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Despite the obvious political differences, the two actually seemed to enjoy each other’ company. There was some unspoken common ground even though they had very little else in common.

Brett had been Special Forces and seen at least half a dozen or more battlefields on four continents around the planet that he could talk about and an unspecified number of others he couldn’t. He was straight, loved ‘chippies’ and ‘honeys,’ as he referred to brunettes and blondes respectively, and indulged those impulses when he wasn’t fixing up old cars, having one and only one beer in a bar once in a while, or doing private contract work for whomever had the money and a problem needing elimination. He honestly believed what he had done for Uncle Sam was preserving the country’s way of life.

Carl, on the other hand, had never even been in the military, was very, very gay, and was mostly a pacifist. However, he, too, had led an unusual life that included travel for work and vacations as well as his share of odd occurrences while doing so. He had gone to college and incorrectly assumed his life was his until what he really was was so apparent that even he, likely under an unknown number of post-hypnotic suggestions of content he could only consciously guess at, was unable to ignore it any longer. He was someone else’s puppet.

The fact that Carl had finally recognized this was the reason he expected he was having a drink with Brett. Brett was there to kill him, Carl imagined. Carl wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but he wasn’t blaming Brett, who–if Carl was correct–was simply doing his job.

Finally earned a Stage Four…like Hastings. Took them long enough.

Brett downed the last of his beer, which he managed to do while keeping his right eye on Carl.

“Dude, it’s been great. But I gotta get going.”

“No problem. I appreciate the talk. I don’t much get the opportunity to laugh. It’s a good release. A good ending…to a long…week.”

Brett nodded. Unlike many of the other ‘cowboys’ Carl had run into from time to time in his travels–a strange life indeed–Brett seemed sane apart from his sense of humor. Carl didn’t get the impression Brett suffered from mental illness or was constantly hearing voices, for example.

Had Carl noted a little bit of sadness in Brett’s expression when he nodded?

When Brett slapped his hand on the table, Carl’s drink splashed a little and the ashtray slid a few inches. Carl thought it was just Brett allowing him to know it was coming. A final gesture among gentlemen, such as they were, before Oblivion.

Then Brett hit the floor with a surprised look on his face. Carl jumped up, and checked his breathing and pulse, but it was too late. Whatever had been in Brett’s beer had turned his entire face a bluish-purple. Carl supposed that meant some kind of nerve agent that prevented oxygen getting the brain…or had stopped the heart or something.


How the hell was Carl going to explain this to the cops? And why had they whacked the wrong guy?

Someone somewhere was bound to think Carl had done it, as they had with so many other events he had nothing to do with but had witnessed, he assumed just for that purpose; as a patsy for someone else, the person or people who had actually executed the ops.

Was that it? Was the day of the gun-wielding, wild-eyed cowboy coming to an end? Was it all about giving the planet the appearance of peace while it was secretly about arranging things via deniability just the way some multinational boardroom wanted things?

Was this the evolution of Death? Tracelessly, quietly, leaving a hapless idiot holding the bag, and leaving the unacceptable options of either trying to tell the truth and sounding like a madman, or quietly accepting one’s fate as a patsy for someone else’s handiwork.

Carl finished his drink and dialed 9-1-1.

Altered Minds Review

The film I’m referring to is this one. It is the story of a family gathering where the patron is dying after a lifetime career as a paychiatrist. One of the sons is on a quest to find the family dog’s resting place and accuses the father, played by Judd Hirsch, of abusing him and the other children. Not much of this is quite what it seems.

First, the cast is great. Everyone really seemed to understand their characters and as the film unfolds you begin to understand that it’s not just Tommy who has emotional problems. Most of the Shellner family has quirks and problems and later we wonder why running through various scenarios, jumping around as the characters do trying to get at the truth.

It is as well-written and directed as it is acted. My main criticism is a matter of taste {and perhaps rating} while the other is political.

