John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Sunday, April 10, 2005
Swamp Gas - v. 006

Welcome to Swamp Gas in the Imajica.  Similar to the You Can't Make This Shit Up (YCMTSU) section, Swamp Gas will focus solely on news and items of interest in the sunshine state of Florida.

They say, "All the nuts in America roll downhill to Florida," so let's just see how true that phrase really is.

Click on the Swamp Gas logo for the smelly menu.

Swamp Gas v. 006

 Papal Squirrel BOCA RATON

When Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II died, Boca resident Ms. Kelly Foxton decided to honor the religious world leader by dressing up her little rescued tree friend, Sugar Bush Squirrel. While Ms. Foxton has retired from the Grand Ole Opry, it seems her entertainment career has gained a second wind through photographing the squirrel. Ms. Foxton boasts that she has over 1000 outfits for her supermodel squirrel who is both very much alive and even patriotic. With such a prolific modelling portfolio, it makes me wonder how long it will take to popularize the phrase, "You've been squirreled!"


 Elsie the Ecoli EUSTIS

Despite the fact that over two dozen people recently have been infected by E.coli and children are still hospitalized, some with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, from having contact with animals at three other central Florida area fairs linked to the Ag-Venture traveling petting zoo, the Lake County Fair opened its gates Thursday. Here's my tip for the little kiddies to avoid infection: Wash your hands. Don't suck your thumb after petting smelly animals. And just to stay even safer, never eat the cheese burgers sold at county fairs.


 GOP dumping Martinez as he says What - my memo? ORLANDO / WASHINGTON

When I said earlier that "you're simply not paying attention" concerning the politics of the Schiavo case, I should have directed that comment to Republican Senator Mel Martinez as he handed the now infamous Schiavo Talking Points Memo to Democratic Senator Tom Harkin on the Senate floor. First pleading ignorance, then denying, then admitting, and finally passing the buck to Brian Darling, Martinez accepted the staffer's resignation. Way to go Brian, for taking a shot to the nuts for the team!

While some people point to the connection between Brian Darling and Texas Congressman Tom Delay, the rabid, do-anything-it-takes pro-life politics of Martinez likely hails back to his FSU college buddy and law partner, Ken Conner, who is not only president of Florida Right-to-Life, but also the powerful DC-based Family Research Council. Now that some Republicans are calling Tom Delay 'an embarrassment' to the party, others say the untasteful politicization of the Schiavo case by Martinez is just the latest outrage in a long pattern, prompting some to call him Sideshow Mel.


[Headphones] :: Democrusader - JfZ   NEW

Friday, April 08, 2005
Ghost Stories

Dead Souls Quake 3
While it should be obvious that I'm a Clive Barker fan, Stephen King is a shaman of horror for so many people.  I do like my horror with the raw, kinky edge one finds in Barker's Hellraiser, but I have to acknowledge that Stephen King's work is entertaining even when it is tamed down enough to be shown on PG-13 television.  I found myself glued to the television for a few hours this week as the Sci-Fi channel aired King's Rose Red mini-series.  Basically a haunted house story, it was acted well and had some appropriately used special effects.  It certainly was as scary as the original Amityville Horror, but not likely as shocking as the new Amityville Horror film coming out on April 15th.

Brought to you by the makers of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the movie trailer alone made me nervous.  The Amityville Horror films have always been billed as being based upon a true story.  Obviously, people that experience a paranormal event, or even think they have, are more prone to believe such ghost stories.  Then, you also have another group of people who profit from the paranormal experience or the unknown, like clairvoyants and even the clergy.  I don't find any real fault with this second group people.  Afterall, it's their chosen profession.  The Amityville story has Mr. and Mrs. Warren, and they have an interesting website, too.  It's all turned out to be quite an industry.  The Amityville Horror, without all the ghosts, is based upon a true story of the tragic murders of the DeFeo family by the son, Ronald, in 1974.

