Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Wolf is Here: Syndrome X

It seems everything else in nature other than the thing infecting her (parasitic human beings) is aware we are fucked if more people don't wake up. Even our biology suspects something cataclysmic is in the works and is panicking, as evidenced by the confused state of affairs our bodies have become. This is not a good situation at all, as barbaric, opportunistic behavior is born from confusion like a mutant parasitic monster not even a mother could love.

The parasite is turning on itself too like an army of cancer that's figured out its host's cellular creed and is hacking ceaselessly at the security switch. It won't stop until it figures out how to turn the switch off permanently, steal the genetic code and devour everything, laying the entire human race to waste. Extinction.

The seeds of this extinction have taken root and are many, from cancer agencies forecasting a dramatic 40% surge in carcinomas over the next 15 years, to all sorts of other diseases, including ones we were led to believe had been either eradicated or nearly so. We are entering an era of renewed epidemics, including an epidemic rise in a deadly cluster of conditions known collectively as Syndrome X.

The metabolic signs of Syndrome X include hypertension, excessive blood sugar, high triglyceride levels or otherwise abnormal cholesterol values, as well as an expanded midsection. A combination of at least 3 of these risk factors leads to serious illness and premature death.

It's a syndrome of excess, which interestingly is also the same syndrome that is ushering in our premature demise on a global scale. We take too much from each other, whether it's the individuals we interact with, the social groups we belong to, or the nations we spring from. Not only that, we take too much from the animal kingdom we rely on and the natural resources that sustain us. 

And we don't return the favor. 

We take and take and take, gobbling everything up like a mindless Pac-Man leaving nothing but sewage in its wake. And like our other insatiable appetites and expanding midsections, our greed is starting to extend beyond the limits of what is attractive. I imagine from the cosmos humankind is beginning to look pretty ugly right about now, like a former beauty queen who has fallen out of favor with good health in exchange for a lifestyle of vodka, cigarettes and Big Macs (Poem: I'm Lov'in it!).

We've gotten so greedy that we are no longer satisfied with just gorging on the earth until there is nothing left. We now have our hungry eyes set on colonization and exploitation of other planets. And we're not ready. We should fix our own home (here) before we go rocketing off to invade someone else's. 

Our technology is outpacing our humanity. 

That said, no one should be opposed to space exploration for the sake of science, discovery and opening the collective consciousness to new possibilities; however, when the desire to go into space is driven by the same greed that is weakening our planet to the point where we may cause our own extinction, the thought of space "recreation" becomes a tad alarming.

The natural world is also alarmed, as evidenced by some unusual phenomena we've been seeing, such as planes falling out of the sky for no clear-cut reason, as well as strange, unpleasant, ear-piercing sounds or "skyquakes" being recorded around the globe with no satisfactory explanation. And if you want a more extensive list of other recognized bizarre phenomena check this out: 25 Strange Phenomena within this Decade that have yet to be Explained.

With regards to our technology outpacing our humanity, as an illustration, take Sir Richard Branson and people of his ilk. Many admire the Uber rich, particularly someone like Branson, with his fancy, over-the-top island-lifestyle and "philanthropy" as he exploits Man and Nature (damn trees always getting in the way) for his own ends.

Some admire him almost to the point of worship, but his self-serving philanthropy doesn't negate his greed or narcissism, or that he is a spiritually empty man interested in satisfying his own hedonistic desires above all else, much like the rest of the one percent (source). These flawed mortals are not content with just raping, pillaging and subjugating this planet, either; now the animal has its insatiable desires directed towards space. 

Learn to control your sadistic gluttony for wealth, power and endless sexual gratification (a gluttony which is little more than an unregulated base evolutionary urge that more evolved members of humankind or not controlled by) before you attempt to advance up the evolution ladder and branch out into the matrix of existence

We don't want your megalomaniacal greed and perversions on the ladder. It doesn't propel us, it drags us ALL down and when you insist on attempting to move up the ladder before you've advanced past the lowly aspects of your nature, there are always consequences. Often, unfortunately, those consequences are felt most acutely, not by you, the indulgent  assholes responsible for so much planetary desolation, suffering and misery, but by innocent people merely struggling to survive, or by thoughtful, intelligent people inspired to move humanity's collective imagination away from its destructive, carnal desires and towards better, previously unimaginable heights of discovery, wonder and experience.

