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Wednesday, February 28. 2007
I've been on-and-off following Ze Frank for quite a long time now, I wasn't exactly ground floor, but I was pretty early into it. The thing with Ze, is that as the show--the story even--progressed, he invited more and more contributions. A wiki, an earth sandwich, show intros, power moves... but the culmination is when Ze himself appears to have been affected by a song sung by a Preacher to his daughter, titled "I'm about to whip somebodys ass".
This song spawned countless numbers of remixes. A video was created. Okay .. get this, a video was story boarded by a member of the "audience", then another member (or the same one?) offered portrait skeches to anyone who would help fill in the video. The video was made, and suddenly, this Ray, this unsuspecting hyper-intelligent preacher now finds the trajectory of his life shifted, as he is inundated with countless versions of his song, in audio and even video format.
But people's lives are forever changed because of this song as well. If life, work, or whatever is just stressful...
Hum it to yourself.
You know the words.
Which leads me to say... over and over again: it's just a video blog, right?
Look, there is no denying, judging by the traffic that hits ZeFrank.com/org that his work has changed people, but if you watch the show, you can see how people change his work. An intro, a question in the forum. Creativity and culture just building and building on itself.
This is culture.
This is our culture re-inventing itself. There is no discussion about copyright. Its as if the contributors, Ray, Ze, the Sports Racers are all too busy inventing culture to worry about that shit. I am too, so that is enough of THAT particular hobby horse.
So on todays Ze, he flies to St. Louis to present Ray with a bunch of materials that the Sports Racers--the watchers of the show, more on this a little later too--have built for Ray, as tokens of gratitude. As you watch the show, you learn all kinds of interesting things about Ray. He is an anthropologist, a psychologist, a healer. He has long views. Just go watch the show.
Okay, so everything comes full circle at this point right? Like, Ray changes the sports racers life with his song, they change his life. It actually kinda brings a tear to my eye, total strangers are doing really deeply positive things for eachother. When I think about the kind of world I want Harmony to grow up in, this is the kind of world I think of.
Now the thing about Ze, is that he is almost through. In march, the show is officially over. I don't know if the wiki will still be around, or if the archives will still be around. I am going to guess that they will, so if you joined the game late, well shit, don't worry, just pick a few shows, and dive in. I have a few favorites, go check em out.
The thing is, that what will be around is a bunch of people who are used to, and demand that their media is 2 way. It's not enough to passively sit back and consume a the show, but it is instead about contributing to it. StrongBad emails are funny because of the encouragement to send StrongBad an email, because it's the interaction that really makes it funny and gives it its spark.
It makes people passionate. When you're that involved in the remixes for Ray project, it shows through in what you do and what you create. Ze's passion comes out in his work, and it infects everyone.
And now, he's made a social networking site about awesomeness, projects, and connections.
So a Project like "Remixes for Ray" which is totally awesome can grow feet a little easier, and then take off.
Maybe we can find more Rays. And I think that is important right now.
Like I said. The show is ending. According to the mythology--yes, this show has a mythology--because a giant baby has been born, the apocalypse is coming soon. Not only that, but Ze's internments into the league of awesomeness is coming to a close--again according to the mythology. But heres the thing, the sports racers believe the mythology. They do, they believe in the apocalypse more then 90% of the Christians, Muslims, Atheists, or Buddhists believe in their token world(limiting)view. They know its absurd, and revel in the absurdity of it all and, like I said, use it as a spring board to create, and I mean really, seriously create Culture. It is a Culture I can get behind. And these fanatical Sports Racers, Racing their Sports, with their Power Moves can all get in contact with each-other.
This is powerful stuff I think. I think Ze has unleashed upon the internet an interesting phenomenon that starts to link together people on the internet. Not in the mid 90's computers-are-being-linked kind of way, not in the yet-another-social-networking-service way where it is just a big popularity contest. But in linking together people who create, because all create. He has created a monster, and he is ready to unleash his hordes across the universe.
Tuesday, May 23. 2006
Thursday, February 23. 2006
About the title...
In the 80's, the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) had this horrible ad campaign called "Break Free!" which was to encourage people to quit smoking and taking drugs. It was horrible in that special way that Canadian governmental propaganda from the 80's can be.
So it was totally awesome in its funky horror.
