Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I witnessed a dispute between my nephew and his mother about the amount of time he spent playing video games and watching television. The nephew, upset at the television in the living room being broken disrupted his habitual video gaming and/or endless channel surfing. His mother, unsuccessfully, tried to explain to him that these "activities" were actually poisonous to his chances of a positive future. This sparked a thought; what where the real choices this fourteen-year-old boy had? Not the apparent choices but the choices that would actually do something to improve his life from his perspective. I struggled with this.
The kid spends his time playing first-person-shooter games. When he wasn't playing the games he would watch YouTube videos of other people playing the games. These games are mazes where the player navigates a virtual territory, destroys computer generated monsters and finds and utilizes virtual tools and treasure. None of this translates into the real world because the kid won't; leave the house, face any challenges in reality, or use any real world tools. He prefers a virtual maze. Strangely, this is absolutely normal.
What is it about mazes?
The ancient civilization that was Crete before the Greeks got organized was famous for having a Labyrinth, the original labyrinth, into which young men and women were tossed where they would wander the maze and, according to mythology, encounter the bull-headed Minotaur that would hunt them through the maze and kill them. These young people were paid as tribute to the Cretans from neighboring states. Right from the start of our civilization, a labyrinth of choices, young people tossed into the maze, and hunted through it by the ultimate government representative, the Minotaur.
Young people still face a labyrinth of choices. Most of them meaningless but touted, promoted, peer-pressured and infused into every media available to them as critical to who they are, how they will succeed or fail, who will love or hate them, live or die. Yet these are bogus choices.
All sodas are carbonated, flavored corn-syrup, artificial sweetener and tap water. All of them slow poisons. Our food system is like a corn maze where all the turns leave you facing yet-more-corn except one; the exit. The thousands of choices we are presented with are a mask for the ultimate non-choice; they are absolutely unable, most of them, to quit being consumers. There is no non-consumer space open to them. All of their needs, food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, medical care and now, social-interaction are presented to them by the maze of corporate culture. A culture so pervasive, so ubiquitous, that they are no more aware of it than a goldfish is aware of the water in his bowl.
The human brain likes mazes. Hundreds of thousands of years of walking down game trails noting which plants were fruiting, what had been recently grazed and which tree the leopard liked to lurk in gives us an instinct for mapping our surroundings. Wandering to unfamiliar or rarely visited territory was how our primate ancestors found new sources of food, game and shelter. Outside of cities every step on a wild trail is worthy of attention as there are things better left untrampled. Inside cities, people drag their feet around as if a step is the same as a stumble. In cities, your surroundings are important only if you have money. If you don't have money you spend your time hiding from the minotaur, the police. Police don't fight crime they herd populations. Try to get the police to investigate a burglary.
At the same time children are excluded from participation in much of the urban maze they are offered a plethora of virtual mazes. In a virtual maze they get to play the minotaur. The player is the hunter. The player gets little virtual rewards for learning the maze and dominating the virtual inhabitants. It's a really nasty bit too since a person playing a video game is captured by a maze bigger than himself and the game. The labyrinth builder doesn't even have to build walls or physically chase them around; their brain runs around in circles while they sit there as a passive lump taking breaks only to work, eat, sleep and dispose of wastes.
Is this starting to sound familiar? The supermarket is a maze; they change the layout regularly. Television is a maze; you make choices by changing channels but you are still entrapped. Schooling is a maze; it's television but more expensive and more demanding of 'buy-in' from the maze runners. Always there are a multitude of choices, tiny intermediate rewards and the promise of a great reward at the center, the heart of the maze. A few fools even get that reward from time to time.
The elites that design all these mazes have one goal in mind. They want to keep otherwise difficult populations available for use but disable their ability to claim free agency. The easiest way to do this is to reward poor choices. Most importantly they disrupt critical thinking and reward idiots. It's not an accident that people on television are idiots. It's not an accident that people are rewarded for demonstrating the ability to lie to themselves. It's not an accident that a certain political party has front men that are intellectually challenged. Reasoned thinking is dangerous. Somebody might get the idea that an hour of say, Jesus Montoya the grape pruner's life is worth the same as an hour of a Wall Street executives life. The grape pruner can be proven to be doing something productive. The executive is, at best, a symbiont, usually a parasite, frequently a predator.
