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Three vaguely related stories have collided to create a perfect storm in my mind.

boingboing.net/2014/10/08/20-meaningful-things-you-can-d.html

This is a thoughtful response to all those glib, shallow checklists that we routinely see in women's lifestyle magazines, designed to let people believe they're actually paying attention to important problems, just before they click the remote to watch the shopping network. It's the first indication I've had that someone out there feels the same way I do about this stuff.

nextbigfuture.com/2014/09/ocean-acification-mitigation-deatils.html

This helps me let go of images of starving polar bears, and let my mind consider the truly epic scary shit. Existential Threat. 30 years ago, I was paying close attention to the threat of nuclear war, it seemed great enough to alter the way I lived my life in response. The implications of Ocean Acidification are truly, deeply, horrifying. And while Nuclear War was something unlikely to happen unless someone had a very bad day, This shit is going to play out whether anyone notices... or not.

www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scientists-zero-whats-causing-starfish-die-offs/

Starfish Wasting Disease may not have anything to do with global warming. It also may have nothing to do with anything that humans are doing. And yet... It's far more unsettling to me than any Ebola scare. The coastal ecosystem is going to be changing a lot in the next few decades, and it seems doubtful that this is going to be good for humans.















 The storm in my head is still raging, I don't know what to do with this stuff... Yet in the larger sense, it never really died down just because the Berlin Wall came down, from the nuclear nightmare. It just changed. I'm left with a very powerful resolve to make one single change in my life, and that's to become a better politician than I've ever tried to be before.

"politician" in contemporary American colloquial syntax, means someone whose job it is to tactfully ignore you. I'm thinking of it in the older sense, of someone whose  job it is to really *listen*- and then act accordingly, in equal measure. It may not be the best word to describe what I want to be as I grow up, but it works for now, and it gives me something different to think about from starving sea birds, or undersea creatures pulling themselves apart.

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 Yeah, I know, in 1969, I was all of 5 years old, so I don't get to feel any nostalgia. But I grew up in the 70s and 80's and I got a good heady whiff of what the kids back then had been smoking... and I miss it.

Mostly I miss the idea of counter-culture. If you were of voting age when the Vietnam "police action" was going on, you could find a broad consensus the these United States were going in the wrong direction. And there was support and succor to be had among those who agreed with you. These days, (from my limited perspective) the wars in Iraq and Afganistan and again in Iraq, they are something to grumble about. But they're not something to rally around.

Just for fun, let's tally up my 'natural' affinity groups, in no particular order:

Anti-car, pro-bicycle, pro-mass transit, anti-gas subsidy

Boycott Isreal/human rights for Palestine/end the occupation/stop bombing Gaza

Occupy Wall Street/end rent backed securities/jail not bonuses for the BankGangsters

The CopyFight/RIAA vs everyone else. Micropayments. DRM is broken and cannot ever be fixed.

The time bank movement. Local currencies. Bitcoin.

Tarriffs on Natural gas. Stop(regulate!) Fracking. The Pacific Gyre is full of plastic. (and the US is building new plastic production because of cheap natural gas.)

Global Warming. The anthrogenic kind. Science vs denialism.

Autism. Gluten Free. Vaccines. Anti-science vs stupid people.

Hobby Drones for peaceful purposes, end the FAA ban

Athiesm-the happy kind, not the angry kind. Universal Unitarianism, the athiest kind. One can talk science and still claim to have a soul.

Polyamory. Sex Positive culture. Legalize prostitution. Morman Polygamy, Muslim Polygamy, what makes theirs wrong and ours right?(SWINGERS VS POLY: can't we all get along?)

End rape culture. Feminism. Woman's right to choose vs "pro-lifers"

Catholic Church human rights abuses and coverups.

Too many unwanted Pets!

Gee, it sure is a shame that after 60 years of nuclear energy production, the US still doesn't have a civilian waste disposal program in place!

Renewable energy is not exotic energy

Micheal Brown. Fergeson. David Brame. Milton Olin Jr. Police militarization, corruption is out of control. Civil forfeiture needs reform.