Other people having to suffer the consequences of a single entity's greed and fantasies of grandeur was precisely what happened when Virgin Galactic attempted its first test flight into space. Tragedy and death. But has that made Branson and company pause and reconsider what exactly is motivating them and why, as well as the ethical implications? No, it has not, other than perhaps a split-second of self-reflection Branson quickly shrugged off. He clearly does not care. Action speaks louder than words. If his venture fails and more people needlessly die, he can go back to his tropical privately owned tax haven with his ridiculous title and self-gratify with his equally ridiculous, equally entitled, equally irresponsible wealthy friends. 

Fuck you, "sir" Richard Branson. Go fly another kite with another clueless naked model, you wrinkly hedonist. It all boils down to that, too, doesn't it? At the dark heart of it all, that is really the only thing these animals care about: Power over naked, submissive females who have been tricked into believing they actually want to be reduced to empty-minded sexbots forced to perform "tricks" on a stage before a lust-salivating, sushi-gobbling audience, even when it comes to scientific discovery and space exploration!

Nothing like cashing in on the fruits of rape culture and sexualizing space tourism with a sexist logo to lure in the gross,  wrinkly old men who have the lion's share of the world's wealth and resources and the moral compass of a worm.  Men who could never attract the  kind of "prized" young female flesh they are so obsessed with if not for their disgusting wealth.

Case in point, one particular abomination of decency that goes by the name Pornhub (source) is currently crowdfunding a space mission to film a couple of lesser evolved miscreants sexually degrading each other for all the world to witness while in orbit. No shame.

Looking around the world today, in this so-called "Information Age" (which is misleading because "information" and "wisdom" are often mistaken as synonymous when they most definitely are NOT the same thing),  it seems the animal is hellbent on sexualizing (but in ONLY a male-centric way) with ever-increasing depravity, every single human concern. 

This is terrible, again for everyone, because there are humanity-altering consequences to all this sexual depravity, which a significant number are in denial about, even though the signs are EVERYWHERE. And the signs are multiplying, the latest "surprise" being a new viral adversary to the battle named Zika

If this is progress, we are screwed in more ways than one.

It's strange that the rest of the natural world seems to sense we may well be permanently screwed and are entering into a kind of "end of days" scenario and yet we, who are supposedly the "brains" of the operation, are refusing to see it.

The signs again are everywhere. What's with the denial? 

The clues could not be any more blatant than if an enormous hand reached down from the heavens and hit humanity upside the head with a big whack heard around the globe and an exasperated voice of thunder calling us all damn fools!! We've entered the Age of the Idiots

We are the idiots.

The animal kingdom sees it and is becoming desperate over what to do about us, the idiots, ruining it for EVERYTHING. They are at their wit's end regarding human entitlement and recklessness, and in a last ditch effort, they've resorted to simply attacking us (the sudden spike in shark attacks is one example). 

In addition to the sharks, there are deer charging pedestrians out walking their dogs, or in one case killing a farmer tending his herd. Another deer, so enraged at the mere sight of a dopey human, took a running leap at what was basically an otherwise innocent man, head-butting him to the ground (which is actually really funny and can be watched repeatedly: Infuriated Deer Jumps Man Outside Hotel). 

And beware of the Kamikaze squirrels! These mini-psychos are pissed off, have a wicked sense of humor, are brave and impulsive - a dangerous combo. They know who their enemies are too, and they seem to be taking names. How else do you explain this determined little guy (below) knowing exactly which politician was overtly anti-squirrel and getting too boisterously cocky about it for his Kamikaze liking? 

Squirrel carries out Kamikaze attack on anti-squirrel politician. Fuck you, Howard. Source.

But the animals can't do it all by themselves. MORE HUMAN BEINGS, regular schmucks and working stiffs, need to join forces with the rest of the animal kingdom to get out the message that "The Boy Crying Wolf" is no longer just bored and trolling for kicks. The WOLF is actually here now and he's terrorizing more than just the sheep. He's about to eat the ENTIRE flock. He is intent on annihilating every blade of grass, every drop from the pond, every shrub, every flower and you know what else? He says, fuck it, I'll join forces with lunatic Kim Jong-un and the rest of our world's psychotic dictators and take the whole thing in one big mother of a BITE. The pasture (POOF) gone in a glory of mushroom cloud. Does anyone with actual power care?

