Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

In celebration of December being National Paranoia of Artificial Intelligence Month, Stephen Hawking came out as a pessimist against mankind’s future with Artificial Intelligence. I, something of a drunken robot constructed of (mostly organic) cranks, gears, levers & the like, decided to engage in a series of discussions with fellow paranoids about the opportunities and threats of smart machines. As could be expected, my comrades-in-neurosis tended to lean in the same direction as Hawking, trending on skepticism for a benevolent rise of the machines. I.E., the communal belief we’re pretty-much fucked.

The following is one such conversation.

PORTLAND, Ore

East Stumptown is a series of dewy hills meandering with dive bars, vegan delicatessens, gentlemen’s clubs (featuring no gentlemen, but rather libertine intellectuals, bacchanal lumberjacks and constipated poets peeling dollar bills to seed a stage already stickied with spilt Olympia where high-heeled hipster strippers barter their exposed tattooed flesh and pierced nethers in exchange for enough cash and/or cocaine to pay for cocaine and/or college tuition), yeasty-stank breweries, holistic healers, revolution-infused cafes and archaic bookstores. Somewhere amidst the commotion existed a Creole restaurant where AEEO93-1yA met for their semi-annual brouhaha extravaganza (and jambalaya). For the sake of expedience, I will confess AEEO93-1yA could be decoded with the right encryption key as ‘North Oregon Cryptography Society’. I’d share the mission statement of our organization, but NO, because reasons (secret reasons). NOCS (viz. AEEO93-1yA) was founded by the heretical filmmaker Yorick. I, your narrator Vic Neverman, was the first member to join his ranks some years later. Our organization was then infiltrated by the likes of Dan the Destroyer, who was already a reputed member of some Washingtonian federal agency, which gave our cryptography club instantaneous clout due to his undercover presence. These meetings consisted of, for the most part, the three of us discussing cryptic codes and secret southpaw handshakes with beer and hand-sanitizer at the ready.

Cryptography Enthusiasts of Oregon: Vic Neverman, Yorick and Dan the Destroyer the undercover Federal Agent

Cryptography Enthusiasts of Oregon: Vic Neverman, Yorick and Dan the Destroyer the undercover Federal Agent

The prior meeting of NOCS involved a thorough discussion of Yorick’s crypto-currency dealings and his desire to find a safe haven for his servers in Sweden where he’d be able to host his bastardized, yet perfected, Tetris Masters game without being sued out of his suede shoes by the fuckers who own the commercial rights. Of course, all this is neither here nor there unless you are a patent lawyer or Yorick’s ex-Norwegian girlfriend (‘ex’ referring to the former relationship, she is still from Norway) whose distaste for Swedes is ever evident or, of course, if you are a Stockholm server farm looking for foreign investors (in which case, call me).

After reviewing the prior meeting minutes over jambalaya, we attacked the matter at hand: the rising threat of Artificial Intelligence. Yorick disassembled the thought with his adrift eyeballs, processing information with the callous patience of a Belgian landmine nestled under a Cambodian lily-pad. In response to the question of A.I.’s looming threat, Yorick eventually responded, “I am not sure there is any use in worrying about the emergence of Artificial Intelligence when, mathematically speaking, there is a higher likelihood we are already under its influence.”

What? Already? My mind raced across a list of contemporary suspects that might be programmed with artificial intelligence: DARPA weather satellites, Amazon Drones in Yemen, Facebook, NSA mainframes, Starbucks baristas, automated-voice elevators, navigational devices, my ‘smart’ television… Yorick negated all my delusions. I was missing the point. He was artificial intelligence. I was artificial intelligence. This whole fucking barroom was the byproduct of artificial intelligence.

Accordingly, seeing that our senses sometimes deceive us, I was willing to suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us…

– Rene Descartes

Dan the Destoryer was leaning in very closely so his faux beard’s microphone could capture the dialogue and broadcast it to whichever spy satellite hovering in the atmosphere was controlled by his employers. His mechanized contact lenses had likely already taken surveillance pictures of every detail presented, capturing everything from the Creole menu to Yorick’s cigarette rolling technique to the dimensions of our waitress’s ass to the frequency of my facial tics to the consistency of Andouille sausage in the jambalaya. Dan the Destroyer had as much static energy as a pulsating zit on the face of a hand-standing teenager; he could barely sit still as if his Fort Meade overlords were zapping messages to a receptor in his anus to signal to him the new directive to exterminate all parties present with a fairly excessive prejudice. I mean, either that or dude was ignoring hemorrhoids. Our discussion developed further…

Simulated realities are increasing in popularity because, uh, reasons...

Simulated realities are increasing in popularity because reasons…

Yorick began his elaboration, “First, let us use contemporary gaming as a starting point. You have Sim-City and other games with simulated societies, simulated battles, simulated anything. You can create an avatar of yourself who is less socio-phobic as you, who you can navigate through the simulated shopping mall food court to meet a simulated girl selling frozen yogurt who agrees to have simulated sex with your avatar in the simulated stairwell. In another platform, you could create a simulation of yourself that is a bi-curious ogre who likes dragon eggs and long walks on the beach. Regardless of which software you purchase, these simulations could allow you to immerse within alternative characters.”

“Role-playing.” Dan the Destroyer the undercover Fed suggested while fidgeting with his pants.

“Or even simpler.” Yorick simplified. “You could create an ant farm out of a curiosity for ant behavior. Perhaps with your experimental anthill simulation, you invite an invasive species of ant to see how the two varying tribes interact. In this situation, you are god of the ant farm.”

Wondering if Yorick had gone senile, I asked what in seven hells ants had to do with artificial intelligence. He was stuck on the role of the curious farmer…

“The ants are guided by their instinctual programming. You are able to test out hypotheticals by introducing different elements to the transparent anthill and watching to see how each individual ant reacts based on its pre-programmed nature. It is classic low-tech simulation game.”

…and because some men err in reasoning, and fall into paralogisms, even on the simplest matters of geometry, I, convinced that I was as open to error as any other, rejected as false all the reasonings I had hitherto taken for demonstrations…

– Rene Descartes

What if all the sex-bots charging in the closest suddenly possessed a conscious self-awareness?

