Sunday, March 30, 2003

Today I printed the manuscript for "After the Martian Apocalypse" -- slow going with a Compaq A1000 printer. You could actually smell hot toner.

All in all, a pretty unrelaxing weekend. But I have a vacation day this Thurs.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

You know, I think I was mistaken about the missing rabbit eyeballs. But understandably so: they've painted some of them a malignant pink that blends into the surrounding ceramic "skin," giving the impression of a partially flayed skull. I just thought you should know.
Sunny but gray. Off to a languid start. I'm so profoundly tired of thinking about "Operation Iraqi Freedom" that I could vomit. The eyes are vanishing from the sockets of the anthropoid rabbits, just as I had feared. (The faces look disturbingly like those of cows unlucky enough to get rustled by little gray men. Thankfullly, no trace of unmarked black helicopters in the vicinity.)

I'm missing Edgar and Linda. Some days I just don't have the psychic stamina for a comic book convention. Today is one of those days.

Friday, March 28, 2003

The entire Muslim world -- not to mention Europe -- knows the U.S.-led war for what it is: an invasion, not an altruistic "liberation" effort.

And by attacking (oops, I meant liberating) Baghdad we're setting the stage so Iraqi military scientists can eventually ply their trade as freelancers. Having them all under Saddam's iron-fisted regime was actually very convenient from a strategic point of view. Now they're going to be all over the world cooking up nukes and who knows what else for the highest bidder; there's more than enough "missing" plutonium with or without Iraq's proverbial (but strangely unseen) "weapons of mass destruction." The "hornet's nest" analogy is beginning to look uncomfortably apt. Duck and cover!

Strangely, for someone who doesn't watch TV (let alone stare into the maelstrom of CNN), this war has colored my thoughts lately -- very much an unwanted invasion in its own right. I need to attain cool, cosmic detachment lest I disintegrate.

Note: This blog will now feature occasional pictures for your viewing edification.

"Come, Armageddon, come Armageddon, come."

--Morrissey, "Everyday is Like Sunday"

Thursday, March 27, 2003

This weekend Moon astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell and actress Linda Harrison ("Nova" from "Planet of the Apes") -- what a pair -- will be in town for a comic book convention. While I would love to meet Edgar and Linda, I'm not sure I can stomach a comic book convention. I'm allergic to "fandom" in all its guises.

That's Linda on the left, looking remarkably unfazed despite being leashed by a militant gorilla.

Tonight I began reading "The Hunt for Zero Point," a nominally "mainstream" examination of secret technology, UFOs and antigravity. Are flying saucers of terrestrial invention? Is the entire "alien" conception an elaborate guise perpetrated by the military-industrial-mythological complex? I return to these questions obsessively, like Kafka's intrepid ice-skater practicing "where it is forbidden."

My best guess at this point is that scientists have indeed cracked the "gravity barrier," winning the attention of at least one otherworldly (although not necessarily extraplanetary) intelligence. Maybe there really is an alien "pact" of some interface probably defying trite political dynamics.

Who's in control? And how to reconcile "visible" events such as the Iraq conflict with this larger, veiled reality? Microcosmic gods vs. greedy bureaucrats: neither possibility is appealing.

Gravity modification could be at the very heart of our civilization, but compartmentalized until reduced to a thin opiate smoke...
Instead of a uniform, coherent "I," a multiplex identity consisting of the mere sum of its parts: incognizant subroutines going through their mentational labors. A dysfunctional "society of the mind." Clockwork gristle. Dueling peptides. A frothing neural regime governing context, Self, external/internal. Reality shivers and freezes; a cold trickle of awareness plotting escape to more flexible substrates...

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Dubbya is, without argument, the most ardent, sincere humanitarian history has ever seen. How else to explain his otherwise inexplicable actions? Dismissing the prospect of geo-economic control as wild-eyed nonsense, he claims his war is solely to liberate Iraq from the dystopian regime of Saddam Hussein. Certainly a noble ideal.

And Dubbya is a president who stands by his ideals in the face of opposition. Dubbya abandoned the United Nations' attempts at diplomacy -- which were beginning to reap fruit -- to begin his war as soon as possible. This act may seem puzzling until one remembers his outspoken commitment to the liberation of the people of Iraq. Possibly more difficult to understand (at least to those who haven't recognized Dubbya's stringent, consummately humanitarian standards) is the strange fact that Dubbya has ordered an all-out "liberation" assault despite protests from the Iraqi people themselves.

