“Is there really a magazine called Homeopathy Today?” asked Violet Towne, when she saw me putting together this post. I’m afraid to say, dear Cowpokes, that the answer is yes, there is. Will they ever really feature our patron on the cover? Only time will tell. All we can say for sure is that homeopathy is so utterly bonkers that literally any nutso idea you can think of is a completely feasible candidate.

Well then, let’s not tarry. Yes, another year has vertiginously whirled past and the Cow keeps meandering along, even though blogging is apparently dead (or so I’m told) and everyone now hangs out on Facebook. Which is also dead (or so I’m told) and now everyone hangs out on Snapchat and WhatsApp and Twitter. It has to be said, that I’ve slacked off somewhat from blogging over this last year as I’ve sensed the drifting away from the form. I can’t tell whether it’s a general ennui that’s to blame, or whether I’ve become less interesting with my posts, or if it’s just the way things go. No matter – I continue to do what I’ve always done with Tetherd Cow, which is, as you know, to pen thoughts and observations as I see fit, generally for my own amusement, and sometimes serendipitously to the entertainment of others.

I’ve had a pretty good year, as it happens, with much creative satisfaction. Among other things, I completed a very successful crowdfunding campaign for my Watching Europa project, took a trip to the NSW country town of Parkes where I spoke about my artwork and participated in a wonderful kids’ imaginative adventure, and, recently, finished the commission of a new musical work for the 25th anniversary of the atmospheric music radio programme Ultima Thule (which will premiere this month).

I’m glad to say that the Cow’s readership still trickles along at around a hundred people. A good dozen read the posts regularly without commenting, and another dozen of you participate reasonably vocally in the comments. The remaining fifty percent or so tune in haphazardly, but regularly, evidently amused enough to stick around. ((A special shout-out to the NSA! Way to go dudes!)) To you all I offer my thanks – your friendship visible and invisible is a fun part of my life. I hope the coming year treats you well, and that you continue to find a few spare minutes every now and then to stop by the Cow.

But enough of all that, let’s not stand on ceremony! Believe it or not, today we’ve arrived at the 9th Annual Rasputin Poetry Contest! ((Technically the 7th I suppose, since the inaugural year and the following weren’t actually declared as such. The fact is indisputable, however, that the poems have been flying for 8 years.)) There won’t be many of you by now who don’t know what that means, but, for the record, everyone should refresh themselves with The Rules.

Let the jousting commence! (And let’s see ANYONE compose a worthwhile limerick in 140 characters! #suckonthattwitter)

[One small apology – I’m still encountering some kind of data overload on the TCA servers, which means page reloads can sometimes be slow. Please bear with any lagging. I’ve been trying to fix this problem for the best part of a year but we’re still stymied. The whole thing has something to do with the fact that the Cow has now been running for over a decade and has a whopping database. I can remedy it instantly by moving up to a VPN, but it’s a rather costly solution for something that is really only a hobby. In 2014 I’ll be looking at other possible ways to resolve it.

Also, the Comment Moderation has become somewhat Draconian of late, so if you post something and it doesn’t appear immediately, email me and I’ll whitelist you. I’ll be monitoring all through New Year’s Day, so as to allow the festivities to have some snap.]

Faithful Acowlytes. If you’re reading this, then the world didn’t end in 2012. Oh, I know the Mayan calendar supposedly had us all vaporizing on December the 21st, but hey, I’m prepared to give those Mayans a little headroom. By anyone’s reckoning, January 1st 2013 by the Gregorian calendar is a fair margin of error, right?

Of course, this was about the kajillionth time the world has ended recently anyway, so the Mayans had their thunder stolen somewhat by Harold Camping et al last year (and the year before that, and a couple of years before that…) and so looked a little tawdry in the End Times Predictions stakes. But enough of all that world-ending malarkey. It’s not like that’s going to be a problem any time soon is it? My it’s warm here today.

Despite the constant preoccupation with End Times scenarios, I had a pretty good 2012 all in all. I know the Cow hasn’t been as active this year, and that’s for many reasons, but is mostly to do with a fairly busy work schedule on my part. It’s not for want of subject matter that’s for sure. The world continues to be full of Cow-worthy events – so full in fact that I have about two or three dozen ideas for Cow posts in my scrapbook, if only I had the time to get around to them. These next few months we’ll be examining a machine that lets you talk to ghosts, stones that make your hifi sound better, more wacky antics from our friends the robots and another wonderful contender for stupidest and most ineffectual pest gadget on the planet. So be sure you stick around.

