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Recent blogging: Egypt, Bateson

Posted on 2011.01.31 at 01:58
Yes! I have continued blogging even though I am mostly busy with finalizing priority projects, especially finalizing manuscript edits.

Exciting events in Egypt and coolness towards them, among other things, have encouraged a couple of posts.

A season of Mideast revolution worries some Americans: can Egypt be trusted with revolution?

An Ecology of Mind: A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson


Looking ahead to 2011: my to-do list of writing

Posted on 2010.12.31 at 00:52
2010's almost done. At the end of the year, I'm thinking ahead to my next year of writing projects. There weren't too many milestones with which to measure the past year, since I didn't complete anything major since summer, when I wrapped up a string of essays on civilization, culture, and—especially—education.

However, I did contribute a lot of work toward several big projects. Much of what I accomplished will only become evident next year—presuming those projects go ahead as planned. 2011 should look amazing on paper, thanks to years of preparation.

I'm looking forward to finishing these:
  • My epic dystopian novel, Pyramid of Babel, could have been considered finished months ago if I wanted, but not by a perfectionist like me. I'm still tinkering with it and musing about whether I want to update my goals any further before the next phase: marketing it to agents and publishers. Having invested so much time on a risky proposition, at this point I want to be entirely satisfied with the product I send off, not 90%.
  • My "definitive" (temporarily, I'm sure) synthesis of Promethean philosophy in two parts (roughly, personal and social).
  • My highly-researched documentary script on human nature and origins of war. Had to stop that research back in autumn when my eyes suddenly gave me lots of trouble.
  • My collection of short-form writing on challenging preconceptions of human nature.
  • My non-fiction "self-help" theory of mind, psychology and personality utilizing complexity sciences and evolutionary theory. My quest to improve on existing personality theory began with Jung in 1996? and picked up steam reading Robert Anton Wilson and others later. Completing this one is *probably* doable next year.
There's more as well, but I'm not too sure how likely they are for next year if I focus on the above. As happened in 2010, the more I become creatively inspired to add projects to my plate, the less time I have to finish the ones I'm already working on.


2010 Poems

Posted on 2010.12.19 at 18:06
 I find it interesting that I have written more poems in 2010 than I have in all the years since taking a poetry/poetics class at the University of Chicago (about 12 years ago). I knew I wrote more than usual this year, but I just realized the extent of it. Apparently this was a year for working on poetry.

I put up two of them earlier in the year.


Free Bradley Manning

Posted on 2010.12.16 at 19:34
Presumed guilty, kept in solitary, forcibly drugged, denied exercise and sheets

"It is clear that Manning devoted himself to checking the erosion of civilization so evident in the recent tide of barbarism. He is a soldier fighting to restore human civilization, a hero who was not fooled by uniforms and nationalism, who recognized barbarism when he saw it and rebelled."


Free Julian Assange

Posted on 2010.12.07 at 19:33
Free Assange

Free Julian Assange!


Julian Assange is now a political prisoner, and the world knows it. His offense was exposing the truth.

 The True Face of Power, and Power's Mask Made Ridiculous

The true face of the State is that of thousands of petty tyrants who threaten and censor anyone who exposes their incompetence, corruption, and narcissism, their scandals and genuine contempt for life and freedom for all those outside of the privileged and political class... Julian Assange has risked himself so you will see that true face. Never forget.

Legal procedure and business ethics aren’t too much to expect from Amazon

"This boycott is really not about asking Amazon to go to the mat to defend free speech—and it’s true that this cause is not their purpose as a for-profit organization. This boycott is about their customers expecting them to adhere to the legal procedure for adjudicating free speech in America. Responsibility to shareholders did not require Amazon to depart from the first Amendment and due process; if anything, that responsibility should induce them to adhere to the proper legal procedure of courts, and to adhere to contractual responsibility to their hosted customer.
The people at Amazon’s corporate headquarters are responsible for their actions and attitudes, and making sure those comply to ethical standards that customers and human beings who care about free speech and/or rule of law wish them to have. If they throw those expectations aside, their customers are perfectly justified in shopping elsewhere, and telling Amazon why."

