Summary for the month of Oct 2017

Here’s a summary of activity for October, 2017.

It continues to get darker and drearier up here, as the cold starts seeping in for real. The cats are getting more and more cuddly, and the weight of them at night is like sleeping in a mummy bag, trapping me in cat created claustrophobia …

Lots of reviews this month, and food. Cats, books, and food. I’m okay with that.

Do check out what I’m up to over at Rigaroga’s Odd Order and Hermetic Library for more.

If you can, drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron to help me create a firm foundation with a Basic Income and also keep the cats healthy and happy!

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from last month

Summary for the month of Sept 2017

Here’s a summary of activity for September, 2017.

The cats and I are starting to feel the cold. We’re cuddling up and getting ready for more.

I’ve been adding some new litter boxes for the cats which don’t use dusty clay, and it’s been going okay so far. It’ll be a long process, but I’m really hoping to reduce the amount of heavy clay waste as well as the dusty clay in the air. With the windows just getting closed against the coming cold, it’s even better to have less dust in the air!

Over on Odd Order and Hermetic Library, the deadlines for submissions to the 2017 anthologies just past, so I’m working on getting submissions and playlists sorted for release.

I’ve been posting videos and streaming over on Odd Order as Rigaroga a bunch now with since that better Internet was installed. It’s been great to be able to get back to it. Also, I’ve been doing a series of solo RPG sessions. I’d really like to get into a weekly game or two with others, but I’ll keep doing solo sessions either way, I think.

I’ve also been trying to get a regular schedule for posting book reviews going, and that’s been working out so far. I’ve been posting them to my personal blog, but also over on GoodReads. Then, I syndicate those out to the blogs for Hermetic Library and Odd Order as well. You can see a bunch in this summary already, along with pictures of cats and food, and some other asides.

Well, it’s been a busy month, with getting ready for winter in real life as well as with activity online!

If you can, drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron to help me create a firm foundation with a Basic Income and also keep the cats healthy and happy!

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from last month

Pride and Joy

Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K Vaughan and Adrian Alphona is a story of six friends that stumble upon a shocking super-powered secret about their parents, and discover their own secrets in response to their parents as they become a team in spite of themselves. They become their heroic selves and find they have meaningful purpose for being in the world. The art and writing are not complex, but, even still, a lot happens in these first 8 issues in the collection. Also, the promise and premise provides ideas that are complex, and offer a depth for those looking for it. I hope the rest of the series develops those potentials further and eventually reveals itself to be narratively as superpowered as the heroes.

A live action adaptation of Marvel’s Runaways, once planned to join the cinema releases, is now scheduled as coming to Hulu in November 2017, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Hopsy is flopsy

Hopsy sounded awesome, but doesn’t deliver.

I’d been considering trying them out for a long time, and finally decided to put in an order using a promo to get 4 growlers for just $20. I ended up having to wait because they were out of stock of things I wanted to try, and then I ended up having to wait because there were things I wanted to try, but they were split between the two locations. At last, there was enough in stock that I wanted, in one location!

I placed my order and selected a delivery date from their calendar of delivery dates. I got a receipt from Hopsy for my order and then settled in to wait a week for the growlers to arrive.

The idea of being able to get craft brewery beer and cider on order sure sounds great. They offer both growlers and torps. Torps are large canisters that fit into a Krups HomeTap, which Heineken is offering in Europe as the Sub, a counter-top device which keeps cold draft beer ready to drink at home. Hopsy seems to be the only place in the US that offers the Sub device and the torps.

I got an email from GSO (“Priority. Ground. Freight.”), which was Hopsy’s carrier of choice, that they’d got a shipment they’d be bringing to me on the selected date, with tracking information. So far, so good. But, when the day of delivery rolled around, and nothing showed up. Turns out the carrier didn’t even try to deliver. They logged the package with “NO DEL ATTEMPT – Ran out of time” and gave up.

What. the. hell. So either GSO is shit at logistics or can’t be bothered to do their job. Could they have deliberately decided it wasn’t worth trying to deliver? Or do they just suck at the logistics of shipping? Either way, they screwed the pooch.

Disappointed, I waited to hear from Hospy. But, I heard nothing from them about it. In the days that followed, GSO logged that they tried to contact Hopsy via email with what to do a couple times after they missed the delivery date. But, after that point I heard nothing from GSO or Hopsy about it.

Over two weeks after my original order date, hearing nothing else, I went ahead and contacted Hopsy by email for a refund.

The unhelpful response from Hopsy was:

Delivering high-quality beer is incredibly important to us, so I apologize for the delivery process not being up to par with our standards. I have passed along your feedback to our operations team, and they are investigating what might have happened.

This is not the type of experience we want our customers to have, so I more than happy to send you a replacement beer order to try or issue a refund. Please let me know what works best for you!

So very nice to know that they don’t try to fail. It’s also great they responded to my request for a refund with an offer for something other than a refund. I responded that I’d like the refund I requested, and, you know, go ahead and remove me from their mailing lists as I don’t need to hear anything more about Hopsy. Time to move on.

Yeah, so, Hopsy is a total flop. Not at all, or even close, to being impressed with follow-up or customer service. Also, GSO is not a shipping company to bother working with because they can’t be bothered to ship things, apparently.

Still, it’s an awesome idea to offer growlers from craft breweries and the Krups HomeTap with torps delivered. But, I hope someone else does it, because it’d be hard not to do a better job at it than Hopsy!

Summary for the month of Aug 2017

Here’s a summary of activity for August, 2017.

I’ve been able to start posting more regularly on the blog, with photos of cats and things, and with book and movie reviews. It was a long cold winter, but the cats and I all survived! Lately, it’s been a long hot summer, but luckily I had an AC in storage that I could install so the cats and I have been okay!

