Notes From The Ant Empire #5

This week the Ant Empire truly lost an icon and a literary genius, Kurt Vonnegut is now enjoying his final reward, his much-deserved rest. I honor the man by refusing to say “he’s up in heaven now.” See, through Vonnegut I learned about the concept of Humanism, a fancy term for a simple thing — the idea of being good without all the saints and hell-fires.

According to Humanism, it is up to humans to find the truth, as opposed to seeking it through revelation, mysticism, tradition, or anything else that is incompatible with the application of logic to the evidence. In demanding that humans avoid blindly accepting unsupported beliefs, it supports scientific skepticism and the scientific method, rejecting authoritarianism and extreme skepticism, and rendering faith an unacceptable basis for action. Likewise, humanism asserts that knowledge of right and wrong is based on one’s best understanding of one’s individual and joint interests, rather than stemming from a transcendental truth or an arbitrarily local source.

But through time, and my own journey-thought, I learned to not give it a name, just let it be. Plus I could never describe it better than Kurt so why try.

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

When I was just a wee lad of 23 I saw him give a lecture at Brentwood High School. He talked of the crush he had on the young Indian clerk at his postal center, how he made a point to only buy one envelope at a time so he would have an excuse to come back again soon, and how his wife found it to be adorable, this from the 70-something author.

Vonnegut could be profound, witty, and tender, often all at the same time.

How can someone write so deeply so entertainingly?

His prose was germaphobe-clean. Quick and concise. When it’s all over and you close the book for good you’re amazed at the result, and don’t know how he did it; like a good magician he makes it look easy.

At least we know that he was prepared for this next stage of his being, his non-being.

“I have experienced what happens when I die, and so have you. We call it sleep.”

Vonnegut was one of those cranky old men that inspired me to pick up the pen in the first place, blame him.

From Galapagos, a little lullaby about the end of the world:

Mere opinions, in fact, were as likely to govern people’s actions as hard evidence, and were subject to sudden reversals as hard evidence could never be. So the Galapagos Islands could be hell in one moment and heaven in the next, and Julius Caesar could be a statesman in one moment and a butcher in the next, and Ecuadorian paper money could be traded for food, shelter, and clothing in one moment and line the bottom of a birdcage in the next, and the universe could be created by God Almighty in one moment and by a big explosion in the next— and on and on.

Good night, Kurt, sleep well — you were a good sport.


It’s a shame Vonnegut didn’t live to see the Marine’s new hybrid helicopter/jet in action.

It’s called the Osprey, a cute, cuddly euphemism for this godless killing machine. I’m sure he would have been impressed with man’s new efficiency at killing other men.

It will be “truly a historic day for your Marine Corps,” said the commander of the Marine Corps, General James Conway, referring to the deployment of the aircraft in Iraq.

“The quantum leap in technology that this aircraft will bring to the fight has been a road marked by some setbacks, lots of sacrifices, and the success of these Marines standing before you today.”

The Marines are planning to acquire some 360 of the aircraft, which cost more than 70 million dollars each, but which they believe can fly higher, faster and farther than their aging CH-46 helicopters which date from the Vietnam War.

My math’s a little rusty, but that’s 25 billion dollars, no?

Then again, what’s money? It’s just a concept; I’ve never seen a gold bar in my life.

Doesn’t it just make you proud to be an American?


What is so attractive about city lights? Is it that they’re bright, and twinkly, and colorful? Or is it that we know they mask an ugly daily-struggle? they hide a brutal face behind a jewelled veil?

Lots of horrible, destructive things are beautiful.

Large waves.
Lindsay Lohan.

Is it the lights? or the concept behind them? The people sleeping, fucking, working, and dreaming in those lights.

So it’s my conclusion that city lights are really only pretty because they are made up of a million miserable souls.


And since we’re talking about concepts:


It has always been a life-long passion of mine to sing along to songs in languages I don’t speak. Japanese maybe.



Ever wonder why moths look drunk at night, why they dart and zig-zag around any sort of light like tiny lunatics?

It’s because artificial light screws with their field of vision something nasty.

The reason we see them swinging around is because their guidance systems are based on a good system that didn’t take into account the invention of modern artificial lighting. These creatures have evolved over millions of years, and suddenly, in the space of less than a hundred, the environment changes radically, and now they’re ill-equipped to deal with these changes.

The eyes of moths and mantises are geared to steering by the moon or stars, with both objects set at optical infinity. Their basic rule of thumb requires them to fly at a specific angle to an optical stimulus.

Our eyes work differently so we can see depth, theirs are geared towards the stars so when a street lamp appears their whole navigation system is thrown into terrible disproportions. As they try to correct it, they slowly descend more into the light, and often their zapped-death.

It’s a modern tragedy on a very small scale.

Cue the tiny electric violins.


I’m a sucker for a sale.

And I mean sucker. If there is a shirt on sale for $15, down from $35, in a trendy store – and it’s just okay, not my favorite, not even really my style, but I kinda dig it – I’ll probably buy it.

Put that exact same shirt at Ross or in a thrift store for $10 and I”ll probably walk away.

It’s about perception, the illusion that I’m getting a good deal.

That I’m pulling something over on them…

Like I said: Sucker.




Is it me, or when you stare at the sun in the first picture it actually starts to burn your pupils a little bit?

Is the sun strong enough to hurt you in a photograph, a memory, a concept?


They got to the part with the cattle and the creeping things
said I’m pretty sure we heard this one before
And don’t it all end up in some revelation
with 4 guys and horses and violent red visions
famine and death and pestilence and war
pretty sure I heard this one before
— The Hold Steady


Los Angeles is a quiet city, until you get on the roads.

Then it’s like a thousand rock and rap concerts on wheels.

When somebody pulls up next to me with the bass pumping and the windows rattling and I feel it through the walls of my car and it’s drowning out my own music, and I begin to feel a pissed-off rage build inside my fiber; I try to remember when I was young and carefree, with spit and vigor of my own, and had just bought Biggie’s first album Ready to Die from The Warehouse and a buddy of mine – which I called homie then – and I drove for five hours, bumping through through the endless  streets of Los Angeles as loud as the standard radio in my stick-shift Honda Civic could go.

That was one of the best nights of my life.


Some people collect priceless artifacts


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