Another clueless, airhead model

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Zombies of Dungpileton - Chapter 1

A meeting with the Director of Intelligence of the National Security Agency (NSA) couldn’t fully occupy Race Banner’s thoughts at this stage in his life as he drove to the headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.  He was one month away from retirement and in no mood to chit chat with another bureaucrat.  After thirty years in obscurity with the NSA, behind the scene involvement in some of his country’s darkest operations, he was ready to live life as a normal citizen.  Jokingly called the Nerd Assassin by his friends, Race was the go-to man with the knowledge to infiltrate the world of rogue governments and take out their scientists.  Now he was one month away from a new life cultivating medical marihuana on his farm south of Santé Fe, New Mexico. This thought always solicited a smile; his little secret, an act of defiance to counter the thirty years of blind allegiance to his country.  It was his time to call the shots now, to have the final say in the direction of his life.   His vehicle’s presence was detected one mile from the NSA headquarters after entering the fort.   Pole mounted cameras followed his movement into the parking lot and instantly scanned his retinas for identification. Fingerprint scans and voice analyzer allowed him access beyond the receptionist at the front desk.  This was level one entry for the basic NSA operative.  To gain access to the bowels of the headquarters, to the offices that don’t exist, required the swabbing of his inner cheek for an instantaneous DNA identification that was undeniable. 
At this level it was not unusual to meet in a spartan office with only one table and two chairs.  It sent a message of getting to the point.  What was unusual was the team of 4 lab-coated scientists standing behind the Director, Lt. General Michael Langeford (Ret.) as he sat facing Race.  Race had only the vaguest recognition of one scientist, someone he recalled working with on a failed mission to clone Kim Jong-il and replace the North Korean despot after he was kidnapped by Navy Seals.  As he sat, Race still believed it unlikely he would get another assignment so close to the end yet that notion faded when Langeford slid a folder towards him with Level 5 Top Secret stamped on its front; the highest security level.

Langford broke the silence. “It is a pleasure and an honor to meet you agent Banner.  He dispensed with introducing the scientists.  Despite the general's efforts, Race easily detected in his voice a dreading mannerism.  This was serious, more than the typical assignment to remove another lab rat in Iran or China.  The scientists remained silent as the general continued.  “You are familiar with the Zombie Parasite?  Race nodded.  The Zombie Parasite was a genetically modified variant of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite with the remarkable ability to alter the brain of infected rats, making them attracted to the urine of cats and in the process inclined to be captured and eaten.  When eaten, the parasite finds its way to the gut of the cat where it flourishes and lays eggs which are expelled in the urine to continue the life cycle when new rats detect and lick it up.  Race had peripheral knowledge of the project’s success of altering the parasites’ DNA to make it seek out the brain of people who unknowingly ingested it in food.  Preliminary results showed that once infected, the human entered a zombie state and immediately imprinted on the first person in its sight.  In this state the zombie followed every order from its master without question.  There were rumors that Al Qaida prisoners were infected with the parasite and once imprinted, were fitted with a vest of C4 explosives and a detonator and allowed to rejoin their brethren in Pakistan.  Success was spotty as detonation of the vests occurred more often than not in public areas but this was explained away as callousness on the part of militants.   There was no concrete answer as to why the zombie blindly obeyed its master to the detriment of its own life.  Speculation had it the parasite accepted this as a symbiotic relationship where eventually it would encounter a large population and enhance the odds of passing on eggs through its urine. 

Scientist no. 1 spoke up.  Mr. Banner, we are at the point where there is a need to observe the parasite’s interaction with other infected individuals in a large population, say 20,000 people.  Scientist number two explained further.  To infect a large population in an aggressor’s country would not allow us to tightly monitor or control the movement of the infected.  In short, we could not guarantee that imprinting would occur with a reliable master.
What we need from you, the general interjected, is to recon a town in the United States that is a perfect laboratory for the next level in this experiment.  A town where the citizens average IQ is below the national standard.  Where people would be oblivious to manipulation or not have the wherewithal to question any change in their pathetic existence. 