Just so that we are all on the same page here, I've quit smoking a grand total of 3 times. The first time I quit for around 2-3 months, but I eventually broke down and smoked one cig, then two cigs, and eventually gave up quitting. The second time I quit. I mean really quit. 2 1/2 years or something similar. Now I am quitting for a 3rd time.
I am getting pretty good at quitting smoking. I just need to learn to stay quit, thats all. Here are a couple of interesting coping strategies that I have picked up over the years.
First the basics:
- Quit. Just quit. Don't try and ease yourself off cigs, don't try the patch, or gum, or any of that shit. You are addicted, physically, and quite likely psychologically to the nicotine. If you keep exposing yourself to it, then you aren't doing yourself any favours.
- Limit your exposure to the temptation. It is much easier to resist the temptation to smoke when there isn't anyone smoking right in front of you. after a month or two you should be at the point where the idea of a cigarette makes you sick, or just doesn't interest you.
- Remember that the benefits to quitting smoking happen an hour after you quit, and keep on happening up to 15 years after you quit.
- If you smoke due to an oral fixation, use other things to help deal with the oral aspect. Gum, pencils, etc.
- Your last cig should be the last cigarette of the night. That means you sleep through the first 6-12 hours of non-smoking.
- Allow yourself some over-indulgence of your other vices. Within reason of course. If you drink coffee, don't be afraid to drink a little more coffee then normal. Whatever helps take the edge off. Be careful about this; if you end up becoming a raging alcoholic because you quit smoking, you've slid backwards, not forwards.
It's all mental baby
Quitting smoking is all mental. I mean, sure your body craves nicotine for a little while, but the bodily cravings are tolerable. With this in mind, you can approach quitting smoking with the proper frame of mind that hopefully means less stress for you, your friends and your family. One thing to consider is that smoking is ritualized. Taking the cigarette out of the pack, lighting it, and smoking it all constitute an elaborate ritual. As human beings, we live and thrive on ritual and routine. Consider replacing the ritual of smoking with some other tiny ritual. Another thing about smoking is that it gives you a break when you normally wouldn't. Don't be afraid to give yourself little breaks to run off and hide from the code, the dishes, or even the child. Just because you quit the smoking, doesn't mean you quit the break.
One thing that helped for me has been to listen to entirely too much Alan Watts. In fact, I usually have 2 audio-player instances running, one doing Alan Watts, and the other doing some kinda combined play list of Downtempo and Atmospheric Drum 'n Bass. Good stuff.
The best help comes frim my wife, and my friends. If they weren't there to help support my non-smoking, then it wouldn't be nearly as easy. Hearing "I'm so proud of you" from your wife makes it so much easier to stay positive about not smoking.
Another idea to help you quit is meditation. It may not be your cup o tea, but believe it or not, it can help. My friend Jen suggested the Tibetan Tong Len (sending and taking) form of meditation:
Normally, we are not very concerned about others. Because of this, we have developed this very strong belief in the "I." From this arises all our emotional negativity. To eliminate all our emotional negativity and thoughts of "I," we have to learn how to train our mind which can be done by sending and taking meditation. Sending and Taking (Tib. tong len) meditation is meant to help us develop a pure attitude by diminishing our involvement with ourselves and increasing our thoughts of others. Sending and taking meditation will help us develop bodhicitta[sic], (fn 12) the aspiration to achieve Buddhahood for the sake of all beings. In this practise[sic] we exchange our happiness for the unhappiness and suffering of other beings. This meditation is also connected with breathing. When we exhale, we imagine that we send a very bright light which goes out to reach all beings. This white light represents all our happiness, everything that is good in our life. We also think that it contains the seeds of happiness, which are all our virtues. So this white light reaches all beings and as it reaches them, it brings them great happiness and joy. In return, when we inhale we imagine that we are taking in a very dark, black light which carries with it all the suffering, problems, difficulties and all the causes of those problems. We do this meditation just following the natural rhythm of breathing. We know we want happiness and with sending and taking practise[sic] we realize that others want this happiness also. So whatever we have, we offer it to them. Whatever unhappiness and suffering they do not want, we imagine taking it. So sending and taking meditation is an excellent tool to further the growth of bodhicitta, the motivation of enlightenment.From the Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche
The biggest thing is to revel in your non-smoking. Don't wallow in it. If you can enjoy the fact that you aren't smoking, then how likely are you to begin? If you can even learn to enjoy the nic-fits, how can you even think about starting smoking? This is definitely one of those things that is deeply personal, and takes a lot of thought, time and introspection to do. I personally tie my nic-fitting into my submissive nature and it seems to work out okay for me. But there are other ways to look at it and deal with it, such as: competitively "Damn Big Tobacco! They won't get the best of me!", as a personal challenge "Quitting smoking is like climbing this mountain!", spiritually "Quitting smoking takes me closer to god." or whatever turns and/or floats your crank and/or boat.