Over the last year, a local telco has installed fiber up the highway, and a DSLAM less than 100′ from where I am. So, I was able to get a land-based high speed Internet connection installed, and due to the short distance it’s pretty darned fast too! In a wild twist, AT&T also expanded 4G LTE coverage out here too. From being stuck with only satellite for the last year, suddenly I’ve got all kinds of options!

Unfortunately, the telco has a serious congestion problem on their network at a main interconnection point, so it’s less than ideal, and I don’t see nearly the performance I should. But, it’s not nothing! It works-ish!

The high speed has meant that I’ve been able to start doing online projects again, and have been active over on my geeky Rigaroga persona and the Odd Order blog. I’ve also started trying out a few things for Hermetic Library, like Reader’s Theatre and so forth.

Well, I’m still 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store, and only get to town every other month-ish lately, but I’ve got high speed Internet!

The cats have been going through more than 72 cans of cat food and well over 40 lbs of litter every two weeks, if you were wondering. It’s a lot! But, they’re all doing pretty good, even the house cats I moved inside before winter hit. The nine of us have been getting along with only an occasional kerfuffle over elbowroom or places to sleep.

Anyhow, I thought I’d start doing these monthly summaries, in part so I could post them to my Patreon.

If you can, drop a buck in the tip jar or become a Patron to help me create a firm foundation with a Basic Income and also keep the cats healthy and happy!

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from last month

Designing a new identity for Woodland Action

As part of my initial site evaluation and proposal for the Woodland Community Service Center, I suggested the design of an organizational identity. Subsequently, the organization was re-named Woodland Action, and I got a burst of energy around the name. I worked through a design transformation based on the new name, and developed a full proposal. At the next meeting of the board, I came prepared to present my work. However, in the interim, the board had apparently tried to develop a new logo by committee, and I found out I had arrived just in the nick of time to save them from an absolutely abysmal logo. Friends don’t let friends design by committee. It was basically the most ugly and bland bank logo from the 50s.

I was able to present my competing proposal and to gather some feedback. I realized I would have to pull out all the stops at the next meeting. I re-presented not only my original proposal, but also I provided a primer and picture of the whole design process to give the board an idea of just what goes into the process. I also developed from the process a fully articulated narrative story, meaning, for the visual design.

Here’s my successful presentation to the board back in July 2014 which resulted in the board adopting my design for the organization.

 

Website and Social Media

Since the last meeting, I designed and implemented a website for the organization. I also created social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for Woodland Action, in accordance with the proposal’s Website and Social Media Strategy sections.

Due to a particular technical step necessary in signing up Woodland Action for Google Apps for Nonprofits, I was forced to prematurely switch the speculative website into production, so there are still some areas of the site which need to be more fully developed, such as text on the About and Services pages, for example.

However, the site is up and running. In addition to hours, location address and map, and other essential contact information, there is now a functioning PayPal donation button which can be used by members of the community to create one-time donations or subscription pledges in whatever amount they are comfortable.

The site can be found at http://woodlandaction.org and people who accidentally go to http://woodlandaction.com/ will be redirected to the canonical site.

Additional Logo Design Exploration

At the request of the board, I spend several additional hours engaged in further design exploration based on specific suggests, to give them a reasonable test. In case you were curious, here is a representative sample of rejects from my sketchbook to respond to the ideas of stretching “action” to fill the overhand space, which removes the ability to snuggly fit the arrow there.

Arrow Mustache / Too Displaced
Arrow Mustache / Too Displaced
WA much smaller / Too Much Whitespace
WA much smaller / Too Much Whitespace
WA Very Disproportioned / Too Action Comics / Woodland Offhand
WA Very Disproportioned / Too Action Comics / Woodland Offhand

A few example rejects which are responsive to adding text about specific services, and which then make the logo specific and inflexible for use with other services, including those to be introduced.

Government / Forest Service Seal
Government / Forest Service Seal
Wall of Text
Wall of Text

A few other representative examples of rejects which were from stepping back in the design process to see if I could derive a now option from some of the earlier sketches from which I had moved beyond.

Broken Arrow / Awkward
Broken Arrow / Awkward
Lightning Strike / Harry Potter
Lightning Strike / Harry Potter
Whale Head / Mr Yuck
Whale Head / Mr Yuck
Woodland Underwater / Wonder Woman
Woodland Underwater / Wonder Woman

The Story So Far

My initial design is described in the Organizational Identity Proposal from May 7th, which I include by reference, and here is the primary representation of that logo.

logo from May 7th

Shortly after the board meeting in June, I was asked to whip up an example with what immediate changes I could in order to have those for display at the Garage Sale and feedback from the community. The feedback I got from this design iteration was entirely positive, especially that some concerns about the arrow having unfortunate connotations were resolved.

Primary changes were to add drop shadows to text and internal design elements, improve the gradient based on a more solid colour palette, and to address the issues with the arrow by decreasing the vertical on the path (trail/road/river/landscape) and increasing the relative size of the arrow head (tree/mountain).

There is actually also a few pixels of space between the lines of text, but they were so conservative they don’t appear to exist.

logo for the garage sale

Current Design Recommendation

current proposalAt this point, the primary design example for the logo has developed significantly over the month from my initial proposal. I have included not only several suggestions from the board, other feedback, and some of my own additional design explorations, I propose the following logo for adoption.

I have increased the boldness of the design, through colour, color separation, and placement of new elements. There is obvious visual separation between the lines of text through both increased spacing and the use of two nearby hues. I have introduced a further refinement of the arrow, somewhat increasing the vertical spread on the path again, but have further decreased the horizontal area. I have also incorporated the idea for italics into the angle of the arrow head, instead of the text where it did not work well. I have also included a new horizon design element to further suggest that the arrow design is related to landscape, and also to justify the angle of the arrow head, which otherwise would be a tree in danger of falling, a dangerous mountain cliff, but, in any case, would break the narrative and symbolism of the logo. By including the horizon, the narrative and symbolism are not only preserved, but enhanced.

