"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Another Quickie

I'm headed up to PDX. Been back to the grindstone after enjoying a lovely christmas. I discovered that one excellent way to deal with my money problem is to give people things. This makes me feel good.

I'll spend the weekend in Portland, than fly to St. Louis for New Years. Hopefully closing this big project the week after. Then, Insha'Allah, I will take some actual vacation. Just about out of gas here.

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I rolled and rambled over the Santiam pass to the ranchy subdivision outside Bend where my father lives to visit with him, my step-mom, and my step-sister Tara and her two kids. Good times. I hadn't seen Tara in like seven years and it was really fantastic to catch up. She's a bonafide supermom and powerful professional person. She also has some deadly accurate astrology which is online somewhere and I will find a link too, for all y'all star-watchers.

It felt really positive to reconnect with that wing of the fam again. They hosted a dinner party for a bunch of neighbors, and it was fun to mix it up with a crowd of relative strangers for a bit, hear what other people thought of politics, etc.

The drive over was also an adventure in chains and a brief near-blizzard. Driving through the beauty of the cascades, fir tries laid down with snow, craggy peaks swirling out of the clouds; it's some big beautiful country, prime Northwest.

And I'm back in the Euge now, ducking in for a night after closing out some gift buying. There's something deeply unsettling to me about the consumer season. It seems different from when I was young, though I don't really know how much has changed. I do know that I fear and loathe the word "doorbuster."

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Another Rec

Oh man, for my drive up to Oregon I downloaded this Radio Open Source interview with Ken Burns by Chris Lydon, one of the great and stately warhorses of public-interest radio. I love listening to Chris do his crazy intellectual thing, and he consistently gets really interesting people to open up in interesting ways. His show is cool.

Anyway, Ken Burns talks about his WWII documentary "The War," which I haven't seen, and it's really an insanely great conversation. They spend minimal time talking about process and other stuff, as Lydon being pushing him on the dangers of nostalgia and sentimentality regarding the horrors of war. In response Burns goes on an improvisational 3-minute solliloquy about the higher emotional states which defy explanation or logic, the necessity of such transcendent forces in art, and the fact that if you want to receive this blessing, you have to risk both abject failure as well as collapse into sentimentality and simple nostalgia. He also has a great -- and vicious! -- attack on the corrosive nature of irony, and calls the History Channel the Hitler Channel. Bravo.

The listening experience left me with my head buzzing about Art with a capital A, and a new respect for Mr. Burns. Worthy.

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More Positive Political Perspective

Prof. Jeffery Feldman is one of the better individuals I've come into contact through politics. He's a thoughtful, eloquent and good-natured individual, with powerful intellect an ultra-keen ear for language. I just recently came across his campaign roundup post. It's a very good read, especially for someone fatigued and frustrated with the political process as I am.

Feldman basically takes a high-level view of how the major campaigns have been conducting themselves, looking at how they frame their appeals to voters. It's both prescient, and also much more engaging than the usual horserace or battle-of-accusations post.

For those wondering what this primary season has been all about, I suggest giving it a read.

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Here Comes The Rain Again

The rain is on, steady and heavy for the past two days. Listening to it fall in my bedroom reminds me of childhood home. It's peaceful and soothing as long as you've got a roof over your head, especially if there's also a fireplace going.

Things have been going really well. I'm stuck working though the holidays on an overdue project, but we're making steady progress and I've come to accept that it just needs to get done, stopped being angry at myself for letting it get out of hand and frustrated with the other cogs in the system. This too shall pass.

I had a really scary moment on Satuday. Trying to wrap things up and get ready for the party, I accidentally deleted some critical files. Luckily there are multiple backup systems in play, and very dependable people out there too. Nothing was actually lost, but for the twenty minutes or so it took to sort out, I found myself staring down the barrel of a truly colossal fuckup. Feeling that kind of weight made me realize my stresses and troubles now aren't so bad, and (silver lining ahoy!) it makes them that much easier to deal with.

Getting that crisis resolved to neatly sent me into the evening with a lightness in my spirit and a new energy for life. Contrast reveals. That feeling is carrying on, and I'm learning the practical truth of my words about the contagious nature of Love and other emotions. Attitude is infectious, and in any organization or relationship, we all feed back into one another, both positively and negatively.

