Fear & Loathing in the New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant

I was looking through my old files and came across this piece I wrote one late night in November of 2013. It is a humorous but fully authentic review of my meal at a Chinese restaurant that is sadly no longer in business. I hope it brings you the same sensation of uneasy nostalgia it brings me.

 

Yesterday I felt like having a succulent Chinese meal, so I slid over to the “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant”, it was an experience I shan’t soon forget. The restaurant is situated off Burnside on 4th, bordering a homeless slum. Their menu offers a typical selection of Chinese-American cuisine. I was greeted at the entrance by a shaggy, smelly old tramp from the next door slum. As I moved to step over him he mumbled some sort of apology and quickly shuffled off. Inside the eatery I was met with the grim gaze of a short sultry chinaman seated behind a counter along the back wall, he refused to acknowledge my presence. I assumed this passive attitude implied I was to seat myself. I did so and took the opportunity to survey the establishment.

The first thing that struck me, besides the smell, was the total absence of any other customers. The empty dining room was decorated with the usual nonsense, cheap cardboard cutouts of chinese symbols, floral-pattern mildew streaked curtains, and damp pink tablecloths stained with the marks of countless unwashed spills. The brown felt carpet seemed to be saturated in a foul smelling liquid that made the entire building stank. Precariously situated behind the sultry man at the back was an enormous glass tank which was full of half dead fish. I realized the tank’s turgid water was slowly leaking from its poorly sealed edges and may have been the source of the carpet’s odorous moisture. I must admit I was not very impressed.

After a quarter of an hour or so waiting at my chosen seat, another leaner chinaman with a sour look on his face approached me from the kitchen. He took my order and slunk into the back where he, along with the other sultry man, stared at me for the duration of my meal. I selected the pork fried rice with a side of crispy shrimp and a mysterious dish identified only as “hot meat sauce on egg noodle”. I waited some great length of time before the food was finally placed before me. What I encountered on those plates will remain in my memory for the rest of my days. The shrimp was outwardly recognizable, yet when I bit into one I was surprised to find a profound absence of shrimp. Where the succulent sweet meat should have been there was only a wad of under-cooked bitter batter. This disappointing discovery was repeated with three more shrimp before I gave up. The illusive “hot meat sauce” turned out to be hamburger helper served over a small portion of cold noodles. The substance that claimed to be rice revealed itself to actually be a stale mound of brown vomit permeated by the occasional colored shape which I assumed where once vegetables. Oddly the rice was the best dish of the lot, it tasted vaguely of coconuts and had a scent reminiscent of pond scum that made me wonder if perhaps a sailor was operating the kitchen. I was also given a complimentary bowl of what I initially guessed was soup, however it was actually dishwater with a bit of onion tossed in.  

I could not bring myself to finish any of the food, still I paid the bill ($25, before tip). When I stood to leave the miserable experience, I looked back at the kitchen to thank the server and was met with his cold and suspicious glare, so I just made my way to the door in silence. As I stepped through the threshold back into the musty chinatown air, a woman from the restaurant called out to me. Apparently I had forgotten my umbrella. She held it out and said in broken English “you not get dis till you clean”. I promptly snatched the umbrella and ran. If I was to rate “New Shen Wong Good Taste Restaurant” on a scale of Hitler to Reagan, I would give it an Obama (approximately Stalin+Hitler-Napoleon=Thatcher/Clinton). So when you walk the streets of chinatown looking for some good taste, think twice.

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A Cautionary Ramble Concerning Scientology

Scientology is an elusive and bizarre “religion”. It has been the center of numerous controversies and scandals and is notable for its fervent and aggressive struggle to maintain its precarious public image. Most people who know of the “church” are aware it was founded by one L. Ron Hubbard and that it is followed by a great many celebrities, yet there is an unfortunate abundance of frankly horrifying and disturbing pieces to this confused organization that are important to be aware of.

