The Ex Cults from Memphis

Is this whole internet thing still on? Oh boy is it ever.

First off meet ex-cult. They are cool:

Ok now I forget what it was I was going to say. Trust me – you wouldn’t have cared.

Instead of blathering on about whatever it was you wouldn’t have cared about, instead let me take you for a little walk down memory lane, at the end of which is one of the great albums of all time, a little diddy called Gimmick by a band (or guy, or something) called Barkmarket –

On this day in 1993, the above record was released. Well that would be a cool story but I am lying, i have no idea what day the thing was released. though it was 1993 according to the youtube thing. The interesting thing about Barkmarket is not just how amazingly cool they/it was, but also that we (by “we” i mean “noone”) know essentially nothing about them, other than they came, they rocked, they went. They don’t even seem to have reached that certain level of popularity that gets you like page views and stuff today. they’re just gone. this particular record is a lesson in radness.

I’m The Chief

It’s inauguration day, folks. Big day. Things afoot. The new overlords pulling up in the moving vans. Anybody ever heard of an old feller named Henry David Thoreau? Me neither. Something about a pond. Must be good though, he was famous. Bit of a malcontent apparently, wrote a thing called Civil Disobedience. Wake up, this is important. Remember when you voted and felt all smug? Well, you shouldn’t have. Voting’s for sissies. When you cast your little vote, you’re all *whiny voice* “oh, this is what I think is right. I hope the men in power and everyone else around me agrees, otherwise … otherwise … what is right will lose.” Yeah, guess what. You already lost, with that attitude. Here’s what that Thoreau guy had to say about voting:

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and
wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor
wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.

I don’t know about that last part, sounds like some sort of reckless call to action – action, ha ha I’m binge watching breaking bad, sorry.

Oh by the way, big day in Gambia today. LOL, what’s Gambia? I don’t know either. Something in Africa apparently. Yeah today’s their inauguration day, too. Ha ha ha I read them in the news today. Do you know what that crazy little third world country is doing today? Ha ha ha I’ll tell you. They’re swearing in their new prez – I kid you not, he’s someone who’s never had political office, and was a real estate developer before. Good for them. I wish them all the best with that.

The Dec. 1 presidential election produced a shock result, with 51-year-old Barrow – a real estate developer who was selected as candidate despite having never held political office – beating the president of 22 years.


Now back to the Yooooonited States military complex, where we do things DIFFERENT cuz we’re gooder.

I guess it’s a pretty big day for real estate dudes going into politics!

So anyways, just in case you were feeling all cheerful about inauguration day, either this one, or the last one, or the next one – just remember, the guy (or GAL) who’s able to slit enough throats to get to the top of the heap, may not really be the best collection of character traits that’s going to end up doing you – the poor, little guy – a dang bit ‘o good.

Here’s a bit of drivel from one of my favorite anarchist essays:

One has but to bear in mind the process of politics to realize that its path of good intentions is full of pitfalls: wire-pulling, intriguing, flattering, lying, cheating; in fact, chicanery of every description, whereby the political aspirant can achieve success. Added to that is a complete demoralization of chapter and conviction, until nothing is left that would make one hope for anything from such a human derelict. Time and time again the people were foolish enough to trust, believe, and support with their last farthing aspiring politicians, only to find themselves betrayed and cheated.

It’s in our DNA

I was watching a documentary about sound. And I have an old joke. More on the old joke in a second. But it was tracing our relationship with sound, and how over the years we have tried to share and transmit sound. The earliest cave dwellers were aware of the echoes of their voices, and entertained each other with some sort of early neanderthal chant in those nooks and crannies of the caves, where they today find denser collections of cave paintings. and once the guy that figured out how to broadcast over radio figured out how to broadcast over radio, he started with an opera singer. a song. and phonographs – again, song. then cds. err, or then cassettes. 8 tracks. whatever. mp3s. songs. songs, songs. even today – pandora. spotify. whatever. songs. on our phones.

no matter what we humans have managed to invent for ourselves, it comes back to – songs.

songs are wired in our dna.

songs are what make us human.

we sing to each other.

and we tell stories. cave dwellers sitting around the fire. radio serials. ok i just skipped over 20 thousand years. whatever. books. movies. netflix. amazon video. i love lucy. it doesn’t matter what we humans have managed to invent for ourselves, be it campfire or satellite, it has always come back to – telling each other stories. we love it.

it’s in our dna. we tell each other stories.