Further examples, related to the previous discussion of certain use case scenarios, can be seen in these organizational mastheads, which use the logo with and without the additional text which speaks to specific services offered and demonstrates the use of the icon design.

Full masthead

masthead food bank

masthead thrift shop

One specific issue that was previous addressed, but which I wish to reiterated here is that these are extremely scalable vector images which can be printed in many sizes, including large signs all the way through to letterhead and business cards. Further, the logo design is ideal for use on other collateral materials and tchotchkes such as lapel buttons, challenge coins, window clings and bumper stickers.

logo sized

logo sized

logo sized

logo sized

In one final example of how flexible this design is, and which was also previously discussed, can be seen in the way that alternate vector source images in high contrast can also be used against light and dark backgrounds as well as in cases where printing the logo in a single colour is desired, such as for extremely small sizes, silkscreening on shirts, or for inexpensive letterhead.

masthead bw

logo bw light

logo bw dark

logo colour flat

Narrative

The name Woodland Action is our concise and clear call to action in the local community, and encapsulates the mission of the organization to actively support people in need in Woodland, WA and surrounding areas. Our logo design is intended to reflect the mission of this organization and our connection to the region. The design was derived from the initials W. A. and through a design transformation the letters themselves suggested a shape that reflected the local landscape with river, valley, tree, and mountain.

The curved tail arrow is derived from the initials, but also suggests the two rivers, Lewis and Columbia, on which Woodland sits. It suggests the wonderful landscape of river, earth, trees, mountains, and sky. It suggests the professional and recreational paths and trails on maps of the region. But this arrow also suggests the path of life which can include times of need as well as times of success, and therefore the necessity for community support systems and mutual aid provided by caring neighbors for those in need. In summary, the arrow is a symbol of our mission of local philanthropic action, and the final upswing suggests the goal and triumph of hope and renewal.

Extending the Call for Submissions to Hermetic Library album for 2015

Just after announcing the most recent call for submissions, I had a major meltdown during a heatwave and my computer literally melted down (or at least the GPU did). I was unable to properly promote the upcoming album. Then I procrastinated. Then I got busy. Then I procrastinated more.

Therefore, while I’ve already told some people via email, I’m officially extending the deadline for submissions into the first half of November. I have some submissions, but not nearly enough. Please consider contributing to the anthology project and letting others know, who you know have interest in such things. Check out the previous ten albums, and help me keep this going!

I am extending the 2015 call for submissions for Magick, Music and Ritual 11, the next anthology album of tracks by artists inspired by or who incorporate ritual and magick in their work. These anthology albums help promote artists to the audience of the Hermetic Library and beyond. These albums raise awareness about the connection between ritual, music and magick. And, they are a mass of awesome fun.

Magick, Music and Ritual 11 will be the one and only album release for 2015 from the Anthology Project. The deadline for submissions to the 2015 anthology album is November 15th, 2015. Be sure to stay tuned to the blog and the pages for the Hermetic Library anthology project for reminders and updates along the way.

Call for Submissions to Magick, Music and Ritual 11, Hermetic Library Album for 2015

 

Deadline for submissions is November 15th, 2015. Release is planned for a subsequent date to be determined before the end of 2015, but probably in time to commemorate the birthday of the library in December.

Be sure to read through the terms and conditions for artist submissions to an anthology album (which includes some new and more specific information about acceptable file formats), and after that if you have any questions, comments or wish to contribute to this project; contact the librarian.

Please consider joining the Hermetic Library in promoting your work by contributing to this benefit anthology album project. All proceeds from album sales will support the library to help cover hosting costs, materials acquisitions, and other expenses.

 

Check out all the previously released anthology albums, help spread the word about the Hermetic Library anthology project, and let those you think may be interested know about this new opportunity to participate.

 

Also, the best way to add anthology releases and this upcoming Hermetic Library album to your personal music collection is through the Patron campaign at Patreon. Patrons will each receive a gratis download code for the 2014 release in addition to all the other patronage rewards they may receive, and that ends up being the most cost effective way to get these albums. Consider becoming a Patron today!

AMORC altar set

Recently I found this interesting set of AMORC altar equipment, two candleholders and an hermetic cross, and picked it up thinking that someone I know would be interested in having it. If you’re interested in these, let me know. (These now have a home.) They’re funky and cool, you know?

One of the candleholders has a little chip and is oddly angled, but otherwise these are pretty spiffy.

The old AMORC catalog I have from the 90’s lists each of these items, in the member’s only section, at around $50 for the set.

By the pricing of my goods something capitalist this way comes

I recently ran into a video posted by Paleofuture about some grand visioning done by Knight-Ridder about the future of the newspaper:

This is not only some very interesting prognostication now that we’re in the era of ubiquitous iPads (You know, I just realized I’ve finally gotten over the loss of my Newton! Though I did have bit of longing for the obsolete goodness when I spied the one in that video.) and is going to really hit home when Amazon releases their Android-based colour Kindle tablet; but this video is also pretty damning evidence. Print & Newspapers totally knew it was coming and still failed to adapt.

Of course, there’s the moment in that video, almost half way in, where my eyes started to roll at the clearly self-serving rationalization of the vision to include the unnatural conclusion that newspapers would still be relevant. That video simply gets a bit delusional when they start talking about people trusting newspaper brands and people liking ads … but, even I have to admit that there is a community function in offering a hyper-local market place, case in point Criagslist, which contains not only products, as a mall does, but goods, meaning products with humanity, with story and meaning. Just look at one Best of Craigslist entry for your locality to see what the difference is.

