Aliens, Death Threats and a Free Flight to Brazil

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“I am willing to pay your way to face me, not because you believe in aliens, but because you’re an obnoxious asshole that needs to be shown your actions have consequences. In this case it is pain, mutilation and a lifetime of regret.”

In 2011, I uploaded a post about crop circles. While I don’t necessarily believe crop circles are made by extraterrestrials, I did think that the one in the video was particularly amazing, and figured it’d be a decent way to start up a discussion on aliens. Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy discussing life outside our planet? I didn’t receive any comments until a year later, when a user by the alias of ‘slrman‘ called me stupid for believing in aliens. A harmless debate ensued, where he persisted in calling me names in a lame attempt to get me to ‘prove’ that aliens existed, which I admitted I could not. An average night out on the internet, right?

Eventually ‘slrman’ – a 70-year-old man called James Smith – became so infuriated with me that he offered to pay my way to João Pessoa, Brazil (where he lives) so that I could meet him face to face and tell him that I believe in aliens, oh, and so he could beat the shit out of me for holding that belief. With nothing better to do, I decided to humour him. I wanted to find out if his intentions on buying me a plane ticket to Brazil were genuine, and besides, I figured I could use a holiday. Continue reading

The Dark World of Balinese Cockfighting

philippines-el-nido-cock-fightingWords by Michael Cunningham. Photos by Albert Retief.

On an otherwise uneventful day in Bali, I found myself standing in the sweaty crowd of an illegal cockfight. Being the only white person present, I was left wondering what I was doing there, and more importantly, why I was betting money.

I know many of you reading this are already reaching for your pitchforks and blazing torches, and that’s ok. Cockfighting is a dirty sport, and one that probably shouldn’t exist, but the reality is that it does. I only knew of its occurrence through word of mouth prior to my first hand experience of it, and even then I compartmentalised it in a section of my brain I like to call ‘things that exist that I pretend don’t exist’ , and imagined it would do a life sentence there. However, when I was standing in front of that pit, watching two roosters fight to the death in a very violent display, I was forced to re-evaluate my entire outlook on reality, especially the dark side of it that I had simply chosen to ignore.

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Guide to Vice Magazine

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Here’s my take on Vice‘s 311-page “best of” edition, covering all 72 issues from 2003 to 2008. If this is their best of the best, I wanted to see how good it really was.

I’ll be covering the first 100 pages, which contain three sections: ‘Vice Guides,’ sex, and lastly, drugs. Each Vice article will have a short review along with a link to the original article (hyperlinks in the titles) so you can check it out for yourself and form your own opinion on whether it’s good or not.

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Guide to Writing Fiction

Plot Fist

 

‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.’
– Somerset Maugham

A plot is the skeleton of a story, and is therefore essential to any work of fiction. If you plan on writing a story without a plot, don’t even expect your mother to read it, yet alone the rest of the world. In this guide, we’re going to outline a bulletproof formula to plan and establish a solid plot for your story. This system was developed by James Scott Bell, author of the book Plot & Structure, and is very easy to remember – it’s called the LOCK system.

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Psychedelic Mushrooms and You, Part Two

179959_10150810511001301_1252803218_n (1)“A psychedelic experience is a journey to new realms of consciousness. The scope and content of the experience is limitless, but its characteristic features are the transcendence of verbal concepts, of spacetime dimensions, and of the ego or identity. Such experiences of enlarged consciousness can occur in a variety of ways: sensory deprivation, yoga exercises, disciplined meditation, religious or aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously. Most recently they have become available to anyone through the ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT etc. Of course, the drug does not produce the transcendent experience. It merely acts as a chemical key — it opens the mind, frees the nervous system of its ordinary patterns and structures.” – The Psychedelic Experience

This is an extension to my earlier post Psychedelic Mushrooms and You, which covered the process of finding, identifying, drying, and storing magic mushrooms found in the wild. That guide was written with the intention of making psychedelics more readily available to those seeking it with the hope that the information might open doors for those who were wanting to explore different planes of consciousness and not just get high for kicks. It also served the purpose of helping others become more capable in avoiding poisonous lookalikes, thus avoiding potential unnecessary deaths. Psychedelics can be a real game changer as far as your life is concerned; they can be fun, exciting, playful, weird, tense, frightening, expanding, contracting and everything else on the spectrum. At times taking psychedelics can be like putting your mind under under a microscope, or plugging it into an amplifier – it can and probably will confront you with yourself, and this can either enlighten or frighten the shit out of you depending on your level of preparation. It is for this reason that it is important to treat psychedelics with a great deal of respect, and one way of doing this is to mentally prepare yourself for the experience before you have it.

Note: a lot of the photos in this post were taken on an amazing mushroom trip I had in the spring of 2012, whilst road ‘tripping’ with two close friends through the great alpine road in a rented winnebago, which we affectionately named the ‘dojo’.

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Child Development 101 – History and Theory

The last subject we covered in university before I dropped out was child development – an area of psychology overflowing with zany theories and crazy ideas (cough, Freud, cough). In all seriousness though, child development is one of the most interesting topics in psychology to learn about and is also, arguably, the most important, as just about everything that we think and do today as adults has its roots dug firmly in our childhood.

While it might be too late for you to change your past, with some fundamental training in developmental psychology you should be able to raise your current or future children the best way they can be raised. Also, knowing how your past has shaped the person you are in the present is essential to mending history’s mistakes and moving on so that when the time comes to have children you are better equipped for the challenge. First, like with most things in life, we have to start slow, that is we gotta talk about the history! Walk with me, take the blue pill, and listen closely while I explain to you the fascinating story of psychology’s obsession with children, and their life journey from birth to neurosis.