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This is the semi-organized bin for everything not already covered, and for all the extra pieces I'm not sure where to place.
– Freydis

Ironic Tales of Terror

Most authors consider fiction to be easier to write than non-fiction, yet I’ve always found it to be the reverse. Many years ago I tried to create some entertaining short stories as practice, or a personal challenge, to create something different, something purely fiction but with a slightly different character. Taking inspiration from some of the better-written Twilight Zone episodes, I present some of my own short-stories that I like to call Ironic Tales of Terror. Here are two survivors of computer-crashes, residence in a defunct file-format, and the general ravages of time:

The Quantum Key

After a series of high-profile intrusions into sensitive government computer systems, and the theft of millions of dollars from several major banks, federal officials became highly concerned that the financial integrity of Federal Reserve made the nation’s money supply vulnerable to the next hacking attack. Nightly news stories fanned the flames of fear over a break-in to America’s electronic ‘Fort Knox’ and Congress, always quick to react to when it will help their image, put pressure on the Fed to take action.

After the Federal Reserve centralized their computer system controlling all the major banking transactions in the country in a secure location, they next turned to developing an uncrackable code to keep it all digitally safe. The famous, and once infamous, former dR. Z0r0, Saul Cahn, a former computer hacker now working for the NSA, entered the scene as the answer everyone was looking for and that only a computer genius could provide. Cahn rapidly developed a quantum encryption system to digitally encode all of the nation’s crucial monetary data, using a brilliant algorithm impossible to ever break.

Soon the big day arrived, and the solution was unveiled in public before an audience of government and computer industry big shots. Saul Cahn made a few jokes about avoiding the Microsoft operating system, adding some levity to an otherwise tense display. Everything went according to plan, as the ultra-secure data system finished running the encryption process questions were taken from the audience.

After the usual routine of soft-ball questions, someone asked about decryption. Saul’s face turned white, as he realized the key was accidentally added to the files to be encrypted. He, and everyone else, is now unable to unencrypt anything in the Federal Reserve database because no one has the key!

The world’s first unbreakable lock proved remarkably effective. Unfortunately, it also managed to bankrupt America.

Suicide Highway

Paul Blake wanted to find himself.

After fifteen years masquerading as a stockbroker he’d seen it all, the gut-wrenching lows and the dizzying highs. And yeah he’d made a lot of money in the process, and most of it in the past six months. Yup, nobody could run faster with insider information than Paul. He could really wow the amateurs at the brokerage firm, to them he always seemed to just ‘know’!

But Paul learned the hard way more than once, juicy tips all too often come with a hefty price tag. Like when everybody else finds out about it too and you lose your profit edge or when the tip turns out to be a setup on a meltdown Friday and you manage to wipe out 80% of your portfolio. Oh, that Lazerquick Industries was a burn!

Sometimes Paul wondered if he knew anything.

It may have been a phony exterior to portray but hey, everything in LA is phony anyway and as long as the Feds never found out about his friends, who cared? Everybody else did it anyway; it’s just the way the biz happens.

Finally it hit him, what was it all worth if you didn’t have time to enjoy it? The whole scene was getting too hectic, too stressful, seconds made fortunes and Paul just wasn’t getting any younger. So last week he made his last trade and retired from his senior position at West Coast Brokerage. He went to the classic car dealership and got himself the rarest and most expensive silver Mercedes convertible he could find. After that he hit the road, where else to? Vegas! Paul figured if he was ever going to learn how to relax and live life he needed to learn how to lay down a pile of chips roll the dice... and lose it all without blinking an eye.

But the gambling was really just an excuse. Paul had more money now then he could lose gambling anyway, he really just wanted to get away from it all. Drive out in the desert, kick the rocks and stare at the stars for a few days then go back into Vegas and play the tables, who knows, maybe he’d even move out here, build a house...

