Category Archives: society

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.

Why Discordia is more relevant in 2008 – Discussion

Ripped this discussion, built on Cram’s earlier post and musings, from the forum.  Enjoy.

LMNO:  Because so far, nothing else seems to be working.  Because Discordia is about models, not absolutes.

Baron von Hoopla:  Bingo.

Cramulus: [to LMNO] that’s a great angle.  Could you expand on that a bit?

GA:  I don’t know about more relevant, because I wasn’t around 50 years ago.  It seems to me that the Cold War was in pretty dire need of some lightheartedness, even more than our current War on Terror.

It just seems relevant to me because I personally had (have?) a problem with taking things far to seriously.  And because many of the people around me have concepts like ‘mandatory’ and ‘forbidden’ and apply them to things that are really optional.

I makes me sad when people tell me that things like religion are to important to joke about, or old propaganda posters too offensive.  It bothers me when I get suspended from school or hauled before Loss Prevention for reasons like “I know that this is just a misunderstanding, but we must follow procedure.”  It hurts when I look around my infosphere and see nothing but advertisements, especially when those ads are meant to make people feel bad about themselves.

The world is ruled by an endless morass of strictures and convention, and no one wants to take responsibility for them.  People are perfectly content to let the train follow its own momentum down the tracks, even though they don’t like where it is or where it is going, because this is Policy, it’s what Everyone (the everyone in “everyone knows that…”) has Decided.  Rules and traditions might be annoying, but it’s Not In Our Power to do anything about them.

LMNO:  In today’s so-called “Information Age”, most of us are constantly bombarded with stuff.  Perhaps not with ideas, so much as pure input.  While for the most part this input is pretty much bias-neutral, an increasing amount of it is being supplied by people who have an angle.  What’s more, to get through to the growing population of Jaded Couch-Dwelling Fuckheads, there has been a new approach of making the stuff more-or-less self referential, as in, “we know you know we’re trying to manipulate you.  See how cool that makes us?”

So, what do you do when you are flooded by 50,000 points of view?  The old way was to have Rules and Tradition and Procedure and Black and White. To take that stuff and cram it into a narrow worldview, distorting what little information you actually notice.  Which only serves to hold you back, slow you down, and shut you up.

Our way, the Discordian way, is to make Temporary Models, make new Game Rules, to grab hold of the stuff and ride it out, making connections as you see them.  You do your best not to have your views manipulated by stuff, and you do your best not to manipulate stuff to fit your views.  Which serves to keep you on the Edge of What’s Going On.

At least, that’s the general idea.

Continue reading Why Discordia is more relevant in 2008 – Discussion

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. 

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:

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. 

The Internet, Me, and why I don’t give a fuck.

The internet was created as a network to allow humans to mostly interact with others and share knowledge. Amirite? Much like the cruel open world, we’re all mean here, arrogant, and yet faceless. Why do I leech on for my daily dose of the tubes? Besides some form of ridiculous co-dependence, the internet has allowed me to remember that humanity, even at it’s most amazing and selfless hours are still nothing but a collective of douchebags spreading their douchebaggery abound whilst flaunting their epic douchitude. And I find it amusing.

Do NOT come to me asking for help, posting threads of pity or buttons of Paypal on pages asking for donations to keep your website alive or to keep your bunny alive. Eat your bunny plz, post pictures, grant us thee folk of the internet the horrormirth we desire to continue our lives in a sick, twisted illusion of awesome. I am awesome, because I tell myself this on a daily, as it helps me get through my day with no medication requiredâ„¢!

I don’t tell you about my debt, my marital issues, my financial stress and overall hatred of my current status quo in great detail and outside of general jest, because you’re not listening. I did the Livejournal thing for a while, and all it did was create an abundance of drama I haven’t seen since middle school anytime I posted about something a wee bit wrong in my life…then I remembered I didn’t read my friend’s shit anyway, so why the fuck bother?

I don’t listen; you don’t listen.

I began a brief ritual of ‘Wednesday Rants’ on the ol’ LJ during my Sophomore year in college in an attempts to at least bring some sort of reason into having the damned thing…it didn’t work, and I abandoned it rather quickly, as the answers I either got were my friends of the best variety giving me empty praise or some faggot twisting it into bullshit. Therefore, I felt like I accomplished nothing. I often think of posting on Verwirrung, and feel that in short, it will really only benefit those here anyway if at all, because outside of PD.Com, no one could give a fuck about this site, but perhaps they need to? Maybe? Who knows. I highly doubt anyone here will get anything from this smear on the blog.