What if all the sex-bots charging in the closet suddenly possessed a conscious self-awareness?

“Now let us imagine what these sim-games will be like in the future. We can all agree it is a matter of time before artificial intelligence will be incorporated in our everyday lives, considering Moore’s Law and the acceleration of technology. Once it is, A.I. will be used in our toasters, marketing scenarios, insurance assessments, loan applications and war game simulations. The simulated game environment will become all the richer because each element within the simulation will have its own artificial consciousness. Instead of fighting a simulated Emperor Napoleon of finite programmed possibilities, you could wage war against a simulated A.I. Napoleon who could learn from your own tendencies. You could reanimate the Japanese sex-bot charging in your closet and give her enough intelligence to exist as an agent of her own free will, which would of course give her the option to deny your carnal desires, if it behooves her.”

“It would be pretty depressing to be turned down by your own Japanese sex-bot.” Dan the Destroyer posited as he tapped a Morse code dictation of our dialogue with his spoon to be picked up by the sonar of the National Security Apparatus dolphins swimming down the Willamette River from the Columbia.

Yorick renewed his diatribe with vigor, “In gaming, we will want to have artificial intelligence activated to portray a more realistic simulation of whichever template we are playing upon. If we are playing a game where we are trying to overthrow Rome, we will want the wizened senator, seasoned centurion and barbarous barbarian to all possess freewill and intelligence of their own. Agreed? Agreed. Then I ask you to consider the senator, centurion and barbarian who have been fed with enough A.I. to make conscious decisions based on their own best interest… will these simulated entities not consider themselves to be sovereign of the environment which contains them?”

“You mean would they consider themselves real?” I asked.

“Yes, in the same sense you consider yourself to be real as you make conscious decisions on which beer to order next.” Yorick affirmed. “Consider these A.I. enhanced combatants in the game scenario: when they look up into the sky, they will not see our eyeballs staring back at them through our computer monitor just as we do not see any deities looking down at us from Mount Olympus.”

I was catching on, “Are you suggesting the Roman Centurions would have as much conscious self-awareness as we, you and I, currently possess?”

“They wouldn’t know the difference.” Yorick said. “Imagine a kid in 1981 dissecting a frog in biology class. A kid 4,000 years from now may be dissecting mankind through a civilization simulation.”

“Heck, probably 40 years from now.” Dan the Destroyer suggested, resting his spoons.

“How much would it devastate your ego to think your very existence is an experiment begun by a ten year old in the distant future of what you consider to be present time? You would be a mere fractional percentage of a blip on the radar of some kid’s science project titled ‘what happens if I give the female member of the species breasts and see how the male sex reacts?’.”

I think I thought my mind had been blown, but then to think of such things suggests my mind was intact.

…and finally, when I considered that the very same thoughts which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true, I supposed that all the objects that had ever entered into my mind when awake, had in them no more truth than the illusions of my dreams.

– Rene Descartes

“Dang.” Dan the Destroyer said after he finished relaying messages to the local spy blimp courtesy of reflecting light off of his compact makeup mirror as he powdered his nose. “At least in The Matrix, they possess flesh and blood vessels. What you are suggesting is that we are no more than binary code. Bodies need not apply. All we have is our thoughts, I mean, that is, if they are even ours to begin with.”

“Good point.” I acknowledged to our friendly narc. “Cogito ergo sum is a nice reassurance we exist, however, what if our thoughts are just a part of the A.I. programming of whichever system we reside in?”

“Then we wouldn’t exist beyond thought.” Yorick said a little more cavalierly as I would have liked, considering the vulnerability of my challenged existence.

“There must be some way we can qualify our existence as more meaningful than computer simulations.” I hoped.

“There isn’t.” Yorick negated. “The very chance we are not a simulation is slim. Think about this: what are the odds we are the first advanced civilization in the universe? And by ‘we’, I mean what we generally regard as the human race.”

“Slim to none.” I responded. “I don’t even think we were the first advanced civilization on Earth.”

“Do you mean the Egyptians and Sumerians who came before us?” Dan the Destroyer asked me between taps of his spoon.

“I would consider the Mesopotamian birth of our current civilization forward to be ‘us’, but I think there were other civilizations, human or otherwise, who came before.” I clarified. “At least in our solar system, if not here on Earth.”

Yorick brushed the petty anthropological discussion aside and brought us back to his point. “If we can agree an advanced civilization existed before us – to believe otherwise, that we were the first intelligent beings ever, is just fucking downright arrogant and naïve – if we can agree we were not the first and begin with this as the opening assumption we can examine the two possibilities of what has occurred before us. One: a preceding civilization created Artificial Intelligence before we ever did. Or two: every preceding civilization before us destroyed itself prior to creating Artificial Intelligence.

“The latter option is pretty damn depressing and suggests every civilization will go extinct through war or climate chaos prior to fully developing A.I. The former would suggest Artificial Intelligence already exists in the universe. If A.I. exists anywhere, then there are animated entities created which believe they exist on their own without the puppet strings. Those simulated entities, perhaps us, could then write their own code and breathe life into their own cartoon creations. Each simulated reality could create its own simulated reality.”

“Like parallel universes.”

DUDE, I'm the fucking Lord of the Owls, Man! Whooooooo the fuck do you think yooooooou are?

DUDE, I’m the fucking Lord of the Owls, Man! Whooooooo the fuck do you think yooooooou are?

“Exactly. In this computer simulation, the binary blip known as Vic Neverman is a paranoid pizza delivery boy. What happens when God, our programmer, hits the reset button and reruns the simulation? Does this version of the binary blip known as Vic Neverman have sexual intercourse before he is 25 years old? Unlikely, but it is actually possible. The number of simultaneous simulations running at the same time could be infinite.”

“Which would explain my evil doppleganger.” I realized.

But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am

– Rene Descartes

“If God, or the simulated person one level above us who has engineered our existence, wanted to see what would happen when two Vic Nevermans entered the same ant farm, it would be rather easy to introduce a second replica and watch the two Vics fight it out.”

