World Domination Update
Site of the Week: Dying Words of Famous People
Cheese of the Week: Illchester (the most popular cheese round these parts)
Conspiracy of the Week: Take your pick (we’ve found a few)
Now Playing: Grateful Dead, Infrared Roses
in this issue:
shade’s situation update
Things are getting downright weird around now, underscoring our need to be vigilant in these desperate times. After all, it snowed in Scottsdale, and Frank Zappa got airplay—on a CLASSICAL station! What more proof do we need that The Time is at hand? Now, more than ever, you need to know where you stand. Given our Fearless Leader’s sudden disappearance (see below) it has defaulted to me to do this season’s Domination Update to keep everyone up to speed on our schemes. So, in a nutshell, here’s the current standing of our effort to take over the world:
No noticeable gain.
People are as dumb as ever, and the vast majority still are not Thinking For Themselves. The Brain Police continue their stranglehold on independent thought, and proceed to take our attention off of what’s really going on. Worse, their campaign to weaken our intellect is still taking a daily toll among the masses. People increasingly believe the Brain Police propaganda that Choice is a burden, and they will be happiest when their decisions are made for them. By increasingly taking away any viable alternatives we have (or at least think we have,) the BP continue to narrow the column of lemmings into one focal point, all the while distracting us from the cliff they are herding us over. The few advances in technology they have allowed to trickle down to us have increased our complacency and sense of false comfort; the swiftness and ease in which we can now do things has helped achieve their desired effect of reducing our attention span to the length of a commercial (which, by the way, 71% of Americans say they actually enjoy watching.)
As of yet, Branch Floridianism has had no discernible effect on altering this self-destructive course.
But of course, we must give such things time, and advances in our cause are being made. In Huntsville, Alabama, an accountant realized that his job sucked and quit it to follow his passion of painting. In Hobart, Tasmania, a man went against the grain of Bill Gates and his DOS Nazis by buying a Macintosh simply because he liked it better. In Boca Raton, Florida, an octogenarian decided that instead of blowing this month’s check on the lottery, he would take his wife out to a nice dinner. And in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a middle-aged heroin addict realized he was running out of veins and brain cells, and kicked his habit for good.
So occasionally there are advances in individual thought, but on a whole our outlook is still bleak.
To think for yourself, you must first realize that others are thinking for you, but collectively this is just not happening. Realizing what is right also requires the knowledge of what is wrong, and more importantly, why it is wrong. To think for yourself requires correct information, and that information is still jealously guarded by the Brain Police. After all, if people knew what was really going on, there would be what the BP would consider to be anarchy and chaos.
More importantly, the Brain Police would be out of a job.
The Branch Floridian quest to give more people more information from which they can decide things for themselves is perpetually hampered by public apathy and fear of important change. Worse, it is becoming increasingly evident that the Brain Police themselves are behind most of the “counterculture” factions that ostensibly seek to cause change in the status quo. The most noticeable of these groups are deliberately labeled “fringe” by the “outside,” and from “within” spout nonsensical rhetoric that is intended to alienate the “average person” from thinking along nontraditional lines. These groups deliberately spout false conspiracies and ideologies which range from silly to scary, and then are publicly paraded by the Brain Police as examples of what “thinking for yourself” produces. By only giving people bad examples of good things, the Brain Police ensure that the average person will be too repulsed and resistant to follow any sort of important independent action.
The Branch Floridian goal has never been to get people to think as we do, it has been to get people to Think For Themselves. We do not ask you to accept everything we say; we ask that you consider it against what you happen to believe, and having given both sides a fair hearing, to decide for yourself what is right. This requires using your brain, which is the real intention of our ministry.
Unfortunately, too many people are not willing to invest the mental energy, and until that changes we as a society are either doomed to mediocrity or even extinction.
Adding to this already disparaging picture is the very real possibility that the Brain Police are on to us, and are taking steps to nip our movement in the bud. The recent tobacco settlement is evidence of this. That was all a smokescreen, if you will, with the intended purpose of driving up cigarette prices to unaffordable levels. Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man are whoring themselves out for four bucks now. Communion With Fire now costs more than its worth (for tobacco, at least.) Most will agree this is more that the stereotypical chain-chuffing (and working) Branch Floridian can afford. Expect economic hardships with coffee and barbecue sauce next! These could be preliminary moves by the Brain Police to cripple our capacity as a Church.
Indeed, there is suggestion of more direct, and permanent, overtures against our faction.
Most suspicious—and as yet unexplained—are the disappearances of several veteran Branch Floridians, including SlowSmoke, Burn Deck, Fyrhe, Burning Sensation, and MentholSmokeMeister. Rumors that FireFly is now in prison cannot be confirmed, denied, or commented on.
