Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Question of the Day: Practicality?

"Given the situation. What would you like me to do with how you feel?"

Thursday, March 29, 2012

karma

This started from a comment on another post but I felt like it could almost be its own complete post. First I was going to call it AGAINST KARMA.

Then I thought, that's too tilted in one direction. Then I was going to go with calling it The Karma Of Victim Blaming. Which is spot on! But others may have other ideas of karma, that are less focused on that one aspect and perhaps, more positive!

So I went with KARMA SUCKS.

Then I edited it to "karma." Nice and simple.

Anyway, it all picked up from this idea about victim blaming, and the mechanisms by which victim blaming is justified, and that got me thinking about karma.

In a word, "karma." Of course, karma is harmless! As long as by "karma" you just mean you can learn a lesson when something bad happens to you, because you look back and realize how others felt when you did the same thing. And you say to yourself, "well, THAT'S karma!" But really, dude: no. That's not what most people think about when they say "karma." That's just the realization that maybe you, too, were and have been and perhaps are, a dick. That sudden slap of sympathy, retroactive. Nothing cosmic about it.

Most people don't use karma in that sense. By karma, most people seem to be naming some force that ensures those richly-deserving will become victims. They speak of this as if they are talking about a beautiful, enlightened, spiritual principle. What!? To me it seems like simple wish-fulfillment vindictiveness. And more than a little petty, more than a little vicious. The idea that the universe shares our idea of what sucks, and will punish people based on our idea of what they did wrong. This too seems quite far from cosmic.

There's a million mechanisms people might suggest to explain how karma works, but whether you think the universe or God or some other cosmic or spiritual force is behind it, the idea is essentially pretty similar. People who believe in karma believe that somehow, perhaps in some way none of us can fully trace or understand, reward and punishment are triggered upon the deserving, in this world. Understanding how isn't important - what's important is the confidence that it works, that that karma check is in the mail. So that when the person so richly deserving of punishment glides by unscathed with us bleeding in their wake, we comfort ourselves: "OH BOY! They'll get theirs!"

Yeah, well maybe they'll get something. But it won't have a thing to do with what they just did to you. Unless of course, you personally take matters in hand! Not saying you should do that. I'm just asking, does it help to lie to yourself? They won't get theirs.

They won't get theirs from what they just did to you, not unless you give them theirs yourself. If they do get SOMETHING - the next bad shit that happens to them, well that plus the next bad shit that happens to you is already unrelatedly on the way. Bad shit happens to bad people, too you know. Bad shit happens to all of us. All the time. Bad shit is swinging through us all like a dotted-line scythe.

But the bad shit that happens to bad people didn't result from their bad - any more than the bad shit happening to good people did. Witness the many bad people who glide on unscathed and richly-rewarded 'til the day they die peacefully in their sleep, with wide grins! Some people luck out, and miss out on the worst of the random bad. But many good people do, too. A charmed life, if you can get it.

There's plenty of non-consequence bad that comes down purely at random. Random bad is a crapshoot that can hit us all, and doesn't care who's on which of Santa's lists. And consequential bad - that is something each of us has a chance to avoid! Consequences from bad action can occur, but those consequences tend to stem not so much from bad, as from stupid (notice karma seems to operate disproportionately against idiot criminals?). Willed bad - where a person of bad will picks you out to victimize - this can land on anyone as well, the weak more easily than the strong, but the victim is not the cause of the bad that befalls.

I say the idea of karma - the idea that suffering in this world is aimed, based on a person's goodness or badness - is a insult to every single person who suffers. It's a bald lie, a bad bill of goods. It tricks people into thinking they're safe when they're not, into thinking they'll be avenged when they won't. But worst of all it tricks people into thinking that maybe the person who just got it deserves it. That "somehow" "In the mysterious ways that it all balances out" - karma has hit them with aim. Bad shit to the deserving, so every victim must have done SOMETHING.

Hey, what if it doesn't mean that? What if karma's just bullshit? Does the world get better or worse, from that?

Better, I'd say. A damn sight better, in a world where a girl with cancer can't get told maybe it's because she was bad, just so you can comfort yourself that the asshole who just cut you to the core has another thing coming.

She Will Have Her Way, And Somehow I Will Still Believe Her


She will have her way and one day I will come alive in her

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doodeloo 92: DUCK!


Had To Happen Eventually

I was one of the top amateur crastinators in the country (globally ranked at #17), but then finally, I had to go pro.

I put it off as long as I could.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Revision to the Atheistic Premise, with commensurate apology to all those legitimately beaten in arguments referencing it.

