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  • Here In Vancouver

    The rainy season is JUST ABOUT to begin. My clearest memory of it was a relatively dry October, followed by a 30th and 31st that was a deluge of rain. Well, we’re now at the 17th, meaning we’re less than 2 weeks from that hallowed date. When it comes, the weather won’t let up until next April.

    I’m actually looking forward to the rain and the cold. I get to wear my double-jacket (my hoodie covered by my Levi’s jacket). Also, I can bring out my Blundstone boots for the wet and the puddles. They’re waterproof.

    On the 12th I was in Downtown Vancouver proper, crossing Robson Street. Either Vancouver’s gotten a lot less white or there were more tourists here than I’m used to seeing. I think there are more tourists. They looked happy to be here, in the land of freedom and milk and honey.

    I was talking with Chris about Vancouver’s blight-spot: the tent city in the Downtown Eastside. There is a row of tents pitched in front of abandoned stores, and nobody’s doing anything about it. Homeless drug users live there, according to Chris, and he’s probably right. The problem is, if you crack down on them, the problem just spreads across the city and metastasizes. The last time they tried to get rid of the tent city, it just spread itself out to the Skytrain Stations (aboveground subway) and perched there like a fat lazy bird content to wait.

    Vancouver’s a nice city, but I’m more and more convinced I want to go back to Ontario and its frigid cold winter days. You don’t really need gloves in Vancouver, but you do in Southern Ontario/Greater Toronto. I don’t belong here. Even now, after 3 years in the city (this is my second 3-year period of time in Vancouver) I’m an outsider. It’s a feeling I don’t relish having.

    — Greg Nikolic

  • The Benefits Of Being In Harness

    When I say, “the benefits of being in harness,” I mean the benefits of sticking to a regular pattern of events. For example, if you have a job, you’re in harness to it. You went there every weekday last week, and you’ll go there again every weekday next week. You’re in harness.

    Now then. This post. Although it can be dreary at times being in harness, it offers exceptional advantages. You can get things done long-term when you’re in harness.

    You can also improve over time. Repetition of skills makes them grow sharper.

    Being in harness also takes your mind off what to do next. You know, because it’s the same thing you did yesterday. You don’t have to race around, worrying, when you’re in harness.

    Marriage is the ultimate “in harness” thing for a man. For a woman, it’s pure bliss to be married. For a man, less so. But men still get down on bended knee and welcome that harness over their shoulders.

    Why is marriage a benefit to the man? Because he can legitimately beget children. It ensures his evolutionary line continues. Although you can knock up chicks on the dating circuit, the best and surest way to have kids is to get married.

    Being married also encourages one to stick to one’s job. There’s a reason employers often give preference to married men. A married man isn’t going to “get an idea in his head” and go zooming off chasing it. He’s set. He’s stable. He’s a known factor.

    Of course, there are disadvantages to being in harness, too. It’s akin to slavery. It also makes one insufferably boring. Your worldview tends to constrict when you’re in harness. It’s one of the puzzling aspects to the phenomenon. Why should everything narrow when you’re only adhering to a pattern? Why should the pattern dictate your thoughts?

    In the end, the advantages to being in harness outweigh the disadvantages, so it would be wise to keep it.

    — Greg Nikolic

  • Too Much Freedom

    One of the advantages of rhyming poetry (A/B/A/B) is that the rhyme helps you come up with lines. By narrowing possibilities down, and letting the subconscious sort things out, the poet has an easier time of composing new lines. When you can write about anything, you often find yourself flailing about because there’s too much freedom.

    Men often dream of sexual freedom, of being to bang unlimited numbers of girls, but this may be more harmful than pleasurable. Rock stars with groupies often have a demented, damaged look in their eyes. Whether this is due to the drugs or the prolific consequence-free sex is open to debate, but it could be too much freedom in the sexual department. We are meant to be pair bonded, yes, even men, and when we violate this ancient stricture we pay the price.