Foolish commentators who don't understand Dubbya's utterly selfless principles might assume that the people of Iraq have a clearer perspective with which to weigh the damages of war than a bone-headed American technocrat; after all, they've lived under Hussein's rule and frankly acknowledge that they want a change -- just not under conditions of violence perpetrated by imperialist outsiders. But those commentators would be wrong. Dubbya's devout humanitarianism will not be dampened by something as inconsequential as lost human lives. His principles are, after all, arbitrarily lofty, quite possibly beyond reach of mere mortals. "Liberation of Iraq" must proceed!

Today an "errant missile" killed 30 civilians as they went about their business. The fortunate ones were literally blown to pieces (the brain and severed hand of which were angrily wielded by the explosion's survivors, who had the insolence to condemn Dubbya's humanitarian crusade of liberation in a pitiful --and frankly quite sickening -- show of ingratitude). There will doubtlessly be more sacrifices in the next weeks, followed by more whiny condemnations of the United States' arrogance and brutality.

One eventually wonders how Dubbya's passion for Iraqi liberation can possibly persist in the face of such blatant military error. One is almost tempted to wonder if there are other, unspoken factors at play. But no. Impossible. Dubbya is simply the first of an albeit disconcerting new breed of humanitarian; to question his acumen is to join the ranks of the suffering Iraqi people who, in their merely temporary distress, dare to question (or denounce) his self-proclaimed rule.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Note: Absolutely no comments about the Iraq war in this post.

Some CDs currently in my player:
"Heathen" and "Young Americans" (David Bowie) I think Bowie's new output is actually better than his halcyon "Ziggy Stardust" stuff...)

"Tidal" (Fiona Apple) Immensely talented; quite possibly the real thing...

"The City" (Vangelis) Known for his stirring soundtrack work (i.e., "Blade Runner.")

I've posted a neat Mars mission patch on my Cydonia site. I should have the Mars book mss. prepped and mailed by the weekend.

Does the new century/decade have a flavor yet? The 80s and 90s certainly did. Presumably the 70s did too but I was only around for five years of them and remember very little. I could have been raised by aliens and I'd never know it. (Actually, that would explain a lot...)

My internal calendar is marked by offbeat "defining events." The first was 1987, when Whitley Strieber's "Communion" was published, even though I didn't read it until much later. In 1991, R.E.M.'s "Out of Time" came out, and that set the tone for my high-school existence; "Monster," released in '95, kicked off my college experience (or lack thereof).

Since 1998 or so it's been a blind and unheeding dive into adulthood, punctuated with bursts of existential panic. I feel simultaneously about 10 and about 90.

"So who are we, so small in times such as these?"

--David Bowie, "Slow Burn"

Monday, March 24, 2003

This evening I finally signed the official contract for my book, "After the Martian Apocalypse." It will be published by Paraview Pocket Books, a recent imprint of Simon & Schuster dedicated to weird phenomena, in early 2004. I'm getting paid for this, obviously, but to my surprise I'm also getting 50 free copies. (50 free copies was all I got "paid" for my first book, but that's small press for you...) And I get royalties, too. This is certainly a step in the right direction, and I'm excited.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

I attended the war protest briefly. Now that bombs are actually being dropped (as we all knew they would), the atmosphere is much less "hippie" and much more militant, with factions committed to accepting Dubbya's every whim. There were the obligatory "Support Our Troops" people there; I have no problem with supporting our troops, although my personal method of "supporting" them would be to get them the hell out of Iraq, not urging them on to some ugly corporate "victory" over mythologized "evil-doers."

I certainly support our troops. But I don't support the war they've been commanded to fight. Amazingly (well, perhaps not that "amazingly"...), there's a large demographic that doesn't get the distinction. Apparently they think that antiwar activists secretly hope that our armed forces perish. American binary thought at its ignorant best. "Love it or leave it." What about changing it for the better? Is that an option? Apparently Americans won't entertain any sentiment that can't be reproduced on a bumper-sticker.

Make no mistake: a large portion of the pro-war crowd likes this pyrotechnic display of force. They're getting off on it. And isn't it a bit curious that Iraq has yet to counter Allied devastation with those "weapons of mass destruction" that supposedly precipitated this thing to begin with? As a friend reminded me, we'll find them eventually. Even if we have to plant them ourselves.

Any pretense that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (I think they're actually calling it this) is about anything but oil and geo-economic control has evaporated into utter nothingness. But now that we're safely committed to wholesale slaughter, minor considerations like this have predictably faded into the background, like mute, red-shifted stars.
Another antiwar protest today. Will I go? I don't know yet. I'm not a crowd person; large masses of people acutely bother me, even if they're congregating for a purpose I fully support. (Science fiction conventions are sheer hell.) Doubtlessly there's a pill for this condition.

Fellow blogger Jason Sheets has summed up the "anti-antiwar" argument in all of its Orwellian absurdity. Read and enjoy.