Coincidentally, that same year, my mom and I moved into a old house.  It was the original farmhouse when the entire square mile of property was a working farm, instead of the growing suburb that it was at that time, outside of Detroit.  You could tell it had been a farm because the roof on the neighbor's house was still mansard-shaped like the original barn that it once was.  We thought our house, or places nearby, might be haunted.

We heard some disturbing stories about previous owners.  One person had gone insane and another had committed suicide.  Also, I know one neighbor had an actual grave in their damn backyard.  Then, there was the old woman who lived in the barn-type house when we first moved in.  She creeped me out when she was alive, but then she had her ashes spread across her property when she died.  The area could have been a paranormal hotspot, for all I know.

The only thing I can remember is that much of that house and the smaller one next to it, which was also on the property, were both remodelled at some point in the 1940's or 1950's with solid 3/4" tongue-and-groove wood panelling.  All the walls had these large black knots in them that looked like eyes.  If I let my imagination run away a little, it was unnerving to go to sleep at night with the walls staring at me.

Belief in spirits or ghosts seems to be worldwide.  Checking a Yahoo Directory tonight, I found a few interesting websites.  If you like ghost stories, check out the [true stories] tab on Singapore's First Only Ghost Stories (SFOGS) website.  There are many dozen user-submitted spooky tales listed to read.  Another cool website (because I was able to control the webcam in the basement) is the one for the gothically designed Willard Library Building in Indiana.  I played with their camera, but I didn't see the ghost.

Update: I added 3 more Pheatured Phreeks. More to come.
Blue Skelton

Do you live in old, creepy apartment building or house?  Do you have any ghost stories?

[Headphones] :: EROS (m2b2) - Richard Flanagan (aka ghost)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
WP / DK01

Keys Dome
Daniel Kennedy woke up to the screaming digital monotone of his alarm clock.  He cursed it, but was glad to be awakened at such a productive hour.  He then cursed the phantom pain he was feeling in his useless legs.

"Alarm Off!" Daniel yelled to the shadowy room.  The annoying ring continued in his ears for several seconds as the overhead flourescents flickered to life.

After some twisting and turning, he maneuvered himself into his electric ambulatory unit.  The AU was an older model, almost more valuable to Daniel if he sold it at auction as an antique, but he had spent some serious money modifying it to his tastes.

Daniel knew tonight's coffee was only 4 minutes away, which made him hurry.  The coffee was totalmente libre.  Daniel had been given a kilo of coffee as a gift for doing some satellite signal hacking for a neighbor who had some underground connections in Samerican banned substances.  He could almost taste it.

Daniel drove his AU to the keypad next to his locked bedroom door.  This side of the thick steel door was completely covered with a white sheet magnet that he used as a dry-erase board.  From top to bottom, all of Daniel's personal contacts, codes and notes were hand-written on that door. As a whole, the door looked like schizophrenic artwork, but it was Daniel's Rosetta Stone and it kept the information off the digital grid and away from prying eyes.  He glanced up at the four split-screen surveillance monitors above the keypad.

"Mira, mira," he urged the images on the monitors, as the cameras proceeded through their agonizingly slow automated panning of the other rooms in his apartment.  He had installed the security system after an unfortunate misunderstanding with some petty thugs and runners in the dome, but he was overly impatient with the system now because he really needed his coffee tonight.  Satisfied that his apartment was clear, he punched today's 11-digit alarm deactivation code into the keypad.

The door clanked loudly as the eight 20mm hardened steel bolts retracted from the door and back into the door frame.  Daniel scanned his notes for a contact from whom he might be able to barter for some lubricant to quiet those bolts as the door then whooshed when the negative air flow seal was broken.

Daniel hurriedly stabbed at the remote control mounted on his AU and the thick door swung open into the hallway. As he drove his AU down the hallway, the aroma of brewing coffee hit him.  The coffee aroma was euphoric and he closed his eyes to enjoy the solitary sense of smell. Impatiently, Daniel shoved the AU's joystick full forward and nearly tipped over while rounding the corner into his kitchen.

"Holy Fraggin' Hell!" Daniel yelped, as he leaned into the corner to stop himself from tipping over.