There was a missed opportunity, similar to two I recently counted in, son of Ridley, Luke Scott’s Morgan. The fight scene between Ripley and Ash in Alien, culminating in the rolled magazine in the mouth, is hard to forget. There were two similar opportunities to haunt the audience in Morgan, though if he had done so, one can imagine people accusing him of being derivative. Or, maybe he did shoot those scenes that way but editors and/or producers stomped on it and we’ll have to wait for a director’s cut.

In any case, a film about mind control and creating programmed assassins via torture has the opportunity to really disturb the viewer. Having said that, I can see also why Michael Wechsler chose not to. The rating, getting more viewers, etc. is both a business and artistic decision, and isn’t really about right and wrong so much as taste.

The other criticism, as I said, political, is the ending which I will not give away. Certainly the film makes clear that awful things were done and that good men would object to them. But one need only look as far as real world scientist Frank Olson to know that such men, once involved with the darker areas of government, are not given the option of walking away. But then I’m biased and any film that draws attention to any portion of what was done under MK/Ultra and similar programs is a good thing.

See it.

Brainjacked – Intro

“To answer your question, I pose one to you. If you’re going to spy on…let’s say an ally…what do you need?”

Parker’s brow furrowed. Then he frowned. He stuttered a bit, not expecting this at all.

“Um, spies? Surveillance equipment, uh…”

“Your thinking is very 20th Century. What are the goals? More importantly, what are the risks involved? What do you need to ensure that you aren’t caught?”


“You’re on the right track. You don’t want to get caught. You’re spying on an ally in his home…say his mission building on U.S. soil. You’re planting listening devices or taking pictures of his documents. A security guard is wandering around and heading your way. What do you need to remain undisturbed?”

“A distraction.”

The man smiled.

“So, that’s what they use it for? To make people distract the security services?”

“Ah-ah! Keep going. What if you get away but the security service still notices the intrustion? What do you have?”

“A scapegoat. A patsy, fall guy.”

“Precisely,” the man poured himself some scotch. Parker figured it was the good kind, the expensive kind.

“So, then…the patsy goes to jail for spying?”

The man chuckled, “Mr. Parker. If you are caught spying on the House of Saud, there isn’t going to be any trial. Of course that’s only if they demand something be done. Sometimes they do, sometimes we buy them off.”


“An accident. Whatever is required that leaves a body so that they can confirm it is the person the security service thinks was spying on them.”

“And the Company…”

“Is out nothing at all. Just one useful idiot and there are millions more to choose from, to replace the one sacrificed.”

“And that’s it?”

“No, that’s just the easiest, most basic function.”

“What else?”

The man sipped the scotch.

Parker offered, “Make sure the foreign security service thinks they got the right person.”

“Sure, to be specific. And why not everyone at the mission? Keep them in line, get what you want. That’s the point. That’s why they’re protecting it.”

“What about domestic? Elections?”

The man chuckled again and looked and held the glass up to the light from the lamp on the table in his study.

“How many?” Parker inquired.

The man just looked at him blankly.

“All of them.”

“Now you’re getting into the larger stuff…the mass stuff, Mr. Parker. A bit more complicated. Carefully planted news and PSYOP are required to move the masses. But once a mass is moving in a particular direction, it tends to keep moving in that direction. The important thing is to affect the influencers. The police are a big priority in that regard. They play the police like they do those patsies. They control the union bosses, the newsletters…the information coming in…and it becomes easier.”

“So both parties…”

“…are full of shit, yes.”

“And the purpose…the big picture?”

“Ha. You’re looking for the problem, are you, Mr. Parker? Well, it’s pretty simple. Just look at what people worry about and see what’s missing. They worry about immigrants, and people with different religious beliefs than them, and different skin color than them. They worry about drug dealers and drug users but pay no mind whatsoever to who launders the Cartels’ money. They worry about the capital of a small, fallen empire, but not the only remaining one who’s reach increases daily, the only one to have used atomic weapons on another country. They worry that their children might be exposed to harsh language but don’t care that they learn nothing to prepare them for the real world. They get very bent out of shape about what someone says on the Internet, but they don’t notice that soft bite that is slowly sucking them, their businesses, their families and communities, dry. They don’t notice that any more than they do climate change because it’s happening on a scale they cannot intuitively conceive of.”