For the LOVE OF ALL EXISTENCE, the message ESPECIALLY needs to penetrate the political strongmen, wealth hoarders, celebrities and other big name social influencers who are ALL responsible for MUCH of the regressive ideological contagion and modeling of despicable, ecologically irresponsible behaviors spreading throughout this planet like, again, a MALIGNANT, INCURABLE CANCER that's killing EVERYTHING. 

Cancer is a useful analogy here because at the diseased root of our imminent destruction, human greed, a "love of self and fuck everyone else" attitude, ignorance, lazy and incompetent stewardship, as well as a lust for power are LITERALLY making the ENTIRE planet SICK.

If the people with SERIOUS power don't wake up NOW and Do SOMETHING in partnership with scientists not shackled by conflicts of interest or the ulterior motives of big business, as well as mass cooperation by the peoples of the world immediately, all we'll have to rely on is a battered middle-aged woman so fed up with being ignored (when she's not being abused and ridiculed) that  she takes matters into her own hands and trains the Kamikaze squirrels herself to attack with better precision all the dummies responsible for screwing up the planet so royally. 

Ms Smith arrested for capturing numerous squirrels and training them to attack men who have wronged her. 

She will be so out of her mind by the time she's finished her futile mission that she will be rendered a cross-eyed, babbling train-wreck of a woman, her life in shambles, her reputation destroyed, just like vigilante Ms Smith above.

Agent Smith: I'd like to share a Revelation that I've had during my time here. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment; but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. A virus.

Nature too will end up in its own special insane asylum before the end arrives if humanity doesn't step up.  The animal kingdom realizes this and in addition to the deer and squirrels, other understandably, under the circumstances, crazed species are frantically trying to come up with a course of action as well. Some species even appear to be aware of the likes of Richard Branson and his kind. So appalled are they with this man's god complex, disgusting sexism and excessive lifestyle, as well as the blatant hypocrisy regarding wildlife conservation he represents, that they took it upon themselves to recruit a  troop of stingrays to attack him. They wanted to let him know exactly what they thought of him and his stupid, perpetual smile: Richard Branson left bloodied and cut after being ATTACKED by deadly stingrays.

In other instances, the animal kingdom attempts a more gentle approach by modelling the Golden Rule, such as the recent story of a rhino risking its own life to lift a baby zebra out of a pit of mud.

Even creatures that generally do not attack humans are joining the fight. Seagulls are dive-bombing pedestrians in the street in retaliation for their fallen comrades, the crows, who are now infected with West Nile virus and are dropping dead from their perches.

In addition to shark attacks, bizarre stories are springing up around the planet's waters of other sea-life, such as dolphins and sea lions, attacking human beings in retaliation of their fallen comrades, the whales whose corpses are inexplicably washing up on both the east and west coasts, transforming beaches on every side into mass graves.

There are numerous stories around the globe, too, of thousands of dead fish washing ashore; in some situations there are so many of these dead fish that at first glance it looks like an expansive pebbled beach, but on closer inspection the realization dawns those aren't rocks, those are dead bodies! It's a fish holocaust. 

A similar baffling situation is happening with enormous flocks of various bird species dropping dead from the sky. We have moved beyond simple canaries dead in the coal mine.

Mother Nature seems to be sending out a kind of "call of duty" to the spiders as well, much to the dismay of arachnophobics everywhere. The spiders have answered the call and are busily draping nature and her trees in huge protective webs. 

Then we have the wind: In addition to the other signs that something is amiss in the world, stories of massive windstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes wreaking havoc all over the place are impossible to ignore. And for the sake of time, let's not get started on the famines, wars, migrant crises, and massive fires and droughts happening throughout the world.

Thus, in summary, we now have all four elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth locked in a cosmic war game with Cardinal Sin. Welcome to Babylon. We've been expecting you.