Large humanoid rabbits have once again infested the Plaza, the microcosmic consumer-culture observatory where I live (nine floors above the insolent, bag-toting crowds). I hate these damned things. This year they're equipped with durable eyeballs that, presumably, won't be plucked from their sockets by idiot tourists. Somehow I'm not convinced.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

I succumbed and bought R.E.M.'s "Fables of the Reconstruction" tonight. This is the CD I lost (see earlier entry if you're interested in this particular tragedy). My email dialogue with fellow R.E.M. fan and science fiction writer Peter Watts necessitated this purchase. I have an almost visceral need to hear "Maps and Legends." "Old Man Kensey" is playing as I type. I'd missed this one, too.

Today was devoted to reading 1.) "Maelstrom" and 2.) Keel's "Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings." Keel suggests, fairly convincingly, that the UFO/paranormal intelligence wages a kind of psychological warfare against humans. Its primary motive appears to be deception. But to what end? Is this "intelligence" really intelligent in any meaningful sense of the word or simply the by-product of Vallee's "unattended clockwork"? If we inhabit a computer simulation, as argued by Peter Gersten, then a built-in psychosocial conditioning system might be...

("Green Grow the Rushes" is playing now -- I'd forgotten what a good one this is...)

...necessary to keep us from learning the Horrible Truth. Upon learning What's Really Going On -- i.e., that we don't exist in any sort of ontologically palatable form -- we just might shed the confines of Gersten's "Cosmic Computer System" and go on to infect some unthinkably vast cosmic Internet. Perhaps terrestrial intelligence is akin to a sample of isolated germs used for occasional research purposes. Or maybe we're being allowed to evolve into something more hardy and virulent. "Someone else" -- in this case, a kind of godlike hacker -- might have big plans for us. Transcelestial biowarfare? A nifty experimental screen-saver like Rudy Rucker's Boppers? Something like the quantum-level consciousness-merging suggested in Strieber's "Communion" and subsequent books?

"Stay off that highway; word is it's not so safe."

--R.E.M., "Green Grow the Rushes"
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not really out to get you...

I bought Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher" tonight. I couldn't help myself; apparently it's King's take on the contemporary "alien menace" mythos (a la Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs). It's great fun to see how this particular meme spreads and mutates, and whether the commodification of the archetypal "alien" has anything to do with the close encounter phenomenon as studied by the likes of Dr. Jacques Vallee, John Keel and Aime Michel.

There are "real" aliens, and there are the aliens in our heads, ready to burst forth like hungry lizards from thick-skinned eggs. How do we determine the difference?

Let me be clear: I think it's genuinely possible that we're being invaded by something "otherwordly." "Invasion" is almost certainly a shallow, imperfect term -- especially since it appears to have been going on since prehistory. If "they" merely wanted to take over the world, "they" ("it"?) would have done so by now. Something altogether weirder is happening. I suspect we lack the vocabulary to describe it. Are we getting closer? Possibly...

Friday, March 21, 2003

The light problem is fixed. New 60-watt bulbs bathe the living room in light. David Lynch has packed his cameras, claiming that he's done all he can do for the time being.

Good news: The good folks running the show at Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster have finally deigned to send me money in exchange for the book I've written for them. I'm not sure, but I think the title has already been abbreviated from "After the Martian Apocalypse" to "Martian Apocalypse," which is actually much better.

Support our troops; bring them home immediately.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."

--Thomas Jefferson

Quotes like these from our "founding fathers" are a dime a dozen, yet windbags like Jerry Falwell have helped build an industry committed to America's alleged "Christian roots." The notion that the United States is a fundamentally Christian nation is a blatant lie perpetuated by the intellectually impaired.

Yet the mythos of Falwell, Robertson, et al gathers momentum. It has apocalyptic appeal; it's irresistably simplistic. In a landscape propelled (and pummelled) by information, the quickest, easiest reality-tunnels become the most desirable. History becomes a subtextual ink-blot. Reason perishes to make way for reassurance.

Religion -- in all forms -- is humankind's deadly legacy, infinitely more frightening than all the chemical warfare stockpiles on the planet. Weapons inspectors scour musty Mid-East basements in search of missiles and anthrax while oblivion incubates in their skulls, unnoticed.

If we manage to leave our planetary womb, we cannot allow ourselves to take our debasing metaphysics with us. Perhaps vaguely anticipating a better (albeit unthinkably god-free) future, the Vatican actually has an assembly of priests devoted to "converting" possible extraterrestrials. Maybe the aliens will have a more robust sense of irony than I do and we'll be spared an "Independence Day"-style extermination.
Today I am SETI@home's user of the day. By midnight, several thousands of people all over the world will have browsed my user profile and taken note of my heretical stance on unidentified flying objects and greenhouse catastrophe, not to mention possible Martian architecture. There's even a photo of me taken with my computer's camera; I look dreadfully serious and forbidding.