Making matters worse, our leader is among the missing.
anyone seen saint?
When we last left saint, he was on the lam from a suspicious-looking UPS van with entirely too many antennae sprouting out. He apparently set up tent at a place he has referred to variously as “Oasis of the White Palm,” “Desert Palm,” or “The Oasis.” Cryptic as ever, he said he was right across from the Blue Light. Less certain is his placing of this Blue Light, “...over by the PYRAMID! In de vicinity of the SQUID DECOR! Neath the planet o’ de big ol’ giant UNDERWATER DOOR! The Dome! The Bubbles! The BLUE LIGHT!” In my last communication with him, saint told me Desert Palm reminded him of his Dorm Days. Those Branch Floridians who knew him back at FSU can take heart in his plans to do his ceiling in Mountain Dew cartons. They can also take bets on how long his roommate Pop ’N’ Fresh lasts.
Rumors of a saintly cruise-through in Chicago back in October cannot be confirmed, as the only Branch Floridian witness to saint’s (alleged) visit was FireSkunk. Alas, her testimony is most delusional, largely involving tales of dueling Dragon and Djinn decks. Her claim of saint’s summoning a 20/5=20 Juzám with Berserk /Regrowth/Berserk should be discounted on sheer tastelessness; likewise her claim that saint won a multigame by taking five consecutive turns with a Time Walk /Regrowth/Time Walk /Recall/Time Walk/ Regrowth/Time Walk is simply preposterous—and makes one glad he didn’t have a Fork in his deck.
Several unverified saint sighting occurred on Halloween, purporting he went party-hopping as Howard Stern. The night before Samhain he e’d me and said he was trying to do a priest costume but just couldn’t get the Roman collar to look right. Heard he hates being called “Stern,” but maybe that night he went with it. In a similar vein, I’m inclined to wonder about numerous witnessings of either Al Jourgenson or Rob Zombie at various Phoenix-area parties. Could be saint in that damn planters hat of his (heard he’s got boots, too. Ol’ boy’s gone native...)
My last communication from saint was Thanksgiving weekend. He e-mailed saying he was sick. Apparently this helps account for the delusional nature of the e-pistle. He claimed the guardians of the Blue Light had planned to sacrifice Mary Jane but ended up murdering Bruce instead. Even had him in a cardboard coffin in the closet. That night he walked out on his balcony and saw lights dancing in simple circles on the clouds. Behind them, comets flew through the sky backwards. Just when he was wondering if the Air Force was going to knock on his door and tell him he wasn’t seeing this, fireworks started exploding.
He also repeatedly complained of picking up the phone to make a call and hearing modem breath on the line; saint insists his computer was off and Pop ’N’ Fresh wasn’t home. I know from personal experience that saint’s phone was tapped when he lived up at Ice Station Zappa; this indicates more of the same: Brain Police monitoring.
Haven’t heard from him since, and I’m guessing nobody else has either.
saint’s sudden disappearance makes me uneasy. I can’t help but wonder if he was picked up by Brain Police operating out of a padded UPS package delivery vehicle.
As a personal precaution against the Brain Police, I’ve changed my e-mail. I’m also sending everything BCC to conceal identities within our ranks. Remember Rule One: trust no one! I’ve suspected several “casual readers” and even a few initiates of being Brain Police spies. Official Domination Disseminations will now come through this Embershade@aol.com address. (Those on the in know my real one.) I encourage all members to set up new accounts, just to be on the safe-side. And watch out for UPS trucks!
Been seeing a lot of them back here at the Octopus Garden, and I’m getting concerned. Starting to wonder if United Parcel Service is a front for some sort of Brain Police mobile hit squad. We all know about Postal Workers going, well, postal on people; I suspect the same at UPS, except this aggression is channeled “productively.” Remember, UPS is not a government-run operation but a private for-profit organization. In short, hired hit-men in Pullman Brown. And don’t even get me started on Fed Ex.
For that reason, I don’t answer the door any more. Bad enough worrying about unibomber bundles of love, now one must be wary of the bearer of the message, too. Remember: Oswald got his rifle by mail order! Makes ya think...
Perhaps saint was investigating the UPS arm of the Brain Police octopus, and got pulled under. I can only hope that I won’t have to give his eulogy in the next Update (I still haven’t recovered from giving Evil Matt’s after the ’93 conflagration.) But I have come not to bury saint but to praise him. So lend me your attention, as I stand in for the man and give his oration for him.
shade’s stand-in sermon
Shortly before his disappearance, saint sent me his usual list of verses he wanted looked up and researched. Usually his inquiries are the variety of, “What’s the Old Testament got to say about astrology?” or “what’s the quote in Matthew where Jesus tells you to pray in a closet?” (I guess saint’s too busy taking over the world to consult a concordance...)
