Up here in Portland we have a mayor that has had some intrigue over some sexual misconduct. It came out that our openly gay mayor had sex with an 18 year old intern.
Immediately, people were calling for his dismissal, and I found myself in a couple of interesting discussions on the morality of a mayor who would have sex with someone that the media referred to as "a teenage boy".
While it's easy for me to say that sex and politics should be separate, I might have a different opinion if our mayor had been some crusty old fat fart who molested a 16 year old girl or boy. But that wasn't the case.
It seems to me that we have some sort of sexual hangups that are impacting our collective judgment toward our good mayor. It is not simply that we want him to behave like a "man of politics" - by now we should be well aware that most politicians behave immorally some way or another. Instead, it is a projection of our own collective values and issues upon our public servants. Do we really want someone who behaves like a priest, or is it that we just don't want to hear about homosexuality openly? I have my own opinions about what we want and don't want, as I'm sure that you do, too.
As a side note, it's interesting that he didn't "break the law", but if he had decided to marry the young man (who is old enough to die for his country but not old enough to have sex with a mayor), he wouldn't be able to because the state and nation don't recognize gay marriage.
I was in a meeting earlier today and we found ourselves talking about the future of the book in all of its possible forms. I have several shelves at home covered with books that I never even read, but the aesthetics of the whole thing sets my mind at ease as I ponder all of the knowledge contained therein.
But my computer has been acting up a little bit. And my old Ipod won't hold a charge. And as the days go on, more and more little technological impurities find themselves in the various things that plug into the wall in order to work.
But those books are still there...
It's not like there's some sort of equivalent to a harddrive crash for books. You won't be reading a book and then find that you can't turn the page past page 167, or the white page turn blue, or random scenes of porn just start popping up all over the page. Maybe it's possible, but not likely.
There is something pure about the words on the page. Only fire can wipe the data. Or maybe a lot of water. Or lightening. But power surges? You're fine.
While the answer could be "42", it doesn't really answer the question effectively. Kindles seem pretty cool, but eff their pricetag. This has led some people to think that books, once they make the transition to Ebooks once and for all, will now only be accessible by the people who can afford the damn readers. And if you care about freedom and accessibility of information, you would be worried about only the rich people being able to read. But there are some exciting things out there in the world. And at the recent CES down in Vegas, everyone seemed to be talking about the revolution of the netbook, which is a good thing. What's happening is that we are moving closer and closer to having a personal link to the world with us at all times. Now, we could stand around and debate on whether or not this is a good thing or not, but that's not what this is about. It's about connection, linking, and all that stuff. It's coming whether or not we like it. Embrace it people, embrace the devil...
So, if you don't know already, I've jumped into the World of Warcraft. At first, I was going to use it as a sort of jumping off point for some sort of social research into the nature of online communities and whatnot.
It's incredibly fun to wander around, skinning beasts and enchanting weapons. Maybe a little too much fun.
But I was intrigued when I found this story about a craft fair in Azeroth. What a great idea. Now people can get together without having to kill a bunch of fel dragons and vampiric mistbats. Instead they can sit around an congregate and socialize with their community in a wholesome fashion. I've heard stories of church meetings, dance parties, and fishing tournaments as well. When will Facebook combine with Warcraft so we can pass little green patches and snowballs with fellow trolls and orcs now?
well, i'm back. not really sure where i was or anything (i'm pretty sure i was stuck under a foot and a half of snow, but i'm not 100% sure). and one of my new year's resolutions was to not make any resolutions that i would break, so i'll stop short of saying that there will be a lot of fresh new content updated regularly on this blog. i mean, for christ's sake, i was snowed in with power and internet and didn't blog a damn thing. well, happy 2009 and see you in the interweb.
We here at TVB online would like to apologize for the lack of postings. Thomas has been doing research into virtual social communities (second life and warcraft). Dennis has been consulting for some students at PSU. Floyd is still writing, but he has gotten a little weird about posting lately. Brian is getting ready for the end of his first quarter teaching. And me, well, I've been livin life. We plan on putting a lot of stuff up next week. Most of it has to do with the the present and future of publishing and the written word. It's a weird time to be alive and caring about the nature of stories and tales. More later.
