"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Pattern Recognition

Started in on the new Bill Gibson (Pattern Recognition) last night, then stumbled across this blog of dubious authenticity chronicalling the travels of a young woman on the run from her powerful family today. The anonymous nature reminds me of restlesslord an anonymous blogger who purports -- not that I doubt his authenticity, but you never know -- to be an older british man with a 20-year-old American girlfriend (and was also the first person to blogroll me). Parallels with "the Footage" in Pattern Recognition are developing rapidly in my mind, getting me cooking on the future of life, the internet and culture (as always). That man is tapped in to something fierce.

I like the new book. It's got the cadence and quixotic/specific sensual description that are Gibson signatures: "the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm." Unlike his previous work it's present-day and not, as of yet, really about saving the world. I'm in awe of his facility with language. Dog Solitude. Long Chain Monomers. The Sky Was The Color of Television Tuned To A Dead Channel. Beyond style, what I've always loved about Gibson beyond style is his ability to project human emotion and ideosyncracy into rather inhumane surroundings, with interesting narrative and metaphysical results. I hear he used to be into acid -- though now like many vetrans, he sends a cautious message. Strange how so many of my interests, idols and literary heroes seem to intersect. Here's Gibson and Burroughs. Here's Gibson and Keasy (and Cassady). Somtimes this makes me feel banal -- just playing the bohemian version of six-degrees -- other times hopeful, like there's an actual throughline to all these things I appreciate and am interested in.

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Revolution is Not an AOL Keyword

Thanks to good old Slashdot, I saw this, a loving parody of Gil-Scott Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, updated for the early 21st and all us netslaves. I dig the humor and the truth; here's a sample:

 Survivor, The Osbournes, and Joe Millionaire  
 Will no longer be so damned relevant, and 
 People will not care if Carrie hooks up again with 
 Mr. Big on Sex and the City because Information
 Wants To Be Free even while Knowledge Is Power. 
 Revolution is not an AOL Keyword. 

I've loved the original jam since I first heard it, and can't wait for someone to lay down a remix with the new lyrics. The whole text is hyperlinked out the wazoo, so give the links a click if you want to learn what any reference is all about.

Oh goodness, and this comment is too poignant to miss. Reminds me of when a semi-acquaintance of mine from NYU -- now in Army Intel -- sent an angry response to a peace-petition email forward which referenced The Rock (the flick, not the wrestler) as part of its central thesis.

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Blog Utility in Onlline ID

For anyone with a passing interest in the Biz game, y'aughtta know that my current feeling is that the user-controlled and people-friendly projection of secure and authenicated identity into the internet will herald the next generation of e-commerce and be the principle cause of our next economic boom. I didn't say it first, but it's the first time I've said it here. Maybe I'll elaborate on this in the not too distant future, but in the meantime, I'll explain why blogs are a good foundation for this. Again, this isn't a totally original idea. Doc Searls has a little ditty about it on his blog today, but I can tell you this sort of thing has been on my mind for quite a while.

Basically, it occurs to me that If you're willing to put your name on your blog and keep it real -- my original inspiration being Jusin's Links -- it could be the ultimate "I ain't scammin' you" proof. Using my blog as trust collateral first popped up when I wanted to buy something on eBay a while ago, and I realized that all these people had thousands of transactions and I had the goose egg zero and those suspicious-looking sunglasses. EBay lets you put up a little something about your self, so I stuck this up there. I like to think it helped me put prospective sellers at ease.

That was nice, but the real ah-ha! moment was when I started including my url in exploratory emails for freelance gigs off of craigslist or one of the innumerable job boards. This provides tremendous initial value for me as opposed to just some dude with an aol account: people can click my link and immediately see what I'm about and that I'm a real person, far more so than we'd be able to establish in an initial phone call. They also have a sense of what I'm about and so forth, lets them know if they want to deal with me or not.

