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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Cyborg Nation

What’s happening right now in modern culture is that our minds are changing.

Not like, we’re deciding to do stuff we decided not to do earlier. The structure of our minds. The way our minds work. That’s changing right now.

It’s a normal thing to happen to human beings, and historically, it happens more gradually and it happens within certain cultures as opposed to everywhere. For instance, at one point, it was simply impossible to get package across the country in any short length of time.

So people would walk around thinking that way. If your brother was in California, and you were in New York, and you wanted to send him a birthday present, you’d start thinking about it a solid two months early. California was far away.

Then came railroads and the Pony Express. Gradually, the way we all thought changed. You might start thinking about your brother’s birthday a couple of weeks early, instead of a couple of months. California was the same distance away, but the world was changing, and so was the way you thought about it.

Flash forward a bit, and you had the postal service – they’d get it out there in a week. Then Fed Ex – absolutely positively overnight.

Suddenly you could remember your brother’s birthday two days in advance, pick him up a present, and get it to him.

Ever since I’ve got on Facebook, I’ve been feeling my brain changing. It’s different from the distance aspect – though certainly the world seems much, much smaller now, when I can tap Keri Chryst on the shoulder in Paris, and wisecrack at her, and then she can smirk at me with punctuation marks.

We’re becoming integrated. It’s not just our computers networking together, it’s our minds.

I’m not complaining – I think it’s pretty obvious I like Facebook. It’s just odd. There was a time when the idea of being a collective was pretty scary – and it wasn’t too long ago.

Star Trek introduced us to the Borg, a race that had evolved to hold no value in individuals and to instead value the collective race. They didn’t do it in a cool, Facebook, photo-swapping kind of way, either. They did it with eyeball drills and new mechanical hands and really pale skin and suits that looked like you never got to take them off.

Sometimes going to the bathroom is the only time to yourself you get all day – that would stink.

It wasn’t a particularly new idea – insects work as a hive, and there have been countless sci-fi stories about humankind losing their identities in various insect-like ways. Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a creepy example.

I’m not going to go on again about corporations and modern jobs and the hive mentality they tend to value, it’s more of a personal thing.
In our personal lives, we are starting to value integration with everyone else, more and more.

Just fifteen years ago, I remember being really alarmed to hear that they were going to start building in GPS chips in every cel phone. It was going to be possible to track anyone who had one. Big Brother was here.

Now we go on Facebook and alert everyone what we’re doing. Some people even have an app on their phone, so when they walk into Chuck E. Cheese or Comfest or Best Buy, it posts it on their Facebook page. Let’s everyone know you just walked in the joint without you even asking.

Other phones will allow you to put your appointments in them, and then if it notices from the GPS chip that you are not in a position to get to the appointment on time, it will email or text the person. Give them an ETA.

I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to retain the power of bullshit. Where you at, TC? I’m at the library.

Hard to pull off when Facebook just told everyone I’m at a bar. Sure it’s optional now – just don’t get the app.

Cell phones were optional once. Remember when nobody liked people with cell phones?

Phones are shrinking and getting more powerful at the same time. It’s only a matter of time before they are not only tiny enough to fit inside our bodies, but that they’ll have more processing power than our own brains.

That used to be a horrifying futuristic society thing, from the movies – having chips inside us, linking us to the oppressive not-too-distant-future government. Most of us at around thirty-five or forty plus years of age, we’ll have a really hard time getting on board with the idea.

But that doesn’t matter. We’re old. What we do or don’t get on board with really doesn’t matter at all.

Because kids right now have been Facebooking for years, have been carrying chips in their pockets for years, have had headphones plugged into their ears for years, and they’re not nervous about that sort of thing at all.

Two years ago, I heard on the radio about a guy who was Twittering directly from his brain. Thinking stuff, and it was going out on Twitter.

If you got a phone that a teenager can swallow like a pill, and then project a small input screen right onto their retina whenever they think a certain code, they’ll be right on board.

Look, I barely think it’s sad, it’s just one of those things that’s happening so gradually, I don’t know if people are noticing it. Cybernetic implants linking us permanently to the Internet are the next logical step, and your kids aren’t going to care if you are nervous about it or not.

In fact they will care – much like tattoos and piercings and hilarious hairstyles. The fact that you are not comfortable with cybernetic implants will be one of the exact reasons the kids are all going to pile into lines to get them.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a story about seventy years ago called “I Remember Babylon.” It was very short, and it was set in the future (at the time), and it was about satellites.

The main character was talking with his friend about how human beings were just putting into place the last satellite to complete a global network, such that there won’t be a place on earth where satellites couldn’t reach. This was an incredibly new idea at the time.

