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Principia Discussion / Order is Chaos, Actually
« on: March 06, 2023, 07:21:17 pm »
Disclaimer: I'm going to say a bunch of shit that sounds authoritative here. Please keep in mind that this essay addresses my personal beliefs and whilst I do at several points discuss what 'Discordians' think, I am very aware that y'all are an argumentative bunch who are unlikely to agree with me on everything. Or anything. Whatever. Unless I personally insult you in the essay you can assume this isn't targeted at you.

It has come to my attention that there are still people who think ‘chaos’ is the opposite of ‘order’ in this, the Year 2023 – a year that is surely going to go down in history as being sacred. To someone. Fuck knows who. If they think anything going on in the world right now is holy they’re probably an asshole.

First things first, the Discordian concept of Chaos is explicitly not what the Ancient Greeks thought Chaos was.

You see, Robert Anton Wilson, one of the big cheeses in Discordian thought, in so far as we can be said to have those, had two core ideas to most of his writing: Perception is fallible, and the human brain loves to find patterns.

These aren’t ground-breaking ideas. A lot of people have written a lot of things about this and probably way better than Robby did in the 60s. But, the important thing here is how he applied this principle to the Goddess of Chaos.

To Robby, Chaos is broadly synonymous with Reality. He came to this conclusion as follows.

The human brain seeks patterns. And we do that in all sorts of ways. Everything from our peripheral vision to our memories to that really annoying phenomena where you think you kind of hear someone saying something but actually it’s just random noise? Our brain is REALLY GOOD at finding patterns. We fill in the blanks all the time. In fact, most of our life is filling in the blanks.

And it’s all imperfect. Your eyes might be great, but you can’t see atoms no matter how hard you look. And those exist, if you find the right way to perceive them. Consider light. It’s been around for a long time. According to some people, it was the first thing. Should be pretty fundamental, right?

Famously, though, you can perform an experiment which proves beyond a doubt that light is a particle. You can also perform an experiment which proves beyond a doubt that light is a wave. How does that work?

Because the ideas we have of what a wave is and what a particle is are only maps.

They’re imperfect definitions describing physical phenomena.

The way Discordianism approaches this is to say that these are impositions of Order; our brains making tools which help us understand the Chaos that is reality.

Now before you get too excited and accuse me of denying that reality exists and thinking that it’s all like, vibes, man, or something? No. Fuck you. I still use my brain, I haven’t yet let it turned into soup.

There are definitely people who say they are Discordians who do in fact seem to believe that it’s all vibes, but since their grey matter is liable to spill out when they trip over I’m comfortable discounting them from the conversation.

The map might never be the territory, but if your map is just a bunch of random scrawls I don’t want to follow you into the wilderness and neither should anyone else.

Anyway. We create Order to make sense of Chaos, and Discord is what happens where, inevitably, those expectations fall short of the reality. Discord is when something happens which breaks that Order. You see something out the corner of your eye but when you turn your head, it’s gone. You flip a coin and it comes down on the edge. You measure light and find that it is both wave and particle.

It’s very important to understand that neither Order nor Discord is inherently better than the other. You can’t HAVE an Order – an expectation of how things should be – without also creating at least the possibility of a Discord – something that hits outside of that expected context.

And this is even a good thing, because Discord tells us where the gaps are.

As it was put in the Principia: “To choose order over disorder, or disorder over order, is to accept a trip composed of both the creative and the destructive. But to choose the creative over the destructive is an all-creative trip composed of both order and disorder. To accomplish this, one need only accept creative disorder along with, and equal to, creative order, and also be willing to reject destructive order as an undesirable equal to destructive disorder.”

Those who understand that Order and Disorder are both desirable, that they both have uses, but they both have drawbacks too, are the ones who can ultimately come closer to an understanding of the Goddess.

When you understand that Order and Discord are, really, games that humans play with each other to make sense of Chaos, you become able to participate in both with equal joy. The reason why so many Discordian writing talks so much about Discord, and why we place such emphasis on that part of Eris even though she is technically the Goddess of both Order AND Discord, is that our societies do not acknowledge that there are limits to Order.

But of course there’s more to it than that.

One of the few ‘laws’ in Discordianism is the Law of Eristic Escalation. The Imposition of Order equals the Escalation of Disorder (or discord, if you prefer).

The harder you try to squeeze an Order into place on a subject that simply refuses to accept it, the harder the Discord you are creating will kick back against you.

Bear in mind that the Law of Eristic Escalation is itself merely a map; a concept used to make sense of reality. It won’t work everywhere. But that doesn’t make it useless. The fact is that reality doesn’t give a shit about what you think it should be. It is what it is. And the longer you go trying to buck it, the more it is going to hurt when that mountain rips right through your map and smacks you in the face.

Some people might be thinking at this point “Why do you call it Chaos, then? Why don’t you just call it reality?” And that’s a fair point, but I think it misses the importance of poetry here.

If we were talking about ‘reality’ then it implies a certainty that runs straight against the core concept.

I am violently opposed to (amongst other things) the concept of certainty. Robbie Wilson was a big fan of e-prime, a concept which was designed to try and get rid of Aristotelian logic and make language more precise by paradoxically making it acknowledge its own imprecision.

Now, e-prime is its own thing responsible for, amongst other horrors, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and therefore it is to be shunned and despised by all right-thinking people, but that anti-Aristotelian principle is central to what it means to me to move through the world as a Discordian.