So mazes are designed to control your thinking. Mazes are built to control your movements. Mazes are designed to entrain your mind and defuse your frustration. Start looking for those mazes and you will see them forming around you; physically, mentally, socially. Refuse one maze and you will be offered another. Start climbing the walls and you'll meet the minotaur. Just remember he's in a maze too. His choices have been programmed and you can use that programming.
Do your best not to play. Confound the labyrinth. Introduce errors. Teach critical thinking. Spend as much time as possible in the natural world. Limit your machine time. Don't run. Climb the walls. The true maze is in our minds.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Read this and turn away from your screens for a piece and look about you. Look at your stuff; really look at it. Chances are that you have way more of it than you know what to do with. I think I have twenty coffee mugs. I'm a single man. I only have two hands and four chairs and the chairs are in storage. I have a car that I haven't driven on an actual errand since August 2009. I have boxes of books and more boxes of kitchen ware. Look at your stuff and wonder; is it enough? Do I use all this? What's the point of this stuff anyway?
The "economic recovery" is crap. Anybody who tells you differently is lying and that's pretty much the entire mainstream media and most elective office holders. If you're anything like me you know a few people who are flat out-of-work and a few dozen more whose "job descriptions" rely heavily on yoga, tofu, pampered pets, massages, house plants, house-cleaning and handyman descriptions. Their actual incomes run about half to a third of what stable full-time employment would bring them. Surprisingly, no-one starves. Most have housing even if they move frequently. Their clothes may be worn but are usually clean and in fair condition barring fashion statements. They aren't going to be buying new: cars, houses, appliances, furniture or any other major purchases anytime soon. For some of them that may extend to ever again.
Yet they have enough. Most have the cars, bicycles, computers, clothes, furniture, kitchen-wares, linens etc. that are required to keep them comfortable. Many are concerned about losing weight. They all have cell phones. Everyone who wants recreational substances, alcohol, pot or whatever seems to be able to afford them. Utility bills get paid. Their medical care is deferred or billed to the state when their ailments get bad enough that a doctor is required. For most, it is enough.
In the next year millions more will be invited to learn the abundance of just enough. State and local governments are bankrupt and the federal government refuses to consider bailing them out. Jobs will be redlined. The american people have been told that governments can operate without raising taxes for thirty years and it's always been a flat lie. They've been told that they've been living in a capitalistic system also and that's been a lie as well. Look at the maps of which states pay funds into the federal budget and which states take money out. Most of the country geographically is on the dole one way or another. Reality and Congress are not in regular contact.
So as the economy rachets down due to reasons like Peak Oil, Climate Change damages and Finance Sector parasitism most of us are going to have to learn to make due with less. This is going to be painful for many until they learn to bicycle around, cook food from scratch ingredients, grow vegetables, glean fruits, mend clothing and get along with roommates. More than a few of us have learned how to treat everything short of major trauma and cancer without Big Pharmas big price tags. We'll learn to entertain each other as television and radio becomes increasingly, desperately, focused on extracting every last penny from those remaining in the "real economy."
We're better off.
Depressed? Slash the tires on your car, buy a bicycle and find something five or six miles out of town that you just have to get to. Lonely? Not with three roommates and their 28 friends wandering through you're not. Bored? Learn to play an instrument, paint, sew, knit, garden, fix bicycles, hack electronics, build furniture, boats, kilns, stoves and/or weld. Hungry? Learn the endless variations of beans/tortillas, hummus/pita, rice/curry, beets/cabbage or dhal/chapati that feed the rest of the world. Tired? Sling a hammock in a friends garage.
Learn to laugh as you dance. Comfort each other. Sit meditation. Paint faces. Learn to walk together. There is time enough and love enough for all. Just enough, if we share.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I will be checking in at libraries and relatives houses as such access is available.
Thank you for your attention.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I am hereby unilaterally and on behalf of the entire world canceling St. Victims Day. For those of you who are looking at your calendar and wondering when Saint Victims Day is the answer is pretty much every day. Any day, week or month that is announced to be XYZ "awareness" day counts. Cut it out. Just cut that shit out right now.
So what do I expect the people who have XYZ modern plight to do about getting the cooperation of the rest of us? Quit whining, get support the old fashioned political way, buy it with sex and money or fight dirty. Our American Founding Fathers did not kick out the British who had more money, a larger army and better transportation by standing in neat lines wearing brightly colored jackets waiting for the British cannon to chew them up. They shot the bastards from behind trees and walls and ran like hell.