“Have you found such a town?” Race asked. 

Yes replied the general.  The town is called Dungpileton, Texas.  Noting that Race raised an eyebrow upon hearing this, the general asked “Have you heard of this town?” Race replied that he did and thought to himself, “who hasn’t”?


Dungpileton, Texas.  A mid-size town of 20,000 residents on the Texas Gulf Coast, fifty miles southeast of Houston.  Founded in 1890 by Thaddeus Angleton, the town took its name from the byproduct of  cattle and horse feedlots throughout the county of Brazoia which used the city as its repositories. Periods of boom and bust followed for decades thereafter until the state sent in the Texas Rangers to set fire to the mountainous piles of dung in an attempt to eradicate diarrhea, typhoid, scabies, cholera, and intestinal parasites which ran rampant within the ghettos of the dung workers or dungies.  With their livelihood destroyed the dungies regrouped to build the low paying, non-union businesses now prevalent in modern Dungpileton or what passes for modern.  The denizens however, never lost their love for dung.  It is their city motto - Fimus est rex rgis. Porro ago rex”!  Translated, it means “Dung is king.  Long live the king”! 

Even by East Texas standards, dungies are crude and backwards thinking dullards.  This reputation is a source of pride and exploited as a huge source of revenue by way of tourism.  The annual Dung parade and crowning of Miss Dung draw in tens of thousands of paying tourists so it is imperative the city keeps up appearances.  The true power behind Dungpileton is a consortium of families that decide who will be mayor and city council members (always men) because family members are the only ones who remember to vote in general elections.  Keeping in line with females of the state Republican Party, the women of Dungpileton are born into a Stockholm Syndrome of acquiescence to the patriarchs of the ruling families. The families also decide who will be clergy of the churches and members of the police force with the latter paid with stock in national donut chains.  If one looks at Dungpileton as if living in a bubble then it is fair to say there is no corruption.  The tightly controlled gambling, prostitution and meth businesses are seen as matter of fact because the citizens believe this is the way it has always been.  The arrangement is not without its consequences.  With a wink and a nod from the Texas Education Agency, the Dungpileton independent school district produces an assembly line of graduates with a thinking capacity one could posit as functionally retarded.  In a state that is number one in health uninsured, Dungies have the highest per capita rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and communicable diseases.  The mayor, Thad Angleton IV, never forgets to tell any stranger he holds the patent for a padded arm rest on shopping carts to allow Dungie shoppers some measure of comfort as they lean on their carts for support; a walk popularly known as the shopping cart shuffle.    

Road Trip

I would not call this a vacation, more like an exercise in endurance to cram as much as possible into a week and 3000 miles which included 2 days of driving.  

Dungpileton to Lubbock, TX (maybe just as bad) to Grand Junction, CO.  I make the same trip to Lubbock ~ 3-4 times a year for the last 13 years to visit Andrea Hurlow and her son Josh Carpenter.

 I always expect hiking when I visit Rob and Sue Graham in GJ.  With my fibro under control I'm in better shape to hike despite coming from the flat lands.  This was in the Colorado National Monument.  Rob and Sue are fittness trainers at Mesa St. University.  I learned from Rob the muscle I strained on our hike was the Soleus - below the calf.  I got over it.

Plants, always plants along the way.  On the hike it blew my mind to find a columbine on the dry slopes because I've always encountered it in cooler high elevations, the shade or on moist north slopes.  The flower turned out to be Mancos Columbine, an endemic to this area.

In Closing:

                                                                       Joshua Carpenter


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gay Day in Houston

What started out as volunteering at an information table for the Houston Atheists morphed into a nascent observation of the LGBT crowd on Saturday at the Houston Gay Pride Parade grounds adjacent to Montrose St., the main route of the parade.  As much as I wanted to otherwise, the constraints of time and distance from Angleton, TX (70 miles) necessitated spending only four hours at this celebration and long before the actual parade at 7:00 pm.

