Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Polyamoralicious and Spirals

Funny how things are with humans. We grow older and, with fortune, humility and persistence, come to realizations about themselves. Realizations which were in some ways very clear from the beginning.

I'm thinking about a friend of mine, let's call her "Sarah". When we were both in college, she was a fun and freaky little thing. Very into sex, or at least sensuality, she had a variety of experiences, some of which I was a part of. Then she met her man, and became monogamous.

Now after having reconnected with her years later, it turns out that she's just recently realized she's polyamorous. She wants loving relationships with more than one person at a time. This was very tough for her man - the same one she met in college - but they were working it out. After what must have been a rather intense conversation that took place on Christmas day...

A cynical part of my mind wonders if Sarah has just become disenchanted with this man in particular, and is unconsciously finding a way to leave. With others this might be more believeable - but polyamory fits very closely with that Sarah I first met. Back in college, Sarah enjoyed an essentially polyamorous lifestyle. She liked having a few different very close people to fool around with, and was not visibly jealous of those others' escapades as long as she received closeness. It's taken a journey of roughly 15 years, for her to realize this more fully about herself.

As for me, while I've not yet discovered that I'm polyamorous (at least, not much more than most other single men), I have been realizing ways I am in relationships which have been similarly evident, for 15 years or longer.

A lot of life's lessons seem like this. Not so much a circle, as a spiral. It is a blessing that, on making the journey of discovery, with perseverance humility and good fortune we may come back to some place near where we began - but with a much higher level of understanding, and a greater range of vision.

This spiraling process may also show that when we started on our journey, we may not have been as wrong as we thought we were.

ADDigression 1 - Rather mythic, isn't it, this journey through a labyrinth of relationships, to bring the grail of self-knowledge back home? Like Joseph Campbell meets the Kinsey Report...

ADDigression 2 - interesting links.

Kosher Polyamory
Polyamory and the hierarchy of relationships
An outsiders account of the Kerista Polyamorous commune, 1971 - 1991.

ADDigression 3 - The accepted term is "polyamory" and not "polyamorality" - to avoid the awkwardness of the full word "amorality" inside. Critics would say it's still in the lifestyle itself; adherents would say polyamory is very moral, it's just an acknowledgement of the reality of human attraction and a way to build relationships that honor it.

Certainly, the extent that human relationships remain completely monogamous for lifetime spans is pretty small. Living as we do now in an increasing vacuum of church, state and society-enforced morality, it seems that it's up to consenting adults to determine what is and isn't moral with their sexing. We'll be able to determine what really works best for humans psychology in 100 years. Or by 2012 when the Aliens come, if you prefer.

ADDigression 4 - If the Aliens come, will we even notice? Will they have to get jobs like everyone else? Will they be outsourced to other Aliens, and protest by disintegrating management?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nutball v. Obama

So some nut petitioned the Pennsylvania District Court for injunctive relief. Said nut basically wants to forbid the Electoral College from certifying Barack Obama as President, at their upcoming meeting on December 15.

This guy's rationale is that Obama is not a US citizen, because Obama's father was not at a US citizen. This, the dude claims, means that according to the original Constitution Obama can't be President.

This is related to an ongoing meme that won't die - that Obama is hiding his original birth certificate because it will somehow reveal he wasn't born in the US. A scan of the birth certificate has been provided. All appropriate Hawaii state personnel have confirmed the scan is genuine, that Obama is a US citizen, and also that he is not the artificially inseminated love-child of Malcolm X (as another conservative blogger actually claimed!! Seriously!!).

So this guy and others have concocted various rationales to "prove" the scan is a Photoshop fake. All of which have been debunked, but like Iran-Contra it's just never talked about.

This crap shouldn't even need debunking. If there was an ounce of possible truth to this crap, wouldn't it have been pursued to Hell and back by Bush, McCain and the rest of the GOP? Or Hillary in the primaries, for that matter? And if Obama would forge a birth certificate, don't you think he'd slap down another $500 from his donations to forge with an actual typewriter on paper? But some people just don't want to be a part of any reality that has Obama making it the Black House.

Anyway, the district court denied the guy's petition for injunctive relief, and then further dismissed his entire suit. And that was that. But the nutball then petitioned the Third Circuit for emergency relief. (In East Brunswick NJ, of all places.) They also sent the nutball packing. So he then took it to the Supreme Court, where Justice Souter refused to hear it.

So this persistent-like-a-rash nutball took it over to Justice Thomas. And Thomas actually agreed to bring it to current consideration before the other justices. This is either because a) the GOP knew what it was doing by appointing Thomas, as he is a house Negro Uncle Tom, or b) because Obama criticized Thomas once during the election, Thomas is a bitter angry and vindictive house Negro Uncle Tom.

As things stand, it can apparently take one SCOTUS judge to declare an emergency stay. I don't see Thomas doing this by himself. He's the only current justice (possibly the only one in US history) to not write down the reasoning for his decisions. So if anyone could get away with it, he could. But I doubt he'd want to stick his neck out alone.

And since the other conservative SCOTUS justices write down their reasons, Roberts Alito and Scalia are unlikely to join Thomas. Since it would take four judges to hear Nutball v. Obama, and five to grant a stay - it seems astronomically remote that anything Nutball v. Obama will go any further.

I'm just amazed at what one nutball with court access can do.

Said nutball's website - . (I shit you not.)

And here's his surprisingly lucid description of the process, and what's to follow:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mitch Mitchell rides on into the sky

Sad to see you go. The joy and power of the music you made with Jimi Hendrix had a huge impact my life. Even though it was first recorded before I was born.

Here's to the rhinestone-studded drum throne that awaits, at the Great Jam in the Sky.

