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I just finished a very draining blog, and quickly flipped over to my stats. I have a lot of people reading but not commenting, which is pretty normal….

BUT…

I had 78 people find my site through a websearch for “nude beaches”….

I rarely succumb to acronyms when it comes to digital media, but….. WTF?

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**** This post was originally called “Meth Head”. I was going somewhere completely different with it, with “Meth Head” as the choice over the more pretentious “The Conscious Stream of Unconscious”. I meant to write about a Google search that led me to (not for the first time) before-and-after photos of crystal meth addicts. Turns out the more pretentious title was more apt, since I took a spin over to what was supposed to be the lead-in reference story. A dark spin. But I still find “The Conscious Stream of Unconscious” too douchey, so… ***

Every once in a while (hahahahahahahahHAHAHAHA… right…), I look something up on Google. Usually it’s something innocent, like, “I I wonder if you can see a herd of elephants anywhere on Google Earth?”, “how good is pumpernickel bread for you?”, or “What, exactly, IS a wombat?”. And then, my buddy Google says to me, “Pssssst… look here, yeah, just a little bit down the page…. there are PICTURES down here for you to look at!”. I’m a visual person, so I click on the images link and BAM! More pictures of elephant herds, animals seen on Google Earth, pumpernickel breads and berries and flour with recipes and links to health food sites, and fuzzy little wombats making smiley faces and hiding in Australian shrubs than I could have ever dreamed about! And the kicker is that most of these images are going to have INFORMATION, too! And oh, help me Lord, how I LOVE information! So I open all of the tabs that look interesting and I go from tab to tab, reading the interesting articles and closing the crappy ones, drinking in every image that caught my eye in its thumbnail. It leads to blogs, and articles, and more pictures, and more subjects to look up and then it goes on and on and onandonandonandonandonandon. It’s a stream of conscigoogleness. (I Googled that, and it’s not a word… yet. I call dibs!)

… But… there’s always that ONE PHOTO sticking out there. (One of those things that just doesn’t belong.) It’s funny, or it’s disturbing, or it’s just really neat looking. So I think to myself, “I wonder how THAT is relevant to elephants/pumpernickel/wombats?” (Can you tell me why this thing is not like the others by the time I finish this song?), and I open that image in a new tab. And when I am done learning about the subject of my original search, I pop on over to the new tab, and it’s about raisins/knitting/Optimus Prime.

So naturally, I Google those. And the whole cycle repeats and multiplies until I have about 60 tabs open at the top of my browser, each on a different subject, and you KNOW I need to look at ALL of them, because someday I may NEED to know about quantum theory, or how to make a storm trooper hat out of a milk jug, or someday, when my friends and I are talking about tattoos, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a story about this WORST TATTOO EVER I saw once? (Chuck Norris as a centaur with a rainbow background, in case you are wondering) So, I’m usually stuck there for hours, just because I couldn’t remember just how much salt and lemon you need in the water to make shrunken apple heads, or some such thing (just a dash of each, in case you were wondering, or you can just skip it altogether, if you want brown shrunken apples).

Outside of inane web chatter, outside of the memes and viral videos, advertisements, and blogs/photoblogs that I am starting to feel more and more dependent on, the wealth of knowledge that streams out at you is just too tasty and tempting to turn away. Images, interesting people, world events, facts, rubbish, medical, psychological, and theoretical discourse… these things that I once looked up in a dusty set of encyclopedia are now available in up-to-the-moment findings, and I just… can’t… turn away.

But, every once in a while, something catches my eye that I really just can’t look away from, and my 60 tabs all centre around this one thing.

Last week, I had a bender on the effects of Agent Orange on children still being born in Vietnam to parents exposed to the defoliant, dioxin (Agent Orange). Yeah, I knew about this, read some magazine article or something, once… maybe in social studies, or Reader’s Digest. But Google wouldn’t be Google if it didn’t send me on an image-or-unrelated search…

That search started on something mundane, as usual, and exploded into into a harrowing, gut-churning experience that lasted about three days. (I am going to provide some links to images and video in the rest of this post. It is up to you to follow them or not. The links will describe the contents, so if you don’t think you can handle it, please don’t click.)

