"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

You Become What You Hate

Another politics post, this time to note something techy about how campaigns use email. Previously, I'd said mean things about Team Obama for sending out a message "from a supporter" to a much wider subset of their email list. Today, the Dodd campaign used another SpamKing tactic, faking an apparent "mistake email" as a gimmick to get people to donate.

This stuff may work in bringing in the dough, but I really hate it. Creating the illusion of peer-to-peer contact (in Obamas case) or of an unfiltered "behind the scenes" look into a campaign (as Dodd's email does) undermines the most important virtuous things I like to think teh internets can bring to a Democracy.

You know, people want real connections, they want to know what's really going on, and instead of actually engaging, these tactics prey on that desire. They're false in very important ways, and they undermine the hope that such things as an egalitarian and transparent society are really possible, even in a networked era.

It calls to mind this quote from George Meyer (the most influential of all the Simpsons writers) in a Believer interview:

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Burn Media Burn

I really do hope the political press collapses under its own corpulence this election cycle. The DC corps a glorified highschool cafeteria, and it's problematic for a democracy. Papers and networks and journalists will be around forever, but the current configuration simply shouldn't persist. Recent evidence:

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Freedom is the Devil's Handshake

On the topic of "the Good Old Days," I have some semi-strong feelings. I'm as dubious of nostalgia as the next guy, and while I love the process of maturation, I fear and loathe the narrative of "getting old." I have all sorts of fun memories of more free, innocent, wild and irresponsible times. Good times. Fun. Naturally given a more regularized, orderly, and subdued existence memories of pure fun are attractive, but those aren't really what I'd call "the Good Old Days."

What I look back on with envy are the times in my life when I really knew what I wanted, and felt like I was getting it, in both the big and little pictures -- times when it could be reasonably argued that I was, indeed, "living the dream." That's what I'm talking about.

My early 21st-Century dreams may have been unrealistic, hazy, naive and fraught with delusions of grandeur, they were still pretty awesome, and to be perfectly honest I don't feel like my dreams were wrong; I feel as though I failed in bringing them to reality. In spite of my (best?) efforts things didn't work out, and in a series of dark skirmishes over 2003-04 the purest hopes I can go on record as ever possessing were all put to rest.

It can and has been said that I just need to get over it, and in some ways I have, but this is my history. It colors everything I do. It is why I am the man I am. I'm not trying to throw a pity party -- objectively I know I'm lucky, and doing quite well -- but I do wonder why, when talking with my two best friends and finally getting down to a level, I don't have much positive to say for myself.

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Return to Resthaven

Well, I'm back in the HC. I cracked my laptop exactly once over the holidays, and wrote in my paper journal (the blog for an audience of one, at least until I'm dead) twice. That's what I call vacation, people!

As often happens when you get a weekend after many days of straight work, I really enjoyed having some time off. Contrasts.

It was especially nice to visit so many fine folks I haven't seen in some time. Big FriendsGiving was a huge success, both in terms of feasting and the follow-on living room dancefloor / porch hangout extravaganza. Made me realized I haven't been to a bonafide house party since we hosted the Country Soul Carnival Cruise up here.

I once again felt mad love for Portland, which reminds me a lot of good old post-9/11 North Brooklyn, before the third wave of gentrification really got rolling, and I got some inspiration for my Westhaven Christmas Talent Show performance piece. I think it'll be a good one in the old Axiom pep-talk style. My working title is "The First Love Is Self Love," which was a fortune cookie I got once, and it's true both with and without the "in bed" suffix.

Greater rhapsodies are coming, but unfortunately I have to take off my po' boho pomo mofo hat and get back to work.

This song is my current inner sound-track: Uptight Jet (the Kleptones).

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Escape Velocity

Made it away from work and to the Euge. Tomorrow me and LGD will head up to Portland for a weekend of Thanksgiving and other festivities. Should be fun.

I'm very much looking forward to four whole days with no work. It seems like too few!

The drive up had some nice vistas, and listening to music all the way on my newly-replaced car stereo got me thinking nostalgic and bohemian. It's been an interesting decade since I left home to make my way in the world. I've done a lot of things, a lot of good things, fun things, growing things, maybe even one or two important things, yet it's unclear what they add up to or where this is all headed.

