New Facebook Ban Policy Requires Sentences Be Served In Actual On-Site Time

facebook ban policy

Earlier this week it was rumored that the social media giant, Facebook, will be changing its policy concerning bans for violating community standards.

In the past users who were reported and found guilty of violating the content-sharing policies were subject to bans of various lengths, depending on the offense and history of the offender. They typically ran a day, a few days, a week or a whole month for the most blatant violations by repeat offenders. A banned user is able to sign into Facebook, view content and use the instant messenger; while they are unable to post or interact (like, react or comment) on feeds, timelines, pages and groups. The sentences lasted the ascribed calendar period regardless of whether you continued to use Facebook or not. But that might be about to change.

MUST COMMENT 'CUTE' ON CAT VIDEO!
MUST COMMENT ‘CUTE’ ON CAT VIDEO POSTED BY FORMER CRUSH!

The rumors indicate that the new ban policy will require offenders to serve their sentences in actual site time. This means that if you were to be banned for twenty four hours, you would actually have to be on Facebook for twenty four hours before the ban is lifted. And faking it will not be an option, as new retinal scanning and facial recognition software will track your viewing to make sure that you are actually using Facebook for the entire time spent fulfilling your obligations. That new software, purportedly, will ask your permission to remain active during the ban, but will grant the option of shutting it off after your time has been served. It is also expected that ban duration will shorten from hours to days.

There will however be one exception to your ability to interact on Facebook during your period of punishment. The leaked information suggests that you will still be able to like, comment on and share advertisements and sponsored posts. This is good news for content contributors who pay to get their posts seen. Even more speculation hints that this will allow Facebook to get more data on the emotional states of its users in response to specific content and situations, especially if it is being analyzed by the retinal and facial software. That means more effective marketing, more ad sales and more profits for Facebook. At the same time, critics worry that it is yet another move nudging of the social media juggernaut into the realms of Orwellian surveillance, social conditioning and control.

Reduced time for ‘good behavior’ is also mentioned in the allegations, although what constitutes that behavior has not been specifically stated. It could mean reporting other users, meeting a quotient for interacting with paid content, or just meeting your banned viewing requirements in a timely manner. Or anything else.

No official statements have yet been made verifying these rumors, so for now, they are only that. But given the history and nature of Facebook, it is not unlikely that the social media kingpin will use the combination of its power and peoples dependency to apply increasingly Draconian measures in the future. And there can be little doubt that the actual motivation is not upholding its non-democratic community standards, but of increasing its bottom line at the further expense of its users/content providers.

Society On the Surface: Distinguishing Between the Explicit and Implicit

society on the surface

Pretend that you have just opened a cool, crisp can of your favorite soft drink. You take a few short sips and savor them, then take in a long gulp of that sticky sweet stuff. Now, if I ask you to describe that can of soda, how would you respond? My guess is that most of us would use adjectives like- cold, sweet, refreshing, etc. A huckster might instead describe the can rather than the beverage it contains and say it is- cylindrical, opens at one end, is predominately red and black. These are all of the directly observable qualities or experiences of the can of soda. They are its explicit messages.

Now let us say that you wanted to start a soda company of your own. What are the things you would have to know about soda to do so? Surely you would have to understand the explicit nature of soda in order to make a product that is enjoyable and marketable. But you would have to know some things about cans of soda that can not be related directly by cans of soda themselves. You would have to know about ingredients and the supply chains by which you attained them. You would have to know about properties of the packaging to be used.

If you followed those bits of explicit knowledge further down the rabbit hole of implicit messages you might learn about the resources used to create the ingredients. You might also learn of the labor used to harvest and adapt them and the socio-political implications of that process. And from this you could continue branching off endlessly into infinite new paths of knowledge that all contribute to a fuller knowledge of a can of soda. Eventually your description of a can of soda might be something like, ‘a sticky sweet beverage, often chilled, and reliant on resources, labor and supply chains associated with industrial era global oligarchs who often exploited their laborers/consumers and the environment in order to increase profits from selling  a product with disturbing health implications, and gaining a monopoly on socio-economic paradigms in the process’.

Everything you observe or experience has both explicit and implicit properties. Before we go further, lets get a better understanding of what those two concepts mean.

Explicit properties are obvious. Those properties are apparent through observations and direct experience. They are the properties on the surface. They are the content of the subject. Explicitness ‘is what it is’.

Implicit properties are not obvious. They often require further thought or research of properties or connections not immediately apparent to an observer. They are beneath the surface of the thing itself.  They are its contextual information, knowledge that creates a big picture of a world in which soda exists and its implications and underlying effects in that world.

