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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 18, 1995)
Tarot reading can’t compete with chocolate
Last Sunday, seeking clarity and
guidance in my life, I went and had
my tarot cards read.
Although previous experiences
with the occult had been negative, I
still had faith. Being in Nebraska
only increased my desire to believe
in alternative realities.
My first brush with the occult
occurred a year after I moved to
Lincoln. Suffering from woods,
hills, and liberal deprivation, I
turned to palmistry and psychics in
hopes that they would see a Ne
braska-free and job-filled world in
Results were disappointing. Four
friends of mine and I showed up at a
psychic’s doorstep on the edge of
town. She opened the door gingerly,
peered out, and yawned as she
ushered us into her incense-filled
living room. She yawned as she told
us that she would see us in a minute,
• and yawned as she guided me into her
office. Her Siamese cat leapt into my
lap and yawned along with her.
“You must be that man’s wife,”
said the psychic, pointing to where my
friend Sam was pacing up and down.
“No,” I said, frowning. I took this
as a bad sign of her abilities.
The psychic shrugged, her long,
glittering earrings jangling. She
pushed her dark hair behind one
ear and asked for a personal
possession. I handed her my purse
and watched avidly as she closed
her eyes and meditated for a while.
Minutes later she yawned and
stretched. The Siamese yawned
and stretched too.
I took this as another bad sign.
Judging from the yawn, my future
did not look terribly exciting.
Neither was her reading. Two
children figured in my future, but
they might or might not belong to
me. I would have a job, but it might
or might not be in the arts. A friend
needed to have a gynecological
exam. Someone called “Tommy,”
who died tragically in a car wreck in
the 1950’s, was trying to reach me
“A cold hand clutched
my heart. Ice cream, or
cream, or the meaning
from the spirit world with a very
Unfortunately, the psychic said
that the message was garbled.
Once again, my search for
enlightenment was foiled. The
psychic stared at me accusingly, as
if it were my fault. Perhaps I simply
didn’t have faith enough to enable
her to successfully communicate
with the spirit world.
Still, I persevered. And when I
heard about the tarot card readings,
1 knew I had to shuffle on down.
It might be my last chance for
clarity and guidance.
From where I sat, I could see the
tarot card reader, and she wasn’t
yawning. She exuded sincerity and
hip heartland values from her black
sneakers to her black glasses and
open, honest Midwest face. She
smiled as she flipped the 20 tarot
cards over for her current customer,
and he smiled back. I relaxed,
leaning into the comfortable paisley
Someone 9l.se sauntered by and
offered me a steaming cup of ctiftee
while I waited. I flipped through the
tastefully arranged books at my side
and read about what Shirley
MacLaine was up to in a previous
After 40 minutes, however, I
became restless. The search for
enlightenment seemed to be taking a
long time. I shuffled my feet
impatiently, and scanned the rest of
the enlightenment customers, to see
how they were taking the wait.
I got to my feet and stood in the
doorway, staring out onto the fresh
October day. From somewhere in
the distance, I heard the soft tinkling
of the ice cream truck.
A cold hand clutched my heart.
Ice cream, or enlightenment? Ice
cream, or the meaning of life?
I glanced back at the table. The
tarot card reader and her customer
were bent over the table, intently
involved in conversation. If I beat it
out the door, I should be able to
make it back in time.
But when I returned, another
woman was sitting in my place. The
tarot card reader glanced at me
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I
looked for you, but you weren’t
here. You’ll have to come back next
I stood there, temporarily
shattered. I was so close, and by my
own carelessness, I had missed out
on clarity and guidance. I headed to
the door, my shoulders slumped
Then I turned to the chocolate.
My spirits lifted as I unwrapped the
frosty bar. The sky was blue, the
birds were singing, and I had
chocolate in my possession.
Somehow, it didn’t seem such a
bad trade-off. After all, psychics
were tricky, and tarot card readers
could get tired. A bar of chocolate
would never let me down.
