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Friday, September 24, 2004
lamp

blanket

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Thursday, September 23, 2004
axel boldt's political opinions and other thoughts

The idea behind a market economy is that the best product will eventually win, in a Darwinian manner. However, it does not work like that in the real world. Usually, the product with the best advertising campaign wins, which makes it very difficult for small companies to compete, even if they can offer better quality. It is in the best interest of a healthy capitalistic system to abolish advertising and replace it by simple informational messages about available products.

[...]

Advertising amplifies several undesirable aspects of human nature, such as greed, envy and discontent. It is also morally reprehensible since it uses tried and proven propaganda techniques such as omissions, half-truths and suggestive associations, but rarely hard verifiable facts.

[...]

It thus makes economical sense to avoid products which are heavily advertised. Buying such a product means financing things you don't want: radio ads, TV commercials, web banners, junk mail and billboards.
xeni flies zero g #10: goodbye, gravity
Remember dreaming you could fly? It's exactly like that.

Before you move into weightlessness, between parabolas, g-force is about double what it is on earth. Suddenly you're 300 pounds, and it pushes your hair to your skull to your spine to your tail to the floor and the meat on your body is suddenly stone. They tell you not to look back, to keep your head still and aligned when the pressure starts. Anything to avoid vertigo, because where there's vertigo there's vomiting.

Waiting, your face becomes newly dense. You're a chipmunk carrying cheeks full of bullets. Your blood strains. Your veins are streams carrying too much silt.

And then, when the weight is worst, the invisible hands cramming your spine into the plane's padded floor lose interest and lift away. What was concrete becomes cotton. The hands reach beneath you, and lift you up into nothing, and you float. And all there is to do when this happens for the very first time is to laugh. Because it's impossible. Because it's unnatural.

But the joke in your bones is that it feels perfectly natural, like all your life you were intended to float. After all, just before you came into the world, that's what you were doing in liquid. And when your life ends and you leave, there you are again, becoming vapor. Breaking down from matter to dust to air. Floating.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

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Friday, September 17, 2004
"There is nothing very remarkable about being immortal; with the exception of mankind, all creatures are immortal, for they know nothing of death. What is divine, terrible, and incomprehensible is to know oneself immortal. I have noticed that in spite of religion, the conviction as to one's own immortality is extraordinarily rare. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all profess belief in immortality, but the veneration paid to the first century of life is proof that they truly believe only in those hundred years, for they destine all the rest, throughout eternity, to rewarding or punishing what one did when alive." –borges (via 2blowhards)

"As well as Japanese animation, technology has a huge influence on Japanese society, and also Japanese novels. I think it's because before, people tended to think that ideology or religion were the things that actually changed people, but it's been proven that that's not the case. I think nowadays, technology has been proven to be the thing that's actually changing people. So in that sense, it's become a theme in Japanese culture." –oshii (GitS2 review)

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Thursday, September 16, 2004
game theory

game guides

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004
work (via 2blowhards)

Marx was a poor historian and wrong in his prescriptions for a better world, but he was rather acute at diagnosing why work is so often miserable. In this respect, he drew on Immanuel Kant, who wrote in his "Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals" that behaving morally toward other people required that one respect them "for themselves" instead of using them as a "means" for one's enrichment or glory.

Thus Marx famously accused the bourgeoisie and its new science, economics, of practicing "immorality" on a grand scale: "Political economy knows the worker only as a working animal - as a beast reduced to strictest bodily needs." The wages paid to employees were, said Marx, just "like the oil which is applied to wheels to keep them turning," adding, "The true purpose of work is no longer man, but money."

[...]

Struggles between labor and capital may no longer, in the developed world at least, be as bare-knuckled as in Marx's day. Yet, despite advances in working conditions and employee protections, workers remain tools in a process in which their own happiness or economic well-being is necessarily incidental. Whatever camaraderie may build up between employer and employed, whatever good will workers may display and however many years they may have devoted to a task, they must live with the knowledge and attendant anxiety that their status is not guaranteed - that it remains dependent on their own performance and the economic well-being of their organizations; that they are hence a means to profit, and never ends in themselves.

play (via interconnected)

Huizinga urges us not to think of play in this way. He shows that play is connected with many important or serious activities such as religious rituals. Moreover play for Huizinga is always within some kind of structure, it has rules. The most obvious example of the rules of play would be in a game. In a game the rules are what determine its gameness, without these the game could not be played. This is an essential part of Huizinga’s definition of play: its structuredness.