When we embrace that we do not interact directly with anything but only with our perceptions of it we open ourselves up to the possibility of being wrong about anything and everything. By understanding that Chaos is Everything; that, to quote the Principia again, all things are true – even false things are true in some sense – we put the possibility of the unexpected at the heart of our lives.

If we were just talking about reality rather than Chaos, we would be one step too close to staking out a claim on the big T Truth that we can never know. Because there is one being in the universe who CAN know Chaos, and She is the Goddess.

And now we get to the core of the matter.

Eris isn’t a peace and love Goddess. Eris is Reality. She’s Chaos. She’s TRUTH. And TRUTH, big capital T Truth, is something that humans have a really hard time comprehending. We don’t want to. As a rule, we’re much happier when we’re left to our comforting lies.

And even though we keep getting shown how dangerous and bloody it is to reject Her, people still keep snubbing Eris to this day. You see it when people refuse to wear a mask during a pandemic, when people whip themselves into a murderous frenzy believing minorities are the enemy, and when they convince themselves that The Machine has their best interests at heart.

Eris teaches us that it is a worthy thing to extract vengeance for these snubs.

See, if you’re following the teachings of the Goddess, you’re volunteering to be the nasty reminder that their flawed thinking doesn’t encompass everything. You’re the wrench thrown in the machine. You’re the monster lurking in the dark.

See, it's not just a ha-ha after all.

Or Kill Me / The Revolution Will Not Be Monetised
« on: February 19, 2023, 08:40:36 am »
The revolution will not be algorithmically friendly.
The revolution will not be trending or have a hashtag.
The revolution will not be paused for a word from our sponsors.
Because the revolution will not be monetised.

I’m old enough to remember when the internet was more than a half dozen websites trying to compete for your time and attention. I remember when we shared stuff because we wanted to; when speech actually WAS free, rather than carved into 280-character soundbites or polished to perfection in thirty minute long YouTube videos.

I remember when two way communication meant that we all spoke on an equal standing rather than elevating those of us who are pretty enough to garner a following. Back before corporations had figured out how to enclose the internet; how to put a harness on our dissatisfaction and hand the reins to fascists and reformists.

Now the internet is a hundred thousand Howard Beales, taking their turn to shout righteous anger into the void, before the void turns around and sells that anger back to our communities with a special $10 patreon tier for access to a private discord server.

We’re mad as hell, but we’ll keep taking it so long as the stream of content never stops.

We’ve built an efficient machine to keep the discourse rolling, to provide an infinite number of Hot Takes, to show us the problem in countless new and exciting ways, without ever letting us articulate a solution.

Except, that is, for solutions soaked in the blood of minorities.

The machine sure does love those.

They’re good for clicks.

But the revolution will not be monetised.

Because the revolution will not give a single shit about concurrent views, subscribers or superchats.

The revolution will be a desperate scream.

The revolution will be a blind mob tearing our oppressors and any other unlucky fuck in the way limb from limb.

The revolution will not be a choice.

Or the revolution will not be.

Or Kill Me / Fuck You.
« on: February 15, 2023, 02:42:55 pm »
My parent’s generation had a phrase that defined them. It sums up their whole ethos. “Greed is Good.” Those three words contain the sum total of their politics. It will be the legacy that they leave behind. The rot that they put out to infect the rest of the world.

The rest of us have one too.

I thought about different ways to say this; I could use a lot of fancy words and dress up the core conceit to make it palatable, intellectual, maybe even convincing. But that wouldn’t be truthful. For us, we can sum it all up in two words:

Fuck you.

Oh, there was a time when it could have been something else.

We gave you the chance. We begged you to compromise with us. We plead with you to row back just a little bit, to just lessen the misery that you inflict on the rest of us. You said no. Greed is good, right?

Well fuck you.

Fuck you.

Fuck you.

You’ve made a world that wants us dead. You’ve burned our future to fuel your present. You looked us in the eye and you told us that you’d rather kill us than be inconvenienced for even a second.

Fuck you.

I can hear your mewling already. That’s not constructive. That’s not positive. That’s not helpful. That’s not going to convince anybody. At least Greed is Good contains the hope that there is something good to come, right?

Fuck you.

There’s nothing good in this world.

Nothing will ever be good again.

But I’ve still got spite, so.

Fuck you.

You want me to die?

Fuck you.

I will live long enough to make sure that your grave is soaked in piss. It won't change anything, but it'll make me smile.

Fuck you.

Or kill me.

Or Kill Me / There's a Storm Coming.
« on: January 20, 2023, 08:39:34 am »
There’s a storm coming.

They talked about it on the news today. They were very calm. Softly-spoken voices describing how the water is going to rise over my head, how the winds will topple my shelter, how I will be washed away.

But we just have to carry on.

There’s a storm coming.

It got brought up at work.

People said they don’t agree with it; that they’d like the storm to divert course. Maybe it could find some other people to drown. They talked about how terrible it will be to have to step over water-logged corpses.

But the conversation moved on; there’s more important things to worry about. Quarterly returns are down, you know?

There’s a storm coming.

It’s all over social media.

The guys who run it are excited. They’ve got fancy new boats so they can go fishing in the flood. They’re knocking holes in the dams and fencing off all the high ground. I tried to ask them why they’re doing this.

But they couldn’t hear me over the wind.

Because there’s a storm coming.

And it’s going to blow us all down.

Propaganda Depository / YouTube?
« on: December 28, 2022, 05:14:21 pm »
I watch a lot of leftist YouTube content. It's a character flaw.