He said, I know that it’s a great technological advance, and I know it’s good for humanity.

But he also knew that we were going to lose something along the way – personal things, like conversation and written letters and the time you take to think about those two things, versus the instantaneous way we do them both now.

When we finally did get the first bunch of satellites up in the exact arrangement he predicted, we even named it The Clarke Belt, after that story.

I feel like that now. Like what’s going to be possible and normal is not going to be consistent with who I came to be. Like me and my brother are going to be sitting on a patio, watching cyborg kids go by, and grumbling about them like they have mohawks and girl jeans on.

It’s not that I want to go back to licking stamps and asking for directions at gas stations. I like the system we can plug into and connect with each other.

It’s just that I worry it’s getting harder and harder to not connect. I could stand going back to the time when you could sneak off to a bowling alley, or take a nap in your back yard hammock, without the universe tapping on your shoulder anytime you crossed the mind of one of the people in it.

I remember pay phones, that’s all. I remember when there wasn’t a digital leash to yank on. I worry that we’ll lose the ability pretty soon here, to take the leash off.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

The Crippling Burden Of Knowing About Enormous Fish

I’ve decided to watch something that isn’t the news tonight, to try and keep myself from yelling at everyone about oil spills and plastic again, and I’ve found a television program called River Monsters.
It’s a nature documentary hosted by Jeremy Wade, a man who describes himself as an “extreme angler.”

The big difference between Jeremy Wade and the guys on Deadliest Catch is that Jeremy Wade uses a fishing pole, and he doesn’t have a boat. I’m not sure it’s still angling if you use a net, and also on Deadliest Catch, aren’t they catching crab? They’re extreme crabbers, is what they are.

There was another show on in the nineties, a spinoff of the X-Files called Millenium. It centered on Frank Black, a serial killer profiler who worked for the FBI until he started getting photographs of his wife and daughter in the mail.

Then he stopped chasing serial killers for a while, thinking he was attracting the attention of serial killers. I really don’t think that’s how it works, but that’s what happened, so I can’t exactly argue.

Frank Black had seen so many serial killings that it was hard for him to get them out of his mind. Eventually, he went to Seatlle with his family, and started working for the shadowy Millenium Group, a bunch of weirdos who also chased down serial killers, but who turned out to be sort of evil themselves.

Anyway, I didn’t watch Millenium much, because it was a real downer. Frank Black was played by Lance Henrickson, and he had this obsessed, hollow-eyed demeanor, always getting a bunch of crap from his wife about chasing serial killers, a weird sort of normal conversation taking place in Crazy Land. Like everyone’s wife, she thought he should work a little less, spend more time with his family.

But Frank Black was haunted by the awful things he knew about humanity. He’d drag his horrifying knowledge around with him all day, his wife nagging at him – you chase serial killers too much and it makes you creepy and unpleasant and you missed Jordan’s soccer game!

Damn it, chasing serial killers is what I do! Etc.

That’s who Jeremy Wade is, from what I can tell, except if he’s got a wife I’ve never seen her.

Oh, but he’s haunted. He’s haunted by the knowledge that there could very well be fish swimming in various rivers around the world which are large enough to potentially eat a small human being.

That’s a lot of pretty specific qualifiers in his obsession, I know, but they’re all important. For instance, a small human being is a child – so these could also be described as fish large enough to eat a Siberian Husky or a deer.

He’s got that deadpan, British-accent narration thing going, where they’ll show him interviewing a native, and the translator will tell him, “She says the fish was extremely large, and ate her dog.”

Jeremy Wade will snap off a sudden, knowing glance – yes, that sounds like a fish large enough to potentially eat a small human being all right. My old nemesis, we meet again.

Then he’ll start with the voiceover as he’s walking the banks of the river in question – “Lots of people like to live their lives in a dream world, where they don’t have to think about fish which are large enough to potentially eat a small human being, but don’t kid yourself. I’ve been tracking these types of monsters for many years now, and they’re very real.”

Tracking them. Tracking the fish.

Usually they are some kind of big, silly catfish, and I’ve never seen him actually catch one large enough to potentially eat a small human being. I’ve seen him catch some comically large catfish, though, and then he points out, well, if this one was larger, then it could potentially eat a small..

Human being, yes we got it.

I have mixed feelings about Jeremy Wade, because first of all, I’m delighted that he gets to go around doing this. I really, really wish my job was to travel around the world looking for giant fish, or really looking for anything. I’d be dead serious about it, too.

But it does seem like they must have really been running out of ideas for nature shows when they came up with this one, and I’ll bet he pitched it quite a few times before he got the green light. But now it’s on Season Two – so I guess his message is getting out there.