Scientology has received a fair amount of attention in the media due to its outlandish propaganda and celebrity influence. Some of this coverage has been objective and some has been negative. Most media accounts are sensationalized and provide little information that actually protects people. This is why I feel it is worth my time to write this article, because people are being hurt by this organization and if I am able to inform anyone about things that can save them from any harm then I have done a worthy thing.

Scientology is centered around an intentionally vague and confusing spiritual belief system. It is not based on the explicit worship of a god, rather it is intent on the development of some abstract spiritual body and mind which all people possess. They claim all sorts of strange things about how our lives are affected by this spiritual body and offer means to achieve some twisted sort of enlightenment. They claim that their means of spiritual cultivation is based on legitimate scientific fact. Really it is based entirely on the pseudo psychological ramblings of L. Ron Hubbard as found in his many published books, essays and presentations. The foremost work in this ill-conceived collection is Dianetics. This book lays out Hubbard’s fundamental views of human nature and psychology. It suggests many farcical methods to improve oneself, of these the principal method is something called “auditing”.

Auditing is a warped form of religious confession, it involves the participant voicing things they are ashamed of or that are embarrassing or secret while connected to a device called and “e-meter”. These fanciful devices supposedly measure some sort of spiritual energy field. In all actuality it simply measures the electrical resistance between two low voltage conductors and the participant’s skin. The important thing to take note of with this auditing practice is the sensitive nature of the material is requires participants to discuss. It has been revealed by escaped members of the church that auditing sessions are secretly recorded and kept in a vast archive of individual’s most secret secrets. This is used to blackmail members who are uncooperative or who attempt to leave or expose the true nature of the church. This is only one of the more obvious measures the church takes to preserve itself and subjugate its members. This also stifles any legitimate information or insight being exposed from within the church.

It is easy enough to avoid directly involving oneself with the religious/spiritual aspects of scientology but that is only one facet of an immense extortionary establishment. There are countless scientology run operations claiming to offer all sorts of services from communication classes to financial accounting. All of these fronts will go to immense lengths to pressure you into turning over as much money as they can. If someone is offering a “free self help seminar” or some such similar program, class, session or group experience it is wise to question and act with caution especially before offering personal information and signing any documents or agreeing to any payments. Once you are in their space they will employ merciless psychological tactics to damage your judgement and create a sense of obligation and unworthiness. In another sense they will attempt to condition you to be predisposed to their bidding and will.

These claims may seem dramatic and unnecessarily condemnatory, I can only assure you of my conviction in all that I have said. I am not attempting to entertain, only to warn anyone who may come across this unfortunate cult. I encourage everyone to do some research and read the testimonies of those who have escaped scientology. One glance at  scientology’s official website and you should be able to appreciate the absurd nature of their organization. Please operate with sensible caution and protect others by warning them to stay clear of scientology and their related schemes. Let there be no more suffering at the hands of this delusional institution.

Stay the fuck away

Stay the fuck away.

Quid Est Ergo Tempus

The marking of time is a practical abstraction.

Classically ordered societies are easily set to benefit from a common standard of linear progression, with invented units to provide a measurement of change.

A few cultures take special appreciation in the passing of what are decided to be larger units of time.

It is a uniquely human characteristic to be so enraptured by an invisible creation which has no effect on the rhythms of the universe, but which merely provides a limited means of definition and confined measurement.

Though the measurement of time effects only our now narrow perception, its symbology can be powerful.

Indeed the marking of time in invented units is a symbol in and of itself, pure in intention and potentially profound.

As with all things, let us not be too taken and misled by a mistaken notion that our measurement of time is truth.

Let our understanding be well reasoned and implicately appreciated in honest conjunction to the perfection of our reality.

A Case For The Moon

I am of the distinct opinion that space travel in its various forms and intentions represents the pinnacle of humanity’s enlightened achievements. No other endeavour has proved as challenging and profoundly rewarding as our tentative forays into the infinite expanse beyond our humble world. The accomplishments we have made in the pursuit of expansion and knowledge in space are incredible, yet all our efforts have been of a rather limited scope in contrast to the sheer enormity of the cosmos. We have barely begun to explore our solar system with any degree of depth and have not sent people any further than our nearest celestial neighbor. Though what has been accomplished is incredible and speaks to the absolute best our species is capable of, it is time to become bolder in our striving for the stars.

