Sunday, May 31, 2015







One ton of grapes makes about 60 cases of wine, or 720 bottles. One bottle of wine contains about 2.8 pounds of grapes.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

B. B. King


The son of sharecroppers Albert and Nora Ella King, Riley B. King was born on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation called Berclair, near the town of Itta Bena, Mississippi. He considered the nearby city of Indianola, Mississippi to be his home. When Riley was 4 years old, his mother left his father for another man, so the boy was raised by his maternal grandmother, Elnora Farr, in Kilmichael, Mississippi.

While young, King sang in the gospel choir at Elkhorn Baptist Church in Kilmichael. It seems that at the age of 12 he purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source says he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother's first cousin (King's grandmother and White's mother were sisters).

In November 1941 "King Biscuit Time" first aired, broadcasting on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas. It was a radio show featuring the Mississippi Delta blues. King listened to it while on break at a plantation. A self-taught guitarist, he then wanted to become a radio musician.

In 1943, King left Kilmichael to work as a tractor driver and play guitar with the Famous St. John's Quartet of Inverness, Mississippi, performing at area churches and on WGRM in Greenwood, Mississippi.


In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee. White took him in for the next ten months. However, King returned to Mississippi shortly afterward, where he decided to prepare himself better for the next visit, and returned to West Memphis, Arkansas, two years later in 1948. He performed on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, where he began to develop an audience. King's appearances led to steady engagements at the Sixteenth Avenue Grill in West Memphis and later to a ten-minute spot on the Memphis radio station WDIA. The radio spot became so popular that it was expanded and became the Sepia Swing Club.

Initially he worked at WDIA as a singer and disc jockey, gaining the nickname "Beale Street Blues Boy", which was later shortened to "Blues Boy" and finally to B.B. It was there that he first met T-Bone Walker. King said, "Once I'd heard him for the first time, I knew I'd have to have [an electric guitar] myself. 'Had' to have one, short of stealing!"

Rolling Stone ranked King number 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists. King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time, earning the nickname "The King of the Blues", and one of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar" along with Albert and Freddie. King was known for performing tirelessly throughout his musical career, appearing at more than 200 concerts per year on average into his 70s. In 1956, he reportedly appeared at 342 shows.

After the cancellation of the remaining eight shows of his 2014 tour because of health problems, King announced on October 8, 2014, he was back at home to recuperate. On May 1, 2015, after two hospitalizations caused by complications from high blood pressure and diabetes, King announced on his website that he was in hospice care at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died in his sleep on May 14, 2015.

King's cause of death is believed to be a series of small strokes caused by type 2 diabetes. However, two of his daughters alleged that King was deliberately poisoned by two associates trying to induce diabetic shock. The Clark County coroner's office confirmed on May 25, 2015, while performing an autopsy on King's body and conducting a homicide investigation with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, although CNN reported that initial indications did not support the notion of foul play.


King was married twice, to Martha Lee Denton, 1946 to 1952, and to Sue Carol Hall, 1958 to 1966. The failure of both marriages has been attributed to the heavy demands made on the marriage by King's 250 performances a year. It is reported that he fathered 15 children with several different women and, as of 2004, had 50 grandchildren. He lived with diabetes for over 20 years and was a high-profile spokesman in the fight against the disease, appearing in advertisements for diabetes-management products along with American Idol season 9 contestant Crystal Bowersox.

King was an FAA certificated private pilot and learned to fly in 1963 at what was then Chicago Hammond Airport in Lansing, Illinois. He frequently flew to gigs but in 1995 his insurance company and manager asked him to fly only with another certified pilot. As a result, he stopped flying around the age of 70. External video Oral History, B.B. King reflects on his greatest musical influences. interview date August 3, 2005, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

King's favorite singer was Frank Sinatra. In his autobiography he spoke about how he was a "Sinatra nut" and how he went to bed every night listening to Sinatra's classic album In the Wee Small Hours. Sinatra had gotten King into the main clubs in Las Vegas during the 1960s. He credited Sinatra for opening doors to black entertainers who were not given the chance to play in "white-dominated" venues.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Honestly, I'm not a follower of Malcolm X, but I found the following quote to be especially poignant for America in these troubled and crooked times:

If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you
hating the people who are being oppressed,
and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
-- Malcolm X

This quote by Mark Twain needs no explanation:

If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed;
if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.
-- Mark Twain

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review of The Abominable by Dan Simmons


The Abominable by Dan Simmons is a story done in a frame; that is, it is a story within a story. In the beginning, Dan Simmons describes how he came across an old man while doing research for another book (The Terror) and the old man claimed to have once participated in a climbing expedition to Everest. Because of the story within a story aspect and the inclusion of Dan Simmons himself into the story, by the end of the novel I wondered if there was something more to it than fiction. In that regard, it is a bit misleading if not an overtly successful suspension of disbelief. For the naive among us, myself included, The Abominable is entirely a fictional account.

And so the core of the tale starts out in 1925 with young Jake Perry -- an American mountain climber who has been knocking around the Alps with his new friends, Richard Davis Deacon and Jean-Claude Clairoux. Deacon is a veteran English climber who had been on a previous expedition with the historically concrete George Mallory to scale Mount Everest. After the three men hear about the deaths of Mallory and Sandy Irvine who were attempting to summit Everest, Deacon comes up with a plan to obtain funding for another Everest expedition by telling the aristocratic mother of a missing-presumed-dead young English lord that they will travel to Nepal in an effort to recover his remains from the mountain.

With Deacon’s experience and several new climbing innovations which are covered in detail by meticulous author Simmons, the three men hope to become the first to climb Everest.

There is a massive amount of detail about mountain climbing techniques and equipment from that era. Some readers will be put off by a narrative filled with long expositions concerning the terrain, food, clothing, equipment, etc.

For all the excess detail and slow pace of the book, the story was entertaining if not a bit repetitive at times. There is also a big problem with the motives of the antagonists -- it's the same old worn out story of German Nazis attempting to protect the reputation of Adolf Hitler who is graphically described as a socialist pederast. Yes, that's right, I said it and it is a major spoiler.

If you're new to Dan Simmons' work, don't read this one first because you may not want to read another. Also, be forewarned that Simmons writes long books and it's going to take a while to work your way through The Abominable's 663 pages.