He takes himself incredibly seriously, like the guards at the Buckingham Palace who aren’t allowed to flinch. Last night he was telling me about another potentially enormous fish and said, “There’s nothing for me to do now, but try and hook one of these beasts, and drag it onto land for study.”

Nope, I can’t think of anything to do other than that, either. What are you using, some kind of tow truck with a chain and a goat hooked to it?

Oh. You’re using a fishing pole. All right, that’s fine.

No, it’s cool, that’s probably some kind of monster pole, I gotcha. I was just thinking, well – you just referred to them as lions lurking beneath the river’s surface, I thought maybe a harpoon gun or a bazooka.

You know what you’re doing. Fish on, Mr. Wade.

So he does, and after a while he gets a little action on the line, and he tells me again by voiceover, “After years of fishing, I’ve developed a kind of sixth sense about it – I know when there’s a very large fish on the line, and this is a very large fish.”

A very specific sixth sense there. A divine gift, to be sure, but it seems to me he’s pretty lucky he ever discovered that he has that particular gift. Maybe lots of us have that gift, like X-Men who haven’t figured out our powers yet.

Jeremy Wade’s sixth sense told him that the fish was about to get away, and so he did that old Crocodile Hunter thing where he jumped into the river with his fishing pole, and then they cut to commercial, and I forgot to go back and check to see if he was able to drag the Volkswagen-sized superfish onto land, or if it ate him, or what.

But I’ll tell you, it’s good to know he’s out there, watching the borders for the rest of us while we glide along in our dream world façade, blissfully unaware that in some remote places in the world, the fish might grow large enough to potentially eat a small human being.

It’s really not funny – there are these big crazy catfish/carp things that used to go around yanking toddlers right under the water. You should have seen Jeremy Wade’s face when the old woman told him the stories and showed him a couple of old drawings about it.

His eyes narrow, like the grizzled shark hunter from Jaws. Except he is a grizzled unusually-large-freshwater-fish hunter. Tracker, really – he can look at fin tracks in the mud and tell you how long ago the fish walked by, and how much change was in its pockets.

His jaw kind of snaps shut, too – he’s not the kind of guy to say I Told You So, but that really large fish she just described – that’s exactly what he’s been trying to tell us about all along.

He seems to be growing impatient with the rest of us, and our dew-eyed ignorance when it comes to freakishly big fish – when will we ever learn?

I don’t know, Mr. Wade. I just don’t know.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on June 29, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Who Feels Like Apologizing To An Environmentalist Today?

Say, I was wondering – does anyone feel like apologizing to environmentalists in general right about now?

They’ve only been warning us for fifty or sixty years. They’ve been telling us about pollution and recycling and greenhouse gases and delicate ecosystems, and in return, by and large, they’ve been either ridiculed or ignored.

Sometimes the scientific kind of environmentalists get awarded the Nobel Prize, to kind of get everyone to quit ridiculing them. Take this guy seriously – he knows what he’s talking about, the scientific community says.

So then our televisions start ridiculing the Nobel Prize.

The Nobel Prize!

Tree huggin’ bunny kissers – I remember being highly amused by that phrase when I heard it in the eighties. Isn’t that funny, how it reduces the concept of environmentalism to an absurdity?

What would it take to convince us that we’re really and truly causing irreparable harm to the environment? Is the Gulf of Mexico really not enough?

Even if it is, it’s a little late. Like realizing that you shouldn’t leave your keys in the car right after it gets stolen.

You know, I would have thought that the Great Pacific Garbage patch would be enough to convince everybody, but it’s been growing to small continent size in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for years. I rarely see anything about it in the news at all.

It’s exactly what it sounds like, a swirling gyre of floating plastic, collecting in the largest ocean on the planet like toys in a swimming pool after a kid’s birthday party. There’s another one growing in the Atlantic Ocean now.

That’s our garbage. That’s the stuff we chucked out of our windows while we were pointing and laughing at environmentalists. Here, go ahead and have a look.

I remember when George Carlin suggested that plastic might be the meaning of life. He said, maybe Mother Nature needed plastic, didn’t know how to make it. Created us.

Well, we were right on top of that one.

Now Mother Nature’s got all the plastic she could ever need, all of our water bottles and disposable razors and bouncy balls – they’ll be floating there for thousands of years – that really is our legacy. Catch a fish in the area and cut it open, you’ll find plastic inside. Pellets of it in the stomach, in the gills, embedded in the flesh.

Are you a Christian? Muslin, Jewish, religious at all? Because those are God’s creatures swimming around out there, and guess that’s not His plastic. That’s ours. Yours and mine.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to apologize. The only problem is, it barely matters.