Another gray day. The garish juxtaposition of bursting artillery against the mossy green of night-vision Baghdad; Dubbya "talkin' smack" on TV, gazing wincingly at the teleprompter...

Somewhere, in a terminally abstracted parallel universe, people die.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

It's extremely gray (if gray can be "extreme") and drizzly. The lights in my living room are all out except for my reading lamp, which is casting dramatic shadows. In the kitchen, David Lynch is setting up a camera and muttering about ambience.

I finished Nietzsche's book: not too illuminating. Now I'm back on track with John Keel and Peter Watts, who has considerately pointed out to me that bands can and will charge big money for using their lyrics. I was planning on using a verse from R.E.M.'s "The Lifting" as an epigraph in my Mars book (and suppose I still will if I receive permission), but didn't realize how staunchly the music industry protected its property. I honestly don't see the difference between using a lyric as an epigraph and briefly quoting from a nonfiction source as long as credit is given. It's not as if readers are going to purchase my book based on the merits of Michael Stipe's songwriting skill... Then again, I bought Tom Robbins' "Skinny Legs and All" partly because of the epigraphs (Kafka and R.E.M., respectively).

David says he's ready to start shooting. This is going to be bigger than "Blue Velvet"!

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I seem to be developing carpal tunnel syndrome, or something disturbingly like it. The dental instrument that had embedded itself in my skull fell out overnight; I discovered it, bloodied and sheathed in coagulated pus, next to my pillow. (Just kidding, folks.)

I'm in a generally foul mood. Why? I tire too easily. I find prolonged contact with other people oppressive. It's all I can do to limp through a week in order to spend myself reading over the weekend, which is becoming my only genuine pleasure. (Right now I'm reading John Keel's "The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings.") I find the familiar voices on NPR increasingly annoying. More than ever, I'm a character in a Franz Kafka novel, displaced and alienated; the utter apocalyptic stupidity of Bush's pet war, Columbia disintegrating in flames...the death of old acquaintances, the death of Fred Rogers, you name it.

I must look on the bright side: William S. Burroughs' enduring canon, Zippy the Pinhead, William Gibson, espresso, R. Crumb, Portishead... Happy postmodern thoughts.

Monday, March 17, 2003

I'm in a fairly dark mood. Learning of incipient war didn't exactly help. I feel like someone's rammed a dental instrument into my head and it's slowly easing its way out, leaving a wake a neurological scar tissue. I might post later tonight.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

I just ate Chinese. Now I'm doing laundry and bemoaning the fact that my weekend is perishing by the second. I'm trying to siphon enjoyment from the remaining few hours like a spider draining the fluids from a paralyzed fly.

I'm reading Peter Watts' "Maelstrom," a sequel to his first novel, "Starfish." Watts is a singular talent who does a convincing job of rendering a believably catastrophic near-future. And his website is unusually entertaining.

There is a candlelight antiwar vigil easily visible from my floor. Flames like the fuses of unseen bombs...

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Something I really can't stand: Urbanites who drive Humvees. Do these brain-addled yuppie opportunists (and their even more pathetic middle-aged counterparts) really need military-spec vehicles to haul their fat asses across town? The "reasoning" at work here seems to be that boasting gas consumption is penultimately manly: "I have so much money I can afford to fuel a military assault vehicle even at wartime gasoline prices!" The vechicle itself certainly isn't anything to look at: it's cumbersome and ugly, like some extruded plastic Tonka toy built to withstand years of generalized pounding by some hyperactive toddler.

Other vehicles I hate: the "PT Cruiser." These aren't cars; they're massive dung-beetles with wheels. The streets are seething with automotive vermin. I also detest the "Mini Cooper," BMW's attempt at vehicular cuteness. The result is a garish, comical farce that looks more like high-priced athletic footwear than something you can actually drive...assuming you'd be caught dead behind the wheel of one of these soulless metal pods. There's something singularly disturbing about petroleum-fueled kitsch.

On a more somber note, I learned today that a high-school teacher of mine--who I liked very much--died in an accident (not car-related). I consider myself more acutely sensitive than most to the fact that death can happen anywhere at anytime, without warning. I'm almost numb to it (aren't we all?) Still, I don't like ugly surprises anymore than anyone else.

If one person's needless death can shock and terriffy, magnify that horror by a factor of half a million or more. These are the numbers of "ugly surprises" enthusiastically plotted by the Bush Regime--for Iraq's own good, mind you. Oil? Doesn't even enter the picture. This is about helping Iraq... Try as I might, I still can't wrap my mind around that concept. I suppose I'm terminally "un-American," and instead of chiding the hedonistic shitheads who like to be seen manning their (mercifully weaponless) Humvees, should instead aspire to own one as soon as financially possible.