The rules of play however are very different than ordinary rules. Huizinga defines the formal characteristics of play as follows: 1) It is voluntary, or it cannot be imposed from above; 2) It leaves normality and reality and enters its own sphere; and 3) It operates within its own time and place. The first characteristic means that the player always decides to play, it is not a function or a rule imposed by somebody or some principle. The second characteristic means that the rules of play do not adhere to any logical or purposeful rules (although there may very well be a goal to playing). That is the rules of play or the act of play doesn’t have to make sense to the rules of reality. The third characteristic and perhaps the most important to Huizinga’s understanding of play is that it has its own spatial and temporal organization. This means both that play occurs outside the normal structure of space and time, but also that it organizes space and time in its own way. Examples of this last characteristic range from a game of tennis to a religious ceremony to the performance of a drama. All contain their own spatio-temporal structure separate from reality, but specific to each respective activity.

[...]

Electronics texts hold the potential to very playful for many reasons, but for our purposes we will be speaking of only two here: 1) They can operate separately from reality; and 2) They can and must be structured ground up, allowing them the potential to be structured in a playful manner. The first reason operates on several levels including: that they have there own time/space organization that is determined by the computer; and they are (in the sense that Gadamer speaks) always a (re)presentation of something. The second reason refers to the structures of computer programming. This means that all electronic texts are given rules within which they operate, but that these rules, because they are constructed ground up can either seek play or avoid it.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004
why i love work so

cuz flickr keeps 'em comin'

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Monday, September 13, 2004
hack congress

latest travails

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Sunday, September 12, 2004
paris underground cinema

circuits in minesweeper

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Saturday, September 11, 2004
evitable

"I believe the greatest power of the blog is not just its ability to distribute alternative information - a great power, indeed - but its power to demonstrate a mode of engagement that is not based on the profit principle."

invevitable

"Anyway, my point is that I couldnt tell him why I did that, why I had posted words here rather than talked to him about them. So I asked my therapist why, and her explanation astounded and scared me more than a little bit. To paraphrase: 'Everyone needs to ask the universe a few questions now and again. Some people call that prayer, some people call that meditation, there are different words and different methods but the goal is the same. We come to places we can't figure out on our own, and even our friends and family can't really help. So we ask the universe--the larger power, God, what have you. And I think your Web page, that act, that place, that's you're larger power. You launch the questions out there and sometimes you get a response, sometimes not. It's the act that's important. You've just chosen a unique and very public God to question.'"

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Thursday, September 9, 2004
a comparison

img update

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Wednesday, September 8, 2004
algebraist

business

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Tuesday, September 7, 2004
so dark the con of man

"Sophie," Langdon said, "the Priory's tradition of perpetuating goddess worship is based on a belief that powerful men in the early Christian church 'conned' the world by propagating lies that devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the masculine."

Sophie remained silent, staring at the words.

"The Priory believes that Constantine and his male successors successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever."

Sophie's expression remained uncertain. "My grandfather sent me to this spot to find this. He must be trying to tell me more than that."

Langdon understood her meaning. She thinks this is another code. Whether a hidden meaning existed here or not, Langdon could not immediately say. His mind was still grappling with the bold clarity of Sauničre's outward message.

So dark the con of man, he thought. So dark indeed.

Nobody could deny the enormous good the modern Church did in today's troubled world, and yet the Church had a deceitful and violent history. Their brutal crusade to "reeducate" the pagan and feminine-worshipping religions spanned three centuries, employing methods as inspired as they were horrific.

The Catholic Inquisition published the book that arguably could be called the most blood-soaked publication in human history. Malleus Maleficarum—or The Witches' Hammer—indoctrinated the world to "the dangers of freethinking women" and instructed the clergy how to locate, torture, and destroy them. Those deemed "witches" by the Church included all female scholars, priestesses, gypsies, mystics, nature lovers, herb gatherers, and any women "suspiciously attuned to the natural world." Midwives also were killed for their heretical practice of using medical knowledge to ease the pain of childbirth—a suffering, the Church claimed, that was God's rightful punishment for Eve's partaking of the Apple of Knowledge, thus giving birth to the idea of Original Sin. During three hundred years of witch hunts, the Church burned at the stake an astounding five million women.

The propaganda and bloodshed had worked.

Today's world was living proof.

Women, once celebrated as an essential half of spiritual enlightenment, had been banished from the temples of the world. There were no female Orthodox rabbis, Catholic priests, nor Islamic clerics. The once hallowed acts of Hieros Gamos—the natural sexual union between man and woman through which each became spiritually whole—had been recast as a shameful act. Holy men who had once required sexual union with their female counterparts to commune with God now feared their natural sexual urges as the work of the devil, collaborating with his favorite with his favorite accomplice . . . woman.

