The Martian

 Posted by on October 9, 2015 at 11:40 PM
Oct 092015

Though I haven’t yet determined whether I think that the movie The Martian is the best flick I’ve ever seen (Blade Runner, also a Ridley Scott production, being my long time fave; Prometheus was his previous film), it is certainly the most involving because of its strong emotional component and its geeky appeal.

The movie’s Robinson Caruso in Space theme certainly isn’t new, but in Scott’s masterful hands, it makes the audience really care about what happens to its lead character (played by Matthew Damon). And the rescue effort launched to save him after he mistakenly get’s left behind by his captain (Jessica Chastain) becomes a transcendent, world-wide effort that shows humanity’s better side. (Social critics will bemoan the fact that so much money was spent trying to save one individual when, you know, it could have been better spent on giving, say, the top 1% another tax break. /snark)

Mercifully, there is none of Hollywood’s usual conspiratorial government subplots; no melodramatic personal relationship lines; no Alien monsters stalking terrified humans; no speculative time-travel, multi-universe sci-fi gimmicks— just a linear plot that has Damon’s character figuring out how to survive (eventually with the help of the smartest minds at NASA, JPL, and even the China Space Agency).  Or as he says before contact is restored with earth: “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.”

Because of the mission’s limited provisions, Damon, the crew’s designated botanist, has to learn to grow food where no food has grown before (using his own poo as fertilizer); and to produce water where there is none. His challenges are compounded by the fact that the only music on board to listen to is the captain’s ’80s disco collection…

All and all a thoroughly enjoyable (and informative) movie. It’s the only film I’ve sat through the entire credits for in quite a while… which took quite a while since at the at the very end there is a little factoid projected on the screen stating that some 15,000 people were involved in its production.

Run— don’t walk to see it.

What Is RELIGION, Then?

 Posted by on September 23, 2015 at 12:47 PM
Sep 232015


“They gave him the bread to bless, and as he began to break and hand to them,
their eyes were opened, and Cleopas recognized that their guest was the Master himself.
And when he said, “It is the Master —,” [he] vanished from their sight.”
The Emmaus Brothers  — by Terry Kruger

Try to think of it like this.

See yourself in a vast classroom. There are millions of seats, in fact, one for each person on the planet. There is a teacher at the head of the class and he is saying things like, “God is your Father,” and “man is your brother”; “Love one another.” “Love your enemies”; and, “You shall have eternal life.”

And then the teacher asks, raise your hand if you would accept my Father’s gift of eternal life.  Not everyone hears the question;  some are many miles away.  Some tend to not even believe there ever was a teacher at all, because they cannot see him.  Many others simply refuse to believe the whole idea that the world is a “vast school,” or that an invisible “God” created everything and everyone.  Some are asking, “Who does he think he is?”  Others say, “He wants you to believe in a big, imaginary sky-daddy.”  A great many do not raise their hand.  And those that did were constrained to try and explain what they had seen and heard, their personal experience— to those who had not seen.

Religion then, is your personal pursuit of divine values; truth, beauty, goodness.  True “religion” is the experiencing of divinity in our consciousness;  it is a profoundly deep and actual experience of spiritual communion with the spirit influences resident within the human mind.  As far as such an experience is definable, it’s simply the experience of experiencing the reality of believing in God as the reality of such a purely personal experience.

But since personality is unique — no two persons are alike — it’s inevitable that no two human beings will similarly interpret the leadings and urges of the spirit of divinity which lives within their minds. Every human being defines religion in the terms of his or her own experiential interpretation of the divine impulses emanating from the God spirit that indwells him, therefore such an interpretation must be unique and wholly different from the religious philosophy of all others.

Turns out that’s a wonderful thing. Because when religionists mostly reduce their religion to the parroting of the religion of someone else— whether it is some approximation (church dogma) of the religion of Gandhi, or Muhammed, or Jesus, the Buddha, or Richard Dawkins— they’ve utterly surrendered the right to participate in the most thrilling and inspiring of all human experiences: their own personal quest for truth; the exhilaration of facing the perils of intellectual discovery; the determination to explore the realities of their own personal religious experience.