Let us pray that the Source of all the miracle and mystery that makes up existence is one interested in nurturing us out of this present Heart of Darkness and into an improved, kinder, more homeostatic way of living and NOT one of angry annihilation. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Banality of Romantic Gestures

A florist truck pulls up to the building as Belinda and I stand at the window watching with interest. It’s curious because a delivery of a dozen red roses was made only yesterday to Megan, who is no stranger to clichéd gestures of romance from good looking, eager young men trying to get her in the sack. But even so, 2 days in a row? For the rest of us even a single incident of an unexpected flower delivery is an impossible fantasy spurred on by Megan’s life.

Belinda, for example, is not as successful as Megan in the suitor department and lets out a derisive "whatever" when the flower delivery boy disappears from sight. Belinda has no problem with Megan, a warm, outgoing girl everyone likes, but it isn't right that she (Megan) should get all the flowers in the world while Belinda gets what? The last gift she got from a guy was a bulk sized package of 4-ply toilet paper. He thought she'd be impressed with all the plies. She was not.

But this is the way it goes for Belinda. 

The men who take a fancy to her are usually flawed in some socially identifiable or physically unappealing way. Like Megan, albeit a slightly older version, Belinda is a warm, inviting person with a pretty face. Unlike most people, however, Belinda possesses that exceedingly rare quality of actually listening without interruption when others speak. She is both inquisitive and humanitarian by nature and all of these qualities combine to create a woman who is irresistible to the marginalized amongst us, whether we are talking mentally "unique" individuals most everyone else finds "off-putting", people with an assortment of ailments that they feel compelled to frequently vent about, or inappropriate men. 

Their inappropriateness is drawn to her like insects to a light bulb. This is unfortunate because while Belinda wouldn't hurt a fly, she has no desire to kiss one.

She also does not want to kiss a dog, which is where the problem began with a man named Rufus. 

She worked with Rufus at a second part-time job she picked up to bring in some extra cash, and an easy flirtation developed between them, as tends to happen when the sexes work closely together. For her part, Belinda was in no way physically attracted to Rufus, but she enjoyed the attention he gave her and his quirky personality – always a precarious situation with the potential for mixed signals and misunderstandings. 

As such, it seemed inevitable that there would come a day when Rufus would attempt to transition from workplace friend to boyfriend material. Belinda, however, was so uninterested in him in any romantic sense that she couldn’t even get his name straight. 

She had always associated the name “Rufus” with a dog and when she thought of a dog she immediately thought of Clifford the Big Red Dog, a favorite fictional character from her childhood. As a consequence, the two names somehow got interchanged in her subconscious and every time she addressed Rufus it came out as “Clifford”.  She never realized she was doing it and oddly Rufus never corrected her. 

Eventually she seemed to altogether forgot his name was Rufus and referred to him exclusively as Clifford. By the time we had heard the last of Rufus, anyone who knew of Rufus strictly through Belinda talking about him had no idea his name wasn't Clifford.

Things came to a head one day when Samantha, a rival of Belinda's who also worked with Rufus, got fed up with Belinda constantly messing up Rufus's name. Belinda had been calling out to "Clifford" to tell him there was a phone call waiting for him, but Clifford kept acting like he couldn't hear her. Belinda yelled out his name louder and still he didn't flinch. Finally, in exasperation, Samantha, who had been listening to all of this, interrupted Belinda, "He can't hear you, Belinda, because you're calling him Clifford! His name is Rufus!" Then Samantha, to prove her point, yelled out to Rufus herself, "CARL!! Belinda is trying to tell you something!!"

Carl was Samantha's cat.

That was the moment when Belinda "woke up" to the subversive nature of not only her subconscious mind but Samantha's as well.

Belinda plunked herself down, stunned with this newly discovered realization. "Well, that's it," she said, "I can't have anything to do with a guy who just accepts me calling him by the wrong name without correcting me. OR a guy who reminds everyone of their pet! I definitely won't be able to date Clifford now, there's just no way. I thought maybe, but not now. Forget it".

"You did it again," Samantha pointed out.

Belinda shook her head confused, "What are you talking about?"

"You called him Clifford again. His name is Carl...oh my god. His name, Belinda, is Rufus."

Later when Belinda relayed what had happened, I attempted to cheer her up, "On the bright side, at least now you can stop feeling so guilty about rejecting his advances. Things are looking up!".

Rufus has since gone to the dogs of obscurity, but to this day when we refer to his memory we snidely, with full awareness, call him Clifford. 