Also, I used the term collateral specifically for a reason, that being having a personal blog gives me something to loose. Unlike a hotmail address or a monster.com login, this website gives me a non-disposable stake in the online world. Should someone decide to take the next step with me, this gives them peace of mind. If I put my blog on the table, you can bet I'm going to follow through. Sure I could chuck it all and start from scratch, but at this point I would be leaving behind over a year's worth of almost daily effort. It's not giving up my whole life, as if I decided to dissappear for real, move to Mexico or something, but it's far from insignificant. Someone who's thinking about entering into a virtual agreement with me knows how to recognize me online, where to find me in the future, and how to tell other people about me, three of the core tennants of identity, the underlying basis for any trust.

Of course, once real ID management (with legal backing) is here my outlandishjosh competitive advantage will be lessened if not eliminated, so you might ask why I'm still stoked about digital identity. Well, I want this sort of thing to become the norm because I think if it happens right it will open us up as a society and help integrate the world in more efficent and meaninfgul ways, and that's worth more to me than a competative advantage for freelance gigs. Besides, I probably loose some potential clients right off the bat because they're all freaked out to see me talking about using drugs and my sex life. Then again I don't really want to work with those people anyway. If things get tough and I need a temp job, I can just email them a word document with one of my other email addresses on it, but for now, I'm keeping it real to the fullest.

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Domino Positive

I helped by buddy Sam move a bunch of stuff today, and we were privileged to walk across Brooklyn in the sun from Greenpoint into his old neighborhood of South Williamsburg. It's a jumpin' Latin area, with lots of people immaculately attired in hip-hop gear. The kids are allright, even if the boys are a bit testosterony. Sam and I hashed out the state of the world as usual, with him giving some really interesting isights into the importance of design in things. Got my mind working on some good Buckminster Fuller tangents (ala Design Science). One of the things Sam is good at seeing is the interconnection of things, and how it's possible to do one thing which has other positive benefits.

I saw that mirrored in this little article about the people who are making computers (the Open BSD operating system) more secure:

The research was funded by a $2.3m (about £1.5m) grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to the OpenBSD Project, but the latest changes go beyond the original grant request, de Raadt said.

"This really wasn't part of the DARPA grant," he said. "But it happened because the DARPA grant happened, because when you throw a bunch of... guys into a room and get them drunk, this is what you get." De Raadt was careful to point out that the group paid for its own beer

So one DARPA grant not only gets a bunch of geeks loaded and the Pentagon's needs addressed, it fixed buffer overruns as well. The reason for this (and the reason the Internet works at all, by the way) is that the people who are working on these technologies are passionate and motivated about what they do. This is in the end what scares the pants off of Microsoft, the fact that their quickest-growing opposition is a decentralized network of capable and self-motivated people. These are the kinds of human beings who will give you an exponential return on your investment. If only there were a similar network for politics...

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Sunny Day

Walking around the sunny realms of Brooklyn and Chelea today, taking in photography and fresh air as I battled a headache-inducing hangover, the world seemed beatifically ready to evolve. Last night Sasha, Kim, good old 12th-Floor Caroline and I were on the town, cought some rock at the Luna Lounge, slurped some frozen tequila at the hat (El Sombrero) and downed a pint at the Brooklyn Ale House. Bumping in to people and friends all along the way. According to Sasha I was drunkenly disinhibited and amorously grabby towards the end, a plus in her eyes. I recall repeatedly telling her, "I'm going to ruin you," in my best sexy/threatening coo. We woke up with our heads at the feet of the bed and though the details are lost to flashes of whispered blur, from this I infer greatness.

Of all the worthwhile things to do and see today in the City, Nan Goldin's "Heartbeat" exhibit in Chelsea must ride near the top. Lots of pictures of adults in love, fierce europeans, the children and parents of real bohemia. In the mix of it all, I once again realize how American sex is such such a childish thing, what with our adolescent obsessions and quick-fix mania. Goldin's photographs capture the essence of real human passion, lines around the eyes and fit-but-realistic bodies. Most of all there's the human electricity and reality of feeling, leaping out of the saturated colors with the nearly-inauthentic heightened authenticity and livewire brilliance that only true intimacy can bring. It was a treat for the heart.

