All posts by RWHN

Two Thousand and Nein

The Germain Cabal of Germans has officially declared 2009 the year of nothing. That’s right, the year of nothing. I mean, it makes sense doesn’t it? I mean, just look at the economy, it is moving in the direction of less, not more. What does that mean? It’s moving towards nothing! Will it achieve nothingness, or will it fail along the way?

What about the relationship between Michael Jackson and Michael Bloomberg. Oh, that’s right, THERE ISN’T ONE. Zoiks, the Year of Nothing works its mysterious magic again. And don’t even get me started on the Chicago Cubs this year.

In accordance with tradition, of which there is none, the GCG encourages all other Discordians and those that aren’t to pay special observance to the Year of Nothing by choosing the nothing to do of their choice. This can be quite challenging for some, especially anyone with any compulsion to do stuff. Spread the word to your friends and family and postal workers. Okay, well maybe not the postal workers, but everyone else.

Good day and other such pleasantries.
-Rev. What’s-His-Name? official fill-in spokesman for the GCG

Attention Must Be Paid

In 3 and a half hours from now, the United States of America will welcome its 44th President.  President Barack Obama.  And a new era will begin, hopefully.

No, I’m not talking about some touchy-feely, bleeding-heart-liberal, MLKjr, kinda era.  I’m talking about a new era for us in the peanut gallery.  That is, the era of paying attention. 

George W. Bush had something going for him his last term.  Those who hated him had written him off.  There was no need to pay attention to what he was doing because everything he was going to do was going to be steeped in failure.  By the time this recent Presidential Election got started, he only had the hearts and minds of 1/5th of the country.  And one has to assume that many of those are probably party loyalists who feel it is their sworn duty to support ANY Republican President.  It seemed like somewhere along the way, a majority of Americans, though they loathed W’s performance as a President, decided, “Meh, we’ll just wait him out”, and then tuned out in favor of Dancing with the Stars.

So now we have this new guy coming in.  And in some sense, he still is a relative unknown, when you compare him to the typical life-span in DC politics.  It’s clear that there are many who desperately want him to succeed.  I suspect even some of the fifth who still like W, would love to see Obama succeed, thought they’d be loathe to admit it in public.  There is a collective weight on our shoulders in the form of this failing economy.  We desperately want someone to come along and lift it.  We want someont to come along and succeed in lifting it.

But the key will be remembering that this is our burden to share with him.  The biggest role we have is to support his efforts.  That is, to support them by paying attention.  We cannot allow this “Hope for Change” to become insulation.  We cannot put so much trust in Obama that we stop paying attention.  Holding his feet to the fire when he walks astray will be our best contribution.  And we know the fifth will do that anyway.  The rest of us need to represent the rational and reasoned response. 

At least, that’s how I see it.  – Reverend What’s-His-Name?

The Great Unfolding

Only time will tell…

If you believe what you see on TV, then you are expecting a great New Dawn to occur around noon EST next Tuesday.  Of course, I imagine most of us HERE know better than that. 

The Republicans ridiculed the Hope and Change message from soon-to-be President Barack Obama.  It was endlessly lampooned and satirized.  But they attacked it from the COMPLETELY WRONG angle.  They framed it as an empty message.  A skeleton of an outline and a no-logic model.  Anyone who was paying attention clearly understands that Obama DID have a plan behind his message of “Hope and Change”.  His campaign website had pages, and pages of plans and initiatives.  So the Republicans totally screwed the pooch and really should’ve looked at it from a more pragmatic perspective.

That perspective being, “Do you really think you can do all this shit?”  Oh sure, a couple of the Conservatives tried it, but after George F. Will and the other Republican egg-heads dissed Palin, the rest of the movement ignored anything they said.  And this is the question Obama and the rest of us have to wake up to every morning.  I’m not naive enough to think that he is naive enough to think he can actually do EVERYTHING he promised on the campaign trail, much less what was on his campaign website.  Obviously, there isn’t a politician that has ever lived that has carried out all of their promises.  Okay, well maybe Hitler and Milosevic did, but I digress…

Now, we know how a large chunk of our compatriots operate.  We especially understand how they react to messages that come from the television and other “news” media outlets.  And as technology has advanced, every other Joe on the block has a “news” blog.  Yes, even THAT Joe.  I’m sure we all have also witnessed how the pending Obama Presidency has been sold by many of the “news” media outlets.  I think there is an expectation among many akin to that scene in The Two Towers, when it looked like Saruman’s hordes were about to totally obliterate the Rohirim at Helm’s Deep.  But lo, the sun breaks and there is Gandalf with some huge army he’s conjured up from the wastes.  Switch Gandalf with Obama and the army with economists and you have the expectations for what will happen on January 20th. 