If you could, say hi to Studs Terkel for all of us, as well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Hey, Ads by Google? Go fuck yourself. ->

For the next day or so, as you look to the right of this article, you may see a "Yes on Proposition 8" piece of shite camouflaged as a blog ad.

They are shovellin' that shite far and wide.

So, let it be known that I don't agree with it, and if that link makes me any money I'm donating it to the most pro-Gay Marriage charity I can find.

Honestly. People need to not deny rights to other people. It's that simple. All the things going on with our present and our future, and people are spending their money holding onto a past that was only an illusion anyway. Gay people were around, in love and having long relationships since before history began. What's their love got to do with yours? How does their calling what they have "marriage" and them applying for the legal protection they want, lessen anyone else's marriage OR legal rights in any way, shape or form?

Come on people. Use what's between your ears - because while you're worked up about this, your preachers, pundits and still-standing Presidents are stealing your wallets and selling them to China.

Update: Well the vote's over now, at least. I can only hope that once all the votes are counted, Proposition 8 still goes down into the dust. Or, failing that, the California Supreme Court shitcans it like the shit it is.

Turns out the Utah Mormons are behind it. I guess if they can't have their wacky marriages, no one can. Well, here's the deal you fuckers: first Nevada went blue, and now you're next. Better retreat to Area 51.

Update 2: So much for that.

There is one consolation, one hope and one lesson. The consolation: this passed with lower numbers than the the last one. The hope: that this one will get shot down as unconstitutional, just like the last one.

And the lesson, that it seems liberals and progressives have to keep learning: thinking we're right is not enough to win.

I've heard some blame Proposition 8's passage on African-American and Latino voters - but what did white liberals and progressives do to convince them to vote against it?

Many Californians, me included, were sure this proposition wouldn't pass. So we didn't reach out beyond our convinced circles. So a bunch of freakin' white-bread conservatives and even MORMONS were able to connect more with African-Americans and Latinos than we did.

That's right. Conservatives, who routinely tar all Latinos as illegal immigrants to blame for all their woes, while they at the same time exploit them for cheap labor...and Mormons - who belong to a church so racist at it's core that until recently they publicly forbade all non-caucasians from any positions of power.

How could we blow that kind of advantage?

Right before the vote I saw a deluge of ads for Proposition 8, and barely any against. So I thought we were just outspent; but I was surprised to find out that's not the case. Funding against Proposition 8 was even greater than that for it. Perhaps those for Proposition 8 had a more united strategy.

In any case, just buying a bunch of ads is clearly not enough. We need to go in there and connect with people we disagree with, and find a way to sway them. If Mormons and conservatives can connect through religion, then we need to get comfortable with religion. Or really, just more comfortable...that might be another ugly truth Proposition 8 reveals: even though us white liberals and progressives and want what's best for all regardless of skin, religion, income, background, race, gender, sex preference etc. I really aren't hanging out with our fellow non-white Americans.

I'm not saying we should go out and self-conscisously try to get more "non-white friends" or something. Honestly, what's more false, disgusting, and patronizing than that? Turns my stomach just to think of it. But we do need to be more with other communities, and not just try to change the world by sending anonymous money to ad campaigns.

Hell, there's probably a lot of social conservatives we could have convinced to vote against Proposition 8, just by pointing out over some beers how much money all those weddings make for California.

We've got to plan better and do better. We've got a lot to do in this country. Let's get it together.

Friday, October 17, 2008

sepultura -territory

Just so much power, it's almost too much for a human head to withstand without exploding.

And not one time-wasting puerile lyric about the Devil either.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

David Brooks: Using black magic to pull rabbits from his ass

I love to hate saccharin-coated gourmet crapslinger David Brooks. Every week he graces the NY Times with a fresh example of a high art: writing as black magic. His method is simple but extremely well executed. He'll compose an article of smoothly-phrased selective information, and carefully place within it one KEY implied assumption.

It's like a magician's trick, where he sets the stage, points the audience towards the Left and pulls a rabbit from his ass.

His latest article, "Big Government Ahead", doesn't disappoint.

First, Brooks sets the stage as firmly in the present and the future.

We're in the middle of a financial crisis, but most economists say there is a broader economic crisis still to come...By the time the recession is in full force, America's Democrats will probably be running the government.

Here we see Brooks is a true master. A lesser conservative writer would blame the Left for the current situation, while they excuse the Right. But by simply starting as if the world began today, he gracefully avoids any need to even deal with how Republican and conservative people, policies, and ideology might be even partly responsible for how we got here.

Next, Brooks writes several paragraphs of how bad things are now, and how bad he thinks they will become. Here he shows more of his subtle slickness; he doesn't even mention the Republican party. Instead he only gives a passing nod to John McCain, and a scaremongering mention of Newt Gingrich - who doesn't even hold office. Thus Brooks conjures a future in which Republicans will have NO effect on economic policy - not even as a minority party, not even as voices in the wilderness.

And therefore all the hypothetical bad things in the future can only be blamed on the Democrats, you see.

This implication of minority-party powerlessness, is clearly contradicted by a quick look into the past Brooks is avoiding. Recall how the minority party House Republicans completely derailed the $700 billion bailout package, until they got the added goodies they desired?

...But to just stop at this logical mistake, is to be distracted from it's lower purpose. It's a seeming oversight that's a setup for the misdirect. Just like a stage magician might appear to stumble - while he is in fact preparing to launch the rabbit in his pants.

Now that an unwary reader's eyes are pointed critically towards the Left, Brooks launches the rabbit from his haunches:

The new situation will reopen old rifts in the Democratic Party.

One the one side, liberals will argue...

On the other hand, the remaining moderates will argue...

Did you catch that?

The hidden key assumption is that with a President Obama and a Democratic House and Congress, it won't be liberals vs. conservatives, but liberals vs. moderates.

From this seed, many further implications spring.