Offering resources rooted in hyperlocality is something, around the time of that video, I thought would save the regional ISP in the face of competition by national telecom providers, but consolidation has all but wiped that away. Even Seanet’s old Seattle.Net pages are another demonstration, about which I suggested either something be made of or sold to someone that would do so. Mirroring the thought process that the newspapers have gone through, I guess, the owner decided to keep it hobbled and lame by not building on it but by milking it merely for the apparent reputation by association it gave to have only the veneer of hyperlocality without additional cost, once the original designer was fired, to produce anything meaningful but really as an excuse to sell ads. And, it’s essentially been moribund since (even the copyright on the page has gotten lost and given up since it is still showing 2007) … and is now nothing more than another example of fail. It’s all now as obviously pretend as it was all along.

(The trick to sustainable community, and thus to a regional ISP managing to build itself into a hyperlocal resource, was always to figure out how to get the audience to create the content, which is what Craigslist tapped into even though they aren’t now even local to many of the places they provide services. It’s the bright side of “Social Production” that such things require, as long as it doesn’t become abusive … but don’t get me started!)

But, back to the thought that, overall, it’s pretty clear Knight-Ridder and thus the rest of the print media industry had a chance to jump on the cluetrain [amzn, kndl] and blew it. Par for the course, I guess. Oh, the humanity!

As my friend Neil pointed out, “To some degree the same could be said for music, television… heck, even the yellow pages & the post office. Rather than innovate they just stomped their feet and ranted ‘this isn’t fair.’ Old school advertising driven media/services miss their captive audiences!”

Yes, indeed; and movies and software … and railroad and AOL … just about any industry based on narrow control of some resource, real or information. Business models based on maintaining scarcity and rarity of a resource tend to eventually get routed around as damage to the flow, so to speak, I guess. Word to cellular, oil, Apple and others, for sure!

It’s sort of an evil alternate Fawlty Towers. They seem to say, “Things ran so much smoother around here when we could keep our customers locked in the basement with a ball-gag in their mouths and only have to take them out to play when we felt like getting our freak on.”

Around the same time as that revelation about what the Newspapers knew and when they knew it, there was also the multi-million dollar book on Amazon. In the last few days was posted the story of an insane $23 million price on a book about fly genetics, due to a programatic pricing war.

On hearing of this I developed nostalgic thoughts of the old, now much-less-obviously shocking price-leader from 2008, the old “Most Expensive Book on Amazon” which was then $8,539.00 but is apparently now $7,679! Only 1 in stock!

Check out the reviews of ‘Chemical Shifts and Coupling Constants for Silicon-29’ for some nostalgic giggles. That Silicon-29 book is real, and the price is, surprisingly, real; the reviews of that book are not real. That’s the joke there.

Indeed the joke is on us, in that programatic war, because the pricing on the, also real, book on fly genetics makes clear that automatically pricing of something 1.27 times the competition is apparently an effective strategy, and must be relatively lucrative; unless it goes haywire … which is in some ways exactly what a gold rush economy is all about. That fly genetics book has revealed a pricing strategy that’s actually the deep water, almost invisible, wave that eventually becomes a tidal wave during a gold rush.

And the joke is on us even beyond that programatic pricing war, because that example is in miniature of a larger issue that pricing has NOTHING to do with the actual COST of a thing, but rather is ENTIRELY based reflexively on the market PRICE itself.

And, therein is a brutal lesson in the rootless, immoral insanity of capitalistic market thinking. It’s an abusive, parasitic dream being inflicted by those with some kind of economic power on those without that power, here represented by a seller over a buyer who is leveraging the apparent scarcity of the physical book to withhold as hostage the information contained within for egregious rents and fees beyond any reality of production.

Production in which the seller had no part, I might add. And so this mirrors any kind of rampant speculation, such as commodity futures or other “markets” of that kind which balloon the price of things in essentially meaningless and unreal and needlessly expensive ways compared to the costs of production. It’s an example of the pure fantasy of a market without regulation, meaning without reality, morality or rationality. Welcome to a little experiment in the nightmare which some blithely call a “free market” and wish to inflict on everyone, everywhere for all time; thinking, of course, that they would be the ones in control of the joystick, collecting their blood money hand over fist in a masturbatory haze with the rest of us worth nothing more than to be used and wasted wet wads of tissue to toss out when it’s over.

“Whatever is, is right” must be the ostensible motto of those who would retain their places in it. It is the solid edifice round which an empire is gathered.

— Florence Farr, The Dancing Faun [via]

The thing about collective bargaining

The thing about collective bargaining: it’s what congress does in a republic; it’s what management does on behalf of shareholders; so …

I deny the premise that there’s anything wrong with the compensation package paid to the public workers in Wisconsin for their work. The current bout of union busting is a coldly calculated political maneuver being rushed in under false pretense, and part of an overall political agenda.

However, I think if we want to take a look at suspect compensation packages, how about: legislators that vote for their own raises and perks, including full health care, while real wages shrink and blocking or dismantling the social net for others; heinous wall street bonuses and corporate bonuses even while shafting the public and other workers; the abusively high ratio of CEO compensation compared to their employees; and so on and on. Income and wealth disparity are the real economic crisis, and is moreover an injustice.

As Utah Phillips was want to repeat, from the I.W.W.: “Get rid of the bum on the plush!” The real parasites are at the top. And, the real thugs are those that defend the real parasites.