At first, you kind of feel like it’s the effect of a Mac distortion tool. Haha! And then it hits you – something is wrong. This isn’t a game. There are melting faces, people who really do have a mirrored face, childrens’ heads that actually do rise up and up as if about to spiral off into infinity. And then, a bucket of mutated fetuses, faces floating on the surface, one with two heads, four arms, one torso, and nothing else. Another baby seems have to have made it to birth, with the same complications. This is not a joke anymore. This is not fun.

Agent Orange. Now I NEED to get into it, dig in, find out what it is. A couple of images of some [excuse me, but..] fucktards dressed up in orange jumpsuits or orange tuxedos, trying to make an awesome, Bond-ish name are quickly overwhelmed by human heads so large that they look about to burst. Withered necks that will never, EVER support the mass of a skull that seems to not be entirely solid, which seems that if you saw it, it would pulse with life around the tiny face that has what can only be described as a zero expression. The cranium appears to be more alive than its host.

Vapid, animal expressions stare out of perfectly formed faces. Faces without eyes hide something inexpressible; intelligence, animal insticts… who can tell from a photo? Beautiful children smile at you and raise their stumps in greeting. Babies hover in formaldehyde. Body parts that usually back up a human head simply don’t exist. Children are tied to beds because they will physically destroy themselves if given use of hands and feet. Bug eyes with lids that can’t blink accompany cone-shaped heads, spindly limbs with knobby joints that turn the bones at angles that almost make your legs hurt; generations of misshapen, tragic, HORRIBLE images line themselves up in soldier-straight lines that march diligently as you scroll and scroll and scroll and watch, and think “where is the line of humanity drawn?” You wonder which is less human; the creatures who flop helplessly around on the floor, drooling, or beating themselves in the head, unable to do so much as eat except by reflex, or the people who twisted DNA in such a flippant manner? The simple, rash act of using a chemical with unknown side effects on the ecosystem, let alone living beings, with the excuse of knocking the leaves off of trees to see an enemy must be less “human”. I believe that a child with no perceivable consciousness of themselves as a human was born as such and can’t be judged.

And then, you see intelligent eyes look longingly at a camera, because as intelligent as the brain those eyes are firing electrons into is, there are no fingers on the arms that can’t bend forward. Heartwarming displays of human triumph rise out of the sea of images: children who learned to write or even play the piano with their feet when their hands failed them, conjoined twins who happily admit that sometimes their doppleganger annoys the piss out of them, but hey, whatchagonnadoaboutit? Those are the stories that do two things to me: fill me with a feeling of helplessness, and hope. So is THAT is the human spirit?

There is a viral video that haphazardly made it’s way into my daily regimen of open Google tabs about two months ago: a small girl whips herself across the floor with limbs that don’t really resemble tentacles but make you think of them anyway, and barks and yips as adult voices urge her on. She madly and seemingly happily scoots across the floor on her bum. My first reaction was pure wonderment: what the heck? My next reaction was a kind of horror: what IS she? what will she grow up into? Is she physically capable of growing up? What can her life expectancy possibly be? Then outrage: how can you treat a little girl, presumably your own child, like a dog, or an object of entertainment? And then… almost ashamedly, a bit of rational humour: no one was harming this kid, and she is obviously enjoying herself, aware that her antics are pleasing people, and she appears to be well-fed, well-clothed, clean, and housed in a home that, in what is presumably Vietnam, appears to be maintained to a middle-class Canadian family. So who am I to judge?

What would I do, if, because of forces completely out of my control, my child was born like one of these kids? I hope that I would be attuned enough to this little being to know what [now this is going to sound weird] level of mental consciousness of itself it had, and adjust to him or her accordingly. What a horrible waste of frustration it would be to expect some kind of self-awareness from someone incapable of it. And, on the other hand, what a horrible waste of human life it would be to assume that there was nothing human in someone incapable of expressing their self-consciousness. When you watch the videos of these second generation Agent Orange victims, you can see that each case is different. Every single child is unique, with different levels of perceivable mental acuity.