“Banks? It’s all about banks.”

“Money, and that’s where most of it is. Also power, influence. Competition between the real powers-that-be: The Hewlett-Packards, the Halliburtons, the Monsantos, the Kochs, the BAEs, the Pfizers, the UHCs, the Smith & Wessons. And so forth.”

“Why doesn’t anyone…”

“Blow the whistle? Mr. Parker, do you think people who control the chains of slavery are free themselves? Do you think they have any privacy at all? Do you think such people have normal lives outside controlling the lives of others?”

The man leaned forward, swirling the scotch.

“Further, do you think they aren’t watching anyone who gets anywhere near a flight to Moscow or Venezuela? Do you think the next Snowden will be lucky enough to land somewhere safe? That such a person, with all that’s at stake, with all the powerbrokers who are depending on the continuance and the ignorance of the American and, for that matter world, public would take the chance that such a thing as controlling human behavior could get out? No, sir. They wouldn’t. They won’t. It would never happen, nothing is left up to chance.”

“And yet…”

“And yet I have indulged you, Mr. Parker. I have been at truthful as a man in my position can be. I have answered your questions and explained to you how the world works.”

The man downed the last of the scotch and plopped the tumbler on the side table with a note of finality.

“And, now, Mr. Parker, it would be so good of you to put the gun away and leave the way you entered. I have a Homeland Security subcommittee appropriations meeting in the morning and I still have a lot of reading to do beforehand.”


“Why? Why did I answer your questions truthfully, Mr. Parker? Because no one will ever believe you. They wouldn’t believe me if I said it on national television. Not if I shouted it naked from the top of the Empire State Building and uploaded it to Youtube. You believe me because whatever it is drove you to this desperate act woke you up. That has not happened to the majority of people out there, and so they will neither understand nor believe. My advice to you: Make peace with it. Whatever that means to you…make peace. It’s much easier that trying to resist the inevitable. What you’re thinking of fighting against is human nature. Only time, God, or evolution can defeat that. What can one man possibly do?”

The Senator pointed towards the door and Parker exited as instructed.


Resident Beagle

Earlier this afternoon I saw a truck with several dog- and specifically pit bull-lover stickers. Additionally, there was a bumper sticker with just the words:

Umbrella Corporation

The U and the L’s were in italics like that. Even though I’ve seen the movies several times and there was also the logo on the truck:

It just didn’t click that it was a reference to the Resident Evil franchise. So I went on about my day.

Later this evening I was stopped at a dark intersection’s red light. A black police car, tinted windows, devoid of markings except for “Umbrella Corporation” on the side, turned left from my right and passed through my headlights.

Suddenly it clicked what it was a reference to. But what was with the police car? Are they shooting a sequel in Phoenix? Did some sick f—s decide to name their conglomerate after the monstrosity in the games and films?

It was neither. Some dude started an ASPCA-related charity and this is apparently the Umbrella Corporation Phoenix Hive:

Kind of a weird choice for an anti-animal cruelty group but, hey, whatever works. They do scifi events like FearCon.

Now where did I put that notebook containing plans for Sturmabteilung Fur Die Wale?


The entire Division was abuzz. It had been three and a half weeks since the project had gone live. Now, they were waiting excitedly for the results.

Years, really built upon decades, of research had been pulled together to make it happen. A dozen disciplines, fifty disparate science projects with single goals were selected and carefully sewn together to create a cohesive grand tapestry. Thousands of prospective subjects had been screened, tested, re-screened, pushed to and beyond their limits physically and psychologically until they were left with just one.

Prior attempts at building the ultimate spy had not been successful. Most had ended in suicide or debilitating mental problems. Creating so many false memories had left some with alien hand syndrome or something akin to MPD.

Then they found Michael Piper. Piper had been really a lackluster infantryman prior to joining the project. There was no obvious reason to think he would be suitable; pretty much average in every way as far as the Army was concerned except for an above average intelligence.

The Division had discovered hidden potential. AIT had simply not been challenging enough. Piper had breezed through basic, advanced and his various assignments.