I have spoken a lot recently about implicit information. Recent articles on Chaos, Like Buttons, Institutions, Facts, Niceness, Survival and Memes (and more Memes), as well as others, have all been an attempt to describe the often overlooked implicit information all around us. I have spoken about content vs. context and signifier vs. signified, as well as other semiotic confusion I often encounter with people. I have discussed Marshall McLuhan’s idea that The Medium Is the Message, which is an excellent example of understanding the difference between the explicit and implicit; as well as why implicit information has greater effects and consequences than explicit info. Because it is easier to attain the explicit and ignore the implicit, we often find ourselves ignoring implicit information and its importance.

Here is an interview with McLuhan that, although long, contains an incredibly rich amount of information and explanation on the topic.

When McLuhan spoke up there of mediums he included social systems and other cultural artifacts and ideologies. Besides the obvious mediums that appear in media, he was talking about how the implicit information about a thing always says much more about its meaning and effect on individuals and society than the explicit.

As our world grows more technologically and socially complex, we are bombarded with ever more cultural artifacts and social systems. There are always more and more mediums being created. And through media we are consuming more and more of the explicit information contained in them. As the bombardment of explicit messages increases, the implicit messages become increasingly hidden and faint. In order to keep up with the increasing amount and complexity of the explicit we have had to ignore the implicit to make room in our expanding collective consciousness. As a result we are constantly applying this shortcut compulsively. We have turned off our implicit thinking, critical thinking, in order to manage the avalanche of explicit information in our environment.

One strange outcome of this paradigm is that modern studies and tests assure us that we are growing increasingly more intelligent as a species, based on scales which measure our ability to regurgitate explicit information. And what determines the sort of explicit information test results reward us for regurgitating often depends on external agendas or attempts to specialize. The agendas are intentional attempts by power structures to condition our thinking and responses to be amenable to the power structures those agendas were created by. They dumb us down to manipulate us using explicit information overload and engineering. The specialization is a response to socio-economic paradigms which reward us for filling in areas of labor necessity that also often works in the overall favor of power structures. Yet the specialization narrows our knowledge to such a degree that even most specialists are buried in the explicit knowledge of their area of expertise to the degree that they cannot see where it fits in the bigger picture.

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
-Robert A. Heinlein, from ‘Time Enough for Love’

Before we continue to analyze the problem of implicit-blindness in our society on the surface, lets look at another form of explicit information that behaves in very much the same ways as memes. In fact, many memes past and present have incorporated this far older medium into their own. The medium I am discussing is ‘platitudes’. Platitudes are common sayings that convey what generally seems like universally agreeable statements. But those explicit statements are always loaded with implicit context. And even when the explicit seems universally agreeable, deconstructing the implicit messages within it can reveal a platitude as being poorly thought out or outright deceptive or false. Yet because the assumption of universal agreement is also a part of sharing that platitude, those who reject it on the terms of implicit falsehoods can face social rejection, or be told that they should ‘chill out’, ‘stop overthinking it’ or not be so ‘unreasonably disagreeable’. Yet when the reason for disagreement comes directly from an investigation of the platitude using reason itself, intelligent responses to intellectual automata are not only considered acts of aggression, but make one susceptible to acts of counter aggression by those who reject the implicit. Lets look at a simple platitude-

Love is all you need.

This one is really simple because it has only three main areas we need to deconstruct to view the implicit information which negates the explicit message of the statement. Due to structure we will work in reverse with the three concepts.

  • Need- What is need? Need means that a condition must be fulfilled to avoid negative consequences. Human beings have several needs, but only a few of them must be met to basically live. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a standard often used for identifying the needs of human beings in their order of importance. Love is somewhere in the center of the pyramid of these needs, although one could, in theory, live without it.
  • All- How long do you think you would survive if all you had was love? How happy and mentally/emotionally healthy would you be if the only need being met was love, or even just stopped there on the pyramid? Does ‘all’ have any meaning in this context or is it just a small word with lots of hyperbole?
  • Love- Of all of the qualities of human experience, love may be the most subjective. Though we all agree that it seems to exist and even have similar experiences of it, we cannot say exactly what love is. Yet there are some things we know about love. Love can make you feel good, and it can make you feel bad. Loving someone, therefore, means that you will both make the other feel good sometimes and bad others. In fact, sometimes love requires us to hurt others, in order to protect them from dangers they are unable to recognize or protect themselves from.