The monitor on his kitchen counter mistakenly interpretted his panicked outburst for a voice command and opened his email inbox.  Meanwhile, the tipping AU fell back down level on the floor with all six wheels and came to a stop with a chirp of rubber.  He blinked his eyes several times at the monitor with suspicion.

"I didn't say Open Mail, you outdated pizo mierda," cursed Daniel under his breath.  He poured himself some Samerican Joy as he added two more tedious tasks to his night.  First, he would adjust the AU's joystick sensitivity settings.  Then second, he would troubleshoot the domestic monitor voice recognition to figure out if the problem was systemic or just a glitch with the monitor in the kitchen.

He took a sip a coffee. "I'm going to need this tonight," he thought to himself.

[Headphones] :: Gargoyle - Aesqe

Monday, April 04, 2005
Monkey Business

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If you're a regular around here, you know I like to mix it up on Thunderstorms.  Instead of having a seperate blog for each of my schizophrenic topics -- I simply leave my muse unmedicated, shake the digital Etch-A-Sketch, and see what digital masturbation comes from it all.  There's a 'twist my knob' joke in that, somewhere.

Enough already with the deep, sober thinking about religion and politics, or society and the planet, or life and death.  It's time for us to play with our happy bits (byting optional).

You regulars get to help beta-test and refine the next blogdrive poll idea I plan to give to Helpee.  Last time, I was honored, yet simultaneously horrified that my poll idea was used with little editting and input from others.  There's no guarantee that he'll even use this, but we'll have a little fun here anyway.

When do you masturbate?

  • Saving myself
    That's disgusting. I would never masturbate. God would most certainly kill a kitten, if I did.
  • Morning Wood
    I like to start my day with an orgasm, then I get out of bed. Carpe Diem or Carpe Monkey, it's all good.
  • Afternoon Delight
    Sometimes I like to sneak off during lunch and relief some stress. Or, when I first get home, I like to really unwind.
  • Shower Power
    I masturbate occasionally in the shower. It's mine and I'll lather it up however and for as long as I like.
  • Bed, Bath n Beyond
    If I get lonely on the weekend, I'll fill my bath tub with scented bath oils and light some candles.
  • Ever-ready Bunny
    It's difficult to answer this poll typing with just one hand and ... can't talk now ... busy. So very busy. Okay ... now, I'm just sleepy.

So, let's all hear about your naughty monkey business.  You can comment anonymously, if you're too shy.  For the sake of poll choices, I tried my best during the two minutes I was able to ponder this topic to make it as gender neutral as possible for full participation.  If you need help getting in the mood for this entry, you could always click on over to the Sexy Blogdrivers List and do some reading.

If you prefer some quick aural stimulation, I suggest checking out one of the two Jessica MP3s via the [Ear Candy] link.  For those of you that require more time to get in the mood, click on the 47 minute long RealAudio Stream in the [Headphones] by the Beat Monkeys.  Okay, then.  I'll leave you to your task.

[Headphones] :: Chibuku Mix - Beat Monkeys

Saturday, April 02, 2005
Digital Age Dilemnas

Digital Age Dilemnas
Over a year ago, I published a widely-ignored blog entry entitled "Inventing a Better Future" upon the release of the similarly named report to the United Nations by the InterAcademy Council (IAC) .  Don't feel guilty for not reading it.  I tried several rewritten article submissions to get some traction on the subject at Plastic to no avail as well.  I just failed to make the subject easily readable or sexy enough to be published on Plastic.

However, with the advent and popularization of blogs, we've all become apprentice digital philosophers, haven't we?  The topic continues to fascinate me.  Here was a global organization reporting on the effects of science and technology on the human species: pro and con, gloom and doom, hope and promise.

Living in our Digital Age, there are pros and cons to it.  Moreover, since we are here, now, living, and experiencing the Digital Age, it's a little difficult to step back and look at the 'Big Picture' of what is actually happening in our world.  We don't have the benefit of hindsight or historians to advise us.  We simply must forge ahead.