It took me approximately 0.5 seconds to recognize the superiority of this formulation. Better than mine! I thought mine was the strongest definite statement formulating the Atheistic Premise. Dude beat me in one.

Thus proving definitively my ongoing claim of how easy I am to beat, wrong.

Current, correct Atheistic Premise:

"I Have No Belief In God."

Previous, outgoing, retired with Honors:

"There Is No God."

Why is it stronger?

Well, shit. Think it through. Think it through.

Work Quote Of The Day

"I think this passage violates federal antibullshit law."

Happy 126th Birthday, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe!

I saw the Google doodle today (a variation on the Farnsworth House, in fact! EDIT: no, not in fact. It's perhaps just a different thing in a similar style) and was immediately put in mind of this:



A truly touching tribute to the legacy of a great modernist artist of an architect.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anybody Whose Favorite MC Hammer Song IS NOT "They Put Me In The Mix" - I Have Grave Doubts As To Your Taste In Music


What a showcase for his whole posse - and holy s! - greatest 2Big solo turn ever! If you're not aware of this, let me tell you 2Big is the most accurately-rated "hype man" in rap or rap history. As attested by his remarkable solo album, He's King Of The Hype. But here he shines in his original role, a humble man whose boast is all for his pal's glory.

Ah, the hype-man dynamic is truly one of the peculiar glories of rap culture! Where else can a practice of a dude yelling about how great he is evolve into a practice of a dude yelling about how great he is, then stepping aside for breath only to yield the spotlight to a second dude, also yelling about how great the first dude is.* And then there's this priceless exchange, and the way it demonstrates the visceral power of a good, ringing truism: "I am 2BIG!! And he's..." background mob vocal: "hammer! hammer!" MC Hammer: "...I am!"

There's also this weird paranoid vibe I'm picking up from the whole song, like "who are they" "why did they put me in the mix? Who benefits?" - but maybe that's just me.

THEY PUT ME IN THE MIX!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

She will have her way, and somehow I will still believer her.


Neil Finn, ladies and gentlemen.

But let's be honest: ladies. Mostly.

Thought of the day: to Refrain

It's strange how a refrain is something you do again and again, but "to refrain from" something - you don't do it at ALL.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tips on Coming Up With These "Tips" Posts

I just realized one of my own sweet methods can be reduced to writing! Sometimes, I get one of these sweet "Tips" posts (looking much like the previous post), by a means that looks a lot like this:

1. I do something.

2. I realize that what I just did is ridiculous.

3. I further realize, "hey, if I had had a subconscious motive or method for that - preferably an ulterior motive or method - what might that motive or method look like?"

4. Write a detailed post explaining the method, and lard it with compelling reasons and benefits for you to do the same ridiculous thing I just did for no reason. Include the word "Tips" in the title.

Now I must emphasize: SOMETIMES, not always!

I have never accidentally head-butted anyone in a meeting.

Tips On Accepting A Compliment Better Than Most People

You know what I do when I get a compliment? Critique it.

I'll be all, "That was an excellent compliment. You captured an aspect of myself I don't think I'd noticed, and the implicit comparison to Thucydides is the subtlest metaphor I believe I've ever caught! Very nicely delivered as well, soft, but with force. Good job."

This sort of positive reception keeps the compliments flowing! Which is of course my object.

By the way, in all the years, nobody ever calls me on the Thucydides reference. I don't even know who that guy is! Sometimes if you're smart, and you're talking to someone smart, you just throw in a smart reference like that so everybody knows everybody thinks they're smart! It's a good idea. And you can both feel smart, because nobody has to explain it like an idiot, which - let's be honest - is always very insulting to someone's intelligence, especially if the person explaining doesn't know! That's a move you can only pull off with an extra thick shellac of condescension to get you over - which was exactly what you weren't trying for! You just wanted to give the other person a little congratulatory laurel for their self, in exchange for the one they gave you. As long as they don't ask, it's like a compliment that runs both ways - and they won't. They're not going to call you on it. Not right when you just complimented their intelligence! That would a fox pause - the proverbial gift house horse.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Open Call to Fantasy/SF Authors: Wanna Co-Write My Book For Me?

Could you write a book set in a world where magic operates, and where the majority of people of course are not magicians or anything - mostly subjects and peasants and such in the cultured areas, and more rough-hewn living-off-nature sorts in the hinterlands, but magic is known in the world and people have plenty of superstitions about it. But in this world, magic is something any person with aptitude, opportunity (one needs a tutor and probably, quite a bit of expensive schooling, there is hard core study involved to get to be any good at all) and discipline can learn how to do - like playing violin? In other words, none of this 'wizard gene' bullshit.

