"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Out In The Streets, They Call It Murder

See, this is why I think there's something to be said for the New Freedom Movement: the Pirate Bay is the first site I've seen rocking the "free Burma" banner.

Monks and students in Rangoon, Burma (or Yangon, Myanmar as the dictators would have it) protesting their cruel military Junta. They're calling it The Saffron Revolution. We don't see much about this on the TeeVee, but Al Jazeera is on the scene. So was a Japanese photojournalist, who got himself murdered:

The last time this happened over there, the military killed a few thousand students. Hopefully it won't go down like that, but who knows. There's not much I can think of for people here to do for people there, but if you feel the cause of freedom, you can stay informed at least.

There's also this: US Campaign for Burma.

When it comes to information, the rules are changing:

Read More

Catch The Show

My old buddy Robin Jacksaphone is blowing through with his traveling band, the Vagabond Opera. They've been doing a west-coast circuit for the past couple years, and are getting really tight. There's some great musical virtuosity and showmanship on display. Highlights include Skip the judo master of the Cello and the opera battles (really!) between Eric and Leslie. Everyone's got zazz.

Watching their show last night reminded me what talent really means, and how performance can be a transcendent act. You look at someone differently after seeing that kind of thing transpire; the rockstar effect. There were parts in this show where I would involuntarily/incredulously drop my jaw, that made the top of my head tingle. And now I have a teenage schoolgirl band crush on Leslie, of course. She sings some songs in French!

Anyway, this was the opening night of their tour, so things just get better. The rest of the dates are:

  • September 27th: Petaluma, CA
  • September 28th: Sutter Creek, CA
  • September 29th: Santa Cruz, CA
  • October 1st: Monterey, CA
  • October 2nd: Los Angeles, CA
  • October 4th: Alta Dena, CA (Los Angeles)
  • October 5th: Santa Monica, CA
  • October 6th: San Diego, CA
  • October 7th: San Francisco, CA
  • October 9th: Berkeley, CA
  • October 10th: Ashland, OR
  • October 12th: Portland, OR

Details on their website. I strongly recommend the SF show, which will be at Amnesia, which will be a great venue for them.

At a higher level, as my friends and cohorts move on through their paths in life -- careers, PhDs, families, etc -- it's really amazing to see the wonderful things people get into. It makes me want to step my own scene up a notch.

Read More

One Laptop Per Child

I will buy this.

If you want they have an email reminder form.

There's some coverage in the NYT:

bq.. One of the machines will be given to a child in a developing nation, and the other one will be shipped to the purchaser by Christmas. The donated computer is a tax-deductible charitable contribution. The program will run for two weeks, with orders accepted from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26.


The machines have high-resolution screens, cameras and peer-to-peer technology so the laptops can communicate wirelessly with one another. The machine runs on free, open source software. “Everything in the machine is open to the hacker, so people can poke at it, change it and make it their own,” said Mr. Bender, a computer researcher. “Part of what we’re doing here is broadening the community of users, broadening the base of ideas and contributions, and that will be tremendously valuable.”

p. Think of it as something to do for the revolution.

Read More

Red Dawn Roundup

Stories jumping out of the news today. The undercurrent of Doom is running strong again. I preach a dark future! And the overarching theme seems to be "things are worse than we thought."

Did you know that an area of arctic ice roughly the size of Texas and California combined has melted over the past two years? Sucks to be a polar bear:

bq. "If there is no summer sea ice, then there will be no ice- based Arctic ecosystem," Ben Stewart, a spokesman for Greenpeace U.K., said today in a telephone interview. "It's the canary in the coalmine: the impacts of climate change seem to be happening faster than the scientists predicted a few years ago."

On the upside, we can ship imported crap around much faster now, so we can get baby-killing toys and cribs and pet-killing food all that much faster and more efficiently from China, and there might even be more oil under the North Pole! Yippie!

bq.. But the melting ice could open opportunities, including a shortcut for commercial ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Already, some ships have breezed through the 5,100-km Northwest Passage in weeks instead of years, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

A thawing Arctic, however, may increase tension among five countries (Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway), which have competing claims to the North Pole. A quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources lie in the Arctic, according to the US Geological Survey.

p. That's just peachy. You can see how this unfolds: strange arctic wargames against the Russians as millions of inhabitants of coastal North America migrate to the newly-balmy regions of Saskachewan and Manitoba. Montreal is the new Miami!

Read More

It's A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock and Roll

It's the last day of summer, a summer of many scenes, travel, exploration, some hard yards. You learn things about yourself, things you didn't even know you didn't know, those fabled unknown unknowns.

You might come back from Mexico and discover from your roommates that you displayed a rather more zesty case of wedding-fever the other weekend than was previously known. It's all second-hand knowledge because you honesty don't remember yourself, and it sounds kind of tawdry, but making out with your friends' ex-girlfriends is a staple of Portland culture, so it's all good, right? Right.

One just like the other, Sin's a Good Man's Brother.

You might have your friends from Burning Man roll through, and go on and on about your square-ass work history over pre-dinner cocktails, and find out that the one you had an eye for already has a man back home. It's all in the game, but would you have found this out if you handn't had a burned-up hand and talked a bit more pretty? Might it have played differently, more like you'd hoped? The world may never know, but you try not to stress it. You resonated. That's rare and true and more than enough.

It's been two good years since I've felt clear like I'm starting to, back around the last time I returned to Brooklyn, post-Vagabender, starting up as a legitimate young man. I found myself a pretty nice girlfriend then, or maybe she found me (as has tended to be my m.o.), but regardless we had a pretty good thing for six months or so in Park Slope. The Belle do Mois. As has also tended to be my m.o., I got lured away by another bright sweet one, a real peach, and then I moved to the hills of California and didn't come back, lost her too. I wonder in hindsight what was really behind that decision to run.

