Sam Aurelius Milam III
On July 10, 2018, the National Geographic Channel presented a rerun of Season 1, Episode 1 of the documentary series Original Sin: Sex. The title of that particular episode was Hi-Tech Sex. It had originally been released on July 10, 2016. One brief segment of the episode reported on a man who'd had a virtual reality sexual experience, from the point-of-view of a woman. He subsequently claimed that the experience had affected him so profoundly that it had permanently changed the way that he deals with women. If a virtual reality experience can really be that transformative, then I can't help but to ponder. After I watched that episode, I started writing this article. Other things came up, and I sat the article aside for a while.
A year or so later, I saw a preview for some situation comedy, the name of which I didn't notice. A woman was confronting her husband in the kitchen. She exclaimed, "But I want you to want to wash the dishes!" The comment would have been funnier if it hadn't reminded me of the man who's outlook toward women had been transformed by a virtual reality experience. The connection between the two was immediately obvious. She wasn't satisfied to merely control her husband's behavior. She wanted to control his attitudes, his mind. Her comment suggested to me the possibility of using virtual reality experiences as a tool for spousal attitude adjustments. See my short story Lady's Man, in the April 2002 issue.
Various people might have some such desire to control the minds of others, but individuals usually lack the ability to enforce such desires. The more serious possibility is from institutions. Traditionally, the institutional champions of mind control have been government and religion. They've controlled the minds of their subjects by the use of lies, fear, guilt, threats, conditioning, patriotism, disinformation, and every other tool that came to hand. Wars have been a spectacularly successful example of mind control by governments. Few people would be likely to engage in such lunacy unless they were being manipulated The Spanish Inquisition is only one of many horrible mind control events that have been perpetrated by religion. Lately, commercial marketing has been added to the stable, becoming another institutional practitioner of mind control. It has lured people into an insane throw-away economy, driven by forced obsolescence and characterized by a dependence on unending growth. That economy shows promise of exceeding even wars and pogroms in the harm that it will eventually cause.
So, it seems to me that mind control is one of the realities of human experience. For millennia, it has been the means by which institutions have manipulated the behavior of millions of people. In recent history, government, religion, and commercial marketing have exercised mind control so effectively that people believe the most stupid things imaginable. In the movie Canadian Bacon, the National Security Advisor looked directly into the camera and, in a quiet and solemn voice, said to the President, "Sir, the American people will believe whatever we tell them to believe." The message in that statement is clear. Mind control is easy and it happens all the time. Even if virtual reality experiences can be as transformative as the man in Hi-Tech Sex reported, maybe virtual reality is just a new tool in a very old toolbox.
Or maybe not. Maybe virtual reality experiences are more effective in some fundamentally different way than the previous methods of manipulation. Also, suppose that it turns out that such experiences can be imposed by court order, or maybe as a matter of company policy. Worse yet, maybe the technology will allow such experiences to be imposed covertly onto people who aren't even aware that they're being exposed to them. If such a capability is possible, then it will surely be developed.
Suppose that evangelists started to subject members of their congregations to virtual reality experiences. Suppose that the local cops began to apply them to detainees and suspects. Suppose that political candidates began to use them during political campaigns. Suppose that governments began to use them on citizens. Suppose that the workplace feminists began to use their sensitivity and diversity classes to subject male employees to the feminist view of things. To evangelists, virtual reality might be more useful than sermons. To cops, it
|might be more useful than a nightstick, although
not as much fun. To politicians, it might be more useful than lies.
To governments, it might be more useful than legislation. To feminists,
it might be more useful than complaining and, at home, they could make
their husbands want to wash the dishes.
In the final scene of Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith sat alone at his dusty table, in his usual corner of the Chestnut Tree Café. On the table were his chessboard, his current issue of the Times, and his ever-present glass of Victory Gin, containing cloves flavored with saccharine. As he half-listened to the telescreen, his thoughts meandering, his memories fading in and out of reality, he realized without warning that, just at that very moment, he had won his battle. He understood, suddenly, that it had never been a battle against O'Brien, or even against the Ministry of Love. It had been, it had always been, a battle against himself. Tears of joy rolled down his cheeks. All that he had ever needed was a victory over his own mind. At last, he had won the victory. Orwell told us that power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them back together again, in new shapes of our own choosing. In that instant of Winston's victory, he realized that it had never been just a matter of obeying Big Brother. It was more than that. He wanted to obey Big Brother. He loved Big Brother.
Letters to the Editor
In reading the April '20 Frontiersman, I saw a few places in my submission that need explained, corrected and updated. First, the comment I made about having up to 3 pounds of parasitic life on our skins. I don't know if it's true or not. I saw a show on "Discovery" about microscopic killers and the host made that comment. What a creepy thought if it is true. And next, I said "thirty two million people caught the flu last year". Dr. Fauci, Trump's infectious disease guru said that on a news briefing. I meant to say thirty thousand died, not million. I recently heard a new lackey Dr. on Trump's freak show briefing say it's actually 18,000 who died last year due to the flu. Who's right, who knows? But at 32 million affected, that makes it about 0.1 to 0.2 people dying for every 1000, or 1 to 2 per 10 to 20 thousand. Now, let's take your 4% world wide average death rate for the Corona. At 40 people per 10,000 infected, that makes the Corona 20 to 40 times more deadly. Since I wrote you last, an 18 month old has died, and a 15 year old has died too. My source is ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS, and BBC News. So what, 2 kids out of 800,000 known Corona Virus cases world wide. Mostly old people, some 20 to 60 year olds, but not proportionate to the elderly group.
I also never knew the grim reaper image was attributed back to times during the black plague.
I see your point of the virus having a better effect of "fear" on people. Could this be Trump's piss poor attempt of a re-election campaign? He's such a piss poor excuse for a human being, a worthless narcissist.