Because most people really and truly don’t care. There are very few places left in the world where you can point your eyeballs and not see a glaring example of how much we deserve to get flushed down the toilet. Just watch how people toss their cigarettes out the window while they’re driving down the road – screw everybody.

I have some bad news for you – the environmental scientists have pretty much given up. I don’t think they’re working on convincing us the house is on fire, they’re just trying to find a way to keep themselves safe while it burns.

I don’t blame them. Even the guys who sent some emails about exaggerating the problem – I really feel for them. It’s like, the house was on fire and nobody believed them, so they said, “Okay, let’s tell them there’s a bomb in every single room, and army ants are attacking. Anything to get their attention.”

What did we do? We said, see – these isolated scientist emails prove that all environmentalists are full of crap. Who wants to have a tire-burning party?

It’s funny how we are so quick to dismiss them. Hundreds of thousands of scientific research papers, and then a couple of emails are the three notes in the symphony we can suddenly hear.

You know what Stephen Hawking says about environmentalism? He says it’s too late, we have to get the hell out of here, find a new planet.

That’s the smartest guy in the world talking. He and his smart pals think we should get the hell out of here, and something we should all ask ourselves is this: Given the fact that we’ve been ridiculing and/or ignoring these brilliant scientists for decades, and given the fact that we’ve continued having an unbelievably obnoxious Garbage Party the whole time, what do you think the odds are that they’re going to take any of us with them?

Why would they?

Here’s what they’ll say: Good news, everyone. We found a new planet and we figured out how to get there. You wait here while we go check it for monsters, and then we’re totally going to come back and pick you up.

Like Nelson’s dad from the Simpsons, who went out for smokes one day and never came back.

Yes, it seems pretty obvious that it’s time to start apologizing to the environmentalists, but I’ll tell you – I don’t think it’s going to do us any good.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on June 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Comfest, You’re Gross And I Don’t Like You

By six o’clock, I’ve finally found Greeno at Comfest, and we’re sitting on a blanket with big mugs of beer in our hands, smiling at the sky.

Greeno and I smile at the sky every single time we hang out, so let’s not act like it’s Comfest making us do that.

I mean, sure – it’s a lovely evening and I’m trying to get on board with Comfest and not be a drag, but there’s definitely something not quite right going on here – you can feel it in the air, like an oily film.

One thing I’m not crazy about are the signs all over the place which read, “Be a sponsor!” As in, don’t bring your own beer in and instead buy it from the tents.

I didn’t bring any beer in and don’t have any plans to, it’s just sort of juvenile to try tricking me into thinking that outside beer is for squares. None of the cool kids are bringing in outside beer, and if I brought some in, then I would so not be invited to their parties.

Hooray, I’m a sponsor. But the good news is I bought these tokens two years ago when they were three bucks. I think they’re four bucks now. I don’t know, cause I’ve got this giant pocketful from two years ago.

Really doesn’t sit well, these juvenile attempts at manipulation. How about a giant poster of Lindsay Lohan, saying “Be cool, don’t bring beer into Comfest.”

Not a good sign, when you enter the festival with bile rising in your throat.

So after a while I make Greeno and Sharon Naquin walk over with me to see Colin Gawel and the Lonely Bones. We arrive with confidence and determination, our hands on our hips, and find total strangers on the stage, playing instruments.

Sharon says, “Say, Tom, have you taken a look at a program?”

Why, no, I did not. I take a look at it and determine, we’re one hour late and at the wrong stage.

I think, well crap, I posted that wrong on my blog, too. Get this program out of here, it’s stinking up the whole night.

So we go back to the beer tent and sit back on the blanket, and then Greeno and I decide to go and get something to eat.

On the way we run into Jared Butler and Jason Courtney and Mike McDermott. They become the first people in history to recognize Greeno from the adventures of his fictional amalgam. If I had tee shirts, they would have won some.

Jason Courtney is the guy whose wife makes awesome fried chicken.

The last time she made it, I stole several pounds of it. Right now, as you’re reading this, Jason Courtney is sitting around stewing about it. But next time, I’m going to do it again.

And Mike McDermott says, hey, why don’t you write more stuff about me? I tell him, You got it, buddy – here you go.

But then we keep going, and we walk past dozens of places to buy food, all of them with unbelievably long lines, and then Greeno snaps and says that’s it we’re going to the Press Grill to get steaks.

That’s really the point when I realize that I’m simply getting old when it comes to Comfest – the moment when we exit Goodale Park entirely, and head to an air conditioned restaurant for beer in actual glasses and dinner served on a plate.