The opportunities available in space are as limitless as space itself. Means by which to seize this opportunity have been available for considerable time now. Humanity possess technology able to perform things that had not even been imagined ten or twenty years ago. The last Moon landing of the Apollo program took place 43 years ago, the technology they used to carry out that astounding mission would seem laughably arcane to a child of today. And yet they did it, they went to the Moon. We have such a technological abundance that to carry out a mission similar in scope to the Apollo landings today would be a complete waste of our immense resources. We are now in an age when our extraterrestrial exploits must be grander and more ambitious merely to keep up with the ability of our technology.

Despite this new technological abundance and ability there are more fundamental constrictions to true large scale space exploration and exploitation. Even with the advanced systems we have today, moving significant amounts of material off the earth is a serious and demanding challenge. Developments such as a space elevator or laser propulsion system would make this task more easily accomplished but limitations will always be inherent. This makes the delivery of large volumes of resources an unviable option for space endeavours. Such restriction makes the establishment of large scale space colonies and vehicles or interplanetary bases seem impossible. Fortunately this is an easily circumvented problem.

The Earth possess incredible elemental resources that have allowed our species to flourish, but it has been established that transporting significant volumes of these resources is fundamentally problematic. The solution is simple, use the resources that are already abundantly available in space. We need not go far to find them, indeed we have already sent men to the nearest depository of raw useable materials in space. The Moon. If we are ever to explore more of our solar system and beyond we must use the resources of the Moon.

The moon is the perfect platform for humanity to begin its journey outward into the majesty of the universe. To get there we need not develop launch systems of any immense complexity to the ones we already have. Sending enough materials to begin extracting and refining the Moon’s abundance of useful resources will be infinitely more efficient and economic than sending those same resources from the earth. Aluminium, gold, cobalt, iron, palladium, platinum, tungsten, oxygen, hydrogen and helium-3, a gas that can be used in future fusion reactors to provide nuclear power without radioactive waste, are all present in the Moon. Using robotic construction equipment and next generation 3D printing techniques, support structures and large habitats can easily be manufactured. Lunar regolith, the dusty material which covers most of the Moon, can be manufactured into an impressively durable concrete like material or can be used to form the basis of huge solar panel installations. Indeed, between the helium-3 and solar energy potential, the Moon has the ability to solve the energy crisis. The Moon’s ⅓ earth gravity makes the launching of interplanetary craft all the more practical and efficient. Spacecraft can be constructed on the Moon primarily using Moon resources with more complex and specialized equipment being shipped from Earth. These spacecraft can then be launched using ⅓ the fuel that would be needed to propel them from the Earth. This allows for much more ambitious exploration and eventually the colonization of other planets in our solar system. As this becomes more achievable so too does the ability to reach other stars. While the technology for that level of exploration is still developing, the technology to utilize the moon has been present for quite some time.

This is not a fantasy, it is a hope and an ambition that is completely legitimate and reasonably achievable. The attitudes surrounding space travel are generally positive, as they should be for such a positive thing, but the politics are confusing and convoluted. Economics for the sake of economics leads to dramatic de-scaling of spaceflight endeavour and intention. Public interest is essential, for everyone who cares about space travel it is your duty to let your interest be known and your affirmation be clear. Without interest the hopes of humanity we be left to slowly crawl along, burdened by policies which give little regard to Human advancement. Given enough attention and serious consideration however, the clear benefits of this noble exercise will become apparent to all people and our potential for greatness will be swiftly be realized.