We bumbled through a few other places, saw some massive foam-rubber sculpture by Ernesto Neto -- including a little house with catacombic overtones you could go into if you put on a special white suit -- and some fascinating manga-like paintings on photopaper. Also enjoyed partaking of the atmosphere in a few outrageously expensive clothing stores, and me with my orange Che Guevara cuttoff t-shirt and cowboy boots. It was a good day for art. Reminds me why people need intention in their lives.

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Political Theater From Frank

Frank, apparently bored with data entry, sends this gem in:

I just read the entirety of Mr. Robbins' speech to the Press Corps, made me proud to have shared a black box with the man. I've been thinking a little bit more about the statement "Susan Sarandan's statements have endangered our troops." What's interesting about this to me is that the only non-com who actually endangered our troops works for Fox News (I would have given a half dozen Quatari prostitutes to the platoon that fragged Geraldo).

Or at mail call:

"Mail Call!"
everyone rush's around the dude with the mail

"Spitzer, you got a package"

opens it

"Oh Boy, my grandma's peanut brittle! I've shore missed this over here."

"Phillips, look like a letter from your girlfriend"

Phillips opens it "Wow she sent me nekked pics of herself, whooo-eeee!!"

"Santana, you got something from your cousin again" calls towards Santana, who is calling from inside of an outhouse.

"I'm kinda busy, Sarge, could you open it up for me"

"Sure thing son" opens up package "looks like a clipping from the NY Post"

"Swell, what's it say?"

"It's an article about Susan Sarandan"

"You mean the star of Bull Durham, Dead Man Walking and countless other classic films, whose every word I hang on?"

"Yep, that's the one"

"Oh boy, what's the new scoop on her?"

"Well, says here that she's not very happy about the military campaign in Iraq."




"Santana, you all right in there?"

sound of a gunshot from the latrine, men rush over, but it is too late, PFC Jeffrey Santana is yet another causalty reaped by Miss Sarandan's reckless machinations.

While we're at it, the BBC online is featuring a list of unanswered questions about coalition reporting and media coverage of various incidents in Iraq.

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For a while now I've been thinking about the future of videogames as a means of artistic expression and culture-building. Altering the premium blend that is America Culture is one of my long-term life goals, and I don't believe I have the chops to ever make it as a TV/Movie star, so there's a natural interest in other forms of expression. In addition, I don't think TV is going to be the cultural dominator that it currently is in another 20 or 30 years. Virtual entertainment will still be important, but the interactive forms are far more engaging and potentially impactful.

This is not idle speculation. Videogames, far more than television, can be a force for developing cooperative and equitable social norms and ways of thinking around highly charged issues of the day. At their best they can create a space in which something uniquely human can happen. This is not possible on the one-way street of movies and TV.

Jane of GameGirlAdvance has written a fascinating article about the use of gender in videogames entitled "Genderplay":

Something you hear over and over again in the research around what girls want out of games are themes like "open-ended" and "less-goal oriented" and "co-operative play". These are also the themes which most adult gamers seem to want, too. Talking with my friends who are game developers and designers, they don't want to see bouncy boobs, necessarily (although there's a place for that, sure); they want evolved gameplay, emergent gameplay - with great characters.

whole article>>>

Videogames offer a lot more potential in terms of cultural development and nuanced creative expression than any other entertainment form other than (perhaps) participating in team sports. Games offer the ability for users to test and develop their own personas as a creative act in and of itself. They can facilitate identity development and understanding, as the part of Jane's article about how her boyfriend deals with flirtation as a female character in online multiplayer role-playing games illustrates:

In another server on the sunny plains of Albion, Justin has an enchanting enchantress who caught the eye of a young paladin. I asked him whether he responded to the paladin's tentative flirting. "Well, sure," he said. "I would say, 'Thank you for the necklace, milord' and 'Thank you for the necklace - again , milord" because that's part of the game." And who knows? The paladin could well be the avatar of a young woman halfway across the world.

