Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Blood in the water
This song came out a while back as sort of a pathologically frustrated reaction to man's ability to make war on other men.
Like most of my songs, it doesn't have a natural bridge, and adding one in changes the structure of the song and changes the lyrics around. Still, I have two conflicting ideas here, one of a vietnam-era river, full of the blood, birdsong and the sound of gunshots, and the other of the character of "cain" who is, well, everyman, and your brother, who makes for chaos no matter where he goes. He's you, he's me, he's everyone that ever made a problem for someone else.
It depresses and angers me to even try to work on this song. I'm going to stop. For now. If anyone wants to suggest lyrics, chords, riffs, or a lyrical change, let me know.
Blood in the water (C) Michael Taht 2008
Sitting on the river
watching the tide
Rolling down the river
knowing who lied
by the water
there's blood in sands
there's blood on the reeds
where we wash our hands
In the river
I heard the dead man's call
I sit on the river
I hear the human's call
Sit on the river
hear the human's call
it's kind of like birdsong
kind of sweet
it's kind of like birdsong
kind of neat
There's blood in the water
and in the sand
and it covers you
It runs down your hand.
He was your brother
and his name is cain
You hope you'll never
see him again
I saw him in China
He's been in Tibet
He came to Nicaragua
He may be here yet
Of chaos and destruction
he's the president
So pay your taxes
and cope with your rent
this just so you know
where your money is spent
There's blood in the water
and in the sand
It covers you
It's clenched in your hand.
Some alternate lyrics floating around:
You've seen him on TV
And in the Golan heights
He sleeps in the day time
and comes out at nights
getting ready to hang it up
I'd like to take a break from blogging. I write primarily to think aloud, but the feedback I get from you, the reader, generally does clear my head, so stopping is a bad idea, too. I've engaged in writing about a lot of unpopular causes this year, and been wrong (or disappointed) every time, and I think it is better for me to stop paying attention and just work on the positive things. I look back at most of what I've published in the last few months and it seems like a sea of unending bitterness and outrage. You are what you eat, and what you eject, and I want to return to sunnier outlook.
The only way I know how to do that is stop reading the news, get to the beach, exercise, and work on fun projects - and especially - focus on and finish them, and put them aside.
0) To access my canon coherently really needs me to move off of blogger.
1) I can't seem to clearly write anything longer than 3000 words in linear time.
2) Focus. I have been unable to focus on any one project for more than a couple days this whole year. My backlogs require weeks of dedicated work on each, with rigor.
3) Time. I've identified that I'm involved in way too many things, and yet I keep finding new things to do. In particular, I'm addicted to the prolefeed
4) Money. I would really like to finish something I can be proud of before I run out of money.
5) Brain buffer overflow: switching between spanish, english, c++, python, and C is killing my productivity. At least one of these has to go. Preferably 4. I'm thinking of getting rid of english as I can always get it back.
Just in my writing backlog alone are:
End of worlds: What's wrong with wireless internet
Designed to Disconnect: A 9000+ word piece about fixing what's wrong with the internet
Designed to Disintegrate: What's wrong with manufacturing and distribution
These three pieces above keep fragmenting. I've been trying to tie them together for months.
Positive space: The good things that are happening in the space business
Control Populations: Why preserving subcultures is good
World Domination 201 revisited: What happened to the 64 bit revolution?
Sad realizations about Austrian economics and libertarianism
Impressions of New Zealand & Australia
Who I intend to vote for, and why
Songwise, I have the fragments to a couple grumpy songs - unlike the humorous "gordo" I wrote last year, I'm still working on the dark "00ze", and the darker still "blood on the water". I need a happy subject to sing about, haven't come up with one.
Workwise, I published my backlog on that a while back
Personwise, I'm on diet and waiting for the jellyfish to clear out before I hit the water again...
So I think I'm going to start by dumping as much of the backlog into the blog as I can,
and then stop thinking about it for a while. My apologies in advance for the quality of the upcoming work.
Lock up the *ssholes
A favorite reader, ABD, writes in:
Those people thought their God would protect them. In fact, they believed their God spoke to them and guided them through the maze of evil that the non-believers wove around them. Instead, as their numbers grew and grew, as resources dwindled, the people were frightened their God had deserted them.
Tell me what religious freedom is. Tell me what freedom is. Forget the religious part. Freedom is "exemption or liberation from the control of some other person or some arbitrary power ; liberty; independence. Exemptions from arbitrary restrictions on a specified civil right." (Webster's New World, 4th ed.)
I still do not know what freedom is. I think it is a concept that doesn't really exist in the purest sense of the definition. It can't. The mere quality of being in a physical state, of our awareness being married to our physical self denies us freedom. And from there, from the moment of birth, the concept of freedom is really elusive. I think you are only truly free when you accept that you are not.
And what defines a persons 'right' to anything? It is all arbitrary. People are guided by selfish, self-sustaining motives. There is nothing religious about religion. It may as well be a form of government as it functions by all the same principles and can be as destructive and confining to its people. I think religious freedom is an oxymoron. It's like saying you have the freedom to not be free. But since you are already not free, it's not really a choice in which case the government shouldn't make laws protecting something that doesn't exist. And then we could just arrest people for being assholes.
Every so often someone I know bisects the world in a way that makes me say, wow, let's extend that thought to everything
. What if we reduced the moral basis for law and instead instituted penalties for various degrees of assholeness?
First, we'd see a return to civil society. People would be polite and respectful of one another, for fear of being prosecuted by their peers. Jury trials would be more effective, as determining if someone is an asshole or not is easily proven within a few days on the stand.