The thing about collective bargaining: it’s a natural consequence and combination of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, so …

Collective bargaining is a natural right of those who are invested with the rights to self-government which come from freedom and speech and freedom of assembly. Thus, collective bargaining is simply an inalienable right, because it is a form of self-government. Any laws or contracts which deny this right are abusive of those rights, but cannot remove them. Inalienable rights cannot be revoked or forfeit and any laws or contracts which rely on the abuse of those rights are null and void. This is a step beyond claim of nolo contendre, but rather that the law and contract are an injustice and so acting contrary to them, to repudiate them with action, is a duty, a necessary function and implication of citizenship.

The thing about collective bargaining: Any government or corporation arguing against it should dissolve in solidarity with itself, so …

If the argument is really against collective bargaining, per se, and not an excuse to create a power inequity during bargaining, then any collective entity within a bargaining process that doesn’t believe in the collective bargaining of the other should dissolve itself also, to be fair. Otherwise, the whole argument against the other should be quickly and summarily dismissed as naked power politics.

Further, any collective entity engaged in bargaining which denies the collective bargaining rights of an other, should have its own collective bargaining denied in reciprocity. Thus, any corporation that denies collective bargaining rights should send each and every shareholder individually to each and every bargaining session, or else be recognized as hypocrites. Thus, any government that denies collective bargaining rights should send each an every constituent individually to each and every bargaining session, or else be recognized as hypocrites. Hypocritical governments should be dissolved and hypocritical corporations should have their charters revoked.

Can’t see the trees through the clear cut

Parallel infrastructure may be the only way to protect people from both corporations and governments.

Of course, for decades the conservative agenda in this country and internationally has been systematically dismantling public infrastructures of all kinds, and fighting the development of any real new infrastructure.

We’ve been losing infrastructure, frameworks and safeguards like a clear cut landscape, and any re-forestation has been itself sabotaged whenever possible except in cases where the commons has been converted to private control.

Anti-government rhetoric has always failed to recognize, or been intentionally blind to or possibly simply tricked into believing, the fact that collective organizing, whether in government or unions, is essentially our only check on corporations, a fortiori after the twisting of the 14th amendment.

And the convenient and continued failure (read: systematic enclosure) of all places of social gathering that aren’t conditioned by controls, such as the conversion of public commons spaces into malls and parking lots, has curtailed free information flow to hinder people non-corporate political speech and organizing.

Like the endgame of net neutrality’s loss, where online speech is limited to enough upstream bandwidth to click a “buy” button, the lack of non-corporate space on the airwaves and in the landscape is a generally weakly recognized disaster. We didn’t need to move into company towns, the company towns have been built around us.

Then, there’s the power politics of apathy … which is either a symptom or a disease, maybe both. Frosting on the cake for some looking to channel populism into shaped opinion venues which support anti-regulation agendas like tea parties; but those who don’t learn to read the writing on the barn are easy to manipulate; or tapping off potential activists into giving up completely effective organized effort in exchange for the appearance of personal peace and quiet; but, those who don’t organize or vote ratify the ongoing disaster.

The irony of expressing this rant on Facebook, the new AOL is the same as the old AOL, is almost painful.

Without the structure and scale of government, I suggest your communication outside of a centrally planned system would turn into ham radio or worse. Either a mess or meaningless, in scale or in use.

It seems to me a typical libertarian fantasy that things happen without collective and interdependent effort, and that can happen in meaningful and sustainable ways without governments. Libertarians try to build without foundations and they imagine all it takes to have a house is an individual to lean against the walls to stop them from falling down; but the walls didn’t get there by individual effort in the first place and there’s four walls, not one.

I invite every libertarian to take an ethical holiday from all government built or required infrastructure or improvement, like the amish opting out of social security. Have fun trying to “Escape from New York”.

I disagree that the liberal idea of infrastructure is zero sum. Rather it is an idea of arithmetic progress, it is about constantly increasing social value. Like driving, one develops the ability to less consciously do things which while learning required much concentration, the liberal notion of infrastructure is one which builds frameworks for more and more personal freedom. (That’s the ideal, anyway.)

The idea of net neutrality is to force a space to exist for more and more communication to occur and is one part of what is necessary. It is the part that checks corporate power. The part that then is unaddressed is political, a la Egypt or NSA or nanny state, influence and control. (And, it must be, I agree, recognized that political power over these spaces is in danger of economic influence.)

The Internet was conditioned to be non-commercial when it started. It was heavily regulated toward only one use. Things changed, and continue to change toward another extreme. My expressed idea of a parallel infrastructure is to find a way, a stand-off of sorts, to maximize, and continually maximize the public and unconditioned space for people (not, mind you for corporations, which I feel must be conditioned).

And, no, I disagree about the effect of government involvement. Good government in my mind conditions the market toward the greater good. Mixing business into government is when the wild loopholes and abuse enter. Self-regulated business and captured regulatory agencies are when things go south; and by corollary unregulated business is unchecked abuse. As corporate charters lost the necessity for the public good, and as corporations became political entities, there is the cancer of unchecked and unregulated activity that has created monsters from who were merely bad men before.

The battle over the use of government is a founding and ongoing struggle in this country, and without government we would not be anywhere but disaster.

Unconditioned, modern corporations have the sociopathic motive to use whatever means they can to make money. Where corporations become entities with rights beyond those of the sum of the individuals in them, they become dangerous.

The point is to create a kind of stalemate where the structure, a la a freeway (which was a government project, though I recognize that I5 was spearheaded by the Seattle motor club but it required government) and the Internet (which was a government project) are equivalently agnostic about traffic (which is both commercial use mixed with social use).

The point of my theoretical parallel infrastructure would be to check both the inevitable abuse of a “free-market” by those with economic power as well as to check the potential for political manipulation of a public infrastructure.