When John Lennon wrote that trite crap, do you suppose he meant to say that ‘sometimes hurting other people for their own good is the only requirement for survival’? It is possible that he meant that. He died from an overdose of admiration before I was old enough to even consider that question. Yet what 99.99% of people think he is saying is that ‘so long as we make each other feel good, everything else will take care of itself’. In this case, even the explicit message is pretty dopey and vacant. Yet when examined even further for its implicit message, it is a completely idiotic and meaningless statement. Yet it has become so culturally persistent that it is now essentially a universal platitude.

(Exercise: Try reading the lyrics to Imagine by John Lennon while uncovering the implicit messages and see if you can get from one line to the next without wanting to knee his rotted corpse in the groin.)

Explicit information is subjective experience calling itself objective knowledge backed by the certainty of majority consensus. We are able to prop up our own self-awareness and identity on the explicit with very little danger to those concepts. Agreeing about the explicit forms the basis of social interactions and becomes a path to popularity or other social rewards. The explicit is often the feel-good content of daily interactions. Because it often makes us feel good or rewards us otherwise, it becomes a path of least resistance at best, and a total crutch at worst. When you add this to the fact that it is far easier to deal with the explicit, implicit messages are constantly being ignored, denied or scorned.

Yet explicit messages are like dots in a ‘connect-the-dots’ exercise. They are a necessary part of the end product, but are meaningless themselves. It is the lines between which gives shape and life to those dots, and the lines are the implicit. Our ignorance, distaste and rejection of the implicit is creating an intellectual environment of all dots and no lines. Even while humanity is acquiring more dots all of the time, we are becoming more like white noise than a clear signal. If we do not learn to be more connective in day to day life, to see the bigger picture or the forest through the trees, then we will eventually be awash in a cosmic sea of useless information. Dots that connect to no other dots. The noise of which will be too great to concentrate upon the implicit and save us from the feedback chamber of horrors that is explicitness overload.

It is critical that we begin to stop thinking from so many assumptions and operating from the micro. For our intellectual evolution to continue, humanity must train its minds to operate more often from the macro, and from that bigger picture to never take any information for granted. The society on the surface is one in which critical thinking is replaced by assumptions, in which we are always zooming in and never out; and in which explicit messages do not act as paths to implicit investigation, but become barriers to thinking about anything beyond its mere appearances.

The Cult of Niceness

cult of niceness

The Cult of Niceness is an umbrella term that I use to describe many different behaviors and ideas. I first noticed the problem when I was only a child. Observing adults I was able to notice that they sometimes put on an appearance of niceness in order to cloak some other agenda. I began to understand that ‘nice’ was sometimes just a deceptive ruse used to manipulate others in some way. Usually just to create an image of themselves for others who did not know them well enough to see through it. Other times it was in order to coerce people into thinking, saying or doing what they wanted thought, said or done.  I quickly noted that often the attempt to appear nice was actually just a form of passive aggressiveness that somehow worked, no matter how obvious the charade seemed to me. And I quickly refused to play into that disingenuine mindgame myself.

As a result people often think I am either an asshole, socially unrefined or both. Genuine authentic honesty is a virtue we all pay lip service to, but most people are repulsed when they actually encounter it. The very same qualities that would cause people to label me also made me immune to their classifications. Integrity and consistency generally only feel good to the person attaining them, and painful to those whose cognitive dissonance they incite. People will then push you to admit to some kind of self-loathing in order to gratify themselves, and if you do not concede they will tell you that you think you are better than them and everyone else. I have never been concerned with popularity contests or other competitions. I am not trying to be better than anyone else. I am trying to be the best possible me. Along the way I am trying to assist others in being the best possible selves they can be. I have a sneaking suspicion that the more we all improve ourselves, the more peaceful, harmonious and joyful the world we share will be. So I refuse to apologize for being who I am, even if you don’t like it, or if it makes you like yourself less.

The Cult of Niceness (CON) is predicated on peoples insecurities. It is self-doubt and existential malaise regurgitated in statements synonymous with suburban mommy talk. It is the special snowflake speech mounted on the hood of day-to-day life like cattle horns on an oil magnates Cadillac.  It is an attempt to be rewarded, validated and gratified for doing absolutely nothing deserving of those responses. The most insidious part being that not only is the behavior fake and deceptive, it also takes advantage of other peoples falsehoods and self-deception. People who like themselves do not feel the need to bully others into artificial niceties through such manufactured discrepancies. While everybody knows that the person the bully always loathes most is their self. And make no doubt, insisting that others perform the same CON roles that you are trapped in is just a form of social bullying.