Why you must support WikiLeaks’ rights, even if you disagree with WikiLeaks

There is no functional difference between politically sensitive speech being removed because a giant, legalized government bureaucracy regulates the internet, or because officials abuse power to ask web hosting providers to remove it, and they all comply instead of citing legal protections.

Free speech only survives if you insist on it.

I have been blogging about  WikiLeaks and Amazon here.

I gave Amazon their chance, and waited for their response to the whole fiasco. Now, I've let Amazon know exactly why I will no longer be a customer or a partner. Anyone is welcome to borrow my language for their own closure message to Amazon, if they wish.

To quote my post:

Don’t like the word “boycott”? Some don’t. Just view it as a personal decision to encourage honesty and discourage dishonesty, and to encourage US web hosts to uphold legal protections to freedom of speech, and discourage adoption of the fascist line as an official company position. These are your purchases, and you have a choice; if you think freedom of speech on the internet is important (even if you don’t favor WikiLeaks), express yourself—and please, think about a world in which you can’t.

PS. There have been many important revelations so far, and Cablegate is just getting started—that's why Joe Lieberman, Obama, Sarah Palin, the MSM and many more politicians and enablers want the most important whistleblower and journalism site in the world silenced. But here's just one example of a hilarious, delicious moment already brought to you by WikiLeaks, the opener of governments:

Clinton ‘Regrets’ Trying to Steal UN Chief’s Credit Card
Admission Likely to Damage White House Denials

PPS. Keep up with WikiLeaks news here, at WL Central.


Oh, so many changes

Posted on 2010.11.05 at 05:02
Here is a post on what I am up to these days with writing:


Besides that, the creative agenda is VERY FULL for the rest of the year. Two other major projects, and two more beyond those have all been and will continue to be in the works, and that's not an exhaustive list of projects I'm working on.


Yes, insanity is real. So are drugs.

Posted on 2010.09.08 at 00:55
I've noticed that pretty much every time psychiatric malpractice of any kind is mentioned anywhere online (such as psychiatric diagnosis or hospitalization being used to control a troublemaking dissident) someone shows up to say that ALL mental medication is unnecessary quackery, for money or for mind control.

Every time I read it, I have to hold back some degree of rage. Why? Because I personally know people who depend on drugs for their sanity, and according to the insistent anti-medication nitwits, medicated conditions like severe depression are all made up. I know people who would be dead by their own hand if they were not medicated. Denial of psychopharmacology is not a position you want to take around me.

Feeling sad is NOT the same thing as chemical depression. Feeling excited is NOT the same as mania. The same goes for severe anxiety, paranoia, schizophrenia, etc. If medications can help, they should be used. These are genuinely abnormal mental conditions. And you know what? Millions of people get positive results from drugs despite their imperfections, and despite misinformation on the part of both anti-scientific mental idealists, and the big drug companies. Anyone trying to stand in the way of this already-difficult process may be ruining someone's life with their brilliant advice.

Your brain—everyone's brain—depends in part on chemistry. Fact. Mediating neural activity can change mental state. Sometimes not well, true. Sometimes people overmedicate, or rely on medication too much. But psychopharmacology is a real science, not a trick. Your brain is made of cells that interact. The mind has a basis in matter (and energy), not some phantom will to feel one way or another. It's complicated, no one understands it fully, but chemistry is really, truly involved.

If that threatens your philosophical worldview, too bad. Suck it up. The year is 2010, not 1850. Some ideas were simply bunk. Move on. This is all embarrassing, and insulting.

My current project is going very well. This has only been helped by spending far less time online recently.

Internet, you and I have a difficult relationship, don't we? I get sucked into writing more just to post things, spending time monitoring social networks, promoting ideas, getting into arguments, catching up on posts and links and comments, and of course I'm hardly immune from seeing what silliness my friends are up to.

Too infrequently, I wonder whether it's all worth it. I go back and forth, but I greatly enjoy my breaks from all or most of it.

I used to get more feedback outside of social networks, so that's part of the problem. Facebook (and others to a lesser extent) has been like a giant internet vaccuum, sucking up the time once spent on email, reading articles, and browsing websites because they were interesting—although that was even more of a 90s and early 2000s thing I suppose. Anyway, things I did used to get more email and comments than they do now. Debates used to occur on spacious forums, and thoughtful email lists, rather than on cramped, disposable facebook comments.