Monday, May 25, 2015

American Politics: A House Of Mirrors


A house of mirrors is an immersive, highly distorted and intentionally confusing version of reality

by Ulson Gunnar

A house of mirrors is an immersive, highly distorted and intentionally confusing version of reality. Those walking its corridors are sometimes amused and sometimes frightened by the disorienting experience, but luckily for them, it is only temporary. There is an exit, and they will walk through it, back to reality.

But what if one existed their entire lives in such a distorted reality and knew of no exits? Would they convince themselves that these distorted images reflected back at them were in fact reality no matter how unnatural they appeared? Could they convince themselves to enjoy and even embrace this distorted reality?

One ponders such questions when looking from the outside-in on American politics. It too is a house of mirrors reflecting back a reality entirely distorted. Also like a house of mirrors, American politics have been intentionally constructed this way, to confuse, disorient and even frighten the American people when necessary to exercise mass persuasion over them. The final result is perpetual impunity granted to the powers that truly be, hiding behind the powers that allegedly were “elected,” and powers whose authority only exists in this house of mirrors and no further.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
New Leaders, Old Wars

Consider US President George Bush Sr. He launched the inaugural war of what he himself called a “New World Order.” Operation Desert Storm included multiple nations comprising of nearly a million soldiers who swept from the map one of the largest conventional armies (4th largest) in the world. Bush Sr., however, paused just ahead of sweeping the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power. His successor, US President William Jefferson Clinton would keep Iraq subdued with periodic bombing campaigns and the imposition of both crippling sanctions and no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq.

Clinton would serve 8 years in office and lock horns with Russia in Serbia in a proto-Ukraine-style conflict. In 2000, we should remember that George Bush Jr. ran on a platform opposed to global interventionism. For those trapped in the house of mirrors, this distortion of reality seemed very convincing. For those who understood the hegemonic mission of America’s special interests, those that transcend elections and political parties, they knew Bush Sr.’s desires for a “New World” endured and would manifest themselves in a yet revealed, muscular foreign policy that only needed the right impetus to be justified in the eyes of the American people.

Conveniently, the events of September 11, 2001 delivered just that. So began the 8 year “War on Terror.” So sick of wars were Americans at the end of those 8 years, that anyone promising to end them would likely win the 2008 elections. And so Barack Obama did and thus became “US President.” However, not only did the wars not end, and not only were they in fact expanded, new wars were begun. In fact, these new wars were all the planned wars Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. never got around to fighting.

Yet, no matter how unnatural this distorted reflection appeared in the American politics house of mirrors, those trapped perpetually within its mirrored walls found it perfectly acceptable for a Democratic president to continue Republican wars and start new wars the Republicans could only have dreamed of starting but couldn’t because of left-wing anti-war movements now silent because “their guy” was in office.

Hillary = Obama = Bush Jr. = Clinton = Bush Sr.

With Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she is running for office in 2016 with President Obama’s full endorsement, those infected with neo-liberalism and wandering the corridors of this house of mirrors see yet another distorted, ghoulish image staring back, but one they are yet again ready to embrace.

Here is a woman who as US Secretary of State laughed and mocked the Libyan people upon hearing their leader had been murdered by terrorists in what constituted by all accounts a war crime. Before that, she played an active role in selling the war upon Libya in 2011 to the American left (as the American right had already desired such a war for years and needed no convincing). By 2016 we may have yet another Clinton in office, and a Clinton fully dedicated to carrying on the wars of both the Democrats and Republicans that came before her.

It's fixed! What does it matter?
To say this is continuity of agenda is a bit of an understatement. American foreign policy has been so singular in purpose and focus for the past several decades that it is clear that behind the distortions of this house of mirrors, something singular and very nasty has been there the entire time. Who or what could it be?

The Real President of the United States Lives on Wall Street, not Pennsylvania Avenue

How about we look at the people who pay for the political campaigns to put these various spokesmen and women-in-chiefs into office in the first place? Or the immense interests driving lobbying efforts that target and control both sides of the political aisle in American politics? A single Fortune 100 corporation has enough money to buy out every relevant politician on Capital Hill and still finish up the fiscal year bloated with billions in profits. And what happens when these interests converge across various think-tanks they themselves have set up and created to generate the singular foreign and domestic policies we see carried forward from presidency to presidency, from congressional session to session?

We see complete control exerted over American politics as well as across the media, allegedly charged to serve as watchdogs and a check and balance, but instead turned into an echo chamber and instrument of mass persuasion by those who have clearly consolidated the summation of American politics in their pockets.

While policy might be debated over by these special interests, and groups moved in one direction or another to exert influence against competing special interests among this exclusive club, one thing is for sure, the American voter is the last voice considered in this process.

Since the American voter is incapable of seeing that they are in fact in a house of mirrors to begin with, and think they are “outside” in reality making real decisions, their decisions are completely irrelevant to those who really do live outside in reality and are actually making real decisions.

We must understand that for special interests that collectively control trillions of dollars in assets, profits and infrastructure all over the planet, the last thing they are willing to do is allow for the existence of a system that might actually put into power a form of authority above their own, that would set policy predicated upon the interests of the people, rather than their own. They have the money, the power and the ability to ensure policy is set to suit them, and them alone, and they clearly have done just that.

This is why US troops are still in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars are still being waged either directly or indirectly against Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran and Russia and destabilization targeting China and other targets of Washington and Wall Street’s special interests continues unabated, albeit distorted within the house of mirrors, regardless of who is president.

So Americans may think they are voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and those infected with neo-liberalism the world over may think another enlightened champion of their progressive cause has taken the reins of the free world, but they might as well have voted for another Bush. The reality is that as long as Americans and those who look to America from abroad for leadership dwell in this house of mirrors, the special interests that intentionally built this carnival called “democracy” will have their way back in actual reality.

Instead of fumbling through another four years trapped inside this carnival attraction, let’s find the exits. Let’s leave this house of mirrors and breathe a breath of fresh air. Are we really going to listen to another round of campaign promises, holding our breath hoping that this time they mean it? Or will we begin divesting from this system and building our own, one that might actually truly represent us this time, far from the mirrored walls that held us for so long?