However, one danger of parallel infrastructure is that then might lead to a completely unregulated corporate infrastructure and a complete political whimsy on the other side, and that’s just double the fun without the ultimate beneficial goal.

I wonder if “freedom of the press” might be a more usefully extended construct toward what I’m looking for, where press becomes more and more like public speech instead of a rarified specific information industry. Or “freedom of assembly” extended online.

Anyhow, I’m moving on to other things now. I’m not sure why of all the things I might rant about this was the one that got me tweeting, except of course: Egypt.

Well, I agree the complex of Reaganism is heavily to blame for much of what troubles us today politically and economically, and also the continuation of that philosophy where it occurs over and over and in the past which led to it being called that. And, we seem to sort of agree that corporatism and governments mixing must be managed somehow.

I don’t actually think the government can necessarily always do faster or cheaper or whatever, but I think it’s ultimately the only ally we’ve got for a complex world because it’s like Soylent Green, made of people and only people, not a fictional person, an emergent psychopath, like a modern corporation.

In fact, I think I don’t care if the government is inefficient or expensive, rather I hope it is both. First, inefficiency means that it can be watched, that it is ultimately transparent to the people and the inefficiency is part of the symptom of dealing with multivalent political needs and desires. Second, that it is expensive means that it is performing a function that business cannot do without failing. Yeah, I tentatively suggest that being expensive and inefficient are some things, actually, that might be prime indicators that government is functioning. It’s the niche. And, it should be celebrated for being a unique social mechanism.

But, I don’t think government is without faults or dangers. Never did. Nor do I think it cannot be improved … you know, by progress. It is an imperfect tool for dealing with imperfect humans trying to achieve social progress. And, thus it’s the right tool for the right job.

And, I think that most of that money should come from a progressive tax shockingly weighted against the upper percentiles, which recognizes that those sequestering wealth are taking that wealth from others and not participating in real economic weal for the common good, and the more efficiently that wealth is taken the more suspect is the mechanism by which they acquire that wealth.

The ultimate end of what I think is generally a liberal outlook is to make advances social and economic and so forth available to people without regard to power and privilege. That’s the never ending end. I don’t doubt that the means don’t always work well, but that’s why I support progress; which is like experimentation, and tends toward greater gains through improvements … that is when not being dismantled by those happy with the actual zero-sum philosophy of keeping others down in order to sequester economic and social value.

So, yeah, even if government is not a slew of corporate prospectus language, it’s always a necessary thing.

But, again, I invite you to live only on things that were developed in garages by five guys without a foundation of social negotiated infrastructure and that didn’t require that infrastructure to be implemented. I’ll expect your reply via something other than the Internet, like pigeons or ham radio … oops, not so much ham radio actually. And, probably not pigeons either, really since you’d have to travel on a freeway to find rock doves that aren’t alive due to a complex human social system. Of course, you’ll probably starve first without food. Nice knowing you!

The scope of your imagination becomes fantasy when you think you’d have any sustainable impact without a complex social system, and while I distrust both government and corporations, I admit that I trust government more. And, no, I really don’t have any faith that your an imaginary libertarian untopia (population zero, because anyone there doesn’t last long) would even enter the conversation in the real world.

You can blather your fantasy of some kind of “advanced self-sufficient individualism” more if you want, or better yet, save it for your fiction writing where it actually can exist. Maybe you can imagine a few amazing ways to survive, while you starve or end up in a shack in the woods dreaming dreams of being a Lord of Capitalism and the oxymoron of anarcho-capitalism, since inherently hierarchical while claiming lack of hierarchy, doesn’t make people laugh. Maybe you can survive by eating the four other guys in your hideout? You know, because that’s essentially the way capitalism works, unless you turn to hunting others; but careful that you don’t organize too much lest you start relying on a complex social system, you sneaky verisimilitudinous individualist you!

But really, that’s it. I’m not paying attention to this thread anymore now you’ve spun into weaving fables of living, not to mention being happy, without complex human systems. Because, after all, if that were even possible, why aren’t you there yet anywhere other than your imagination where the red light bulbs grow instead of sitting in suburbia, instead of enjoying hypocritically the fruits of government mediated and conditioned social contracts while whining about having to participate in that of which you selfishly take advantage?

links for 2011-02-21

  • "There's no doubt that government budgets are in trouble. The big lie is that the reason is excessive spending.
    Public budgets are in trouble because revenues plummeted over the last two years of the Great Recession.
    They're also in trouble because of tax giveaways to the rich."
  • "Rather than following the script and resenting public employees as a privileged "other," the citizens of Madison increasingly view teachers, nurses, cops, firefighters, and other public workers as their violated neighbors."

    "At long last, resentment against the economic crisis is beginning to find its natural home, where it always belonged — against financial elites, their privileges and Republican allies. It is dawning on ordinary voters that something is wrong when hedge fund billionaires and investment bankers are making more than ever, while public workers (average Wisconsin pay: $48,000) are being made the scapegoats.
    Why did this take so long?"

  • "More than 15 years ago Russian scientist Kirill Yeskov tried to settle certain geographical problems in Tolkien's fantasy world. One thing led to another, and he tackled a bigger project – what if we assumed that it's no less real than our world? His conclusion was that in such a case, the story of the Ring of Power is most likely a much-altered heroic retelling of a major war – but what was that war really about?"

Red Book porn

A little bit ago, I promised a preview of the copy of Jung’s Red Book I’d received. So, here’s a gallery of opening the box, and a family photo of Jung’s Red Book, Mao’s little red book, a presentation copy of The Book of the Law, and a rock from the Red Rocks in Sedona, AZ. It’s so nice when everyone comes together like that for the holidays!

And, here’s some Red Book bibliomancy, in the form of several passages found by somewhat random selection:

“The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important of my life”

“Given the unpublished copies in circulation, the Red Book would in all likelihood have eventually entered the public domain.”