“Spirituality” is any person’s augmentation of their cumulative cosmic insight.  Religion is living out those values.  Above all, spirituality— living as if in the presence of God— enhances the ability to discover beauty in things; recognize truth in meanings; and discover goodness in values. There’s a few billion people who could use some enhanced ability to understand more of the truth, beauty, and goodness to be found in the world.

Right now the evolutionary religions of the world are operating on teachings that, by and large, are two-thousand years old.  Until the world’s religions progress to a higher recognition of the realities of spiritual experience, a lot of people will continue to prefer the religions of authority; religions which require only intellectual assent— in contrast to the religion of the spirit— which requires active participation of mind and soul with the realities of progressive human experience.

All this grows out of the fact that religion isn’t just a “child of culture”;  it is, and always has been, the property of the human race.  It’s also important to remember that any one person’s perception of religion is still more or less subject to the bondage of ignorance, the slavery of superstition, as well as the very real deceptions of sophistication, and the various delusions of false philosophy.  God, help us.

If you’re still looking for true religion, read The Urantia Book while you are still on Urantia.



 Posted by on September 4, 2015 at 9:40 AM
Sep 042015

The Moody Blues live in Paris in 1970; “Never Comes The Day.”

That’s right, forty-five years ago… and if you heard this song back then and you still remember it, you are probably ancient.
The vocals and flute are live. The rest is backing track which is why you will sometimes hear a double flute.


 Posted by on August 28, 2015 at 12:11 PM
Aug 282015

In Fact, There Is No Hell So It Doesn’t Look Like This At All.

That’s right— no “hell.”

Well, wait.

There are all those thousands of supposedly rational, intelligent people who still believe that the all-loving, all-merciful God they profess belief in maintains a gigantic, universal “Lake of Fire”— at enormous expense, too, despite all the overpriced “lakefront” property he’s sold— and you just know a live feed is available on the Celestial Cable base-package under “entertainment”— because burning your children eternally is so …  um, “all-loving and all-merciful…  so yeah, every person who ever lived who sinned against him in the many ways enumerated by boilerplate Christian dogma get’s to be an eternally roasting sentient hotdog!

But heeah me tooday and remember me tomorrow:  there is no  actual  place called Hell.

Mmmm, okay, I almost forgot, there is the brain-box of Rush Limbaugh‘s enormous head;  that’s certainly the closest thing to a living hell I can think of.  But look he’s gotta be realllly close to a fatal karmic coronary, so. . .  let’s say there’s no eternal actual material place called Hell.

Just for the hell of it (see, now that just slipped out) let’s go back and recall what the Jewish traditions of heaven and hell and the “doctrine of devils,” as recorded in the Hebrew scriptures, have to say.  You may not know it, but they were founded on the lingering traditions of Lucifer and Caligastia,* but also too, they were principally derived from the Zoroastrians during the times when the Jews were under the political and cultural dominance of those nasty Persians. (Oooh yes, yes— the forefathers of the evil threat du jour, the Iranians. Below the Mason-Dixon line this is pronounced “Eye-Ranniuns.”)  

So Zoroaster, a heavy dude with a thing for white flowing garments and hipster beards, lived in the eastern part of the Iranian Plateau and anybody who’s anyone knows it is the most desirable part of the plateau.  Location, people.
Yeah he totally taught the “day of judgment,” and one night after some bad hummus and feeling particularly apocalyptic, he connected this event with the idea of the end of the world.

And fun fact:  “The ‘Roaster“— as he was known to a small group of intimates— did not teach the worship of fire, he just tried to use the flame as a symbol of the pure and wise Spirit of universal and supreme dominance. Whew.   (Okay, but too true, his later followers both reverenced and worshiped said symbolic fire.)  Finally, after the conversion of a particular overwrought Iranian prince who shall remain nameless, this new religion was spread by the weapon of choice back then, the sword.  Shocking.  And Zo died in battle for what he believed was the “truth of the Lord of light.”

So where were we.  Ahh . Yeah, there is just the idea of hell, too;  that’s probably the most vivid and powerful form of no hell that there is, really;  and you might be surprised to learn that it isn’t kept alive by just the religious fundie-mentalists either.  It seems there are many weak-minded atheist trolls who, while claiming there is no hell (good so far) still insist on helping to keep the idea of hell alive by continually bringing it up whenever and wherever they can, in an effort to prove— get this— how dumb fundamentalists are. The irony— it burns all the way to the center of the earth.

