Government Will Soon Pay Bloggers Not To Write

Instant Universal Communication Has Made It Impossible

Long ridiculed as bureaucratic counter-intuition on steroids, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), which paid subsidies to farmers for not planting crops, met and exceeded its lofty goals. By reducing surpluses it arrested the rapid decline of produce prices, thereby raising crop value and enabling Depression-weary farmers to retain homesteads teetering on the brink of foreclosure.

Nearly a century later, this preemptive technique is being applied to the Internet. Nigel Rasmussen, Press Liaison for the Federal Communications Commission, recently made these comments on the Library of Congress steps.

“Reading and writing were once the exclusive province of an elite professional class. Today, technology has democratized the tools of communication, resulting in a tsunami even more cretinous and loathsome than anticipated. We must ask – at what point does communication become air pollution? Has instant, universal communication made it impossible to know if anyone is saying anything valuable? Are these rhetorical questions? Was that a rhetorical question?

“Today’s ubiquitous, incessant blather has rendered language virtually worthless. Only by reducing the amount of language produced, and elevating the quality, can we hope to return any semblance of meaning and utility – much less beauty – to our words. That is why I am pleased to introduce the new, “Silence is Golden” program.

“In a nutshell, this program pays bloggers not to write. Importantly, the more they don’t write the more they earn.

“You’ll learn more about this exciting program soon. Until then, remember, “Help eliminate communication pollution! If you have nothing of value to say, say it only as often as is absolutely necessary.”

About The Author

Lord Byron - Original

About the Author

Alistair McHarg spent his early years in Edinburgh and Amsterdam, moving to Philadelphia with his father, Ian, and mother, Pauline, at age six. He attended Germantown Friends School, Haverford College, and the University of Louisville.

The prestige of an M.A. in Creative Writing enabled McHarg to secure employment with one of Philadelphia’s least reputable taxi cab companies, where he pulled 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week, for a year.

Other forays into dead-end employment have included deckhand on a Norwegian tramp freighter, BLM forest fire fighter in Alaska, cross-country truck driver in Colorado, and guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp.

Alistair has been arranging words for a living since 1983. He is the author of a bipolar memoir entitled Invisible Driving, two satiric novels, Moonlit Tours and Washed Up, and a recently released poetry anthology, 50 POEMS.

In addition to a vast catalog of original cartoons, Alistair is also the creator of Taz Mopula, whose enigmatic epigrams have become an Internet staple.

All four of Alistair’s books are available from Amazon.com. To learn more about them click on the Come In We’re Open sign.

Open Sign

Searching for Extraterrestrial, Mentally Ill Life

Demented Space Alien

Since slightly before the dawn of time, man has set his gaze on the immensity of space and wondered this – given the billions and billions of tiny dots out there, which are probably quite similar to the thing upon which I reside, circling the sun, or other large objects – and knowing what I do of statistical relationships and relationships of probability, which is to say, the likelihood of events – how could I possibly be alone in this universe?

When you really stop and think, isn’t it far more likely that somewhere, somehow, on one of these lonesome magma clumps there is a form of life – however humble – striving ever upwards along its agonizingly slow evolutionary rise which, ultimately, will lead, over endless millennia of failed experiments, to something resembling me, and when I say me I do so because we must take as our starting point the assumption that humanity is what they refer to as The Crown of Creation and as such is the standard by which all others are measured, assuming there are others to measure, which we are, because frankly that is the point of this exercise.

So let us argue that, given an infinite amount of time to do so, and an infinite amount of government funding to squander, not to mention a rugged little spaceship able to withstand asteroid collisions, exploration would inevitably discover life of one sort or another. According to the legions of marginally employed scientists who have time to untangle these hypothetical quandaries, this is a given. Given, perhaps, but their belief sheds no light whatsoever on the presence, or lack, of mental illness among intelligent aliens.

Since roughly one in ten Americans suffers from some sort of mental illness, it is reasonable to assume that at least one out of every ten extraterrestrials would suffer from some sort of mental health issue, which in itself would not be bad, after all, we cannot allow ourselves to be prejudiced against extraterrestrials any more than we should allow ourselves to be prejudiced against mental illness at home – however, in the interests of practicality, and practicality must be our watchword here, it is necessary to realize that not every extraterrestrial intelligent life form in the entire universe is likely to adhere to the blissfully benign standards of peace, dignity, respect, love, understanding, compassion, tolerance, fairness, and justice we subscribe to here on earth.