Quitting smoking is one of those things that can turn your life around. Because it is such a big change it allows you the opportunity to change other aspects of your life in tandem. It becomes a springboard for other life changes. Quitting smoking is difficult, really difficult, and when you do it, it serves as proof that you can do other things that are more difficult, and take greater strength.
Starting up again isn't as big a downfall as one might think either. If you have one drag of a cigarette and stop there, then it isn't like the quitting was all for null. Hell, even if you smoke for 8 months—uhh... for example— and then quit, it still doesn't mean that the first, second, or fifth time you quit was for nothing. Especially if you can look at the reasons why you started up again, and try to get around those next time.
Tuesday, January 17. 2006
The researchers scanned the volunteers’ brains using a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to detect enhanced blood flow in various brain regions – the greater the flow, the greater the neural activity in those areas.Whoa. And the results, predictable, but interesting none-the-less:
They developed a Pavlovian-type association by flashing a geometric shape on a computer screen and giving a squirt of juice into the volunteers’ mouths. However, the volunteers did not realize that they were being conditioned in this way – they were simply told to press a button to indicate on which side of the screen the shape had appeared.
The team measured how the volunteers had become conditioned by measuring their anticipation of the juice squirts following an image by measuring the dilation of their pupils.
“Stronger neural responses occur in these regions to a cue that is associated with a more preferred food,” said Doherty. “This shows that when you see a cue that is predictive of a reward, you are able to access information about your subjective preferences.”Now that sounds like a crazy fun little test to experience. Where the hell do I sign up? I'll be a human guinea pig!
Stare into our googly eyes. We are from Kraft General Foods Inc. and we are here to help!
We're getting into the territory here of brain hacking. What happens when we can all hack each others brains? The more we learn about the deeper structure of the brains, the more we as a culture, as a subculture or even as an individual, we will be able to hack our own, and each others, brains. In Snow Crash, Neil Stephenson hints at this kind of thing with the "metavirus". In his novel, it is a small cabal that controls the back doors into peoples brains. Is it a good thing or a bad thing if a small cabal holds this knowledge? Do we really want to know how to control, and alter the way we think? Is it too late to stuff that genii back in the bottle?
So we need to take this kind of neuroscience out of the lab-rat-ory, out of the marketing division and into the hands of "The Common Man". In fact, this is what a lot of "magick" is. Magick is auto-neuro-programming (or meta-programming) that is dressed up in symbols, mythology, spookery and kookery. It is analogous to when you are first learning how to program—or even use—a computer. You start off with only a vague understanding of what is going on; things like lambda (or the control panel) look more like incantations and alchemical symbols that perform magick, rather then an anonymous function or a method to configure how your computer works. As you get more involved you get a deeper understanding of what is going on but the symbols retain their meaning. Even though you understand that, for instance, that lambda creates an anonymous function which is really just a collection of machine instructions that blah blah blah blah blah, you don't stop using lambda to build an anonymous function. Similarly with magick. Once you figure out that invoking thoth is just a shorthand for a whole lot of complex neural activity, you still use the short-hand.
I've always thought of psychology, psychiatry and sociology as the alchemy of todays age. Neuroscience is changing these disciplines, making them more scientific. Perhaps one day we can finally start to see a bridge between, for example: Mazlows hierarchy of needs and the underlying neural action that expresses it. Maybe even we can find a bridge between a work of octerine magick and neuroscience.
DIY Brain Hacking sounds coo.
Thursday, January 5. 2006
And then she gave up the bottle.
Suddenly turning the issue of morning nourishment into an adventure of going downstairs and getting cereal ready to the chorus of a little ditty Harmony calls "sow-e-wuw peese" ("cereal please"). Which means the cuddly-naps are over. Thankfully however, our little one lets us sleep in till 9 and if Momma and/or Daddy are really lucky, 10.