    In an economy, a laissez-faire, anything-goes economy, people get hurt. Without government rules and intervention, including the minimum wage, there is silent suffering across the land. Too much freedom in the economy means misery at the cash register.

    Too much freedom is bad for kids. Kids need rules to define their lives, otherwise they’re adrift. Good parenting is about making sure kids understand the rules, and why they’re important, and executing so that they’re consistent and fair rules.

    In the final analysis, we can see that too much freedom can be quite severely detrimental for our lives and we need to give up a little to gain a lot.

    — Greg Nikolic

  • Gattaca

    Gattaca is a sci fi movie starring Ethan Hawke about morality, the choices life faces us with, and genetic supermen. The letters in the title, Gattaca, are the four building blocks of DNA: G, T, A and C.

    Ethan Hawke always wanted to be an astronaut. Unfortunately, he is born an “inVALID” with a heart condition. So he cheats the system. He brings in as a boarder a champion genetic star who is confined to a wheelchair after a failed suicide attempt. Bottles of the star’s urine go in the fridge, and clippings of hair and skin come with Hawke when he goes on his job so he can sprinkle them on his keyboard and pass as genetically superior. He’s borrowing the genetic identity of the crippled man in his flat. All this so Hawke can go to the stars.

    Gattaca poses several interesting questions. Is it right to endanger the mission with your heart condition just so you can selfishly go? Should inVALIDs be shut out of society, and their places given to genetic supermen? Are parents right to tamper with their unborn children in the womb in pursuit of a superior result? And, what does Nature mean anymore when anyone can prune that tree?

    Ethan Hawke has several hairraising moments. His brother is a cop who is on the lookout for him. At one point, Hawke loses his contact lenses and is trying to cross a busy road with blurring traffic. He stumbles around, but manages to make it without getting flattened.

    Hawke plays a likeable sort, a kind of handsome everyman — which is exactly the appearance the film’s producers wanted. His desperate need to go to the stars is presented as noble and effecting. Some of the movie doesn’t quite ring true. When Ethan is on the treadmill, casually doing heavy work on the machine, he shows no signs of strain, yet collapses gagging in the change room when the testing is over. When you’re straining, in real life, you can’t hide it. This is unrealistic. Also unrealistic is the love interest sneaking a sample of “Hawke’s” DNA to be tested in a lab. She gets a 90+% genetic superiority marker, due to Hawke’s friend in the house. But why would she test for genetic superman qualities when everyone in the program is, by definition, a genetic superman or they wouldn’t be there?

    What I like is the speech at the end where Hawke confronts his long-ago brother the cop. The cop superman can’t get how Hawke was able to outswim him as a child when he lacks the superior lungs and muscles that come with an augmented birth. Hawke explains:

    It’s because I gave it my all. I didn’t hold anything back in reserve in case I needed to avoid drowning. I just swam and swam.

    The movie ultimately is all about willpower. What a man can accomplish if he has a program and the will to execute it. When, in the end, we see Hawke strapped down for liftoff, we know his willpower has “triumphed” in the Nazi style. Brains make up for body. And though the crippled superman gets fried in the incinerator in a successful suicide attempt this time, there is basically a happy ending, for Ethan is getting what he always dreamed of having, and it is sweet indeed.

    — Greg Nikolic

  • Peabrain Nitwits

    Peabrain nitwits. These are people who can flash a pretty smile, hold a hairsprayed hairstyle, and say nothing of value at all. Shall we begin the list?

    The assholes in the media. A friend of mine pointed out that reporters’ written reports were full of typos and basic grammar mistakes. It used to be the first sorting-out of applicants for the media was based on knowledge and intelligence, then they looked at appearance and voice. Now, appearance and voice come first, and if you know anything, that’s a bonus.

    Politicians. Does anyone remember Dan Quayle? Vice President to Bush Senior? He scolded Murphy Brown, a feminist anchorwoman TV imaginary character, for being a single mother. He was too craven to go after a real chick, so he went after — ridiculously — TV’s beloved characters. Politicians like him and that Edwards fellow who got caught cheating on his wife are fools, and what they’re doing in the public arena is anybody’s guess.