And it’s hard not to empathize with that sentiment.  Desperation will cause a person to latch on to any glimmer of hope that may present itself.  It is human nature.  And it can seem cruel to temper that enthusiasm.  But one also doesn’t want to succumb to reverse paranoia, the idea that someone out there is going to save you from your economic ruin.  Or, that if it does happen, it’s going to happen next week, when in reality, we’re probably looking at the next decade. 

Indeed, only time will tell how successful President Obama is able to channel that Hope and process it into Change in the people’s pockets and Change in the people’s prospects.  The past has demonstrated that these troubled times do come to an end.  The question on the table is if it will happen WITH Obama’s interventions, or in spite of. 

Or at least, that’s how I see it.
-Reverend What’s-His-Name?

Being a Discordian Daddy

I’m a little neurotic anyway.  I think I’m also probably just on the edge of being OC.  Anyhoo, ever since I stumbled upon this Discordian thing, I’ve used it to reassess things I do in my little life.  One of those being Daddyhood.

I was a Dad before I was a Discordian.  Or, I was a Dad before I discovered I WAS a Discordian, or at least, a Dad who had inherently shared some Discordian-like philosophies.  I think it was really the discussions that lead to the BIP metaphor and pamphlet where I really started to reassess how I was operating as a Father.  And I’m not talking about the basics of feeding, clothing, providing shelter, that sort of thing.  It’s really more about the guidance I provide her.  I’m well aware that no matter what I do, I WILL be a major factor in how her bars in her BIP are built.  There’s simply no way around it, not that there should be.  The question becomes, how can I best allow her to maximize HER control over her bars? 

An easy example is when she was a young toddler she took a fascination to trains.  I think it started with a free book the pediatrician gave us during one of her checkups.  A basic board book about trains.  Naturally, she eventually became aware of Thomas the Tank Engine and became enamored with the TV show and the toys.  Western societal norms suggest that these would be “boy toys”.  When you see the commercials or ads in magazines, they show little boys dressed in blue playing with these things.  Rarely do you see a little girl.  Now, I know, I know, “big whoop, you let your girl play outside of the gender box.”  And you’re right.  But the thing of it is, there are many parents out there who would steer a little girl towards Barbies and away from Trains and Trucks.  And it can often be an unthinking or unreasoned reaction.  This is what I try to avoid, without becoming anal about it. 

I think this falls under the “picking your battles” meme that is pervasive in many a Parenting book or magazine.  Where this meme falls short, however, is delving into normative behaviors.  It’s great to explain to a Parent how sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fuss over whether or not they eat every single carrot.  But what I would like to see more of is talking to parents about not making a fuss over every time their child acts a little goofy in public.  I think many parents try so hard to prevent their child from becoming Dennis the Menace that they end up unwittingly caging their character.  The joyful anarchy of childhood needs to be unrestrained and allowed to explore the territory of the world.  Obviously, this has to happen within the confines of safety and security. 

Discovering the Discordian philosophies and being a part of the development of the BIP ideas has been a very good experience for me as a Daddy.  I think I have developed a better understanding of just how much I can impact without knowing.  It’s given me a unique perspective on my role as a parent.  As much as I need to keep her physically and mentally safe, I also need to provide the freedom for HER to find out who she is.  It is a joy to see it unfold.

What Does An Obama Win Mean?

Who the hell knows?

I voted for the guy.  I have hopes for what he can do for the US of A, but I still have at least one foot on the ground.  The expectations should be kept in check that he can somehow topple The System.  At the very most, we can hope that he can give it the slightest nudge that might cause it to slightly alter its course.  He’s not going to move mountains, he’s not going to part seas, and in his acceptance speech, he made that much perfectly clear.  He acknowledge that it is entirely likely that the major policy initiatives he begins, may not completely bear fruit until after his first term, if then. 