Social media has, like it has with everything else, magnified this human weakness to stupendous proportions. The CON is what drives most online interactions. One of the most common behaviors that makes this apparent is the act of sharing self-deprecating thoughts in order to get rewarded, validated and gratified for an apparent act of humbleness that is actually just manipulative neediness. People will describe their weaknesses, failures or other unfavorable quirks in the hope that it will get them attention. They will self-loathe in order to fish out compliments. They will don a mask of vulnerability and timid dislike for themselves just so that others will respond to them in ways that help them identify themselves as superior to others. The CON has created an ideology that suggests that superiority comes in the form of humble self-deprecation. But oddly enough, only people who really do dislike themselves can be fooled into thinking that appearing to dislike themselves makes them better than everyone else.

Numerous messages online tell us that all we need is love and that if only we were all nice the world would be a perfect place. These oversimplistic reductionisms are dangerously ignorant. Not only because they deny the value humanity receives from a complex range of behaviors, but because they also suggest that niceness is a quality only measured in appearances. People do cruel things all of the time in order to achieve the most positive possible outcomes. If you have never hurt someones feelings with your honesty in order to save them an even greater pain, then you probably have never really loved somebody all that much. Friends and family members rely on one another to deliver harsh truths that would save them from entering treachery hiding in their own blind spots.

Given that our world has become riddled with so much conceptual ignorance, we have created great areas of blindness that threaten humanity at large. Pointing out the misconceptions and false premises that these blind spots are predicated on is itself a great kindness to our entire species. But when you fail to stroke peoples delusions or confirm their biases or point out all of this behavior their reaction is usually just to label you an asshole or as socially unrefined. By protecting themselves from the abrasive cognitive dissonance you would cause them in the name of niceness, people are poking holes in their own raft and calling it a waterpark. When people have more desire not to feel like they were wrong than they do to actually try and be right, it becomes impossible to reach them. The truth often does hurt, and those who put niceness before growing pains are wearing their ignorance with an idiots welcoming grin.

I am not just complaining about the CON because I find it distasteful. I am giving a dire warning about it because it is very important for a few different reasons. The first reason is that it is an affront to reason itself. The CON is one of the things which is contributing to the dumbing-down of humanity and ushering in the Idiocracy. The second reason is that we are entering an era of humanity that will center around the reputation of individuals. If the Reputation Economy of tomorrow is built upon the falsehoods and appearances of the CON, then we will be living in an Idiocracy in which everyone appears just as robotic, plasticine and saccharine sweet as The Stepford Wives. It will be a Nerf Hell or a Smile-Or-Die Dystopia. So my warning about this problem is not the revenge or ‘diss-track’ some people will think of it as, as they act out all of the ignorance I just warned against here. It is the solemn cautioning of a Trojan Horse at our gates. If we invite the CON into our lives because it sure does look pretty great on the outside, we are gonna be in for a big surprise when it starts unpacking its dangerous contents. Consider this a warning.

Just because I am suggesting that you do not take part in compulsive and coercive niceness does not mean that I endorse its opposite, compulsive and coercive assholery. Sometimes being an asshole, or doing things you know will get you labeled as one, is the course of action that will lead to the best outcomes for all. But doing it compulsively and as an act of senseless aggression is really just the same problem. The world has no shortage of people who are assholes just for sport. The internet is full of these people. This is not the opposite of the CON, it is just the other side of the same bad coin. Trying to exploit peoples weakness by provoking an emotional response just to reward, gratify or validate ones self is a giant pitfall we must avoid if we don’t wish to lead others over the edge of sanity like intellectual lemmings.

The CON is a dangerous social precedent to set. It is a falsehood of appearances with all of the philosophical complexity of a big purple dinosaur singing songs to children. It is important not to tread on the feelings of others for no good reason, but sometimes there are good reasons, and other times you cannot help how other will emotionally respond. Yet we cannot protect our Feelz to such a degree that it allows us to remain in ignorance to the extent that our species devolves intellectually in the process. Try to be nice when it is appropriate, but you are under no obligation to smile and nod bobble-headedly in the affirmative when the CON asks you to try their kool aid.

The Meme Analysis Project

Recently I invited my friends on Facebook to submit a meme, which I would then provide a critical analysis of, getting to the underlying context of these memes that often goes overlooked. Humanity has an awkward obsession with being content focused to the point of excluding the context of the things we consider. Our literal interpretations of the objects and subjects in the external world often gives us only a shallow understanding, and leaves us blind to the unspoken messages that lie within all things. And it is often these unspoken messages that have the most profound effect, even when we are not aware of them doing so. In fact, especially when we overlook them.