I've noticed repeated mentions of Discordianism lately, all of them wrong.

One video where the Illuminatus! trilogy is suggested as a text for learning about Satanism(?)

Another where A Sermon on Ethics and Love is cited and then Discordianism is said to be "A parody religion some people draw meaning from which teaches us to enjoy Chaos and dismiss Order"

This feels like the Principia recently did the rounds in those circles and they didn't actually ... get it? And I realise that I'm probably one of <500 people worldwide who gives a flying fuck about this but the way I see it either someone sets the record straight in another video or that's going to be where a lot of people think the story ends.

I did YouTube videos once. I swore I'd stop because it's a horrible timesink. But I'm very tempted to try again. Is this a terrible idea? If I do it anyway is there anyone here who would want to help review scripts etc?

Obviously all you can ever really give is *your interpretation* on what Discordianism is, but it bugs the shit out of me that some people are going around saying we're satanists or inherently anti-order and getting no challenge.

Or Kill Me / We're Going to Save The World, He Said
« on: December 28, 2022, 06:49:26 am »
With his smile of broken glass, all glittering and sharp.

Just trust in me and together, if you do everything I say,
We'll patch it together. We can do it, you and me.
Not those others. They don't understand. Small people, broken people.
Not like you and me, we have vision
of how the world can be.

Don't worry about the money. If you do everything I say,
I'll take good care of it, the fruits of your labour.
Our labour. We're soothing a little pain. But not every fight is our fight.
Sometimes you just have to pick up the pieces
of how the world can be.

You're looking tired. I'm worried about you. If you do everything I say,
It's time to quit your job, trust yourself to me.
You've not done enough. The world's still broken. Don't you see?
You need to break yourself, to fit in my picture
of how my world is.

Did you know that broken glass
still glitters
when sticky

Apologies if I've missed it but 2022 has really been a banner year for absolutely batshit fucking insane takes from Plague Island's residents. I couldn't immediately see anything cataloguing it and I'm sure 2023 will be even more normal but I thought I'd start with sharing some of my personal favourites.

1) Tala the Alien.

Indisputably my personal icon for 2022, Tala the Alien is a genderless creature designed by a small library in Hitchen (Population: 36k) to help teach kids that gender doesn't matter when it comes to reading - reading is something everyone can enjoy!

Obviously the fact that this alien being has no gender provoked a frothing rage from Plague Island's most Normal residents culimating in noted weirdo Maya Forstater screeching that she NEEDED TO KNOW THE GENITALS OF THE CARTOON ALIEN and hundreds of freaks speculating about how the cute alien fucks. Just a wonderful time for everyone.

Oh, and the person who made the alien received a barrage of death threats and a bomb threat. Because of course they did.

2) LGB Alliance Operates From 55 Tufton Street

I'm sure that Cain could do a far better breakdown of 55 Tufton Street than I could, but the potted version is that if you've ever heard a foul opinion broadcast on the news from a UK source they are likely to be no more than two degrees of separation from that address. It is the birthplace of Brexit and the justifications for almost every poverty-increasing policy in the UK.

It was recently revealed that this is where notable hate-group-pretending-to-be-a-charity LGB Alliance operates from. This is really confirmation of what we've known for a long time; that the group has the ear of people high up in the Tory party who have pulled strings to let them get and keep charity status.

However the revelation did lead to a lot of TERFs on Prosecco Stormfront (aka Mumsnet) having a crisis of faith that they may in fact be the bad guys, and that's beautiful. Not that it made them stop.

3) TERF Commits Sex Crime in Name of Decency.

(I'm not linking to this one 'cuz ain't nobody needs to see a bigot's minge)

A rare W in the world of trans life in the UK was the reformation of the Gender Identity Certificate process in Scotland. This will make it easier for trans people to change their gender marker on their birth certificate which in turn means our death certificates and marriage certificates won't misgender us. That is literally all it is.

JK Rowling's good buddy flashed the viewing gallery with a merkin and shouted "If you won't be decent then I will be indecent" as she did it. Naturally there has been little mention of this in the press which has instead presented the crushing 86:39 victory as 'controversial'.

Whilst I personally think GICs are fundamentally flawed and I am not interested in being on the government's handy tranny list I DO think it is extremely funny that Sunak has already been hinting that he will invoke a never-tested procedural process to block the King giving assent to the law, triggering a constitutional crisis and likely hastening the breakup of the UK. This gives me joy. It gives me life. Let the whole world see what the UK really stands for.

Also: The full might of the TERF movement was thrown behind opposition to this, and in the final analysis what they managed to do was get a couple dozen freaks, massively outnumbered by supporters, into the chamber where one of them committed a sex crime and another shouted "I am a duck, quack quack quack" as she was led from the chamber. It is my dear hope that this massive humiliation means people looking to be opportunistically transphobic start to realise how massively unpopular this really is. But I won't hold my breath.

4) "Gender Critical" Movement Officially Recognised as Genocidal.

The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention - established to carry on the legacy of Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide and initiated the Genocide Convention - officially stated that the Gender Critical movement is genocidal. This was a particular highlight for me:

Quote from: Lemkin Institute
The gender critical movement is a loose international affiliation of people and groups who promote far-right ideas that have gained a degree of centrist respectability through their purported defense of women.

Which, you know, isn't groundbreaking or anything but it is nice to be reminded that you aren't actually insane and this is obviously and clearly what is happening.