However, I think it is entirely appropriate to label his Presidency as one of a Transitional nature.  And this isn’t solely because of the man and his makeup.  To be sure that is an element of this transition.  The other, of course, is the time.  We are at a transitory moment in our history.  We are at a transition point in terms of demographics.  The baby boomers are retiring and beginning to take the geriatric perch at the top of the American lifespan.  The White Man will soon be in the minority, when compared to all of the other creeds and ethnicitys that make up the American Populous.  We are at a transition point in terms of energy.  It is quite clear that Big Oil’s days are numbered.  Unless we go into “Shock and Awe” exploration and drilling, the inventories will dry up in our lifetimes.  It is time to find that next thing that will power our homes and our automobiles.  With just these two huge landmark shifts, it is imperative to have leadership that can help us get from Point A to Point B.  This will be part of President Obama’s charge.  And of course, it will be our charge to make sure he keeps his eyes on the road while he is steering. 

What is known is that a significant majority of the electorate has recognized this time of transition that we are in, and that it is time for a newer and more modern perspective to guide the way.  The paradigms of yesterday were rejected in favor of the possibilities of tomorrow.  The palpable sense of needing to move on is pervasive.  But equally as prominent is the uncertainty of the unknown.  And so he needs to be as reassuring as he is realistic.  To be as certain as he is seeking.  To be as commanding as he is collaborating.

And so, what does an Obama win mean?  As of now, all we know is that it means a new story will begin to be written and told.  But it does not mean we just sit and watch the events unfold.  He has said he will ask and expect our support in his efforts.  He will make a call for service in the redirection of America’s path.  Some will answer, some will not.  But what is clear is what has always been so.  This is OUR future that he is attempting to shape.  This means it is OUR time to make sure we are a part of that. 

Because the reality is that when someone asks “What Does An Obama Win Mean?”, we will have a big influence on how that is answered.

The Death of Small Town America

It’s happening all across the United States, I get to see it up close and personal in my own hometown where I grew up. 

So, this past weekend I was up in the WHN homeland.  Aroostook County Maine.  The northern most county of Maine, and actually one of the largest counties (in land mass) in the United States.  Anyhoo, my home town has this yearly festival.  There’s a parade, music, vendors, you know, the usual thing.  It’s just a scant little town of probably just over 1000 people.  If you blinked while you were driving through it, you’d miss it.  Anyway, this event is one that everyone always looks forward to and has been a tradition for years.  It’s when people like myself who’ve grown up and away from the County come back with their kids to visit.  It is the one time a year this sleepy little town comes alive.

But, this was probably the last year.  The budget for the event has pretty much dried up as the economic slowdown and rising gas prices have eaten into the budget.  And, I’m quite sure this scenario is playing out in little towns all across America.  Little traditions like this in jeopardy as revenues evaporate.  The problem is, these sorts of events serve as a vital part of a small town’s identity.  When you take these celebrations away, a certain amount of town pride is lost, and so the town suffers. 

It’s bad enough that many families in these towns are on a knife’s edge.  They are all a pink slip away from ruin.  And now for them to lose this one little distraction that they can look forward to each year, it’s sort of like someone taking the knife that is sticking in their gut, and giving it a quick twist.  Now, my town is taking up a collection.  Asking for donations so that the August Festival may continue, but how many will be able to give?  And will it be enough?  And how long can it be sustained?

Of course no one really knows.  No one seems to really know what’s going to happen.  And for sure, people in Big City America are struggling as well.  But in Big City America, you have more resources, more opportunities within a more concentrated area.  In Small Town America, it is more difficult, especially if your Small Town is in an isolated, far removed corner of the nation.  There are few options to take, few routes to travel.  Despair can set in quickly, and it can suffocate. 

With any luck, this economic slowdown will do a 180 and start heading for calmer waters.  And with any luck, its wake will send ripples of prosperity back into these little towns, as often they are the last to benefit from economic turnarounds.  And with any luck, my little town’s festival, and all like it, will find a way to survive.  So while the bills come in, the bill collectors call, and the stress builds, there will at least be that one little thing to look forward to each year.  Everyone needs something to look forward to. 

the illegitimate son of convention presents: do you know?

Greetings.
 
the illegitimate son of convention has completed a brand new track entitled “do you know?”

 the piece was composed and recorded over the last month or so.  it is a fairly ambitious 20 minute long piece, but I think, it is one that moves right along and doesn’t drag.  Musically, it certainly channels the spirit of a Sonic Youth/Thurston Moore song.  Starts with some nice, jangly, unprocessed guitars, playing simple chords in an alternate tuning.  Then about halfway through, the distortion/feedback love fest begins. 

 On top of this musical landscape is an improvised sermon/rant based in Black Iron Prison philosophy.