This is significant since, in a culture with technology more advanced than ours, the behavior of a mentally ill populace, not to mention its leaders, could be catastrophic. So, if we consider space travel at all, we must be prepared for close encounters with alien civilizations in evolutionary stages of development far different than ours, with tastes and belief systems differing drastically from those we hold dear. Consequently, it behooves us to diagnose and understand alien mental illnesses before we encounter them.

Scientists will quickly point out that it is difficult to study the unknown, which is why we will be forced to take the unpopular option of relying on psychics, faith healers, and social media experts. The time to act is now; before we first encounter mentally ill aliens and wonder what sort of treatment might help them; or protect us from them.

So, as you gaze out upon the limitless pinpoints of light strewn zig zaggedly across the squid ink dark expanse of night, consider this; someone who is not all here may not be all there, either.

The Intoxication of Poetry

Scorpions On The Face - Again

Two-time Poet Laureate, Howard Nemerov, and celebrated photographer, Diane Arbus, had a great deal in common. This talented brother and sister act shared what I would call an emotionally brittle nature, and a lifelong battle with depression. Arbus, famously, lost that battle at a young age. Her suicide was no desperate plea for help; she intended to go through with it.

It was 1969; I was a 19-year old freshman punk living la vida loca at Haverford College. My father, Ian, was almost at the zenith of his celebrity, turning up with tiresome regularity in every conceivable media outlet, doing his mad-as-a-March hare environmental activist with a thick Scottish brogue shtick. His base of operations was The Department of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning at The University of Pennsylvania – a department he founded and chaired for decades.

The Professor was completely devoid of parenting skills, but – having written, and published, my first poem at age 6 – even he knew I was an incipient wordflinger. He taught a course entitled Man & Environment. Do not be misled by the apparent hubris of this title; since he did in fact know everything about everything the all-inclusive subject matter posed no problem. Plus, he invited a long string of tweed-jacket wearing, pipe-smoking, degree-wielding intellectual heavy-hitters to help.

In a rare moment of familial camaraderie he called to say Nemerov was giving a guest lecture and if I wanted to meet him I should show up at his office about 11:30.

So here we are, three guys in my father’s office at the U of P. Nemerov is pacing and twitching like a crack addict in a rehab. Finally he says, “Ian, I have got to have a martini.” My dad, enjoying this opportunity to swagger, tells one of his students to go to the bistro across the street, get a pitcher of martinis, and come back. The student points out that this is illegal and impossible for many reasons and my dad starts screaming at him. The terrified student races away – and is back in minutes with a stainless steel pitcher sweating chilly droplets. Nemerov’s eyes twinkle.

So I’m thinking – this is pretty cool – I am going to have a martini with one of the nation’s greatest poets. As this idea is simmering in my mind – Nemerov puts the pitcher to his lips and slowly, easily, drains the entire thing. My father and I look on in wonder, exchanging stunned glances. I will never forget what happened next. Nemerov stopped pacing, talking, twitching, fidgeting, glancing about erratically, and went perfectly calm. I had never seen a veteran, all-in alcoholic in action before; it was hypnotic.

The three of us walked down the corridor and into the lecture hall. Nemerov read his poetry for an hour; he was note-perfect. I doubt there were more than 50 people in the room, and he was a teacher, giving lectures was his bread and butter. It wasn’t about being nervous. Alcoholics get to the point where they need the toxin to be normal.

Sick Girls Await Mentally Ill Barbie

Barbie - The Tragic End

Since her 1959 debut, Barbie has attracted controversy the way bloated state senators attract illegal campaign contributions. Little girls admire her for what she is, but whiners, complainers, gadflies, malcontents, rabble-rousers, muckrakers, agents provocateurs, professional cynics, babies, wimps, liberals, thought policemen, and college professors are more interested in what she is not.

These self-appointed custodians of political correctness, who live to improve the human character against its will right up to the point where it ceases to exist at all, consider Barbie to be the sharp edge of the social engineering ax, mercilessly slicing through the hapless human outliers whose creation, causation, and construction do not coincide with qualities and criteria considered desirable by society.