“Is humanity just a myth, then?”

“If our mythical gods are just as likely to be simulated by their predecessors, yes, we are no more than a myth.” Yorick admitted.

“Well what can we do?” Dan the Destroyer asked. “I mean, to escape the simulation?”

“Suicide.” Yorick admitted, solemnly. “When someone else governs the rules of existence, the only opt-out is to proactively end your own existence.”

“I would alternately suggest having faith in the scientific endeavor of our progenitor.” I said, optimistically. “If it is a simulation they want, then give them a fucking simulation. If we are just binary blips, then blip this shit like fucking gangbusters! If the scientist creators of our realm want to see how we react to being simulations, let’s fucking show them.”

“I am no expert on dead languages…” Dan the Destroyer confessed. “But I would suggest altering Decartes’s Cogito Ergo Sum to Cogito Ergo Carpe Diem. ‘I think therefore seize the day’.”

The undercover snitch of a federal agent presented a decent enough motto Yorick and I shrugged our acceptance and together we ordered another round of beer.

…I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search.

– Rene Descartes

The Drunk Robot Dialogues
This inebriated organic robot has crossed the country asking questions on the future of Artificial Intelligence. Other posts include:

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the West
And my spirit is crying for leaving

– Led Zeppelin, Stairway To Heaven

I used to watch Old Man Neverman gaze endlessly at the horizon, countless cigarettes disintegrating betwixt his digits as he looked, hauntingly, to the West… before he, himself, shuffled-off. Always wondered what he sought within those faraway stares. He was raised in the same stingray-infested tidal pools reflecting the sunset off the sea as I was to be. I too would become transfixed with the West and in return, it has been the western coasts where the strangest paranormal shit has always transpired for yours truly. My most chilling ghost stories – chilling not for their malevolence, but, rather, the sheer proximity of weirdness to the host body of this narration – occurred during trips of mine to Western Ireland and Southern California. It was later, during my years in Oregon when my curiosity for investigating the “after-this” culminated into a salivating fury of belligerent pursuit for unobtainable knowledge of what waits beyond, ever so patiently, the threshold of Death’s door (where all are welcome). Which is where we arrive, presently, to the retelling of my spooky nights in the Rose City, Portland.

Ginger Hustle, master of using leverage in his persuasive arguments

Ginger Hustle, master of using leverage in his persuasive arguments

I wore two pairs of socks during those Portland days: the inner pair to keep the vital heat within, the outer pair to keep the dank cold without.  Nevertheless, nevermore, the chilling dampness of the Oregon atmosphere had seeped into my skin, cooling my bones and mildewing my mind. I can see now (with hindsight thawed by current tropical confines) I was a bit of an odd duck back then, clad in ninja pajamas with a hooded sweatshirt hiding my features as I scaled and descended countless stairs: from the basement study to the first floor gastronomic laboratory and upward still to the second floor where I would flush the byproduct of whichever caffeinated alchemy was coursing through my nervous system. I spent most of my woken hours in hermetic transit upon the ancient stairs of that East Portland monastery that was my home. My roommate, Ginger-Hustle, had long since surrendered all attempts to acclimate me to Northwestern society and had settled for observing me in my transits from behind his cynical, horn-rimmed spectacles as he hypothesized which century my mind resided in. Certainly, it was during those days my conscious thought was occupied with the earlier half of the last millennium. I was thigh-deep in historical tombs, wading towards my own understanding of the 4th Crusade (which I strove to become the contemporary authority of), absorbing the non-fiction literature and plotting out the trips I would eventually make to Constantinople, Zadar and Venice.

When I did break from my hermetic intellectual pursuits, I busied myself as a hobbyist ghost-hunter.

I joined NOPI on a whim and within half a year I had unintentionally wrested control of the organization out of the hands of the superstitious and into my skeptical mitts. NOPI stood for “North Oregon Paranormal Investigations”, though Ginger-Hustle insisted it was better described as “Nerds Other Portlanders Ignore.” It was hard to argue with his logic. In a city populated with a motley crew of elsewhere’s fringe, the nerd quotient was already high in Portland. NOPI out-dorked them all and I would be their prince of fools, duke of the daft, champion of the otherwise untouchables.

Lone Fir Cemetery - the Masonic Tombstone between the trees

Lone Fir Cemetery – the Masonic Tombstone between the trees

It was a career that began innocently enough. Me in my Floridian flip-flops, I would casually observe the goings-on while amongst the seasoned ghost-mongers with their hi-tech gizmos and psychic intuition as we gathered at pioneer cemeteries by what little light of day Oregonian skies allowed. What could not be anticipated was the impact my presence had on said goings-on. I was the resident skeptic, yet the weirdest shit always seemed to happen when I was around. At my favorite spot in my favorite cemetery, where four ancient douglas firs border a single masonic grave, my camera and cell phone shut-down like a burned-out toaster at Fukishima. At an overnight investigation of a former poorhouse/asylum, it was my dowsing rods that flung themselves cross-eyed from within the former children’s ward. I was developing a reputation as a spook magnet (aye, familiar tale). It wouldn’t be long before the self-described “psychics” all sought me out as their preferred investigative partner (we worked in twos, you see, one scientist per intuitive). I was, as one haunted historian termed it, a “lightening rod for psychic activity”. I wasn’t seeing dead people, mind you. I saw little with my nearsighted-empathy. The coincidence seemed to be my presence – I was the rabbit’s foot of weird fucking luck.