We eat too much of the wrong kinds of meat. Factory farming, not so much. Antibiotic use is out of control.

Single Payer Healthcare.

Intersexed babies need a thrid tickybox for the birth certificate, neither male nor female. Stop all genital mutilation. (and lets scale back circumcision while we're at it)

Burning Man needs to sell tickets to named individuals only. Plug and Play camps need to be audited.

Why is "Evidence Based Medicine" even a controversy? How much of medicine could be better handled in terms of hygiene instead of engineering? The science of Medicine is in deep trouble, and I think we're all being used as Guinea pigs in ethically questionable medical experiments.

Something more interesting than the ISS should be happening in space.  I don't like to argue with Ayn Rand's followers about what that should be.

Bipolar is a condition, not an illness. So is being on the autism spectrum. Neurodiversity should be a human right.

.....and I'm out.

How many of these political issues were even on the horizon in 1969? How could one community or movement encompass or address all of these questions?

I have a growing suspicion that-with the exception of the global warming one- all of these are going to be moot points fairly soon.
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Night before last, I went to go see _(Robin Wright at) The Congress_, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Congress_%282013_film%29which turned out to be a film adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's _The Fututolgical Congress_. I didn't catch that angle until the end credits, and somehow that helped everything pop into place.

 Originally I was content to enjoy a quriky, difficult film. But the more I thnk about it, the more I appreciate what they did with the source material.

Here's wikipedia on the novel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Futurological_Congress

It sounds a lot like _The Matrix_, doesn't it? Except where The Matrix is built upon software running on computers, running on hardware controlling human minds, The Congress runs on psychoactive drugs running on human brains still operating in the real world.

All this would have sounded far fetched to me, not that long ago. But a while back, I came into possession of an E-cig setup, and it still had some charge and some juice, and one day on a whim, I took a substantial drag. And I didn't feel anything, so I took another drag. It was unlike any cigarette I'd ever had before. And the effect was subtle enough, I told myself it hadn't worked. Except that 24 hours later, the same time of day, I found myself craving another puff on that E-cig. This wasn't so much a recreational drug as it was a programming device, for programming *ME*.

In 1971, when the Novel was written, Robin Wright was 5 years old. She was 16 years away from making The Princess Bride. The state of computer technology at that time was... primitive. The premise of scanning this actress' performance into a CGI machine was a long ways off, and Lem's book doesn't go anywhere near the first half of the movie.

What so impresses me about the film, is how they re-worked societ mind control in the 70's and played it out into American mind control in the teens. We don't just use drugs to program our minds, we don't just use computers, we use the concept of celebrity itself... and whatever celebrities make themselves available for that purpose.

 When I saw the matrix, I didn't see it really having very much to do with computers at all, they were just a metaphor. The real idea behind it was all about changing the meaning of what we witness, into something more acceptable to those with the power to care.

And in that sense, The Congress gets much closer to the core of what The Matrix was trying to warn us about. How many of us really believe it's possible to do anything to slow or stop anthropogenic climate change?  We may accept what scientists are telling us about what's happening, but there's no one out there with a convincing narrative of how we can alter the way we live on the planet in order to leave the place better than how we found it. So much easier to talk instead of the distractions being put in our path by those getting rich with the way things are.

 I guess I'm too stubborn to accept the logical conclusion here, I should give up and try to live my remaining days in as much dignity as they system will allow me. I'm still hunting for bread-crumbs, clues to what's *really* going on. This movie smells important to me, far beyond its entertainment value.

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I've been reading David Brin's _Existence_, and I appreciate his take on the puzzle of First Contact. (or as I call it, Lucid Contact).

At the same time, I am continually amazed by my relationship with this dog I seem to 'own'. (a curious idea, this ownership of a sentient being. If I really believe in it, does that mean I give my consent to being owned myself? But I digress)

I've often thought that if intelligent extrasolar aliens exist, they *must* be aware of homo sapiens. We're just too loud to ignore. If they've been aware of us for any length of time, then we are not alien to them at all. But how alien are they to *us*?