First, as we all know, moderates are safe, reasonable and balanced. Therefore if liberals are opposed to moderates, they must be unreasonable, unsafe and insane radicals.

Next, by describing Democratic non-liberals as the "few remaining moderates" Brooks implies that the crazy Democratic party liberals will outnumber and overpower all the sane, helpless moderates within the entire effective government.

Then, possibly most deceptively at all, this hidden key assumption also obliviates(*tm) the fact that the Democratic party *also* has conservatives. And, once again looking at the past Brooks is avoiding, constantly clash with Democratic liberals and often side with their Republican conservative counterparts.

A few sentences later, as a stage magician would make a final flourish with the inexplicably brown-stained rabbit, Brooks gracefully tap-tap-taps his key assumption just a wee bit further to set it firmly in place. The subtle efficiency with which Brooks achieves this is true writing craftsmanship.

Obama will try to straddle the two camps - he seems to sympathize with both sides - but the liberals will win.

Now, the first tap is slick enough:

Tap 1. The completely crazy non-moderate liberals will certainly win, to the point of overruling Obama.

But hidden beneath this are no less than three further innuendos driving this assumption home:

Tap 2: Obama is only HALF sane, because he's both a liberal sympathizer and a Democrat moderate sympathizer.

Tap 3: There's only *two* sides in the Democratic party. Liberals and moderates. No one else, that's it! And certainly no conservatives!

Tap 4: If the Democratic party has only 2 sides, liberal and moderate - then Obama has no sympathy for Republican or even Democratic conservative views.

Four innuendoes in just one sentence! The last three so easily missed, in fact, that I didn't even parse them out until just now, well past the 5th draft of this post.

So to sum up the badly-smelling brown-covered pants-rabbit of Brooks' article:

1. anything and everything that goes wrong in America for the next 8 years can only be the fault of Democrats, because they're the only people in power, and no one else exists
2. certainly no conservatives will be involved in anything that goes wrong, because none of them exist in government now either
3. of those Democrats, it will be more the fault of liberals than moderates - because liberals are crazy non-moderates
4. Obama will fail in controlling the insane unsafe never-moderate liberals, because he sympathizes with some of them - which means he's at least partly insane as well.

I hate all that Brooks is trying to accomplish here. Nevertheless I must at the same time acknowledge that this is great writing. That it's used for dark aims of deception doesn't detract from the focus, skill and craft involved. It only makes it more tragic. A very smart man with schooled charm and very sharply honed writing skills, is using his gifts to try and fool people.

For us humans to do anything consistently, we must convince ourselves that it's right. So the only way I could see putting that much conscious effort and years of honed skill into manipulation like this, is to think that people must be fooled for their own good. What a sad, messed up world. Where our democracy is not a blessing but an inconvenience; the peasants can't be trusted to make up their own free minds - they must be beguiled towards the goals of their betters.

Brooks concludes this article, in a way sure to salve the wounds of those conservatives wounded by reality's recent economic meltdown, election of Barack Obama, and other refutations of their worldviews:

The over-reach is coming. The backlash is next.

Brooks' problem is that the over-reach was committed by the 2000-2006 GOP, and the backlash gave the Democrats control of both houses for the first time in decades. And it's only getting started. The more Americans realize how awful the so-called conservative movement and it's GOP host-succubus has been for America, the greater this backlash will become.

Big changes are clearly coming in the political environment, and hence for both David Brooks and the ideological constituency which he serves. I think Brooks is trying to reposition himself. He probably will avoid mentioning conservative figures or ideology - favorably OR unfavorably - as much as possible. He will instead camouflage himself and the politics he serves by deifying conservative figures and goals in the holy cloak of "moderation". And demonize all non-conservatives as doubleplusungood liberals. And thus try to maintain his facade as a reasonable pundit, while waiting for the mob of angry peasants to pass by.

* obliviate - (noun) - 1. to obliterate from memory by blowing over it with bloviation. 2. In the Harry Potter universe, a memory charm which erases the recipients memory.

Woke up and had to hear "Mean Streets" this morning.

By good ol' Van Halen. So I went straight to youtube, and dug this up: a CD version of
the song that some unnamed VH devotee synced up to a 1981 Italian TV performance.

Man, I forgot just how completely, ridiculously, beyond-shameless-to-the-point-of-brilliant over-the-top David Lee Roth was.

This music has enough smart writing to make it prog-rock, if it didn't rock so hard. And the lyrics to this song, like almost of all Roth's lyrics, also show real depth on close inspection. Roth wrote them after touring around the world with Van Halen for a couple of years, and seeing what it was like to live in really poor areas. The lyrics are about what it's like to live in a place where there is no hope except what you're ready to fight and kill for.

From the performance, we can see the visual template this era of Van Halen provided for the hair-metal bands to follow: the sleaziness, the glam, the rivers of long hair, the screaming guitar-solo heroism. These were the only things the wearying streams of lesser bands were able to copy. They missed the substance beneath the style: the musical cleverness of Van Halen's writing and arrangements, Eddie Van Halen's great skills as a rhythm guitarist, and the real philosophy behind the Roth-era Van Halen's bohemian hedonism. Van Halen was not braindead rock antics; it was brainy rock antics filled with originality, joy and life. It was broadcasting the realization that life is perhaps short and anyways always now, so it is incumbent on us the living to have as much joy as possible.

Sans shame, regret, or any thought of being cool to others. More like being so cool yourself, from the inside out, that there's no way anyone else can ever dim it...

Or it was just about all the girls.

But more probably, both.

And so, Van Halen of the Roth variety, from my office job this morning I salute you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The enigma of modern Conservatism(tm)

Conservatism (tm) the brand is fascinating to me. It puts candidates in office, publishes millions of dollars in books and fills our media with thousands of hours of intensely spirited blather - but Conservatism (tm) still has no consistent underlying philosophy that I've been able to identify.