You ever wonder why the two types of marketing out there with some sort of mystique are called viral marketing and guerilla marketing? I do. So here's the deal. With the compacting of the publishing industry into (temporarily) one of a more direct, from author to audience, type of model, there will be an increase in viral and guerilla marketing that is going to be taking place in the interweb. Soon you'll have more and more authors and publishers creating and maintaining online communities and places where they can get creative with wholesome marketing. What is wholesome marketing you ask? I'll tell you. Wholesome marketing is a term that was invented about 3 minutes ago when I sat down to type up this blog. It is a term that is concerned with the execution and implementation of some sort of worthwhile goal and product. While I am only focusing on books, others could use wholesome marketing ideas to promote community acupuncture, raw chocolates, environmental law services, whatever. It basically is concerned with the marketing and selling of some sort of product that doesn't hurt or harm anyone. Period. I'm sure there is some way to say that one or more of those products do some sort of damaging thing, for all intents and purposes, they don't. Anywho, this brand new virtual marketplace and collapsed business model is directly concerned with making a conceptual place where the work in question is something worth owning. And that's good for everyone, right? It's not good for the mega conglomerates that are vomiting money. Border's is probably done at the end of the year.. So we're left with some creative options. Look here for some good things that are being done in the publishing world and you'll see that all is not lost. It's up to the guerillas and the viruses now.
The falls in Portland are crazy. They start off cold and wet, and as soon as we settle into the next year of rain, we'll inevitably get a day or so of beautiful weather. It's nice. However, it makes the Christmas decoration past time no longer defined by the traditional calendar. You don't wait until Thanksgiving before you put up your exterior lights, instead you do it when you can. In my little suburban neighborhood, people know us because we live near this house that goes overboard with the decorations. And I'm not over-exaggerating, either. I don't know how they found all this stuff, but they put these huge, air-filled characters for every single holiday. And I mean every single damn one of them. From the flag waving bear for July 4th to the inflatable turkey to the Shamrock bear (I'm not lying) to the big bunny for Easter, they really love their holidays. Anywho, the people around us have started upping their game a little bit to show their support (only on Halloween and Christmas, though. We're not crazy). And today, a beautiful and rare Autumn day, two of my neighbors are putting up their lights. Now, old me would've said that it's crazy to do this, damn the weather. I mean, there is still a long time before Christmas. But, even with the ecological reasons, I like it. Christmas is so much and so little: the birth of a savior, the most magical day of the year for a lot of kids, the corporate necessity, a time to "have" to go home and visit with friends and family. It's extremely multi-dimensional. Couple that with my intense fascination with all things cultural and social, and bring it fast and early; I love the holidays. So guys, open up the minds, try not to be too cynical, and have a merry holiday season. Already. In mid November.
So I got my first plagiarized paper today and I was so pissed and cheated that I had to stop grading papers. But then I started thinking about the nature of plagiarism and the ideas of intellectual property at large. Is it weird to have mixed emotions about the cornerstone of Western education? We preach to these students that copying without giving credit is wrong wrong wrong, but is it really that bad? It all comes back, I think, to the story of bootstraps and buckling down. Doing work, getting credit, getting paid, all that stuff. However, it's all tied to the idea of getting what you deserve. The capitalist-anti-socialist idea of what's mine is mine, goddamn it. What's an alternative? Do we just throw the book out the window and wish for a time when everyone shares, everyone gets money, there are no poor artists, and we all hug instead of fight? Or do we say that college is a time for your own thoughts, your own expressions, your own, individual ideas? Maybe that's the answer, but by now I've forgotten the question...
I've been thinking a lot lately about religion. Let me tell you a little bit about my own:
Born, bred, and raised Baptist, I didn't question it (IT) until I was about 16. I saw some horribly racist and closed-minded things in youth group that made me stop and think. And then it happened. I went on a personal journey through scientific reductionism, seeing all of life around me as a product of biological and chemical energies, which led me to a state of depression. Later, I found solace in the teachings of Robert Monroe, a self-described astral traveller, but in the end was left unfulfilled with the lack of morality in a scientific approach to spirit. Soon afterward, I grasped for anything, which led me to the intriguing field of demonology and ghost hunting. My fears and hopes were soon realized when I was temporarily possessed, and back on the journey I went. I found myself working in a bar under the tutelage of a Philosophy Master's student who introduced me to Ken Wilber and Spiral Dynamics, and I was hooked. I went on a multi-year journey of categorizing and labelling those around me, but it left me so disconnected with my fellow travellers, I left that trip for "higher" ground. I found what I was looking for in experiential gnosis through Salvia and Gnostic teachings. However, I also inadvertently joined a couple of cults, so I quit that shit ASAP. Now, I'm a spiritual maverick and moderate, constantly looking for some new thing that brings together the finer points of Christianity and spiritual fulfillment from gnostic experience. If religion is a tool of evolution, I can't wait for the next avenue to present itself. If it's a tool of GOD, it's interesting to see how all of the different religions fit together. If it's a biological impulse to vilify our seeming inconsequential relationship with the immensity of the Kosmos, then bring on the worm food. I'll see you at the clinic.