One large order of "Freedom Fries" to go, please...
Here is a quite intriguing article on the very real possibilities of mind control and other-dimensional intelligences.

For another angle, Whitley Strieber, iconic "alien abductee," has posted an arresting entry on his own seeming involvement with a ruthless faction of the intelligence community. Could a secret government operation be nurturing contact with nonhumans by inducing controlled psychosis?

Whatever's going on, I don't feel this can be laughed off in good conscience. Our reality teeters on a fulcrum of disturbing secret truths and unchronicled suffering.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Gems unearthed from my scattered CD collection:

"Blue Wonder Power Milk" by Hooverphonic
"2001: A Space Odyssey" collectors' edition soundtrack
"Parallel Life" by The Starseeds (ambient, ethereal, weirdly sexy)
"Man on the Moon" soundtrack (contains R.E.M.'s "The Great Beyond")
"Sour Times" single by Portishead (includes instrumental theme from then group's indie film "To Kill A Dead Man" and various mixes)
"Galore" by The Cure

Thursday, March 13, 2003

"Antichrist": so far, so good. Nietzsche tends to froth at the mouth, but once the nationalism and implicit ethnocentrism is stripped away I agree with him.

I've been transplanting my CD collection to my new faux-leather binder, which holds 200. I've just rediscovered Hooverphonic. I intend to spend my weekend reading, listening to music and paying attention to my cat.

"Fiona said something nice to me..."
Blank computer screen like electroflourescent egg yolk.

I bought a massive case for my CD collection after work. This could keep my busy for a while.

Also, I can no longer claim that I don't own a television. Someone gave me one, unasked, the other day because it has a built-in VCR. So now I can watch videos...and possibly "Seinfeld" reruns. I've got the unedited alien autopsy at my parents' house, which I must remember to pick up.

Coffee tonight? I'm thinking yes. A double espresso would go well with Nietzsche's "The Antichrist," which I bought on my lunch break.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Nodal points
islands of stability
in binary neural fugue
livid and pulsating
Vegas psychedelia
LCDs and phosphors
left in the wake of an escaped singularity
endless screens
and calculated departures
an unnoted hush
encompassing vinyl
and cool glass partitions
resinous extruded signs
chrome railings marred
with anonymous DNA

The post-Starbucks landscape. Airports that operate with the strange precision of dream; the solipsism of travel. Laptops and blush-response detectors... "Do you mind if I smoke?"

Memories recorded and replayed on LCD screens. "Make it work..."

From "Blade Runner:" "Is this to be an empathy test? Capillary dilation or the so-called blush-response?"

In Philip K. Dick's book, the only absolutely foolproof way of determining if a subject was an android was via a bone-marrow test.

The luminous vertical landscape of Chicago materializing like computer graphics below the wing of the plane, geometric constellations in inverted night. Carl Sagan (paraphrased): "Intelligence betrays itself through the regularity of its structures." Pattern recognition. Mummified scribes breathing/whispering through the continous shockwave of history. "In Heaven, Everything is Fine."

"I'm not here. This isn't happening."

--Radiohead, "How to Disappear Completely"

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The joint across the street is indeed called "Frankie's."

I indulged at the used-book store after work. I could bore you with lists of books, but I won't. I'm thoroughly disgusted with our government. I didn't think it would be this bad. Frankly, I figured W.'s installation as President would amount to stagnant, uninspired "business as usual"...apparently I "misunderestimated" my own unwitting prescience.

The world is full of worthless shits and enmired in the apocalyptic fallacy that faith in the supernatural is a virtue; religion is more deadly than any nuclear stockpile, more obdurate than mere egomania. Arthur C. Clarke has called religion a "disease of infancy" -- implying that we have a chance of growing out of it. Which, of course, we must. And, biologically speaking, soon.

Bumper sticker concept: "LOSE YOUR RELIGION."

(This sort of disgust can't be healthy.)

"And if you think peace is the common goal, that goes to show how little you know."

--The Smiths, "Death of a Disco Dancer"

Monday, March 10, 2003

A new restaurant has opened directly across from my high-rise. It has valet parking and looks like it might be kind of swank. But I can't make out their neon-lit sign: "Frankie's"?

Tiring Monday. I started Michael Moorcock's "Kane of Old Mars" last night. So far it's a brilliantly executed homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom" novels. Moorcock is a staggeringly prolific author. I've got an omnibus volume of his controversial "Jerry Cornelius" novels on my shelf but don't know if they've been censored or not. The four books have been recently reissued as "The Cornelius Quartet," which claims to be the only unsanitized version to date, but I think the publisher's fibbing.