Memorial Day 2015



Friday, May 22, 2015



One Death Lessens Us All


Some of my readers aren't going to like what I have to say in the following piece. I don't care. As I find myself growing into an old man, I have less tolerance for those who advocate wanton murder and mayhem -- even if it comes from the authorities. Especially if it comes from the authorities. We should not tolerate the taking of life either on our streets or on the battlefield of some trumped-up banker's war. It's not exactly a progressive notion and I find it antithetical to most conservative views. Live by the sword, die by the sword. Anyway...

There are many, both conservative and liberal, who think mass government-led executions could not happen in a "civilized" society. Well, it has happened and not in the distant past. It has happened in Africa, the Middle East, and in Asia. In World War II, it happened over multiple parts of the globe. Americans tend to believe it could not happen on their soil. Why not? All it takes is brute stupidity and a callous disregard towards life, both of which seem to be liberally bred in the good old USA.

There was a recent, well-publicized shoot-out between police and motorcycle gang members down in Waco, Texas. Some conservative web sites I visit applauded the police actions, citing justification for shooting and killing some nine gang members while no police were injured at all. One thing that was disturbing about the conservative comments were that it was generally agreed that the gang members deserved a summary execution without the assistance of a trial. Additionally, literally, hundreds of people were arrested -- people who had nothing to do with the incident at all. The entire incident sounded more like an ambush than a police action. For those who applauded the killing of these motorcycle gang members and the subsequent blanket arrest strategy, I'd like to remind them that the law of the land is supposed to work the same for everybody. Summary executions performed by police forces should never be tolerated.

Armed, dangerous, & out of control.
When I think of our out-of-control government, I usually think of the liberal-minded socialists; I think of Barack Obama, and Chuck Shumer, and Hillary Clinton (remember the bloodbath at Waco), and their mind-numbed zombie followers screaming to remove firearms from the hands of ordinary citizens. Yet, this recent incident down in Waco brought out plenty of bloodthirsty conservatives hiding behind pro-police and law and order philosophies. Hey, ladies and gents, murder is murder, whether the police commit it or whether it's committed by a citizen. It's scary to see the approved murder of anybody, much less nine individuals in blue jeans and riding motorcycles.

Pol Pot - seems pleasant enough.
Pol Pot was an official murderer as well, no less than any policeman or government official. He was a Cambodian Communist revolutionary who led the Khmer Rouge from 1963 until his death in 1998. From 1963 to 1981, he served as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. From 1976 to 1979, he also served as the prime minister of Democratic Kampuchea. Pol Pot became leader of Cambodia on April 17, 1975, and his rule was a dictatorship. During his time in power he imposed agrarian socialism, forcing urban dwellers to relocate to the countryside to work in collective farms and forced labor projects. The combined effects of executions, forced labor, malnutrition, and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population. In all, an estimated 1 to 3 million people (out of a population of slightly over 8 million) died due to the policies of his three-year premiership.

In 1979, after the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, Pol Pot fled to the jungles of southwest Cambodia, and the Khmer Rouge government collapsed. From 1979 to 1997, he and a remnant of the old Khmer Rouge operated near the border of Cambodia and Thailand, where they clung to power, with nominal United Nations recognition as the rightful government of Cambodia. Pol Pot died in 1998 while under house arrest by the Ta Mok faction of the Khmer Rouge. Since his death, rumors that he was poisoned have persisted.

Old Pol Pot was responsible for the deaths of millions of people. His police forces carried out those executions, choosing their victims from the educated population of Cambodia.

How do you feel about killing American citizens?
Do you honestly think it couldn't happen here? If we allow our police forces to ambush and execute individuals without trial, without due process, isn't that taking the same path that Pol Pot took? If the government system allows it, sooner or later it will happen. It has happened at Waco before and in other places and times in American history. The truth of these actions is most always swept under the rug. I expect no less from the recent shoot-out in Waco. I suppose the lesson is that barbarians can be either liberal or conservative.

Better we all carry firearms and protect ourselves than to allow a police state to develop where citizens can be summarily executed on the streets. Fight on your feet or die on your knees.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The American mainstream media is filled to the brim with liars, frauds, partisans, cheats, plagiarists, and those who tolerate, defend and enable all of them. There is no American institution — not the NFL, not the tobacco companies, not any corporation or enterprise regularly targeted by the media — that engages in anywhere near the amount of fraud and dishonesty that serially oozes from Our Media Overlords. -- John Nolte



Monday, May 18, 2015

Aristotle's Poetics


Science tells us a great deal about how the world works, yet there is a vast ocean of human experience that science cannot begin to explain. And that is probably why we have the liberal arts. Drama, art, and literature, as well as the study of philosophy, explain human nature far better than science. So, consider drama in all its varied forms as the study of human nature.

Aristotle's Poetics is about the art of drama as it pertains to plays performed by actors in the presence of an audience. Aristotle's thoughts on the subject have proven to adhere not only to the stage through the centuries, but also to new performing arts media as well, such as movies and television. To some extent, also, the dramatic principles of Aristotle's Poetics can be applied to any fictional story.

To the student of drama, it is clear that the principles and structure of drama form an unbroken chain from the crudest mythological pantomime of primitive man down to the severest problems entertained by the modern stage. Yet, caution should be applied in the study of drama for it cannot be automatically assumed that what goes for drama according to Aristotle's Poetics also readily applies to novels and short stories, or for that matter to mythology.

With myth, though, it has to be decided to what extent it relates to oral tale, to written fiction and to drama. The answer is not always obvious.

Myths of central and cosmological nature were most likely orally transmitted, long before they were written down, and although they may have transformed greatly in that process from mouth to pen, they were certainly given their plot and structure already well before. As oral tales, they need to be much closer to the enacted drama than a written story must, or they would most likely have been forgotten through the generations. Also, it is commonplace in cultures past and present, to enact their central myths - if not in pantomime, so in performances with more or less of a ritual structure.

All the world is but a stage...
But the most firm indication of their dramatic nature is the structure of all those myths remaining with us, either in documents only, or in practice as well. A vast majority have clear signs of the same drama structure as can be found in most plays of the world, as well as in Aristotle's Poetics, and other literature on the construction of the drama. Definitely, the principles of drama are present in myths, at least to the extent that those principles are meaningful to apply to them.