Obscured Social Pursuits

Within the parts of the world where infrastructure is secure, food abundant and the people free, many become concerned with trivialities. These largely superficial concerns of the educated and well fed masses take on a bizarrely disproportionate value. Some of the concerns are rooted in legitimate grievances, such as gay rights and institutional sexism. Those are serious problems that infringe on the quality of many people’s lives. The strange thing that seems to so often occur within the affected communities of these issues is a total abstraction of the real intention and point of it all. Instead of seeking to create a just and reasonably equal society where people are not punished for characteristics beyond their control, many people want to be specially recognized and given exemptions to various conventions of society. Now none of this is true for all of the people involved with these matters, but there is a significant enough group of these demanding individuals that I believe it merits attention. Now when making observations on these people’s behaviors it is tempting to simply dismiss them or address them rudely for the sake of comedy, a fair impulse given the often unintentionally comedic nature of their exploits. However this is not a productive means of accomplishing anything, to aggravate the “community” of particular righteous individuals in such a way would only serve to strengthen their misplaced ideals and stall any effort to amend their approach to social justice. Now the people of which I speak have no official structure, they can be found anywhere. They do not have any consistent forms of identification. The thing that makes them distinct is their bizarre and often unproductive approach to the various social inadequacies present in industrialized and civil societies. Instead of seeking unification and all embracing appreciation for all people regardless of their condition, they want very explicit identifications for themselves and public acknowledgement of their unconventional behaviors/thoughts/beliefs/interests. Many of the things they claim to seek affirmation for are simply false constructions, likely made to make the individual feel special. They will demand ridiculous things such as “LGBTQFOCHZ only spaces” or to include imaginary pronouns on official documents such as licence and job applications. When these demands are not met or people refuse to recognize their fantasies as reality they often retaliate with anger and extreme self righteous indignity. The trouble with these types of people is their insistence that they are fighting for legitimate social issues. This makes it difficult to decry their absurd arguments as doing so would make you seem a bigot. I believe it is essential to end this immature behavior as it inhibits genuine progress. If genuinely bigoted people choose to do any research on the matters of their contempt they will likely find an abundance of this insincere and provocative trash. This encourages negative attitudes towards oppressed groups and no positive change occurs. I have seen in my personal circle of acquaintances some disturbingly misogynistic opinions inspired by the aggressive and misguided actions of radical feminists. Every person is responsible for their own thoughts and actions, I do not seek to blame feminists for sexism or convoluted pronoun users for trans-phobia. Nonetheless if you are a part of a minority group and you choose to be exceptionally public with your thoughts and ideas about social justice issues, you must expect people to take some notice and to form opinions on what you say. The more radical and obscene your message, the more radical an opinion people will have. Instead of seeking to further divide humanity with the addition of sixteen different genders and extra bathrooms for queer students in schools and a myriad of social distinctions and denominations for the fantastical imaginings of one’s identity, let us embrace ourselves for what we truly are, human. Gender and sexuality are legitimately inconsequential. Rather than make these things the center of our highly individualized identity we ought to consider them unimportant and natural characteristics. Recognize each other for the beauty of our ambitions and ability to love. Doing so will overcome all unnecessary animosity and strife. Love and honesty are the true means to a fulfilling existence.

Orion Flight Test

This is the first of what will be many writings concerning space travel. I am utterly captivated by the beautiful endeavor that constitutes our species foray into the cosmos. Suffice it to say that I find spaceflight, especially manned spaceflight, to be one of the most significant undertakings of the human race. NASA’s current focus regarding manned spaceflight has almost entirely concerned the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and its accompanying heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System. On the morning of December 4th 2014 a day from this posting, the Orion capsule will be launched on its first unmanned test flight Exploration Flight Test 1. The capsule will be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV heavy rocket and complete 2 orbits with an apogee of 3,600 miles and a return velocity of 20,000 miles per hour. This test will provide critical data concerning the heat shield and landing/recovery systems. This is a great moment in history as this is the first flight of a crew rated space vehicle intended for beyond low earth orbit exploration since the Apollo program in the 1960/70’s. A live broadcast of the launch and flight activities will be aired on NASA TV available to watch on NASA’s website. If you are an American citizen you deserve to know where your tax dollars are being spent. The space administration is a civilian program that belongs to all Americans and whose discoveries are the heritage of all mankind. I encourage everyone to check out this incredible mission and to engage in all the astounding things underway in the space community.