Enlightenment or ice cream. .
Pick a card.
Cumberland Is a graduate student in
English and a Dally Nebraskan columnist.
Anesthesia opens wide world of wonders
There are probably a bunch of
you out there who have never had
the chance to experience the
wonderful world of anesthesia.
And a wonderful world it is.
Unlike most macho males, 1 am
not one for pain. Nope, I would
much rather do without it.
I’ve been called a wuss for my
lack of endurance of pain — but
hey, if you have a chance to visit the
world anesthesia makes available to
you, you’d be a fool to pass it up.
So, in the name of science and as
a service to my readers, I have,
under various conditions, sampled
that vast world.
There are three basic schools of
anesthesia, and funnily enough, they
are named after geographical
regions. There is local, general and
regional. Huh, go figure.
On my last visit to the dentist to
have a very routine wisdom tooth
extraction, I chose the whole kit n’
kaboodle of local anesthetic options.
So, what do you get when you
combine nitrous oxide (that’s
laughing gas to you and me), a
pretty powerful intravenous
penothol solution, and that old
stand-by novocaine with a really
comfortable reclining chair? A
round trip ticket to La La land for
Call me what you will for not
wanting to feel the dentist rage upon
my poor wisdom teeth — and with
the help of every one of those
ingredients listed above, I surely
Well, actually that might not all
be true. I may have felt it. I may
have been writhing in pain, teary
eyed for all I know — but I sure as
hell don’t remember it, and that’s
just the same to me.
More recently I underwent
another dental procedure. This time
‘"Unlike most macho
males, lam not one for
pain. Nope, I would
much rather do without
my options were restricted to the
I decided to begin my research
here, taking notes even. I wanted to
know how well it did what the
doctor said it would do: “relax you.”
I knew this wonddr-fume was
beginning to do just that, when it
took me about a minute to fully
form the word “yes.”
I came very close to asking my
dentist about the city’s bus sched
ules. And the best part about it was I
was fully aware of my actions.
Regional anesthesia, on the other
hand, is not so “happening.”
After an abdominal surgery a few
years back, the doctors thought —
and thankfiilly so—that I would
benefit from an epidural: morphine
in an IV connected to your back
At the first sign of pain, all you
have to do is push a button and a
VERY adequate amount of mor
phine shoots through your body.
It ain’t no Tylenol.
Finally, there is what they call
general anesthesia, the one I
enjoyed the most, hands down.
General anesthetic with a touch of
basil served in ah IV bag for me,
but hey, personal preference may
General anesthesia is the
medical term used to describe
knocking one cold.
I have told many a friend; the
best feeling in the world is the 10
seconds before and the 10 seconds
after being put under a general
Doctors realize this, which is
why they don’t administer the really
fun drugs until you’ve had a chance
to see all the instruments they plan
on using to cut you like a grapefruit.
When the anxiety becomes
overwhelming, they say, “you
should start feeling something pretty
soon,” and ask you to start counting
backwards from 10.
On eight, you start spinning a
little, on five you begin asking
nurses for the meaning of life, on
three you say, “hey wait, I’ve got a
good joke,” (thinking it may be your
last chance to tell it) and by one —
forget it. Lights out baby.
Some people have reported
feeling queasy or actually vomiting
upon returning to consciousness,
others have told me they experi
enced nightmares and cold sweats.
Not me. I only remember
becoming very inquisitive about
I’d have to say I enjoyed all my
drug induced excursions. The
problem is, you have to get cut open
to (legally) justify the trip.
Taylor Is a Jailor news-editorial majsf"
and a Dally Nebraskan staff reporter.
of humanity’s end
The Unabomber’s manifesto,
all 200k of memory, can be
downloaded from the net. I
have edited it for typos and
numerous problems of gram
mar (as well as length — these
mad bombers do go on so).
Nevertheless, it obviously
represents a good deal of work
for somebody. But as Mr.
