Friday, October 31, 2008

Humanitarian Catastrophe

Tens of thousands have been driven from refugee camps in Democratic Republic of the Congo. The camps were then looted and burned. 5 million people have died in the civil war there and, as anyone who's been paying attention knows, countless women and children have been raped, and worse (this report mentions forced incest and cannibalism, for example).

Oh, but there are some great Halloween Icons you can use on Twitter!

I'm feeling especially snide today.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

They'd do it, if they could

The other day I heard a story about experiments on monkeys that may prove beneficial to paralyzed humans. Seems that some scientists paralyzed these monkeys with drugs, stuck thin electrical wires into their brains, attached the wire to some sort of transformer which was then attached to a muscle in the monkey's wrist, and discovered that the monkey's could actually manipulate the wired wrist in this way, enabling them to play video games.

I'm more ambivalent about Man's dominion over the beasts of the field than the folks at PETA, but stories like this get me moving more swiftly in their direction. I don't have any problem with victims of paralysis volunteering for studies like this. In fact, I bet a good number of them would. But, this sort of experimentation just creeps me out. We are monkeys, for chrissakes. Would researchers perform studies like this on human slaves? Should they?

Talking with somebody about this story he said, "Well, they'd do it to us if they could." The Nietzschean notion that "life is will to power," and that domination of one species by another is the natural order of things, while not indisputable, certainly has an enduring appeal to which I admittedly have not always been immune. Still, it's not the case that predators hunt their prey of choice to extinction, or raise them for the purposes of exploitation and multi-faceted use. As far as I can tell, only humans and our alien masters do that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

John Coltrane and the Face of God

Listening to Coltrane's Settin' the Pace this morning. It's not one of his greatest hits and even the various jazz cd review books give it second tier status, but I really enjoyed it. "I See Your Face Before Me" is the lead track, an exquisite ballad that, I humbly believe, outshines the more famous "I Want to Talk About You" from Soultrane.

Still, saying this or that by Coltrane is better than this or that by Coltrane seems trivial and, frankly, beside the point (much like I found Ben Ratliff's book on Coltrane's sound). These are just opinions, after all, and vanity moreover. Who cares what you/I think about any particular work by this man? It's a mixture of hero-worship and elevation-by-association that frankly demeans the opiner by revealing a lamentable failure to listen.

I read an interview with Matisyahu once in which he pointed to the number of love songs out there as an indication of how much people are yearning for the love of God. Coltane's commitment to God makes me hear his ballads in the same way. The face he sees before him, is the face of God. The "you" he wants to talk about is You, My Lord.

Is all love the love of God? Should it be?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the perils of anonymity

i've maintained this blog in quasi-anonymity from the get-go. i've done this in part because I lead a public life on the web and, for some reason, i thought that i would be addressing subjects here that would not sit well with my employer or my role as public representative of his company. i'm not sure that i've entered into any territory that is overly controversial or patently offensive and, in fact, i start to wonder if this anonymity is more inhibitory than liberating.

it reminds me of an experience i had on second life some time ago. I had gotten into that v-world and started blogging about its potential as a marketing platform in my worklife. then i had a tryst with another avatar and realized that it would not have been difficult for "her" to find out who i was in "real" life, since a google search for my avatar name would have led "her" straight to me. so that i could then explore the dark digital underbelly of life, i created a new avatar and set off for my adventures. oddly enough, my carefully crafted masquerade actually made me feel more shy, as foolish as that may sound, in this world and, eventually, i stopped second life-ing altogether or, if I did go in for work purposes, i used my original "public" persona.

what am I afraid of? that people will know that i advocate the legalization of most drugs, even if it means that you must acquire a license to take some of them - psychedelics in particular? my thinking is that if people can demonstrate that they can deal responsibly with this stuff, why shouldn't they take it? you can own and use a handgun but you can't even possess LSD without committing a felony? that's just not right

i also think that the war on terrorism is bullshit and a thinly veiled, when it's veiled at all, power grab by the executive branch to do whatever it wants. neo-con guru frances fukuyama effectively stated that free markets and authoritarian government are not mutually exclusive and the war on terror, as it's sometimes called, is the perfect excuse to do anything you want.

terrorism doesn't exist, as I've mentioned here before. no one self-identifies as a terrorist - it's a label you get from an enemy. declaring a war along these lines means giving yourself carte blanche to go after anyone, etc.

again, what am i afraid of? this stuff seems tame or trivial

wait, THAT's what I was afraid of!!!! OH GOD NOOOOOOO!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

tell the truth

can we only tell the truth while masked? while hypnotized? unconscious?

"before too long then I was looking good, man, I was beautiful/i made believe that I could tell the truth to the whole wide world"

the truth is only make believe

the truth is always exactly what you think it is

the really real truth is more like the "ding an sich" - unknowable, by definition, ineffable, inescapable

are we capable of the truth, or incapable of it? incapacitated by it?

like I said, we always know exactly what the truth is

we never know

pure, uncut, the real deal, accept no substitutes - the uncanny connection between the truth and what is.

what is the truth? the truth is what is