“There can be few unpublished works that have already exerted such far-reaching effects upon the twentieth-century social and intellectual history as Jung’s Red Book, or Liber Novus (New Book).”

“The spirit of the depths too my understanding and all my knowledge and place them at the service of the inexplicable and the paradoxical.”

“One laughs about it, and laughter, too, is. Do you believe, man of this time, that laughter is lower than worship? Where is your measure, false measurer? The sum of life decides in laughter and in worship, not your judgement.”

“Everything odious and disgusting is your own particular Hell. How can it be otherwise? Every other Hell was a least worth seeing or full of fun. But that is never Hell. Your Hell is made up of all things that you always ejected from your sanctuary with a curse and a kick of the foot.””

“You thought that in the East you could drink from the source of light, and catch the horned giant, before whom you fall to your knees. His essence is blid excessive longing and tempestuous force.”

“Magic is a way of living. If one has done one’s best to steer the chariot, and one then notices that a greater other is actually steering it, then magical operation takes place.”

“At which the serpent curled up, gathered herself into knots and said: ‘Do not ask after the morrow, sufficient unto you is the day. You need not worry about the means. Let everything grow, let everything sprout; the son grows out of himself.'”

“In the Pleroma there is nothing and everything. It is fruitless to think about the Pleroma, for this would mean self-dissolution.

Creation is not the Pleroma, but in itself. The Pleroma is the beginning and the end of creation. It pervades creation, just as sunlight pervades the air. Although the Pleroma is altogether pervaisive, creation has no share in it, just as wholly a transparent body becomes neither light nor dark through the light pervading it.”

“This is a God you knew nothing about, because mankind forgot him. We call him by the name ABRAXAS. He is even more indefinite than God and the devil.

To distinguish him from God, we call God HELIOS or sun. Abraxas in effect. Nothing stands opposed to him but the ineffective; hence effective nature unfolds itself freely.”

“The simple is cruel, it does not unite with the manifold.”

Annotated picture of Jung's Red Book family.
Annotated picture of Jung's Red Book family.

Pentacle of iron for thelemites

In “The Pentacles and the Tree: Are There Crowleyian Influences on Feri Lore?” [see], Valerie Walker makes connections between the various pentacles of Feri with the Tree of Life, mapping some correspondences between sepherot to the points of the pentacles.

Beginning there, as background, I’d add that I was struck by the following fragment from Liber Librae [see, et]:

“12. Remember that unbalanced force is evil; that unbalanced severity is but cruelty and oppression; but that also unbalanced mercy is but weakness which would allow and abet Evil. Act passionately; think rationally; be Thyself.

13. True ritual is as much action as word; it is Will.”

This notion of acting passionately hints at the ferocity of innocence I once found in the word feri itself through somewhat fanciful etymology. The root of feral is fera, or wild animal. The plural latin ferae poetically reminds me of the word feri. This untamed, natural state is to be unreservedly and naturally passionate; but, without being unbalanced or psychotic. Wild animals are not crazy, but being unreservedly themselves.

In this point about the unbalanced force, I find an echo of the notions of the unbalanced reflections of iron, the gilded and rust pentacles [see, also]. (Strange that there’s not a lot useful that comes up quickly about the rust and gilded.) Although this excerpt is about the two pillars, which are each in a way unbalanced versions of the central pillar and so there are fractals within fractals, the notion of the unbalanced can be applied to any sepherot, and thus, to any point of the corresponding pentacles.

On an elemental level, this is further reflected as Liber Librae continues:

“… Establish thyself firmly in the equilibrium of forces, in the centre of the Cross of the Elements, that Cross from whose centre the Creative Word issued in the birth of the Dawning Universe.

19. Be thou therefore prompt and active as the Sylphs, but avoid frivolity and caprice; be energetic and strong like the Salamanders, but avoid irritability and ferocity; be flexible and attentive to images like the Undines, but avoid idleness and changeability; be laborious and patient like the Gnomes, but avoid grossness and avarice.”

This occurred to me as like a great place to start developing a mutual language within some kind of “Iron Pentacle for Thelemites” exploration. The practices of running the pentacles is maybe an energy practice of interest when working with the sepherot and the extra information may be interesting as part of a rich relationship with the point of the pentacle. Anyhow, something to explore at some point.

Jung in Ireland in Mar-Apr

Oh, if only I could attend the Ninth Annual: Jung In Ireland being offered through the New York Center for Jungian Studies.

“Ninth Annual: Jung In Ireland
We invite you to join our distinguished and dynamic faculty this spring as we immerse ourselves in the idea of C.G. Jung and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Open to individuals from all fields, including mental health professionals.

March 26-April 2, 2009
The Archetype of Home
This unique program combines presentations, workshops, dialogue and meeting state dignitaries, with ample time for sightseeing, optional excursions and sampling local pubs, restaurants, and traditional Irish music.

April 19-26, 2009
Ireland’s Sacred Landscape: A Study/Tour in Irish Myth and Legend
Known for its breathtaking landscapes, County Donegal is the largest ‘Gaeltacht’ (Irish speaking) region in all of Ireland and contains an extraordinary number of ancient monuments and pre-historic sites. With its spectacular towering cliffs, deserted golden beaches and rugged coastline, County Donegal is considered to be a mirror image of Ireland herself.”

Combined, that’s a month in Ireland immersed in Jungian studies with unstructured time in there for shenanigans … Oh, be still my fluttering heart! I think I need to start buying lottery tickets. The place, the genre and the topics are all of interest to me, for sure. A week long seminar about the archetype of home and then a week long study-tour about myth and landscape? In Ireland, on the west coast, staying in a manor house … and, in the Donegal Gaeltacht? Maybe there’d be a way to work in an Irish language immersion in there too …

Myth, Landscape, Language, Jungian Psychology … and Travel, oh, my!