In the case of drama, Aristotle's Poetics have set the standard to the extent that there has not been, at least in the western world, any theory of drama, or discussion of its structure and inner workings, without reference to Aristotle - in all periods when the Poetics was known. It is adequate to regard all western theory of drama as comments on Aristotle's Poetics.

In the Roman empire, on the stage of the Renaissance, through to the framework according to which every Hollywood movie is constructed, the dramatic rules expressed by Aristotle's Poetics are still obeyed. Why? Because they all deal with the same cause and effect sequences seen in the daily lives of men and women.

Aristotle's theories have never really been questioned, at least not dismissed, but some of the later interpretations of them have. When Aristotle and his Poetics can be doubted, this is usually because of a questionable later rephrasing of them, often in such a way that his words have been misinterpreted to be more categorical, more decisive, than they really are. Therefore, Aristotle has been questioned mainly when his rules of drama have been regarded as more restrictive than he himself would have them. The most significant example of which is in the doctrine of the unity of time and place - the idea that a drama should only encompass the time span it would take to enact it, and occupy only the space that would fit onto a stage.

Nonetheless, the influence of Aristotle's Poetics still has its gaps - one being the fact that it was unknown to the Christian Era of European thought, with minor exceptions, until the very end of the 15th century, when in 1498 the Giorgio Valla Latin translation of Aristotle's Poetics was printed in Venice. Several parts of the Poetics are missing, but what we have is enough for a reliable understanding of Aristotle's perspectives on drama and its principles.

Aristotle
It is clear that Aristotle's Poetics is written by someone who takes great delight in drama, but a playwright Aristotle is not. He knows, though, what it takes to write convincingly - the poet must have as much of it as possible "before his own eyes," in his own vivid imagination. To persuade the spectators of the play, it needs to be both written and enacted "under the influence of passion," since one needs to be agitated oneself, to agitate others, and so forth. Thereby Aristotle concludes that "poetry is the province either of one who is naturally clever, or of one who is insane."

The very basis of Aristotle's definitions of drama and "how fables must be composed," is what he regards as its root: imitation (mimesis in Greek). Any kind of poetry, actually any art, is a form of imitation - what sets the art forms apart is merely with what means the imitations are made. Mankind imitates from childhood on, Aristotle states in his Poetics, and we take delight in it - contrary to the animals.

Aristotle states that mimesis is done primarily as a way of learning, of acquiring necessary knowledge and skills. We learn according to our individual stature: "men of a more venerable character imitated beautiful actions, and the actions of such men; but the more ignoble imitated the actions of depraved characters." This driving force of imitation is mighty, since learning "is not only most delightful to philosophers, but in like manner to other persons, though they partake of it but in a small degree." Even things upsetting or painful, "such as the forms of the most contemptible animals, and dead bodies," men enjoy imitating - in pictures or other ways - thereby learning about them.

Narrowing things down to the imitation made in poetry, in the construction of fables, Aristotle sees the major forms being the epic, the tragedy, the comedy, the choric hymn (dithyrambic poetry), and that accompanied by the flute and lyre, all being imitations but differing in three aspects: the means by which they imitate, the objects they imitate and the manner in which they do it. The epic is alone in imitating merely by words, whereas what fits on the stage imitates mainly by action.

For the drama, what is being done is absolutely essential, for which Aristotle takes an etymological support in his Poetics, comparing the word drama with the Dorian word dran, which means "to make." The word "fable" Aristotle defines as "the composition of incidents."

Now, after simply stating that "imitators imitate those who do something," Aristotle finds a choice to be made as to whom to imitate, and this is a question of vice and virtue, where there are but three possible choices according to the Poetics: "those who are better than we are, or those who are worse, or such as are like ourselves." Here is where Aristotle sees the major difference between tragedy and comedy - the former imitating the better, and the latter imitating the worse.

Comedy, which Aristotle regards as the lesser of the two, portrays the ridiculous, and not vices which terrify or disgust, since it is necessary with "a portion of turpitude," but not to the extent that serious damage is done or pain induced. That would be better fit for the tragedy. Aristotle's Poetics does not explore the reason for the necessity of this limitation of comedy, but certainly a play not conforming to it would find the audience hesitant to laugh.

As for tragedy, Aristotle states in that it is "an imitation of a worthy or illustrious and perfect action, possessing magnitude, in pleasing language." It must be acted, not narrated, "through pity and fear effecting a purification from such like possessions." The Poetics stresses that the imitation taking place in tragedy is actually not of the noble men portrayed, but of what deeds they do. The men have certain characters, which are according to their manners, but what lightens or darkens their emotions is none other than their actions, what happens to them.

The play must reach an end, "the greatest of all things," and in doing so it "embraces manners on account of actions." A tragedy can do without manners, although it is questionable how well received it will be, but without action not. Manners are defined as those elements which make up what we recognize as a person's character, and it is essential that the person acts and speaks according to his character all through the play, while sentiment is how the one speaking explains his meaning. By these two a person is described, but it is from his actions that his quality is derived.

So, what causes the actions? In the Poetics, Aristotle sees two causes: sentiments and moral habit, "and through these actions all men obtain or fail of the object of their wishes."

Aristotle concludes that a tragedy has six parts, or rather ingredients that make up its quality: fable, manners, diction, sentiment, spectacle and music. Of these, the fable is the principal part, "the soul of tragedy," followed by the manners, then the sentiments, to explain "what is inherent in the subject," then diction putting it all into words. Music is "the greatest of the embellishments," but to Aristotle the spectacle of scenic decorations and effects is the least important to the drama and its power.

The Poetics states that the fable (the combination of incidents which are the action of the play) should be cohesive and aim toward telling one story, which is not to say it has to be about only one person, since characters are not in the center of the tragedy, but action itself is. So, one action means what we would call one complete story, so arranged in its transactions, "that any one of them being transposed, or taken away, the whole would become different." A tragedy lacking in this respect, consisting of many fables instead of just one, Aristotle calls an epic system.

In the Poetics, this unity of action contains a beginning, a middle and an end.