And that’s what makes us human.

and talking. first, just talking. for a really long time, just talking. then – letters, i guess. what, papyrus? telegraph. phones. cell phones. copper. optic fiber. satellite. all so we can – talk to each other. guess what – it’s in our dna. it’s what makes us human. Song, stories, talking to each other.

the technology may change, but our dna doesn’t. it’s the constant through history. our song. our stories. our talking. THAT is what makes us human, not our satellites.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.

this is the documentary, its on netflix at the moment.

On Privacy – and Public Records

Somehow I think we’ve missed the original point of making certain records public. Here’s something the newspapers (ha, newspapers. remember those? me neither.) have mentioned in an article on how companies learn about you –

Because birth records are usually public, the moment a couple have a new baby, they are almost instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies.

(Source: NY Times)

Birth records being public, I get. I can see – sort of – a cute, 1950s-era reason for making public the records of birth. Good citizenry, that sort of thing.

I know, I know – hard to believe, but somewhere along the way, the Yooooonited States Corporate Complex became interested in profits, and taking advantage of any available technique, citizenry be damned.

Imagine a neighbor (ha, neighbors. remember those? me neither) anyways imagine a neighbor that combed through public records at the courthouse, discovered you had a baby, and used that information to rush over and try to sell you something. you would, likely, close the door quickly, or call the police, or reach for the mace. anyways, I forget what I was saying. something about it being not nice to comb through public records. or something about how the world is a different place in 20XX than it was in 1891, or whatever the “golden era” of public records was, which I suspect was before the era of being “instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies.”

the same thing strikes me with whois data on the interweb thingies. in exchange for the cough “privilege” of registered a seven dollar domain name, I am pseudo-required to provide name, phone number, physical address, etc. Tell you what. I’ll start providing that information just the moment everybody stops using it. Thank you. I just wanted to get that off my chest.

By the way, read the article. It’s a fascinating treatise on your habits, as well as on their intersection with the marketers, and more about Febreze than you could ever care to know.

The Magic of Thinking Big – the cliff notes

I was reading about a guy that did a thing and he mentioned a book he had read before he did that thing, and it’s like fifty years old which is like totally FOREVER ago. Anyhoo of course my local library doesn’t have it – and God knows I’m not throwing down 12.95 for it – so I hit the Google thing and there’s like this youtube thing of a guy that does the book review with like cool comic book drawrings and stuff and I watched it – I’m not kidding – four times. I think I get the book now. Here’s the youtube thing and i dare you to try it –

Meet Metz

Canadia, our friendly neighbors to the north, have produced this fine little trio of musically oriented type individuals known collectively as Metz. Metz is currently travelling across Australia, the Great Down Under, and lining up gigs in China, aka nowhere near us, but because of scoring high on the awsome-o-meter, we present below today for your listening enjoyment their record stream, the record is called ‘ii’. and no I do not know how to pronounce that. Granted I haven’t been outside in nearly a decade and spend most of my time huddled up watching I Love Lucy reruns, but this wall-of-sound approach from The Metzes – particularly as a trio – is a delightful refreshment. Let’s note as well they are part of the SubPop family, which is probably neither here nor there, but then again, neither am I. Neither here nor there, that is. Ladies and gentlemen, The Metz:

ps. I continue to mull over whether ‘sexually attractive’ is a good name for a fake band. on the one hand – duh, yes – on the other hand – not sure how easy it would be to live with everyone’s constant disappointment.

tree art on a walk

i went for a walk today and came across an old rusty chain that someone had coiled around and made to rise up off the ground, kind of like a cobra. i didn’t stop to look how it was done, I just wanted to think about it. it got me thinking about other things you could sculpt with rusty chains. would you weld the individual links? how would you “pose” the thing while you built it? how would you rust it out? would it be strong enough for children to play on? or other techniques, like applying an epoxy, or even encasing the whole thing in a transparent epoxy tube.

then it got me thinking about doing it to a tree – imagine a fine tree, maybe a mature oak, and then coiling an old rusty chain up around its trunk, and out across branches. then calling the whole thing, “government.” that’s poetic, right there.

that got me thinking about tree art – could you use huge tubes to force a tree to grow a certain shape, for instance could you entwine two trees together like a candy cane, and how many years would that take.

that’s what happens to me when I go for a walk by myself.