I don't even know if self-called conservatives know what Conservatism (tm) is. There's a general list of things they like - "State's rights, small government, keep government out of private affairs, no abortions, fiscal responsibility, interpret the Constitution as it was originally intended, support the troops." All fine in theory, but it seems like a bunch of stuff that's just baked together. With God, Guns, and no Gay marriage sprinkled on top.

And not only that, when the rubber meets the road:

- They're for "state's rights" unless a Federal court can overturn a state and put their President in power;
- They're for the Constitution as originally interpreted unless it can shut off speech they don't like;
- They're against earmarks unless they benefit a GOPerated state;
- They're against big government unless they're running it;
- They're against government intrusion in people's private lives, unless those people are having sex,
- They're against Hollywood celebrities but love Arnold Schwarzenegger, Drew Carey, Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Fred Thompson...
- They're against abortion because "it's murder", but don't want to fund programs that would help women actually support and raise their children - which would also result in less abortions
- They're "for the troops" but vote against benefits for veterans,
- They're against big-city fancy-talking latte-drinking wine-snob elitists, except for cross-dressing NY multimillionaires like Rudy Guiliani
- They're against "Washington insiders" and "lying politicians", except for every candidate they've nominated for President since Eisenhower, with the possible exception of Gerald Ford;
-They're "for fiscal responsibility" but somehow have - **every time** they have a President in office - unbalanced the budget and increased the national debt. More than any Democratic presidents have done.

Quite a long list of contradictions in action. And there is nothing I've been able to figure out, that ties all this together.

Now, part of what eases these contradictions is whether or not Conservatism (tm)'s customer base - white males from the Midwest and the South - wants 'em. And their familes and parents, to a lesser degree.

But there must be some sort of metaphysical component to it - because a lot of people sincerely believe in Conservatism (tm). Even though - and this is the part that really baffles me - ***there doesn't seem to be anything to believe in***.
(They're cognitive dissidents?)

Perhaps it's like "believing" in a rock band, or an actor? It's much more of an emotional connection, or a personal identification? But rock bands and actors don't spontaneously inspire commitees and laws to do their bidding.

I thought I had figured out a basic unspoken belief system for "Conservatism (tm)" that tied all the tenets together **and** explained how easily conservatives can wander away from them. It's simply: “Fuck everyone else”. But that Unified Freak Theory was trashed this year, when I saw some of the Republican National Convention. The crowd itself responded in spontaneous droves to the brutal increase in oil prices, with "Drill! We need to drill for oil! That will solve our dependence on oil! Drill! Drill! DRILLLL!!!!!!!!"

Even though:
- our energy companies aren't asking to drill offshore, and have no plans to
- these companies aren't even pursuing drilling on all the property they **already are able to drill** at;
- and even tho every study tirelessly released to the media shows:

a) the US would again much more gas by increasing fuel standards
b) the most oil this new drilling could generate would only be a sliver of what we import, and thus would barely affect the price at all
c) the oil would take years or more to even reach the market.

From the above, our OBVIOUS best choice is to start the transition off of oil. Come on! We burn it, and the Earth doesn't make more of it! The longer we burn it, the harder the transition will get! How hard is that to understand?

But as this factless "DRILL YEEAARRGHH!!" outlook on reality shows, the followers of Conservatism (tm) are heartily resisting any transition off of oil that they can possibly imagine.

And why?? What does drilling for oil even have to do with the mess of things they *say* they care about? It has screw-all to do with big government, abortion, God guns or gays. Replacing oil would make us *less* dependent on furriners, not more. In a logical world you’d think they’d love that.

This *is* a logical world, of course. It’s just the logic gets hidden when it’s unconscious. Oil usage is now part of the Big America they love; part of that ideology that they’ve been sold on that’s all boiled together into one greasy sugary mess.

So the way I think of it now is, Conservatism (tm) is one part "Fuck everyone else", one part “Don't make me think, I want what I feel!”, and one part “blarg goofle vshitiltfixaxen huff huff AYEEEEH USA USA USA!”

I could make a flow chart from this that would blow your mind.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dear Barack: The Veep Choice That Could Shock the World


Hillary Clinton will NOT be Obama's choice for VP because:

1) HIllary will not give Obama one state he does not have already.

2) Hillary as VP will make thousands more Republicans in swing states actually go to the polls and vote for McCain - when otherwise, unexcited by McCain, they are morely likely to stay home.

3) Hillary and Bill introduce noise and missteps to a campaign that Obama has run nearly flawlessly.

4) Bill seems to personally resent Barack Obama, and will be unpredictable *and* put under the microscope - producing even more noise.

5) Most importantly, if elected Hillary is not likely to follow Obama's lead. They both want to be the boss, and only one of them can be. If Hillary won, Obama would be an unlikely choice for her VP for precisely this same reason.

I think Obama's VP choice will not be Biden, Bayh, Daschle, Sibelius, or even Clark. It will be someone who most of us have not heard of. Someone who has credible and serious experience in foreign policy, and (hopefully) domestic policy, at high levels, but is also relatively new to the national stage.

Along those lines, of the names I've heard mentioned I think the most likely bet is Tim Kaine. Governor of Virginia, bipartisan experience, blue-collar background and Harvard-educated lawyer, winner of many accolades for his work in fair housing. He would put Virginia in play, and also strengthen opportunities for Congress and Senate candidates in Virginia.

That's my prediction.

We'll all see, in just a few days. Things are heating up for a greatly-watched season finale here. I hope the good guys win. Or at least, the non-incompetent guys who haven't been in the White House for the past 7 years.


Ahem! Turns out it was Biden after all. OK then.