Naturally most GCs the world over lost their shit at being called far-right whilst also palling up with their fascist buds.

5) Keir Starmer Says Children are the Property of Their Parents, Pledges More Transphobia In Government

Noted spineless ham and alleged human rights lawyer (I've never had a clear answer as to whether he is for or against them) Keir Starmer came out with this amazing piece of rhetoric whilst giving an interview with Prosecco Stormfront:

Quote from: 200lbs of Rotting Gammon
'We all know what it's like with teenage children and I feel very strongly about this...this argument that children can make decisions without the consent of parents is one I just don't agree with at all'

This statement is a massive rollback of established case law in the UK and if enforced would mean that many children saved by medical professionals against the wishes of their parents would have died. Naturally Keir Starmer has no principles beyond "more authoritarianism, less dissent" so he has also made some piss weak statements since implying a vague approval of trans people in the abstract whilst continuing to shelter MPs in his party who literally have their own folder in the Labour Complaint's Process with thousands of instances of transphobia that his office have declared cannot be pursued.

I was going to keep going but actually after doing these 5 I'm pretty tired. All of these happened Oct-Dec 2022.

Love it here. :)

Or Kill Me / The Monster Slayer's Call
« on: December 26, 2022, 02:02:26 am »
(Another piece of writing which I wrote for myself and some close friends following the Club Q shooting. It is naturally an exaggeration for dramatic effect and anything which seems like it may be an actionable call to violence is for entertainment purposes only.)

“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.”
-Antonio Gramsci

I always liked Gramsci’s quote there. When I was younger it felt dramatic, even melodramatic. Doesn’t it sound exciting?

Turns out that a time of monsters sucks, especially when there isn’t much sign that they’ll be slain.

Our world has never been more connected. We’ve never been more able to hear what we’re saying, see what is happening, and by extension feel what our fellows right across the world are feeling.

In my teens and early twenties this gave me a huge amount of hope. I made connections half a world away and dreamed of a truly international community; a world where our bonds are forged from shared passions which transcend the limits of geography.

I’m in my thirties now and it is hard to feel idealistic about that.

Mostly this interconnectedness has let me see the pain and suffering of people I can do even less to help than I can the needy in my own city, and my inability to help them haunts me every time I step outside my front door. It has burned away the illusion that we live in any other kind of world.

We live in a world where we know without a doubt that we have the resources to address almost every aspect of human suffering that exists. There is no need for a world filled with hunger, exposure and disease. The existential challenges of our age demand a solution, and we know what needs to happen, we know we could, if we collectively chose, defeat them.

But we don’t. Because we live in a time of monsters.

These monsters look at the world of suffering that we inhabit, they gaze upon the millions condemned to die needlessly, the multitudes that are denied the simple necessities of human life, and they don’t just choose to allow it - they profit from it. They are made strong by our pain, and they use that strength for the sole and self-justifying aim of maintaining their stranglehold on the resources we need to stop this pain.

And like all the best monsters, they twist us into their own image. They inspire killings, turn families on their own, lift up babbling mouthpieces who revel in the fact that they spew nonsensical hate to keep the monsters strong, and are rewarded richly for helping them keep us in our place.

They tell us that we are unreasonable to feel this way; that we should be happy for the blood-soaked scraps that trickle down from the monster’s table to keep us right on the brink; where it feels like we have just too much to lose to risk doing anything drastic.

They tell us that we can reason with the monsters; that we must settle things in the realm of calm, rational debate.

They tell us this with a straight face whilst their pawns gun us down in our own communities, hunt us down in our sacred places and kill us on our own doorsteps.

You cannot speak to a monster about humanity and expect them to see anything but another meal.

They know this of course, because they are masters of turning this very rhetoric on us. They paint us as inhuman with hands soaked in our gore, and they demand that we acknowledge their humanity as they do it.

I’m done with that.

These monsters do not deserve any space, anywhere. They do not deserve to feel safe, anywhere. I do not want to hear their voices, except to hear them scream. I do not want to see their faces, except to see them bleed. There is nothing they have to say which I want to hear. There is nothing they could do to make amends which could ever, conceivably, be enough to appease me.

They have done too much. There is no redemption possible any longer.

If we are made to live in the time of monsters, it is time that each of us becomes a slayer of monsters.

Literate Chaotic / Saying Hi to the Goddess at the End of 2022.
« on: December 26, 2022, 01:14:36 am »
Hi guys. Apparently it has been over a decade since I last posted here? Wow.

A lot has happened since then. I have had many jobs. I joined a cult. I left the cult. I almost died 3 times. I admitted to myself I am trans. I started HRT. I admitted to my family I am trans. I gave up on some dreams. I got different ones. I have a career. We'll see if that survives further confessions.

If folks want to hear about some of those stories I'll happily tell them.

But I've been thinking a lot more about my faith recently, and I keep coming back to this place. How formative it was to me when I was a kid, how the lessons I learned have helped steer me through some dark times.

I wrote the below to help myself clarify some things in my own head. I thought you all might like it too.

Saying Hi to the Goddess at the End of 2022.

“I am chaos. I am the substance from which your artists and scientists build rhythms. I am the spirit with which your children and clowns laugh in happy anarchy. I am chaos. I am alive, and I tell you that you are free.”
-Eris, allegedly. Emphasis mine.

I’m not a naturally funny person.

