Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Asteroid Appreciation Day, Feb 29th, 2008
For over 20 years now I've had a small memorial celebration, every 4 years, to the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
It always seemed odd to me that we mammals would not celebrate the cosmic event that gave us a leg up on the dinosaurs, always, instead, we quiver in fear of the next strike which might wipe us out. A massive explosion and shockwave covering the world like that one did deserves to be both feared and revered, in my opinion.
Those that worship evolution, rather than creation, would do well to celebrate the rock that gave our species a chance to evolve to its present state.
Why did I chose Feb 29th for this day?
0) There are a bunch of other odd holidays on Feb 29th. I doubted I'm stepping on Sadie Hawkin's toes. We don't know when that asteroid actually hit, anyway... not even to the nearest century.
1) Because Earth's orbit and rotation, while mathematically exact and precise - a year does not always equal a year - a day, Feb 29th, is left over as a reminder that the universe, and solar system, are not perfect and exact according to a human centric view....
2) I'm not really big on giving parties, one every four years is enough.
This year it seems unlikely I'll throw a party at all. Perhaps I'll just find a telescope, and shake my fist at the stars, like I always do. Perhaps some of the past attendies will remember the party and give one of their own...
The last party
, in 2004, was a doozy
. 3 bands showed up, and a bunch of individual performers played. Captain Crunch crashed it, Allen Lundell
went around being profound behind a camera, and the party went on til 5AM...
By the way, I've never been happy with the name I gave this day/party - AAS just happens to be the abbreviation for a scientific organisation that I often get exasperated by...
I do someday hope that the idea for a party like this one would take off... the stars are especially wonderful down under, here in New Zealand.
Stuff of the year 2007
I'm a little late for top 10 lists, etc, but I thought I'd write down a couple things that really influenced me last year. These are my choices for "X" of the year, where X is:
, by Charles Stross. This is the first ebook that demands to be read as such. Fundamental book for getting me thinking seriously about the meta level of distributed conciousness.
Song: The Horizon had been defeated - by Jack Johnson. The song ties back into the book, above, and also about my personal circumstances. It's the first new song I've learned in years, and now I'm trying to master the bass part and sing it at the same time.
Album: On and On
- Jack Johnson. I hear this guy everywhere I've been this last year, which has been a lot of surf spots, and campgrounds. He's just suited for ambling along... The above song is on this record, and my second favorite is "holes to heaven", which has been especially good, given the clarity of the stars here on the south side of the equator. Got that guitar lick mastered now, too.
Album concept: Year Zero, by Trent Reznor. I didn't actually care for the music that much but the ideas around the concept
Person: Bruce Steinberg
. Damn it, I'm going to miss him, and what his archetype represented
. Scribbling his tag on Mariner... I'll be hearing Hot Summer Day
in my head for a long time to come.
Best idea: Open source politics, as exemplified by the features and flaws of the Ron Paul grassroots supporters.
Stupidest idea: Too many to list... however, at the moment, I am cussing myself out for thinking for over 25 years that the world out there didn't have anything to offer that was better than the internet. Boy, was I wrong.
Best Blog: I still religiously read Doc Searl's blog
although now, most of the action takes place on the vrm list
- in a sort of comeuppance of old technology over new. Andrew Sullivan has moved up the field to second, and technorati searches of rss feeds for the stuff I'm interested in takes a close third. I still care a heck of a lot about space, but I've come to believe there is nothing I can do about it professionally. I did, recently make a stab at writing a song about asteroids...
Lately I've spent so much time inside my own head that when I come out of it I've mapped familiar concepts so much with the alien that I'm not making any sense when I try to express it in words
. My head is full of half formed thoughts, and concepts for which there are no words. I worry about this, but I remember when telling people about what USENET was like was hard... I keep thinking I should stop writing things down, and just record things, and play music, and upload that, a story of audio dissolution, rather than write anything anymore, or publish under an alias until things become more concrete, the recordings being a trail of breadcrumbs back from wherever I'm going....
The Ron Paul Survival Report - year 1993
The years long hoo-rah about what was allegedly said or not said in Ron Paul's newsletters has been fascinating. Finally, TNR has had the balls to publish links to some pdfs of some of Ron Paul's various newsletters
. Since they apparently missed all of 1993 in what they chose to reprint, and I (courtesy a helpful librarian and a friend) didn't, here is a complete copy of the Ron Paul Survival Report for 1993
. My site doesn't have a whole lot of bandwidth, so feel free to mirror the 12MB file, rather than link back to me. (note to TNR - take 'em!)
I would have preferred that the original articles had been published on the internet before others chose to spin them, to encourage people to actually read them. Viewing a perspective on history such as this is an interesting intellectual, emotional, and historical exercise, no matter what your belief system, especially with modern tools like wikipedia to enhance understanding.
Now, I want to make clear, that Ron Paul has said that he didn't write this newsletter, and I believe him. A lot of people have sold their names (Robert Moog for example) to their everlasting regret.
I have had a heck of a day trying to reconcile my own memories of 1993 with wikipedia and with the newsletter and attitudes of the time, while reading up on the The Phillips Curve
, the fate of Reginald Oliver Denny
's assailants, and David Koresh
(The discrepancies between the account of the Waco, Tx incident in 1993 and wikipedia's are interesting - and I doubt the survival report would be so supportive of Koresh today were more details about him available at the time.