Hmm. Well dammit, the center of the earth is a lot like every garden variety idiot’s idea of hell, too;  I mean if you could actually get there with a. . . Mm you know what, just forgeddaboudit.


* “Caligastia” was a Lanonandek Son of the secondary order.  For three hundred thousand years Caligastia had been in charge of Urantia when Satan, Lucifer’s assistant, made one of his periodic inspection calls.  In the course of this inspection Satan informed Caligastia of Lucifer’s then proposed “Declaration of Liberty,” and he agreed to betray the planet upon the announcement of the rebellion.  Loyal universe personalities look with peculiar disdain upon Prince Caligastia because of this premeditated betrayal of trust.

In all the administrative work of a local universe, no high trust is deemed more sacred than that reposed in a Planetary Prince who assumes responsibility for the welfare and guidance of the evolving mortals on a newly inhabited world.  And of all forms of evil, none are more destructive of personality status than betrayal of trust and disloyalty to one’s confiding friends. In committing this deliberate sin, Caligastia so completely distorted his personality that his mind has never since been able fully to regain its equilibrium.



 Posted by on August 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM
Aug 242015



In Mary Shelley’s classic sci-fi horror novel, Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (1818), her protagonist, the brilliant Dr. Viktor Frankenstein, allows his hubris to get the better of him by assuming the powers of the Creator. His monstrous faux human creation, without name or number in the original—let’s call him “Donald” for now– refers to himself initially as “the Adam of your labours,” and subsequently as “your fallen angel.”  Assembled from the disjointed body parts of dead humans, the good Doc’s beloved creation rebels and tries to destroy him.

Which pretty much describes Donald Trump’s relationship with the GOP establishment. His political persona is as much a creation of the political arm of the GOP, Fux News, as it is one of his own devising. Prior to the first, now infamous, 2016 Republican presidential debate, Trump was a regular weekly guest on Fux’s morning program, Fux and Friends, which gave him a long-running, high profile forum to build his political persona. A marriage made in heaven for an extreme narcissist and a cable network, both seeking maximum public attention and approval.

Behind the scenes at Fux corporate, however, trouble was brewing between Fux owner, Rupert Murdoch (an immigrant himself), who wanted to dump Trump; and its president, former Nixon communications adviser Roger Ailes, who wanted to keep him. Murdoch called Trump “wrong” and “embarrassing,” a sentiment his other propaganda organ, the Wall Street Journal, reinforced when it labeled Trump a “catastrophe.” Ailes, on the other hand, knows ratings gold when he sees it and came to Trump’s defense.

Murdoch initially prevailed, as evidenced by Fux News rising star host, Megyn Kelly’s out of the gate attack on Trump at the first GOP presidential primary debate. Megyn confronted Trump with a number of his misogynist statements over the years. Trump did his best to deflect her prosecution, resorting to another of his patented Rosie O’Donnell’ slurs, subsequently implying in a tweet that Kelly was on the rag at the time. Murdoch seemed to have gained the edge at this point, having given Trump plenty ‘nuff rope to hang himself. But when the ratings came in for the debate, which showed that the event had far surpassed the previous record for any comparable cable tv broadcast, Murdoch (now in his dotage), surrendered the playing field, proving that for the bottom line at least, Roger is good for what Ailes ya…if you’re a Fux stockholder, that is. Meanwhile, having been thrown under the corporate bus, Megyn took an extended vacation. (MSNBC, in a severe ratings funk, should hire her to replace the execrable Joe Scarborough.)

So now, it’s back to the future, with Fux once again making kissy face with Trump. And that means either accepting or rejecting his extreme proposals for immigration reform (the only policy paper his campaign has released to date), exactly the issue that the GOP establishment wants to avoid. After their resounding defeat in the 2012 presidential election, they performed an “autopsy” that found that without a much higher percentage of the Latino vote, they’ll never get the keys to the White House again. Where their last successful presidential run, the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004, mustered 40% of the Latino vote, Mitt Romney received only 27%, a 13 point drop. Attempts to produce a viable immigration reform package, perhaps the greatest concern of Hispanic voters, have failed miserably—just ask past presidential candidate John McCain and current presidential candidates Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio. Unable to quell the racist, nativist sentiments of their Tea Party base, the GOP establishment decided it was better to downplay or ignore the issue altogether.  