The cool thing is, Greeno’s from Chicago so he thinks everything is three times as expensive as it really is, so I trick him into paying the whole bill and then we scoot out of the place, and head back to the blankets.

We sit there for not much longer, put down one more giant mug of beer each, and then we lose it, and head to another bar. When we walk out of Comfest for the second time, I realize that I haven’t spent a dime in the place aside from tokens from two years ago.

I’m not a sponsor at all.

We go to Mac’s on High Street, and for some reason they give us a basket of tater tots with our beers. Not wanting to argue with them about it, I’m sure somebody asked for them – it’s just an odd thing to find in front of you.

I tell Greeno and Sharon and five other people whose names are all blurred together, you know, I understand that we didn’t make much of an effort at Comfest this year. We didn’t see one single band, we didn’t eat one single turkey leg, we didn’t bribe the bouncy-bounce tent dude into letting us get into the bouncy bounce tent – it’s like we didn’t even care.

But I’ll tell you what, that’s because we were imprisoned by the crowd. It was like being at Walmart except hardly anybody was wearing a shirt.

Have you ever been told to watch where you’re going? It seems like by the time you’re six, that’s something you should have down. You look in front of yourself as you walk, so you don’t accidentally drop into an open sewer or get hit by a bus or bump into Tom and spill beer on him.

Not at Comfest. I must have seen a thousand people with their heads pointed sideways, striding straight ahead. Let me just go ahead and get out of your way, tiger, I can see that you are super duper busy.

In the beer lines by the way, they got out a megaphone and screamed “EVERYONE MUST SHOW ID! THIS MEANS YOU!”

Then the dude would mix it up and yell at individual people – “THAT GOES FOR YOU, TOO, SIR!”

Ha ha ha. I’ve been standing here in line for twenty minutes and you’re the wise ass from the 1986 Mister Microphone commercials. Say, how about insulting my mom with that thing, while we’re all dumping wheel barrows of money at your feet. You’re so funny!

Over and over. I was thinking, why not just scream “SCREW YOU, TOM! GIVE ME YOUR MONEY AND GO TO HELL!”

What did I expect? Standing in a line in the grass, waiting to get my six dollar draft beer?

Comfest, let me be clear. You suck. You really suck. I wish that you would take human form so that I could beat you like a grown man.

You know, when an army of people descend upon you and fork over approximately one million dollars for your beer, it’s considered nice to not carpet bomb them with megaphone insults. They weren’t even funny insults.

Next year, Comfest. Next year I’m going to get even with you. Ocean’s Eleven-style – I’m going to clean you out. You took my old friend and you made him into a monster, and now you’re making him dance around in a silly fashion, to calliope music. I’m going to get you for what you did to the Comfest I used to know.

You mark my words. Beware the Curse of Future Tom.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 27, 2010 in Future Tom Grab Bag

 

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Attention Smart People

I think supercolliders are awesome. Sometimes I sit around for hours while Shawn attempts to explain to me what they do, and it’s got something to do with subatomic particles. Crashing them into each other. They can figure stuff out by doing that, and it’s pretty fascinating and mind-blowing stuff, even when you barely know what’s going on.

You folks in lab coats who work there, and come up with things to do with the supercollider, and then do them – I’ll bet you’re pretty smart. What I need you to do right now is turn off your super collider, or put it on pause or whatever, and get onto some airplanes, and fly out to the Gulf.

That goes for all of you smart people. You know who you are. Cure cancer later – the entire planet has a malignant tumor.

It’s actually more like the planet has been shot, and the wound is toxic. If this were happening in a movie, I wouldn’t be able to suspend my disbelief. I’d say, this movie is stupid.

I’m sorry smart people, but for some reason, it doesn’t sound like anyone consulted you before we started dropping wells a mile beneath the ocean. For some reason, this scenario wasn’t planned for.

I know. A gargantuan toilet flange at James Cameron depths, and no one thought, we’d better have a way to fix this here thing, in case it starts to leak.

It would appear that those of us outside the oil industry didn’t really pay much attention to what the oil companies were doing and how they were doing it. They had plenty of protesters, to be sure, but most of us just drove our cars without asking.

And then it looks like the people in the oil industry were just crossing their fingers, hoping none of these things would leak. Drill, baby, drill.

When you’re a kid and your mom leaves you and your brother home for the first time, you really don’t want to call her at the first sign of a problem, because if you do, it looks like you’re not responsible. You want her to let you and your brother stay home at watch television, eat garbage – not get towed through grocery stores and garden centers and weird, florescent-lit offices.

But sometimes that first problem rolls up into a catastrophe and then a series of catastrophes, and you wind up having to call her anyway, and then she’s really mad. Because it would have been a lot easier to deal with if it were just a problem.