I had to laugh a little at the special free gift of a single issue of Spring Journal when you register. Now, not to diss the journal, but that gift is a wee bit disproportionate to the cost of registration; just sayin’ … at least the issue is relevant to the topics of the event, I suppose.

8-bits of Xmas

There was a posting about an 8-bit xmas album over at BoingBoing’s Offworld; which has been on and off-line a couple times already, is being hit pretty hard. That got me looking for more. While looking, I also discovered a couple electronica xmas collections in my library already. So, here’s the set:

Doctor Octoroc – 8-Bit Jesus [via]
8bitjesusfullsmall

The 8bitpeoples – The 8bits of Christmas
8bp038

Pixelmod Records Vol I – Merry Pixmas
pixmas

And a bonus, although this isn’t 8-bit and there’s no fancy cover: Brian Whitman – A Singular Christmas. A collection of “generalized” music …

Dance the Snowpocalypso!

The cable went on the fritz twice in the last hour, both TV and Internet. So, I decided it was time to prepare the various candles I have around in case the power goes out too. Luckily I replenished some of my supply since the power down back in Olympia when my power went out for a week.

I bet tomorrow would be an awesome time to go cross-country skiing through town … or, maybe right now, actually.

Nothing quite like the day that Seattle completely shut down and my friend Scott, who was visiting and got stuck in town, and I went skating on our tennis shoes for over a mile down the middle of Broadway on Capitol Hill. We melted the treads off our shoes doing that, but it was totally worth it.

And, then we remembered that our old director from Lower Columbia College was visiting town too, so we snuck over to where his car was parked and made a snow phallus on the hood.

I suppose that finally gave away who was responsible for the huge ice phallus that was constructed in his drive way back in the day. When the morning arrived, the snow phallus has frozen solid and he ended up having to drive over his yard to get out … That huge phallus was made from mutilated snowmen. Another friend and I stalked the neighborhood looking for victims we could kidnap for material and transported the bodies on the hood of his car.

Ah, winter is fun!

I got to wear my wool soviet jacket and (fake) fur hat the other day. I got an average of one compliment a block I travelled. The street people were really complimentary, actually. But, people actually rolled down their car windows at intersections as I was walking by just to shout out, “Love your hat and jacket!”

Crazy thing wearing that costume is that I arrive dripping sweat and overheated. That freakin’ jacket weighs more than I do.

Back when I worked for the Russians in Seattle, I wore that costume to work one day. Their various reactions were quite interesting. One laughed. One seemed to have a little tear in his eye.

When I was walking around the other day wearing that I found myself thinking about all the Russians around the area. I wonder if, for the dear little babushkas and others, seeing Soviet-era costume is a little like a Nazi costume would be for European Jews? I started to feel a little self-conscious about wearing the costume, but the constant compliments made me feel a bit easier. (But, not totally …)

This post title is inspired by the various hilarious names that people have been giving to this winter storm and Amy Denio’s “Apocalypso” from Birthing Chair Blues. It’s the Snowpocalypse, the Snowmageddon Arctic Death Blast of the 2008 Snowlocaust … Let’s all dance the Snowpocalypso!

How do you say Global Climate Chaos? Welcome to the dress rehearsal!

Doing digital wrong

So, this morning on the analog channel of the local PBS station is a nice show about eagles. Neat.

And, over on the digital channel of the local PBS station is a show about how to switch to digital stations when the analog stations go off-air.

That’s a fail.

Avulsion fracture of the radius

So, on election night, Nov 4th, I was on my way to an election night party. I was on my bike heading west on Division and as I passed a car that was stopped at the intersection at 66th that car accelerated. The impact, all things considered, was not much; but, it pushed my bike out from under me and I went flying over the hood, maybe another 5 feet or more. I hit the asphalt, connecting in a few places, including my head, knee and wrist.

I soared through the air, screaming: “VOTER SUPPRESSION!!!”

Yeah, not really. I’d already voted weeks prior …

Ironically, this was my very first bike ride since my last biking incident when I bruised a rib back on Oct 18th. It was like the end of The Professional … I felt so free and wonderful riding along again after a long hiatus and then … blam-o! (That’s strike two of Goldfinger’s trifecta, but I’m not so sure I want to tempt my enemies into action a third time just to prove the point.)

Further irony can be had because I just switched from my old helmet and was wearing my brand new, expensive winter helmet for the very first time, which is now ruined.

helmetcrack.jpg

Yes, that’s a big-ass crack in the front. So, you know, word to the wise: wear your helmet. And, yes, that’s a cast on my wrist.

dsc01805.JPG

Of course, when it happened I was so peaked on adrenaline that while I knew I was hurt, it didn’t feel like anything at all. So, you know, word to the wise: go to the ER, just in case.

I did go and found out that I got an avulsion fracture in my left radius. The damage was to the bone, not the ligament, which is apparently odd for someone as old as I am. (The ER staff kept coming in and asking, “You’re 39?!”) Subsequent x-rays have shown that the fracture branches into joint space, but it originally appeared quite cleanly broken. As long as the joint-space break doesn’t start to separate, I’ll have this cast off in mid-December. FREEDOM!!! Blah. I’m so very ready already for the cast to come off.

This is the first broken bone since I was a kid, back in the day when they still used plaster. Now, they’ve got a keychain of 10 different plastic mesh colours to chose from.

The fracture appears to be healing well enough, though it really is still quite sore. I ran out of vicodin over the weekend and, even though the break is in my other wrist, typing this is actually not the best idea; so, I’m going to stop. Being broken is really exhausting.