In retrospect, this was a good choice in that it was quite safe, and not providing any sort of in-line for McCain: Biden's differed from Obama somewhat, which insulates Obama from criticisms of groupthink; Biden comes from Delaware which is considered relatively non-latte-drinking, and therefore Biden is hard to tag as an elitist.

McCain of course picked Palin. In some ways a smart political decision for the McCain campaign; it was his best chance to unite his own party, perhaps get some Hillary-supporting dead-enders. And possibly cause the Obama campaign to overreact. Which some thought they did, at least for a while.

Unfortunately for the McCain campaign, those who aren't GOP Uber Alles see Palin as completely unqualified, not intellectually curious, possibly power-abusing, and absolutely on-record before the cameras a liar. A serial liar who just keeps lying.

I think the American people as a majority are seeing this, and seeing also how her choice reflects on McCain, and will vote accordingly.

The next step: making sure this election isn't close enough to steal.

Friday, August 1, 2008

5.8? No, 5.4

So there I was talking with a co-worker about a manual I was writing, when the building started shaking like a bag of jelly. I suggested, "Looks like it's time to go outside then." But surprisingly there were no takers. People were just standing around, kind of frozen. Some acoustic ceiling tile fell about this time. The shaking was done, in fact the quake was done. And I was kind of frozen too, just 'cause no one else was moving.

Another guy said "Come on. Let's go outside. Who are the real native californians here?" and the spell was broken. We went down the stairwell. Part of the way down the stairwell the panic started to take effect among some. They started rushing past where I and others were to get outside.

It's a funny thing. I felt the trouble was already passed, but wanted to get outside to make sure. I later heard that you're not supposed to go outside. Maybe if there's no clear open space nearby, and you're in danger of being clobbered by power lines or falling debris. Otherwise I consider the stay-inside strategy pure nonsense.

Soon everyone was in the courtyard, chatting it up but no one relaxed enough to have a cigarette. We started a betting pool. I went with 5.3, another co-worker went with 5.4.

Several hours we were all back in the office, and all the power went off. Everyone's computers went down. I'm just a contractor - like "I'm just a caveman" - but maybe we should have something ready for that contingency.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Itchily waiting for my new laptop

Why can't you leave Shanghai already? Are you in love with a MacBook Air or something? Look, maybe I'll take you back there some day. GET ON THE PLANE!

You've been in Shanghai for the last 36 freakin' hours. Get the LED out.


It finally leaves Shanghai...and goes to Anchorage???


Update 2: Now it's in Indianapolis.

Made great time getting there. 8 hours. Must have crossed a couple of time zones, too. Seeing the world before you settle down, is that it?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


As I was bicycling in to work this morning, I was thinking of choice in our society, from the bottom up.

We are all responsible for the choices we make. But we don't determine all the options we choose between. Most options are handed to us by our environment, with no alternatives. And we build our lives over time from how we choose between them.

We're not doomed to be mechanistic. No matter what the influence of our backgrounds, brains and bodies, we can do the work to free our minds and choose. But if the most enlightened man on Earth is presented with a choice of only bread or water, he still won't be able to choose cake.

This holds true whether we're talking about the Middle East or the sale of crystal meth. Give a US kid a perceived choice between either being broke or selling drugs, he is more likely to choose selling drugs. Give a young man in Saudi Arabia a choice between following US-supported leaders who oppress him, or following radical clerics who offer him the chance to strike against that government and ours - and he is more likely to become our enemy. Give either human being a better option, and they are more likely to choose better.

They are still accountable for whatever choice they make, and should be held so. It's just that if we want people to make better choices, then for the long-term pragmatically AND morally it behooves us to present people with a better set of options.

Which brings us to leaders. Until this morning, I thought of leaders merely as people who tell us what to do. Now I see our leaders as people who choose and manage the options which WE choose from. Their choices influencing our choices.

This is an interesting way to see things, as it respects our free will and theirs. We are all equals able to make choices - we're just about different things. And in the US and many other countries, we are fortunate enough to be able to choose our leaders, whose choices then influence our options for future choices.

It's all about choice, always. Choice is life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Amazon Tribe has language without numbers

Cognitive scientists have discovered an Amazonian tribe called the Piraha have a language that does not have numbers. The closest thing it has to numbers are relative words to compare quantities - words which can mean less, more, "a few" or "more than a few", depending on what's being compared.

Why this matters
The use of words is hardwired into the human brain. We know this conclusively because children who have grown up without human contact have been able to create their own languages. It was thought possible that counting and numbers could also be hardwired into our brains - but this discovery seems to prove that wrong.

What this means for human thinking

From the article:
One other discovery of the project is that the Piraha can perform exact matching tasks as long as there is no memory component to them, but once there is a memory component, they approximate their matches. This suggests that language is a cognitive technology that aids humans in memory tasks.

As I'm understanding this, when the speakers' tasks involve the present, the speakers use their words to exactly match shown quantities. But if the tasks involve a comparison with the past, the speakers change to a relative comparison method.

Comparing with the past, of course, involves the use of memory. From this, these cognitive scientists think it likely that human language was created at least in part to help with memory.

For what it's worth, this makes complete sense to me. Language and memory are very deeply linked together. Thinking back through my own memories, they're all linked up through language. Either it's a concept such as "playing sports", or "first day of school", or it's something specific someone said to me, or a grand achievement or disappointment - which all plays into story, which is all based on language.

Also, and more indicative - I don't have any long-term memories that occur before I learned language. It may be possible that some people really do have pre-verbal memories from before they learned language - but if so, those memories are still more rare and less clear.

The fact that a language lacking in numbers is so incredibly rare - only one found so far out of almost 7000 currently spoken - indicates what real survival value the use of specific numbers gives us.