Belinda's latest unwanted acquisition in the male insect department is an insect named Paul who likes her significantly more than she likes him. She finds him incredibly irritating, in the same way a fly buzzing around your ear that you can't get at is irritating. I don't know why she can't get rid of him. Flyswatters are cheap.

But Belinda rejects my fly analogy. She doesn't see him as a fly so much as a potato

"He never wants to do anything and he NEVER does anything nice for me. I do all the giving. He's never given me so much as a blade of grass, never mind roses! All he does is lie around all day watching TV like a big, fat, hairy couch potato, expecting me to serve him".

I used to encourage Belinda she could do better than these weirdos and parasitic assholes that tend towards her, and that she should walk away from leeches like Paul  life is too short to waste it on so much bullshit. But I have since come to realize she is addicted to the power she derives from the role of martyr and saviour, that she likes to be needed and relied upon. So now I listen in amusement to her litany of complaints. I'll leave her to do her own self-reflections and arrive at her own life-changing epiphanies in her own time.

Thus, rather than once again tell her she should kick Paul to the curb, I suggest we christen him "Potato Paul" in honor of his potato couch proclivities. I have my own proclivity towards alliteration. I don't know why but I find it infinitely funny. I am ridiculous.

But Belinda didn't think my suggestion was ridiculous: "Yes, he is a potato! He should be called Potato Paul!"

We've been calling him Potato Paul ever since, unbeknowst, of course, to Paul, although Belinda lives in mortal fear she will call him Potato Paul to his face, particularly after the whole Rufus/Clifford/Carl fiasco. She has already caught herself a couple of times, which didn't escape Potato Paul's notice. But he isn't the brightest guy so she was able to redirect his focus easily enough. She doesn't know how long she's going to be able to do that, though. He's gross, dumb and boring (the character triad of a bad man as opposed to the enigma of a good one) but he still has some fraction of a brain in his potato head.

Getting back to the florist's truck outside our window, I turn to Belinda and ask, "What would you do if the flower delivery was for you from Potato Paul? Would you like him more or drop dead in shock?"

"It would depend on the flower," she replied, "but I highly doubt Potato Paul knows my favorite flower is the Stargazer lily even though I've told him."

I agree that he probably doesn't know even though he has been told. Imagine how much richer life would be if more of us were paying attention.

"If he did send you flowers," I muse, "guaranteed they'd be red roses. Not that there's anything wrong with roses, except it shows a complete lack of imagination. Personally, I'd be more impressed by a thoughtful dandelion picked from my front yard. At least that's helpful. My lawnmower is broken. A dozen roses though? We've seen the documentary, we've read the articles. We are both aware of the damage the cut flower trade has on the planet." 

I have to stop myself before I launch into a full-blown soapbox condemnation of why it's wrong for the developed world to exploit the developing world's resources. 

Roses are the prized trophies of the slave trade in the flower world. All the other flowers, who are otherwise envious of the Rose's superior beauty, are glad they weren't born roses. Even the beautiful have an ugly burden to carry in a world where greed is the dominant driving force.

Somebody needs to save the roses!

Good God.

I also have to stop myself because the annoyed look of "here we go again" flashing across Belinda's face does not escape my notice. Nobody likes to listen to me. Sometimes it feels like I will burst.

"I don't know about dandelions," Belinda says, happy I've put a cap on the save the roses speech, "but my favorite roses are yellow ones. It's my next favorite flower after lilies."

Before I can say what my favorite flower is, we are interrupted by a knock on the door. We look up and in walks the flower delivery boy. He has a delivery for Belinda.

We are taken aback at first and then start giggling as she opens the box and unwraps tissue to reveal, you guessed it, a dozen red roses courtesy of Potato Paul. Despite our earlier cynicism, we are both delighted by the surprise and I run to grab a vase from down the hall. 

When I return, Belinda is bent over in her chair in convulsions. It's impossible to tell if she's laughing, sobbing or having a seizure until I get up close to her and see sitting on her desk a bouquet of 12 thorny stems devoid of all but 5 of their heads. 

Belinda is laughing so hard she can't speak. All she can do is point at the flower box still on the floor at her feet. In it are seven decapitated red rose heads. 