But it is a fantasy world, with fantasy goals and quests and monstrous animals (some quite sentient and conversational), with legendary activities going on, and the broad culture of people within the world do subscribe to the idea of deities, or perhaps better: one diety, an antithesis king-devil, and a panoply of lesser spiritual, demonic, or otherwise supernatural beings/powers - and people in general within the world do ascribe the action of magic at least in part to the action of these various spiritual powers. And as in our world, the religions and warring factions and sects use their statement of the deity's intent to institute and expand whatever hegemony they can get their hands on or fingers into, and so there is corruption, and there is misuse: and the most powerful of wizards are often employed in service of a tyranny that can attract and hold them (although oddly enough, they rarely take a crown of their own - perhaps the higher or blacker study of magic does something to the mind, to make the rule of drooling plebes seem less "of consequence"), a tyranny that funds, enables and humors their increasingly esoteric and expensive researches and experiments, because of the prestige and threat that a world class mage represents. Or even a kingdom-class mage.

World-class mages are surpassingly rare. At the start of the book, there may be only two living, and one has not been seen in a very long time.

Into this world, a young adept falls afoul as regards her faith. The upshot is, she is a quick and deep study, and she begins discovering things. Small things, but they lead her on a certain path: astray. And as she continues, she begins to outstrip others at such a frightening rate that wisps of legend begin to accrue around her. Which she encourages - prophecy this, chosen one of that - she fully embraces and goes through all of those motions, but she's on a different tack, though.

You see, magic is steeped in superstition in this world. Even adepts believe it, and steep it, and steep in it. All of magic's operating principles and rituals of activation are couched in a theory that involves and invokes these supernatural beings as the source and cause of all magic. But our hero for some reason keeps finding little short cuts, leaving things out, straighter paths to power and in short order - she begins to formulate a sort of scientific method of her own, one that strips through to the practice of fundamental operating principles of magic, one that improves her progress an hundredfold by cutting out the inessentials, and at first she thinks she's just doing it better, but soon keen observation leaves her coming to a shock epiphany that - the spiritual or demonic beings manifested by mages appear to her to be probably just effects - not causes at all. And that magic's effective cause appears to have nothing to do with any supernatural deity, or demons, or djinn or angels.

And that the greatest power in the known world, a kingdom with the world's only mage-king installed - a mage who for some reason does NOT find overlordship of puny humans less interesting than practice of magic - a kingdom far away, but with tendrils that snake through other strong kingdoms and into barbarian climes, with influence that levies grudged tribute even from its enemies, a kingdom that while feared and respected by its enemies is generally regarded as a great kingdom, and ruled by a great man -

She begins to fear and suspect that its many practices and vast campaigns, carried out and cloaked in religious motive and justification (as well as strictly kingdom-level concerns, of course), are a force for evil in this world - its agents and armies, its institutions and offices, its embassies and missionary outposts in fact may do more considerable harm than good - harm that the world writes off, as being in general accord with its own beliefs, practices and superstitions. But our hero now sees that - whatever the motives or intent of the mage-king may truly be, there is such death and oppression carried out in his name and under his banner, and there is more death and more oppression carried out in other kings' names and under other banners, all proceeding from the same flawed view of the world, which she has discovered for herself must be wrong.

And therefore, morally: must be opposed.

Already mighty herself, but only newly-mighty and no match to oppose the world, she begins to gather acolytes. Fearful of being herself outstripped, she teaches them a pared, much-blinded version of her method. One that doesn't lay anything fundamental bare, but nevertheless provides practical routes to action and enough of the essential benefits that her followers - converts to her cause, as well as pupils of her school - begin to make a quantum-jump in their own power and progress. As a political point to rally an eventual revolution around, she lets it be known in hints and ways that this powerful magic is firmly grounded in a Greater Truth. A myth of her own making, to be honest (she plays the final truth close to the vest), but the Greater Truth she lets slip left and right is one that, without laying open the secrets of her true method, rejects the supernatural cause. She and her disciples call themselves The Apostarchy.

I WOULD LOVE TO READ THIS!!!! Anybody wanna write it? E-mail me. Some Up-Front Terms (with more to come on the back end, of course):

1. I'm co-author, you can put your name first if you want.

2. I get 51% of all authorial rights, and 49% of all authorial revenues (you get the other half of either), to include, of course, rights of approval over and rights of revenue to all media adaptations and merchandising.

3. No exclusivity. The offer remains open until I get one I like. I don't care how many people create a version of my book, there could be three in print at the same time for all I care! I trust the industry's publishers not to let a big ol' piece of crap through.