Anyway, I enjoyed your Frontiersman. I wanted to correct an error and update a few things....
I was re-reading your April 2020 Frontiersman and wanted to throw a quick response to Howie in the Max's letter and your response to it. Howie says space must have a point of origin, (its center), and cannot go on forever. You respond in your belief that space has no beginning, nor does it have an end or edge or boundary. My belief, I can see pros and cons to both your hypotheses. Like Howie, it's hard for me to wrap my noodle around the concept of an infinite space. A natural response to this is to believe that every coin has two sides, a heads and a tails, so how is it possible for something to never have a final destination?
Hey Howie, here's a thought for you if Sam is right then the center of the universe is where you are right now, for you! I'm also at the center. So is Sam. I say this because, point anywhere in the sky, if Sam is right, then it is the same distance to the end of the universe, infinite, in every direction. [See Cosmology and the Law of Parsimony, in Pharos. —editor]
I've always believed that everything in the universe is held together because of an opposing force. If there is God, then there will always be a Satan, with good comes evil. Gravity can be overcome by speed, etc. [See Tommy's Poem, in my personal website —editor]
When it comes to the universe being infinite in distance, I have to think about it like Schrödinger's Cat. Uncertain circumstances make an external observer unable to deem the cat dead or alive. Especially if the possibilities of survival of the cat are expected to be analyzed from the point of view of quantum mechanics. So, space is kind of like that, we have a cat inside a box being the victim of a danger that may or may not kill it. Does the universe end? It's impossible to see which among two contrary propositions is correct. Dead cat, alive cat. Infinite space or a finite space. Ultimately, it's a paradox. Here's another view,
|what if a flipped coin doesn't land on heads
tails, what if it lands and balances on it's edge? What if space
an edge but it's impossible to ever get there? When a person is lost
in a desert and has no line of sight as a reference, because people have
a dominant leg, the lost person will walk in a circle until they die.
What if because of gravity, (black holes, massive planets, etc.) as you
travel towards the outer edge of space, a slight, unseen gravitational
pull causes you to loop around in a never ending circle? And then
of course, what if our feeble minds just don't have the computing power
to understand our predicament? Perhaps we are in a snow globe on
God's desk, forever a mechanical/biological oddity to amuse our deity.
Who knows these things?
—S. H., a prisoner
Regarding your interest in the nature of the universe, I suggest that you might be interested in Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Wall of Darkness.
I was reading your article, "Lexicology and Hope", which appeared in the April edition of the Frontiersman. When I got to the point where you accuse homosexuals of "stealing" the word "gay", and changing the meaning of the word, a little alarm bell went off in my head. Something didn't seem quite right. It took me about three minutes of research on the internet to see that your account is seriously flawed. (I checked two major dictionaries Wikipedia, and LBGT website, and two or three other Google suggestions.)
What I learned, in essence, was this:
*The word gay came into the English language in the twelfth century, from French. The meaning of the word then was "happy, joyous or carefree".
*By the seventeenth century, the word had acquired a secondary, slang meaning of immoral or illegal happiness.
*By the nineteenth century, this slang meaning was strongly associated with heterosexual promiscuity. For example, in Victorian times the term "gay house" was a euphemism for a whorehouse.
*Sometime around 1900, the word began to be used by homosexuals as a code word to designate people with same-sex inclinations, or same-sex activities. If this was theft, it was about as justified as a starving man stealing a loaf of bread. It must be remembered that, at that time, same-sex relations were illegal virtually everywhere. Other common slang terms for homosexuality such as faggot, fairy, pansy, etc., were not only demeaning but had no camouflage value.
The coding did not work for very long. By the nineteen-sixties, most heterosexuals knew that the word "gay" had homosexual connotations. When I was a freshman in high school, there was a math teacher whose last name was "Gay". There were endless, whispered, sniggering jokes about that. He didn't last very long at that school. I wonder if he ever got his name legally changed.
In nineteen-sixty-nine, there came the Stonewall riots, and the homosexual civil rights movement went into full swing. In the early seventies, a homosexual civil rights activist in Berkeley, California, began to use the word "gay" consistently to publicize events that advocated homosexual legal rights. It was about that time that the mainstream media picked up the terms "gay lib", and "gay rights" for use in broadcasts and newspaper headlines.
Now if you want to berate homosexuals for stealing the word "gay", and giving it a different meaning, you should also criticize the heterosexuals for changing the meaning of the word. As soon as the word became strongly associated with homosexuals, heterosexuals began to use the word as a synonym for "gaudy", "effeminate", and "disgusting". All of these things are stereotypically associated with homosexual men. The distaste for things homosexual is so strong that the word "gala", is now usually pronounced GALA, not GAYLA.
I suppose the lesson of all this is that changing vocabulary does not necessarily change attitudes. A rose is still a rose by any other name, and a sanitary engineer is still a garbage collector.
—Sir Donald the Elusive
The moral connotations of the word are not presently in question, only its use as a synonym for homosexual. Your research confirms that the usage was originated entirely by homosexuals, and entirely for their own purposes, beginning around 1900. I don't know if gay is the only such synonym that was established by the homosexuals themselves, and not by their critics. Either way, your research is an independent verification of my claim that they hijacked the word. It just happened about 70 years earlier than I'd previously believed.
You're free to use the language however you prefer. So am I. So, in this newsletter, gay isn't a synonym for homosexual. I leave it as I find it in letters to the editor entirely as an editorial courtesy to the writers, but without any intention whatsoever of condoning such misuse of the word.
My thanks to the following: El Dorado Bob; Betty; Bob, of Lee's Summit, Missouri; Sir Donald the Elusive; and Eric, of Ione, California.
Signs of Getting Older
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor