The Gilis

Welcome to Indonesia where the government might execute you for drugs on the one hand…or, option two—local shopkeepers will sell you magic mushroom cocktails. Take your pick.

Choose wisely.

Not far from Bali are the three Gili islands. They are so microscopic that they have no room for cars and no need of police. The Indonesian government is generally pretty severe but for some reason they just simply aren’t interested in killing the tourists who come to taste the magic.

It reminds me a bit of the Glastonbury Festival next to Stonehenge where vendors display homemade signs testifying to the potency and liberating qualities of their psychedelic potions.

This is quite a different vibe from another area of Indonesia, Aceh Provence. This is a semi automatous region which observes Sharia law. Aceh is on the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island where the tsunami hit. Here, Islamic criminal code addresses ‘morality’ offenses like gambling, adultery, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex. A common punishment for these offenses is a good ol’ public beat down. This is considered women’s work and there is an official female flogging squad.

“And one to grow on!” (like being whipped by an Islamic Ninja Turtle)

You can walk around any of the Gilis in hour or two and each of the islands has a different flavor. Gili Menlo is called the honeymooners island and is pretty sleepy. Gili Air is the most old-timey. And then there is the Trawangan which is partee’ central. I like the sign in a Gili cafe that points out, “We don’t have wifi, talk to people like it’s 1995.”

One thing that happens on Tarawangan is that for a month every year there is a gathering of circus performers who come to hone their craft. They trade techniques and ideas around their acts and they can be seen all over the island. This gives the place a whiff of Burning Man but with far better beaches.

One thing about Burning Man is that there are lots of police and since it’s federal land they will ticket you for marijuana and other substances. They also issue speeding tickets. One of our campmates got a $300 ticket for going 9 in a 5 mph (the slow speed is meant to keep the dust down) so the park cops are essentially dust busters.*

*Another amusing notion, like my ha-larious dust busters joke, is the following: My pal Avi Loeb is one of the most prominent Astrophysicists today as the long time chair of Harvard’s astronomy department. He is also the chairman of the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative.

This is a 100 million dollar plan to sail to Alpha Centauri—four light years away using tiny space kites driven by a laser at 20% the speed of light. Funded largely by Silicon Valley’s Uri Milner the aim is to go to another star system and send back vacation photos.

OK, here’s the point. Avi is from Israel and is Jewish. He and his team are building a space laser.

Congresswoman Marjorie Greene has pointed out that the California wildfires were started by a Jewish space laser. The Starshot Initiative folks ‘claim’ they want to go to Alpha Centauri but Marjorie knows better. The fact is that it wouldn’t start a fire and a time machine would be necessary but she is unshaken in her conculsion. All this makes as much sense as her standing at the podium in Congress telling the world she is not allowed to speak.

2,000 years ago the Roman Emperor Caligula appointed his horse, Incitatus, to the Roman Senate so we don’t have a lock on such shenanigans. Caligula threw legendary parties, though (if you lived through them). I hear Marjorie’s parties involve a tiresome tour of her Confederate flag collection.

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