These TED Talk habitués condemn Barbie with sweeping statements steeped in supercilious sanctimony, Barbie, they say, is not morbidly obese enough; she is too Christian, not gay-enough, ethnic enough, or undocumented enough. To them, Barbie is the hood ornament of an exclusionary, self-satisfied society built upon deeply disturbed values, racism, and questionable fashion choices.

Mattel, makers of Barbie, has been slow to respond to what they refer to, with characteristic insouciance, as, “the cacophonous blather of tweed-clad Prius drivers.” But a storied track record of insensitivity and arrogance will soon be coming to an end as Mattel courts disturbed Americans with “Mentally Ill Barbie”, which it intends to roll out in time for Christmas.

Marketing of Mentally Ill Barbie shows, yet again, why Mattel continues to be an industry juggernaut. You and I have been taught that judging mental illness by physical appearance is highly inappropriate, inaccurate, and mean-spirited. But Mattel, determined to honor the complete palette of emotional and psychological maladies without the added expense inherent in producing multiple molds landed on a brilliant solution as plain as the nose-ring on your face; madness in fashion!

That’s right! With Mentally Ill Barbie, madness is always in fashion and can be easily modified simply by changing outfit and setting! How does it work? – you ask – in that cooperative way of yours. It’s easy; let’s meet a few right now.

Narcissistic Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is Narcissistic Barbie.

Anorexic Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is also Anorexic Barbie.

Compulsive Shopper Barbie – Executives at Mattel have explained that every Barbie made from 1959 on is also Compulsive Shopper Barbie.

Bipolar Barbie – Alternate between tying her to the blade of a ceiling fan and stuffing her under the cushions of a couch and, voila!

Munchausen By Proxy Barbie – Even though Munchausen by Proxy Barbie is very similar to Narcissistic Barbie, she is sold separately.

And that’s just the beginning! This Christmas season, keep an eye out for:

Alcoholic Barbie
Compulsive Gambler Barbie
Tourette’s Syndrome Barbie
Trskaidekaphobia Barbie 
Sex Addict Barbie

And so, gentle reader, the walls of stigma gradually erode as even Barbie admits, “Madness is always in fashion.”

Mass Communication: Pox or Apocalypse?

Help Eliminate Communication Pollution

According to a recent survey, 90% of surveys referenced on the Internet are fictitious.

According to an entirely different, completely credible, survey, 87% of all information posted on the Internet is “useless, stupid, false, and/or toxic.”

Survey author, Chumley Entwhistle, Dean Of Psychology at Basingstoke University, expanded. When he was finished expanding, he explained.

“All of us remember the first time our parents caught us shooting heroin. We said, ‘But all the kids are doing it.’ To which our parents replied, ‘If all the kids were setting fire to Archbishops, would you do that too?’ After a considerable amount of soul searching we realized that we would.

“Human interaction has grown increasingly inane through the centuries,” Entwhistle stated, “but until the communication age this posed no problem. Today, however, everyone can communicate with everyone all the time; we’ve inadvertently loosed a tsunami of litter, twaddle, and dreck upon the land.”

A recent study, released by The National Association of Releasing Studies, shows that information is more addictive than crack cocaine.

(NARS officials revealed that the value of the communication makes no difference whatsoever, indeed, anecdotal data suggests that useless information is actually somewhat more addictive than valuable information.)

“It’s a perfect storm of intellectual and cultural devolution,” continued Entwhistle flatly. “Our addiction to sharing the hideous minutia of mundane lives has had catastrophic sociological effects.

“For example: A – We can no longer discriminate between treasure and trash. 2 – We have lost the ability to listen, thereby completely undermining the learning process. Next – since we are lulled into the myth of believing we are interesting, we no longer go to any trouble to be interesting.

“All addictions lead to the same place, as we know,” Entwhistle, now oozing disingenuous gravitas, brushed back a tear with his assistant’s sleeve, “one plummets into degradation like a hanged man drops through a trap door. Our cultural consciousness has already fallen to shocking depths.

“For example, Internet users seem to be amazed that bacon is delicious, coffee is stimulating, and cats are adorable – so much so that they repeat these observations endlessly as though they’d just thought of them.