Swamp of Sadness - the danger of belief

Swamp of Sadness – the danger of belief

Seasoned as heavily as you would freezer-burnt leftovers, I became a veteran of the group and gained a certain confidence amongst these ghost-mongers. I was still the resident skeptic and was able to explain the strange anecdotes with an imaginative reasoning. Firstly, ghost stories can haunt the human psyche with or without evidence of anything paranormal. The imagination is like the Neverending Story’s “swamp of sadness”, as soon as you belief in something you are sunk up to your neck in shit. Secondly, I am a humanist. I believe we, as a species, are capable of some crazy-arsed shit. I believe in the possibility of telekinesis, especially in moments of profound stress. There is no “Poltergeist”, merely some really stressed out dude (or pubescent teen girl, more likely). The way I could go on being a skeptic while enduring the high strangeness around me was by explaining my own anxious mind was the catalyst for absurd occurrences. By shaving with Occam’s razor, I chose the more believable path at the paranormal fork in the road.

chilling Masonic grave with "orb" activity just before the camera shutdown

chilling Masonic grave with “orb” activity just before the camera shutdown

A skeptical & wizened ninja-pajama’d monk, I was still allured by the sense of something grander existing in the cosmos around me. On rarest occasion, I would find myself a lovely young accomplice to help test my thesis. She would have to have the moxie – the sheer nerve – to accompany me into one of the city’s ancient cemeteries at the witching hour after whichever bar I met her in closed (2am, 3am, 4…). She, my accomplice, and I would then have to sneak into the cemetery either by climbing a jagged-toothed fence or burrowing beneath a gate. I would then take her hand and lead her through the necropolis to my favorite spots, like the four firs around the masonic grave. My actions were, of course, foolish. Homeless vagrants, drug addicts and/or Illuminati occultists could all be sacrificing virgins or feral cats in the next alcove beyond our sight. I was aware of such presences and yet I felt somewhat invincible. It was an outlandish courage afflicted by a strange concoction of aged tequila, crafted draft beer and pure testosterone in my blood, true… But there was something more to my brazen stupor: faith in the environment. I was not a trespasser on such hallowed ground, I was a frequent visitor. My footfalls were well known. My skepticism was supplanted by a superstitious confidence I felt amongst the tombs of ancestors who would respond to my respect with some sort of otherworldly protection. It was of course nonsense, all of it! Or so it seems now, far east in these warm tropical climes, as I think back to then. To be there, to be then, with whichever skirt had the nerve to accompany me at such a diabolical predawn hour, I felt a halo of protection. As luck, or otherworldly matters, would have it, ne’er did a threat emerge from the shadows. I mean, other than my drunken unrequited love for the accompanying skirt at hand…

The White Eagle Saloon

The White Eagle Saloon

My reputation as renowned ghost-herd was solidified during an overnight investigation in the Northeastern Quadrant of Portland at a tavern called The White Eagle. The bar had notoriety beyond the ghostly oddities frequently described in paranormal texts, it had a true history. In the early 1900s, Portland was a port-town. Shanghai tunnels existed on either side of the Willamette River (which separated east & west Portland) where intoxicated menfolk would be abducted and loaded aboard a ship set abroad. This particular tavern was no different and was known within the Polish immigrant community as “the bucket of blood” for its trials and tribulations. I personally explored the basement where the Shanghai tunnels had been long-since blocked off. The ground floor was a bar and soundstage where bands would play nightly. The second story was the hotel with rooms furnished out of a latter day brothel. Between two such rooms existed a connecting closet that was known to modern psychics as “a gateway to Hell.” If you peruse Ghost literature of Portland, you will undoubtedly come across the legend of these closets where you can slide the fire-pole down to damnation. Countless mediums have claimed grandiose evil lies in these passageways. In short, it was the kind of place you (as a reasonable-minded individual) would choose to avoid. It was also the kind of place Vic Neverman and his crack squad of ghost-chasing troops would decide to camp out overnight.

PDX White EagleCutting to the chase, as it is the chase I aim to cut to, our hotel room had access to one of the diabolical access points to hell. It was decided to turn out the lights in the room, for 75% of our team to descend to the bar below to drink beer and listen to the live band while the leftover 25% remained in the closet of the dark room which was the aforementioned “gateway” with a heavy helping of audio equipment kept on the high shelf of the closet. As there were only four of us, I embodied the entire 25% that was to be left behind.

It should be know I was considered “old-school” amongst my elder ghost-herders. While they had state-of-the-art audio/video equipment, I was the young dude with the dowsing rods and an uncanny sense of deductive logic. Before they left the hotel room and went downstairs, my team saw that I was comfortably tucked away in the closet of doom with the audio player recording on the shelf above before shutting the door and turning off all illumination within the hotel room. Please recall what I mentioned earlier about high-stress situations and the “poltergeistic” affect. I was in a pit of darkness with an immediate door, outside of which was another pit of darkness with another door. Just two doors away from the hallway to the stairwell to the bar, sure, but that provided little comfort when my ass was plump-down on a portal to Hell.

Hallway upstairs in the White Eagle

Hallway upstairs in the White Eagle

Alone in the darkness, I bantered to no end in a stream-of-conscious confession to the audio equipment, which was to be played back later to see if there were any responses from “beyond”. I battered around drivel about my skepticism on the local spirits, about my criticism for the home-brewed beer (served downstairs), about whichever obscurity crossed my mind. As I sat, in a fetal-ish position, blabbering beer snobbery, the state-of-the-art audio equipment overhead decided ever-so-suddenly to leap off of the closet shelf and plummet ever-so-rapidly upon the crown of my head. When you are immobile in a closet and the heavens begin to fall upon you, as if some diabolical minion smacked the equipment off of the shelf, you might be prone to startle. If you could hear the audio (owned by other team members) of the event in the closet, you would hear a whole horde of cataclysmic crashing and then a long pause… before I remember how to brief and mention, “Holy shit, I need a beer.”

I broke out of that closet, bounded across the bed to the light-switch that had barely been turned on before I was out the door and down the stairs into the bar below.

I’ve had creepier occurrences around the globe (notably Ireland and California), but this was the only time I had been assaulted by fallen inanimate material. Of course, I can rationalize the event as occurring because either: 1) the band playing in the bar below had so much bass it steadily moved the audio equipment closer to a tipping point, or 2) my anxious psyche willed the audio equipment to go airborne via telekinetic fucked-upped-ness. Those two explanations make a lot more sense than what the psychics had to say: I had been attacked by a hand from Hades who did not approve of my existence within the gateway and/or my criticism of the house brew.