What this means for our history
Current science indicates that our primate cousins and early competitors, the Neanderthals, also had language. From what we can tell they had a skilled stone tool culture. They also were apparently stronger and tougher than us, and had larger brains (for what that's worth). They were settled in and established for thousands of years before we came across them. So why did they disappear so quickly?

One theory is that our Cro Magnon ancestors were able to supplant them by using language not only to communicate, but also for symbolic and conceptual thinking. The Cro-Magnons thus could imagine possibilities that did not yet exist, and also compare the present with the past in terms of changing needs. Both of these capabilities are key to better planning for the present and for the future.

Numbers would fit in exactly with this sort of revolutionary advantage. In computer terms, developing a concept for numbers would be a specific and actual software change - a language change that enabled us to create newer and better programs for ourselves.

Picture the scene. Neanderthals say: "We're hungry. We saw some deer by the river last time, maybe there's enough of them." Cro Magnons say: "We have 7 people. Our tribe needs more than 4 deer to survive. We only saw 3 deer at the river. I see trails for 5 deer going over the hill - let's hunt them instead."

The idea that human survival over competition is due to software (as in language and concepts), as opposed to hardware (as in genetically inherited brainpower), sure is another nice cup of STFU to any notion of innate genetic superiority of any subdivision of humanity. But what interests me in a larger sense is what this means for humanity's relationship to the Universe.

The Universe appears to be based on numbers and math. It operates according to laws that have specific ratios which can be quantified. Even when it has randomness, that randomness is visible in contrast to the Universe's apparent reliance on number-based laws.

But our understanding of math is not built-in. It appears to be a software-only advantage. Something that was wholly learned, which has helped us to survive.

Which means to me that this is one more way that the Universe wants us to learn and to thrive. It is rewarding us specifically for our learning. It's giving and showing us an ever-expanding cycle - by learning, we can live, and be able to learn better and live better, and move ever further towards a more beautiful horizon.

Among the current lessons the Universe has assigned us: learning to not treat each other like crap, and learning that gasoline might not last forever.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

OK, Google - you're kicking too much ass. Stop it.

I mean, Jesus, guys. This is just ridiculous.

Already you have me in Gmail, Google Notebooks, Google Calendar, Google Docs. This very blog is written on your subsidiary Blogspot. From your Youtube, I can get a quick fix of almost any video I want to see. I mean *anything*. From training videos in Ableton 7 to amateur stripteases. From Noam Chomsky to Don freakin' Knotts.

Then there's Google Finance. Google Health, so I won't forget my own blood type again. Google Reader, Google Analytics, Google AdSense...I'm starting to spend more time in the freakin' Google Operating System than I spend hating on George Bush.

But that's not even enough for you, is it, you unbelievably helpful overproductive info-achievers? No, anthropomorphized Google, you had to go and do this: a language translator that even handles Hindi.

Did you know I'm fascinated by Indian culture? Can you read my mind? Is this some sort of trap? Maybe I should use Google Shopping to find a nice tinfoil-lined chapeau, so I can keep Google Brain from becoming my new overlord until Google God sends me to Pathfinder Purgatory or Lycos Limbo?

Of course, it does many other languages as well, and translates both ways. Far more than babelfish of altavista, which now joins the dusty electron-collections of the past...







And then they had to include an option for native-language speakers to improve Google's translation!!


And - on top of all that, here's the kicker - a FREE widget you can put on your website, so visitors can translate it into any language that they want?

I mean, come on Googlers. Really. What is right with you people???

It's like you're addicted. Seriously, someone needs to stage an intervention here. I know Yahoo would like to.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

September 20th, 2001 - Aftermath Now.

This was The Daily Show's first broadcast after September 11, 2001. I missed it at the time. Just today it occurred to me to look it up.

As I see this today, I have the advantage of looking backwards across all the intervening years. I recall how that day's events affected and wounded me, reflected in Jon Stewart's recorded face. I see the journey our country has traveled since that day. And I see the spine and good character inherent in this man. A man who since that time has become one of my personal heroes, for the great aid and sometimes even life support he's given to the soul of America.

Thank you, Jon.

Going meta on those who are going meta on the AP

The AP is the latest of old-media princesses to start flailing around in rage and desperation, because the blogging peasantry is usurping their rightful place. US and international copyright law isn't doing enough to keep the commoners handing over coin, so the AP is threatening to sue bloggers for quoting or linking to their articles.

Tech Crunch lays it all out beautifully:

...the Associated Press...went after Drudge Retort for having the audacity to link to their stories along with short quotations via reader submissions...frankly the fact that they are being linked to should be considered a favor.

...[The AP] do not want people quoting their stories, despite the fact that such activity very clearly falls within the fair use exception to copyright law.

Even such natural enemies as conservative and liberal bloggers are united on the absolute shite-suckitude of AP's position. That's because this position is basically "Waaaaaah!" It's certainly not every day when a liberal blogger like me actually agrees with Conservative Yankee. His rather funny and pointed idea: bloggers should turn around and start charging the AP, for fact-checking their awful-to-the-point-of-negligence reporting.

Just doing a quick check of my content from the present back until the beginning of May, the Associated Press owes me editorial services fees of $2,580 for 1,032 words correcting AP stories dating back to May 2.

But of course, such an ideological truce is not to last forever. Not when further delicious meta-memetic ironies can turn in on each other.

Thus the liberal commoners commentators at Sadly, No! responded with an invoice, for the amount of words they've expended correcting Confederate Yankee's occasionally fact-free invective.

This is snark times snark, or snark cubed if you will. It is like candy-coated crack to me. I love the fact that such a beautifully involuted snark can even take place. That is a really beautiful aspect of the interlocking networks of information which we have now. Real beauty emerges from beneath the surface, and can be created at any level. The savage ballet of ideas in battle can now be performed on any floor, of a palace as large as we care to make it.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the AP to either snatch the lease or knock it down.