It's a lot of responsibility, really. I'm reminded of a cheezy country anthem by Hank Williams Jr, and the traditional barroom call and response:

Why do you drink? _(To get drunk!)_

Why do you roll smoke? _(To get stoned!)_

Why must you live out them songs that you wrote? _(To get laid!)_

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So Saturday night I got back up on that art horse (which I've only been talking about for eight or nine months, so that's pretty good), and did a nice little talking piece at our christmas party talent show. [[T.S.L.|Text is here]]. It was very well received, and even though it was far from my best work, it was up to my own standards and I was pleased. I haven't shown off that side of myself too much since I moved out here, so it was nice to be able to let the artist out, to do something worthwhile with people's attention.

It turned out to be a more preachin' thing than I'd originally intended. That reading was latent in the verse and I'd just chosen not to rehearse it with that in mind, but the crowd responded on that wavelength, and our home in Westhaven was the original community church, so it seemed appropriate. It also made me realize the last time I did something performative I was officiating Frank and Laura's wedding.

Maybe I should just go with it, create myself a guru preacher character. I like being coy and vulnerable too much to go full out Reverend with it, but at the same time the form doesn't have to be so didactic, and it could really work for a lot of things.

To be honest, as an adult I've always equated art with religion. My training tended towards the ritual and having come up without a conventional religious framework, the process of creativity and the divinity of Really Good Performance/Product are what underpin any personal notions I have of mysticism and magic. It's a human and social thing for me, the moments the acts evoke. It's old-time; clap hands and all.

Anyway, it left me more exhausted than ever, but feeling high and mighty in my soul.

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The following text was first performed on 12/15/2007 at the inaugural Westhaven Christmas party as part of the talent portion of the evening. It's delivered in the manner of a sermon -- Westhaven was originally a community church -- but hopefully with enough interplay on it to not be didactic, to be and honest and persuasive expression of the ideas presented.

More on Internet Empowerment

This is a good follow-on to the bit I quoted from _Air Guitar_ earlier. Someone at PBS had the brains to interview my former comrade Zephyr Teachout to talk about the internets and politics this cycle, comparing and contrasting Dean For America with The Ron Paul Revolution. It's an extremely good interview:

NOW: Could you talk about how that sense of connection to the candidate is determined by the way the campaign treats them?

ZT: I could answer to two real possibilities with politics on the Internet. One is that you use the Internet as a massive and really effective marketing tool. You build massive databases, you learn everything you can about the people in those databases, you figure out exactly how they can be useful to your campaign, and you ask them to donate money, door-knock, the virtual equivalent of being a sort of army of stamp lickers.

And you may be useful as a supporter in such a campaign. But you're not gonna have a pretty deep identification in the campaign. It's clear that you're taking your marching orders from Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney. That they have figured out how you can be useful.

The other latent possibility is that it enables groups of people to come together—offline and online, outside of the campaign, do their own scheming, do their own thinking, and take real responsibility for the strategy and the policy of the candidate or group that you're supporting.

Almost all the candidates, this cycle, have tended strongly towards the managerial use of the Internet.


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Math Rules Us All

More Huckabee stuff. It's a shame there aren't interesting movements in the Democratic race to write about. But anyway, check this out:

Iowa polls

People in business (or other worlds where Popularity Matters) know what that kind of curve means (the green line). It means you've got true hot-shit exponential growth going on. The Dean campaign had that for a while; Huckabee has it now, at least in Iowa.

However, the institutional forces are arraying against him, and the GOP has a history of putting down outsider upstarts who win an early primary (c.f. McCain, John and Buchannan, Paddy). There's also plenty of time for the Huckster's fortunes to reverse in Iowa, and with it being a caucus, and Romney spending the big cash, I would expect the MormBot to outperform his polling. Professional organizers matter a lot when %0.01 of the population participates and the process is arcane.

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My room's a mess, but I don't care
I'm tired of sitting at my desk
You can't bother me
I'm far away from you
Got to get away
You can't ruin my day
You can't tell me what to do
You can't make me think I love you

Shoot it in the arm, you can't hurt me
I'm on my way to Catalina
And I'm not going to read your books
My tank's full of squid
And it's getting light
And you whores, you can't make me want
'Cause I got all the fish I need
On the deck of my boat
And you can't take my heart when I'm here
'Cause it's a long swim home
For your cute little arms

I'll steal some gas, fix my motor
Put on my Beatles tape
And get you out of my head
Get you out of my head

Ah yes, here I am, far away from everyone
And the only fish I smell
Is on the back of my boat
I want to go but my motor's broken
There's no scotch tape, I'm out of gas,
So it looks like I'm stuck here

I'll steal some gas, fix my motor
Put on my Doors tape
And get you out of my head
Get you out of my head

Sort of an anthem for my love life for the past year and a half. Not necessarily a great thing, but it's a fuckin' rockin' song.

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