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I swear, this nation produces some paranoid people. It's as if the combination of a government we only read about, a media we no longer trust, and the impending big, bad, bogeyman-under-the-bed millennium (2000 or 2001, which will you celebrate?), are all combining to create this contagious mess of kookiness and spookiness that so many of us are feeding off of.

Back in October, I was speaking with Terry, a friend of mine, on the potential of the current move by the Coalition Advocating Medical Marijuana; they're hoping to continue what began in California and Arizona.

As for some history, Terry loves drugs. He doesn't necessarily live through them, but he does come pretty close nonetheless. Now Terry, who can rattle off the chemical compounds involved in making some of these synthetics as if he were a chemist, refuses to be involved in any organized form of protest. He will not sign any petition, he will not protest in any "official" capacity whatsoever. The reason: "You know that somewhere, someone is taking that petition and making a list. And, it could be years down the road - but, I may want to do something someday and I don't want one stupid signature to bite me in the ass fifteen years from now." His words.

Please understand, I do not in any way believe that people should ever do anything they do not want to do. If Terry doesn't feel obliged to participate toward a "cause", no one should try to judge him for that. After all, the very problem with getting pot legalized is that there are too many people out there judging others. And hey, what motivates some people does not motivate others. No, what bothered me was that I saw the logic in his argument.

I can easily envision an army of invisible, Gestapo bean counters, patiently collecting all forms of information: petitions, newsgroups, chat rooms, mailing lists, magazine subscriptions, and crunching that data to make a national list of potential "deviants." The particulars of such an endeavor would involve what? Five people per city scanning newspapers and keeping up with political movements and performing the foot work; a team of ten to twenty to monitor the Internet newsgroups and chat rooms; another few fellow "patriots" reading the "hot" magazines (High Times, Hemp Times) for classified ads and further websites; and maybe ten more people to collate the data into a cohesive list that can be used to effectively create a national database. Technology is a beautiful thing when it's used efficiently.

What's truly frightening about of all of this is that just maybe, some invisible army of hall monitors is writing down all of our names to tell the teacher on someday; no, what is frightening, I mean real fucking scary, is that the mere thought of something like that occurring has already stopped so many people from even beginning to protest laws that they don't agree with. The government doesn't even have to be out there anymore. All they have to do is let us think they might be watching and we'll behave.

Consider Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky's "friend" that taped her phone conversations. Without going too deeply into the entire sordid affair (or is it affairs), do you see how afraid this woman was of people? How completely afraid of life she was? What could possibly have happened in this woman's past to lead her to this, to actually thinking that bugging her own phone was a logical and rational decision on her part? Give it five more years and we'll have people miking themselves and wearing "voice analysis-digital camera" chest-plates the size of a button to ensure that no one fucks with them. Ms. Tripp's legacy, her fifteen minutes. This is what Ms. Tripp boils down to. In her mind, she has been fucked with so much, that, to certainly and irrevocably be certain no one could possibly hold something over her, she finally resorted to recording her life. How frightening to think she felt it necessary to bug her own phone; or, rather, that putting a microphone on her home phone made perfect sense to her - a completely natural and sane action for today's world. That, my friends, is kooky, kooky, kooky; and kooky is just another shade of paranoid.

But, hey, kookiness isn't limited to the social echelons of Washington D.C. What, for instance, is this latest trend behind mothers dumping their children in restrooms? Public restrooms, all of a sudden, have become some form of twisted Darwinian adoption clinics, leaving newborns to a brand new form of survival of the fittest. How scared of society - how completely unable to cope does a woman, a mother no less, have to be to bear a child in a public restroom and then throw him or her into the same can that, on another day, she might throw a tampon or a paper towel? What blows my mind is that, to these mothers, this madness, this "choice" was, in their mind, their absolute best option? To do such a thing, a person would have to feel completely and terribly alone. There couldn't have been anyone to turn to for help to have come to such a decision. This actually made sense to these women. And it's happening a lot. It's becoming a more prevalent, more routine, news item every month.

All of this: the fear of government lists and watchdogs, the rationalizations that lead to miking your home phone, the desperation behind a restroom birth and trash can abortion; they're all symptoms of worldwide paranoia and a national anxiety attack. For the first time we as a people and, more importantly, as individuals, are realizing, that if someone truly wanted to, they could find out everything about you; and, even more frightening, we've seen before and know there are people out there that actually get off on doing this. They want to know everything, they need to know everything - to preserve their "way of life".

The reactions of those people that can't cope go further and further toward a pure-like madness - a kookiness that can only be dissected after the fact, when it's far too late to do anything about it.

So what does it mean? Is society spiraling faster and faster to the realm of nutball? Are the Christians right? Will the sky split open; will Charlton Heston and the Victoria's Secret Angels come down from heaven and lay waste to the people that can't color coordinate? Or are they, the Christians, just taking a two thousand year old book way too seriously?

Or, after 200 years of supporting an empire based on acquiring money and of buying happiness, have we run out of things to make us happy? Are we moving so quickly in a society based upon material gain that we no longer have enough time in our life to purchase enough items to make us happy? Is that why we we're moving so much faster these days?

Are we, instead of seeking peace in an internal nature, seeking material items to make us forget about the restlessness in our natures; only to discover that, at the end of it all, we're still just as empty and restless as when we began?

Where will the evolutionary cycle branch toward next? Will we, as a race, finally shed off our humanity and merge with the electronic? Or will we turn back toward the spirit and nature?

Hell, I don't know. I'm too paranoid to figure it out.