That’s probably how you feel, smart people. I’m real sorry about that. But a catastrophe is a catastrophe. You’re going to have to yell at us later.

I’m talking to you, Stephen Hawking. Pack your things, not joking.

Just about everybody at NASA, too. You all need to stop what you are doing and put your brains on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For you guys, it’s not even that far away. Everybody go out to your cars and drive to the coast and then either get on boats or swim out to the site of the leak, and take your giant rocket scientist brains with you.

A few of you need to stay at Cape Canaveral, answer the phones and stuff in case the rest of the smart people call and want you pointing a new satellite someplace.

But if we’re not calling you that doesn’t mean start screwing around – you need to be sitting there thinking about how to plug one mile-deep oil leaks. Get online and do your thing. You were driving robots around on Mars for what two years?

You got anymore of those robots and do they work underwater? I mean, has anybody even asked you that yet?

I like that drunk, British Atheist guy, who likes to go around picking fights and flipping people off. He’s on Bill Maher sometimes, and he’s a jerk but he seems pretty smart. He needs to get out there, too, even if it’s just to cleverly insult the people directly responsible for this mess.

Oprah Winfrey, you are obviously the smartest person on the planet, without hyperbole smarter than the rest of the human race put together. Get in your solar-powered hovercraft and buzz on down to the Gulf.

Just put your eyeballs on the problem for a day, Oprah, they’re probably missing something idiotically simple. It might take you an hour.

Bill and Melinda Gates – you guys are super smart and crazy loaded. You need to start up a new Foundation, and it’s going to be an environmental foundation which focuses on clean up and alternative energy sources. Just go ahead and start it up, and then wait right here.

A lot of you super smart people are attorneys. All I need you to do is either figure out a way to legally justify what I’m about to say, or to go and catch a movie, look the other way.

Because I think we should seize control of every offshore drilling platform on the planet, by military force if necessary. Call it in the interest of national security. Global security.

And then I think we should send a bunch of Marines into every BP office within our borders, and if the people inside don’t want to leave, then we should throw them into the street, exactly like hobos.

Hear me out, I’m about one third serious here. I think we should seize the entire monstrosity, assets and all. Use the trillions of dollars to build a fleet of solar and electric cars, and start passing them out.

It’s awful, it’s fascist, whatever. I don’t care. Look at them over there, eight guys scratching their butts and leaning on shovels, looking at a hole. They need kicked off the job.

And that means the whole job. They can’t go around running oil platforms and selling oil, if they are so clearly and demonstrably incompetent at handling the problems associated with it. If you’re a bar and you keep getting busted for serving underage drinkers, you lose your liquor license.

This is pretty serious. These people cannot be permitted to run a gargantuan oil company. It would appear that no one at any oil company can be permitted to run a gargantuan oil company, since no one anywhere else seems to have any idea what to do.

So what we do is, we take it, money and all. We even keep selling the oil – not all of their oil comes from sites like this one. So for as long as we actually need it, we’ll sell it.

All of the profit will then go into the Bill and Melinda Gates New Foundation, and they can have smart people help to design and build the new cars with it.

Think of BP as one of several thousand giant Decepticon robots stomping around the planet. We need to grab one and reprogram it to be good. Like the Terminator – you see what I’m saying?

Also we’ll run BP differently than a business. We’ll run it to shut down in ten years, and so we’ll sell the oil really low, drag down what other companies can charge. When the ten years is up and everyone is driving a solar-powered future car, the other oil companies will be able to charge even less.

So there you have it, smart people. On behalf of myself and all the rest of the People of Average Intelligence, I would like to apologize again for the mess. I don’t think we realized how closely people need to be watched, when there’s bunch of money involved.

What we’re going to do on our end, is try and think really hard. Is there anything else that we should be watching, besides entire financial systems and offshore drilling practices? Is there anything else that giant companies are doing which we don’t really understand?

When we think of them, we’re going to start asking a few questions of the people doing them. Just what exactly are you guys doing, and how are you doing it? Why are you doing it? And what are you going to do if it breaks?

Like giant hog farms. Did any of you smart people know about the literal lake of boiling pig crap that you can find on any industrial hog farm? I’m willing to eat less pork, if it means living in a world without bubbling lakes of pig crap, but I’m not particularly smart. Maybe lakes of pig crap are a circle of life kind of thing.

I don’t know, I just thought when you’re finished fixing the Gulf and seizing control of all of BP’s assets and using them to establish an environmental foundation which funds the production and low-cost distribution of millions of solar-powered future cars, that you might want to check on hog farms, too.

I’m trying to help you out, because if hog farms start erupting into actual shitstorms on a regular basis, you know we’re going to be calling you again. Might as well stay ahead of the game, you know?