In fact, I’ve spent most of this year pretty depressed. When I haven’t been sad, I’ve been angry. When I haven’t been angry, I’ve been filled with a ferocious, powerful joy that comes from seizing my identity and demanding to be seen.

What I haven’t done much of is laugh. In the past few years it hasn’t felt like there’s been much worth laughing at. It’s all quite serious out there right now.

People say we live in a chaotic age, but to the Discordian that’s inaccurate. Chaos is not something which increases or decreases. Chaos is what we build things from. It is more or less synonymous with reality. We are pattern-seeking beings and we impose systems of analysis on the chaos which then tell us whether something is ordered - obeying the system- or disordered - not obeying the system. It is our natural tendency to view order as the preferable state which blinds us to the reality; that all order is limited, all patterns have their exceptions, and that disorder can only be defined in opposition to an expectation.

We’re not living in an age of chaos, we’re living in an age of disorder. The systems we have lived under, the assumptions we have made, they’re all breaking down.

So as we come to the end of 2022 and I lay awake in bed after yet another argument where I found myself completely incapable of understanding even the basic premises that the other person was using, I put in a call to the Goddess and I said, “Hey, babe, what’s up?”

And she appeared before me in the brilliant glare of my laptop screen, blinding and searing sleep from my eyes with the words: “Yeah, same as it ever was, you doing good?”

And I said, “Not really. Feels like everything is falling apart. Nobody expects anything to get better. Nothing is certain. Those I love shame me with their ignorance, and refuse even to call me by my name, let alone listen to what I have to say.”

“Oh.” Said Ερις, and then she tweaked my nose. “There, that should help.”

Then she turned into the half a bottle of gin I’d drunk earlier and I ran to the bathroom.

As I pissed out this holy epiphany and rubbed my sore nose I reflected on the hangover that was to come, and I laughed. Then I went to bed.

Apple Talk / Shamblers
« on: December 19, 2012, 03:05:29 pm »
We spent countless hours preparing for this very end, but when it came, nobody seemed to realize until it was much too late. The Crash came, and with it, the zombies. But I’m sure everything will be alright.

It might not even have been The Crash, looking back, it seems like many of our institutions were showing warning signs even before then. Heightened aggression, insatiable thirst for human flesh, repetitive behaviour and rictus grins. Not to mention a gradual lowering of higher brain function and reliance on stock phrases. I’m sure everything will be alright. The warning signs were all there, but nobody seemed to really notice or take action.

The Crash was definitely when things got so bad they couldn’t be ignored. These dead institutions have shambled on for years, holding in their guts with one hand and devouring their fellows with the other. We struggled to find a cure, but the rot just spread in deeper. Things have gotten pretty bad. What’s worse is that we seem to be trying to convince ourselves that it isn’t happening! I’m sure everything will be alright though. Some countries have attempted to purge the infection with fire, but that doesn’t seem to have helped slow it at all. If anything, it has speeded the rate at which living, breathing officials have been replaced with dead-eyed bureaucrats hungry for more.

The truth is we weren’t prepared for this kind of zombie. Sure, sure, fiction named a hundred different variants, but none working quite like this. Cut off the head all you like, the body will either thrash around and become even more violent, or else simply grow a new one; the only appreciable difference being a more desperate gleam in the eye. I’m sure everything will be alright. There are probably experts working on it.

Having identified the infected by their dead-eyed stare and repetition of phrases such as ‘for your safety’ and ‘quantitative easing’, it is important first of all not to panic. They are, thankfully, quite stupid and only dangerous if panicked. Quickly make your way out of the area, doing your best to adopt a similarly haggard and stressed demeanour whilst uttering platitudes. Be certain not to make any sudden moves or question their assumptions. Remember, everything will be alright. There are probably experts working on it.

As there seems to be nothing which can kill one of these monsters than another of their  kind, it is best not to interfere. All we can do is hunker down and hope that they don’t mess up badly enough to cause the lights to go out. So long as we have the illusion of normality, we can just keep pretending this isn’t really happening and everything will go back to normal if we just keep the faith. Even if things won’t go back to normal, I’m sure everything will be alright.

Apple Talk / Not Quite Dead
« on: December 17, 2012, 11:33:52 am »
I think it has been about six months since my last spurt of activity here?

Amsterdam made a spirited attempt at killing me. I managed to make it home, and when I did, found out that I lost my job. Two days later, the entire editorial team at the website I was working at was fired, and sales put onto a fully commission-based payment structure. Given that what they were selling before was editorial time, I have no idea what they actually sold or what the existing clients made of it. The website still seems to exist though.

Did a brief internship where I thought I was going to get more editorial experience but actually they shifted me onto telesales and at that point I quit.

Money ran out, unsurprisingly, and I've had to move back in with parents. Mostly I'm thankful that this is actually an option. I've got a few corporate grad scheme apps out (god these things take so long - one failed yesterday that I'd been enrolled in for I think four months?). Managed to get christmas work at a supermarket over the holidays. I'm hoping that'll translate into something full time as I seem to be getting tons more hours than everyone else. It is a little depressing that I'm doing something I could have done straight out of high school, only if I'd started straight out of high school I'd probably be further up the chain by now. That's life, though.

I've also started writing again. Got the beginnings of a roleplaying system thrown together, though it still needs tons more work before I start seriously ramping up to try and get it Kickstarted. I have vague dreams that if I can catch the internet RPG flavor-of-the-month wagon, I can translate that into a kickstarter for a physical product and then roll that forward into a game line. The trouble with that notion being that you generally need proven experience in the field already to be seen as a credible investment. Which is fairly understandable; I'm not credible, at the moment, it is a pipedream. Getting to credible is a big challenge. Still, the system has bought a lot of fun during playtesting thus far so it isn't as though I've gotten nothing out of it.