Exploration_Flight_Test-1_insignia

Of the Many Neglected Things, I Write About Pipe Organs

Pipe organs are musical instruments that produce sound by driving pressurized air through pipes controlled by a keyboard. Each pipe can only produce one note so pipe organs tend to be exceptionally large. The more pipes the more variety of sound, the larger the pipes the louder the sound. As such a well equipped organ that is intended to fill a large area with sound will be utterly immense by instrumental standards. Indeed the pipe organs are the largest musical instruments ever constructed. Pipe organs were invented by the ancient Greeks and were adapted for use in cathedrals and churches by later western cultures. The majority of remaining pipe organs are still found in cathedrals and churches. Pipe organs are special instruments. Each one is unique due to the difference in structure, materials and location between them. They can possess the aural qualities of multiple orchestras with different sections of pipes emulating instruments such as violins, trumpets, oboes, cellos, flutes and clarinets all from a single mighty instrument. The beauty and complexity of this sound cannot be truly matched by any other instrument. Electronic organs have served to replace the easily damaged and expensive genuine articles and as such have hugely contributed to the decline of pipe organs across the world. The distinction between an electronic organ and a true pipe organ is similar to the disparity found in film regarding the use of computer graphics over practical effects. Pipe organs are irreplaceable and precious things that can provide an unparalleled musical experience. But they are endangered. As it was said, the majority of pipe organs reside in cathedrals or churches and are reserved for religious use. There was a time in America when organs gained a wider popularity and were built for secular enjoyment, unfortunately many of these organs have been damaged, destroyed, sold for scrap or otherwise lost. The few that do remain receive little public attention and no significant assurance of protection. The largest pipe organ ever built was the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This inspiring musical engineering achievement was severely damaged by a construction worker during renovations to the hall it is located in and was not repaired. The cost of repairing and maintaining the organ was deemed to high and the organ remains abandoned. The largest functioning organ is the Wanamaker department store organ in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This majestic instrument has survived due its peculiar location inside of a department store which is now owned by Macys. The organ is played twice daily and is the focus of several annual music festivals. These national treasures deserve respect and care as do all pipe organs across the world. It is my belief that pipe organs symbolize one of the greatest musical achievements of humanity. I hope that future generations have the privilege of experiencing the powerful and enchanting tones that only a real pipe organ can create. In this time of change and transformation it is important to embrace new ideas, but equally important to retain the success of the past. Let the noble pipe organ be recognized for its awesome ability and have it serve as an example of our species’ incredible power to create divine implements of expression.

A Note On Paradigm Shifts

To those living in industrialized and well connected nations it may come as no surprise to be told that the world is in quite a peculiar state. The human species finds itself plagued by a myriad of inadequacies. While some suffer the pain of starvation others suffer the devastation of war, every person across the earth has some grievance great and small. It is similarly unsurprising to be told that this is entirely unnecessary. Of the many problems to be solved by humanity the simplest are surely the ones involving our own pointless troubles. This is particularly important in this moment because right now humanity stands at the edge of immense change. The technologies available to us now enable us to achieve things we have not yet even imagined. With this technology and a rational loving spirit, humankind will bring itself into an age of unprecedented prosperity. The immediate steps necessary for this to occur are intuitive and essentially effortless. Individuals must seek to think objectively with love for all people regardless of all circumstance and to view the world as it is without superimposing imagined truths. It is crucial for Individuals to live in the moment and to discard old understandings on the nature of reality. A truly beautiful future is becoming swiftly apparent and it is all people’s responsibility to make it present. Love is important above all else as it is only by genuinely loving each other we will be able to operate effectively in this imminent future.

I love you.