But now that the Trumpestein monster has broken his restraints and left the table, marauding across the countryside and terrorizing the peasants (cue music: The Monster caught on in a flash.), the GOP is forced to reanimate the issue. Which means addressing Trump’s promise to: (1) deport 11 million undocumented immigrants (and their families, whether they were born in the US or not); (2) end birthright citizenship (guaranteed by the 14th Amendment); and (3) build a really, really yooge wall (extending 2000 miles at an estimated cost of $168 billion).

Re item (1), not only does Trump want to deport Mexican rapists, murderers, and drug dealers, but also law abiding, tax paying workers and their families, whether their children were born here or not. (Estimated cost: $300 billion over 40 years.) Which brings us to item (2): the only way that he could deport children of immigrants who were born here—which he justifies by saying that, after all, he just wants to   keep families together—is to trash the 14th amendment that guarantees these citizen “Dreamers” all their constitutional rights. (estimated cost to deport the 5 million Dreamers alone: $50 billion.)  And to keep all them thar “illegals” out, he intends to build an impenetrable wall and make the Mexican government pay for it. (Herman Cain inspired alligator infested moats subject to further negotiation. But the smart money is on the author of The Art of the Deal to at least get them gators at a hefty discount if the Mexican government decides to dig in its heels and grows a bigger pair of cojones.)

None of these fantasies have even the slightest chance of becoming real without a major media blitz. But with Trumpenstein back behind the protective walls of the Fux News castle, the effort has begun. Steve Douchebag, cohost of Fox and Friends, judges Trump’s immigration plan as: “A dream list for many who have wanted immigration reform for a long time.

And Andrea Kostintina Tantaros, cohost of Fux’s The Outnumbered, defending Trump’s assault on the Fourteenth Amendment, opined: It wasn’t intended so that a bunch of Latinos could flood over the border.”

With the rupture in the wingnut Force repaired, the rest of the universe will have to content itself to sitting ‘round the campfire, roasting Frankenweenies, waiting to watch the next episode of Republicans Eating Their Own. A fitting epilogue would have Trumpenstein further his rebellion by quitting the GOP and running as an independent.    


 Posted by on August 17, 2015 at 12:55 PM
Aug 172015

JesusReturnsHe’s probably not going to look like you think he will.

Of all the teachings of Jesus, no one thing has been so confused as his promise to come back in person to this world. It is only natural to believe that Jesus would be interested in coming back, not only once but many times, to the world whereon he lived such a unique and important life as one of us; as a human being.

While he was here, on numerous occasions and to many individuals he declared his intention of returning to this world. But as his followers awakened to the fact that he was not going to function as a temporal deliverer, and as they listened to his predictions of the overthrow of Jerusalem and the downfall of the Jewish nation, they most naturally began to associate his promised return with these catastrophic events.

Christ Consolator by Carl Bloch, 1886
But when the Roman armies leveled the walls of Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and dispersed the Jews, and still the Master did not reveal himself in power and glory, his followers began the formulation of a belief which eventually associated the second coming of Christ with the end of the age; even with the end of the world.

Jesus promised to do two things after he had ascended: He promised to send into the world, and in his stead, another teacher, the Spirit of Truth; and this he did on the day of Pentecost.

Second, he promised that he would sometime personally return to this world.

But he did not say how, where, or when he would revisit this planet of his bestowal experience in the flesh. (On one occasion he intimated that, whereas the eye of flesh had beheld him when he lived here in the flesh, on his return, or at least on one of his possible visits, he would be discerned only by the eye of spiritual faith.)

So those who most positively believe that he will again come in person, still have not the slightest idea as to when or in what manner he may choose to come. Will his second coming on earth be timed to occur in connection with the terminal judgment of this present age? Will he come in connection with the termination of some other subsequent age? Will he come unannounced and as an isolated event? No one knows.