My grandmother has rekindled my love of poetry. My father reminds me on a daily basis why I despise politics. My friends are all working every hour there is and about half have moved away. The past few months have been insane for that. Oh! And my best friend is going to have a kid. Which is still sinking in.

At the start of the year my goal was to move out of my parent's place and get a better job. I managed the first, briefly, but now I'm back at square one and feel like I'm treading water career-wise. My parents have offered to fund me in obtaining journalism qualifications if I can find out which ones would be worthwhile. I kind of hate the thought of spending another year-eighteen months leeching off them, but if it seemed like it would actually get me a decent job I might have to go for it and pay them back later.

I've been lurking around for a while. Fact is, I was embarrassed when I realized just how long it'd been since I was posting here.

And in ten minutes I have to run for my next shift. I just thought it was about time I popped up and confirmed that the trams didn't get me. Yet.

I still think I catch glimpses of them out the corner of my eye every now and then, though...

Apple Talk / I Will Not Leave This Place Alive.
« on: March 27, 2012, 05:34:47 pm »
Okay I have to get this down because I am not convinced that Amsterdam is going to be the end of me.

As some background, I am not unfamiliar with large cities. I have never gotten on well with them, but I have always maintained a healthy respect and fear of them.

London and I could be said to be on speaking terms. One of my earliest memories is as a child on the tube, where some bastard put a cigarette out on my hat. My parents didn't notice until three stops later, when I asked if... that was an alright thing to do, because it sort of, had ruined my hat.

That casual malevolence is something that I've maintained with London ever since. London is simply too large to care about you. It oozes contempt, and its inhabitants tend to move with a kind of listless violence. In other words, if you are aware of yourself and your surroundings, you'll largely be okay. London is also very loud, I feel this is important in the context.

I have also lived in Birmingham. Birmingham, despite London's reputation, has always struck me as a far more harmoniously multicultural landscape. In London, communities tend to be... very well demarcated. In Birmingham, things are a hodge podge which I loved - I lived in a small house located between a Methodist church, a Mosque, and within walking distance of a Synagogue. The accent I heard the least in my time in Birmingham was, in fact, the Birmingham accent. Birmingham too was largely happy to let you get on with what you were doing, with little interference.

I have even spent time in other European cities - not for more than a couple of weeks at a time, you understand. Paris and Brussels were pleasant enough, though. They obeyed the same rules. They were boisterous, but had their own characters. Brussels felt very cramped, Paris very aloof. 

Not so Amsterdam.

The first thing that I noticed in Amsterdam was how quiet the place is. There's some traffic noise - I can here it now, attempting to calm me down in my hotel room, audible over the sound of the blood drumming in my ears - but it is not the deafening roar of activity I am accustomed to in large cities.

The second thing I noticed is how clean the place is. I understand this now; if you stay still long enough to leave a mark, you will be destroyed.

My taxi ride to my hotel was uneventful, though I noticed at the time that the driver seemed to be in a rush. I could swear that he came within six inches of ploughing into a tram, but, taxi drivers often seem to inhabit their own special areas of the road. I thought nothing of it.

The hotel should have been my first warning.

I had read reviews of course; I am not totally inept. They had mentioned the stairs being the main downside, but the place is cheap, and I am young - what are some stairs? I can deal with that, I thought. After seven hours of travel, however, to be greated by this was... foreshadowing.

My room - I have had to pay up front, I presume because the hoteliers know as well as I that I shall not be leaving this place alive - was on the top floor. That is the view which you are granted with when you open the door of the 'hotel'. Three more flights of stairs and I was able at last to reach my room, where I laid out my luggage and prepared myself.

I have one day to myself on this trip, in which to see the sights. I intended to make the most of it. I particularly wanted to see the Van Gogh Museum, so I charted out my journey using my map - apparently it was very close to the hotel!

I walked outside, and was almost immediately nearly hit by a motorbike.

You see, in Amsterdam, they use many bikes. You have probably heard this. What I was unprepared for was the way that the cycle paths seem to blend seamlessly into the pavement. Well, I thought, I am not a fool. I will be more careful. Just a matter of keeping my wits about me, but damn if that motorbike didn't seem... quiet.

I found somewhere to eat, and noted that London is not the only place which will gouge you for food and drink. (Incidentally, I have yet to find something like a supermarket - the heat has necessitated that I spend almost £20 on drink alone thus far.)

Theoretically the museum was within 4 minutes walk of my hotel. It actually took me a half hour navigating the strange, blending pavement/road/cyclepaths to get to the place. I enjoyed taking in the exhibit, though. Van Gogh, it is said, found the cities nerve wracking and thus could not abide living in them. I begin to sympathise.

After that, I decide to try and find my way to the university theatre - it is where I will be spending the next three days. I chose this hotel because it was recommended by the organizers of the workshop. It is the closest hotel that was not booked up, and it is 20 minutes away. I begin to walk.

My memory of this time is hazy. It is quiet and nowhere seems to go where it should. I walk down one street to find it failing to connect with the next according to my map. I find myself twice in the path of oncoming bikes. I take two hours in total before I am exhausted completely and can go no further. By some twist of horrible fate I recognize the street I am on at this point as being close to my hotel. I come home. I beg the receptionist to tell me if there is a taxi service he recommends.