My friend Dennis posted the entry below this one, and while I agree with the majority of his claims, it must be stated that the majority of Americans would never want to be categorized without their explicit input. That being said, as far as a top-down view of the world, it would behoove us to know where we all stand. Not that this debate is getting complicated or anything, but it must be said that the internet age is going to lend us into a new way of thinking. Network thinking, swarm theory, all that shit. In order to understand and effectively apply this knowledge, we must be able to do our own part efficiently. That's where the color coding comes in. 'Nuff said.
White, black, red, blue, redcoat, browncoat, it seems like we like to put some sort of easily definable color coding on each one of our categorized groups of cultures. Perhaps it's an American thing; I don't know. I do know that it could be dangerous to us as a people to section ourselves off from one another in order to easily identify our friends. But the more I thought about it, the more it seems to be a natural outgrowth of our ever expanding group consciousness. Think about it. Don Beck and his Spiral Dynamics easily put people into several groups based on their unfolding levels of evolutionary psychology. At first this seems to be destructive to us as a people. However, by doing so, we are able to see the strengths and weaknesses of each other and how we can relate to and rely on each other for specific reasons. If you are some sort of quasi-Darwinian purist, this is basically some form of natural selection stage where diversification of the species is readily needed in order to properly network and divide our energies to more effectively tackle certain goals. I like to think of myself as a reformed Darwinian, now struggling with spiritual humanist tendencies, but see the diversification and categorization, not as a preordained step in evolution, but as a natural occurrence in the chaotic and methodical unfolding of spirit in ourselves. While this does not necessarily facilitate throwing the Bible out the window or condemning Darwin to a fiery stake in the town's center, it does serve a purpose in the networked interwebbed reality that we are all dealing with. Just a thought.
As the rains pour, the drizzle adds, the sun goes into hiding and the inner rains mount. It's not that we have little solar panels, ready to absorb duracell energy for our bodies, instead we have this little friendship with the thing that runs the world. We miss it, we remember it, and then we say goodbye. In Portland, it never sticks around for too long, but when it does, you see it. Little families, outside, cooking, cleaning, clipping. And in the winter, the smoke billows out of the chimneys and you don't see the people for a few months. Bye bye sun. See you in a few months.
The first thing that you need is an obsession. Prophecies only work on one aspect of the world, typically. Take videogames. Now you just need to obsess over them for a while. Let it simmer in your brain for a few days, letting all the information out there wash over you like an ocean. Next, you need to find a spot to lie down. You want to make sure that you are lying down with your head facing north, properly aligning your chi with the ley lines around the world. Breathe. Follow the breath. Let your muscles relax with every breath, sinking you into the floor, the ground, whatever. As you get good at this, eventually, you'll come to realize that all of reality seeps into you during these moments of quiet, calm reflection. All of reality is already inside of you, and vice versa, it's just that most of the time we're so busy talking with our mouths that we don't talk with our souls. Practice this for weeks, months, whatever. Eventually, you'll feel your insides resonate with the natural electric fields all around us. Now you are starting to access that area of reality that has all the answers. Ask God or god or Buddha or Mohammed or some crazy Jinn (whichever one you believe in at any specific stage of evolutionary development that you are in at that given moment) to show you the way. He or she or you will. Now you know the future of whatever it was that you wanted to know about. However, you will probably start to see the blurring of time in every other aspect of the world. That's just a byproduct. Have fun!
how often do we take words for granted? they are everywhere, in our ears, on the page, in little notebooks we keep by the bed. and yet in them are the dreams, thoughts, hopes, and fears that we all share on some level. propaganda, motivational tracts, spiritual texts, memoirs pile up on my desk, and yet i don't have enough words around me. if i could bathe in them, i would. simply for the little words to cleanse my bottom, the big ones to exfoliate, and the cursive ones to feel like bubbles. sometimes we don't choose our words too wisely, sometimes we think long and hard about the ones that we need for a given situation. but out there, in there, are the words for every occasion. granted, often the words are out of our grasp. we search for the specific nouns and verbs that convey the right meaning, and the remain elusive. other times, they pour out of our mouths like vomit after too much jager. but they're just words. we assign meaning to them, applications for our brain to assist us in creating some sort of picture to go along with them. we find a quote that we like and we parade it around for others to marvel at its ability to capture something so surreal, so sublime, that we can't believe that it could be said any other way. we look at books, spilling over with words, and we all have one or two (or more) that we can't part with. others that we lose so quickly because someone else HAS to read it. but they're just words, right?