It was a brilliant sun-filled fall day, perfect for a long drive, especially for one on the back roads. Nothing but open country, cool desert air and a few trucks to spoil the atmosphere. Paul had just crested a small ridge and was heading downhill, the road was empty except for a small shining silver auto headed towards him in the near distance. The silver color caught his eye, it was a little odd, but it was a good feeling as he realized why he wanted a flashy silver and chrome car for himself – when the sun hits it just right everybody for miles away can’t miss you!

As the car approached he realized that the other driver had the same Mercedes convertible. And the driver looked a lot like Paul. In fact they stared mouths agape at each other like some sort of comical mirrored image while roaring past each other.

Like everyone who sees something they don't expect to find, Paul was dumbfounded but quick to rationalize it. “Everybody sees their car on the road as soon as they get a new one, that’s perfectly normal. It’s probably just that bad coffee I had at the truck stop a while back, he didn’t look all that much like me.”

Paul unconsciously began to slow down as he cruised along, lost in thought for miles. Soon a car pulled up behind him, the angry driver laid on the horn in a polite and patient request for his dumb-ass to either pull over or speed up since by now a train of trucks had effectively blocked the oncoming lane.

“What am I thinking, I’m not in a hurry, I’ve got to figure this out. And who does this jerk think he is getting a classic Mercedes just like mine?” Paul pulled off and waited for a break in the oncoming traffic which by now had obnoxiously gotten thicker. Paul thought to himself, “So much for the country road idea. Damn this is going to take forever to catch-up with that guy. Oh well now I can see just how fast this baby will go!” Paul put the pedal to the floor only to eventually get stuck behind a semi truck going slower than cold molasses up a hill. Paul followed for a few minutes but, like most money-men, patience was not his forte. Exasperated and more intrigued than ever about the passing mystery that was festering away in his mind, he pulled out to pass the truck. It was going uphill with a curve to the right. Of course every DMV instructor or insurable motorist would tell you that’s dangerous but Paul knew his speed would get him past the truck in no time. As Paul accelerated in the left lane he glanced down to see his speedometer hit 95, not too bad for uphill.

Then Paul looked up and saw that distinctive silver glint and another Mercedes convertible headed straight at him. In those moments of fear and panic, split seconds turn to eternity. Paul finally discovered the answer to his drive-by mystery. The other driver did look like him, exactly like him, right down to the facial expression of sheer terror every unavoidable life threatening catastrophe will automatically generate moments before a final conclusion.

Paul Blake finally found himself.

– Freydis, originally written circa 2000

"Honeybees aren't native to North America; they were first brought to the continent by European colonists in the early 1600s."

Pet Ownership: Love of Nature or Sadistic Egotism?

19.06.10 - 01.02.13  It is taboo to question the supposed sanctity of pet ownership in western culture – and so it is with all the greater alacrity that I question! It's mutually unhealthy and inappropriate to promote or form a relationship of  possession with an intelligent being otherwise capable of self-direction, just as it is to force or compel another intelligent life into dependency upon you.

Live Free

Live Free, 014301j3i8000
June 2010

I reject slavery and forced dependence. Animals are meant to live in their natural habitat, not in cages or in your home to serve as gratification for an insecure human ego that projects false emotions onto their subject as justification for perpetuating captivity.

To counter-argue that pets make people happier, such as invalids and the elderly, is a specious argument. Smoking makes those addicted to nicotine happy too, but that doesn’t mean they should continue consuming a toxic heart-poison! Certainly, other ways can be found to achieve the same, or greater, social and psychological benefits from companionship than through animal slavery.

It’s Time to Reconsider Pets and Pet Ownership

Many people don’t realize that pet ownership is actually hazardous to the health of not just the pet owners, but the environment and wildlife as well. For example, cats, particularly ones that live outdoors, can carry rabies, hookworm, and Toxoplasma gondii – a nasty parasite that can cause miscarriages and birth defects, and possibly even schizophrenia. Feces from dogs and other outdoor pets is loaded with harmful bacteria and the eggs of parasites that can easily infect humans and animals, and even when buried the waste leeches into the water supply and can spread sickness for miles. Cat waste has been found to sicken and kill aquatic animals far from shore, just by washing into the ocean from streams and rivers! Lethal parasites from cat feces are killing dolphins, seals and sea lions in the Pacific Ocean. [1] This is just a start of what can easily be a long list.  Is it worth it? How many cats and dogs do we really need?