“Heartbreaking,” sighed Entwhistle, “just short years ago everyone understood these rudimentary concepts.

“The first step in recovering from addiction is admitting the problem, and our society must confront its dependence on low-quality information from disreputable sources,” Entwhistle cautioned.

“In the words of Taz Mopula,” he smiled, “Our ability to broadcast the wretched detritus of daily life is no argument for doing so; restraint is increasingly precious.”

The Great Internet Quote Quiz

With All The Expertise Volunteered Internet Ignorance Priceless

As we surf the net in search of self-improvement tools, tips, and techniques it behooves us to consider the source of every thought nugget we devour. Do not feed your mind with tainted thoughts from questionable vendors. Before embracing an idea, verify the authenticity of its source. This quiz will help sharpen your skills! Identify the actual source of each quote.

1. “Just say no to nihilism.”
a.) Tristan Tzara
b.) Leo Buscaglia
c.) Ellen DeGeneres
d.) Taz Mopula

2. “Visualize world illiteracy.”
a.) Oprah Winfrey
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Mark Twain
d.) Steven Jobs

3. “Think globally, act sillilly.”
a.) Julian Assange
b.) Paris Hilton
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) J.K. Rowling

4. “Life is good, death is poopy.”
a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Wayne Dyer
c.) Pat Robertson
d.) Adam Savage

5. “Humility is nothing to brag about.”
a.) Kanye West
b.) Tony Robbins
c.) Mark Chapman
d.) Taz Mopula

6. “Beware of petting a peeve; they bite.”
a.) Kim Kardashian
b.) Oscar Wilde
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) Penn Jillette

7. “Depression is nothing to laugh about.”
a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Phil Specter
c.) Homer
d.) Ivan The Terrible

8. “Reality is not merely a lifestyle option.”
a.) Ronald Reagan
b.) Paulo Coelho
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) Charles Manson

9. “Write first, decide not to later, edit later still.”
a.) Geraldo Rivera
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Bob Dylan
d.) David Berkowitz

10. “Exorcise your demons, don’t exercise them.”
a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Tomás de Torquemada
c.) George W. Bush
d.) Maya Angelou

11. “Be nice to your enemies; you just might be one of them.”
a.) Rasputin
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Whitey Bulger
d.) George Martin

12. “Expect the worst and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.”
a.) John Wayne Gacy
b.) Liberace
c.) Leonard Cohen
d.) Taz Mopula

13. “If you want to find your bliss, get yourself some blisters.”
a.) Pema Chödrön
b.) E. L. James
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) Jerry Garcia

14. “Beware of the future, it’s a fun place to visit but bad place to live.”
a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Albert Einstein
c.) Nostradamus
d.) Ernest Hemingway

15. “Think twice before burning bridges; you never know when you might want to jump off one of them.”
a.) Paul Reubens
b.) Greuthungi the Ostrogoth
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) David Koresh

16. “To live happily it either is or is not essential that one learns to embrace self-contradictory concepts.”
a.) Noam Chomsky
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Neil deGrasse Tyson
d.) Keith Richards

17. “Before you criticize a man, walk half a mile in his shoes, turn around, retrace your steps, and return them to him.”
a.) Taz Mopula
b.) Elton John
c.) Lance Armstrong
d.) Pliny the Elder

18. “Help eliminate communication pollution! If you have nothing of value to say, say it only as often as is absolutely necessary.”
a.) Jerry Springer
b.) Taz Mopula
c.) Josquin des Prez
d.) Maury Povich

19. “Dying is easy, they say, but comedy is hard. So cheer up. Even if you fail at comedy you’re almost certain to die successfully.”
a.) Rev. Jim Jones
b.) Socrates
c.) Taz Mopula
d.) Edgar Allen Poe

20. “Since anything is possible, the only difference between the impossible and the possible is that the impossible is possible while the possible is not impossible, no matter how determined you are to make it so.”
a.) Tom Waits
b.) Timothy Leary
c.) Dalai Lama
d.) Taz Mopula

Correct Answers Will Be Published In Tomorrow’s Blog

If you enjoyed this quiz you will almost certainly enjoy my hilarious books – check them out by clicking HERE

Ride It Like You Find It To The End Of The Line

train station abandoned

There’s a certain kind of desolation one can only experience by being stranded in a train station at three a.m. An opulent, silent gloom covers every surface like a thin film of invisible grit. The odd, incidental sound, heel scrape, cough, rides a hollow echo and affects grandeur. Night crawlers are all that remains of humanity, pimps, pickpockets and pushers. The trains are done arriving until morning; even the newsstand is closed. You crave sleep almost as much as you fear it, unwilling to slack off vigilance for even an instant.