This is happening right now all over the world. Extrapolate five to ten years and integrate people's cell phones, email, IM, blog and other means of digital connection/expression. See the potential? If this sort of safe and creative exploration of roles becomes more of a norm, I believe the impact will be nothing short of revolutionary for our culture. By allowing users a means of understand social interactions from different perspectives, albeit in a simplified and fantastic context, the world of gaming can contribute to the development of more open-minded and well-rounded individuals.

A few weeks ago I was taking a car trip with two gentlemen I do occasional work with, Peter and Robbie, both of them fathers. They were talking about how videogames were toxic to children, Robbie having a nearly-grown son who he feels plays too much Xbox and Pete having two kids too young to play anything, yet.

"I'm never allowing it in my house," Peter says, as I bite my tongue. I understand the desire to not have a vidiot child. However, putting aside the fact that prohibition is the quickest avenue to producing keen interest, my belief is that videogames are a potential source of good things as well as bad. I tried to hint at this point of view, but it was clearly a sore spot for the two of them. I was suddenly in the awkward position of being across a generation gap from these men -- we might have been 45 years back in time and talking about Rock and Roll.

On a certain level, they have a point. Just as Rock and Roll was correlated with drug use, teen pregnancy and dropping out of college, heavy gaming often correlates with a shut-in lifestyle. At least, that's the popular perception. There are many happy, healthy, well-rounded people who play videogames; I'd go so far to say they're the majority. And while there are certainly game addicts and a number of otherwise socially stunted individuals who find a questionable and isolated solace in the virtual world, these phenomena are not necessarily caused by gaming itself. Far more likely these phenomena reflect pre-existing problems that are brought to the surface vis-a-vi videogames. Better the Playstation than gangs, drugs, spousal abuse, etc.

Furthermore, especially as games evolve to become more interactive, cooperative and open to user-instigated forms of expression, they could very well have the opposite effect: contributing to the development of more worldly and experienced adolescents and providing adults a meaningful way to engage with each other and have fun with their own identity. Games could be healing. They could be agents of progress. What actually comes has yet to be seen and is far from certain -- it's conceivable that games will become even more of a cultural sewer than cable television -- but I think the possibilities here are quite a bit more culturally exciting than those of American Idol.

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Stopping the Bully, Turning the Mob

Salon.com is running the text of a speech given by Tim Robbins at the National Press Club in Washington. It's good:

And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago? With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot-one comedian has more guts than most politicians. We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who understand the Constitution, Congressmen who don't, in a moment of fear, abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war, to the executive branch. And please, can we stop the congressional sing-a-longs?

In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry.

Again, the whole thing is here, thanks to kos for the link. You have to do a little registration dealy to get your day-pass to salon.com, but it's worth it. I can't agree more that the opposition needs figureheads and powerful leaders. Yesterday if possible. If we have to wait for my generation to grow up and get elected to congress, it may be too late.

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This is the Good Stuff

Life is beautiful right about now. It's about 77 degrees (enjoy it while it lasts), Pete and Swetlana just had a baby, I've got Monkey-Kim in tow. Oh, and I'm in love. Yeah. Love. More on that in a while.

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Smoking Ban Murder

In more proof that nicotine addicts are dangerously attached of their drug of choice, a bouncer was stabbed to death in an altercation arising from the recent smoking ban. I've already weighed in on the law here, but I would like to take this opportunity to remind y'all that no measure in history has ever stopped tobacco-smokers from getting their fix. Imperial Russia used to behead people for traffiking in nicotine. Pre-industrial England has similarly harsh penalties (later dropped when the American colonies became the #1 exporter) against the "stinking weed." Neither worked, though I imagine the pain of death made cigarettes something of an underground phenomina.

P.S. I'm linking to the post just to remind you all that it si out there and it is cheaper than a stamp and for the most part propaganda.

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