In this single morning I've learnt about Special Drawing Rights
, read the newsletters' defense of Gary Hunt
, who was removed from office because (as ultimately came out) his accountant screwed up. He was (in 1998) granted a full pardon.
I still find the story of Randy Weaver
and the Ruby Ridge
incident an extremely moving example of what can happen when you are wrongly targeted by the law, and both sides are heavily armed.
The 1993 newsletter quotes approvingly of Joel Brind's Abortion/Breast cancer hypothesis. According to the mind numbing detail on this in wikipedia, large studies in 1997, 2003, and 2004 have largely disproved this hypothesis
. There's been a truly mind-blowing amount of research and debate and a mixture of good and bad science on this issue, and certainly in 1993, when the newsletter was published, not enough facts were in. I wonder who still believes in this linkage?
Oh, and there's negative stuff about Karen Finley
's NEA funding in those newsletters, and some not so nice things said about the ADL
, and a positive reference to Richard Maybury
, and the list goes on and on... (I'm only as far as July, 1993)
but read for yourself
. I did find a few things offensive in there, notably coarseness in the "Haitian's with AIDs" problem. Please research the subjects on your favorite online toolbox. I hope all this debate can get covered objectively IN wikipedia, one day.
Now off to TNR's selections...
Labels: Ron Paul, ron paul survival report
The 9th estate
In a hostile confrontation with manipulative pollster Frank Luntz
, one voice rang out clearly over the gabble: We're mad because the 4th estate has been taken away from us
. That, in a nutshell, says what I've been saying for years. In the age of universal surveillance, who watches the watchers? And... who watches those that are supposed to be watching the watchers?
I have a t-shirt, manufactured by Internet Systems Consortium
(one of the good guys), that describes how the internet really works -
The conflict between the old media and the new has never been more apparent than in the battles of the Ron Paul campaigners to be heard above the noise generated by the MSM. Lacking an analogy for how the internet really maps on how information is gathered and prevented, I'm going to take a metamorphic leap and claim that the 4th estate - the Press - occupies layers 6-8 of the layers above, and that the 9th estate - what's sometimes called citizen journalism - occupies layer 9. Maybe I'll come up with a better analogy, I don't know - but this lets me abbreviate the conflicting concepts down to two words each, and move on, so....
In the conflict between old politics, and the new, and the old media, and the new,
The 4th estate (occasionally) prints retractions
The 9th estate corrects the original article
The 4th estate accepts article comments, and reprints only those that they think apply, occasionally.
The 9th estate allows open, unfiltered comments on articles, and sometimes even institutes a democratic rating system, like that of slashdot.
The 4th estate publishes anonymous articles, using its brand to bury the author and his/her biases. Getting a byline (and thus a brand) is viewed as a career achievement.
The 9th estate proudly links back to every article the author has ever written, branding someone from day 1.
The 4th estate depends on advertising and sales to survive.
The 9th estate depends on enthusiasm and outrage to sustain itself.
The 4th estate has its roots in broadcast media - newspapers, radio, television.
The 9th estate has its roots in USENET.
The 4th estate assumes the fact checker is doing his job.
The 9th estate fact checks the fact checker.
I'll go on and revise this attempt at dualistic analysis when I have some more time... or perhaps I'll get some comments.
Labels: msm, Ron Paul
Bruce Steinberg, Rock in Peace
Bruce Steinberg, NASA engineer, musician, artist, writer, a real life Buckaroo Bonzai, has gone to the great router in the sky
I owe a lot to Bruce, but after we last saw each other in 1993 or so, we kind of fell out of touch... well, I never really felt out of touch because I was always getting Bruce stories, and ideas, secondhand, from others, and they always sparked hours of conversation, almost as if Bruce had actually been there.
I sent him an email before I left San Francisco, basically telling him to hang out in this universe until the exotropians got their act together
!! But I guess it was his time to go now, and the world is a bit dimmer for his exit.
I'll write more - about, for example, how he inspired me when it was my turn to sit in a VP chair (and I'm not just talking about tower of power, either), but Evan
have covered a few of the stones he turned over for us.
Learning to love the internet again.
My last posting
was uncharitable, to say the least. I'm not at my best on the holidays. Perhaps, one day, I can find some love in my heart for crackers and spammers, but it hasn't shown up yet... well I can say one thing - it is my increasing belief that humans exist to bring the spambots into full sapience. We've tought them how to read, do small math problems, and there's an effort out there to get them to tackle complex pattern distinguishing activities like reading captcha. Soon, perhaps, the adolescent mixture of porn and the Guttenburg library filling our spam boxes in praise of Viagra may give way to more philosophical theses, like "why am I here?". "What is my purpose?". I have been mulling over these questions a lot lately, and having a few million machines on a botnet also talking this heavy stuff over might actually accomplish something.
Given the assault on my external memory, events in Pakistan seemingly a harbringer of WWIV, bad weather, the economy going bust, hitting endless reloads on my bookmarks for ron paul related news, and mooning over my tattered lovelife, it seemed like a good idea on Dec 30 to hop the next flight out to anywhere, which ended up being New Zealand.
As a spin of the credit card goes, not a bad choice at all. Expect light blogging.
6ft waves at raglan, nz, wednesday. I'm there.
Labels: surfing, travel