"Not." He says, "That I would recommend. But I may call you a taxi. Where do you want to go?"

I tell him I need one in the morning, to go to the university.

"Mostly you should go to the road, stick your thumb out." He gives the gesture, in case I have never seen it before, "And hope. If you wish to call, though, there is a phone, there." He points. Behind a potted plant, there is indeed, a phone. "Seven sevens."

That cryptic advice given he seems to lose interest in me. I return to my room, nearly killing myself on the stairs, and drink some water. I post on I feel a little better. This is not too bizarre, I tell myself, I am making a fuss over nothing.

So I go out to get something sweeter than water to drink, so I can review my papers for tomorrow and maybe get an early night's rest. I am so very tired.

I fail utterly to find somewhere like a supermarket, as I mentioned. I am barged into by three flamboyantly gay men who laugh and say something I cannot understand. Nearby I spot a pink I sign. Tourist information, I think, but when I get closer I notice that it is specifically gay tourist information. That confuses me. Will they sense my heterosexuality and deny me service? Is making use of this service some betrayal of trust? Which way is it back to my hotel? I'll make do with water.

But I do spot a kiosk selling large bottles of drink. Two of them and some waffles set me back almost ten euro. I am so pathetically grateful to find something I might want to drink that I don't question it. I turn, I notice the green walking sign.

And then I am almost hit by the tram.

A tram is not a small method of locomotion. It is not inconspicuous. It should not be that quiet. But Amsterdam works in these ways. It is quiet, and it confuses you, and when you think you have gotten a handle on something - for instance, being told it is safe to cross - then it will strike.

By some miracle I am not hit. I have to jump, and then I keep walking. It is the walk I use in London. The walk which says, I know where I am going fuck you get out of my way, you do not exist to me. As though I can ward myself from this place by pretending I understand where I am and what I am doing. As though I do not expect several tons of silent death to barrel down on me at a moment's notice.

I have made it back to my hotel room now. I am shaking as I type this, and I feel certain that I will not be returning home. Amsterdam has apparently marked me in some way. I find myself thinking of Tucson, and how Sister Fracture says that the city sings to you.

But Amsterdam does not sing. It is silent, as calm and reasonable as its people.

And then it hits you with a tram.

send help

Apple Talk / The Laughing Man
« on: March 23, 2012, 12:06:17 pm »

Why does the laughing man laugh?

You wouldn’t know that he is doing it, if you saw him on the street. He looks just like you, just like everyone else. That’s the ingenious thing. We live in a world which idolizes appearances. To this end we are encouraged to subsume our individual identities into those of others. We are encouraged to dress the same as those of our subset of humanity. We are encouraged to use the same language. We are encouraged to think the same thoughts. There is no hard enforcement here; the penalty for not doing so is nothing more than the suspicion of your fellows. This can be more than enough. We have so much information to catalogue and consume on a daily basis, trying to remember which opinions, desires, wants, needs drive your friends is simply one more irritating detail. It is far easier if you can ascribe to them a preconceived set of conditions.

The Laughing Man understands this innately. Subsumed into the popular culture through people who mimic his actions, he then sheds the mask and becomes invisible. The Laughing Man is Anonymous. The Laughing Man is also smart enough to realize that being Anonymous in public is simply one more set of preconceived conditions. The system has become resistant enough to change that to set oneself up as a symbol of it is to be co-opted. The Laughing Man realizes that it is more effective to manipulate the mechanisms of power through action rather than rhetoric; to engage in rhetoric is to be undermined by the need for legitimacy that the system makes a precondition of dialogue.

The narratives constructed by this dialogue are innately constraining, manipulating the viewpoints presented in order to set things up in a way which requires little conscious thought to absorb. The Laughing Man has realized that this dialogue is just one more tool in the machinery of power; to disrupt it requires moving beyond the easy definitions of mainstream media. It requires the escalation of the inherent contradictions within the flawed façade that society reproduces for its citizens. It requires that people are made to become self-aware of their own desires, aware of their wants, needs, and thoughts, rather than allowing themselves to believe that they are defined by some arbitrary label. It requires that the members of the tribe realize that they have more power than the tribal council. To disrupt this system will necessitate the destruction of rhetoric and discourse; the revelation of people’s true selves, rather than the face they are forced to wear.

The Laughing Man knows all this, and in knowing, undermines the tools of the system in order to subvert it. He presents himself as he must be presented; he acts as he must act, in order to avoid drawing attention. When he does move, it does not appear to be he who is responsible at all. He does not seek credit or acclaim; he is not in it for the ‘lulz’ (though there are certainly many laughs to be had) nor does he act in order to achieve any glory or notoriety for himself.

So why does he laugh?

Because he has realized that he is living in a grand joke. It is not a pleasant comedy, this, but to think of how easily humanity has allowed itself to be divided upon arbitrary lines, how effortlessly it has been convinced to continue inflicting unnecessary hardship upon its greater mass, how swiftly it forgets lessons that it paid for with countless lives within the span of its own living memory…

What choice but he have but to laugh?

Techmology and Scientism / Yahoo vs Facebook
« on: February 28, 2012, 02:30:15 pm »
So for a while now, Yahoo has been flailing around trying to find some way to become a viable business again. They've been on a pretty steep downward trajectory, their search and email services beaten out by Google and fewer and fewer people using them at all.

A little while ago they elected a new CEO, and a radical new strategy has been implemented - sue Facebook for violating their patents!