I certainly feel lucky to have had the life I've had, but I also feel this pressure to make it count, to put together the pieces of the puzzle. I worry that I'm going to get more and more tired and bland and "meh" forever, that it's all downhill from here, that I'm burned out, all dead inside, or just too jaded and self-conscious to really swim in the river of life anymore. Swirling down in a whirl of ennui and anomie and other vowel-strewn monikers for running low on moxie.

It's a dark future, the neurotic. Hopefully that's not what's going to happen. The best way I know to get through this mess is to share it with people, to try and get caught up in the world, to get strong and rested and healthy, to have fun and make art and go to parties, to be open and let the universe really get at my inner workings. That takes some courage, but hopefully I'm up for it.

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All Of This Has Happened Before

So, as you may have heard, Atlanta is running out of water, and nobody really seems to know what will happen if the unthinkable occurs and drought persists for another two months. But it's not as if this is really a new thing.

It seems like somehow in the latter part of the 20th Century, we in the US lost track of the fact that we're actually quite small and powerless in the face of macro-scale events. Droughts and other disasters (some of them manmade) have always happened, and will happen again, but we've forgotten this. We seem to believe too deeply in our exceptionalism, that we're somehow exempt from history and the cruel twitches of fortune.

As Bukowski said, "The trouble with these people is that their cities have never been bombed.". We have no feel for loss. We've constructed massive metropolises -- the fastest growing in the nation -- in the middle of deserts. There were dead cities in the same places when white people first got here. It's a failure of history and memory; hubris.

As Dick Cheney said, "The American way of life is not negotiable," and indeed it seems literally inconceivable to our leadership class that shit might not work out. I find this baffling and sad.

Politically I think this is part and parcel with the rise of post-modern conservatism. It's a particular blend of resource-intensive, non-scalable, non-sustainable infrastructure -- think exurbs, big lawns, etc -- coupled with a paradoxically anti-government philosophy (juiced with reactionary cultural backlash, of course).

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Two Words: Chuck Norris

This is clever stuff from the Huckster. He's had a lot of trouble raising money, but is starting to gain ground in recent Iowa polling. I do honestly think he would be the most formidable Republican candidate. His ideas are generally bad (National Sales Tax! Outlaw Abortion!) but his presentation is incredibly disarming. Unlike il Rudy -- who is sufficiently obvious in his megalomaniacal insanity -- and Romney -- who's equally clearly a used-car salesman at heart -- I think Huckabee's calm and earnest manner would probably sell very well in a country suffering from Bush Fatigue.

He comes off like your best friends square dad: kind of a downer stick in the mud, but not in a way that you initially/actively dislike, plus he wrote a book on weight loss. He's the aw-shucks Republican, the only really "feel-good" candidate on right. It would be a challenging contrast to the pragmatic effectiveness of Sen. Clinton, and I daresay he'd out-grin Obama or Edwards. Hopefully the antipathy towards his candidacy from the Money People will nip it in the bud.

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On A Lighter Note...

James Lipton: French Pimp.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel (?)

The law of diminishing returns is kicking in. This is the third straight weekend worked through, which is something I don't really mind terribly -- I've gone months and months like this before -- but which I recognize as questionable in effectiveness over time. If all you do is work, it's easy to slide into a mode of semi-constant semi-production: there's nothing to look forward to at the end of a task but the next task, so you don't really dig in and focus the way you might if, say, you had a big fun trip planned once work was done.

Yeah, 12 hour days at 66% productivity; belly up to the desk and stare into your pint of workahol, rummy. This is how so many "professional" people end up with broken relationships and no social life, I think, and it's frightening to see it might be happening to me.

Life is contrasts, a holy waltz of experience. Change is the only thing we can perceive. I believe it's true on a literal/micro level, and more importantly at a philosophical meta/macro level too. The feeling you get from moving fast isn't the speed itself, it's the delta, the change. It's physics. Force equals mass times acceleration, the difference in the velocity-vector over time. That's what we feel.

Which is a highfalutin way of saying I've been more than a little rut-stuck lately, and rolling with the dayjob 24/7 isn't helping much. I feel numb and restless. It was a convenient distraction at first, a nice excuse to shut out petty personal problems, but now we're down to the grind, and the pressure is throwing all my psychic flaws into sharper relief than ever. I'm struggling. The most important thing is to stop struggling.

Things I'm spinning my wheels over:

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Writers on Strike

If you haven't seen this already, give it a peep. It's quite funny and good. I never made any effort to get into the entertainment unions, but as someone who has paid his/her rent from time to time with my cultural production, I would like to express my solidarity with the writers.

One big union, bitches.

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