Monday, June 16, 2008

time capsule: expectations from obama

I had a beer with my friend Jason last night. After discussing women for a while, we moved on to topic with slightly less baggage and heartbreak: politics.

At that point I was challenged to place my expectations of an Obama presidency into a time capsule, so we can check back and see what actually happened in the next few years. Since it seems pretty likely that Obama will defeat McCain, unless he's found in bed with a live boy or a dead woman.

1) Universal health coverage that's a step towards a single-payer health care system. It'll probably still have insurance companies in the loop, unfortunately, but it will be much better than what we have.

2) An Apollo Program-style alternative energy initiative - similar to the JFK initiative, to place a man on the moon in ten years. This would be the intelligent thing to do, and Obama isn't directly beholden to oil company interests, so I think this actually has a high probability of being started.

3) Tax cuts rolled back on the upper class, meaning an effective increase on their current taxes - and lower taxes on the middle class and poor. This fits in clearly with Obama's more Clintonian tax policies, which simply work well. As opposed to trickle-down theories based on the aptly named Laffer Curve, which simply don't work and have never worked.

4) investment in education funding and loans for college - pretty much a done deal.

5) renewed investment in crumbling infrastructure - simply because it has to happen. Our roads, bridges and other structures have been neglected for 7 years now.

6) an EPA that actually goes after companies again.

7) other regulatory agencies actually doing more of their jobs again as well.

8) a considerable reduction of lobbying among all elected officials. Obama's already put this in place for his Presidential campaign - in order for your donation to be accepted, you have to certify that you are not donating on behalf of a corporation, or on behalf of any other individual person - just you, yourself.

So, with this policy already in place for Obama's presidential campaign, I think this is a rather safe prediction.

9) Sadly, a continued Iraq occupation - *but* no attack on iran.

I do think that we will maintain some military presence in Iraq indefinitely. Hopefully the occupation will be less violent, and will settle down to some sort of uneasy peace.

I think the best possible solution to the Iraq issue would be to just split it in 3 nations. Unfortunately that has it's own host of political difficulties to be ironed out - our ally Turkey will be furious about an independent Kurdistan, and Iran will have much more influence over 1/3 of Iraq's oil resources due to their cultural affiliation with their fellow Shiites in Iraq. But in this a bad situation, I think that's the least terrible solution...

No matter what happens, I still expect a continued US military presence until there's no more oil in Iraq. And if other oil remains in the region, possibly even then.

I've never met Obama personally, so for all I know he's fooling me and everyone who's voting for him. *But* an attack or invasion of Iran would be so suicidally stupid for us at this point, that there's no way I see an Obama presidency making this happen - even if the Obama administration were amoral and venal enough to consider it.

10) Finally, it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway: my number one expectation that I'm certain Obama can't help but deliver on, is to be better than McCain. We've dodged one huge bullet already: President Giuliani (shiver). If we can just not have the GOP in the White House for the next 4 years, we really have a good chance to undo all of the damage that has been done. And even to move forward.

I remember what it was like, to feel like our country and our world was heading forward on all fronts. It was so nice...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Information Highway Road Test

Filing this blog from my phone, at Cafe Brasil, around the corner-ish at 10831 Venice Blvd- where, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I had a lovely chat and meal with friend and writer Julie Orlov.

Today, the mission of life is on target.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The latest in video gaming. (The Onion)


'Warcraft' Sequel Lets Gamers Play A Character Playing 'Warcraft'

A tunelet

I got home late from a night of great music at a place called Studio Blue. It gave me a looping riff in my head, actually; so I stayed up til 4 having a blast with it in Reason.

Here's the loop:


At this point, it's all about figuring the next place to take it. I could layer in stuff on top of the same riff, or chop it up, or half-time, etc.'s like stumbling in the dark until I find the rocket launcher.

Monday, June 9, 2008

McCain campaign possibly getting all COINTELPRO on Obama's ass

The end of her campaign also means the beginning of GOP divide-and-conquer ops. Not at all surprising, but still interesting to see. If this email is genuine, of course.

From :

McCain's Plans to Wrest Clinton supporters from Obama

To: *******
From: S. Schmidt
Date: May 15, 2008

Subject: Clinton Strategy

...the Democratic Party is becoming increasingly polarized along certain segments of its base...[There is a] growing bitterness between certain supporters of Clinton and the Obama camp in general...

The specific group we are targeting is a cross-section of white, female voters over the age of 40....

This age group matches up with feminists who are more likely to identify with Hillary personally. They are also less likely to fear the SCOTUS ruling against Roe v. Wade, simply because they are at a much lower risk for pregnancy. Thus, they are less likely to face personal consequences of the conservative nominations a President McCain would make to the SCOTUS .

...We have already worked to reinforce the Clinton campaign’s narrative about the unfair treatment that some networks, specifically MSNBC, have given her camp....

Thus reinforcing the meme that Clinton lost due to sexism, and not because she simply didn't campaign as well. And very specifically, she didn't even have staff in many states that Obama did; Obama won 11 of these states straight in February. If Hillary had won even one of these, she might now be the Democratic nominee.

Simultaneously, our team has been testing new lines of attack through independent pro-Clinton communities on the Internet. Our hope is that our message here will spread by word-of-mouth.Our local community organizing has also been successful. We have organized dozens of “meet-ups” across the country for Clinton supporters, and we have used that time to stress the importance of punishing the DNC for choosing the undemocratically selected far-left Obama.

The COINTELPRO method - spread disinformation under the false flag of a movement colleague. In this case, I suspect this is done while posing as a friendly fellow Clinton supporter.

As for "undemocratic selection" i.e. superdelegate selection - as we know, those are the rules, which Hillary and Obama agreed to before they started. Obama just started wooing superdelegates earlier and did it better - and more importantly, Obama was ahead without superdelegates. They were only needed to take one candidate over the line.