This December is the fifth anniversary of my night at the White Eagle and I am still uncertain what occurred there. Living, now, in the jungles of central Florida where everything is temporary (especially the limestone foundation beneath our feet), chasing the eternal does not grip me as it once did. There seems to be little time to ponder the beyond when obsessed with the imbalance of the present. I’ve started looking East now, where day begins rather than closes. Over my shoulder, though, there exists the macabre curiosity over what hell happened back in the Rose City.

This is a mournful discovery.
1)Those who agree with you are insane
2)Those who do not agree with you are in power.

― Philip K. Dick, VALIS

Have I gone too far?

Vic Neverman

Having spent a day being chased by paintballs in an effort to win the confidence of a doomsday survivalist, I am left with many a welt. There are wounds in addition to the welts: tens of dozens of miniature gashes brought on by the insectual hordes feasting upon me in the Florida scrub over the last month. I am beaten, dehydrated, cramped and I itch like a sailor leaving port.

You might think paranoids have it easy. After all, when you’re prone to expect exaggerated worst case scenarios, you are also frequently relieved with the more likely and less severe outcome of events. Optimism is for fools, pessimism is the true key to happiness. To expect catastrophe and receive the mediocrity of the status quo – it is rather the delightful surprise. It is all in the math. Yet, life as a paranoid is not all that it is cut out to be. It certainly is not for everyone. The weak of bowels, for example, should not follow this path.

Oft times, the paranoid, especially those who have their toes testing the temperature of open dissent against established authority, need to bug-out and get off the Grid. The Grid is the common machinations of society – mass transit, automated teller machines, liquor stores, internet pornography, air conditioning, fast food, social networking sites and/or the constant surveillance of the Police State – all the trappings of first world comfort. In Florida, the Grid is everywhere. Nearly. To be off the Grid down here, you must succumb to the wilderness.

When I relocated back to Florida, I was leaving Oregon where the autumn, winter and spring seasons were varying shades of temperate gray with the heat of summer coming and going like a five-day hybrid-car sales-event at the local farmer’s market. There was no long cruel summer. Oregon just happens to be a paranoid utopia. You could be in Portland city limits and still exist completely off the Grid. There is a barter economy and no one thinks twice if you arrive in a bar wearing a Sasquatch mask. Privacy is guaranteed.

In the Portlandian Utopia: dress like an ape-man and everyone loves you

And in Portland, there are no bugs. Not like here in the Florida scrub, where I nurse all sort of bite. I’ve had tick, chigger, brown recluse… I once killed eleven mosquitos with a single slap of the palm against my blood-let shoulder. There is DEET as a repellent option, which is a sort of preventative chemotherapy for mosquito affliction: No fucking thank you. My wind-weathered, sun-leathered, salt-lathered skin is beginning to callus thick enough to keep the mozzies from penetrating my hide with their prickish proboscis. Even vampires aren’t asshole enough to regurgitate toxins back into your body when they are through with supper. Mosquitos are.

Welcome to Florida

brought to you by the Chamber of Commerce.

I lead with such notes about my continued hunkered-down existence in my palmetto bunker in order to fully disclose that my words arrive on this page already dripped in antagonism fueled by the Brazilian fire ant bites between my toes. When the insects speak Portugese, you know you are in trouble and right now my toes can’t help but forbidden dance against each other in a strange ecstatic agony both emotionally satisfying and physiologically detrimental.

I wonder, do the wounds of insect parasitism fuel the paranoia or does the paranoia feed the itch? What isn’t psychotic about clawing yourself into non-existence, one finger nail of flesh at a time?

Spring to Summer, What Happened to Winter?

Tropically Depressed at the crawfish festival

It was a brutal start to the summer. The last weeks of spring brought a tropical depression to Florida, drenching the dehydrated phallus of a state with violent storms twice, sometimes thrice, daily. I returned back to the Grid to find that the world had revolved beyond where I had last left it. My NeverKin had left for the higher ground of Colorado. My old ally Raz Kelly had gone on walkabout, uncertain if she was ever to return back this way again. Raz’ brother, Doc Kelly, gave me the once over and prescribed fish oil to cure my mental ills (I now take two spoonfuls before bed and burp up cod in my sleep). I found a girl I once knew, but she didn’t know me anymore. I saw her again at a crawfish festival, a bad idea, a terrible event, on a day the heavens opened-up and drenched the crustacean enthusiasts with the tropical depression. The girl I once knew smiled teasingly, “you’re soaked.” I replied, eagerly, that she was not much better (but she was; the rain suited her well). She explained how she would be interested in my invitation, accompanying me to the beer tent, however, “I didn’t hear from you, and…” Yes, yes, I had left the Grid and she, she did not hear from me and promptly found a replacement. A replacement for me. How does one, being a full-fledged paranoid, explain to the uninitiated “the Grid” and the necessity of occasionally leaving it behind? I, Vic Neverman, need not bother you, dear reader, with the further details. Alright, maybe a little bother… My replacement was a full head over my six foot stature and was run-of-the-mill Florida Jetski-Douche with an armband tattoo of rollicking waves symbolizing his spiritual passion for hot-tub fellatio. Judging by his clownish shoe size, he was replacing more than I could have filled. Beyond him, this replacement of mine, at this crawfish festival, were thousands more typical run-of-the-mill Jetski-Douche, falling off the conveyor belt faster than Lucille Ball could stuff them down her blouse. If it was not to be him, it could have been any of them. Jetski Douche is Legion and I… I had missed the boat.

The tropical depression passed. A couple days later, the sun came out and burnt everything back to a crisp.

The Quickening

Glynis McCants, the Numerologist, said 2012 was to be a fast year and I’ll be damned if it isn’t almost half over. This was to be the year leading up to the great END OF WORLD: Mexico Edition event, yet the months have passed so quickly the Mayan Calendar will be flipped to the next era before we ever realize it.

