Saturday, January 20, 2024


I've just finished reading a book about the world's greatest basement ... It was a best cellar.

It's my first week working at the bicycle factory and they already made me a spokesperson.

Horses have lower divorce rates. It's because they are in stable relationships.

My laptop caught pneumonia, apparently because I left Windows open.

I thought swimming with dolphins was expensive until I went swimming with sharks ... It cost me an arm and a leg.

The main function of your little toe is to make sure all the furniture in the house is in the right place.

It's pretty obvious that if I run in front of a car I will get tired but if I run behind a car I will get exhausted.

My teachers told me I'd never amount to much because I procrastinate so much. I told them you just wait.

90% of bald people still own a comb; they just can't part with it.

Every morning I get hit by the same bicycle ... It's a vicious cycle.

The word incorrectly is spelled incorrectly in every dictionary.

I've been experimenting with breeding racing deer. People have accused me of just trying to make a fast buck.

What do you call a row of rabbits hopping backwards? A receding hare line.

When I was a kid, we played spin the bottle with the girls, if they didn't want to kiss you, they would have to give you a dollar. By the time I was 12, I owned my own home.

Always trust a nudist ... They have nothing to hide.

Friday, January 19, 2024

An engine of corruption the likes of which the world has never seen...

Taib Mahmud, chief minister of Sarawak for 33 years & consummate robber baron

A sad tale of the Asian timber mafia and the man who did more than anything to create it, Abdul Taib Mahmud. By Lukas Straumann, Bergli Books. Softback,  313 pp.  Available in major bookstores.

On Oct. 3, 2011, a depressed, paranoid former chief operating officer for a San Francisco-based property company called Sakti International named Ross Boyert slipped a plastic bag over his head, taped it tight and suffocated himself to death in a Los Angeles hotel room.  He was 61.

But Boyert, however delusionary he was when he died, left behind him an explosive legacy – the details of virtually all of the properties owned by Abdul Taib Mahmud, the longest serving public official in Malaysia.  It is a breathtaking collection according to the documents that Boyert - who was fired by the Taib interests - gave to a crusading journalist named Clare Rewcastle Brown.  They show that Taib, through nominees, family members and other subterfuges, is worth in excess of US$21 billion.  

Taib is not mentioned on the Forbes list of Malaysia’s richest, but if he were, he would be worth almost twice as much as the man listed as richest - Robert Kuok, whose fortune is in property, sugar, palm oil and shipping. He would also be about halfway up the list of the world’s 50 richest billionaires although his name is not mentioned there either.  That is because, according to this book by Lukas Straumann, Taib amassed his entire fortune illegally, as undoubtedly a handful of others have around the world that remains hidden. Nonetheless, according to Boyert’s documents and the research by Rewcastle Brown and Straumann, he is an engine of corruption the likes of which the world has never seen. 

Taib built his real estate empire in Canada, the United States, Australia and the East Malaysia state of Sarawak on timber.  Into the process, in his 33 years as chief minister, he staged some of the most depressing environmental destruction on the planet.  An estimated 98 percent of the old-growth timber of Sarawak, a state three times the size of Switzerland, is gone, sold via timber  permits to logging companies, many of them connected to him,  that shipped the logs to Japan, China and across much of the rest of the world.

[Read the full review here.]


[First posted 12 January 2015]

Monday, January 15, 2024

RETURN OF THE MUMMY! (a classic case of déjà vu)

Once upon a time he was the Great Pharaoh of the Promised Land. He had a grand vision in which he would establish a mighty empire, embalm himself, and inaugurate a Mummy Dynasty that would rule the land forever and ever more. Nobody played the game of divide-and-rule better than the Great Pharaoh. He reigned supreme for more than two decades and was unmatched when it came to distorting reality and twisting truth.

An entire generation was raised in the unspoken belief that the Great Pharaoh was the Almighty Incarnate.

His influence began to wane in 1998 when his deputy and finance minister balked at bailing out the Great Pharaoh's sons whose business enterprises were faced with bankruptcy following upon a dramatic 40% currency depreciation. Soon the fissures between the Great Pharaoh and his deputy erupted into the open.

The Great Pharaoh decided to get rid of his mutinous deputy by accusing him of pederasty, thus granting him the dubious honor of being the first and only citizen to ever be publicly accused of and charged with sodomy. For the first time in the nation's history the people were moved to gather by the thousands in the streets calling for the Great Pharaoh's abdication.

Once again the Great Pharaoh decided to use his ultimate weapon to retain control: he ordered the arrest of his deputy under the dreaded Infernal Security Act (which allows the home minister to detain anybody without trial for an indefinite period in a godforsaken facility known as Kem Kamunting). Since the Great Pharaoh himself was also the home minister at the time, everything was easily arranged.

Thus shocked and awed by the show of brute force, the people were cowed and meekly went about their business with their eyes on the ground. But the split that occurred within the population began to grow into an ever-widening crack. Eventually, the Great Pharaoh was forced to step down - after building grandiloquent and very extravagant monuments to his own self-congratulatory greatness.

The people breathed a gigantic sigh of relief and believed the Great Pharaoh could no longer harm them. They thought he would make an excellent mummy and looked forward to embalming him and installing him as a permanent exhibit in a magnificent museum to his memory...

Alas, the Great Pharaoh did not take well to being mummified. The rot in his soul began to emerge and he found no peace in his retirement. His cold heart threatened to quit on him but his insatiable lust for glory and his addiction to power kept him chained to the wheel of karma.

He began to spend all his waking hours plotting to prevent his former deputy - who, upon being released from prison, had miraculously resurrected his political career - from rising to power.

Laying the blame squarely on his own handpicked successor for losing political ground to his erstwhile foe, the Great Pharaoh conspired to push into power a man he had personally tutored in Machiavellian power games. Somebody who would rule the nation as his proxy, until such time his own son could take over and continue the Mummy Dynasty.

The man who would faithfully carry out the Great Pharaoh's plan was a lecherous ladykiller with absolutely no moral compunctions. Desperation brought their destinies together and intertwined their ambitions. Indeed, what united these men was their fear that genuine reform would take root in the nation - and that the new generation would see right through their elaborate lies and label them, as they truly deserved, as criminals and monsters of the first magnitude.



[First posted 23 March 2009, reposted 16 January 2014]

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Are Humans An Ecosystemic Virus? (reprise)

ONE SUNNY DAY beneath a clear blue sky, I sat on a rock, feet immersed in the fast-flowing, healing waters of my favorite river. (A rock of some distinction, I might add: a veritable Throne of Stone I had fondly named Le Fauteuil du Diable or Armchair of the Devil, after an obscure landmark in the south of France.) I was particularly receptive that afternoon, thanks to the lovely cup of black tea I had just imbibed. For the record, it was Boh tea - laced with the juice of freshly-picked sacred mushrooms (ritually used by shamans as a catalyst to enhanced awareness).

Soon I could feel my ego membrane dilate and my perceptual range ballooning out to include everything around me. I was now an integral part of the scene, a protean/protein extension of the Devil's Armchair. Indeed, I was the embodiment of the nature deity some call Pan. I became acutely aware of the ferns on the opposite bank of the river. It was like sitting in the center of a natural amphitheater. I nodded in acknowledgement of the ferns, and a gentle breeze rippled through them, making them wave courteously back in greeting.

We began to converse telepathically... and suddenly it wasn't just the ferns that were present. I found myself plugged into Nature's own Etheric Web and participating in a symposium conducted with multiple-channel, multi-dimensional, interactive hook-ups. The experience was sublimely insightful and uplifting, though very difficult to report in logical, linear terms. Let's say it is delightfully liberating not to be trapped in one's “skin-encapsulated ego” (as Alan Watts, my favorite rascal philosopher, once put it).

“Individuality” was the key issue. Neither ferns, nor rocks, nor fish, nor birds, nor worms, nor the wind and water dancing ceaselessly in rainbow spirals through cycles large and small, had any notion of being separate, discretely defined individuals. Only humans were blessed, or cursed, with this strange condition called Me-hood.

As such, we are perceived by Nature as an Ecosystemic Virus. But what exactly is a “virus”? A crystallized thought-form: a restructuring agent with the power to mutate and transmute and permute - in creative as well as destructive modes. Anabolic, catabolic... and now, with access to the 64 codons of the Genetic Code, we could wipe out aeons of cellular memory with a mere toss of yarrow stalks, or the click of a mouse, or the flick of a balance sheet...

“No way!” the goddess Gaia spoke, her voice a gentle breeze on my goosebumpy skin. “I need you to plant the kiss of True Love on my lips, to wake me from my evolutionary slumber. You are the reflection of my spirit, the mirror of my beauty. I need you around to admire and adore me, and help me ascend to true Stardom.”

“Me?” I momentarily transformed myself into Robert De Niro (a pretty remarkable shapeshifter himself). “You talking to me?”

“Not you as a manufactured personality, silly. I mean YOU as a species. You, Human, are the completion of my neural circuitry, the quintessence of all kingdoms - mineral, vegetable, animal, angelic, and demonic. When wholly human, you are godlike.”

So what is God like?

IT DOESN’T REQUIRE very much. All we need to do is change our perspective, unify our polarities, shift our paradigms, reverse our priorities. The untidy bits of plastic and styrofoam and rusty metal we can clear up and recycle in a jiffy. No problem. Noxious gases and toxic wastes are a measure of the ethical and aesthetical inadequacies of those who produce them. Treatment is available for anyone who seeks it - and it's quite painless. Confidentiality assured. JUST TURN IN YOUR ARMAMENTS AT THE DOOR. No one will be punished.

And we'll introduce you to a bacterium that will devour all the pollutants and die of bliss. Or a new breed of super-yogis and wizards who can stuff industrial gunk in their corncobs and transmute it into multi-colored smoke-rings of divine incense (all the while cracking lewd leprechaun jokes).

Trees we may respectfully remove from the forests according to need (and our need will dramatically decrease when we discover that quality paper products can be obtained from swift-growing species of hemp and other fibrous weeds) - but we shall have to use heavy-duty tweezers, not bulldozers. And the extraction of non-renewable resources will have to be supervised by independently funded ecoscientists - not the chief minister's sister-in-law (unless, of course, she happens to be a true-blue Greenie).

And the Orang Asli will let us introduce them to the joys of reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic - if we open our hearts to their spontaneous songs of freedom, and their genetic memory of Heaven on Earth... not in the Hereafter.

[Excerpt from TANAH TUJUH ~ Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos by Antares © 1998. First posted 11 January 2017]