But these are all logical points - which are always less likely to be refuted from within the ranks of a losing group's supporters.

At the moment, this is nothing more than a headache for the Obama campaign. With a greater commitment on your part, I hope to see it metastasize into something much more.

The only other thing I have to add is: look out.

Why do so many celebrities go broke?

Interesting feature in the "Freakonomics" blog - Why do so many celebrities go broke?

I agree with a couple of the commenters, that I'd like to see some stats on what percentage of stars actually blow through their money. As compared to people who make a quick load of money and *aren't* famous - say, entrepreneurs, lottery winners and unsuspecting heirs.

But I must say that, at least in LA culture, there is a sort of "meta" perception about perception: that you need to *look rich* in order to *be* rich. And this is grounded in a bit of truth - the perception *among the masses* that you are glamorous and successful will make a studio more likely to hire you, even if they know better.

This results in some celebrities *barely* maintaining extravagant means in order to maintain their status in the work market. Therefore: leasing not owning, spending not saving, borrowing not investing. If they're "between movies" - i.e. unemployed - for too long, they can try to pawn some of their sport cars, motorcycles, jewelry and other swag. I have read of discreet, exclusive LA pawn shops for just this purpose.

All of which means that if there's a long-term drop-off in work, there can be a grim financial reckoning. After all, not everyone can come up with a Thighmaster.

The solution? Financial education should be taught in all schools, public and private. Screw Home Ec. You can sew buttons and bake bread when you're relaxing in retirement.

and this is a strong part of why i love the universe

Every now and then a situation so complete, so elegant in its own perfection comes around, that a divine pattern and purpose underlying everything seems to manifest.

Case in point:

I mean, don't get me wrong: It's dark humor. But it's *beautiful* dark humor.

Life has what's right and wrong, but also what's funny. And what's funny can be an entirely separate category.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

welcome aboard. mission already underway.

It looks like I'm actually going to start keeping this meta-ship's (b)log on a regular basis. So, I've decided to lay out my purpose and direction in a solid fashion.

what i'm about.

i have been fascinated by information from a very early age. As i've grown to see many of the ways that we humans deal with information - at the individual, the group and even at the species level - the strangeness, charm and beauty of information itself, and the many ways it shapes and gathers, has intrigued me ever more.

This fascination is a common thread throughout my life, and has led me to the meta and physical places I am today.

what this blog is about
This blog is about everything that fascinates me, which always is related to information. [Although it's fair to say - what isn't related to information?] Specific topics will include:
  • politics - i'm hooked.
  • art - what does and doesn't suck, and why
  • science
  • metaphysics and new-agery - i see no contradiction between enjoying the perspective and fruits of proven science, and exploring possibilities that may reside outside it
  • creative work - my writings, movies, photographs, and music
  • id eas(e) - whatever might strike me, and especially something that leaves a mark
  • the random and bizzarre - meme rocks i smoke to feed my info addiction

In all of the above, the information that lights me up could be profound, or silly, or both, or neither. Sometimes i want a gourmet meal, other times a fat juicy and righteous hamburger.

warnings and commitments
i will tend to write quickly and rather off-the-cuff. i am actively involved in many fronts of the meta wars - I'm a technical writer, a creative writer, a musician, a photographer, a mystic, and "just" a human American with a blue-collar background, an intellectual lust and a penchant for the fantastic. So i want to get my thoughts out here clearly without taking too much time.

i will also, from time to time, indulge in adult language. Not just for the juvenile fun of it. The right curse word can communicate with a speed, clarity and completeness that is rarely matched by more polite circumlocution. For instance, let's say an innocent man [cough]Don Siegelman[/cough] is sent to prison by unjust prosecution. Would it be most accurate to say he was treated in a shockingly unfair manner? Or would it be most accurate to say he was fucking shafted? It's my blog, so i get to make the call.

i will also edit previous postings, if i wrote something terribly the first time or if my facts that were just plain wrong. In the latter case, i pledge to always show the correction as an update, with the original text visible as strikethrough.

i also pledge to only say something is true when there is direct evidence. And, if and when challenged, I will produce my backing facts or correct my initial posting. This includes all my possible metaphysical new-agery information wanderings.

what are the meta wars?
This what i call what we as a civilization and a species are involved in, right now. we can now interconnect and see all our species' information, from everywhere else in the globe. we can now put everything together, and see what information works as promised or hoped - and what does now, but may not in the future. this is causing and will continue to cause huge shits - heh, a typo, I think I mean "shifts" - in our outlook individually, and as a species.

In the middle of this, our species' corporations - which are so huge and organized that they can almost be considered independent consciousnesses from humanity - are attempting to find ways to control information, manage it, distort it, spread it, process it, sell it, buy it...while governments, our previously emergent group consciousnesses, are attempting the same, while also trying to hide their information, monitor everyone else's, and buy from or sell to corporations a discreet chunk at a time.

In the future the amount of information we can experience will continue to increase, and we may also soon experience a "coming singularity" by creating intelligences which are smarter enough than us, that we may not even be able to understand them.

Welcome to the meta wars. This an incredibly fascinating and beautiful time to be alive and sailing. It's a fascinating ever-changing ever-unfolding infoverse, that is transforming and transforming us before our eyes and i's. We are all making our choices and commitments to this struggle.

i'll be examining this all, from my own political and cultural and life perspective, time and time again. Most likely forever.

Friday, May 23, 2008

LOL’s of the day

Making that Friday go down a little easier.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Scribefire's working here too

Alrighty then. Just two or three more of my websites remaining to conquer.


This is still working, right?

Just making a new post, to make sure that this account is fully working, so I can add it to my scribefire plugin for Firefox.

This blog should be working.

It freaking better.