Aristotle states that the chain of events has to be of such nature as "might have happened," either being possible in the sense of probability or necessary because of what occurred before. Anything absurd can only exist outside of the drama, what is included in it must be believable, which is something achieved not by probability alone, "for it is probable that many things may take place contrary to probability." Aristotle even recommends things impossible but probable, before those possible but improbable. What takes place should have nothing irrational about it, but if this is unavoidable, the Poetics suggests that such events should have taken place outside of the drama enacted.

In this, Aristotle's Poetics warns that actual history is no guarantee, but rather a limitation risking to diminish the beauty and value of the tragedy, for "poetry speaks more of universals, but history of particulars." Still, Aristotle admits that tragedy tends to make use of actual events and persons, to make the fable more credible, since what has happened must be possible, but what has not would seem unlikely to ever happen. There is yet reason not to adhere too closely to historic events, since it is by no means certain that all of the audience is familiar with the facts. The poet had better make use of his trade, imitation, and put the story together so that it seems possible, be it with or without actual events.

Aristotle recommends that the writer should avoid making his plot episodic, where it is "neither probable nor necessary that the episodes follow each other." To Aristotle, this is merely a sign of bad poets, "through their own want of ability." The good poet, on the contrary, knows to make things happen in such a way as not to seem like pure chance, but on account of each other. Then, the events will "possess more of the marvelous," which is also the case if events out of fortune are such that they still give the impression of design, of things happening as they should.

To Aristotle, the most beautiful tragedy needs to be complex, and "imitative of fearful and piteous actions." Therefore, it is no good to have the play make worthy men go from prosperity to adversity since this is simply impious, nor to have depraved characters go from adversity to prosperity, which evokes neither fear nor pity, and much the same goes for a depraved man going from prosperity to adversity, though morally pleasing. Pity, says Aristotle in the Poetics, "is excited for one who does not deserve to be unfortunate; but fear, for one who resembles oneself." What remains is a person neither excelling in virtue nor being particularly vicious, who goes through a change of circumstances due to some error. This change should be from prosperity to adversity, not the opposite, to evoke pity. For the same reason, tragic events should not take place between two enemies, but rather between friends or relatives, like when a brother kills a brother, or a son his mother.

The turn of events that Aristotle's Poetics favors the most is when a terrible action is interrupted before completion, such as when someone discovers the mistake about to be made, and avoids it. Then the drama is accomplished with no damage. Next to best is when a deed is done in ignorance, because it is without wickedness, "and the discovery excites horror." The worst, then, is where someone intends to knowingly make a vicious deed, but does not commit it - which is wicked, yet not tragical, "because it is void of pathos."

As for the length of the play, Aristotle's Poetics recommends something that can be easily seen in its entirety and, one that can easily be remembered.

The time of the enactment of the play itself, certainly significantly shorter, even, than the limited time Aristotle's Poetics allows for its fable, he divides into the following parts: prologue, episode, exode, and chorus, the last one divided into parados (entry of the chorus) and stasimon (chorus fixed on stage). The first three, pretty much the beginning, middle and end discussed above, are intervened by the chorus. Another division of the tragedy made in Aristotle's Poetics, is that of complication and development, the first of which is from the beginning until the moment where there is a "transition to good fortune," and the second is from this point to the end.

Tragedy
Additionally, a drama should not occupy more space than what can realistically be arranged on a stage. This rule is not present in Aristotle's Poetics, but invented in the 16th century by Lodovico Castelvetro, the Italian translator of The Poetics, and by the French dramatist Jean de la Taille.

Aristotle's Poetics cites different conditions for the epic. Where it is essential for the tragedy to be enacted, the epic poem is a narration, following different laws from that of the drama. It is not necessary with the unity of action presented above, but there should be a unity of time, in such a way as "of such things as have happened in that time." What happens, though, is not tending toward any single ending. The epic story requires revolutions and discoveries, as much as tragedy does, and sentiments and a good diction as well. According to Aristotle's Poetics, the main difference between the two is that tragedy cannot imitate several actions taking place at the same time, which the epic, being a narration, has no problem doing.

At the same time as the epic can contain several possible tragedies, the tragedy does in no way serve as material for an epic. Curiously, Aristotle's Poetics states that "tragedy has every thing which the epic possesses," but the reverse is not the case. Raising the question of which imitation is the more excellent, the epic or tragic, Aristotle concludes that tragedy, "being crowded into a narrower compass," becomes more pleasing, it contains more unity, and can therefore attain its end "in a greater degree." The end being the greatest of all things, tragedy -- with its superior ending -- must be the superior form of imitation.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Aliens Are Making It Happen! Maybe.


Nick Bostrom
British philosopher Nick Bostrom says he believes that the reality we perceive just may be the product of a highly-advanced computer program, much like the plot of the Matrix movies – and surprisingly NASA has said they agree with him.

Dr Bostrom has proposed that an evolved race of aliens have imprisoned the human-race in what he refers to as a “digital imprisonment”. These aliens are using virtual reality to simulate space and time, according to Bostrom.

NASA scientist Rich Terrile said, “Right now the fastest NASA supercomputers are cranking away at about double the speed of the human brain …If you make a simple calculation using Moore’s Law [which roughly claims computers double in power every two years], you’ll find that these supercomputers, inside of a decade, will have the ability to compute an entire human lifetime of 80 years – including every thought ever conceived during that lifetime – in the span of a month.”

NASA scientist Rich Terrile
“In quantum mechanics, particles do not have a definite state unless they’re being observed. Many theorists have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how you explain this. One explanation is that we’re living within a simulation, seeing what we need to see when we need to see it."

The idea that our Universe is a fiction generated by computer code solves a number of inconsistencies and mysteries about the cosmos.

The first is the Fermi Paradox – proposed by physicist Enrico Fermi during the 1960s – which highlights the contradiction between the apparent high probability of extraterrestrial civilizations within our ever-expanding universe and humanity’s lack of contact with, or lack of evidence for, these alien colonies.

“Where is everybody?” Mr Fermi asked.

It could simply be that Earth and mankind truly is the center of the universe. A simulated universe, perhaps.

Another mystery explained by Dr Bostrom’s Matrix-like theory is the role of Dark Matter. US theoretical cosmologist Michael Turner has called the hypothetical material “the most profound mystery in all of science”.

Dark Matter is one of many hypothetical materials used to explain a number of anomalies in the Standard Model – the all-encompassing theory science has used to explain the particles and forces of nature for the last 50 years.