Bomber says, everyone needs a
hobby. Here is an excerpt from
a subheading he calls THE
First let us postulate that the
computer scientists succeed in
developing intelligent machines
that can do all things better that
human beings can do them. In
that case presumably all work will
be done by vast, highly organized
systems of machines and no
human effort will be necessary.
Either of two cases might
occur: The machines might be
permitted to make all of their own
decisions without human over
sight, or else human control over
the machines might be retained.
If the machines are permitted
to make all their own decisions,
we can’t make any conjectures as
to the results, because it is
impossible to guess how such
machines might behave. We only
point out that the fate of the
human race would be at the
mercy of the machines.
We suggest that the human
race might easily permit itself to
drift into a position of such
dependence on the machines that
it would have no practical choice
but ter accept all of the machines’
decisions. As society and the
problems that face it become
more and more complex and
machines become more and more
intelligent, people would let
machines make more of their
decisions for them, simply
because machine-made decisions
would bring better results than
Eventually a stage may be
reached at which the decisions
necessary to keep the system
running will be so complex that
human beings will be incapable of
making them intelligently. At that
stage the machines will be in
People won’t be able to just
turn the machines off, because
they will be so dependent on them
that turning them off would
amount to suicide.
On the other hand it is possible
that human control over the
machines may be retained. In that
case the average man may have
control over certain private
machines of his own, such as his
car or his personal computer, but
control over large systems of
machines will be in the hands of a
tiny elite —just as it is today, but
with two differences: Due to
improved techniques the elite will
have greater control over the
masses, and, because human work
will no longer be necessary, the
masses will be superfluous, a
useless burden on the system.
If the elite is ruthless it may
simply decide to exterminate the
mass of humanity. If it is humane
it may use propaganda or other
psychological or biological
techniques to reduce the birth rate
until the mass of humanity
becomes extinct, leaving the
world to the elite.
Or, if the elite consists of soft
hearted liberals, it may decide to
play the role of good shepherd to
the rest of the human race. It will
see that everyone’s physical
needs are satisfied, that all
children are raised under psycho
logically hygienic conditions, that
everyone has a wholesome hobby
to keep him busy, and that anyone
who may become dissatisfied
undergoes “treatment” to cure his
Of course, life will be so
purposeless that people will have
to be biologically or psychologi
cally engineered either to remove
their need for the power process
or to make them “sublimate” their
drive for power into some
These engineered human
beings may be happy in such a
society, but they most certainly
will not be free. They will have
been reduced to the status of
But suppose now that the
computer scientists do not
succeed in developing artificial
intelligence, so that human work
remains necessary. Even so,
machines will take care of more
and more of the simpler tasks so
that there will be an increasing
surplus of human workers at the
lower levels of ability.
On those who-are etnpfoyed,‘
ever-increasing demands will be
placed: they will need more and
more training; they will need
more and more ability; and they
will have to be ever more reliable,
conforming and docile, because
they will be more and more like
cells of a giant organism.
The system will have to use
any means that it can, whether
psychological or biological, to
engineer people to be docile, to
have the abilities that the system
requires and to “sublimate” their
drive for power into some
But the statement that the
people of such a society will have
to be docile may require qualifi
cation. The society may find
competitiveness useful, provided
that ways are found of directing
competitiveness into channels
that serve that needs of the
We can imagine a future
society in which there is endless
competition for positions of
prestige and power. But no more
than a very few people will ever
reach the top, where the only real
Whatever else may be the
case, it is certain that technology
is creating for human begins a
new physical and social environ
ment radically different from the
spectrum of environments to
which natural selection has
adapted the human race physi
cally and psychologically.
If man is not adjusted to this
new environment by being
artificially re-engineered, then he
will be adapted to it through a
long and painful process of
The former is far more likely
that the latter.
It would be better to dump the
whole stinking system and take
The “Manifesto Compleat” is available
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