Put a bell on your cat's collar and reduce the death toll.Another hazard of pets, particularly exotic pets, comes from the harm caused to the natural wildlife when these pets are released or escape. Florida is one of the hardest-hit regions in the world for invasive pests, many of them former pets. Burmese pythons are just one example, spreading throughout the south Florida region and displacing (and eating) native wildlife. According to the American Bird Conservancy, pet and feral cats kill an estimated four billion animals each year. But that’s just a conservative guess, the real number could easily be 10 to 20 billion animals - birds, lizards, anything they can catch - that's a huge negative stress on native wildlife often already struggling to survive against urban encroachment. Another study has found that cats have caused the extinction of 33 species and that more animals are being killed by cats in the United States than in road accidents, collisions with buildings or poisonings. [2]

 "Our study suggests that they [cats] are the top threat to US wildlife." Dr. Pete Marra [2]

The point is that pet ownerships comes with some very serious consequences that few people are even aware of, but certainly should be, and most would rather not know simply because pets are an emotional issue, not one of reason or balanced consideration.

1. 2 lethal parasites team up to kill dolphins, seals, by Stephanie Pappas, MSNBC, May 24, 2011.

2. Cats killing billions of animals in the US, by Rebecca Morelle, BBC, January 29, 2013.



Miscellaneous Film Reviews

Apostle of science Richard Dawkins explains what science is, what it isn’t, the hazards of scientific ignorance, and why we should care about it in Break the Science Barrier (DVD).
Science can’t provide certainties, only probabilities. This is why so many misunderstand scientific statements, either denying them outright or accepting them wholesale and feeling confused and angry when new evidence turns up that changes the story. Compare this to the religious need for certainty through belief and you begin to see why ridiculous notions, like faith-healing or creationism, perpetuate within ignorant cultures.

10.03.10 Fingersmith (2005) directed by Aisling Walsh. This film is challenging to describe or review without acting as a spoiler and giving away key events, suffice to say things are not what they appear to be at first. This is a profoundly well-written, impeccably delivered, and intriguingly interlinked story set in 19th century England, focused on the lives of two young women who become intimately connected but through opposing motivations. One woman is rich and the other is poor, yet both are attempting to escape from their own prisons, one from the prison of poverty and the other from the prison of class and patriarchal culture.

09.03.10The Room (2003) Widely criticized as one of the worst movies made, this virtually unwatchable film resides somewhere between Ed Wood Jr. and David Lynch. Tommy Wiseau, the director/writer/star, might have been able to make his thread-bare [romance?] story work if he’d played to his strengths (ineptitude, or perhaps simply lack of experience and talent) and made it satire or intentionally ridiculous (perhaps something like the hilarious Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, 2004), but instead he delivered it serious and it just comes off as unintentionally funny, a bungling farce.

Drug Companies Manipulate Political System, Kill Poor

The argument in defence of this system offered by Big Pharma is simple, and sounds reasonable at first: we need to charge large sums for "our" drugs so we can develop more life-saving medicines. We want to develop as many treatments as we can, and we can only do that if we have revenue. A lot of the research we back doesn't result in a marketable drug, so it's an expensive process.

But a detailed study by Dr Marcia Angell, the former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, says that only 14 per cent of their budgets go on developing drugs – usually at the uncreative final part of the drug-trail. The rest goes on marketing and profits. And even with that puny 14 per cent, drug companies squander a fortune developing "me-too" drugs – medicines that do exactly the same job as a drug that already exists, but has one molecule different, so they can take out a new patent, and receive another avalanche of profits.

As a result, the US Government Accountability Office says that far from being a font of innovation, the drug market has become "stagnant". They spend virtually nothing on the diseases that kill the most human beings, like malaria, because the victims are poor, so there's hardly any profit to be sucked out. ...