And while I'm showing my hoary net beard, remember when we thought the internet would change the world? Yes, I know it did, technologically. I'm talking about us experimental thinkers embracing the frontier, and the liberating ideas you would be able to publish and circulate (for free!) and finally reach everyone. I'm talking about at least ten years ago, when traffic found small websites, before the terrain was all mapped and normalized for corporations, shopping, advertising, and circulating what the mainstream media paid to say, and before every Tom, Dick and Harry founded a blog—hell, before we knew the word "blog."

RIP, Digital Autonomous Zone.


The lost art of argument

Posted on 2010.08.17 at 05:22
Occasionally it gets to me that not only do many people one argues with today not know how to argue well—logically, persuasively, and so forth—they do not even argue. They seem to have no idea that their claims could be found true or false, right or wrong, by a process. No, they are right and they are true, and fuck you. Some might say it nicely, but you still know that's sort of what they mean.

So, calling those anti-intellectuals on their logical fallacies, or biases, or unscientific idea of science, or whatever, is quite beside the point. I'd recommend walking away, except that doesn't work online. Social networks on the internet will contain them, and they make it awfully hard to have productive debates with people who have some inkling, or even to bring anything up.

Why? Because, of course, such people will typically talk extensively about subjects they know little to nothing about. Perhaps they are an instant expert because something showed up on the news once, or they read an article; possibly some personal experience convinced them.

For more on the increasingly antiquated subject of intellectual discipline, see my articles:



Stanley Milgram looking beat

Posted on 2010.07.30 at 03:05

"Moloch whose mind is pure machinery!"


Not just telling the truth...

Posted on 2010.07.20 at 00:18
It may be that the most shocking thing to do is restate the obvious, so that someone has to notice.


Alan Wake

Posted on 2010.07.06 at 15:44
I finished playing through the main story of Alan Wake last night (on Normal difficulty). I can't think of any other interactive entertainment with more psychological depth to the story. You can push through the story like a dope and miss most of it, I guess, but there's so much wonderful symbolism and character development there, especially when you start to figure out what's going on. Facing inner demons, remembering trauma, the creative process, the generative subconscious, childhood, agency, objective/subjective reality, and more is all there. Literally, the character pushes back the darkness with light, only to have to come to terms with it.

I can't really think of anything done in an interactive medium that gets you thinking about it any more than this. Very cool that a story about a writer actually takes STORY and runs with it.

The setting, the town of Bright Falls (also the title of the live-action prequel) and its surrounding mountains, is also incomparably well-realized—even the stars in the Pacific Northwest woods are correct. The lighting is really something, in the dark and during the day.

Power Makes Stupid: Reich, Kultur, and Bildung in Imperial Germany and America

The story about this essay is that I did a lot of work for it in July 2005; then, because I decided I didn't like the form it was in and it would need a ton more work, I largely sat on it until early spring 2010 around the same time I was writing the last essay I did on education, at which time I started lavishing attention on it again.

And now, after a really tremendous amount of work that I can really feel at this point, it's finally ready, five years later in July 2010. Better late than never.

I really hope that plenty of the meticulous work shows, though some of it was stupid stuff like time finding quotes I remembered existed, without having the vaguest idea where. In any case it had been too long since my last really in-depth piece.


Misunderstanding is an aid to to sociability

Posted on 2010.06.26 at 13:09
An ability to make inferences about other people based on small evidences seems like an enviable talent. It is admittedly quite useful. It is compelling enough as a challenge and so appealing as a personal power that I once fairly lusted after practicing it—naively, for as I have discovered, it has unintended consequences. It transforms many exchanges others take for granted into hints, exercises and puzzles; one cannot quite relax until these are accounted for, and nagging problems solved.

More importantly, it seems to me that the faculty some others' have for casually appreciating other people is much aided by ignorance. One way this is true is that without much information, most people tend to to project what they will onto others; if they are depressed, or if they respond to stereotypes, they might feel misanthropic towards others, but otherwise they see what they like, and like people they meet, and make friends easily if they are extroverts. It's also the case that generally, people do not see superficial understanding of another person as an implicit challenge to their intellect—something that needs to be understood more deeply.

