Oh, I didn’t know it was supposed to rain today.”

I had no idea. Do most other normal people check the weather? I think so, so what’s wrong with me? It might be that since my first and last acts of any day involve me standing in the backyard with my dogs, that I use that as my daily weather checks. And since no rain or clouds this morning, I didn’t expect rain all day. Luckily for me, I carry a little umbrella in my bag at all times. So in theory, I’ve already accounted for my inability to conduct reasonable routine daily thoughts.

But while I’m not bothering my brain about little things like the traffic report, or whether I needed gloves today, I had this weird thought in my brain about whether I’d tell my kids that Santa is real. This is absurd lunacy as among other things I have no date or kids or immediate prospects of such things. Soon, I guess. But right now it’s just a weird pointless thought. But then my next needless thought was, why? Why?

Because when you really think about it, this Santa thing is kind of creepy. Take heed of these basic facts about this dude:

 

santa_claus

– Regularly practices the art of belligerent unsolicited home invasion

– Can apparently fold space and time but doesn’t go back in time to murder Hitler

– Implements child labor procedures that the Burmese authorities would find abhorrent

– Demands payment in food product that adds zero nutritional value to the human form

– Thus encourages lifestyle choices that would cripple the health care system with a pandemic of Type II diabetes

– Possesses emotional and technical monitoring powers that make the NSA and Jesus jealous

– Encourages materialistic domination of a possession based culture to the detriment of a value based society

– Rewards naughty or nice block designations off an arbitrary, unregulated, and unaudited obscure process

– Pontiff of a cult religion in which millions of his acolyte followers are commanded to dress just like him and convince children of the sanctity of his divine powers and demand that they pray to him to receive a beneficial response

 

Why is this still a thing? Why did humanity not banish the idea of Santa to the gutter alongside other winning ideas such as human sacrifice?

To get to the bottom of this most urgent of human dilemmas, we decided to call Jesus at his castle in Hawaii:

The Arcturus Project: Greetings, Sir.

Jesus Christ: How’s it going?

TAP: Happy early birthday then.

JC: It’s not my actual birthday, the 25th is a construct, it’s the message that counts.

TAP: So what’s your actual birthday?

JC: Uh, you’re a, you’re not listening.

TAP: New Years?

JC: …

TAP: So about Santa?

JC: Yeah okay, what about Santa then.

TAP: What’s the deal with this creep?

JC: He makes people happy, what’s wrong with you?

TAP: I have many problems, which one in particular are you referring to?

JC: Even the most child friendly, popular creatures in existence can be twisted in a dark way. But Santa’s a likeable, jolly guy, so people have decided he can stick around.

TAP: Lies. Not all popular child friendly creations are creepy.

JC: Oh yeah, take this Elmo guy. If you left his appearance, voice, and mannerisms exactly the same, but gave him a butcher knife in an NC-17 rated slasher horror movie he’d cause grown men to vomit in the theater aisles.

TAP: Not true.

JC: Oh yeah, feast on this image inside your brain, my Brother:

 

Elmo

“Elmo has established a window into your soul!”

 

TAP: Jesus Christ!

JC: …

TAP: Oh, sorry. [shudders] I mean, I guess I see your point.

JC: Santa’s just about the dumbest creation in human history, except for yo-yos, but what he does is encourage family togetherness, the idea of somebody jolly watching over you, and the idea that you can happily pass traditions onto your kids like your own parents did; even if those traditions are somewhat foolish or creepy, like flying reindeer.

TAP: I guess I see your point.

JC: Nobody thinks about me during Christmas anymore. And I suppose eventually, if everybody told their kids Santa wasn’t real, that eventually he’d fade from Christmas too.

TAP: But he’s backed by Macy’s, so he’ll probably stick around. You’re only backed by all the powers of the universe, so eventually you might fade into benign oblivion.

JC: Good point.

TAP: What do we do?

JC: Tell your future kids Santa is real, have fun with it, like your parents did with you. And then tell them about the real point of Christmas too. Keep the traditions going that are worth preserving.

TAP: Got it.

JC: Cool.

TAP: …

JC: …

TAP: …

JC: Anything else?

TAP: So if the 25th isn’t your actual birthday, what do you normally do on that day?

JC: I usually go on a pre-New Year’s bender with my other religion bros. And we generally go see a movie, this year we’re of course seeing Star Wars.

TAP: Oh, that should be fun.

JC: Not according to your last post.

TAP: Uh, yeah, I guess. Sorry.

JC: It’s okay, but if the movie isn’t any good, I’m just going to blame you for ruining all of Christmas.

TAP: Isn’t that a little harsh?

JC: I have high standards that encourage positive thought and behavior.

TAP: How am I doing with that?

JC: Yeeaahh.

 

what if the force is not with you?

I find it hard to get excited over movies now.  Everything kind of blends together.  It’s all kind of the same, nothing’s really unique.

Even stuff I’ve loved for decades, like the James Bond series, has become tired.  I should have known better, but I actually got really excited for Spectre, and it wasn’t all that good.  I was genuinely bored watching Spectre.  Even during the mind melting action scenes with planes and cars and speed and action?  If I had a wristwatch, I’d have looked at it repeatedly.  Don’t get me wrong, Spectre isn’t awful, but there’s just nothing exciting about it.

I have the same feeling with Star Wars.  I think I’d walk out of the theater and be like, “Eh, that was okay, I guess.”  Part of the problem is I feel like I already know what the plot of the movie is seeing as how we’ve all been bombarded by trailers and merchandise ads for like seventeen months.  And now that I know the plot, I’m kind of already bored with it:

Rebel spy meets little girl who find Han and the Falcon, get attacked, we eventually see the Rebels (Not Rebels) again and there are X-Wings and another Death Star (checks watch) and a whole bunch of lightsaber fights (checks watch) and a big battle at the end.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it won’t be awful, but there’s just nothing exciting about it to me.

It’s like they’re just going through the motions.  Probably because JJ Abrams is just going through the motions.  It’s the safe bet.  This movie will make over $2B provided JJ just feeds a serviceable movie to the viewing public.  As long as he totally doesn’t screw it up, they’ll do alright.  It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, it just has to not be bad.  After the total disaster that was the prequels, folks will be glad to settle for decent, I assure you.

But what if the force is not with you?  It’s not really with me, so I’m not even sure if I’ll see it in the theaters.  I probably will, but I guess I’m just not feeling excited about it.  That’s a bummer.  Oh well.

jj-abrams-shows-off-first-footage-of-x-wing-in-star-wars-episode-viiMy the cash be with you.