Homeless people; grab a large stone and drop it on the road in front of the richest development in town. Repeat, with all your friends until arrested. Keep doing it until the police get exhausted. There are more of you than them and they really don't want to touch you. Oh, if you're getting arrested anyway; pee your pants, on purpose. (eat asparagus and take extra B Vitamins) There is nothing cops hate more than piss in their patrol car.
Health Care uninsured. Blockade one hospital or private medical building a week Critical Mass style. Make sure the plastic surgeons and other high profit medical business gets disrupted first. Oh, yeah; expect to get arrested also. Make sure you tell the officers how sick you are; it makes their jobs more fun to know they're arresting people who could code on them at a moments notice.
Climate Change? If you're concerned you better be on your bicycle and you better look good riding it. That means riding a clean, classy, bike whenever you can and presenting a neat, attractive appearance doing so. No spandex on your ass unless your S.O. can bounce quarters off it while you're sleeping. You could do something about your energy guzzling house too.
Foreclosed? You just lay down and took it didn't you? Did you demand the company foreclosing on you produce the physical note? Did you make them evict you? Did you leave them an intact house? Your job was to wrench up the works that screwed you as much as possible even if it did nothing to help you. It will help somebody.
Hungry? Plant food in planting strips and along rights of way. Take over watering systems to provide for your stuff. Correcting anything you do will cost them $75 per hour minimum. (2 guys, 1 truck, phone calls and confusion).
Sexually oppressed or fearful? If you were raped its about time you not only learned a Martial Art but start aggressively teaching it to kids of your cohort. It's also your job to make if fun, popular and sexy. Rapists should be extremely fearful of very small blades secreted about the persons of women and one shot pepper sprays. That or a swift kick in the acorns. Waiting for 'something to be done' is getting kind of stale don't you think? Here's a clue; the men aren't going to do it for you. You got one body and one life to figure it out. You're way behind.
Uneducated. Get one laptop and hand it around. Find a twelve year old boy to hijack internet service for you. Give him some cigarettes or booze. If his parents weren't slacking he'd refuse it. Knowledge is knowledge and degrees are increasingly worth nothing as employers realize they don't mean the degree holder can read, write, speak clearly or think outside of a three-ring-binder. Soon enough Google will have some way of evaluating real skills that will bypass the degree bullshit. Be prepared.
In short, get pissed off and prepare to make others uncomfortable. Then deal with the consequences. Gandhi beat the British by simply making it impossible for them to function. If we have to sandbag the roads with our living bodies we need to do the same thing until we get some basic humanity. I'm not talking three bedrooms and a Cadillac Escalade for everybody. How about minimal; housing (10'x10'), food, clothing, basic medical and dental care and a bus pass. If we can afford to keep the dry husks of our elderly propped up on machines for years we should be able to afford some bullshit standards for everyone else.
If they don't want to go along with the program; fuck em. Sandbag them. Do every legal thing you can to make the bastards miserable and then start on the illegal things that don't hurt people. If they ask who blocked this or that road stand up and demand a jury trial. Sandbag their asses there too.
Twenty percent of us are unemployed and the jobs are not appearing. We don't own jack because the banks been skimming the game the whole time. Time to fight back. Just quit with the fucking whining and don't ask me for a nickel for your walkathon.
St. Victims Day is cancelled until you all learn to work together.
p.s. If this is your house, business, road, school or whatever that is disrupted you may need to scream like hell about something being done to get these assholes doing something other than hassling you. Hint: sick, broke, homeless people got nothing but time on their hands until they can land slots as healthy, housed, non-broke people like you with better shit to do.
p.p.s.- Cambodia, Rwanda, Germany, Serbia, California and the Former Soviet Union tried the massive prison and execution thing. It backfires. (In California with real flames)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
"Sustainable fertilizer: Urine and wood ash produce large harvest"
"Results of the first study evaluating the use of human urine mixed with wood ash as a fertilizer for food crops has found that the combination can be substituted for costly synthetic fertilizers to produce bumper crops of tomatoes without introducing any risk of disease for consumers. The study appears in the current issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication."
Which backs up the work of this guy: http://e-terrapretarooftopexp.blogspot.com/
So you farmer types might want to set a terra cotta pot a discreet few steps out the back door and fill it with the ash from your wood stove. Modify as nature calls.