We can look back on earlier ages of humanity and draw some advice.  What were the daily concerns of the people living and experiencing the Industrial Revolution?  We can not apathetically deny our digital existence.  We've had two generations to absorb the changes in society since the ENIAC.

One obvious thing all of us -- as fellow humans on our little spinning ball of mud -- have to deal with in this age is information itself.  Another thing is the inescapable realization that all humans need certain things to stay alive.  The filter through which we all process these two things is our own personal perspective.  Your reality in the suburban midwestern United States is not the same reality of daily living of a muslim woman living in Nigeria, know what I mean?  Are you listening, Neo?

Information can be spun, meddled with, and massaged.  Furthermore, as MIT linguisitics professor Noam Chomsky might tell you, the information you process by reading your news outlet of choice in order to make an opinion on a given topic is constantly tailored (the digital age moves at light speed) to the potential Consumability Quotient of its target demographic.  Maybe Chomsky didn't say that exactly, but I am.  Take one small story and do your own Thought Experiment on it, like I did last year.

One would need only to observe the latest staged production and loaded audiences of the Bush Lollapalooza Tour on Social Security Reform as a larger example.  Paid journalists, propagandists, and official government media shouldn't be all that surprising.  Conservatives believe mass media is overwhelmingly liberal because they attempt to show both sides in some quaint notion of objectivity.  At the same time, liberals point out that mass media still must rely upon government sources and embedded reporters.  And ultimately, mass media must stay soft on stories that could cause embarrassment to their corporate masters.  While the Digital Age offers some promise for more people to access information, it requires effort.

Denial isn't cutting it anymore
If the Digital Age is enhancing the notion of a Global Village, we are still faced with the global sustainability issue.  How long can we, as humans, continue on our current path of behavior?  I mean, we can't just move to another planet when we're done messing this one up.

As part of the Millenium Declaration of the UN of 2000, Millenium Development Goals were defined.  As part of that MDG effort, all these goals have targets and indicators.  These indicators require progress reports of a global scale:

A framework of 8 goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators to measure progress towards the Millennium Development goals was adopted by a consensus of experts from the United Nations Secretariat and IMF, OECD and the World Bank.

As these progress reports are written, you have to be very proactive to find them in the deluge of popular media disparagement of the UN in America, lately.  It's just sexier to report on UN scandals rather than technically-dry scientific reports that might not peek the interest of Suzy Soccer Mom.

I stumbled upon a short entry by Julian Brookes at MoJo blog that pointed out the recent release of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment study.  With a little effort, I found some press releases on it.  The global sustainability issue certainly should be of concern to people, even Suzy Soccer Mom.  It's the future of her children and grandchildren we're talking about here.
Many ecosystem services that support life on Earth such as freshwater, fisheries, and the regulation of natural hazards and pests are being degraded or used unsustainably. This is revealed today by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), an extensive scientific report prepared by 1,300 experts from 95 countries.
The keyword there is unsustainably.  If we don't make some basic changes, even the near future isn't very bright.  The report only focussed on global scenarios for the next 50 years.  So, while we all debate the future viability of Social Security in the United States, we might consider the following question.  What good is your money going to do you, if you're on a dead planet?

With a little more effort, I found a user-friendly website published by a non-partisan, non-advocacy organization called GreenFacts that sorts through the massive scientific findings in the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment report and makes it very understandable.  I encourage you to educate yourself on this topic by visiting the site and reading that section.

If all you did right now was read the summaries on this page, you're one step closer to making informed decisions about your own future and that of your family.  If you are a more proactive person, you might contact your political representatives recently talking up the Culture of Life in the media, over one woman in Florida, and simply ask them if they've seen the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment Report.  Give their staffers the GreenFacts Ecosystems web address and ask what their positions might be for the Culture of Life for the planet that we're all going to be living on in the very near future.

The Digital Age brings you the information.  Therefore, the real question then becomes, "What are you going to do about it, now that you know?"  You decide for yourself, Neo.

[Headphones] :: Get Off Your Butt! - JfZ

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