Monday, March 27, 2017

John Lydon Bucking For Discordian Sainthood?

"Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten backed Brexit and called former UKIP leader Nigel Farage "fantastic" in a TV interview Monday.

"The working class have spoken and I'm one of them and I'm with them," Rotten said on ITV's Good Morning Britain.

He said that after Farage's encounter with Bob Geldof before the Brexit vote — when the two led opposing flotillas along the Thames, shouting insults at each other — "I wanted to shake his hand because it was silly beyond belief."

The "Pretty Vacant" singer was also asked about U.S. President Donald Trump and said he was a "complicated fellow" but blamed the "left-wing media" for dubbing Trump racist.

"One journalist once said to me, 'is he the political Sex Pistol?' In a way," Rotten — real name John Lydon — said.

"There are many, many problems with him as a human being but he's not that [racist] and there just might be a chance something good will come out of that situation because he terrifies politicians."

He added: "This is a joy to behold for me. Dare I say, [Trump could be] a possible friend."

My first thought, of course, was IS HE FUCKING NUTS?  But I slowly realized that he had a point.  Trump is doing his utmost to leave a trail of CHAOS behind him everywhere he goes, more or less analogous to Richard Nixon's trail of MANURE.  Whether he leaves the country's poor and underprivileged dead in the streets, or just turns everyone inside the borders against the U.S. gummint, while making us the laughingstock (or ICBM target) of the rest of the world, well, TRUMP WILL CONSIDER IT A JOB WELL DONE. 

And it must be much easier to watch when you're John Lydon, and you can pack a bag any time you like and go home to England.

And notice how he praises silliness in the quote above.  Isn't silliness at the very core of the Discordian vision quest?  Yes.  Yes, it is. 

And John Lydon is the guy who sang "Anarchy In The U.K."  He knows about this stuff.

Friday, March 24, 2017

This Week's Discordian Epiphany

This experience was a REAL standout that taught me a great deal about Erisian spirituality.

OK, last Friday morning I went to get my taxes done.  My accountant was running quite a ways behind after a 3-day power outage, and so all she did during our meeting was take down my data and collect my paperwork.  She'd get to filing it all in a few days, she said.  OK, great.

So, from there I went straight to my P.O. box, and what did I find but an envelope from the IRS.  They've never really come to terms with the fact that I stopped being self-employed well over 12 years ago, and I expected this to be another sheaf of estimated tax payment vouchers.  But it was a letter saying "We can't process your tax return until we get a copy of your driver's license or Social Security card."

It had been mailed from Austin, Texas, 2 days before.  So, shit.  Somebody must have filed a phony return in my name.  The letter gave me a long list of different types of ID I could use to prove that the return was kosher, and if it wasn't they advised me to go to the IRS website and print out forms so I could prove that I hadn't filed yet.  They said I absolutely, positively had to call a certain number to present my ID in person to even discuss it, and gave me a number to call so I could make an appointment.  I was told I would be on hold for about the next 45 minutes, but it finally dawned on me after untangling the text of the letter further -- this was no small job -- that I was waiting to get an appointment to go in and prove to them that the phony tax return was the real one.  I hung up.

At some point I mentioned the situation to my supervisor, who asked to see the letter from the IRS.  She pointed out that it was odd that my Social Security number wasn't listed on it, and that is odd, because they usually put that on everything, aT least the last few digits.  She thought to type the return address from the letter into Google Maps, and it showed that the address was of a cemetery in Austin.

So I called my tax preparer for some guidance.  Her receptionist, after some gasps of horror and a few "Gosh, I never heard of this happening before" type of comments, gave me 3 or 4 different numbers to call.  I called the one that was given me with the comment "we've had better luck with this number than any of the others."  That made it sound incredibly unlikely that any of the growing list of numbers would be able to help me, but I held my breath and dialed.  I got through immediately and reached a very nice person named Nancy Jackson, who listened patiently while I sputtered out what had happened, and she gave me yet another number to call, the IRS Fraud Hotline.  This was different from several other Fraud Hotline numbers given me by my tax preparer, Google and my boss.  Nancy Jackson told me exactly which prompts to punch in so I would be able to talk to a live person.  Thank Flod for Nancy -- I never, never would have found my way through that maze of choices without her.  They all sounded practically identical.