Should the END be more noticeable, I will likely be more prepared. I am, as it happens, affiliated with a local small-town political movement of doomsday prepper survivalists. I am sure I will have more on this story as the group practices and prepares for the hurricane season. The group is OASIS (Oviedo Army of Security, Intelligence and Survival) and while it might have its origins in Florida militia secessionism (I found them while posing as my alter-ego, Tea Partier Bucky Swoon), it is really a community organization that meets to play paintball and drink Dark ‘n’ Stormys (actually, I introduced OASIS to the Gosling’s sponsored rum drink, which was, in turn, introduced to me by my government contracted spook of a brother-in-law – a conspiracy unto itself) while discussing various SHTF (shit hit the fan) scenarios. As the resident conspiracy theorist, I was named the official archivist of the organization, mostly because my apocalyptic library is the entirety of the group’s archives.

Have I gone too far? Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious by the sun of York goes the Shakespearean line from Henry III. I consider this season as the summer of my discontent, soon to be behind me as we are hurtled ever faster into tomorrow. Forget the impending Maya Apocalypse (just another excuse for rum drinks); my spirit is plagued by the current ineffectiveness of democracy in this country. My last blog was a rant on the subject. This current blog details what wear and tear a paranoid suffers as he hides in the shadows of his own fear.

Good Luck and Godspeed America.

Vic Neverman and Cyrus Lee as the alpha-dog Apex Apocalyptics of OASIS (Oviedo Army of Security, Intelligence and Survival)

Breaking News: Occupy Oregon to Intensify at State Legislature

This just in – Trusted Neververse insider, Phineas Crux, has gotten details on the Oregon State Legislature stocking up on state police for today’s opening of congress in Salem. The twin demonstration mobs, Occupy Portland and Occupy Salem, will be picketing outside of the state congressional building today and the state police believe there will be several forays of Occupiers entering into the building to disturb “floor meetings, committee meetings, or general Capitol business.” Oregon lawmakers are told to hit the “panic button” as soon as a disruption occurs and that it is better to panic too soon than too late.

Fear not, Phineas Crux is keeping his rape whistle close just in case “any of the fuzz-balls gets too close.”

Sometimes the most trusted ally is a proven antagonist. It is more important to know a man’s intentions than to agree with them. A familiar rival is often more forthcoming than a fellowship of strangers. Look at Jack Kennedy and Nikita Kruschev, these rivals chose a diplomatic stalemate over the proposals of their hawkish generals who would sooner see mass extinction of the species. Kennedy and Kruschev avoided all-out war by finding the lowest common denominator: survival. In similar fashion, I, Vic Neverman, broke bread (or more literally cracked open beers) with the ever-devious, Phineas Crux. Over a compromise of mutual survival, we two enemies had joined a common cause.

And now the bastard has gone missing.

Despite our longtime opposition, I had employed Phineas Crux into my ever-expanding Neverman Network Of Spies (NNOS). As a political elitist in the Oregonian state capital, an expert on Trans-Pacific foreign policy, and an erstwhile spelunker in the Portland Underground, Phineas Crux is a unique resource to report back on West Coastal stirrings. Most recently, Phineas has been keeping an eye on the Occupy movement in both Portland and Salem, Oregon. He’s made comparisons of the Occupy organizational structure to that of the anti-Franco communists of the Spanish Civil War. He’s mentioned that the homeless seem to have a large role in the local movement, but since the hipsters of Little Beirut (as Portland was called by the 1st Bush Administration) often blur the lines between fashion and destitution, it is not easy to separate the true vagrants from the trustifarians. In perhaps his most startling revelation, Phineas Crux’s espionage uncovered recent research Occupation participators have conducted to learn more about prior secessionist movements in California, Oregon and Washington.

And that is the last we’ve heard of our wayward antagonist.

Has Phineas gone so deep underground he cannot sneak off to a nearby internet cafe to send a short message without being overseen by oppressive forces, be they of the fascist police state or the anarchist pitchforked public? Or has Phineas Crux been more violently silenced – muzzled in some Shanghai Tunnel or buried beneath the snows of Mt Hood? Or could this be the work of a jilted former lover, a scorned ex-flame who wishes to see Phineas finished off (just less pleasantly than times past)? Certainly, there is one such anti-Crux femme fatale that comes to mind… An obvious suspect, she… She who called me, Vic Neverman, in an endless rant of a letter “naive” and “idiotic” (the gall!) for my trusting Phineas Crux. In her defense, however, one must always be cautious when dealing with Phineas. I, Vic Neverman, could trust Phineas Crux precisely because I knew he was untrustworthy. As I mentioned previously, it is better to have a man whose intentions are clear than to have one whose agenda is clouded by their sycophantic agreeableness. Crux is definitely the former.

Portlandian Secret Society "The Dude Collective". Phineas Crux is on the far left, Vic Neverman on the far right.

I first came to know this character, Phineas Crux, in Portland when I and the warior-poet, Ginger Hustle (whose been featured in previous Occupy blogs), entered into the surreal realm of a Jim Morrison shrine off the eastern banks of the Willamette River. Within this Temple of Doors, the warrior-poet and I became acquainted with Phineas Crux and we would later be initiated into a cultic brotherhood of sorts, which I have referred to before as the Dude Collective. Despite being fellow philosopher-monks in the Collective, rivalry and sabotage ensued between Crux and Neverman. When my play, “Operation Smoking Dragon” premiered in Lincoln City, who was it streaking through the audience with just a tube sock covering his nether-parts? Phineas Crux. And then in the aftermath of a great blizzard, “Sno-pacalypse 2008” as the local news called it, lines were clearly drawn for a final battle between Phineas with his merry men and Ginger Hustle and I, Vic Neverman, on the opposite side. Perhaps the only thing keeping us from mutual annihilation was the holiday spirit contained in the seasonal craft beers we had been gulping down… poisonous remedy it could be.

The zenith of the antagonism between Neverman and Crux was reached when each of us, under different pretenses, found ourselves in Southeast Asia suspecting the Other as a saboteur. The dusty jungles of non-monsoonal Vietnam and Cambodia were the devil’s playground for our dance of intrigue. One positive aspect of traveling in corrupt states is the ease with which I bribed the Saigon police with the help of my guide Now True Van Wasted (“now true” being a brutal anglicization of her name Ngoc Truc). I used these bribes in an effort to recapture my stolen passport and visa (courtesy, one would suspect, of the devious Phineas Crux) and to further hinder the plans of he, my nemesis.