We try to maintain the bring-her-into-bed-and-cuddle-snooze routine, but she is having none of it. Lately she has taken to crawling on the bed, grabbing my glasses off of my nightstand and then putting them on my face. She knows that once I have my glasses on, I am getting out of bed. I am sure that in her head my glasses have this magickal motivating and waking up power. Two Spectacles to move the Father. The funny thing is that she is right, ever since I was 7 I have been associating the action of waking up with putting my glasses on, that makes 22 years of conditioning. I guess you could say my little girl is casting a spell on me.
It's damn cute to watch. I can hardly stay in bed and snooze when she does something so incredibly cute and so mindbogglingly clever. I guess you could say the spell works. Besides, I love the 2 word song "Cereal Please".
Monday, November 21. 2005
This reflects what I have been pontificating for the past while about shamanism and Buddhism (Zen in particular) in western culture. I am definitely interested in both, but I am more interested in the transplantation of the core ideas and concepts of both, and application inside of our own culture. Alan Watts has a theory that the reason why we go to other cultures as a source of inspiration is that our own stories are disjointed, and don't speak to us the way they used to. If you look at the flow of western culture it is a series of transplantations, and cultural clashes. In fact, "Western Culture" seems to me to be a concept that is completely devoid of meaning. It seems to me that we can talk about Zulu culture or Maori culture as discrete units, but western culture is a mishmash of various sub-cultures whose stories do not mesh in the slightest. A western Buddhist, a subgenius, an atheist and a fundamentalist walk into a bar one day...
There is a bit of a battle going on between the various sub-cultures in our meta-culture. First off, there are the various sub-cultures that are entrenched in their holy wars. Be it Pastafarians, Scientologists or Fundamentalist Christians, there is a real battle to find out who has the right world view. On top of all this, there is this facade-of-culture which is the primary driving force. This facade is what could be termed "Corporate Culture". It is the part of our culture that tells us to consume Starbucks Coffee in the safe confines of our H2 Hummer (or ecologically correct hybrid for that matter). This culture is based in the goal of trying to increase shareholder value, which for now means selling people as many Starbucks coffees and hybrid vehicles as they can purchase. The thing is that "Corporate Culture" holds most of the cards. They tell the stories, from The Matrix to Super Nanny, 50 Cent to Amy Grant, Ian Koonts to Danielle Steele. It is not that our cultural output has no redeeming value, but that its redeeming value is measured in how many dollars it generates, ultimately going back to shareholder value.
In this background, of course it is difficult to create your own culture. It is far easier to appropriate the culture from another source. That being said, I think it is reasonable to use another cultural source as a guide for fleshing out our own. Tibetans, Hindus, Peruvians and Native Americans all have some interesting and relevant things to say. But I think that the thing to do is to understand the gist of what they are saying, and mesh it with our own culture instead of appropriating the surface level of their beliefs and think that we are achieving something.
Discordianism is a good effort at such an attempt. It really captures the flavor of Zen but fits it into our cultural framework and context. It is also free as in beer and free as in speech. The important pieces of our culture should be freely available for anyone, especially now. If you have to pay $5000 dollars for a spiritual shaman retreat just to find your place in your community (or even find your community) something is wrong.
Not that I am advocating Discordianism. It really isn't for anyone. The Joke/Religion//Religion/Joke dichotomy is not for everyone. I personally find that there is an over-emphasis on the joke aspect, and get turned off by a lot of self styled Discordians who are busy parroting the funny aspects, without really looking at what is trying to be said. Do you really understand the law of 5s? What does it mean when everyone is a POPE? (Do I even understand these? Let me be honest, and say resoundingly... NO)
I'd really like to have something thunderous and chock full of epiphanies to close with. Some sort of pointing-of-the-way that would allow us to dig deeper then pure consumption, and get us to our spiritual roots without having to reject the very useful models of the universe that science has shown us, but I got nothing. Culture is Hard. Where is my Kleenex?
Thursday, May 5. 2005
This energy is used by shamans to heal. Warlocks use it to destroy. Martial artists (aikido and kung fu) practitioners deploy ki to defeat larger opponents. Psions use it to manipulate events and affect reality. You will use it for seduction.Good god.
The rest of the book was all about visualizing balls of red (or some other color) energy at someones crotch, whether or not they are a member of your preferred sex. This is to seduce them for sex, money, or other reasons.
So really you just end up staring at their crotch. Great.