"With no reason to talk about the books I read, but still I do."


Sunday, March 09, 2003

I've received a response. I imagine all of them will be something like this:

Thank you for your e-mail message. I appreciate having the benefit of your views.

This response is an acknowledgement that we received your message and will make note of your comments. Delawareans seeking a further response who have included a postal address in their message will receive a reply via U.S. mail as soon as possible. NOTE: Because we have occasional problems with our e-mail system, Delawareans seeking immediate assistance are urged to call my office in Wilmington (302) 573-6345.

For more information about the work I do as a Senator for Delaware, please visit my web site at


Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
United States Senator
I've begun to email the completed version of my "1,000 Years" essay to U.S. Senators. Thanks to Mars anomaly research veteran Vincent DiPietro of SPSR for the suggestion. A waste of time? Probably. But who knows...maybe a staffer will post a copy over the water cooler for laughs and someone will read it and find him/herself in basic agreement. That still doesn't necessarily change anything, but I hope it's a worthy exercise in meme dispersal. (I firmly suspect that the memes in question are already out there, in which case the essay might serve as a trigger. Humans aren't used to thinking in the long-term. Space colonization is effectively a forbidden subject, lumped alongside all manner of urban myth behind the military-industrial "laughter curtain.")

The letter, by the way, goes like this:

Dear Senator [name here],

I'm writing to urge you to envision our current geopolitical and environmental predicament in a cosmic context. The following essay is a brief synthesis of concerns shared by increasing numbers of citizens, as demonstrated by the outcry following the demise of the space shuttle Columbia. The United States is poised at a critical crossroads that spans present and future technologies, political philosophy, and our very understanding of time and space.

Thank you for your attention, and please let me know your feelings on this most decisive of subjects.

Mac Tonnies
I bought a button at the protest and it has the following URL featured on the bottom: The cold was embalming despite sunny skies. Lots of drivers honked in support while others feigned obliviousness or glared silently.
Looks like the antiwar protest is coagulating as I write, like a strange attractor in some lavishly holographic CGI representation; an abstraction clothed in flesh and bristling with cardboard sentimentality. I must descend to street-level to enjoy overpriced (but very good) coffee despite the slicing cold.

This morning I had breakfast in a great indie coffeehouse with Net access and lots of stylishly exposed ductwork.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

I've spent a good chunk of the day lost in "Pattern Recognition." I may even finish it tonight. Gibson writes with a very subtle and effective sense of humor that I really appreciate. Critics seem to overlook it, blinded by stylized ambience and information density.

I have essentially parted ways with Mysteries Magazine, although I will very likely continue to function as a contributor. Kim, the editor, masterminded my first book and I am forever in her debt. I hope the magazine is a success, although it will be swimming in some very hoary Darwinian waters (alongside such "weird science" fixtures as "Fortean Times" and "UFO".)

On a brighter note, I've been tentatively but sincerely invited to a UFO conference to be held next year...presumably after the "Mars book" has hit the shelves.

Oh, yeah -- the street preacher I encountered last week was at it again, his children dutifully handing out inane little pamphlets to embarrassed passersby. It was bitterly cold out. This son of a bitch should be locked up for child abuse.

My "1,000 Years" essay is enjoying a nice online existence. As one reader commented, "It's not the next 1,000 years I'm worried about, but the next 1,000 days!" Speaking of which: another antiwar demonstration tomorrow. I promised a friend to meet her after last week's conspicuous absence.

In my CD player:

"Music for the Masses" Depeche Mode
"Outside" David Bowie
"Eponymous" R.E.M.
"OK Computer" and "Kid A" Radiohead
Hot off the press: "Will We Survive the Next 1,000 Years"?. This is a revised and expanded version of the post below.

It's late. I'm going to bed.

Friday, March 07, 2003

The reaction to yesterday's neo-apocalyptic rant has been good. The Center for Psychology & Social Change has posted it on its site. Thanks to everyone who read it and/or offered feedback. (While I am deeply afraid, I am also deeply hopeful, as I think my website demonstrates.)

I bought a new collection of H.P. Lovecraft today. Lovecraft and I share the same birthday: August 20. Should I be frightened?

An espresso sounds good right about now...

Thursday, March 06, 2003

The thing about this guy I know from college, Jason Sheets: he has this really unsavory alter-ego, "Bizarro Jason" (or "BJ"). Now BJ's got his own blog... Yes, there was a Bizarro Mac once, but he faded into obscurity. He even had a brief web page extolling things I can't stand (i.e., religion, professional sports, etc.)