For now, though, let me wish you all the best things for 2013, and thank you sincerely for your friendship and repartee through 2012. The Cow continues to be one of the best fun things in my life, and without my readers, that would not be so.

But let’s not tarry any longer – I know what you’ve all tuned in for… As you can see, this year I’ve roped in Sir Christopher Lee to help with the festivities. He’s a pretty good sport having even recently participated in a heavy metal Christmas album, so I just know he’s going to rise to the occasion for today’s event. If you’re puzzled as to what’s going on here (and what goes on every year on January 1st at Tetherd Cow) you might want to familiarize yourself with The Rules, and then dive right in. I expect solid participation from the lot of you!

And I apologize to Joey – this isn’t the easy lob out of the ballpark that I hinted it might be last year. Thinking caps on my friends! Make the Bard envious!

Happy New Year!

Rasputin 2012

[Click to embiggen]

Ah, Acowlytes, Cowmrades and Cowpokes all! Welcome to the passing of another year on Tetherd Cow Ahead. It really doesn’t seem like a whole year since the last Rasputin Competition, does it? That’s because it wasn’t! Haha. I was just testing you – as you will recall, last year’s comp ran a little bit late, owing to me being snowbound (and workbound) in the good ol’ US of A (and that doesn’t seem like a whole year ago either, I have to say). But this year, the pageant is right on time. I thought I’d better make sure it was, because as you all know, the world ends in 2012 ((True, it did ‘end’ several times last year as well and we’re still all here, but this time it’s for real! How could the Mayans – a primitive and superstitious culture that tore out people’s hearts for fun – possibly be wrong?)) and that could be anytime from today onward. ((The Mayans themselves didn’t actually predict the world would end in 2012, in case you didn’t know that. To them, it was an unimaginably distant future time, and the truth is that their calendar, like all calendars, had to end sometime.))

This year, we hark back to the origins of the Competition somewhat, so I suggest that a little refresher might be in order. I recommend it to newcomers at least. In fact, I suggest that newbies and old hands alike might like to go back and peruse previous years to get some idea of the playing field. Here, and here were pretty good years I seem to remember…

The rules, as always, can be found here.

OK, well the only thing that remains now is for me to wish you all a very Happy New Year. As I’ve said on many occasions, the Cow is nothing if not the sum of its parts, and some of those important parts are indisputably all of you, my dear Acowlytes. I hope you will keep on visiting the Cow through 2012 and keep on making it the swell party it is.

Oh… I nearly forgot!

Let the Celebrity Penis Wars commence!

The Rules.

You know what they say, Faithful Cowpokes: ‘Better late than robots!’ Well, maybe only I say that. But you know what I’m getting at! I know some of you can barely keep your pants on in anticipation of this year’s Annual Rasputin Competition. Well, here it is. For the newcomers, rules, as always, can be found here (I suggest the veterans revisit them too). Obviously the opening and closing dates are not relevant this year, so I’ll keep it running until I stop laughing. It would be nice if we could get some new players too, so spread the word. It’s always more fun with more people.

And lastly, do try to keep it clean.

HAHAHA! Just kidding. Hit me.

How often have you noticed the numbers 11:11, 12:12, 10:10, 22:22, 12:34, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44 or 5:55 popping up all over the place? These number sequences are not necessarily only time prompts. They can also be number sequences, like 333, 1111 etc. To your mind, is this a coincidence, or are they too frequent to be random? Perhaps you are puzzled or amused by this phenomenon? Possibly even a little bit nervous?

The question everyone is asking is “What does 11:11 mean?” and “Is there a reason for this?”

That’s actually two questions, as it happens, and I have, in fact, asked each of them exactly NO times in my life in relation to any of the ideas advanced on 1111 Spirit Guardians, the website from which this information comes.

1111 Spirit Guardians is a spectacular outpouring of mindless claptrap, which sounds almost like it could have been put together by the same people who brought you Special One Drop Liquid.