It is a form of loneliness, isolation and vulnerability that seems almost charming in comparison to what I’m after here, romantic and quaint. Because I am talking about a station beyond where the tracks end. It does not appear on any timetable or tourist map. You don’t buy a ticket; it’s purchased for you, in Bedlam, or on shooting expeditions.

Amidst the rusting tracks and weeds is a station for those who would go as far as they possibly can, at all cost. Where life is not that good and death is not that bad. Where escape masquerades as fun, oblivion passes itself off as insight, and no monster is more horrifying than a mirror. Where feeling good and feeling nothing are identical twins. A million different paths go to just one destination, and it is always the same.

No one intends to visit this place, it doesn’t lead anywhere else, there are no connecting trains. It’s an unintended, accidental journey, with an innocent start. A battered yellow school bus winding down the Khyber Pass, leaving the cool, dry mountain air for the humid plains of Pakistan. Bags unpacked in yet another miserable hotel; this time it’s Peshawar. Walking choked streets, blazing color, riotous noise. Ascending the smooth woozy, wooden staircase after spotting the identifying cobra painted on the door.

Bald, black midget sporting huge, hoop earring. Money changing hands. Long pipe, black tar, teasing it against the candle flame then smearing it to go, thick taste, almost instantaneous delivery, midget laughing hard at me, I am laughing too, I think, street noise like a blessed magic symphony of blurring swirling every nothingness.

A million different paths lead to just one destination, and it is always the same.

Time Loves A Hero, But Crowds Like A Fall

angry mob

If you’ve ever gotten divorced you know that, as soon as it happens your married friends start avoiding you as if the inability to maintain a relationship is some sort of bizarre, highly contagious skin condition. The fate of those fighting serious mental health issues, including addiction, is far worse.

The road leading out of Bedlam seems endlessly challenging but we trudge it all the same, then, at the finish line, in place of that brass band we expect there is an angry mob. It seems beastly unkind, especially after the hard work, but before you start nursing a grudge (“No amount of nursing will ever make a grudge healthy.” Taz Mopula) understand a few things about who and what you’ve become and why the new you is bringing out the very worst this wretched refuse has to offer.

The day you went skidding off the road and right into downtown Cuckoopantsatopolis was the day you reminded every straight arrow of your acquaintance that none of us is ever truly safe. Sanity itself, that sine qua non for the bourgeois, mediocre, pointless life ostensibly guaranteed by the Constitution, is as vulnerable as a Fabergé egg. Nobody wants to be reminded of that, and yet you do.

“But wait,” you say, in that adorably naïve tone of voice you apply to questions that illustrate your innocence, “do I not also teach, i.e. show, that by facing down these unholy perils one can evolve spiritually and grow stronger, actually emerging as a better, more morally grounded person in the process?”

Yes, yes you do, Sparky, and this is precisely why that mob is roughly as happy to see you as they were to see Frankenstein.

They say in the rooms that a pickle can never return to its previous incarnation as a cucumber. While you may be a reformed devil transformed into an angel, one thing is certain, you will never again be just another Bozo on the bus in the eyes of outsiders; the tired, the poor, the slow, the dim. Fellow insiders know better, they know that all of us are merely Bozos on the bus, but that is another story.

Your very existence says to these apple pie bakers and flag wavers, “My experience is larger than yours, I know terrible truths you dare not admit. Though horribly handicapped I have emerged morally grounded, fearless, strong, and (most upsetting of all) happy.” Trust me, they will never forgive you for that.

You have become a teacher, a leader, whether you care to admit it or not. As ever, peace of mind lies in embracing the inevitable, my advice is – learn how to lead by example, make your life a poem, a prayer.

Look around you; we desperately need leaders. Today we have none, instead we have celebrities who only lead by being cautionary tales, they show us what not to do.