One thing we can be certain of when he does return:  all the world will likely know about it, for he must come as the supreme ruler of our universe and not as the obscure babe of Bethlehem.

Jesus+tatAnd as believers, we can be sure of only one thing: He has promised to come back. We have no idea as to when he will fulfill this promise or in what connection. As far as we know, he may appear on earth any day, and he may not come until age after age has passed.

The second advent of Jesus/the Son of God on earth is an event of tremendous sentimental value to humans, but otherwise it is of no more practical importance to us than the common event of natural death, which so suddenly precipitates us into the immediate grasp of a succession of events which leads directly to the presence of this same Jesus.

The children of light are all destined to see him, and it is of no serious concern whether we go to him, or whether he should chance first to come to us. Therefore we should be ever ready to welcome him on earth, as he stands ready to welcome us in heaven. Still, we can confidently look for his glorious appearing, but we are wholly ignorant as to how, when, or in what connection he is destined to appear.

If any of this is thought provoking, I strongly recommend reading at least Part Four of The Urantia Book, The Life and Teachings Of Jesus of Nazareth. And do let us know what you think in the comments below.

All the best in your search for answers, and in your remaining time on this world.

Seriously, America? This??

 Posted by on August 14, 2015 at 1:30 PM
Aug 142015

Trump Oval OfficeThe Trump Oval Office, live phone interview with Blahblahblah and Blah.
If you have a vomit bag handy, go ahead and click to enlarge.

(Before we get started.  Don’t use the word “surge” around me.  Especially in the context of a Trump poll.  I will lash out.  You’ve been warned.)

So it may be too soon to start showing America just what a Trump “presidency” will look like.   After all, it was many of those same sorry fuckers who elected Ronald Reagan, remember?   And then they made it possible for a few jackasses on the Supreme Court to give George W. Bush the right to fuck America up for decades.  Then after a slight respite from the destruction and the near miraculous recovery from the impending apocalypse, thanks to Barack Obama, we find ourselves at the mercy of a complete and utter moron.  Here is what I mean:

FOX: Mr. President, your first 90 days poll show that have not endeared yourself to an increasingly regretful, and on the liberal side, hysterical, public. Liberals have severely criticized you for what they call the “grotesque sacrilege” of your spectacular makeover of The oval office;  what would you say to these silly critics, and will you consider changing anything?

TRUMP:  with all due respect, my critics are a bunch of losers.  They’re a bunch of whiney little dogs, and they make me sick.  Look. We have a lot of fun here at the Trump White House, in my tremendously beautiful, this very very beautiful Oval Office.  And to those little dogs— who are disgusting— and who are still licking their wounds from my tremendous victory taking the White House back from them,  to these little dogs I say, I will always do what I do— and frankly, you know, if anybody don’t like it, they’re losers and they should be fired.

FOX: Mr. President, we totally agree;   but they feel they have some “constitutional” right to complain, because of the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision which handed you the election with a near 700 vote margin of victory.

TRUMP:  You know, I’m not going to get into that, you can argue all day with losers, and at the end of the day, they’re still losers!

FOX:  I know sir, it’s incredible.

TRUMP:  So I’m going about the business of, you know,  making aMErica Great Again, making tremendous deals, I’m threatening Iran, I’m threatening Iraq, I’m threatening ISIS, I’m very very busy already, threatening these loser nations who are, in some cases, are sitting on OUR Oil, and I’m going to make them deals very soon which they can’t refuse.

FOX:  Mr. President that sounds awesome, and we, as always, thank you so very much for taking your very important time to talk to the American people through the fair and balanced orifice of Fox and Friends, the one and only official White House newsfeed of the American people.

TRUMP:  Terrific, you know you guys have been very tremendous the past few months, convincing the American people, who I have to admit,  you know, are not the smartest people, you know a lot of them didn’t vote for me, and I’m going to overlook that, for now.

FOX:  Thank you Mr. President, and looking forward to seeing you next month.

TRUMP:  Terrific, my aides Megan and Megin will show you out.  Now, can we get the lighting guys back in here again, this still isn’t meeting my expectations, this artwork is not meeting the Trump lighting— Will someone answer that Goddamned phone?