And I look at 'my' dog, and reflect on how different he is from a human person. He's constantly making funny postures that are impossible for the human frame. His expressions seem completely transparent to me, yet they're not expressions a human would make. He resembles a person in every way (certainly a very young person) without being a human person. And to my mind this is the real challenge of alien contact. Call it the Turing test in reverse. Can a human have a communication with a nonhuman and yet still regard that being as a person? We sure as hell better be capable! The consequences of guessing wrong could be catastrophic. And yet we so often guess wrong, even within our own species!

 I suppose this could form the center of the bulls-eye for SETI. Critters we are capable of recognizing as people, even if they seem strange. Like the way I regard my dog. Or more to the point, the high functioning autistic people I've met in the past. They seem as alien as any sort of human I'm ever likely to meet, yet I see so much of myself in them too.

 Mirrors: The things I treasure about 'my' animal, is the insights he gives me on human nature. How much of human nature isn't really human, more mammal, or animal, or even Terran. And there would be no shame in seeking out that kind of insight in any sort of extrasolar alien contact. They wouldn't necessarily be 'alien' in the way of the stranger. Rather, they should remind us of ourselves, but different enough so we notice things we didn't notice before.

 It seems pefectly plausible to me that 'first contact', Lucid Contact,  may well occur between humans and another Terran species that we've always believed we already understood. Meeting extrasolar intelligence after that, might feel like a let-down.
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Some years ago I noticed I was an "old fart" to the folks I would have liked to have been peers with at burning man.... and at the same time I was a "know-nothing young brat" to other would-be peers in a different group. It put me in a mind to really try to get at the nub of what's going on when we say 'generation gap'.

The other day I thought of this again when I was walking my (elderly) dog. Another dog saw us, and was jumping almost high enough to clear the fence between us. I saw how effortlessly it made those leaps, as if energy was never going to be in short supply, and I remembered my own impatience with the physically infirm, when I was that old in human years.

There's no sugarcoating this: the young and the old are not very kind to each other. When I was young, I had nothing but disdain for my peer group,they seemed vapid compared to adults. Now that I'm an old fart, I feel disdain for my peer group still, because unlike the young, we should remember being there, we should know better! And yet I think what's really going on, is envy, maybe even jealousy, for that feeling of immortality we can no longer afford.

"Youth is wasted on the young"- what a contemptible, bigoted thing to say! Yet it passes for accepted wisdom for those above a certain age. I remember how hurt I used to feel when I was judged too young to be interesting to someone I thought I might learn from.

No doubt, I'm guilty of nostalgia here, since I don't remember what a pain in the ass I was back then. And in those rare moments when an elder tried to give me some reasonable advice, did I listen? (trick question! 'reasonable' changes over time)

I don't know, there's still something I am missing here. It still seems stupid for the older set to expect kudos for simply having survived this long. (not as hard as it used to be!) And it certainly doesn't help that society has decided that old people and young people belong in completely separate ghettos.

That's as far as I can take this at this hour. More later.... maybe....
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I got really spoiled, learning to use social media back when it was called bulliten board systems. Back in that time (when we low-crawled through the snow, uphill both ways) the sphere of subscribers was limited to a local phone call, commercial announcements were mostly irrelevant (and infrequent), and there was some incentive to meet each other face to face.

For a long time after that, I kinda took it for granted that no matter what the topic, I'd easily be able to drop into a group of interested people and talk about a semi-random topic.

I've clearly dropped the ball now, because I can't figure out how to do that any more. Livejournal jumped the shark, so I moved to dreamwidth... and I can't seem to find anyone there, so I auto-forward my stuff back to livejournal just in case someone's listening. Facebook was sort of enjoyable for the last three years, but I just had an advertisement hijack a post I was trying to make- and there isn't an obvious way to correct the post.

So I can migrate once again to a new forum, sure I can. Which will need some way to pay for banwidth, you betcha. And if it makes money, someone will want to buy it, and once again I'll become an unpaid content provider for an ad agency.