Yet moves to change the current system are blocked by the drug companies and their armies of lobbyists. That's why the way we regulate the production of medicines across the world is still designed to serve the interests of the shareholders of the drug companies – not the health of humanity. ...

Stiglitz's plan is simple. The governments of the Western world should establish a multi-billion dollar prize fund that will give payments to scientists who develop cures or vaccines for diseases. The highest prizes would go to cures for diseases that kill millions of people, like malaria. Once the pay-out is made, the rights to use the treatment will be in the public domain. Anybody, anywhere in the world, could manufacture the drug and use it to save lives.
From: The hidden truth behind drug company profits, by Johann Hari, The Independent, August 5, 2009.

Afghanistan and Pakistan Foil Multiple Empires

In 1932, in a series of Guernica-like atrocities, the British used poison gas in Waziristan. The disarmament convention of the same year sought a ban against the aerial bombardment of civilians, but Lloyd George, who had been British prime minister during World War I, gloated: "We insisted on reserving the right to bomb niggers" (Fitzgerald and Gould, pg 65). From: Ten steps to liquidate US bases, by Chalmers Johnson, ATO, August 4, 2009.

Turn Brains Off in Theater

Turn Brains Off in Theater, 012401d612000
November 2008

African poem paying homage to the Leopard

Gentle hunter
His tail plays on the ground while he crushes a skull

Beautiful death
Who puts on a spotted robbed when he goes to his victim

Playful killer
Whose loving embrace splits the antelope’s heart

"Two people permanently enslaved by the tyranny of fear and superstition. ... Two others facing the future with confidence, having escaped one of the darker places of the Twilight Zone." - Rod Serling narrating. Watch the 'Nick of Time' episode of the Twilight Zone (1960) to find out why.

Because there's a very real chance that no one has the answer presently, don't put artificial limits on the possible - take the limits off of natural human intellectual evolution. Perpetual contained turmoil and institutionalized chaos is the answer to the question of what kind of system of government is most desirable and strategically useful to human development. Only in this situation can valid answers and solutions appear on their own. 20.02.05

This is just an informal observation but it seems like driving abilities are a fairly accurate gauge of regional education levels. The worst drivers are located in places with the lowest education standards.

America isn't the only country Bush will be running like a business...

The Idea Store (concept)

01.08.03 So many people have great ideas but for a multitude of reasons they remain unable to turn them into practical products. This is both frustrating to the source and wasteful to society in general. The many obstacles in the path of would-be inventors are daunting to those unfamiliar with the process, but relatively simple for ones with familiarity and experience. But few inventor start-ups have the cash to pay for a patent attorney or the legal knowledge to know how to defend their interests and not get ripped-off.

So wouldn't it be neat if you could just walk into an office with your blueprints for an invention or an outline for an ingenious solution to a contemporary problem and present it to a panel of experts? Then (if they like it) get a cash payment and royalties in perpetuity while the office takes care of everything after that, the patents, the construction, the marketing, etc. Most importantly you could be sure that the office makes every attempt to fairly assess your invention initially but also guarantee an equitable share of the eventual profits (if any); maybe even allow repurchase rights to the patent.

Basically the 'Idea Store' as I call it would collect and pay for peoples good ideas then build, license and market them. The inventors would get paid a cash amount up front for the rights to develop and a perpetual percentage in royalties if it gets built and sold. If the invention or idea later proves unmarketable the creator would still get a modest amount in cash and the store would simply shelve the idea and retain the patent to be sold later perhaps or to just fill up a patent 'library' collection, marketable in its own right.

This concept would be win-win for everyone;  it would be a services type of company with patent lawyers and copyright specialists mostly, but also marketers and people that know how this system works. it would vastly simplify the process by eliminating much redundancy. In other words every person with good idea wouldn't need a lawyer a marketer and distributor, etc. but could just go to the store and have it done for them as a single package. The Idea Store would centralize these important but banal functions. Indeed this would not even have to be private company, it could theoretically be a government office, like an extension of the patent office - wouldn't that be novel? If done through a government agency they likely would not want to develop and market on their own but rather the development rights could be auctioned off like frequency bandwidth is by the FCC for instance.