As I neared the the Montrose District there were signs of festivities as young, uninhibited men walked about; toned, shirtless and wearing speedos.  Parking the vehicle several blocks away, I walked into the main venue where dozens of tables were set up including that of the Houston Atheists.  I introduced myself to Julie and in a few minutes to Mellie and Jimmy, the latter being the table organizer and a proud Gaytheist.  I settled in, parroting Julies’ spiel to the curious about the Houston Atheists being the largest community in the country and a social organization for atheists and freethinkers who could enjoy the company of like-minded folks without the stigma of being labeled everything from immoral to Satanists by forgiving believers.  From here I could people watch, taking in the diversity of the LGBT community for the first time in my life.  My encounters with gay Americans I could count on one hand.  They were always somewhere I wasn’t and my somewhere was usually in an intolerant community which adhered to the stagnant malaise of religious edict.  As an atheist and an outsider I felt a common struggle with the LBGT community.  Only now is society accepting them as legitimate Americans, free to love and marry whomever they wanted in a growing number of states and also free to defend my country in the military.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Atheists now are the recipients of the last great prejudice in this country.  After all, Houston has a lesbian mayor.  Would the denizens of Houston be so inclined to elect an atheist for mayor?

After an hour and a half of handing out information I ventured out, observing the crowd and every shape and size of people therein no matter straight or gay.  Despite the boldness of attire or lack thereof the same cultural rules applied – those with great bodies displayed more skin and those, shall I say less toned chose to wear more apparel.  Yes, there were the stereotypical flamer but other men you would not give a second look walking down the street.  In what was considered bold for me, I sought out gay men and lesbians who were sitting in the shade to ask their views on the current state of acceptance in this country.  All were cordial and polite and the replies centered basically on the same opinion that the country is moving towards acceptance of the LGBT community, albeit slowly, as equal Americans and in the near future same-sex marriage will be legal in all states.  


Some of the vendors hawked merchandise, some solicited petitions to give the poor more rights but one I happened upon was as paradoxical as you could encounter – The Log Cabin Republicans.  According to their website the LCR are conservative, moderate and libertarian Republicans, including LGBT Americans and our straight allies.  They are united by the belief that inclusion wins and that the GOP is stronger when it does not alienate LGBT people or their friends and family through antigay rhetoric and policies.  The men at the table were smartly dressed, well groomed and very much with an appearance counter to their brethren walking about.  I resisted the urge to debate Roger, gay and black and truly a minority within a minority within the Republican Party.  Instead I asked how he reconciled his core beliefs with that of the anti-gay national platform of the Republican Party.  He echoed nearly verbatim from the LCR web page; a mishmash of statements that would make the reader believe they were in a perpetual state of Stockholm Syndrome. Roger cited his concern for national security and the failed fiscal policies of President Obama.  You would get a repeated reply from any republican but I couldn’t wrap my mind around why this organization existed at all.  Shifting the ideology of the Republican Party to accept gays and lesbians as equal citizens was noble enough but why affiliate with a party determined to keep them as second class citizens?  Later I explored the LCR web page further; looking at an interactive map of the states which gave information on LGBT public officials or as they were called: “OutLGBT Public Officials.  According to the map Texas has 27 but none in the U.S. congress.  Looking over other Red States I saw the following:

                                    OK      UT       KS       MS       AL       MT      AZ       LA       WV
US Congress:              0          0          0          0            0          0         0          0          0
State Legislature         1          0          0          0            1          3          5          0          0
State Executive            1          4          1          0            1          0          3          1          1
Other                             1          2          1          1            0          3          6          2          2

Missing from the map is which LGBT public official is a Democrat, Republican or other party affiliation.  I’m willing to bet there are no republican LGBT public officials.  Granted, the affiliation of Democratic LGBT public officials may be paltry but there is not a concerted effort by the Democratic Party to purge all LGBT candidates from its ranks.

What I saw today was a microcosm of our future society - inclusion of same sex men and women as equal loving partners.  Despite the money and power of haters wanting to turn society's clock back , there is no turning back.  Time is on the side of the LGBT community.