The Standard Model of particle physics tells us that there are 17 fundamental particles which make up atomic matter.

The Higgs boson, which was first theorized by scientists during the 1960s, is amongst these 17 fundamental particles. In summer 2012, scientists at CERN observed what is now believed to be the elusive “God particle”.

But the Standard Model is as-yet unable to explain a number of baffling properties of the universe – including the fact that the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing speed.

Dark Matter is believed to be a web-like matter that binds visible matter together. If it exists, it would explain why galaxies spin at the speed they do – something which remains unexplained based only on what we can currently observe.

Additionally, the Standard Model does not yet hold an explanation for the force of gravity.

The as-yet unproven existence of Dark Matter could be explained by a virtual universe. But, it goes without saying not everybody is convinced about The Matrix explanation.

Professor Peter Millican, who teaches philosophy and computer science at Oxford University, thinks the virtual reality explanation is flawed. “The theory seems to be based on the assumption that ‘superminds’ would do things in much the same way as we would do them,” he said. “If they think this world is a simulation, then why do they think the superminds – who are outside the simulation – would be constrained by the same sorts of thoughts and methods that we are?"

“They assume that the ultimate structure of a real world can’t be grid like, and also that the superminds would have to implement a virtual world using grids. We can’t conclude that a grid structure is evidence of a pretend reality just because our ways of implementing a pretend reality involve a grid.”

Millican's argument, it seems to me, is valid if not weak in the sense that the grid is simply a way of describing the phenomena from a human point of view and cannot encompass the unknown aspects of physical space within other theoretical dimensions. Just as quantum physics utilizes a system of discrete quanta in describing an analog reality, a projected grid is a human concept used to describe something outside human comprehension.

Is there a limit to the known universe? If so, what is outside? If there is an "outside," would not the boundaries go a long way in defining the limitations of our own universe? Of course it would.

At the most basic level of our understanding of the Planck Scale, we accept that elemental substances are being constantly created to shore up everything we know. See "quantum foam." This is the actual concept of creationism -- that moment by moment, the universe and everything in it, is being created. Materialists do not care for that explanation and argue that it makes no difference to everyday life. That is, naturally, a false argument and, if accepted, would result in the cessation of scientific inquiry. In any case, it appears that all of reality is dependent on such variables as observation and a mysterious interaction at the foundational level. Is our reality then a projection from "outside"? Or, as Bostrom has suggested, a simulation?

Short People



Napoleon Complex


Napoleon complex is a term describing a psychological condition which is said to exist in people, both men and women, of short stature. It is also known as 'Napoleonic Complex'. It is characterized by overly-aggressive or domineering social behavior and carries the implication that such behavior is compensatory for the subject's stature. The term is also used more generally to describe people who are driven by a perceived handicap to overcompensate in other aspects of their lives. Other names for the term include Napoleon syndrome and Short Man syndrome.

The Napoleon complex is named after Emperor Napoleon I of France. The conventional wisdom is that Napoleon compensated for his lack of height by seeking power, war and conquest.

Abraham Buunk, a professor at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, has found evidence of the small man syndrome. Researchers at the University found that men who were 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in) were 50% more likely to show signs of jealousy than men who were 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in). Sociological experiments have shown that there are several advantages to being tall in attracting a mate, and the small man syndrome is believed to be an evolutionary adaptation.

Small fish in big pond.
The term "Napoleon complex" has been used in scientific research on the phenomenon of smaller organisms acting aggressively towards larger organisms. In contrast to the many examples of larger organisms acting aggressively towards smaller organisms in the animal kingdom, some studies of aggressive behavior in organisms have detected cases where smaller individuals initiate aggression. A 1995 study of contests between males in the swordtail fish species Xiphophorus nigrensis and Xiphophorus multilineatus found that 78% of observed fights were initiated by the smaller fish, and in 70% of fights the fish that delivered the first bite lost the conflict. From an evolutionary perspective, this "Napoleon complex" behavior seems irrational.

Posited explanations include an asymmetry in the value of the contested resource to the two combatants (the individual with lower resource holding potential may attack first if the value of the resource is greater for him), a misconception on the part of the weaker organism about his own strength, and the "Desperado Effect", where omega males attack because they have no other opportunities to gain resources.[11]

A University of Leeds study concluded that in game theory, a Napoleon complex is an evolutionarily stable strategy, where smaller individuals are more aggressive than larger opponents, is possible when smaller individuals display and larger individuals retreat; this may occur when the smaller individual has some chance to win a fight and resources are abundant and of relatively low value, or when the value of the resource is too small to the larger individual when compared to the injury risk.

People affected by small man syndrome are also known to have a disproportionate temper in order to make up for the short stature. This is also known as Owen and Lucy syndrome whereby a man and woman are united as a couple and thus the effect of small man syndrome is increased. In John Steinbeck's popular novella, Of Mice and Men, the protagonist Curley and his malevolent demeanor towards the above-average height Lennie Small, exemplifies the Napoleon Complex in literary form.

If you suffer from small man syndrome and would like to pursue help, here is a web site to get you started: http://smallmansyndrome.org/

Short man syndrome really does exist, Oxford University academics have found, after a study showed feeling smaller makes people paranoid, distrustful and scared of others.

Scientists used virtual reality technology to reduce the height of volunteers traveling on a computer-simulated Tube train by 10in (25cm). The experience of being shorter increased reports of negative feelings, such as being incompetent, dislikeable or inferior. It also heightened levels of mistrust, fear and paranoia. Height-reduced participants were more likely to think someone else in the virtual train carriage was deliberately staring, thinking badly about them, or trying to cause distress.

Researchers believe the findings demonstrate the psychologically detrimental effect of experiencing social situations from a position closer to the ground. Professor Daniel Freeman, who led the Medical Research Council-funded study, said: "Being tall is associated with greater career and relationship success.

"Height is taken to convey authority, and we feel taller when we feel more powerful. It is little wonder then that men and women tend to over-report their height.

"In this study we reduced people's height, which led to a striking consequence: people felt inferior and this caused them to feel overly mistrustful. This all happened in a virtual reality simulation, but we know that people behave in VR as they do in real life.