At least for me, once open questions give way to a picture which is less than admirable, and only typical, it is difficult to find another person intriguing any longer—chiefly because in most people's cases, the predominant mystery about their character amounts to what psychological problems they have left unresolved. Only an unusual person appears more interesting, more compelling, or more admirable after they are understood—only when a fine simple quality shines through, or a complex character that will keep surprising.

Dr. Watson was always more content than Mr. Holmes.


Time and I

Posted on 2010.06.26 at 05:24
I manage to find a great many ways to feel like I'm the wrong age, or at the wrong time, or in the wrong age. This probably applies in about a dozen different ways. All versions of feeling out of context, I guess.



Posted on 2010.06.22 at 01:58
I'm trying out a new blog format here.

Those under cover of authority do not need apologists among the public to make excuses for their actions. Yet every day, I read defenses that are more appropriate to sorting out arguments among friends when one is being picked on.

People argue that aggressive cops or soldiers or politicians were just defending themselves from an assault, for example, when someone becomes insulting to them. Such an attitude acts as though those individuals weren't putting themselves forth in an official capacity, as though they were simply minding their own business when someone picked a fight with them.

Political and enforcement officials and bureaucrats are not friends and they don't need fairness; they are parts of a massive hierarchical monopolistic system that protects its own with entirely unfair advantages, and which picks on people constantly for nothing more than minding their own business.

This is but one example of a classic problem: applying an inappropriate model to a context. Normal people are schooled by just their experience with personal interactions to adopt a certain set of assumptions which becomes their model for personal behavior and expectations. But it's not appropriate for the state; it's a casual worldview based on friendships, personal ties, everyday anecdotes, etc.

A typical folk model of social interactions leaves people completely unable to adequately comprehend what they face in other contexts which are largely alien to personal life. For example, on large scales, in unfamiliar time frames, observing aggregates of many personal actions, with depersonalized systems—or as often occurs within such systems, when dealing with individuals who completely set themselves above and apart from society, except insofar as they prey upon it from within.

The state, most certainly, is a system largely alien to personal life, except of course for impact and effects. To a casual observer who is ill-equipped to trace the origins and causes of these effects, systemic effects appear to come "from out of nowhere" or they are blamed on circumstantial agents, if they are remarked upon at all.

Just as people with a casual interest in evolution cannot hope to appreciate how stochastic (selective and randomized) mechanics operate over vast timescales if they only apply "common sense," those who wish to understand phenomena associated with society, sociopolitical history, hierarchy, and the state must learn some special concepts and apply them if they wish to appreciate how these matters differ from their own personal experience. Models such as complex adaptive systems (CAS), spontaneous order, chaotic attractors, psychopathoid personalities, symbiotic and parasitic evolutionary strategies, psychological projection, psychological role-playing, economic principles, memetic selection, and many others become invaluable tools, even though them may at first seem counterintuitive and/or irrelevant with regard to everyday, personal experience.



Posted on 2010.06.15 at 04:17
Excruciating day. Then Neda documentary set the mood, actually an improvement. Endorphins from a back injury/RSI making it hard to sleep. First BD presents indicate I've screwed up my own wish list—must have been during that last time I had the sleepless endorphin high.


What a fine teacher looks like.

Posted on 2010.06.12 at 16:16
Found an old article on Paul Friedrich who was my very favorite professor from the University of Chicago. I took his Comparative Poetry and Poetics course and his two-quarter Odyssey course.

Friedrich sees beyond boundaries of one discipline

Remember, the easiest way to propagandize is to believe the bullshit yourself.

Israel forced to apologise for YouTube spoof of Gaza flotilla

"The clip has been praised in Israel, where the mass-circulation daily Yediot Aharonot said the singers "defended Israel better than any of the experts"."

"But Didi Remez, an Israeli who runs the liberal-left news analysis blog Coteret, said the clip was "repulsive" and reflected how out of touch Israeli opinion was with the rest of the world. "It shows a complete lack of understanding of how the incident is being perceived abroad," he said. Award-winning Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport said the clip demonstrated prejudice against Muslims. "It's roughly done, not very sophisticated, anti-Muslim – and childish for the government to be behind such a clip," he said."