 It's eerie how much this process resembles what happens as a funky neighborhood becomes desirable andgets bought up. You'd think we could have learned that lesson by now.

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I suppose one is never too old for a mid-life crisis. Today was the first time in my life it ever occurred to me that I might want to be able to pass for "normal" in certain circumstances. I feel certain that this is an achievable goal. My only question is how hard the disguise is going to be to remove when I want to.
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One thing I really like about watching the show Mad Men, is how the iconic events we're taught about that happened in the 60's are presented in order, in some kind of context, with a pacing consistent with the events of the show. It makes it easier to imagine what it must have felt like to see that stuff on TV as it was really happening. The ones who thought they were seeing the end of the world unfold, don't seem so alarmist in that context.

We didn't narrowly avert a civil war in the sixties, we lost one.
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So the next chapter in my story of stuff isn't nearly as dramatic as last time. (Which is a good thing) But I want to follow this arc all the way.

Over the course of March, I visited my storage units(s) a total of 8 times, it looks like. Every visit, I tried to limit my ambition to one single facet of the block of cheese, since it's so easy for me to get overwhelmed.

Typically I'd start in the main storage, and try to consolidate and winnow and re-stack things. If it generated enough waste, I'd open up the overflow storage and put it in there. (the overflow was a 5x10, that wasn't even half full to begin with.)

After a few times of this, I noticed that the possessions I really wanted were in the back of the unit, and the trash was up front. So I ended up having to pull everything out and re-pack, as new openings became available in the main storage.

(Yes, I know I have too much stuff. The point of this project is to see if I can lose some weight in a moderate, realistic way, and not do the purge-binge thing.)

The best thing I have had going for me, is 5 rolling shelf units. I can pull out the guts of the main storage in a few minutes, exposing all the perimeter shelving inside. It's the only way I could have gotten so much done so quickly.

The main focus was speed and space-efficiency, not necessarily sorting or labeling the stuff.

But As I culled the dead projects, it illustrasted a lot of identity issues. What projects have I finally given up on, and what ones do I still consider "Live"? My lego reletivity project has been going on for over 15 years, and I still consider it worth pursuing. The Medicine Man Glider I was making from balsa sticks, I let go of. It was a gateway drug to foamy aircraft, and I'm keeping a lot of that stuff, so it's not a total loss.

Finally on this last Sunday, I got my girlfriend to lend me her van so I could make a dump run. She even accompanied me, which was a pleasant surprise. I didn't want her to help me move things, because it still felt kind of personal, and I wanted to be the one doing it.

The final tally from the dump was a little over 500 pounds of junk. The physical mass of it seemed extreme, but the psychological mass of it was even heavier.

And then Monday was the last day I could return the overflow storage, without getting dinged for another month's rent. I had to really stay focused on handling the stuff as little as possible, it was all about the stacking. Amazingly enough, the whole package fit so well back in the main 10x10 unit, there was essentially an empty column left over- room for the empty cardboard boxes I had generated. I'll save those for future dump runs. All the lowest hanging fruit has been picked, but there's plenty of fat left to cut. (talk about metaphor salad!)

Down to a single storage unit, I've decided I'm okay with keeping this one long term. I simply don't have enough elbow room where I live to keep the things I still want to keep.

But I still think it would be groovy to pare this unit down to something smaller, maybe a 7x10 or a 5x10. I'll have to ask what's available, to give myself a weight loss goal.
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I was recently clued in to an important (to me) mathematical truth that I'd been pondering for many years, off and on. I got this nugget of wisdom from a foul mouthed teenager (presumably) on 4Chan. It made me think of the stereotype we have about learning sex in back alleys and locker rooms. Like Math, Sex is (should be) beautiful and powerful. Also like math, the time we most need careful instruction is most often a time of confusion and dismay.


Someday I will forgive all my math instructors for all the failings that they assured me were purely my own. Just not yet.
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premature anti-fascist
User: anansi133
Name: premature anti-fascist
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