This time, however, he was focused on a specific text; he also sent me several commentaries/musings which he elaborated on during his last e-mail. I’m hazy on where he was actually going with this, but the information itself is interesting and (arguably even) important. If nothing else, this gives the background to whatever he was planning on ranting about.
saint had become very troubled by a comparatively obscure book of the New Testament, the Epistle of James. Those familiar with both the New Testament and History (not always the same thing!) know James as one of Jesus’s younger brothers, who essentially ran the Church (with help from Peter and John) after the Crucifixion. All indications, both within and outside the New Testament, show James as a man wholly dedicated to The Law—so much so that he was called James the Just (or Righteous.) Clearly, he saw Jesus as fulfillment of The Law. James’s dedication to The Law was squarely at odds with Paul’s interpretation of Justification. As history (and the New Testament) show, it was ultimately Paul’s interpretation, not James’s, that would define the course of Christianity after Christ.
Paul and James clearly did not like or approve of each other. This animosity has deep roots: according to the semi-credible Pseudo-Clementine literature, Saul (as part of his persecution of Christians) threw James down the Temple stairs to stop him from preaching The Gospel, permanently breaking James’s leg and giving him his well-attested limp. After Saul’s conversion to Christ, he still continued to disagree with James. While James continued to put emphasis on The Law, Paul stressed Faith as the way to salvation. As said, this deeply influenced subsequent Christianity, most notably Martin Luther.
Luther’s wholehearted embrace of Paul’s Justification by Faith doctrine outlined in Romans is well known (to Protestants, at least.) Less known are Luther’s thoughts about Paul’s ideological rival, James. Luther called the Letter of James “a right strawy Epistle” and said on several occasions that it has no place belonging in the Bible.
Many scholars and Clergy alike have been harsh on the Epistle of James, and almost from the start questioned its authenticity. The major argument against the Letter’s genuineness is that it contains some of the best Greek in the New Testament, which seems unlikely from a peasant Jew. Personally, I think this overlooks the fact that maybe James dictated it to a really good Greek-speaking scribe. James was martyred at the instigation of high priest Ananus in 61CE. Despite this, a compositional date toward the end of the First Century is usually cited. Again, I beg to differ. Since the theology of the Letter clearly goes against the grain of Pauline doctrine (established and entrenched by that time,) it seems to me more likely that it was composed before Paul’s missionary work changed the shape of the Church. It makes little sense that someone would pseudonymously draft a letter of this sort after the Paul/James issue had been decided. Indeed, a curious internal comment suggests that it was written during the height of the controversy as an indirect rebuttal to Paul. If nothing else, the letter can be seen a posthumous recollection of at least one of James’s orations.
The Letter itself is only one hundred and eight verses long, and can be read in fifteen minutes. Although it claims to be a letter “to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion,” Chapter 2 contains an astounding section written to (and against) a “shallow man” (Paul?) who was arguing the Pauline line that Faith is more important than Works. Immediately following is an analysis of the Abraham/Isaac story that is a carefully constructed counter-argument to Paul’s famous exegesis on the same subject in Galatians.
saint confided in me that he was “deeply disturbed” by James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles in but one point has become accountable of all of it.” I gather he interpreted this in context with Matthew 5:28 (which, you will remember from our last issue, is the “if you even think about it, you’ve done it” clause.) “This makes a bad situation worse,” says saint, “as the aspiring Christian now has to worry about not thinking about breaking any part of The Law—not just the Ten Commandments.”
There are, depending on how one counts, about 715 Commandments: the Ten famous ones, some lesser but still well-known ones (Kosher laws, circumcision) and some really obscure Commandments (‘don’t interbreed cattle’ [Lev 19:19], or ‘if a man “seizes” (rapes?!?) a virgin he is to pay her father fifty shekels and she is then considered his wife’ [Deut 22:28-29].) Taking all of these into consideration, Christians now have a much tighter reign on what they may think about without fear of damnation. Remember, if you break one Law you’ve broken them all (Jas 2:10) and if you even think about breaking the Law you’ve effectively done it (Mat 5:28.) According to this Biblical logic, just thinking about eating a ham sandwich carries the same penalty as actually committing murder—or Blaspheming against God! Taking this a step further, let’s remember Mark 3:29 (and parallels) “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” By use of the previous extensions, a simple thought can get you damned for all time!