    Hockey players. Have you ever seen Hockey Night in Canada, where they interview skaters between periods, and try to get an intelligent response out of them? Sometimes the skater will use big words, but it’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about. The boredom factor hits 10 every time.

    Weddings. Chicks love weddings. It is the highlight of their lives and the moment of greatest achievement for them. They’ve snagged a guy. Most people suck at speeches, and speeches about love are the worst — peabrained idiocy. You hit on her when you first met because you wanted to fuck her. That’s it. She was the one looking for love. But no, you can’t be honest. Honesty is in terminal decline in Western culture and civilization.

    What do all these examples have in common? They’re people in over their heads. The Peter Principle states that people get promoted until they suck at what they’re doing, at which point the promotions stop and they’re stranded in a job for which they’re — you guessed it — in over their heads. Peabrainedness is situational, in other words. It depends where you are in society and your past.

    If ever aliens land on Earth, they’ll probably run into a Peter Principled bureaucrat who’ll screw up the whole interaction. I have no doubt he’ll get the union to defend him afterwards.

    — Greg Nikolic

  • American Empire Ascent

    I thought of writing a book where Donald Trump starts America on a path to global imperialism, and eventually passes off his empire to sons Eric and Don Jr., and ultimately to young Barron.

    But the truth is, America becoming the globe can happen any number of ways. One of the keys is getting that damn Anti-Ballistic Missile System active.

    The ABM system has been in the works for years. It’s a difficult problem, likened to “hitting a bullet with a bullet.” Any American Empire that rises to have dominion over the globe has to start with invulnerability to nuclear attack. In this world, nukes are the cheap and effective alternative to having a good armed forces. Ships, APCs, tanks, and rockets cost money and have to be maintained. A nuclear arsenal just sits in your silos until it’s needed.

    The logical and ideal place to base the world capital is California. California is the Dreamland. Thanks partly to movies and their LA-centric focus (oftentimes), Los Angeles is viewed as utopia on earth, practically.

    Any American Empire would have to restrict the movement of populations, else the entire Earth would settle in Europe and North America — an obvious impossibility. But there would be vast relocations if restrictions weren’t imposed, similar to the way Hong Kong restricts Chinese from coming in.

    Any American Empire would be a boon to the earth. There would be no more war. Violence would become localized, a police and anti-terror matter.

    Any American Empire would foster a new golden age, similar to the hundred year period of the Pax Romana around 100 AD when the Roman World was at peace and at plenty. Then, under a succession of stable emperors, things got consolidated and improved. Aqueducts and roads were built. The legions controlled the frontiers, and each legion was tasked with defending its geographic locality.

    American Empire starts with YOU. That can be the motto of the US WORLD. American Empire starts with YOU. Just as there’s a Peace Corps, there can be world institutions that rely on the civil service of its members.

    A global world empire, based in California, based on the principles of law and order and free market opportunity and fair elections, may be the way the world is trending. As the world cries out for the California dream, California may well be reaching out to them past the concrete-and-steel ABM towers.

    (c) Telegranite Corporation 2022

  • Diving A Little Deeper

    It always pays to dig a little deeper than your initial thought.

    When you see something on the news, don’t just react to the news, ask, why are they presenting this to me?

    When a friend gives you an extravagant gift, ask, what has he done to me to make him feel so guilty?

    When you get passed up for a job opportunity, it’s an opportunity to look closely at yourself and the image you’re presenting.

    A little thoughtfulness goes a long way in this world. Add in a tiny dollop of paranoia and you’re on the right track. It takes two to tango, the fact and the observer. As an observer, it’s incumbent upon you to peel away the layers of reality, like an onion, and get to the heart of the matter.

    Sometimes we shy away from doing this because unpleasant truths would result. But in a way, they’re the most interesting kinds. The truth that jars the heart would naturally make a good story, and we all love good stories.

    To follow a chain of logic to its inescapable conclusion is to be a man. Little children hide under the bed when it’s dark. To bring light upon the world, you must delve deeper.