I read this on the FT but they are funny about sharing articles, so this is the best other source I could find in thirty seconds:

Quote from: New York Times
The paper quoted a Yahoo spokesperson as saying, "Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property. We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights.”

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt, however, told The Times, "Yahoo contacted us the same time they called The New York Times and so we haven't had the opportunity to fully evaluate their claims."
It isn't clear how much Yahoo thinks it is owed by Facebook but the fight comes at a sensitive time for both companies. Facebook is getting ready to go public in the next few months and Yahoo is trying to establish its new identity under recently named CEO Scott Thompson.

The FT had an additional quote from Yahoo basically saying that it has nothing to do with Facebook's upcoming initial public offering, and instead is purely a new strategy by Scott Thompson to try and turn Yahoo around.

Really interesting that it is even possible Yahoo could threaten this legitimately. Apparently Facebook has secured 58 patents and has another 410 pending.

Aneristic Illusions / Lets Talk Theory.
« on: February 15, 2012, 11:44:57 am »
We talk a lot about how the system works, but we generally do it in relation to specific examples. I thought it might be helpful to get some discussion rolling about the political world we live in, at least how I understand it. I fear it is a little shallow in places, but I think what I’ve got below is a pretty good jumping off point. I haven’t touched too much on economics, as I think that is worth looking at in more detail as a specific system; this is just meant to be an overview of general politics and international relations from the top down.

At the top of the tree in politics you have the nation state. A nation state is held to be autonomous, have legitimate right to rule the territory it claims, and exerts control over its citizens to some degree. Laying out a specific definition of what constitutes a nation state and a citizen can be tough, but for general purposes it is fairly self-explanatory.

Below the nation state you have the various organizations that nation states subscribe to; The United Nations, European Union, Arab League, NATO and so forth. There’s often some confusion at this level because people tend to be confused about the behaviour of nation states in regards to these organizations. Although there are certain expectations set up for membership, nations cannot be compelled to act, though they can be pressurized. For instance, most of the European Union members lied and cheated on their accounts and were known to be doing so in contravention with the agreed limits on government borrowing. There was nothing that the EU as a body could actually do about this without popular support, so the rules were meaningless.

The recent removal of governments in the EU to be replaced with technocrats is an interesting example which could be seen to contradict this, but in truth it is a vessel for the interests of France and Germany. Supranational bodies continue to exist and are redefined by the nation states which make them up, rather than having innate power in and of themselves. Nation states exert pressure on each other through various threats; in the past these have largely been of a violent nature, but they can also include sanctions, restricting access to resources or territory, ceasing trade contracts, or working against their political interests through supranational bodies. It can also include more positive forms of manipulation- giving aid or grants, support on the national stage, treaties and alliances and so forth. Ultimately all these things are ways for one nation to bend another to their interests, either through coercion or bribery.

Below these bodies you then have international corporations. These organizations do not have direct control over the workings of government, and they cannot flout international regulations without risking serious fines and problems. Even when they work within the system, if a strong enough government decides to screw them over, they generally will be screwed. Russia vs BP is a fun example of that.

Ultimately, how strong these corporations are tends to be related to how strong their home nation is. If the United States Government stands behind the actions of their corporations, you can be sure that the countries they operate in will be very aware of this. How much money corporations can throw into their operations also has a major role, with some of the biggest in the world having the ability to strongly warp international standards around the regulation of their businesses. This is most evident in the banking system, where the major banks work as a cartel in order to threaten and bully governments with dire warnings should their interests be threatened. They do not have ultimate authority, however, as they do not have state sanctioned violence to fall back on of their own regard. They have to buy it in, and that means that they have to keep the largest countries on side if they are going to keep having their interests served.

Within countries, then, you have the government at the top, and then the major industries which make up the economy of that country. The ultimate aim of any government is to remain in power, and in order to do that they need to keep being seen as legitimate in the eyes of their people. That does not necessarily mean democracy, but it does mean making sure that their right to rule is uncontested through whatever means.

That means keeping most people largely satisfied with the status quo. Change, in government, is a bad thing. After all, the system which exists put you into power, why would you want to change that? The ultimate aim is to make it so that people cannot even conceive of an alternative system. The End of History, as Fukuyama called it.

A large part of that is keeping the economy stable and people employed. Modern relations between states are somewhat more complex than they used to be as a result of globalization; the economies of countries throughout the world are more intricately linked than they used to be. This has opened up more routes for conflict than just violence, with trade sanctions, control of trade routes (such as the Strait of Hormuz) and other resources now understood to be potentially catastrophic in ways they were not necessarily before.

The media is a mirror of the culture which produces it. There isn’t necessarily a conscious and directed conspiracy of the media in order to control output and reproduce particular ideological ideas; there doesn’t have to be. A very small group of people control the media, and they have done very well out of the status quo. For the same reasons that governments fear change, these people are resistant to ways of showing information which do not fit in with their expectations.

People generally want to believe that their nation is doing well, and that the system which they live in is a good one. Without that belief, the legitimacy of the culture itself is questioned, and that tends to result in feeling pretty uncomfortable. We feel a natural connection to the country of our birth because we impose the norms and values that we group up with on it. The nation state is a kind of imagined community; we will never know even a tiny fraction of all the people who subscribe to it, but we still have a tendency to imagine that we have something in common with them. It is the modern ‘tribe’ and it invokes an Us vs Them response in relation to all other nation states.

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