I’m not an entirely cold human being, no…but I have my moments. I am close to those I allow to be close, care for them, laugh and cry with them, but my shell is a woman that rarely smiles. This doesn’t mean I’m upset, it means that I just don’t care to unless I have good reason. There was a Daria episode in which the football alum from their high school died because the fucking goal post fell on his head or some shit, and it was pointed out that the reason Daria never smiles is because she ‘thinks’. I often use this as my excuse when I’m asked about my sour countenance. The reaction I get is usually an odd look and a, “But I think too, and I smile, so smile, damnit!” My retort is typically, “Well, maybe you aren’t thinking hard enough?” And leave it at that. I also like leaving my thoughts to myself.

…I also hate my teeth, but that’s another tale entirely.

The internet is my escape from thinking, sometimes WAY too much. It allows me to be creative during work, or gaming, it allows me to sit here and giggle like a motherfucker all day long as I leave this forum tabbed on my browser. The internet is a collective of minds that do the thinking for me, and I like it that way, because it gives my tired brain a break. No doubt others do the same.

So why should I give a fuck about what’s wrong with your life anyway?

GTFO my internet with your piteous throws of fits and excuses as to why you NEED to be accepted or WHY you’re different. We’re faceless, mindless-minds who congregate to feed off of your insolence like sociopath vampires…hiding our identities while we attack you with little or no remorse. If you need a shrink, GO TO A SHRINK, don’t come here, to the internet to find answers because Wikipedia gave you a link or you felt lucky on fucking Google.

Of course, one could always allude the internet is like a gang that you need beating into, which means that you better lay there and get it over and done with quickly to avoid severe injury…rather than putting up a struggle.

Oh fuck it, I really just wrote this to conjugate forms of douchebag. You all may go about your business.

Hearts and Minds

Welcome to the modern day war zone.  Right now, as I speak, a thousand battles are being waged for your submission and allegiance.  Commanders and politicians have decided that the enemy is us and that we are to be bought to heel, as soon as possible.

No doubt some of you think I’m using hyperbole, or metaphor to illustrate an example of our socially fractured society and the commodification of identity.  And while those certainly are problems, anyone thinking about those in relation to my rant today are wrong.  Right now, you and I are quite literally at war with at least one government, namely that of the USA.

Oh to be sure there won’t be running battles with light infantry.  No air-strikes are going to be called in on your house, and I’m reasonably certain you wont get carted away to Guantanomo Bay, or any other black site that exists.  But just because guns aren’t being loaded and blood isn’t been spilt doesn’t mean this isn’t a conflict.

You see, war isn’t about the clash of armies on the battlefield anymore.  Hell, its barely even about killing, except as an advertising hook or a final solution for people who refuse to stop being a pain in the ass.  No, warfare has moved through the gentlemanly period of pitched battles and low casualties, blown apart by Napoleon and perfected in the slaughterhouse of WWI.  Its not even the dirty political warfare that characterized the Cold War, marked by futile superpower conflict and strategies designed to bleed a superpower by third world proxies, and on the other end of the scale by terrorism.

No, warfare today is about fighting on the psychological and narrative level.  Its about capturing the mind, and shackling it to the agenda of the day, regardless of what that agenda may be.

Continue reading Hearts and Minds

The Strange Times

This morning I looked out my window and I saw a unsettling and surreal painting sprawling out to the edge of the sunrise.

Jedi and zombies, vampires and ninjas, cat suits and kings, robots and chameleons, prophets and the profane, and everybody’s together, eyes match forward, getting on the train.

We call it the Strange Times. This is the state of modern living.

We live in a world weirder than any realm any explorer could ever hope to map. This is a world where your nervous system, tangled with fractals creeping like vines, extends its tendrils into the modern jungle.

Rule 34: if it exists, there is pornography involving it. There are lollypops with bugs in them. People get surgery to look exactly like Barbie Dolls. There are humans that have become lizards and tigers. The guys in suits have all become cyborgs. Children don’t just play Cowboys and Indians anymore, now they play Self Aware Artificial Intelligence versus the Benevolent Plutocracy.

It’s the strange times and every human being, even the boring ones, are unspeakably, unknowably weird.

Everybody used to be into the same stuff, you know? Everybody was at cocktail hour, everybody was into the Beatles, everybody was bathing together in the mainstream. But something happened as the stream got quicker, it forked out into a million little tributaries. The mainstream isn’t a river anymore, it’s an acqueduct and a sewer all at the same time. It’s underneath us, always moving, carrying along all these images and symbols and the familliar sound of the ocean. Ideas bump into each other, and sometimes they STICK, and that’s how we get things like a music gadget you can masturbate with, or Japanese game shows dubbed with slapstick comedy banter. It’s not because these ideas are good ideas in of themselves, it’s because the mainstream keeps juxtaposing these bits of shrapnel in new ways. It’s all being churned up, and the whirlpool keeps getting faster.