It doesn't matter how good a lawyer you have if the principal criterion on the stand is not the facts, but your attitude.
We'd end up with a kinder, gentler society, admittedly with a lot more people (from all walks of life) either in prison or attending charm school, or both.
So, this leads me up to two pieces of news of today:
Hans Reiser has been convicted of first degree murder
, and faces 25 years to life in prison.
I found most of the circumstantial evidence against him tenuous at best, as I wrote when he first took the stand
, but there was enough of it by the end for me to think second degree murder a likely outcome. There did not seem to be any evidence of premeditation, indeed, purchasing the books he purchased a week after his wife's disappearance suggested not only innocence, but lack of pre-mediation. He may have hated her, but he hadn't planned out killing her.
The internet thought differently, a poll of wired readers showed 62% not guilty. This reminds me
of a study done years ago (don't know the name of it) where trials were recreated for new juries by using purely recorded audio, and via using transcripts only.
In this case the transcript readers voted not guilty, those that got to see the legal theatrics and the man in person voted the maximum penalty.
If Reiser hadn't taken the stand and proved himself an asshole of the first degree, perhaps he'd have got off more lightly. I'm glad he took the stand and had a chance to defend himself in his own words, in his own internal framework. Sometimes the dialog became surreal, yet eloquent, with a hard edge of truth that rang outside the narrowness of the case itself:
Attorney: "What, if anything, might you have done that could have caused Nina to disappear?"
Reiser: "I opened the door."
Reiser: "Only the lawyers win in divorces."
Reiser: "... before the divorce, I believed very much in the legal system, and I thought ours was superior to Russia's."
Reiser: "I don't think anybody would conduct themselves in a menacing manner in front of the police."
Reiser recounted an incident in which Nina saw a "wonderful old man shaped like a bowling ball, and she walked up to him and stroked him on the tummy and said, 'There's nothing but muscle here,' and he just beamed, and he just loved it. And that was Nina."
Reiser: "Marriage is altruistic in the financial sense. It's a lot cheaper to hire a housekeeper."
Paul Hora asks about "where the file system was".
Reiser: "That's like asking where cyberspace is."
Reiser: "I don't think she really appreciated it when the cat chose to join me on the couch" .
Reiser: "Would you like me to tell you what Shelly Gordon said to me in a way that would make it hard for the prosecution to object?"
Did Reiser had any problems with Nina's new boyfriend, Anthony Zografos?
No, Reiser said, because Zografos "isn't into cannibalism."
Reiser: "She has the most beautiful voice. She has the most beautiful voice of anyone I have ever met. To this day."
Reiser: "She has more people skills than any lawyers in this county."
Reiser:"Most romances end up being a waste of time, if you look at them with excessive logical analysis. I prefer to not look at romance logically and analytically."
Reiser: "The problem here is that you think you can smile at me and I will forget. Those who anger slowly, cool slowly."
Reiser: "I don't have a great deal of desire to give the government all my possessions. Not my underwear, not my car and definitely not my children."
Hora asked if Reiser "intentionally decreased the value of the revenue" of Namesys as part of the divorce proceedings to keep money away from Nina, and Reiser said, "I would have liked to have enough revenue to be able to decrease it."
"There's no possibility that I have not touched that post in the last 30 years of living in that house."
"How smart are you?" Hora asked.
"Not very," Reiser said.
"Are you a genius?"
"No, but I can fake it."
"What's your IQ?"
"I haven't taken an IQ test."
"You claim to be world-famous, right?"
Reiser said he's had the occasion to write that on papers, yes.
Hora commented that he'd never heard of Reiser's file system before. He asked if the reason Reiser has described himself as a world-famous, internationally-renowned scientist was because he believed he was such a person. Reiser said yes.
"Still do?" Hora asked.
"I think the word 'renowned' is no longer appropriate," Reiser said.
I understand, now, in the adversarial justice system America has, why lawyers counsel not taking the stand in your own defense.
Reiser will appeal, but we won't be hearing from him much, although I imagine he'll become another Birdman of Alcatraz. Given good behavior in prison, Reiser will be able to access a computer again, although it will probably be running Windows.
Given the DoD connection, I doubt that his hard drives will ever be heard from again.
I don't think we'll ever know if he was truly guilty of anything more than being an asshole.
In other news, the first piece of hard evidence towards abuse at the FLDS settlement has been announced to the press. (I note that the individuals involved have been banned from talking to the press
). Apparently 31 of the 54 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 have been or were pregnant
I want to make clear that I don't approve of old men sleeping with 14 year olds, OK? I do note that that that was legal under Texas law until 2006. I do note that spread of the figures immediately suspicious, and biased toward the prosecution: Why not publish numbers for 14,15 (clearly illegal under current law), 16 (maybe), 17 (not)...
As a blogger, and a person, my empathy always goes towards the underdogs. In this case my immediate view was to respect religious tolerance. Anytime I see police tanks roll up to a settlement (and I refuse to call the place a compound, the pictures show otherwise), my head fills up with scenes from Warsaw in 1939
, one place among many, where people were different enough to be enslaved and gassed.
My thinking here has evolved somewhat, based on new evidence and research, but its too much to go into in one posting.
The thing is: I believe in the law; it's all we have that keeps us even mildly civil to each other.
And I freely confess that I may have been an asshole.
Labels: FLDS, hans reiser
Big batch of OLPCs distributed in Nepal
My favorite feature in the New Yorker is "caption this cartoon". I tried this morning to put myself inside the head of kids that have never seen a computer before and wonder what they are thinking...Wow! A square frisbee!How do you open it?Are all these little men trapped inside? How do I get them out?You tell me!