Read More

The End Is Nigh

Want to know a sign that the Big D is on the way? Watch the money:

bq. Canada's dollar traded almost equal to the U.S. currency for a second day amid optimism economic growth will be fueled by surging demand for the commodities... The currency rose above $1 yesterday for the first time since November 1976.

Currently it's a $0.999. Meanwhile, as atrios has noted, the Euro is closing in on a buck fiddy. Fed Chairman Bernake says the worst has yet to come:

bq. Losses from sub-prime mortgages have far exceeded "even the most pessimistic estimates", US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has said.

And then (via Franz) there's this:

bq. Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signalling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East.

I've been following all this in my own nerdy way, and it looks like most of the bullish pushback against claims of instability are evaporating. Our debt-based economy can't roll on much longer as currently configured.

The upside for me is that I work in an international market on a product that has a very strong European base, so all of a sudden I'm cheap labor to those people. Heck, I may be cheap labor to those socialists up in Canada soon.

Read More

The Update

I made use of my health insurance for the first time ever today, visiting the Mckinleyville clinic and getting the thumbs-up (and some American antibiotics) from the docs there. They say everything is looking good, which is a relief. I'm looking forward to being back at 100%, but it's another week at least.

Still playing catch-up on a lot of fronts. Work is drinking from a fire-hose. Some friends we made at Burning Man (girls! oooh girls!) are dropping by tomorrow, which is exciting. Fall is definitely on the way here, with cooler temperatures and windy days and leaves starting to flutter on down. We're going to need firewood soon.

Also, I'm bummed to be missing out on Drupalcon Barcelona. I got a little Skype message from Alex Barth the other night, links me to some photos. It sounds pretty awesome. More than 400 people in attendance, and apparently the conference facilities are primo. Lots of nerdy action reports on Drupal Planet these days if you're so inclined.

Read More

Back In 'Merica!

Well I have returned to American soil, LAX to be specific. I've got a nice four-hour layover before I can catch a wing up to Portland, hop in my truck, drive down to the Euge to crash out at my mom's house, then get up at 7 and hit the road for the HC on Monday.

My handMy hand and arm are healing steadily. It's looking more gnarly than ever as you can see, thanks to the fact that we've reached the "crack n' peel" part of the process. I'm trying to keep the outer layer on as long as I can but all it takes is a bump or jostle to create a new grisly-looking sting spot. I'm covering these with ointment as they appear, which is helping, and the areas that came exposed yesterday are showing promise. It just needs some more time, but I feel increasingly like a freak walking around with my hamburger-hand here in the first world.

Speaking of the first world... some thoughts from Baja

My experience with medical care, where I was able to roll into a clinic at 8pm, get treated right away, get antibiotics and a prescription anti-inflammatory, and walk out paying $14.50 total stands in sharp contrast to your typical US ER experience. I wouldn't want Benito to perform surgery on me -- until he's finished his studies, that is -- but the truth is that the majority of urgent healthcare concerns aren't on that scale. In spite of what Michael Crichton's brilliant TV series would suggest, not everything you'd go to the ER for really requires a hospital. Throughout Baja I saw lots and lots of small "24 medical emergency" clinics; storefront type operations, really. This decentralization of urgent care seems like a good idea. Jamming everyone who needs quick attention into one place creates all sorts of problems. Maybe there's something to be learned here.

Read More

Manos? Hands Of Fate?

Well, things have been going pretty well here in La Ventana. Life moves more slowly south of the border, but there's a lot to be said for being perched aside the sea of Cortez in a spacious concrete compound, carrying on our merry way with a homebrewed point-to-point wireless internet link. It's not the office, and it's not home, but it sure is something.

Zacker speared a fish, and so did Farsheed, and we cooked 'em and they were good. Matt has started his idiosyncratic observation of Ramadan. Kevin (aka "the new guy") brought his kick-ass mountain bike and has been exploring the local trails.

I, on the other hand (ho ho ho), have been learning about oven safety:

Now, let me say up front that I am fine. I have a taste for posting grisly pictures of my injuries, it's true, but this is far from the worst thing that's ever happened to me. Our boy Benito, who's the medical student assigned to La Ventana for a year of service before going to specialize in surgery in Mexico City, took excellent care of me, and 36 hours later I'm already back to typing with both hands. Full recovery is anticipated and expected.

Read More

Six Years Later

Sadly, six years later still feels a lot like one year later:

bq. I can't help but think that a raw wound has a lot more use to those in power than a healed one, and while I don't believe that there's some vast conspiracy with malicious intent to keep the American people in a constant state of worry and fear, I do believe that's something the media does. I don't believe that Bush, Cheney and Co. are really evil people, but I do believe in the seductive power of subconscious desire, the human ability to rationalize. I certainly don't trust these people to do the right thing. They don't represent my interests or share my view of the world. They're not doing what I would do, and I don't believe in the end that they know better than me.

In some important ways things have changed. I certainly no longer feel like an island of rational dissent adrift in a sea of vengeful insanity -- that's one nice thing -- but the sense of utter frustration and resentment towards our political leadership and opinion-shaping elite persists.

On days when I think big and let myself remember, my gut feeling is still for ¡revolucion!. These morons and cowards -- and that includes most of the figureheads I will end up supporting politically, most likely -- have been fucking things up left and right for six years running, with no end in sight. They don't deal in honest public dialog and their perception of the challenges we face not only as a nation but as a motherfucking species is, frankly, retarded.

Logistically it would be nearly impossible, but I think sometimes we'd be better off cleaning the slate and starting something new. I don't believe a popular movement will form to do this anytime soon, but a slow downward spiral into the Red Dawn might, our Empire collapsing like a flan left too long in the cupboard.

Read More