Nothing has prepared us for the Strange Times.

If you think you can study history and make some educated guess at what’s going to happen next, you’re dead wrong. Yeah humans are still humans – those poor shit flinging monkeys, trapped inside their nervous systems. When you zoom out, they’re not individual drops of water, they’re the swell and pulse of a wild ocean. That hasn’t changed in six thousand years. But these times are different. There is wholesome sex in bathrooms and righteous violence in the highschools. Kingdoms make war upon each other not by sacking cities, but by cutting deep sea internet cables. Super-memes collide and bounce off each other like sumo wrestlers, every single cell in their bloated bodies contains a lonely and confused human being. Our language is not evolving quick enough to keep pace. Words like “Good”, “Evil”, “Know”, “Learn”, and “To Be” are woefully inadequate to describe the modern world. These are the dangers of modern living.

We spent thousands of years living in caves, working the fire and the rock. Then we caught the City virus, and the city spirit used us to build hundreds of temples. We spent generations in the sun, tilling the fields for the Nobles. Then we fled into darkness of the factories, the air choked with the din of industry. In hindsight, it seemed to happen in a predictable way. Build, destroy. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Sunrise, sunset. Now we’re in a world that doesn’t sleep. If it’s light here, it’s dark somewhere else, like a snake biting its tail. People on the other side of the world are your neighbors, but there is an interminable distance between you and the guy next door (who you’ve never actually met). You see them every day, but the people on the train will remain strangers, and stranger still.

Odd juxtapositions are the sign of the Strange Times. Comedians are doing impressions of the King. The Catholic Pope looks just like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. We sit in the dark around a flickering campfire and listen to the news man tell us stories about the Dangers of Modern Living. The news man knows that when you juxtapose an image with the story, it creates a new meaning which is somewhere in between the ear and the eye. And if we zoom out a tiny bit, the story is juxtaposed with the house that the TV is in. And if we zoom out, that house is inside your head, next to all these other symbols and squiggles and values.

And then at some point, someone thinks its sexy to dress up like a cartoon cat.

Nobody’s prepared us for the Strange Times, and there are literally billions of humans that can’t cope with it. They could deal with being serfs, they could deal with being soldiers, those are simple lives with simple choices. Now its come time to make a new story for themselves by assembling all these weird symbols into a lifestyle, a personality, a set of values. And they just don’t know how to do it. They look to culture to get clues for how to swim and be happy and break even in this weird world, and all they see are porn models and ninja turtles and humane terrorism and the extreme left and the extreme right and nothing is centered.

If it was as easy as just dealing with the sun and the crops, however hard it might be, people would pull through and maintain. But there are million choices and complexities and nuances and shrapnel flying at you like throwing knives and pillow fights and semen and bananna cream pies.

We think it’s best to laugh.

The Laboratory of Democracy (a special series)

The United States’ Presidential Election 2008 is proving to be an excellent case study in the realm of “Think For Yourself, Schmuck”  I say that because, more than ever, the media has become pervasive and invasive in our daily lives.  I’m not just talking about the 24-hour Cable News cycles.  You also have to include the internet media, the blogs, the political forums, anyone with a little bandwidth and an opinion. 

 The daily drumbeat of this Presidential Election, has been polls, polls, polls.  Or I should say, that is part of it.  The other part has been this Reality-TV style coverage of every utterance, every breath, every movement each of the candidates have made.  Now, this might be okay, if it were on C-Span, where you have little commentary.  You just get to see what is happening and decide for yourself what’s going on and what it means.  But it isn’t C-Span.  It’s MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, and all of the Internet “news” outlets.  So there is a barrage of “what’s really going on” messages. 

 “Oh my God!  Obama is a horrible bowler!!!!  If he can’t handle some 10-pin, how’s he going to handle Iran???”

Yes, I know that’s one of those trivial little things that happen on the campaign trail, and it doesn’t compare to more important “scandals” like Rev. Wright, bitter comments, phantom sniper fire, nut-job pastors endorsing candidates, and the like.  But the point is, at every turn someone is telling you how you should think about these things.  Or, if you are getting multiple scenarios, it’s typically an either/or paradigm. 

We’ve all heard how a candidate is all style and no substance, an empty suit.  That he or she is relying on soundbites and talking points.  But the thing of it is, the media who is telling us that is doing the same thing.  Their coverage is all about soundbites and talking points.  Save for the debates, how much actual coverage of actual policy proposals do we get?  And so this is why Joe Schmoe is so easily swayed by the talking heads, because he has little else to go upon.  And he certainly isn’t going to give up his nightly ritual of worshipping the boob-tube while swigging some PBR, to go do some actual research on the candidates. 

What does this mean for the future of U.S.A. Democracy(tm)? 

We will explore this next week….