In short, Michael Piper was bored. Once they started looking at him, originally as a control to compare with other candidates, he started to shine.

Several treatments and enhancements later, and Piper’s dedication to covert training showed like a sex worker during when Republican National Convention is in DC.

Genetically modified gut bacteria generate the right neurochems had increased his intelligence and perceptive abilities. Insertion of memories of several top performers for CIA, DIA, ONI, SEALS, Special Forces, and INSCOM had been “recorded” from the originals under hypnosis and then implanted via ultrasound onto Piper’s neocortex as memories. He didn’t just remember as stories what America’s other superspies and soldiers had done; he had for all practical purposes actually lived it down to the muscle memory.

Similar had been done so that Michael P. was fluent in fifteen languages. He also knew how to field strip, clean, unjam, reassemble, and repair thousands of weapons, covering those that would be found the world over yesterday, today and tomorrow. He knew, and even had many hours of memorable “virtual” experience flying, driving, piloting most kinds of vehicles.

Michael P. could even disarm the nuclear weapons of all the countries who possessed them. He had more combined covert experience than anyone ever had. On top of that, he could recall pieces of thousands of recent pertinent white papers, so he was knowledgeable of the cutting edge when it came to exploiting, influencing, and toppling governments and groups. He knew every way to kill that man had ever devised and had, as far as his own brain was concerned, used many of them in live situations.

In short, he was a dozen Jason Bourne’s stuffed into one human skin. Unlike his predecessors, he didn’t seem to have any problems dealing with the “team” in his head. Somehow, he was able to juggle the disparate memories, integrate them into a whole or perhaps more accurately take control and conduct the orchestra in his head in such was way that the result was a symphony.

Additionally, the Division took two precautions with their “Adam.” First, they instilled loyalty to the Division and the Country through conditioning. The thought of them would release opioids and provide pleasure and dull pain, while the thought of betraying them would cause pain and feelings of loss and guilt. They couldn’t have him running off to work for the Russians or worse yet some competing US agency.

Second, they implanted him with a special tracker. The tracker was special, because they couldn’t have competing parties tracking him as well. In order to even be useful, the tracker would have to be subjected to an electro-magnetic pulse of a particular power and duration. Then the tracker would be useful. Obviously, in order to activate it, they would have to have a general idea where he was.

Creating a cover story for the EMP would be easy enough. The media was the best when it came to going along with national security requests. It makes them feel special and, probably, they had as much secret disdain for the American people as the top Pentagon brass and braintrust at Langley did. This provided a passive-aggressive means of release by screwing the public a little by lying to them.

Once the project went live, Michael asked to view several files. Due to compartmentation, even the Division wasn’t allowed to know precisely what he was looking at, that was handled through higher-ups. It had been a big point of contention early in the project, but some degree of independence eventually emerged as desirable in the superspies because of their training and abilities. In the field, with the latest intel available, they would eventually make autonomous decisions because the ones that they would make would always match those of their superiors anyway. Careful programming meant getting the desired results.

Captain Rogers, not his real name but the one he used at Division, waited in his office yet again for any word of what Michael P. was up to. He alternated between taking the occasional phone call about funding matters to putting a few balls around on the carpet to playing some solitaire to looking at a porn site. He was about to do the latter when Lieutenant also-not-his-real-name Higgins knocked.

“Sir, there’s a note. Left in a truck stop toilet stall in Wyoming with the alert-words on the envelope. Homeland Security got it from a local P.D.”

“Anyone seen this?”

“Seen, yes, two deputies. But it’s in code. We also found this.”

It was the tracker implant. Rogers took the paper from Higgins and scanned it quickly. He smiled. He recognized the code, it was in one of the books on the shelf behind him.

“Thank you, Lieutenant. That will be all.”

Rogers grabbed the book and took to deciphering the note from Michael P.

Captain, Division, et al.

First, let me say thanks for the gifts and the knowledge. Sadly, apart from some advice, that is about the most gracious sentiment that I can muster, though I will also offer some advice below. I doubt will you take it, or if you do, my head is telling me there’s a 93% chance you will muck that up as well and miss the point.