You can do more research on your own, if you like – there are literally thousands of images and videos to see. The people who discuss it are, in general, very careful to say that dioxin is “thought to be” the case. THAT is the part that really burns me up: no one can PROVE that this is a result of Agent Orange. Although I am pretty apathetic when it comes to the government of the US or Canada, I just can’t believe that they seem to shunt this situation off so easily. It seems to be universally accepted that Agent Orange , spread over many areas in Vietnam by the US government (you can find footage of soldiers recalling their experiences and hesitancy to drop an untested chemical over so much land and people), and yet, no one can decisively put their finger on it. If only the good old US administration would, once and for all, take a definitive stand on this, then it could be either accepted or refuted, and THEN it could be investigated and understood.

Until then, who knows how many generations will be affected, and who knows how far the abnormalities will spread? No one knows anything about what the causes or effects are. There is the potential for someone who does not appear to have an abnormality to carry it in their genes, and to pass it on to any number of generations.

While I am in favour of genetic mutation and an evolving specie, I think it is best, when it is a human-engineered mutation, to understand the ramifications – especially when it is such a large populace of contributors, with wildly erratic permutations.

I am pretty much written out, but just-real-quick-before-i-change-the-subject-because-if-i-don’t-say-this-as-a-sidebar-it-will-drag-me-off-on-a-new-topic:

Interestingly enough, there are few reports of ecological effects, other than damage still visible to the mangrove forests, and a reduced animal population which extends across all species in the regions sprayed. Numerous Google searches dragged up ZERO images or articles of distorted and mutated animals, or even animals showing bizarre behaviour. Animals seem to have only three different reactions to dioxin: get sick, die, or basically stop producing sperm. So the most real and interesting effect of dioxin must be that it affects humans. What is it about us that makes us react to completely differently to a chemical, if we are, in fact, simply a self-conscious animal?

I have been feeling pretty under the weather lately, cramped into a tiny, over-stuffed house, overloaded at work since two designers have left, out of touch with my girlfriends, weirdly feeling distanced from my ever-loving Mumsy (although I’m pretty sure this is in my head), arms-length from Eric, and generally isolated. I know what it is; I tend to feel bored and overwhelmed at the same time, and I hover at the edge of depression, and then I suddenly plummet in, like some kind of crazy diver doing a spinning, head first kamikaze bomb into a waterless pool. Right now I’m at the spinning, kamikaze part, so I’m filling that pool up as fast as I can. School, NKBA, organizing the house, learning to sew, my daily list… these are all things that I’m using to distract myself right now. Otherwise I get all broody and stuff, and broody Christa really isn’t a lot of fun. Just ask Eric.

Today is the first day of the Thanksgiving weekend, and I am making dinner for an undetermined number of people (I could have three, or I could have eight). Of course, I would cook for Eric, but the REAL point of this is that tonight, I get to meet my [not so] little cousin, Daniel. I haven’t seen Dan since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, and don’t really have any memories of him, except for one isolated incident, where I was pulling him down the street in a red wagon… but that could have been his younger sister, Jackie, too. It was that long ago. I’m pretty sure he has zero memories of me. This will be great, and greatly awkward at the same time.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am about to shove my fist up two chicken’s bottoms (a turkey is simply too big for our little kitchen to handle), and make three or four different kind of potatoes, just because I love them that much. The menu is 20 garlic chicken, beer can chicken on BBQ, mashed potatoes with gravy, crispy potato galette, baked yam chunks with creamy sauce, asparagus, and anything else guests bring. This TG I have decided NOT to make the parts of the meal that people don’t eat (cranberry sauce, salad, peas, brussel sprouts, etc.)… so it’s the guest’s prerogative to bring extras if they want it.

On that note…
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Happy Thanksgiving!
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oh heck, maybe I’ll make peas.