On Art – a Pontification

Let’s talk about art for a moment, shall we? It all started today when I launched an app on my phone called Flipboard. It’s a content delivery app, and the topics to choose from was fascinating. I won’t go into it at the moment, other than to see it awakened in me a strange, inexplicable, primordial desire to key all of these topics into a database table. The list was truly impressive not only in its length, but in the fact that it had topics in it that I had never thought of being an interest, but now that you mention it – yeaHYEaaah … as a matter of fact I WOULD like to see a few articles about that. Everything from Calgary, to Botany, to gold, bicycle touring, programming languages, woodworking, freedom of expression, humanism, exeercise science, electrical grid. Geology. On and on and on … page after page. It really got me thinking about interests, and the concempt of simply sitting back and . Take “bicycle touring” – someone actually has to go outside, for weeks, and ride a bike somewhere, then come back and write some sort of article. They pour their lives into this bicycle tour. It consumes them 24 hours a day, it takes their sweat, etc. Then to actually write about it. All to be pushed out to my android phone so i can scan it for four seconds, or four minutes, be distracted, and then scroll (or “flip”) to the next one, where it all repeats. And I suppose that releases some sort of brain chemical that makes me feel like I’ve bicycle toured. Yet I havent. I’ve done nothing but be entertained. Maybe then I have some sort of wistful aching that I wish I were bicycle touring. But I won’t.

It got me thinking about my own interests. Something you’ll never see in a list. How about … screen scraping? I really like screen scraping. Lately I’ve liked banging out code in casperjs, consuming pages, saving them to disk, parsing them out some more with perl. I like the puzzle of deconstructing the page data. I like the casperjs api. I really like this stuff. I’ve never seen an article on it.

It got me thinking about writing (words), and banging away on a guitar. They evoke such different emotions. With a book – well, I can’t even imagine writing 200 pages, 300 pages, of a quality that another human being – let alone dozens, or hundreds, or thousands, or more – would ever want to read them all. On their own time. With a smile in their heart. What could you possibly write about? What is it about the great books I’ve enjoyed that suck me in, and get the pages turning? The topic? The storyteller? The content? The words? It’s so hard, and it’s got to be sustained for so long It’s a totally different vibe than music. With music- it’s a “vibe” – a rhythm – a mood – I can pick up a guitar and in four seconds – 2 seconds – probably transport you someplace enjoyable – something rocking. I can make it up on the spot. It’ll be cool. There will be no words though, not like writing. It’s not a “story,” it’s not information, it’s nothing words conveys. It’s just a beat, a riff, a mindset, a mood. Just six strings to choose from. It’s so much easier. Well, maybe to me it’s easier. Maybe to other people, writing is easier, or beating an egg, or parachuting. I don’t know. Or I can soften the chords, and instantly you’ll know, this is mellow, this is kick back with wine music.

But I’ve always liked to say, “im not a guitar player, im jsut an idiot with a guitar.” (these days im mostly just an idiot.) so maybe to write, you’ve just got to be an idiot with a typewriter. I used to think I liked to “approach a guitar” as if it’s the first time i’ve ever seen one, or played one, and see what happens. maybe it can be the same with a typewriter.

i suppose when we stand around watching an idiot play his guitar, or twiddle his thumbs, if it’s reasonably distracting, or engaging, or if we convey the word “good” or “interesting” to it, or at least “something i’ll stand here and watch for a few minutes more,” we’re letting that guy transport us much as we would a writer. maybe we like his craft, or his band, or maybe there’s a cute girl playing. i don’t know. maybe we like our heart to tap its toes every once in a while. Maybe we like the technology of it, or the fashion show.

and then it got me thinking about the “save” button. just stop and really think about the “save” button. what is it we’re doing when we click it. why would we want to just “save” anything. when we stop and write something, we don’t expect it to jsut disappear when we’re done writing it. we want to “save it.” we want it to persist, forever i suppose. that’s a lot of pressure. so why don’t you just open notepad, or textedit, or an actual piece of paper, and write some stuff. then just – close it. dump it without saving. why not. there’s something about that save button.

and that got me thinking about email. email versus face to face interaction. email is like this – writing something down, crafting each word, getting it all on paper, then sticking it on the table and running away. then your friend, the guy you wrote it to, comes around the corner, stops at the table, and reads it. and then maybe he reads it again. and then he writes his response, and leaves it on the table. he can’t see my face, i can’t see his face, i’m not really there when he reads it, and he’s not there when I read it. then he walks away, and I come back, and I stop and read what he wrote me. and this goes back and forth. and that’s kind of why i mostly hate email. why not just go talk to the guy? what is it that’s so addicting about crafting emails, about wondering if i’ve struck the right tone, that i’m saying right things. in conversation – in real conversation – you mostly just let it fly.

anyways, that’s a lot to happen for just opening the flipboard app. impressive list of topics.