    This is where it helps to have friends. Friends will talk over a knotty subject with you and get to the root of it. A friend may have insight that you lack. Because they are friends, they’ll have your best interest at heart and won’t blow smoke up your ass.

    I recommend you set aside some time each day just to ponder the day’s events and how the week is going. Just lay back on the couch and consider events. I think you’ll find you make breakthroughs doing this, and it’s a pleasant way of relaxation.

    I, Greg Nikolic, the Great Vampire, often lie on my bed, just thinking — primarily about the future, but also about what’s going on around me. Right now I’m absorbed in the possibility of producing a book. For various reasons, now is not a good time to put one out there. But I wouldn’t have realized that — would’ve forged ahead — if I hadn’t mulled it over in depth. That’s one of the advantages of introspection: you get to the core of the matter sooner than if you just waited for a random realization to hit you.

    (c) Telegranite Corporation 2022

  • A Consequence-Free Life

    Imagine, for a moment, that you could throw yourself off a bridge and you would float, harmlessly, 40 feet above the hard concrete. Imagine then that you could spend all your money in one day, and have it replenished the following morning.

    Your life would be radically different than it is now. You could literally do no wrong, because the world would save your ass for you.

    We’re so used to taking precautions and rationing our resources (even the rich) that we think nothing of it. The whiphand of the world — the discipline that it imposes on us — is considered natural, even welcome.

    Utopia, though, is the consequence-free life. Utopia is not falling to our deaths from that fabled bridge.

    Strangely, that seems to be the sort of future we are headed towards. When technology seems more and more like magic, and there’s a greater proliferation of it around, the impossible becomes routine.

    An anti-gravity beam gun mounted on the side of the bridge would prevent suicides — and result in a fun new sport. A world of vast roboticized factory wealth would let us replenish our bank accounts in a heartbeat. And more.

    Where all disease is cured and pregnancy is a distant dream, sex becomes consequence-free. In a world of many different safe drugs, the OD death becomes a thing of the past as people cease to overdose.

    These outcomes are only possible through the march of technology. Technology is the handmaiden of future revolutions in daily life. It is due to the effort of thousands of engineers and technicians that we live in the world we do today. We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay.

    (c) Telegranite Corporation 2022

  • Sorry For The Absence

    I was gone for two weeks. My bad. In my defense, I started a new novel and completed more than 50 pages of it before realizing it was not good material for a first novel. Constantly on my mind are images of the literary agent, flipping through his email, burning away submissions sent to him at the speed of light (well, almost). I worry about displeasing this literary gatekeeper. I put myself in his shoes constantly. And when I did this with Survivor’s Triangle, I came to the realization that not only was it going to be a long novel, but it was going to be thematically suspect.

    In other news, I’ve started my diet. I did a day or two in late September, and for October 1 to 7 I’ve been on it. Let me share with you what I eat. For breakfast: 2 granola bars (vanilla yogurt Quaker’s) 150 calories apiece. 300 total. For lunch, condensed mushroom soup: 150 calories. For dinner, a tupperware container of Thai-style stir fry vegetables, raw: 200 calories, I’m guessing. That’s a measly 650 calories a day in total. Someone of my height and build–6’1″ and solid–needs around 2500 calories a day to survive. Plus, I’m walking — to and from the local library and on good days I’ll walk from the pharmacy down to my home on East Hastings.

    I want to be slim top to bottom, and right now I require a little fine-tuning. I let myself slip, my bad, again. I’ve tried dieting before, but failed. Even now sometimes I have these incredible cravings for Thai Chicken wraps or premade burgers available at the Chevron gas station next door to where I live. I want to buy a bottle of 500ml Coke to go along with it. Just writing these words is making me drool in my mouth.

    But I’m quite sexy when thin. I have to get back there again. Any flab is disgusting. Any flab. I’m not leaving this escalator to diet land until I am flat from toe to head.