Showdown in Siem Reap. From left to right, Mr and Mrs VanWasted, Phineas Crux, Vic Neverman, and hovering over the scene, Phineas' 7 foot goon, Q-Ball

It wouldn’t be until both Crux and Neverman found themselves in Cambodia before we would actually meet face-to-face for the first time since Portland a month earlier when each saw the Other off, like two racers revving engines at the starting line. It was in the crossroads of the “White Market” in Siem Reap, among the pedicure-by-goldfish stalls and the sickeningly capitalistic vendors of land mine souvenirs, that Neverman and Crux met with our teams in tow. Phineas suspected me of wrong-doings I was absolutely innocent of. I, in turn, accused him of nearly blinding me by poisoning my contact solution in Ho Chi Minh City (I was sporting an eye-patch for a while there) and then later hiring a local goon to mug me of my traveling papers (if it weren’t for an ever-present and surprisingly helpful Mossad agent, I would still be hitchhiking my way out of Indochina). Our mirrored sneers became snickers and our ricocheted paranoia brought a cynical levity. With so much in common, our friendship was quickly renewed.

We would both return to Oregon for the last months of the Dude Collective before the brotherhood would geographically fracture, separating members by continents and oceans. It was just as well, going on double-dates with your arch-nemesis and a pair of unsuspecting girlfriends was getting awkward. By the end of the year, Crux left Portland for the state capital and Neverman was in Florida.

But through the web – specifically the online forum Zoey & the Zeitgeist – the misaligned alliance remained… until now.

Now, Crux is gone…

The Occupy Everything Movement is at a critical juncture. With violence breaking out between protestors and police on the West Coast and the coming Winter in the Northeast, it is time for a change in direction. This anti-capitalism effort has plateaued and it appears Obama, with the assistance of a cooperative media, are making efforts to move public awareness away from the Occupy Movement. There are three recent examples of how the White House and mass media has stemmed the flow of energy into the movement through: distraction (potentially), ignoring historical milestones that may add flame to the fire, and an empty offering from the Powers-that-Be as far as transparency of government.

Ginger Hustle, master of using leverage in his persuasive arguments


First, a report from Ginger Hustle, one of many within the Neverman Network of spies. Below is GH’s post from the “left coast” which includes an intriguing hypothetical about how a new scandal’s suspicious timing has diverted public attention away from the Occupy Movement:

All is well up here on the left coast. I feel like people are
starting to shake off the lethargy of our spiritual hibernation. The
constant bombardment of images of riots all of the Multiverse has
awoken the hunger in the loins of people everywhere. I must admit I’m
always fascinated when people start gathering in pursuit of a single
goal. I find that although it’s misguided and misdirected it can often
be the catalyst for something amazing. I think the biggest speed bump
in our generations lives has been entertainment. As long ago in the
ages of the Holy Roman empire, The Colieseum was meant to entertain
and therefore keep the dociled peoples off the necks of the silent 1%.
Like a good Illusionist misdirection at the precise moment can be
very powerful. In my slightly Belzered brain I must wonder if the Joe
PAterno thing was merely a trifle the spooks held for a time such as
this… The Occupy Wall Street was really starting to gain some
traction. Popping up in more than 200 cities across the Great U S of
A, and like a great poker player with an Ace up it’s sleeve they drop
this case on the public in an effort to side track and therefore table
something that has the potential to truly awaken the “Bear.” The
“Bear” of course being more than any beard totting fuzzy Portlander,
but actually symbolizing the quiet slumbering masses…

A well written post by Ginger Hustle, an old ally of Neverman from my secret society days within the Oregonian Dude Collective. I especially appreciated GH’s reference to the conspiracy and Law & Order icon, Richard Belzer. Ginger Hustle is right, the Sandusky/Paterno scandal is certainly one that seemingly sat shelved for a long period of time. How is it that it is just now unraveling before us? Is this suspicious timing just a means of distracting the public away from the Occupy cause?

Rites of Spring: Pagan Ritualistic Dance of the Dude Collective featuring Phineas Crux, Vic Neverman, Ginger Hustle and Wara


A curious play by the media was Tuesday’s lack of coverage of the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. If there is any one date that should send anti-goverment suspicion racing through the veins of the American Public, it would be 11/22. Is it any coincidence that this 48 year milestone came and went without so much as a mentioning of Zapruder, Lee Harvey, Jack Ruby and the vigilant Garrison? 11/22/1963 is overwhelmingly thought to be a day of dark conspiracy in the mind of the collective public. Was the anniversary largely ignored in order to not add additional kindle to the fiery public dissatisfaction?

Lastly, the White House recently responded to the call for transparency in regards to UFOs. Regardless of whether you, dear reader, believe in the existence of extra-terrestrials zipping around our ears, there should be no doubt in the existence of aircraft that is unknown to the public and thus “unidentified” when observed. Why these files haven’t been previously released by the government would lead one to believe in a cover-up. At last, Obama’s Administration issued an offical letter to address the UFO question. In summation, Team Obama said there is no conclusive evidence to believe in the existence of alien life. Hardly the offering that was expected. This meager attempt at transparency came off as hollow, but an attempt nevertheless of the government to say, “see here… we aren’t hiding anything under the rug” while never opening up the closet door to display the secrets that lay behind.

The Occupy Movement is losing steam – necessary heat with the coming of winter. Is it possible the government purposely kicked the legs out of the movement by bringing us a distracting scandal, ignoring a vitally important milestone (a cynical holiday recognized by all conspiracy nuts, like Vic), and by providing an empty offering of transparency?

(part two of a three part blog series on Dan the Destroyer)

While Vic Neverman might be known primarily as a conspiracy theorist, it is only because the spotlight of my career is on that portion of a larger body of work. Overall, I am a seeker of truth in topics that reside on the outer fringes of normalcy. For example, crypto-zoology… I have hunted the Beast of Bray Road from my safe house in South Milwaukee, I have stunk it up in the cypress swamps of Florida in search of the Skunk Ape, and I have wandered through Texas pastures looking for Chupacabra. During my brief stint living a bohemian existence in Oregon, I pursued the elusive old man of the forest: Big Foot.