The one bright side to all this is that it is now possible to demonstrate that all Christian congregations are, in one way or another, Apostate for not following some obscure Old Testament passage. This is pretty easy to do anyway: with a few exceptions (notably Seventh Day Adventists and their Branch Davidian offspring) all Christians observe the Sabbath on Sunday. As there is no question about the Sabbath actually falling on Saturday, this is a clear violation of the Fourth Commandment (Ex 20:8-11; keeping the Sabbath Holy.) Thanks to the Jamesian emphasis on observing the whole of the Law, it is all but guaranteed that you can find something out of those 715 now-mandatory Commandments on which to fault a Christian for not following.
Of course, recall our objective of Think For Yourself! The variable is what you choose to accept and what you choose not to. We find this among Christians of present day and past. Most modern Christians who are even aware of James’s emphasis on Works of the Law choose to ignore it in favor of Paul’s emphasis on Faith in Christ. Even Paul and James placed different emphasis on Scripture. James, according to all accounts, was a lifelong vegetarian in radical reverence to the Kosher requirements. Paul actually takes a potshot at this, calling vegetarians (and thus James) “weak” [Romans 14:2]. Throughout 1st Corinthians Paul says “all things are lawful to me” and in 10:25-27 does away with the Kosher laws. (Actually, Paul flip-flops on the issue, first saying “if meat offends I will abstain” [8:13] but then changes his mind with several commentaries encouraging table fellowship with Gentiles.) Clearly, Paul and James are at odds with one another over everything from dietary requirements to Salvation, and it is up to the individual readers to decide for themselves what is Right.
Which is, of course, what we’ve been encouraging all along.
“This is straight Bible. Don’t let anybody try to deceive you on it. Read it yourself.”
and now a word about Tweedle Beetles
What do you know about Tweedle Beetles?
well, when Tweedle Beetles fight, it’s called a Tweedle Beetle battle.
and when they battle with paddles, its called a Tweedle Beetle paddle battle.
and when they battle in a puddle, it’s a Tweedle Beetle puddle battle.
and when Tweedle Beetles battle with paddles in a puddle, they call it a Tweedle Beetle puddle paddle battle.
and when Beetles battle Beetles in a puddle paddle battle, and the Beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle, they call this a Tweedle Beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle.
AND when Beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles, and the bottle’s on a Poodle and the Poodle’s eating noodles, they call this a muddle puddle Tweedle Poodle Beetle noodle bottle paddle battle.
...we’re interrupting this unabashed plagiarism to bring you vying conspiracies...
Shortly before his disappearance, saint began investigations into cellular phones, believing there was a Brain Police conspiracy involved. It is well-known that by the year 2,000 it will be possible (indeed, mandatory!) to locate a cell phone user to within 100 feet. saint also believes that technology will be incorporated into the phones themselves to make them instant eavesdropping devices. Those of you up on technology already know what an Infinity Broadcaster is: a device which enables the user to dial a telephone number and listen in through the microphone. With current telephone technology this requires some tampering with the target phone: specifically you have to disable the ringer and the cut-off plunger for the IB to work. saint seems to think that with cell phones this will be a built-in feature of a specially installed chip. For instance, dial the cell’s number and put (for example) *666 at the end to activate the chip and deactivate the cell’s ringer and cut-off. Instant microphone.
Of course, any evidence of this disappeared with saint, so until his return we will put that off to the side and deal with more tangible, documentable scams. In this case, Cal Ripkin’s record.
As has been established, Professional Sports is a cunningly crafted Brain Police scam to divert our attention (and money) from more important matters. I have recently unearthed an excellent example of this: Cal Ripkin’s record for consecutive games.
The hype around Game #2,131 back in ’95 was unbelievable, and I am now convinced it was actually a well-orchestrated Brain Police scheme. It was served up to us as a metaphor for the Protestant Work Ethic: stick to your job, no matter how grueling it is. Some research into the matter raises the suspicious stink of a rat: for instance, Cal was on record as having a sprained Achilles tendon at one point, yet continued to play. Sure. More likely, a Brain Police body double was substituted.
More sinister, I have reason to believe that the original record holder, Lou Gherig, was to be the original “Protestant Work Horse” trophy to be touted by the Brain Police. After all, that was in 1939—a volatile time for the Brain Police. It was clear America was soon going to be at war, and more than ever the public needed to be distracted from what was really going on. Unfortunately, Lou refused to play ball (so to speak) with the BP overlords any more so they infected him with Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis to punish him for his disobedience. Even renamed the disease after him to serve it up as a warning to others.
Kinda wonder if Senator Glenn hadn’t agreed to go back up in the shuttle then he would have “suddenly” come down with ALS.