The Supreme Helper of Information Teaching, Dornan Hepler stood in front of the gathered workers. “At 7:30 this morning, long range galactic scanner 840 came back with these images.” He pressed a button on the control in his hands and the LCD behind him flickered to life. “This newer strain of the H-virus has now adapted the material of this world into transferring its life-code and protein strands across vast distances of galactic space. It has now infected the two closest planets, a distant moon, and is attempting to stoke the nearest star into speeding up its own life cycle, threatening to create a system able to support more of the virus. This is a rapid change from the last scan of the sector and represents a huge difference in the current modeling techniques used by this office.” He paused and looked around the room. “We now need all of your help in how to not only reverse this process, but also how to inoculate other class B worlds which might create and sustain other strains of the H-virus.” Jules shuffled in his seat, knowing that his presentation would be coming up next. “Jules Grant, senior virus advisor, will brief you all on the nature of this specific strain. Jules?” He got up and walked to the podium, slightly slouching under the weight of the eyes that were focused on him. He saw Angie in the front row, her stockinged legs crossed tightly. He cleared his throat. “This is a nasty bug. You have to understand that.” He clicked his control and an image appeared behind him of a desert planet. “This is Mercon 6, a class B planet in the Harpoid sector, 8 cycles after an H-virus outbreak. A particularly nasty mutant group of cells infested the geothermic patterns of the planet and used it to break most of the organic matter into silicone, carbon, and methane in roughly 200 orbits around its nearest star.” He looked out at the group. Guy, guy, guy, ugly chick, guy, guy, hot chick with a weird lazy eye, guy, guy, Angie Harmon – the most beautiful corporate PR rep he’d ever see or ever will see, guy, guy, ugly chick, guy, guy. “It is in the nature of the virus to use up the organic matter on a planet in a rapid fashion. It eats through the core, sends receptors in the sky, and eventually, after reaching a point of critical mass, pass its genetic code to nearby planets, moons, and eventually – if our models are correct – into the entirety of space.” “We have every reason to believe that this is the same type of virus currently spreading in sector 9 and capable of reaching that level of transmission in 2 cycles or less.” “What about the current research suggesting that this virus is a thinking virus, capable of long term adaptation and mutation?” Angie looked up at him as she asked. Angie, beautiful Angie. Jules locked the image of her in his mind for a later private viewing. “Well, the research is still out on this, but I think that it is not in the realm of science fiction. While the different H strains have adhered to similar patterns of development and evolution, their paths are as different as the planets where they are grown. So, I agree with the current findings. These are not like the cellular viruses that are acting only on protein stimulation. These might very well be sentient viruses.” A soft murmur fell on the group as Jules smiled at Angie, silently thanking her for the alley-oop. She returned his smile with no reaction at all as she went back to jotting down notes on her opened pad. Dornan rose and walked to the podium. “So, knowing what we know, how do we stop it?” His eyes looked from Jules out to the group. “Get to work, people.”
Just a quick note, friends. Every once in a while, I dive into the political debates streaming around the interweb, and after a while, it turns my stomach. Someone (I have a good idea who) must have hated us a lot to start to divide us into nice little categories that label each other and start to drive a wedge through the middle of America (not physically). I have friends and family that I categorically disagree with. Period. And others who share the same sensibilities as I do. I can't understand why they believe what they believe; even if I agree with them I can't. However I can make a stand and say, "We are not going to let them divide and categorize us!" This is not the Civil War, but sometimes it seems like that is where we are going. Brothers against brothers, fathers against sons, religious against the agno-religious. But I can't stand it anymore. I only want what's best for everybody out there, and I know that endlessly bickering about sound bites and what some ulterior-motive-having-"reporter" has to say about something doesn't mean shit. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of people out there letting the waves of shit crash over them as they buy into the hype. Seriously. I know who would be better for the world. And you might disagree. Oh well. No biggee. Let's still eat, drink, and be merry. Let's put our money where our mouth is and do something positive in the world. What are the good things about your party (and I don't mean "who gives them money and shapes their opinions")? The good things that are integrally good, up and down the spiral of consciousness. The things that benefit all and not just a few. Those are the things that we should all be doing together. Maybe then we'll realize that there aren't as many things separating us as they make us believe.