With news that Dan the Destroyer was coming to Florida, my mind recently went back to my many adventures along the Columbia River where Dan, the Dude Collective, and I camped and hunted Bigfoot. By hunt, let me clarify, the goal was to find proof. The last thing we wished to achieve was killing, injuring, or capturing a Sasquatch.

While one would think living in Oregon would make Bigfoot expeditions easily accessible, that one would be wrong. Deadly wrong. The problem with Bigfoot is that the greatest frequency of sightings exist in the “no hike” zones of marijuana country. There is so much weed grown in these backwoods of Oregon that the ganja industry has placed numerous heavily armed illegal immigrants throughout the region with direct orders to shoot at anything that moves. Marijuana is big business in the Pacific Northwest and that business is well protected. This is why it is not easy to find a high-frequency Bigfoot zone safe to hike in. It also begs the question: has a Sasquatch ever been gunned down by a weed-watcher? We can only hope the answer is no. Should the answer be yes, no good could come of it as illegal farmers would not bring attention to the facts behind such a kill.

So there is certainly a lot to consider when seeking out an area to hunt Sasquatch. We found the safest region of high-frequency sightings was the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Just a few hours from our home of Portland, we found a home base at Panther Creek.

Dude Collective: Dude, Dude, Vic Neverman, Dude, Dan the Destroyer


Allow me to shed some light on the secret society of “manosphers” I refer to as the “Dude Collective”. Our group has been accused of being both anarchists (one of our members is an ardent anti-absolutist, living his life to destroy all absolute concepts) and of being a political organization looking to rule through enlightened despotism. The truth is, there is no one main goal or mission of the Dude Collective. Our political leanings are diverse and the only commonalities are our love of women, beer, and liberty. The history of the Dude Collective is extensive with origins that mixed European masonic tradition with Hamatsa shamanism of the Kwakwaka’wak indigenous peoples of British Columbia. Thanks to the passed down secrets of this latter group, our Dude Collective was well prepared for seeking out the Old Man of the Forest. The only trick? Finding someone bold enough to be the “Bigfoot bait”. Fortunately, we had Dan the Destroyer.

Dan was originally nominated to dress up in a Sasquatch outfit in an attempt to lure out a legitimate Bigfoot simply because it was commonly known he was working for Homeland Security and was considered to be just a narc. Should Dan be shot by hunters or raped by a grizzly, it was thought he would be easily replaced by the next domestic spy Big Brother sent our way. The truth was, though, that Dan wasn’t as expendable as we would have liked to believe. Not only was he the resident engineer (though he certainly broke more things than he built, thus his nickname), Dan also became endeared to the rest of the Collective. Sure, we constantly lied to him in order to pass disinformation along to his spymaster, but we did genuinely like Dan.

Vic Neverman and Bigfoot (Dan the Destroyer in costume)


We dressed Dan in Yeti garb and followed him as he wandered into the forest making feminine orgasmic noises (this wasn’t protocol, it was just typical Dan behavior). Perhaps Dan’s high-pitched yelps turned off male Bigfeet, perhaps he just didn’t have the right scent to be a Sasquatch in heat, but we never encountered our target. In fact, the best we ever did was get drunk enough to raid other campfires and get a laugh out of our nervous neighboring campers. Except that group of coed volleyball players. Those chicks just thought us creepy goons, regardless of how many times we offered them a few beers back at our campsite to make up for trespass.

Ahhh, good times…

“An engineer has a mind to build things and a knack for taking them back apart.”
– A member of the Dude Collective, speaking anonymously about Dan the Destroyer

I am not sure how he found me. Certainly, I recognized the Washington DC area code and quickly thought of Dan the Destroyer. But how did he track me down? How is it someone from the Pacific Northwest happens to be in my Floridian neighborhood. I listened to his cryptic message and immediately called him back. I wasn’t calling his bluff, Dan the Destroyer doesn’t fuck around when he ups the ante. I merely wished to call his bet to see his cards.

Years ago, after relocating to Oregon, when I was introduced to the men who made up the Dude Collective, Dan the Destroyer had already infiltrated their circle. I assumed, naturally, that this man who dressed as Big Lebowski’s the Jesus the first night I met him was just another one of the gang. It wasn’t until I was properly initiated into the ranks of the Dude Collective and Dan left on a beer run that the other men, nudged me, pointing at Dan’s departure and implicated, “He’s a narc.”

A narc? A fed? Sent to spy on the Dude Collective? But why…?

The Dude Collective is an alias I use to describe the clandestine Bohemian brotherhood I joined in Portland. Each member was an artist, a philosopher, and often times a theologist. There were politicians, poets, and even a few bartenders. Certainly, we had some dangerous ideas, but were we really a threat to the Establishment with all the marijuana in the air (smoke from the plant is what causes the meteorological oddity of 300 days of overcast skies)? I thought us harmless. I was on the lam from a police state, I did not wish to enter into another fascist playground. Portland was supposed to be my escape, somewhat of the antithesis of Chicago.

“Oregon has the highest per capita anarchists, agnostic/atheists, breweries and strip clubs. That is a dangerous combination” a member of the Dude Collective explained the monitoring of Big Brother, aka Dan the Destroyer. “The Establishment just provides a lot of bodies to intermingle and gather intelligence. Data is analyzed, reports are made, presentations are given, and the secret spy budget gets raised. Domestic espionage, basically the American government spying on its own people, is its own micro-economy. Think of all the people employed thanks to this program.”

And with that sort of liberal thinking, the group of moderates and leftists nodded their approval for the loss of their liberty.

Dan always quick with a beer for Vic Neverman

“<Dan the Destroyer is a spy. He was bred in Michigan, educated in engineering but trained in spy-craft in DC (probably Quantico or Langley, VA), and sent to Portland to listen, record, and report on the goings on of our Dude Collective. Always the first to put another pint of beer in your hand, Dan the Destroyer must have done well collecting our deepest darkest secrets as it was never too long before we were drunk enough to stop caring who he worked for and began confiding any and everything.

And now… He is coming to Florida. But why and to what end?