 I think you will enjoy it.  Go to this link to download the song: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=GCPVFU3D

Syndemics and the Black Iron Prison

In talking about the Black Iron Prison, I’ve realised there are elements of my occupation that have some relevancy to the discussions.  (Indeed, I’ve also found there are elements of BIP that are relevant to my occupation.)  I work in a field where we have a seat at the table where decisions about policy are made.  Specifically, policy around issues related to adolescents and substance abuse.  At one conference I attended, the genius Dr. Dennis Embry talked about something called Syndemics and then the “kernels” that can be used to impact them.

Syndemics are multiple, related afflictions. 
An example:

ADHD <–> Conduct Disorder <–> Addictions <–> Domestic Violence

Four afflictions, with some common ties:  impulsivity, brain chemistry, diet (Omega 6 to Omega 3 consumption ratio), accidental attention to negative behavior, media, etc.

There are 5 Syndemic structures:

1.  Caused by the same biological agent (ex. rise in Omega-6 consumption causes bipolar, depression, asthma, diabetes, learning disabilities & violence)
2.  Share risk or protective behaviors  (ex. TV in children’s bedrooms linked to increased obesity, diabetes, ADHD, mood disorders, etc.)
3.  Respond to similar environmental conditions (ex. Lack of cooperative play at home and recess is increasing bullying, aggression, obesity, ADHD, mood disorders and overall health)
4.  Have reciprocal or interdependent effects (ex. Low omega-3 consumption increases cravings for alcohol and drugs.  High consumption of alcohol and drugs reduce omega-3, which increase mood disorders and suicidal thoughts.)
5.  Are managed by the same, similar, or reciprocal organizations (ex. Schools, Health Care, and Juvenile Courts)

So what’s the point of all this?  The point is that in my field there are these concepts called “kernels” that have been developed that when implemented can affect multiple related afflictions, or the syndemics.  An example is the Good Behaviour Game I’ve talked about before over at PD.COM.  This is called a Reinforcement Kernel, because it is reinforcing good behaviour.  Studies have shown that this tactic has a resulting impact on ADHD, Tobacco use, Prenatal Drug Exposure, Addictions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mood Disorders, Violence Exposure and some others.  The idea that it is addressing the ties between the afflictions. 

So why do I even bring this up?  I see this kind of idea being applicable to some of the ideas we’ve discussed in BIP.  I think it is clear for any kind of change in our society(ies) we have to impact a system.  I think we can identify some multiple related afflictions, or syndemics.  The question then becomes, what kind of “kernels” could address them?  Could a GASM become a “kernel”?  Of course, the reality is that we asshats in this little corner of the internet are extremely limited in what, if anything, we could do to affect syndemics.  However, I think it’s worth to at least think about, and to see if one can recognize some elements of society that might be related, and that if there is a way to affect them by targetting one thing that seems to affect them all.  I think just the recognition and identification of the related conditions is important in and of itself. 

If you want to read more about this stuff check out this site at the CDC:  http://www.cdc.gov/syndemics/overview.htm

Pathways and Shrapnel: An Open-Source Study and Exploration

path.jpg

Birth and Death are 100% Grade A Certainties (oh yeah taxes too, or so the saying goes). The only questions seem to be around matters of when and how. We know we emerge from our Mother, in some fashion, and then return to the Earth at some undetermined place and time. But we know it WILL happen.

We burst into the world at Point A, birth. Or sometimes we have to be pulled out depending on our level of infantile stubbornness. Immediately we set foot at the beginning of a Path. It is one of many Paths that eventually lead to Point B. At Point B we may exit in a brilliant flash of flame and sound. One of our vital life-sustaining mechanisms may crap out. Or perhaps someone will bring a bloody war to our land and we die in a house to house cleansing. Of course, it also might be something as unceremonious as having a heart-attack in the middle of a massive bowel movement. But hey, shit happens right?

In any event, we have before us a series of roads to take to get to Point B. Of course, as young infants we really don’t have a clear concept of Point B, so it initially doesn’t really inform our Path. Well, there are natural fight or flight responses like “Feed Me.” But it’s really focused more around infantile narcissm than it is any actual fear of starving to death. Indeed, as kiddos we see that damn Coyote fall off the cliff a zillion times and he keeps on breathing. So the worst that might happen to us is we turn into an accordion for a few seconds. As we grow, however, we establish more control and more responsibility for our own orienteering. At every step of the way (or maybe it’s every other step, I’m not entirely sure. It would be quite a feat if anyone figured it out), it seems, there is a new turn that can be taken; left, right, left-right. Which do we choose? Why do we choose? Are we even aware of it?