Problems here include the typical legal pitfalls, attempting to valuate unusual and perhaps complicated inventions and ideas before they are publicly traded and subject to supply and demand rules. Also success itself could be a pitfall. Having 1000 people a day trying to visit or send your office ideas could overwhelm your ability to discriminate and still have funds to pay for what looks promising.

I'm not aware that anything quite like this exists today but I would be interested to know if it did; it seems very plausible and profitable so it would surprise if it didn't exist somewhere in some form. Anyone else interested in pursuing this idea, answers or questions regarding this concept, please contact the editor through the name / e-mail link located in the page footer.

On a pound for pound basis, the U$ Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber (at $13-$15 billion apiece) is three times more expensive than an equivalent weight of gold!

More counterintuitive repercussions:

Ironically, the spate of carjackings [in England] has been blamed on car security systems. It's not that car alarms, improved locking systems and steering wheel locks are not working - it's that they're working too well. It's getting harder for thieves to steal cars without the keys, and more tempting for them to buy a gun on the black market and take a more direct approach. What was essentially a crime against property has become personal. - New Zealand Herald newspaper

Did you know that ...

  • Retail company employees steal more than the shoplifters do?

  • Statistically, most people survive airplane crashes, but those ones usually don't make for exciting headlines now do they?

Urban Nightmare


The Words of Fools

As the Mideast situation very quickly goes from bad to worse it's important to remember that anymore not even physical distance is enough to insulate the citizens of nations from the impact of the venality and stupidity of their leaders. And in the case of America their national situation has been significantly worsened by the influential speech of the Bush administration. But don't take my word for it, let's hear from the fools themselves:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

  • On Arafat: - "the enemy of the entire free world," and "an obstacle to peace in the Middle East" and "a danger to the whole region." Could you ratchet up the grandiose hyperbole any higher?

  • 'Terrorism' - "We are going to take all the necessary measures to destroy the infra structure of every terror element that exists. We decided to eliminate the terror and its infrastructure."

President "I pray for peace," Bush

  • Israel - "I can understand why the Israeli government takes the actions they take. Their country is under attack."

  • 'Terrorism' - "The more progress we make toward achieving a cease-fire or meaningful security discussions, the more a killer organization will try to disrupt the process.''

  • On Sharon: - "Israel is a democratically elected government, and the government is responding to the will of the people for there to be more security.''

  • Arafat - "[Arafat] can do a lot more [to prevent terrorist attacks]" Yeah he'll communicate using telepathic rays seeing as how he's already as evil and by extension powerful, as the Devil himself. Apparently, it doesn't matter that he's completely cut off in a basement bunker with only a cell phone and a dead battery while being surrounded by the Israeli Army.

The diplomatic silence from America is deafening. Most illuminating of all is the noticeable lack of American reproach of Israelis duplicitous language and violent attacks against an elected leader in their illegally occupied territories. As the Lebanese foreign ministry colorfully stated "Only hours after the Arab peace initiative was adopted at the Beirut summit, Israel responded with a barbarous war and an arrogant savage aggression." But even The "dove" Colin Powell could only tell reporters that Israel had 'a right to defend itself' - "Let's be clear about what brought it to a halt, terrorism - terrorism that would target innocent civilians."

Continuing the undeniable evidence is the fact America continues to do absolutely nothing to intervene beyond the continuing farce of sending mouthpiece Zinni and despite the powerful authority U$ has in dealing with Israel to include billions in yearly aid and weapons packages. Whatever American policy actually is, the view being portrayed to the world is that America agrees and supports whatever Israel does 100%. Therefore Israel's aggression is America's, and the innocent people Israel slaughters are a bloodstain on all of America as well. At the moment Israeli troops have taken over Ramallah, Qalqilya and Tulkarem in the West Bank and surrounded several others with their tanks, and this is just the beginning. Israeli officials now claim Arafat is hiding 'wanted men' in the few rooms he still controls at his headquarters in Ramallah.