So, will the human race survive the next 1,000 years? Stephen Hawking, for one, doesn't think we will unless we expand into space. It's sad commentary on our predicament when a week's worth of precision bombing in Iraq could have financed a manned Mars exploration program. Will humans make the evolutionary cut? Almost certainly not. But that doesn't exclude our descendants, who may or may not be human-like in any recognizable sense.

I sense that we are treading a vast and portentous ontological gulf; it's crunch time. The next few hundred years will be absolutely decisive. Either the Earth becomes a planetary mass grave or it becomes a fondly remembered home...or an abstract notion. Posthumanity will take on a variety of forms; almost by definition, it will be multiplex, vastly intelligent, and as tenacious as any virus or prion.

A thousand years, in geological time, is less than an eyeblink. A mere century can be viewed as a single defining event. If so, it's not unreasonable to expect that our flailing attempts at ascension, burdened as they are with superstition and bureaucracy, are being watched by others in the space-time neighborhood. We might be quite amusing to them. Or quite sickening.

People invariably ask me about my "beliefs" in aliens. The point I try to make is this: If extraterrestrials exist -- which they probably do -- then it doesn't logically follow that they're here (although they very well might be). Secondly, aliens are not likely to think in terms of 1950s sci-fi films. I doubt there are too many cosmic altruists out there, like the blatantly messiahnic "Mr. Carpenter" from "The Day the Earth Stood Still." On the up-side, I don't think malevolently xenophobic civilizations are too common, either. Why destroy or enslave another civilization when posthuman reasoning suggests that advanced ET intelligences will be able to provide for themselves without assistance?

I really don't want to be an alarmist, but time is running out. Our weather patterns are showing ominous new trends; global warming continues; deforestation -- and its brutal cousin, desertification -- are hacking away at our biosphere's roots with the unheeding avarice of out-of-control clockwork. An ecological 9-11 might get our attention, but it also might consume too much of it: while we feebly try to restore order, an uncatalogued asteroid might be racing silently our way. Or the rain forests will unleash an airborne Ebola in an attempt to maintain some semblance of homeostasis.

Earth is dying under what William S. Burroughs aptly referred to as a mudslide of "devalued human stock." Don't think it won't fight back, even if its weapons seem initially superficial or quaint compared to humankind's iconic nuclear stockpiles.

I watch our planet steered by soulless multinational corporations and bigoted governments whose "future" is as reassuringly near as next month's NASDAQ or voter opinion polls. Is this how it ends, snuffed out into petrochemical oblivion before we make the critical move off-planet? Our space shuttles crash because they're obsolete, fragile museum pieces. But our smart-bombs are cutting edge: gleaming chrome and laser-light, avatars of technological cunning.
Here's the beginning of a brand-new unfinished story. The scene below describes an interstellar craft returning to Earth after a relatavistic space voyage. The time-honored SF premise here is that while the ship's crew will have aged, say, ten years, the Earth will have aged 1000 or so (think "Planet of the Apes"). But I have an original trick that I hope will elevate this idea. (The design of the ship, by the way, is loosely based on the cover painting for Alastair Reynolds' "Revelation Space.")

The Isis approached the Earth-Moon system, dishes alert atop gleaming struts like the eyestalks of crabs. Its segmented design had an ungainly lladro aspect, like a partially eviscerated wasp left to mummify on its dissection tray. The ship was defined by tapering pods and conical protruberances that looked as if they had been subjected to high heat and delicately stretched. The main structure -- a procession of gray cylinders emblazoned with flags and logos -- glistened vaguely beneath a fractal cobweb of struts, exhausted machinery and spare parts embedded in radiation-proof polymer.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Bruce Sterling is always throwing these ultra-cool-sounding parties at his home in Austin. I get enticing open invitations via his Viridian email list. I need to take one of these in...
Three-week editorial extension for the "Mars book" (I call it that because I can easily imagine the publisher deciding on another title). I got a haircut after work. While waiting, I read a news magazine with an article titled "Bush and God." Thankfully a soft-spoken Asian woman with scissors arrived before I could get too disgusted.

I caved and bought Zechariah Sitchin's "Divine Encounters." I'm on a New Age/conspiracy binge, hoarding kooky, outre ideas which I will later use to animate my own works of fact and fiction. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

Seen any good blobjects lately? I see 'em everywhere now. I saw 'em before, but Sterling's chapter on postindustrial design (in "Tomorrow Now") has upped my cognitive resolution. Now they jump out at me with a sense of organic urgency. David Cronenberg was there first, of course. The "Gynecological Instruments for Operating on Mutant Women" from "Dead Ringers" were definitely blobjects.

Oh, yes -- Bob Frissell ("Nothing in This Book is True...") has his own website. Then again...who doesn't?

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Scientists have produced the most accurate model of the Cosmic Background Radiation to date. (See the multicolored sphere on my bio page).