Along the paths there is another phenomenon that is occuring. As we are walking our Paths, and deciding where to go (whether through instince, deliberate thought process, because someone told us so), we are subjected to, and subjecting others to, Shrapnel.

458px-shrapnel.jpg

Shrapnel are the bits of experience, events, ideas, and so on that are flying around as we walk the Paths. It’s as though there are roadside bombs that are in a continuous state of detination. For example, we walk along the path as a young child, and at a certain point, we are subjected to Religious Shrapnel. Whether or not to follow our parents’ deities? Whether or not to NOT follow deities? Whether or not to follow a deity different from our family’s? Whether or not I’ll burn in hell if I don’t eat the cracker? As we are approaching the age of 18, we experience Shrapnel from education and career. Guidance counselors are asking you if you want to attend the college fairs. Your Dad is asking you if you are going to that ivy-league college he did. Or perhaps your Mom runs a flower shop and is expecting you to take over. After all, it is called Me and My Daughter’s Blooms. But do you really want to peddle flowers the rest of your life?

There are, of course many, many other examples of Shrapnel. Also. it is important to understand that we aren’t passive bystanders in all of this. We too are part of the Shrapnel creating process. When we become parents we subject our children to expectations, wishes, and wants for their lives. (If all parents’ wishes for their children actually came true, we’d be living in a world comprised solely of Doctors and Lawyers. You’d never be able to get onto a golf course.) As neighbors, we may be part of a collective attitude about how people’s houses and yards should look. (Oh look, Sanderson is putting out another fucking Pink Flamingo. And gosh, it looks like it is fellating the Garden Gnome! Gasp!) As members of Political Party X, we put signs in our yard saying, vote for Rudy Obama. We are throwing out just as much as others are throwing at us.

Do not be disillusioned about Shrapnel. It isn’t all bad. There is the Shrapnel of Art and Creativity. Walking by a park and seeing some folks drumming and creating music. (Drum Circles aren’t just for hippies anymore.) The infective beat that is travelling across the air, that mandates that you move and groove. The lady down the road who is a brilliant artist, displaying her work at the local Sidewalk Art Exhibit. There is the Shrapnel of Happy Childlike Anarchy. Your little girl acting like a goon, and you can’t help but to want to play along. Experiencing the joy in improvisational imagination and going with the flow. This is the sort of Shrapnel you WANT embedded in your flesh. For it too will inform your path. And besides, when you ARE strolling on your path, wouldn’t it be more enjoyable if you were doing a little jig along the way, while whistling a fun little tune? Whistle while you walk. It seemed to do the trick for the Dwarvish 7.

So what to take away from this? Well, first off, make sure you read the other observations of Shrapnel. And then, take a few minutes and think about your path. Think about where you’ve been, who’ve you encountered, what you put in your mouth (ewww, you did that?), and how’ve you navigated life thus far. As you think of the different experiences you’ve had, think of what might have happened if you hadn’t had those experiences. Caution: the point isn’t to think about how you could re-write your life. That part’s done, no good to dwell on it. But, how can you use this perspective going forward? What kind of mental armor can you obtain to shield you from that which may blow you off course? What kind of mechanisms can you construct to welcome in those things in this world which may benefit you? Or better yet, how can you have more bearing on your bearings?

Because seriously, you know Point B is coming soon. Why not make it one hell of a ride?

Honor in Humility

We can never see eye to eye if we never admit to ourselves that our visions contain blind spots. 

We each can see pieces of truth.
Pieces we accumulate as we navigate our Paths, in our Sphere of Possbility. 
As we pursue the honorable pursuit of living life to its fullest.

Where things get fucked up is when we take our pieces and hammer them together to form The Picture. 
Not taking into consideration that our blind spots have missed pieces along the way.
Pieces that others may have been able to see, and picked up along their Path. 

We know that our Paths intersect and merge in various locations. 
It is at these meeting places where we can pick up additional navigational coordinates.
By simply asking to see the others’ pieces of truth.
To have the humility to recognize that a collective pursuit of progress requires partnerships. 
And that we each will have different clues for the course. 

Far too often, however…

…we ignore…

and so…we diverge from a useful unity tackling the unknown…

…and carry on to what certainly will be dead ends.

“I don’t know” is a statement of strength, not weakness.
It is an acknowledgement of needing more input.  The weakness would be ignoring other insights for further information.
We should always want to know more, about that which surrounds us.  And about where it is we are going. 

There is Honor in Humility.  For in the end, it will help us on our way.