When she calms down enough to speak in coherent sentences, she explains that as she lifted the bouquet out of the box, one by one 7 of the heads popped clean off like the tops of dandelions. 

"Mama had a baby and it's head popped off," I say without thinking, my voice trailing off, which causes Belinda to erupt into renewed laughter.

It is so strange, almost like the flower traffickers were sending us (or perhaps just me since I'm the one who will rant about it if given half a chance) a cryptic message that we better shut up about dopey men and the rose slave trade or else

Or else what, I don't know. But whoever they are, they are barking up the wrong tree. We are not afraid of dopey canines around here.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Ruling Celebrity Class

People are transfixed by beauty, wealth and celebrity,
They need a handsome devil to worship when God isn’t free.
Like goslings who imprint on the first big life force they see,
They’re easily led with no leash or worry they’ll flee.

They believe this is their Providence, their leader,
A giant personality, a glitter-filled bottle-feeder.
An attractive fowl without substance and a painted-on wing,
A kite that defies gravity, a ruse, a replica thing.

But kites don’t defy the law of gravity and replica birds can’t fly,
Eventually kites retreat from the sun, descend and fall from the sky.
And model objects that take flight suspended from a wire,
Are nothing more than the manipulations of a liar.

This world where mortals are elevated as gods is a world of illusion,
Where imprinted masses follow, pulled by need and misled by delusion.
Where tricksters guide, driven by every lust and every greed,
Smirking stewards who cash in as others starve, suffer and bleed.

They neither care nor appreciate the weight of their charge,
Egos that concern themselves with material splendor and living large.
Exploiters of a basic desire for purpose and connection,
Parasites of Spirit whose true intent avoids detection.

But how can they ascend when they’re mannequins with unmovable parts?
Fixed expressions and mechanical hearts?
Embalmed in silicone and plastic, they never look old,
They attend morticians of plasty and gorge on bricks of gold.

It’s where “superficial and shallow” are physical traits of the perfect T&A,
Where respectful language is considered crass and passé.
A bizarro place where up is down and down is “whaddup”,
And demons masquerading as saviors slurp from a footed-cup.

Where eloquence of speech and precision of wit is considered a bore,
And intelligent women assume the disguise of a whore.
Where sociopaths practice the size of their smile in a mirror of lies,
And heavy-breathing psychopaths plot for the day everyone dies.

Where sophisticated psychiatrists consult horoscopes for direction,
And a dumb reality TV billionaire wins a presidential election.
Where a white-veneered dentist named Walter is a lion slayer,
And a sitcom star who drugs and rapes women is a good ol’ player.

Where Harvard graduates give dissertations on the Real Housewives of whatever,
And if you’re rich, philandering is as an honorable endeavor.
Where if you’re a beloved Sinatra-imitator it’s fine to body shame,
And the Wizard of Oz is a celebrity doctor with a fraudulent claim.

They peddle heaven for a price and will tell you The Secret for a fee,
Pretenders who adapt so wholly to their role they believe it religiously.
It’s where from mega cathedrals the worst of men advise and preach,
A place where anti-vaccine Playmates without a clue babble and teach.

They model despicable behavior and say don’t worry about hell,
They dangle an American dream and the herd drools at the ring of their bell.
Viewers tune in to watch politicians perform like jesters on late night,
And a significant number don’t understand the difference between wrong and right.

It’s a controlled narrative that must be hand-fed to be believed,
Where few consider not all is as it’s given or as it’s perceived.
But if the devil can invade the churches, seduce the chosen and make angels fall,
Then Virtue too can infiltrate the enemy’s den and from there answer its call.

Watch now as weapons of cultural destruction become tools of transformation,
Where tragedy compels a trainwreck actress to address a gun-toting nation.
Where a slayed lion named Cecil is carved into a global symbol of action,
And novel ideas that can change the state of the world gain traction.

Watch as a lying Pinocchio converts from what is wooden and hollow,
Into a real boy with a beating heart and a virtuous command to follow.
Watch as mannequins begin to move of their own volition,
And psychopaths master the urges of their condition.

Watch as the practised smile of a sociopath reaches his eyes,
And prostitutes reveal the truth and discard their disguise.
Watch as replicas become what they replicate and break from their tether,
And diverse birds of every feather unite and finally flock together.