Also, I know you’re busy and you’re eager to get back to your supercollider and all that cool, subatomic stuff stuff you do, but first, I wanted to ask you – and it’s really just a formality – are you sure you know what the hell you’re doing with that thing?
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Not a Very Good Deal, Corporate Overlords

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2010 in Future Tom Grab Bag, Uncategorized

 

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How Can I Stay Mad At Comfest?

Well, my prediction is, it’s going to be easy.

The problem is, Comfest is extremely attractive, and Comfest knows me really well. It’s so easy to fall back into all the old patterns, once Comfest comes around and starts ringing my phone and Facebooking me.

Plus, I couldn’t help but notice, I’ve got a handful of beer tokens from my hasty retreat last year. I remember that my wife was in Ecuador last year, and I decided to take my little dog down to Goodale. I thought, dudes look cool when they’re walking around with little cute dogs.

And I forget where the girls were – they were somewhere, doing something. Marilyn was in Ecuador, like I said, so they could have been practically anywhere. Their curfew was August 17th at dusk.

And this was June. I headed on out to Comfest with my little dog, and found it very difficult to park. I’m aware that’s normal, it was unusually very difficult. And by the time I did, my little dog went ahead and barfed on my lap.

Not the first time a dog or a person has barfed on my lap – in fact that’s a pretty long list. But it shut down Comfest for me, and I didn’t return until later that night, wearing fresh shorts and minus the dog.

Bought a bunch of tokens. Disliked the giant crowd. Went out to a few other bars and got comically intoxicated and was dropped off at home.

Their grandma’s house – that’s where the kids were. Different grandmas – one of those grandmas is kind of a problem. Ellen’s not crazy about staying there. Ellen was at the other grandma’s.

Anyway, that’s a relief, the kids were fine – I knew they must have been because they’re fine now. But anyway, I bought a crapload of tokens, and threw them in my desk, and even though we’ve moved in the last year, I’ve got them in my pocket now, and I intend to go down to Comfest and drink them.

At least, that’s how I’m rationalizing it. Really, it’s like I said. Comfest calls me at two in the morning, slurring, wants to come over, and I’m weak. Then old patterns emerge, and I’m walking around with a big plastic mug and possibly a straw hat, wishing I had sunglasses, drinking beer that’s getting flat.

Here’s the plan. Greeno’s in town – the real guy, not the fictional amalgam. It’s again, just going to be crucial that you keep these two identically named people straight, because one of them’s not real.

Anyway, Greeno flew in from Chicago, and I’m going to meet up with him, and we’re going to get pissed at Comfest and instead go to a local bar, returning to Comfest around 7pm to catch Colin Gawel at the Bozo stage (I think).

When Colin Gawel was in Watershed, by the way, they played Comfest one year and had hilarious tee shirts made up which read “COMMIE FEST” and had some dudes in big, funny Russian hats marching around on them. The best part is, I’m told they got yelled at for it.

I’ll probably find some people sitting on blankets away from the crowd and hang out with them for a while, but I’ll have to keep getting up and going to the beet tent, and then I’ll have to eat a giant turkey leg.

Another big problem with me and Comfest is that in addition to being unable to smell, I am pretty much tone deaf. My musical tastes don’t make any sense at all, and I tend to rely on the people around me.

So it used to be that the general wavy gravy hippy vibe of Comfest would mystically and magically carry me along like a current in the Spiritual River of Grooviness, and that’s how Comfest would be – me bobbing along, digging it.

I’d end up seeing some cool band like Eileen Motok in her bare feet, or one of those Australian dudes with the weird humming instrument, or Willie Phoenix, or that guy from the Violent Femmes who yells about fat cats and corporations.

Last year instead of a Spiritual River of Grooviness, it was like I was Neo in the Matrix when Morpheus unplugged him and the machines flushed him out of his slime pod. Like getting a really gross and unpleasant asskicking, with a turkey leg and a beer.

Yes, I agree, the turkey leg and the beer make a big difference.

I’m going to go down there and try to like Comfest, and I will let you all know how it went. If you see me, the very first thing you should do is either give me a beer or five dollars or a turkey leg.

If they have Wifi down there, perhaps I’ll even blog it.

Can you think of anything more irritating than a guy sitting around stinking up Comfest with his own negativity and old age, while he’s blogging about it on a freaking lap top?

Me either. See you down there.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 25, 2010 in Future Tom Grab Bag

 

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A Word About Talking Out Of My Butt

Because that’s pretty much what I’m doing.

