"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

The Zeitgeist On Wall St

Following on my last post, I wanted to collect some thoughts on the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protest, which has rapidly grown more interesting. Today, for instance, instead of biking to Golden Gate Park and seeing some of the great free music, I watched mass arrests of hundreds of marchers who made their way onto the south (bklyn-bound) lane of the Brooklyn bridge where they were kettled by the NYPD. Live on the internet. Pretty high drama, but it's possibly quite a lot bigger than that.

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DIY Campaigning

I've been tracking these efforts for a while. It's going to shake things up. A lot.

Fun times ahead.

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Notes from the plane back from Austin

The real problem is that I don't get along with a lot of tech people. It reminds me of how when I was in acting school I found I didn't like many actors. Here I am in a space, a culture, a zone where I seem to be getting some traction, and I'm increasingly frustrated with my nominal peers.

In particular I find the crossover between geeks, hipsters and entrepreneurs — a flavor that runs strong in SF — to be especially nettlesome. There's a kind of passive-aggressive form of snobbish competition which emerges around these kinds of people, a sort of nerd machismo. I don't really have time in my life to contend with machismo, and the un-manly brand is just annoying.

Cue the record-scratch sound effect. There's an undeniably enormous element of "I am the things I hate about other people" at work here. I'm a geek, entrepreneur, hipsterish in style, and possessed of my own stinky brand of macho bullshit. The opinion-piece colliery to thinly-veiled autobiographical content is perhaps thinly-veiled self-loathing?

Maybe, but there's also something particular to my structural-hole-bridging personality that I think prevents me from really clicking into a truly deep groove with any given set of people. My persona is playing twister with the universe, and I've always got a food or a hand on some other dot. Never all at home.

It's an old gripe. There's not much I can do about this but live through it, to keep transcending whatever games I can. Noticing things one hates about oneself in others is a growing moment once you realize that's what's going on, and opportunities are created every time I can see my way past one of these things, to a higher purpose or more integrated whole. This is where you level up as a person, I think.

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Easy. You Know, The Way It's Supposed To Be?

Hippy music, please:

One of my most important original philosophical catchphrases is "The Most Important Thing Is To Stop Struggling." It's something I remind myself of frequently as my career goes through its whips twists and turns. Sometimes you find yourself in one of those situations where everything seems hard, impossible to begin on, just overwhelming. Sort of like being waist-deep in rubble.

Often the short term answer is to roll up your sleeves and dig out, because this is sometimes a devastatingly effective cheap psychological trick. That pile of dirty dishes never takes as long as it feels like it'll take, for instance.

But, then there are the times where you feel constantly like you're getting reset to that buried state, where you're beating your head against the wall, doing the Sisyphus shuffle. When you notice that, it's time to take a breath, look around, and see where/how/when to move laterally. Because as much as life is unfair, and full of adversity and strife and honest-to-goodness challenges, it's also supposed to be — like the CSNY song there — sort of Easy.

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Consider The Alternatives

Apropos the previous posts about political power-grabbing and whistful public longing, and after a quick trip through the Jon Robb link farm, another thought I'd like to log for the register: in this crazy modern era of ours, in which the existing system is fumbling more than the San Diego Chargers, how long before we really start to think outside the box. Like waaaaay outside the box.

For instance, just off the top of my head:

My parents generation was willing to question pretty basic assumptions about how they were supposed to live. It didn't all work out, but it was a worthy exercise I believe. I think my generation is in an even more (potentially) radical space, thanks to these here internets. Not only can we interconnect with like-minded folks around the world with unprecedented ease, we can self-publish, self-learn, and figure What Actually Works in ways that were completely unthinkable to previous generations.

It looks bleak in some ways, but in other ways it looks pretty bright and wide open. Bears remembering.

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Greatness Requires Discipline

I'm an opponent to conspiracy theories, see them as disempowering distractions which create endless rationalizations for complacency. At the same time, I am an unabashed fan of conspiring. It's my own little paradox of proactivity: don't waste your time trying to unravel a hidden coterie behind why the world is what it is, just get busy making your own.

Spent last night talking Redneck Socialism over pizza and beer with Face and The Girth. We're bandying the ideas of rolling up on California's Canada and implementing a takeover. Prosperous though our lives have become here, the golden state feels like barren ground for the revolution, and we've sometimes a great notion there's an opportunity to do something more than live what passes for the bourgeois American Dream (home ownership, retirement savings, etc) in this 21st Century. At the risk of some material comforts, we can be heroes. After all, risk is our business.

As Eric Schlosser points out, it's been liberals attempting to "look tough" who are largely responsible for the prison industrial complex. This kind of hollowness, this essentially immasculine fear of appearing weak, the willingness to do truly terrible things to literally millions of people... this is the quintessential malaise which infects the contemporary Democratic party, and prevents real reform.

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The Feeling Begins

First of all, some mood music.

Lord I just want my life to be true
And I just want my heart to be true
And I just want my words to be true
I want my soul to feel brand new

I want to hold hands yeah
Yeah and I want make love
I want to keep running all day and and all night
Even when my mind tells my body that's enough

And I want to stand up yeah and I want to stand tall
If I ever have a son, if I ever have a daughter
I don't want to tell them that I didn't give my all

I just finished reading Jonathan Franzen's first novel, Twenty Seventh City. It's a really wonderful story of political intrigue and personal neurosis, and there's a killer line towards the end from the perspective of a young woman upset with her somewhat pedantic boyfriend: "Suddenly she was living in a new world made for people like him, for people who can despise it and succeed in it anyway."

(man, google books is cool)

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Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery

Via Atrios we bounce to BoingBoing:

The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to "national security" concerns, has leaked. It's bad.

There are several parallel struggles going on right now to define the form and structure of the 21st Century economy both globally and here in Estados Unidos. Some are in the headlines (health care, transitioning off carbon-based energy and dealing with climate change, reforming finance) and a couple other big ones are not.

The two things which fly under the radar are that classic favorite, the military industrial complex, which is verboten for polite political discussion, and the struggle to define the balance of power around information. In this latter struggle, we have some real choices to make, and they're pretty important.

If something like this treaty goes through, the future looks pretty damn dim for internet-enabled innovation, culture, and industry. In essence, the treaty denies non-creators any meaningful ability to "own" the information contained within products they purchase. It also creates highly restrictive requirements for "policing" infringement which will create enormous legal overhead for what are today simple staples of online life (e.g. forget about Flickr or Youtube).

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Future Vision

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