"It provides a key insight into paranoia, showing that people's excessive mistrust of others directly builds upon their own negative feelings about themselves.

“The important treatment implication for severe paranoia that we can take from this study is that if we help people to feel more self-confident then they will be less mistrustful.”

Participants in the study experienced the same simulated tube journey twice, once at their normal height and the second time from the perspective of someone 10in (25cm) shorter.

On both journeys, the other virtual passengers in the carriage were programmed to be "neutral" and not do anything to provoke feelings of fear or mistrust.

Generally the lowering of height was not consciously registered by the volunteers, but its effects were unmistakable.

"The results were very clear: lowering of height led to more negative evaluations of the self compared with others and greater levels of paranoia," said the scientists writing in the journal Psychiatry Research.

The findings were said to lend support to previous studies linking height and social status, and show how low self-esteem can lead to paranoid thoughts.

Professor Hugh Perry, who chairs the MRC Neurosciences and Mental Health Board, said: "For people whose lives are affected by paranoid thinking, this study provides useful insights on the role of height and how this can influence a person's sense of mistrust."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

America In Decline


It's gotten to be scary living in the USA. In a relatively short span of time, we’ve had our freedoms turned inside out, our constitutional structure flipped upside down, and our culture left in a shambles.

We've been lied to by both the government and a media that is supposed to act as a watchdog for the general public. We’ve seen innocent children burned by flashbang grenades in police raids, dogs shot, and old folks hospitalized after “accidental” encounters with marauding SWAT teams. We’ve been told we have no rights within 100 miles of our own border, and those places are now considered “Constitution-free zones.” We’ve had our faces filed in government databases, our biometrics crosschecked against criminal databanks, and our consumerist tendencies catalogued for future marketing overtures.

Unless you're a member of one of the privileged minority groups, freedom of speech no longer exists.

We’ve been given the runaround on government wrongdoing, starting with President Obama’s claim that the National Security Agency has never abused its power to spy on Americans’ phone calls and emails. All the while, the NSA has been racing to build a supercomputer that could break through “every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.” Despite the fact that the NSA’s domestic surveillance program has been shown to be ineffective at preventing acts of terrorism, the agency continues to vacuum up almost 200 million text messages a day. We recognize that these functions of government exist under both conservative and liberal leadership

We’ve seen the police transformed from community peacekeepers to point guards for the militarized corporate state. From Boston to Ferguson and every point in between, police have pushed around, prodded, poked, probed, scanned, shot and intimidated the very individuals—we the taxpayers—whose rights they were hired to safeguard. Networked together through fusion centers, police have surreptitiously spied on our activities and snooped on our communications, using hi-tech devices provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

We’ve been called suspicious for engaging in such dubious activities as talking too long on a cell phone and stretching too long before jogging. We've been dubbed extremists and terrorists for criticizing the government and suggesting it is tyrannical or oppressive, and subjected to forced colonoscopies and anal probes for allegedly rolling through a stop sign.

We've been turned into social pariahs for not bowing to the race pimps and for maintaining a healthy respect for our heritage. Religious beliefs are now subject to court hearings.

We’ve been arrested for all manner of “crimes” that never used to be considered criminal, let alone uncommon or unlawful, behavior: letting our kids walk to the playground alone, giving loose change to a homeless man, feeding the hungry, and living off the grid. Blame it on a government mindset that renders us guilty before we’ve even been charged, let alone convicted, of any wrongdoing. In this way, law-abiding individuals have had their homes mistakenly raided by SWAT teams that got the address wrong. One accountant found himself at the center of a misguided police standoff after surveillance devices confused his license plate with that of a drug felon.

We’ve been conned into believing that our votes count, that we live in a democracy, that elections make a difference, that it matters whether we vote Republican or Democrat, and that our elected officials are looking out for our best interests. The truth is, we live in an oligarchy where politicians represent only the profit motives of the corporate state, whose leaders know all too well that there is no discernible difference between red and blue politics.

We’ve had our schools locked down, students handcuffed, shackled and arrested for engaging in such criminal behavior such as food fights. Our children’s biometrics are stored, their movements tracked, and their data bought, sold and bartered for profit by government contractors, all the while they are treated like criminals and taught to march in lockstep with the police state. Not to mention the revised history that is being taught along with water-down curriculums that are essentially turning public schools and universities into socialization factories. Forget about education and self-determination.

We’ve been rendered enemy combatants in our own country, denied basic due process rights, held against our will without access to an attorney or being charged with a crime, and left in jail until such a time as the government is willing to let us go or allow us to defend ourselves. Our legal system and those employed by it support the process because, well, it makes them a very good living.

The military weapons we funded with our tax dollars are now used against us, from unpiloted, weaponized drones tracking our movements and armored vehicles, assault rifles, sound cannons and grenade launchers in towns with little to no crime to an arsenal of military-grade weapons and equipment given free of charge to schools and universities. All while at the same time, cultural forces aligned by the liberal government administration pushed for stricter weapons control among the civilian population.

We’ve been silenced, censored and forced to conform, ordered into free speech zones, gagged by hate crime laws, stifled by political correctness, muzzled by misguided anti-bullying statutes, and pepper sprayed for taking part in peaceful protests.

We’ve been shot by police for reaching for a license during a traffic stop, reaching for a baby during a drug bust, carrying a toy sword down a public street, and wearing headphones that hamper our ability to hear.

We’ve had our tax dollars spent on $30,000 worth of Starbucks for Dept. of Homeland Security employees, $630,000 in advertising to increase Facebook “likes” for the State Dept., and close to $25 billion to fund projects ranging from the ludicrous to the unnecessary, such as laughing classes for college students and programs teaching monkeys to play video games and gamble.

We’re treated like guinea pigs, targeted by the government and social media for psychological experiments on how to manipulate the masses. We’ve been tasered for talking back to police, tackled for taking pictures of police abuses, and threatened with jail time for invoking our rights. We’ve even been arrested by undercover cops stationed in public bathrooms who interpret men’s “shaking off” motions after urinating to be acts of lewdness. If we lived in China we still wouldn't expect this kind of overt surveillance.