Months ago, I made a silent pact not to get particularly upset over stupid politicians. This wasn't the same thing as proclaiming pacificism; I merely felt that politicians made too easy a target. Everyone gets irate over politics. It's amusing to an extent, but nothing I wanted to indulge in. But the Bush Regime threatens to dissolve my personal pact as certainly as the White House's behavior has tarred the U.S.' international reputation.

Bush is a quintessential addict/tyrant, madly setting the stage for petrochemical apocalypse. Bush's war-lust goes beyond bad politics and into the domain of psychopathology. He is a frothing-at-the-mouth aggressor, all unrequited id, mulish obstinance and hideous posturing. The man is sick; his agenda is even worse. To the Bush Regime, Iraq's initial reluctance to destroy its arsenal was a mean-spirited game of "chicken." But now the truly unthinkable is happening: they're complying! They're beginning to cooperate! Damn them!

Bush fills Washington's corridors with a foul reptile stink. He's followed by a nastily persistant haze that leaves his opponents gasping for breath. His mind operates with the subtlety of hardwired circuitry; machine-like, he sees in the garish green subspectrum of night-vision goggles. Facing Bush's mania is roughly as difficult as going up against James Cameron's Terminator bare-handed, and just as exhausting.
I started reading the third edition of "Nothing in This Book is True, But It's Exactly How Things Are." Pure head-spinning New Age weirdness. The subtitle is "The Esoteric Meaning of the Monuments on Mars," so I figured I might find some material that could fit in my Mars book. I was less than impressed the first time I read "Nothing...", but I'm enjoying it now; it's a matter of putting normal skepticism on temporary hold and seeking patterns in the neutrino blizzard. It's no accident that this is a cult book.

In theory, the editorial deadline for my manuscript was on the 1st, but I don't think my editor figured it would fall on a weekend. I'm awaiting further instructions and hoping he received my email.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Dumpster insight

Someone dumped a few boxes of old textbooks into my building's dumpster. I retrieved "The Complete Book of Progressive Knitting." I hadn't realized there was such a thing. I assumed knitting was knitting. The possibility of knitting being "progressive" -- even by knitting standards -- had simply never occurred to me.

This was a pretty taxing Monday. No strange encounters to share. No poems.

Congratulations, Turkey, for just saying "no" to U.S. bullying!

Sunday, March 02, 2003

The ATM is "unable to fulfill my request"...again. What makes these thing so damed temperamental? The machine isn't broken. Evidently it just doesn't especially feel like disgorging money, which I direly need if I'm going to eat something besides an overpriced bag of vending machine chips (if that) for lunch tomorrow.
William Gibson speaks the truth:

"Aside from making it possible to readily ingest really pretty damn good coffee just about anywhere, Starbuck's also deserves some credit for having inadvertently birthed a back-market of Anti-Starbuck's, everything from hole-in-wall-with-thrift-shop-sofa operations to the indie-coffee equivalents of The Tattered Cover. If Starbuck's wasn't there, these guys wouldn't be either. (And a lot of them don't make as good drinks as Starbuck's, if you get right down to it.)"

(cribbed from

While Gibson is essentially accurate, he fails to mention the impossibly long lines and spotty service that seem to plague Starbuck's franchises. Or at least the one down the street from me.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Quick poem...


perrennial mushroom cloud
blimp-like, ponderous over horizon
holographically rendered
an amalgam of emission angles and
the gaseous curvatures of unknown architects
asleep in newsprint bunkers
reems of ciphers
metallic overcast
night skies
benign radiations
inundate the sleeping city
Still reeling from Gibson's new book.

Cinematic snowfall; flakes adhere to my jacket like white fractal spiders. Children hand me gospel literature as I attempt to navigate the intersection near Barnes & Noble. "Thank you..." I'm carrying a cup of steaming coffee which I could easily empty on their heads, but, being considerate, I refrain. Besides, it's the father with the "REPENT" placard I really want to get at. Push him in front of a car, maybe...

The tract, now tucked into the snow-flecked pages of "Pattern Recognition," is a tired first-person account by some almost certainly nonexistent satanist badass who found peace by finding Jesus. (Actually, that's just a guess, as I haven't read it yet. But the cover photo is highly amusing. I should mention that this is not a product of Chick Publications, whose cartoon format is advertised as "irresistable.")

I found my "OK Computer" CD tucked in the 2-disc sleeve of "The Very Best of Roy Orbison." This had been missing for a while. Tragically, I have yet to find R.E.M.'s "Fables of the Reconstruction." I'm not sure I can do without it much longer; I might have to cough up $15 for a new copy.

On with the show.
I'm up late pondering the fearsome, perverse beauty of nuclear detonations.