Trip Report: The Other Kind of Drilling

The Well

Every once in a while I clamber down from my ivory towered headquarters at launchday inc and intermingle with you, the great unwashed. Last week was one such event and let me tell you, the fresh air and sunshine nearly killed me.

I plunked my benjamins onto the countertop and bought a roundtrip ticket to destiny. Hey, guess what – apparently there’s a whole world out there.

The country was called “guatemala” which i thought was some sort of fruit or melon but no it’s a whole country.

According to the guidebook i read on the flight, apparently it used to be full of people, then the spanish came in the 1500s and killed all the people. Now its a mix of spanish and those people, whose ruins in those jungle attract the tourists.

But that’s not why we were there.

We were there for destiny. One tall order of destiny, please, with a side of rice.

So – imagine this. you’re born. and you live in a thing, like a house or a hut or whatever. And all your life you get water from some dirty creek. And sure yes sometimes that doesn’t go well. People being people, that dirty creek gets used for all kinds of things.

To illustrate, more people die of diarrhea each year than AIDS.

So i connected with a team of folks to go somewhere like the above and do what i could to fix it. Call it a random act of kindness. When you make about a dollar a day, and you get paid about six months out of the year, you just can’t afford that 2nd SUV like you can here in the states. Or the plumbing infrastructure. The challenge is tangible – they dont even have cable. I do. So i decided to clamber down etc etc and go somewhere and actually do something.

And one thing I learned (queue the theme music) is that people are really nice. It’s not just about water (or whatever it is you’re into), its about (wait for it) humanity. One little human at a time. You pull up in some random community some where, get out, and boom – mobbed by a bunch of little kids. Apparently – and I didn’t realize this – but apparently they’re people too.

So there’s this organization that’s good at drilling wells in out of the way areas, and they’re kind enough to let people like me (high powered fancy-suited control freaks pulling the strings of commerce, etc) go on some of their trips and do some work with them. One community at a time, they’re sinking wells – very simple hand-pumped wells – and giving folks a chance at some clean water.

And while the well is a pretty good excuse to go – and heaven knows how much fun it is playing with someone else’s extremely expensive portable drilling rig – when you’re there, it becomes more about the peeps, which was weird. I’m more used to using fellow humans as stepping stones, not actually interacting with them.

And i’ll tell you what, fellow americans. We may have the color-coded set of mercedes and track suits, but they have something we’ll never have. And i don’t even know what it’s called. Probably: each other.

1. the team
The rag tag team of ruffians I hooked up with were from my small group at church. (remember churches? me neither. small groups? nope.) These are weird people. They do things like go to prisons and help inmates. Or go to mexico and build houses. Or go to guatemala and build wells. Bunch of whack jobs. One of them started a little charitable organization for chicks to ditch the pedicures and facials (snicker) and give the money to the well instead. So she spearheaded “raising funds” whatever that means, people chipped in, and once that happened, we all wanted to go build the sucker because – how can you not. About 8 grand to put a well in, people. Let’s face it, my lunch yesterday cost more than that. (Not that I’d skip it to put a well in.)

2. the organization
its, or “living water international.” These are the guys working around the globe putting wells in. They’re smart, and they have cool toys. – with a couple clicks you can be hooked up with one of these trips. I double dog dare you.

3. the community
we ended up in a place called Masagua. Could have been anywhere. The last time I did one of these, we ended up in a place called Nicaragua. (Also not a fruit, rather an entire country. I’m telling you people, who knew these things were out there??) you’re going down a road, then you’re going down some other road, and it’s made of dirt, then you keep going, then you’re there.

4. the well
the well itself is (surfer voice) “pretty cool, man”. You dig, then you shovel some mud, then you send a drill bit down a 100 feet or so, then you do it again, then you dig some more mud, then you lug some gravel around in wheel barrows, some other stuff happens then you’re done. along the way you work with the “dudes,” the locals who shovel way better than you and work harder than you and who mostly keep you from killing yourself with tools. plus they’ll occasionally pull down a coconut for you chop it with a machete and let you drink it. muchas gracias senor – muchas gracias.

5. the chocolate and the coffee
final note here. respect to guatemala. i got a chance to do a little poking around in a city called antigua, and let me tell you. this country takes its coffee and chocolate seriously, and ive got one word for that – respect.

The Well