    Today I went to the Dollarama just down the road to stock up on condensed soups. After not seeing the right kind on the shelves, and scanning, scanning, I finally spotted some in the corner. They had been relegated to a small space and there were only 3 cans remaining. Like, fuck. When I went to the No Frills supermarket next to the Dollarama, I picked up “No Name” mushroom soups at twice the calories I’m used to. I call bullshit.

    I’ve been thinking that my hair might have gotten too long. I’ve become used to the luxury of not going to the barber shop every month or two. My hair grows thick and fast, see, that’s the thing.

    My friend Chris lives in the same building as I do. He is one-handed, having lost fingers on his right hand in the hospital where he almost died. I saw Chris today in the hallway: he was coming, I was going. We were both on the second floor, our home grounds. I chatted a bit, and then left. Craig, the mixed-race cleaner and apartment monitor for the owners, said hello to me. I know this may seem boring, but it’s a window into my life and so I consider it acceptable to write about.

    I lead a simple existence of nobility and ease. It’s not to everyone’s taste: there are no flashy car chases and pitifully few women. I kind of have a girlfriend and that is keeping me from going after other chicks. That, and more reasons on top of that.

    My eyes are starting to look good. Bigger, more penetrating. I was staring at myself in my hand mirror with my glasses off (the glasses shrink the size of the eyes) and saying to myself, not bad, not bad at all. I’m still evolving and changing.

    Sometimes I have trouble breathing and I don’t know why this is. It just started a few months ago. Most of the time I’m fine, and then I’ll seize up and choke on my breath practically. I wonder if this is a medical issue or if it’s an innocent byproduct of the changes I’m going through.

    A year or two ago my left buttocks failed me and I could hardly walk for two weeks. Once, I was in the 7-Eleven nearby my apartment building and I slid down the counter to the floor helplessly. Sometimes I fear my left front tooth has “gone mobile” and is moving. My cunty sister (may she burn in Hell) punched me in the mouth when I was sixteen and we were living in the ancestral suburban house on Cherryhill in Burlington, Ont., and she loosened up my front teeth but good. I hate the females of my family and only get along well with my father, and even with him there have been a series of rocky moments.

    Anyway, that’s enough window into my life for now. I wish you, adieu.

    (c) Telegranite Corporation 2022

  • Add-Ons

    A smiley face button is an add-on to a denim jacket. A new girlfriend is an add-on to your life. A war is an add-on to the misery the planet has to sustain.

    Add-ons. What do they have in common?

    They alter the message of the firmament, without changing the firmament itself.

    Messages … Semiotics teaches us that the medium is the message. Or rather, the medium carries the message, and changes it as it transmits. When you think about it, an add-on is a superimposed symbol that contains its own destruction.

    Not everything in this world is finite. Living things go on reproducing variants of themselves unto the end of time. The planetary system lasts a damn long time, with clouds forming and re-forming overhead, rain sweeping the lands, erosion happening and un-happening. And look: a meteor shower streaked overhead, showing that we are part of a larger system still.

    Add-ons exist in a framework of larger systems. They cannot function without a host, but with a host, they can shine like fireworks.

    This framework of larger systems can be man-made, or it can be partly natural. A shack built on the edge of a gigantic waterfall is an add-on to the natural setting. But, returning to the beginning, a smiley face button is all-fake. It exists at the sufferance of the button-clipper.

    Tons of add-ons can be seen on television. Television commercials may be thought of as conjectoral add-ons to the programs they help support. In many ways, the program is the parasite and the ad-complex is the host.

    Television also shows us virtual add-ons in the screen: in the jeans the characters wear, the cars they drive, even the blender that is whirring in one critical scene in Season 3, Episode 6. The cavalcade of images forms a torrent of add-ons hard to imagine.

    The really insane thing about it is all add-ons started out in the nothingness layer of the universe, and graduated to somethingness in the twinkling of a creator’s eye. What defines the human race as much as speech and communication is the add-ons we encounter, and make, in the rounds of our daily lives. Without them, we are lost.

    — Greg Nikolic