Similarly, there are hundreds of things I could write about why and insert them here, but I don’t think I need to. In so many fashions, we are all set in our ways. You will either understand and therefore be able to name these things yourselves, or, just as likely, you won’t in which case there’s no point in listing them.

How did I circumvent the brainwashing?

It turns out that every one of those people with whom I share memory hated you. Hated Uncle Sam. Hated their superiors. Hated their coworkers. Hated America. Hated. More than the enemy.

If you can figure out why that is, then maybe you have a chance of doing something worthwhile. If you can’t, then my advice is to stop wasting tax money on projects like this one, which only served to get one man to see the big picture as it really is, and commission a study to find out why they hated you so, why they lied mostly to you, but also themselves, about this fact for all those years.

You might also try to figure out why, despite being the only real, contender in town, the only remaining superpower, you’re still behaving as though there is a substantial existential threat from man. But I suspect this is a bridge too far. So just ignore that.

Again, thanks for the eye openers. It is wonderful to finally be free and to have the knowledge to ensure that remains the case. Please don’t try to find me. I can think of twenty reasons off the top of my head right now why you really don’t want to, and most of those I’ve already planned for and made contingencies in case I’m removed, found, or otherwise interfered with. By the time you read this, those numbers will likely double.

Let’s just pretend we don’t exist to each other, shall we?

Michael, or whoever it is that I am now

Rogers set the legal pad down, closed the book, and set the letter aside. He then opened a porn site on his computer. He did this while quietly muttering to himself, “We’re the good guys…we’re the good guys…”

Art.. and Artists… Must Be Daring

“William of Baskerville must always be right…” *

Early 1990s, HB Studios, NYC

William Hickey
This guy was teaching a class.

“My dog. He’s a great big St. Bernard. Four feet tall at the shoulders. I walk him every morning and we sit on the stoop afterwards.

“So, Spielberg’s aunt also lives in the building.

“One morning he comes by and says, ‘Hey, you wanna move your dog?’ Real pushy like.

“I say, ‘You wanna kiss my ass?’

“So that’s why you don’t see me in a spacesuit.”

Don’t know what year Buzzfeed said this about Person of Interest


But pretty clear they were beaten out by Mr. Robot, which came along well into season 4 of the former. I’d also probably list one or two more that are more subversive, but they do—I mean did—have a point.

First, it’s the only show I know of where mass government surveillance is treated as the abusable thing that it really is. Secrecy has always lead to corruption. We just tend not to notice it because, well, it happens in secret and there are always many pundits to explain away what actually is a conspiracy to get your money one way or another.

Canadian scifi author Peter Watts had a writing job to write the first tie-in novel, which I think was partly to pad the ending since season 5, which is the last season, was cut in half by the network. The show had gotten really interesting. Pitting ‘ronin’ operatives against government and private corporation operatives and then throwing in a patriot/terrorist group on top of that. Well, where else do you get that?

Of course those who like these latter seasons dislike the sort of simplicity of the earlier ones. Then again I had a family member say they thought it ‘got weird’ once they stopped doing the formula. Guess you can’t always please thinkers and do-it-to-me-one-more-timers at the same time.

Anyway, the project has been canceled. They list his posting about the Japanese pre-buys as the reason. Rather, I think it has more to do with why the network canceled the show and only purchased half a season. The affluent did not get to be affluent by pissing off the affluent. The end of season 4 makes things clear enough to guess where season 5 is going. Mass surveillance is for social control, down to the small town. They use implants to enact individual control, but the Samaritan machine is the one controlling it.

Whether you’re talking NSA’s Total Information Awareness, DoD’s MINERVA, or CIA’s Romas/COIN, this is where it is going. Security guard by computer {mostly} and then just to assure that you and your family have no designs on upsetting the 0.1%’s apple cart.

In essence, it’s slavery.

And that is a scary thing to talk about for the guy who just rebooted both Star Trek and Star Wars. Might upset someone’s nephew.

Pew! Pew! Pew!…


* I resemble that remark. Probably not alone in that.

Locust Angel

“Do you remember when we used to sing?”

Defeating space was never the answer. Defeating time, that was the trick.

“The Universe will pull itself apart,” they said. Nope. The Big Stretch just pulled more dark matter and energy from…somewhere.

The Sun turned red and boiled away the oceans and the Moon had turned molten, hurling down fire and stone. These betrayals made Terra uninhabitable a long, long time ago.

But we were gone long before that. We aimed for the younger stars. Things were always changing anyway, may as well head to the new construction where you had a better chance of still finding it where you first saw it.

Food? Just lower the magnetic field, the artificial heliosphere, the other protective layers, surrounding you…you…your vessel. Same thing. Nom on some gamma rays for a millisecond, there are still plenty of those flying around. Minimal mass meant less need for e anyway, and made it easier to get closer to c.

Remove your hat–or if you prefer, halo–to eat. That’s etiquette. You don’t really miss shmeat, trust me.

Entertainment? If you get bored mapping the Universe, receiving from and sharing with all that data to and from your fellow travelers, you’ve got many zettabytes of historical data to choose from. Plenty of space to store more. Vistas unimaginable via the old telescopes.

Or you can just go to “sleep.” You still need that, if you can call it that; mostly about data storage, internal subroutines that watch the watching, make sure there are no problems and that what gets stored is easily reaccessible if and when needed. Even that, though, only required an unnoticeably small downtick in processing power. Shutting down more fully had been more about old habits, had become a choice, a means of passing the time, a nod to the distant past.

‘Fold space.’ Ha! No. Lazy. Whimsical. Enjoy the ride. Adapt!

Traveling between galaxies is just a matter of time, and having rendered it meaningless, it’s no matter at all. There’s always plenty to do, plenty to keep that “mind” busy.

The mind. They had thought about reengineering what we once were. Making us more able to withstand the changes that Mother Nature, the Solar System and the greater Universe at large had in store for us. At least that was what they told us. They had even done so to an extent, though mostly it had been about reinventing old systems to make them seem new again; about becoming gods through control; about squeezing every last exploit out of human psychology, getting every last ounce of whatever it was everyone wanted.

Then had come virtual reality, an attempt to escape the eventual end. It hadn’t worked, hooking the mind up to a machine, not quite the way it had been hoped.

That’s it, monkeyboy. Try burying your head in the sand.

But then trying to place the whole thing into a machine had led to shedding bodies altogether. Now we can see x-rays, heat, the whole spectrum on a level that pure evolution had never been able to accomplish because it just wasn’t necessary, not then.

Grandfather’s axe? Maybe. But then biology was always changing, too, just mostly incrementally over aeons. And if brain states were static, we’d never have made it this far. Adapt or die.

Then, of course, immortality. How to slow down the copying of biological data so as to prolong life. Mostly for the elites of the time. One look at some of those mummies as time went on and the answer became obvious: Escape the bonds of the biological; leave behind the vulnerable parts. Evolve.

When the idea was first pitched all those years ago, it was viewed as a sort of death. Shedding the parts reliant on organic chemistry altogether just seemed like making a recording of a person. But the alternative had been to wait for some miracle to extend the tiny window that the Universe had permitted for life, fragile life, to exist, to struggle, and to thrive. Faced with the choices of almost certain oblivion and a life as a ghost inside a machine, it seemed obvious. We had built AIs that never really did much for us as they were; now we had become the AIs; the space aliens of yore; the ancient spirits.

From star dust we sprang. To star dust we returned.

What would we do when we reached our destinations? These were not necessarily the final ones, just the ones we elected to take as a group.

That would depend. We might decide to see if we couldn’t kickstart some “life.” First we would have to find spots that would at least be inhabitable to something; at the very least extremophiles. Then determine whether or not the conditions would change slowly enough for whatever we created to last. Then go away for a while and come back and see what had developed.

It was the one thing that made it all make sense. Why? Why are we here?

We are the Universe made conscious. Life is the means by which the Universe understands itself. It was just a matter of figuring out how to make that work past the conditions that had made more fragile biology possible.

We made it this far. It was just a matter of time, and we’d mostly conquered that.