The basic gist of the site is that celestial beings called Midwayers are communicating with humans by arranging numbers in such a way as to send ‘signals’ to chosen recipients via digital clocks. Apparently (according to the site) this is happening to a lot of people.

11:11 signals are driving me nuts!

This is a very typical comment from folks who reach this site.

I should think a more typical kind of comment is “Wow, what a load of gobbledygook”, or “Do you also sell Space Diamonds?”

So how is it that these strange supernatural entities have become fixated on the numbers 11.11?

O-k-a-y… So they asked the digital chip makers to reserve them a few numbers…? I guess that does demonstrate some forward thinking. It seems like a kind of a roundabout way of communicating though – why the rigmarole?

Hey – they started it! I would have simply suggested conversation in the first place. It’s extremely tedious trying to get your ideas across in clock language.

What do I have to do?

Acknowledge it out loud. Say – OK guys I hear you, tell me what you want. This speaking out loud is to get around the problem that Midwayers do not automatically have access to our thoughts.

Our clocks, yes, our thoughts, not so much.

What proof have you got?

Well it’s getting so that this is now pretty much proven, simply because by following our instructions, so many other people have found these guys, and talked with them.

Yeah, now see, that’s not actually proof. That’s just you telling us something that may or may not have any truth in it. Proof is independent of personal opinions. You might like to see if you can dig up any of that.

The 1111 Guardians site is, apparently, the handiwork of one George Barnard, a self-styled ‘psychic’ and writer. Barnard claims to be able to ‘channel’ the Midwayers and has transcribed a mind-boggling amount of material from them.

George has been dealing with these guys for over 60 years. He sees them, and talks to them. Mostly he sees with his spiritual eyes, but there have been cases of physical manifestation as well. You could not expect a psych (George) to believe in the voices in his head if they did not turn up physically, could you?

The last sentence seems somehow metaphysically tautological. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if George has, aside from seeing the Midwayers with his ‘spiritual’ eyes, ((I idly find myself wondering if you need to wear ‘spiritual spectacles’ if you’re shortsighted?)) talked to them, shaken hands with them or stayed up late playing poker with them.

What I find intensely (and fascinatingly) strange about people like George, is that they are somehow completely unable to understand the process whereby our brains naturally knit together unrelated incidents in an attempt to find some kind of cohesion for them. We all do this, but most of us realise that it’s just a curious ability that evolution has bestowed upon us – some vestige of our pattern-matching skills honed way back in our time on the veldt, that has now gone into idle mode and leaps to the fore when our brains aren’t productively engaged. Sure you notice the clock is on 11:11. It’s a pattern. As is 12:12 or 10:10 or 12:34 or a wide variety of other numerical combinations. Our brains like patterns. We notice patterns because they are pretty. If the number on the clock is 10:52 or 09:48 it doesn’t ‘stick’ as much and therefore goes completely unnoticed, like nearly every other set of numbers on a digital clock that denote the time. ((Unless of course the numbers 1052 or 948 have particular meanings for you, in which case, you might remember them.)) People like George are completely unable to see that this process is totally normal. It’s as if their world filters are somehow broken and they are obliged to find meaning in the vast drifts of meaningless trivia that the rest of us are able to tune out.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty making fun of people like George. It is quite probable that he has come to completely and profoundly believe his fantasy about Midwayers and meaningful communications via clocks. How is he different, for instance, from the millions upon millions who believe they have meaningful dialogue with a discarnate entity called ‘God’ who lives in a place called ‘Heaven’ and has an adversary called ‘Satan’? How is George’s communication with his Midwayers any different from praying to God, or taking Communion or giving Confession?

Yes, sometimes I feel a little guilty, but then I glance at my digital clock and see it flip over to 4:44. And then I realise that it’s the Midwayers telling me to make fun of him. And everything is alright again.

Some entertaining links from the 1111 Guardians Site:

•A conversation between George Barnard and what appears to be a veritable cavalcade of Midwayers, in which we find out that parrots like to chat with the spirits.

•A conversation with a Midwayer named Sharmon in which we see biblical links with this mythology (the Christian links are profuse throughout Mr Barnards’ channelling).

•A conversation with a Midwayer named Mathew that sounds rather a lot like stuff I’ve read from the Unarius Society.

•Some Midwayer humour (oh, my belly still aches from the laughing!)

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