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premature anti-fascist
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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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Today I took a bus I don't usually take, into a part of town I don't usually go. It wasn't the most efficient way to get where I was going, but I wanted to see what it was like, so I went.

I saw a woman get on the bus who was missing her front teeth. She grinned a lot, seemed quite happy, and the effect was unsettling.

Once on the bus, she stated talking to another woman who she clearly knew, who wasn't missing her front teeth, she was just missing major parts of most of her teeth. it took me a moment to realize I was seeing what Meth can do to one's mouth.

In that moment, it was like that strange sense of focus they do in the movies sometimes, where the lens goes zoom at the same time the camera dollies backward. I realized what a sheltered life I've lived. Is this what Siddhartha felt like when he ventured outside the palace and saw old and sick people for the first time?

For a while now, I've been thinking that the real problem with the 1% owning so much of the world, is that they can wall themselves off from the people whose lives they impact. That's all well and good to think in a theoretical sense, but being confronted with the 'cure' today was unsettling. I'm not in the 1%, but I could easily have gone my whole life without seeing a meth-mouth for real. I'm not as sure that I know what to do about it, not like I used to be.
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Dear 1984 Joe:

You are going to spend most of the next 30 years living in shared housing with other (presumed) adults. It's going to consume a lot more of your attention and energy than you want it to. You will frequently yield to the temptation to shuffle the deck and try for better housemates- and that is a shame, because it's all equally bad out there. I wish I'd spent less energy looking for better housemates, and more energy adapting to the way things are.

Related to this, is a particularly cruel deception you will frequently hear. It will sound *so* sincere, and in a sense, it's totally sincere, because the people who say it actually believe it. Something to the effect of, "I really want to create a tiny utopian society where we all get just along".

Take this statement as the semantic equivalent to "I really want to win the lottery, but I don't want to bother buying a ticket and tracking the winning numbers, so I am holding out for someone to gift me the ticket and then tell me that I've won."

In 30 years, I've been so very impressed by people's ideas for how they want to live and with who.... and I've been so very disappointed by what that translates out to in the here and now.

[Also: you are way more aspie than you think you are, 1984 Joe, and the sooner you own these traits, the less energy you'll waste trying to fit in. It may well take me *another* 30 years to master that one!]

No doubt, there really are people out there who are putting the required effort into harmonious living. But none of them want to live with aspie types, and none of them are interested in writing down (and then following) a rule book that you'll be satisfied with. You want a utopia, you'll have to build one from scratch, and it'll have to accommodate aspies and autists, no exception. Anything less, and you'll be setting yourself up for failure.
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A week ago I knew it was time to finally take the plunge and empty my Seattle storage unit, to transport all the things down here to Portland. But I was sick.

Sick again on Tuesday as well. Wednesday I was feeling better, but not 100%- and I finally said, "screw it, this can't slip another month". So I took a bus up to Seattle on Thursday night, and picked up the Uhaul truck on Friday morning.

My girlfriend started out intent on helping, and I think it really did help me build momentum: her self assigned job was to consolidate the mixed tubs of miscellaneous and sort and label them. Anything less than full went to her, while I kept moving boxes into the truck.

I took some pictures of what the truck looked like after 4 carts worth of stuff, 6 and 8 carts worth. I think there probably wasn't any more than 12 carts worth total.

Girlfriend petered out before noon. I kept sending her pictures of the steadily emptying storage unit, until by 4:30 it was finally empty, I had donated things and dumpstered things, and was ready to hit the road.

Here's where my judgement fell down a bit. Had I holed up for a couple hours and let the rush hour diminish, I could have arrived in Portland at pretty much the same time as when I actually did arrive- but I was too tired to think straight, and the road beckoned. So I drove through Seattle rush hour, taking 45 minutes to get south of downtown, and bogged down again in Tacoma. By Olympia, I had to pull over and stretch my legs and buy some bottled water. I could tell how dehydrated I'd become by how much water I could drink without needing to pee.

By 10:00, I finally crossed the river into town and landed, resolving to unload early the next day.


Saturday I managed to almost completely empty the truck before realizing that there wasn't enough room in my Portland storage unit. Even though both spaces were 10 x 10, I had accumulated enough kruft in the south, so that I'd need a bigger space! The truck was due the next morning, the gates closed at 8:00- and the office wasn't open until Monday. There was nowhere to put this stuff.

Loading the truck back up again felt like a bitter defeat. But there absolutely was no other option. My body complained with every movement, I had been on the go nonstop for 2 days already. But I got out of there with time to spare, and got home to sleep again.

Sunday there was a break in the weather late in the afternoon, and I made a goodwill run. Managed to hit a dumpster (don't tell anyone!) so that the only things left in the truck were nice stackable totes and tubs and boxes. I'd go ahaead and pay the $40 overtime fee, and return the truck 72 hours after I'd rented it.

...Which, thankfully, was exactly what happened, more or less. I had the tank topped off and the cab cleaned out by the time the office opened, so there was nothing to do but see the unit, sign the contract, and take the key before unloading the truck for the final time. I made it back to the rental place a mere 20 minutes late... hopefully close enough for a merciful clerk to wave it off.

And now I am completely moved out of Seattle. I'm too tired to think too much about what it will be like to move into Portland now. But that's the next step. I find I don't want to party, I don't want to travel, I want to find some work I can do, and just try to earn my keep for a while.

It helps to remember that this weekend's work still counts, even if it cost money rather than gained me money. And there's $200 less in expenses than there used to be.

(but I still have a half-full overflow storage unit that needs to get emptied, and a bunch more crap to sort through, and I'm still suffering an addiction to stuff.- The main thing is, I don't feel out of control with it. This weekend got a bit hairy, but I managed. and I will continue to do so.)
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premature anti-fascist
User: anansi133
Name: premature anti-fascist
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