Not even the feminine association with the left-hand side could escape the Church's defamation. In France and Italy, the words for "left"—gauche and sinistra—came to have deeply negative overtones, while their right-hand counterparts rang of righteousness, dexterity, and correctness. To this day, radical thought was considered left wing, and anything evil was sinister.

The days of the goddess were over. The pendulum had swung. Mother Earth had become a man's world, and the gods of destruction and war were taking their toll. The male ego had spent two millennia running unchecked by its female counterpart. The Priory of Sion believed that it was this obliteration of the sacred feminine in modern life that had caused what the Hopi Native Americans called koyanisquatsi—"life out of balance"—an unstable situation marked by testosterone-fueled wars, a plethora of misogynistic societies, and a growing disrespect for Mother Earth.
repression of the great mother archetype
SARAH: So you're suggesting that scarcity needn't be a guiding principle of our economic system. But isn't scarcity absolutely fundamental to economics, especially in a world of limited resources?

BERNARD: My analysis of this question is based on the work of Carl Gustav Jung because he is the only one with a theoretical framework for collective psychology, and money is fundamentally a phenomenon of collective psychology.

A key concept Jung uses is the archetype, which can be described as an emotional field that mobilizes people, individually or collectively, in a particular direction. Jung showed that whenever a particular archetype is repressed, two types of shadows emerge, which are polarities of each other.

For example, if my higher self -- corresponding to the archetype of the King or the Queen -- is repressed, I will behave either as a Tyrant or as a Weakling. These two shadows are connected to each other by fear. A Tyrant is tyrannical because he's afraid of appearing weak; a Weakling is afraid of being tyrannical. Only someone with no fear of either one of these shadows can embody the archetype of the King.

Now let's apply this framework to a well-documented phenomenon -- the repression of the Great Mother archetype. The Great Mother archetype was very important in the Western world from the dawn of prehistory throughout the pre-Indo-European time periods, as it still is in many traditional cultures today. But this archetype has been violently repressed in the West for at least 5,000 years starting with the Indo-European invasions -- reinforced by the anti-Goddess view of Judeo-Christianity, culminating with three centuries of witch hunts -- all the way to the Victorian era.

If there is a repression of an archetype on this scale and for this length of time, the shadows manifest in a powerful way in society. After 5,000 years, people will consider the corresponding shadow behaviors as "normal."

The question I have been asking is very simple: What are the shadows of the Great Mother archetype? I'm proposing that these shadows are greed and fear of scarcity. So it should come as no surprise that in Victorian times -- at the apex of the repression of the Great Mother -- a Scottish schoolmaster named Adam Smith noticed a lot of greed and scarcity around him and assumed that was how all "civilized" societies worked. Smith, as you know, created modern economics, which can be defined as a way of allocating scarce resources through the mechanism of individual, personal greed.

SARAH: Wow! So if greed and scarcity are the shadows, what does the Great Mother archetype herself represent in terms of economics?

BERNARD: Let's first distinguish between the Goddess, who represented all aspects of the Divine, and the Great Mother, who specifically symbolizes planet Earth -- fertility, nature, the flow of abundance in all aspects of life. Someone who has assimilated the Great Mother archetype trusts in the abundance of the universe. It's when you lack trust that you want a big bank account. The first guy who accumulated a lot of stuff as protection against future uncertainty automatically had to start defending his pile against everybody else's envy and needs. If a society is afraid of scarcity, it will actually create an environment in which it manifests well-grounded reasons to live in fear of scarcity. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy!

Also, we have been living for a long time under the belief that we need to create scarcity to create value. Although that is valid in some material domains, we extrapolate it to other domains where it may not be valid. For example, there's nothing to prevent us from freely distributing information. The marginal cost of information today is practically nil. Nevertheless, we invent copyrights and patents in an attempt to keep it scarce.

SARAH: So fear of scarcity creates greed and hoarding, which in turn creates the scarcity that was feared. Whereas cultures that embody the Great Mother are based on abundance and generosity. Those ideas are implicit in the way you've defined community, are they not?

BERNARD: Actually it's not my definition, it's etymological. The origin of the word "community" comes from the Latin munus, which means the gift, and cum, which means together, among each other. So community literally means to give among each other.

Therefore I define my community as a group of people who welcome and honor my gifts, and from whom I can reasonably expect to receive gifts in return.

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Monday, September 6, 2004
hey, went to see benji: off the leash! and the blind swordsman: zatoichi yesterday; they were both pretty fun :D

i think i'm going to drive around today :D that is all!

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Thursday, September 2, 2004
theroux does africa

cornered and trapped

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Wednesday, September 1, 2004
hey! went on vacation for a bit :D to quebec city! it was pretty nice :D

also read hey nostradamus! it was pretty good :D

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