No kidding?!!

I shudder to think of what will come of the radical disconnect of nationalist, socialist, militarist and racist ideology from reality in the region. People are doomed to suffer the consequences of their absurd beliefs, and unfortunately, other people's too.

For those who missed the ruling Tuesday, the SCOTUS has just RULED AGAINST YOUR RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. The accused may now be interrogated and pressured for hours (like any old thugocracy without a liberal tradition) UNLESS they were aware enough to specifically CLAIM their Miranda rights upon initial arrest. The police are now allowed to assume you have waived your rights in their attempts to extract evidence and confessions.

This will no doubt add to the existing problem of suspicious confessions obtained from the mentally retarded and disabled, among other consequences. Or what about if you're arrested while drunk, sick or incapacitated? It seems that according to the court, you missed your chance.

Overall, this is a basic inversion of rights theory in a "free country," where the whole idea is that protective legal rights are inherent and assumed unless they are voluntarily given up.

Since hearing about it, I've been amazed at how little discussion (and disgust) is circulating about a profound erosion of basic legal rights of the accused in America. Do the rest of you think civil liberties is some sort of arcane interest or hobby that doesn't apply to you? Can you not imagine you or someone you care about could ever be arrested? Or to put it another way: "Hello, is this thing on?"


One-word exam, gone

Posted on 2010.05.27 at 15:16
Apropos writing about declining education, this exclusive little club has dropped a rare gem among exams. I suppose it's more predictable and preferable to be able to cram (which is easy if you have the gift) instead of having to think. Instead of stopping this very exclusive exam, they should add wide-open tests in every school that aims to provide a serious education.




Posted on 2010.05.20 at 17:50


Intellect as a Discipline

Posted on 2010.05.19 at 04:56

As always, a nifty plain alternate layout is provided for reading/printing:

Given the theme of this one, it'll be funny if I happened to leave a typo or other error in there (bonus points if you catch one), but given my exhaustion, it is possible.

The second essay on education is still coming soon, as well.

Confirmed: The U.S. Census Bureau Gave Up Names of Japanese-Americans in WW II
Government documents show that the agency handed over names and addresses to the Secret Service

Census privacy protection (against the bureau sharing personal information with other agencies) dates to 1910, was changed when convenient by the "Second War Powers Act of 1942" then restored in the 50s again. But now, it's sacrosanct, right? There's a LAW to prevent that now (again), so stop being "paranoid," you may have heard. The government wouldn't dream of ignoring its own law again, right? Except: "The Census Bureau provided neighborhood data on Arab-Americans to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2002". What a shock.

NB: "The Bureau previously has acknowledged that it provided neighborhood information on Japanese-Americans for that purpose, but it has maintained [LIED] that it never provided "microdata," meaning names and specific information about them, to other agencies." It took careful study to show this was a lie. SO, when they say they provided Arab-American "neighborhood data" only... yeah. Believe that if you want.

Suckers make more excuses for a government they don't know than they ever would for a real person they do.


Upcoming work

Posted on 2010.05.16 at 18:55
Two essays on themes related to education coming soon:

Intellect as a Discipline


Power Makes Stupid*
Reich, Kultur, and Bildung in Imperial Germany and America

More, later.

* That's a Nietzsche quote, which hints at where that one goes.

US Threatens Pakistan Over Times Square Bomb
'Boots on the Ground' Approach Could Destabilize Pakistan

This is absolutely insane. Do the executive idiots really want Pakistan to collapse? Do they have any idea what that could mean? They sure seem to be eager for any excuse to keep pushing. So are they trying to make it fall apart, despite the insane attraction to risk this indicates? Or are they so stupid they don't see that risk?

The Bush administration and generals started this mess, bullying Pakistan's government right after 9/11. But these days, Hillary Clinton and the other Obama fools seem to have the same regard for their puppets. "You jerks keep doing what we say! You're to blame for not stopping that one guy in Times Square!" Which would be so crazy, I can only assume they don't seriously blame Pakistan, but think a massive military adventure in Pakistan (and the chaos which would obviously ensue) is what they want. Which in itself, is even crazier.

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