Although the U.N. Security Council issued a resolution calling on Israel to pull out its troops from Ramallah on Saturday, there were no signs of any plan to comply. Apparently this demand has no deadline attached to it, but it's still pretty convenient that Iraq has to obey UN mandates at the drop of a hat but not Israel.

Finally, concerning Israel's latest action to "isolate" Arafat, "the US ambassador to Beirut offered only that violence was no solution to political problems." I think he missed the irony. 01.04.02

"The problem is, he's got to decide if he wants to live or die. If he wants to die, he's going to die here. Or he's going to fucking spend the rest of his short fucking life in prison. It's his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys." - The highly professional interrogation by CIA agent 'Dave' struggling to convey the dire nature of Walker's situation. The Mazar-i-Sharif prison was subsequently the scene of a bloody uprising culminating in U$ air-strikes on the compound and a quickly forgotten massacre.

We're told not to stereotype, yet loan administrators, rental managers, police and any number of other people in positions of authority do it on a daily basis.

We're told life has no price yet lawyers and insurance agents calculate it every day.

Life in the house of vice and virtue:

The wonderful dichotomy of the sacred and the profane, positive, negative, heaven and earth; images of the dirt floored thatch shack with a stereo and a TV. Islands gripped between natives compelled by capitalist competition and Paul Gaugin-esque urban refugees ironically seeking rudimentary lifestyles the natives don't want anymore. Human comedy, human tragedy, the endless search for the free lunch, the technology without the trouble... I think fiu from the south Pacific islands is a great concept it's when a worker becomes tired or bored they simply leave, not bothering to explain or even ask for a last paycheck.

U$ consumers spend $2.5 billion dollars on golf clubs each year.

I just love the marriage of Wal*Mart and McDonald's. Truly they were made for each other!

Three sure signs you have no class:

  • Using swear words as adjectives

  • Casual dress means not wearing a shirt in public

  • Hanging body parts outside the car while driving

American Coin Tricks:

It used to be that any stingy consumer could put three cents into a Wall Street Journal newspaper machine and get themselves a copy; the secret is in the mechanical device that stacks the coins. Three cents is the equivalent to the same height as two quarters. I can't say as I've ever tried this trick simply for lack of convenient opportunity, and because I have no interest in reading a WSJ. Anyhoo, speaking of coins, Susan B. Anthony dollars are often marketed as being rare and/or collectible. I doubt it, but if you think so I know where you can get all the dollar coins you could possibly want. Go down to the Post Office, don't stand in line for an hour to buy your stamps, go to the vending machine and put in a twenty dollar bill. Buy your book for a few bucks and you'll walk away with a handful of dollar coins in change. Most of them are Susan B. Anthony dollars, but increasingly you can get the new Sacajawea gold-tone (electroslag) coins.

Lightning burns down many of the Amish's buildings, but they refuse to put in lightning rods as they 'run counter to God's will.

Each NASA Space Shuttle launch costs $400 million dollars.

American Cheese:
The most aptly named food. Who would eat this shit but an American? (or possibly Canadian) It’s not even cheese, it's just oil mixed with artificial flavorings and colors with a horrid rubbery texture to it. Mmmm!

The Microsoft effect: the simpler it's intended to be the more complicated it is to actually use.

The Drinking Starts Early
(for Winnie)

First you open the bottle
Clean a glass
Nice and fast

Next you just tip that bottle
Let it pour
A little more

Into that glass from the bottle
Down the side
Whiskey glides

Now you set down that bottle
Lick yer lips
Let ‘er rip!

Hey, hey, hey where’s the bottle!
Drink another
And another

Walk down the hall with the bottle
Sit right down
Stubborn frown

You speak hanging on to the bottle
Finest hour
Nazi power

Radio sees no bottle
London bombed
You are bombed

Courage comes in a bottle
This is war
Have one more –

Celebrate with the bottle
It’s all done
We have won

Satirical poem, author unknown. Original source: the defunct comedy site

For an audio editorial response click here.

Every sunset is someone else's sunrise


 Content & Design © Freydis
Updated: July, 2016
Created: 1999