4. Getting it published is up to you, motherfucker. That's not my job.

Shoot.

I just thought of something. Every time I ask a question like this it turns out there is already a book like that. If so: sorry.

I guess I could just go read that one. If there is already one.

Except I don't know, man. Most of those kinds of books suck so bad.

The Theistic Premise

You know what a premise is right? Here's one!

The theistic premise. I put it to you that:

1. God is infinite (this covers -potent, -present, -scient, all that omni- busines)
2. God is eternal (this covers prior-to-observable-reality existence)
3. God loves me.

This, I put it to you, is the theistic premise. It is in accord with Orthodox Christian theology, which includes of course all your Roman Rite, Byzantine Rite, Russian Orthodox and Thousand Island Orthodox (but not Ranch Orthodox).

It is in accord with mainstream Protestant Christianity sects and denominations, including the ones you may have heard of such as Lutheran, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, 7th Day Adventist, Methodist, Pentecostal and so on.

It is in accord with Mormonism and with the Witness of Jehovah - at least, according to the official representatives of these two religions, who have been sent around to tell me so.

It is in accord with Islam.

It is in accord with Judaism (in its organized major denominations as a religion, I mean).

I say it's the theistic premise, because I characterize it as the strongest formulation of God's attributes that would be accepted by all but the most fringe branches of theism. In fact, I don't think there's a single point of any major consequence, impact or importance that you can add to those 3.

There could be some quibbles, of course, even with those three - but mainstream theism sees them satisfactorily resolved. Point 3 might be a stumbling block for some. Some people distract themselves from the issue, with accusations of what hypothetical members of this or that specific religion might have to say about God loving me. Some people will say "Well, a person of Religion X, or Religion Y, or Religion Z would claim that God HATES you Joe! because blah blah blah."

But in practice, any actual person of Relgions X, Y, or Z that they can produce always affirms point 3 in principle, and declines to speak for God's proposed hatred of me, specifically.

Which is a wise move. Because not quite universal enough to make a point 4, yet very very strong and prevalent nonetheless, very widespread among all the (what word should I use) respectable branches of theism would be this point: God is the judge of my soul, and you are not.

A lot of people claim to have a problem with religion. In my experience, what they usually have a problem with are either the ways in which people use faith to bludgeon others with their own judgment, which is not in fact God's judgment, or the ways in which people use faith as a "wall of answers" between them and any need to examine self, reality, or where the two intersect. In short: the ways in which people use faith wrongly.

I have that problem with religion, too: a problem with its misuse. I also have a problem with people saying they have a problem with religion, and it turns out the only problem they have is that religion is not being followed. They object to the behavior of people - leaders and followers, but humans - who are acting against their own religion's core, stated, public tenets. That's like blaming the Geneva Convention for not being followed.

Whenever I have a conversation with a theist or an atheist about God, sometimes it is helpful and refreshing to break it down to the most basic level of: what precisely we are talking about. Are we talking about God? Are we talking about the aspects of God that pretty much all theists agree on?

Or are we talking about the bull shit that certain fragile, insecure, childish human beings spew at each other, and then say it's God's fault, God backs them up, God hates you too, God absolves me of this bull shit which I myself can neither defend nor understand?

Usually the answer is "B." But those "A" conversations can be pretty cool too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Doodeloo #91: Chicks Dig Speedos


The Only Way To Prove Me Wrong

The only way to prove me wrong today is to hand me what I need to be right tomorrow.

Reality does take a day to sink in, or so. Sometimes.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hey, It's Bruce Springsteen!

Bruce Springsteen is a good guy. I met him one time, he was on MTV, I was watching - he was like "Hey, man! How are you - listen to this song I wrote." I was like "Hey Mr. Springsteen holy shit!" and he was kind of like, "Bruce or Boss, please - I ain't your mister!" Which, I had a good laugh on that - it was so him, and down-to-earth.

Albeit please note, he didn't say that - he was just kind of like that. That was what he was like.

A certain twinkle in the eye and tug of the corner of the mouth to indicate that characteristic humor and humility of his, and to give me as if to know, "step off on the 'mister' bit and no need to 'sir' me, either!" So I was like, "Bruce it is, boss! I've never been the hugest fan of your music (possible overosmosis from being from Jersey) but you always seemed like a real decent dude, and I've been happy to wish you the best and to see success come to you."