So I talked to a guy at the Fraud Hotline who took my report and explained how it would all go down, in the heaviest, most undefinable accent -- I wish I could describe it -- sort of Serbo-Mexicali-Sino-Italian.  He had no name, only a long employee ID number, and I wrote that down as fast as I could, but it was something like 18 digits and I wasn't given enough warning to let me reach for a pencil before he started on it, so I quit before he got to the end.  It was impossible to keep up with him.  I explained that a very doubtful-looking letter had arrived claiming that I'd already filed a tax return when I hadn't, and he looked it up and dang if it wasn't true.  A return HAD been filed more than a month before, in fact, by...some asshole.  The fraud guy filed some kind of report and said that from now on they would use a higher level of security with my taxes. (So they're not all highly secured?  Is that what you're telling me, 11106DQ23900017?)  He advised me to drop everything else I was doing and call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Office and tell them what was going on.  So I pictured this Inspector General, of course:

He kept saying there was another number I needed to call too, and he looked for it a very long time -- I could hear him clicking through one webpage after another without finding anything -- and he finally said, eeeehhh, forget it, just call the Inspector General.  That was reassuring. 

I couldn't help wondering, as I recited my birthdate, Social Security number, blood type and DNA profile to this guy -- who had JUST told me that the IRS never asks ANYONE for that type of information -- I couldn't help wondering what was supposed to keep Fraud Guy from stealing my identity too.  Maybe he was the original identity thief.  How would I ever know if he was?  Who would be in a better position to do it?  He would be the Hercule Poirot in the situation: above suspicion.   Just one reassuring thought after another, you know what I'm saying?

I dialed the number he'd given me, and got another maze of phone prompts, and this time I had no Nancy Jackson to guide me through.  "If you've had your identity stolen and it affects your taxes, press 1.  If it doesn't affect your taxes but you want to tell us about it anyway, press 2.  If you've had your identity stolen and an incorrect 1040 Schedule C is part of the paperwork, press 9.  If you have already filed a 10439 even though the fraud doesn't affect your taxes and you checked box #1 in the second section on the form, press 7.  If you have no idea what a 10439 is but have been the target of a phishing scam and would like to file forms or would like to file a 20900-A by phone, press 6."  On and on until I punched in a prompt, more or less blindly.  I got a voicemail prompt; leave a message and we'll call you back. 

So I left my cell number, thumbnailed the situation on the Inspector General's voicemail and hung up, morally certain that I was never going to get a call back.  Somehow, I just knew it.  And indeed it has not come to pass.

But I got curious about that Google Maps result from a couple of paragraphs above and typed in the letter's return address myself.  I know that my supervisor is, well, not the best typist.  I discovered that the cemetery is across the street from a genuine IRS center.  At least the notice was starting to look kosher.  So I printed out, filled out, and mailed a Form 10439 (which turned out to be a Fraud Affidavit) to an address I found online. 

This form was a model of its kind, honestly.  I could not be sure which boxes to check based on the instructions, but it clearly and carefully spelled out that I was NOT supposed to fax it to the fax number listed at the bottom; it specified that I was NOT supposed to present it in person at a Tax Assistance Office, after explaining in detail how to find one; and it clearly explained that I was supposed to mail it...without giving me an address. 

I crap you negative.  I studied it every time I had a free moment for 2 days, sure that I must have missed something.  I hadn't.

Finally I tried Google again and it gave me a strikingly vague address in Fresno, hardly more than General Delivery, but it was more than I had before.  I put 2 of those Harvey Milk memorial stamps on the envelope, just to be sure.  He was murdered in California, so who knows, maybe his unquiet spirit will guide it to the right mail slot.  He seemed like such a helpful guy.

Funny how the act of slipping that envelope into the mail made my blood pressure drop back to normal.  It's these little symbolic acts that make the difference. Now all we can do is wait, I guess.

But here's my Discordian insight.  All those numbers and websites I was searching are all geared to set things in ORDER

if you have been phished, or had your identity stolen, or some other event that most people would see as CHAOTIC,

...are just layers and layers of CHAOTIC bureaucracy painted on top of a well-meaning attempt to impose ORDER, and ultimately the layers of CHAOS they make the identity theft itself seem pretty ORDERLY by comparison. 

I thought I knew before why there is so much talk of bureaucracy in the Principia Discordia and the other sacred texts, but now I get it, I really do.  The more you try to impose ORDER on CHAOS, the more CHAOS you get.  This was a revelation, the kind of stuff you learn while walking blindfolded through Chapel Perilous and simultaneously trying to fill out forms in dodecatuplet with the blood of a willow tree that floweth from a goose quill and shit.

Don't try this at home, kids!