When I ranted about Lost, for instance, I had a raving attorney/Lost fanatic who dropped about ten pages of crazy on the Lost page, and mostly her point was, the makers of Lost didn’t promise me any answers, and I shouldn’t be posting an angry blog without citing links to articles in which the makers of Lost do so.

What she did, was she confused the daily blog at Future Tom for a formal hearing or an academic report or an article in Time Magazine – nice of her, but silly.

This is none of those things, and anyway, if you’re so smart then why didn’t you know that I could simply flush your entire ten pages of crazy right down the internet toilet by clicking a button? Fifteen thousand people read my rant, but only ten or so read the vengeful attorney.

No, loony – you’ll have to get your own blog, I’m afraid, where you can cite links for whatever you want, and no doubt lots of attorneys will show up to enjoy it.

Well, I’m sure she feels better, regardless. She did not have a very good point – a terrible point, in fact, for an attorney – but it helps to vent, and that’s what she did.

I went ahead and answered all of her questions and points, but I didn’t publish them. Upon finishing, I noticed that I was engaging in what was slightly less cool than a Trekkie debate about Kirk Vs. Picard, and anyway, when someone is looking for attention like that, a comical thing to do is simply ignore them. Drives them nuts.

No, I’m talking out of my butt half the time – I don’t get the chance to really think it through, and frequently I wake up the next day with a slightly different attitude.

For instance, the two women at the Cheesecake Factory that I wrote about last night.

Because you know, maybe the two ladies next to me were genuinely busy – they’d had to run by the mall to pick something up and got stuck in the interstate traffic like I did.

So they remembered getting the nachos at the Cheesecake Factory, and decided to come on over. You can get a hot dog at Dairy Queen, too, but there’s nothing dairy about it.

And maybe they don’t get out much, or they didn’t used to get out much. Maybe they only go to The Cheesecake Factory and other chains, where they’re encouraged to feel so entitled.

So they weren’t professional bar hoppers, and didn’t know how to be cool – do you want the thirty bucks or not?

I’m not convinced – I think they deserved it. But really – pretty hilarious of me to go ahead and judge them, while I’m sitting one bar stool away, blogging about blogging.

Anyway, the people at The Cheesecake Factory weren’t judging or blogging – they were polite and professional and awesome, and they should send me a gift certificate, a big one.

They didn’t get all emotional about it, like I did for some reason. They just listened and smiled, tried to fix it.

And you know, sometimes the problem is the other way around.

Sometimes, the server just simply starts out with an inexplicable problem. Like you’re bothering them – they know who they are.

That’s the weird, unexpected nature of The Curse of Future Tom. It’s every single day – I’m pretty sure I mentioned that. It’s every day, and sometimes I spend under an hour writing and posting it.

So it’s like when you write an email, a good idea is to sit on it until morning before clicking send.

I usually don’t have time to do that. So if I’m bored, the post is boring, and if I’m feeling nostalgic the post is nostalgic, and if I’m full of whiskey and shaking with rage, then it’s possible to detect that as well.

I don’t get to sit on it for a day – I just assume that how I am feeling will always be how I’m feeling – SEND.

The other thing I do sometimes is start REALLY long stories about ghost hamsters, and then later I don’t feel like finishing them. That’s an unpleasant feeling. From the numbers on the ghost hamster story – the hard numbers, the RATINGS – that was an unpleasant feeling for everyone.

Oh well, sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear, well he gets you.

As far as Comfest goes, I’m still on the fence. Comfest is hard to break up with – it’s super hot and calls me up at two am wanting to swing by, and then pretty soon it’s the end of the week and we’re right back where we started, relationship-wise, and I’m baffled as to how it happened.

Didn’t I just break up with you, Comfest? Why am I wearing your shirt?

So I can promise you that a few things are going to continue to happen as the year progresses. For instance, I will continue to shoot my mouth off without citing any links, because I’m just talking out of my butt – I’m not an attorney with a stick up there.

I will also continue allowing my wild and articulate mood swings to dictate the sort of content I post, and I’ll do my best to not apologize for it later.

And since it turns out I can walk into a bar and then type a story about it while I’m doing it, expect to see that from time to time – it beats writing about ghost hamsters, more people read it, and my wife can’t act like I snuck out because I posted it immediately on my blog.

When I’m angry, think of it more like a Picture of Angry, than a concise argument for why it’s cool to be Angry In This Particular Way. If I painted a picture, you wouldn’t want me to cite links about the hat the dude in the picture was wearing, would you?

There are a lot of new people showing up, too – I love it. Somebody new – quick, post a comment and then request a topic and I’ll talk out of my butt about it. It’ll be like I’m the crazy guitar guy at the park!

Yes, quite a stretch, I know.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Uncategorized