I'm not sure how he took that, he was pretty focused on that song. I think he was just like, he seemed like "Hey man that's cool, but how about this song I'm playing right now." And he had a point: it was a good one! Not brand new, it was sort of middle-late classic period Bruce. It was from that Human Town Lucky Touch double album era. I believe the name of this song was "Shut Up and Listen to This Song (Now Buddy)."

Huh. Maybe this whole thing was a dream. Now I'm starting to think it was a dream - I just looked up and there's no song like that on either one of those double albums.

Ahhh, it was probably Tunnel of Love.

Yes. I believe you could.

If you tell a "yo mama" joke to a famous world-class cellist could you call it a "Yo Yo Yo Ma Mama Joke"?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Roy, Jan and Todd in: "Again With The Euphemisms"


Jan: "Well, they're the parents. They're doing all of the raising and all of the parenting, they're the parents. I don't like the term 'biological parents' - it feels to me like it's some kind of dig that undercuts parents who adopt."

Roy: "Yes, but the child is also yours, right? I mean - you are the biological parents. What do you two use to describe that?"

Todd: "Cockfather and pussymom."

Jan: "Yep."

Roy: "That's what you call yourselves? You are the...?"

Todd and Jan: "...cockfather and pussymom."

Jan: "He's the cockfather."

Todd: "Yeah."

Roy: "Well wait a minute. What does that make the kid?"

Jan: "Well...an embryo, initially."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ask A Question, Get An Answer #1: "How Do You Have So Many Words?"

Okay. This isn't some program I conceived of and then put into practice, per se. It's more something I figured out after-the-fact, sussing out my own operating methods, my habitual and instinctive modes. But wow - either way, it totally works.

1. I think about what I mean all the time, because it's kind of cool sometimes to do (plus it puts me to sleep like a baby at night). I notice some weird edge of opinion sticking out: it doesn't fit? Or does it? SMASH! Poke. Wiggle, pry loose? Pull out, examine, turn to the light, rotate. Slide back in, at a new or perhaps reconfigured angle! Or even: (gasp) discard. People: be absolutely ruthless with your opinions. You owe them no loyalty. Their job is to serve you, in your effort to make the world work within your head.

2. I mean the CRAP out of what I mean. I mean with great force and eager earnestness, I mean with great fluidity where reality suddenly presents a new course, through which what I mean must flow. For areas where I have no particular ideas in mind - they are usually very interesting, and I am all over them with curiosity and interest! For many things I will hold several ideas in my head and not yet have a means to decide between the two or three. This is called "skepticism." A useful tool: but don't let it rule you.

3. I read a shitload of good writing, which puts a shitload of fuck-all top notch words and a whole range of different ways of expressing them at my fingertips. A lot of the time, if you were say psychopathically attuned to what I'm a-doin'...I have occasionally had people call me on it, on whether I've just been reading Tolkien or Poe. People: there is only one piece of meaningful advice for anyone who wants to learn to write in English: read masterfully-written English. Always keep a very good dictionary hard by as you read. Always look up any word you do not totally get. Worried that will break your flow? Look the word up. Learn it. Then skip two pages pack and proceed forward from there. Don't be such a wuss! A good book's hold on you is not so fragile as all of that. But the main thing you are reading for is not to catch the words, but the music. Take it in, assimilate it. The more you steep in it, the more will seep into you.

For God's sake, though, tone it down a little on the way out! Assimilate, don't regurgitate. Use the best of available palettes and styles to hone your own voice. Don't be some stupid-prose-trick artist doing impressions, or boring everyone to shocked silence with grandstanding stunts. Leave that to me. Leave that shit to the stereotypical "artist" doing it "for himself or herself" i.e. a self-involved jerkbag who could care less about how he comes off to the reader. Don't aspire to that! Be more than that, please.

And while we're talking about what not to aspire to: allow me to lay it out. Don't be a novelist. Don't be a humorist. Don't be a stylist. Don't be an artist.

Don't even be an author. Be something better than these. Be a writer.

There is no higher calling for a creator than that. But then, I'm biased. I'm an oil painter.

So anyway, that''s it! Between #1, #2 and #3, I have a ready supply of sentiments I feel passionately about, and a wide array of words in which to give them form. Anybody can do it! It's not necessary that they come off like some kind of ASS HOLE. That's just my style - but others will benefit by couching their words in their own. Still. However you execute, this same basic program will work a trick for you too!

Think about what you mean. Mean it as hard as you can.

Those two will give you things to say.

And read great writing. As much as you can. Steep in it.

That will give you good ways to say whatever you have.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Like Little Lambs, Safe From Harm



Enjoy it while you can - I wish
I could have held my tongue.

When you're in luck, the world moves with you.
When you're in love,

you carry it with you.