We’ve had our possessions seized and stolen by law enforcement agencies looking to cash in on asset forfeiture schemes, our jails privatized and used as a source of cheap labor for megacorporations, our gardens smashed by police seeking out suspicious-looking marijuana plants, and our buying habits turned into suspicious behavior by a government readily inclined to view its citizens as terrorists.

We’ve had our cities and small towns used for military training drills, with Black Hawk helicopters buzzing the skies, Urban Shield exercises overtaking our streets, and active shooter drills wreaking havoc on unsuspecting bystanders in our schools, shopping malls and other “soft target” locations.

We’ve been told that national security is more important than civil liberties, that police dogs’ noses are sufficient cause to carry out warrantless searches, that the best way not to get raped by police is to “follow the law,” that what a police officer says in court will be given preference over what video footage shows, that an upright posture and acne are sufficient reasons for a cop to suspect you of wrongdoing, that police can stop and search a driver based solely on an anonymous tip, and that police officers have every right to shoot first and ask questions later if they feel threatened.

Some citizens still insist they are beyond the reach of the police state because they have done nothing wrong and have nothing to fear. To those sanctimonious few, secure in their delusions, let this be a warning: the danger posed by the American police state applies equally to all of us: lawbreaker and law abider alike, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, blue collar and white collar, and any other distinction you’d care to trot out.

Change for the sake of change.
The lesson is simply this: in a police state, you’re either a cop or you’re one of the little people. Make no mistake, the lawyers, judges, clerks and others who participate in official suppression are all part of the problem. It's not us, or some fanatical guys from Afghanistan, or the local KKK that is a threat to our freedom. It is the system itself as well as those who administer it. Right now, citizens are the little people, the servants, the serfs, the grunts who must obey without question or suffer the consequences.

Who'd have thought it could happen here and that it could happen so quickly? Where is it all going to lead? Heaven on earth? Some sort of socialist utopia? A Marxist dream come true? Or a once great society brought to ruin by a corrupted few who are certain they know better? The floodgates are open, lunacy pours into the USA and bad ideas are compounded practically on a daily basis. Psychopaths rule and idiocy is the new normal. Welcome to the funhouse, see you in camp, if we make it that far.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


During the time of the Spanish Inquisition, Pope Innocent VIII condemned cats as evil and thousands of cats were burned. Unfortunately, the widespread killing of cats led to an explosion of the rat population, which exacerbated the effects of the Black Death.


Monday, May 11, 2015



I Like A Good Story, But...


How anyone could believe anything that our government controlled media spouts is probably the best question of the day. If one even pays the slightest attention to the daily stories, the lack of detail, the obvious agenda-driven nature, the outrageous claims, it's enough to make your head spin. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that what they're telling us about any number of news events (or non-events) are nothing but lies.

In many cases, that's exactly what they're feeding us. Total distortions. In other cases, they parcel out bits of truth mixed with speculation designed to make you reach foregone conclusions. The end product is that those thoughts in your head are not yours, they belong to someone or something else. They want us to go along with an agenda that really doesn't look out for our best interests, that's why they do it. Oh, and by the way, they do it constantly and consistently. Furthermore, it doesn't matter if it's from the left or the right because both sides play the game of disinformation and propaganda.

This morning I read what is considered the definitive article on what happened to Osama Bin Laden. If you're like most people, all you remember is that a bunch of Navy Seals killed him. Well, there's more to it. For one thing, they mysteriously disposed of his body at sea -- or so the official story goes. The article I alluded to says the official story was bunk, that the Obama administration played with the facts to make themselves look better politically. Knowing the bunch of communists in charge of the US, that is likely the truth, yet I would go even further and question whether or not Bin Laden was ever a threat to the US in the first place. Heck, who knows if he was even a real person or not?

Beheadings in the desert or in the studio?
Remember those bogus beheadings in the desert? The media picked up what was given and ran with it. What was given were incomplete, photoshopped videos showing calm victims on their knees supposedly seconds before their throats were cut and heads sawed off with a rubber knife wielded by a guy named Jihadi John who turned out to be a rapper from Great Britain.

Come on. Gimme a break.

If you want to believe everything on television, then you have to accept that those guys on the Big Bang Theory are actually theoretical physicists.

Quit being such a dummy. Stop accepting everything you're told and began accepting the fact that most everything in the mainstream is agenda-driven in order to sell you a point of view. Whether it's to get you to vote for a particular candidate or to get you to buy the latest sport coupe from the Ford Motor Company, it can't be trusted. The salesmen of the world are not in the truth business -- they're in the lying business and you are the target.

Psychopaths one and all.
There is a problem with tyranny in our once free country but what difference does it make if you think the economy is just dandy and all the noise about police brutality is race-driven? There is a problem with the judicial system when high profile trials can be rigged and used for massive propaganda purposes. Don't think it doesn't happen here because it's happening before our very eyes. There is a problem with the leadership in our country -- at all levels. These idiots are paid too much and have way to much power at their disposal. They have way too much control over the rest of us. Elections are fixed, bought, and the candidates are so far removed from the rest of us in terms of normal, regular people as to make the entire process ludicrous. Why? Because from your own local city council members all the way up to the president, they're psychopaths, that's why.

Just because your team may be in charge doesn't mean that they aren't all corrupt. Of course you don't want to admit it, especially when you've been operating under a comfy social paradigm that neatly explains everything to you; that is, how and why society and the world works the way it does. It's lies. Wake up and smell the stink. Perhaps you already have and you've decided it's better to keep a low profile and accept whatever hand-outs they give you. In that case, you've been bought off and are no better than your masters.

Who am I?
And on the off-chance that I'm right about all this, so what, you might ask? It's such a bleak picture, there's no way out. But hold on, Nancy, that's just not true. There is something you can do and it's really easy. First and foremost, don't participate. Stop accepting everything that's crammed into your programmed mind. Don't buy crap you don't need. Turn off the television. Dedicate yourself to discovering who you really are. Find self-discipline. Lose those extra 30 or 40 or 50 pounds so that your own deep-seated self-loathing goes away. Grow things. Pray and meditate. Get rid of your nasty habits (that includes watching television). Get rid of your nasty friends. Do something selfless and don't tell anybody.

The list doesn't end there, but it is a good start. Take my word for it, you really don't need all the junk they're selling. You don't need piles of money, love, respect, sex, admiration, power, or control. You just need to get clear of all the lies.