In the past I have criticized memes from a general perspective.  That exercise failed to engage many people, I suspect, because they were unable to draw from the general a message about the specific. So this time I have chosen to use specifics to make a general statement about the underlying context of memes. That is, they generally say much more than they actually say.

meme1

As with any political cartoon that bashes one of the two accepted mainstream positions, the problem is accidental validation. While you may hate all political sides equally, or just find the humor funny, the people who view it are going to filter it through their own beliefs. If they dislike the politician being made fun of, it may help to strengthen their ideology regarding the supremacy of the ‘opposite’ candidate. Which then goes on to validate that person’s belief that the state is necessary, justifiable and welcome based not on a judgement of the state itself, but the assumed belief that it is necessary to support MY statist figurehead in order to protect myself from THEIR statist figurehead. So it further polarizes both ends of the mainstream political spectrum while also validating the necessity of the state out of the fear created through false dichotomies.

meme2

While specifically suggesting that the reptilian conspiracy theories are outlandish and ridiculous, those people who think all conspiracy theories are ridiculous will have that belief validated. It further paints conspiracy theories as absurd and moronic. Yet conspiracy is natural part of all power structures throughout time. So to disbelieve them off hand because they do not fit the mainstream narrative conditions people to shallow literalism, which then allows them to be even bigger targets for the conspirators within the power structures.

Further, it relies on a format that has been repeated often enough that it has an instinctual association with ‘funny.’ Like a laugh track, it forces its humor through simple psychological shortcuts. Attempting to appeal to people’s instincts in order to gain their consent for mainstream consensus paradigms is pretty much always unfunny to me, though.

meme3

There are all sorts of problems with this one, but the most obvious is that it is blatant scientism. It appeals to people’s fascination with science, as well as their naive ideas about what science is and does. It uses the chemical symbols to reassure you that it is really super scientific stuff. But what is actually happening is very unscientific. The idea that our subjective experiences are only side effects of brain chemistry belongs not to science, but to the metaphysical assumptions of physicalism/materialism. Neither of those ontologies can be empirically verified, so it is not only not science, but by making ‘scientific’ claims about something unverifiable by science, it is actually anti-science. When scientism puts its metaphysical assumptions ahead of the actual science, it does so with complete ignorance and disregard for the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific method. And science is a method, not a worldview.
Further, it reduces our experiences to some strange combination of determinism and meaningless cosmic accident, which is degrading to human consciousness.
But when you add anything even faux sciencey to internet cultural tools like memes, the recipe is always one which results in a further ignorance of science and philosophy.

meme4

The problem with this meme is that it pretends to teach you something. But every idea is so obvious that only the most intellectually bereft would not have already determined these ideas themselves. Knowing these things is too obvious. It is putting them into practice that is difficult, which the meme gives no helpful advice on doing.
Since all it tells us is what we already know, the only purpose of this meme is to gather validation or consensus. And nothing waters down the truth like the necessity of repeating it compulsively where it is unsolicited and unrequired.
These sort of memes get around because they easily get likes. “I agree (duh) so LIKE.” And getting likes feels like validation and approval. And there is nothing wrong with validation or approval, but when you are disguising it as informative, it takes all of the meaning out of information. When this happens enough we trade our logic for emotion in an unbalanced way that is harmful to intelligence.

meme5

There are some memes that have a very concise message displayed graphically whose message is more or less direct.

But these are still problematic in that they reinforce the meme pattern in general. After being inundated daily with numerous memes that we know may not be completely on the up and up or are complete bullshit or pandering for validation and attention, the meme defender will point to one like this and infer that because this meme displays less of the awful characteristics that most memes carry then memes must be okay. They are the ‘good cop’ of memes.
But the system of meme has become ridden with intrinsic issues which make the good deeds of a few memes pointless as a guide to understanding memes.
There are no good memes. There are just memes that don’t intentionally dumb us down, but the system of meme does.

meme6

This is an attempt to discredit an ideology by reducing it to a mere absurdity, devoid of its complexity. And even if that ideology is in fact absurd and fails to recognize its own complexity, simply dismissing it by making fun of it is intellectually dishonest. The use of a childhood icon also insinuates that the believers in that ideology are themselves childish. By reducing the ideas and the person, it only serves to antagonize, and not to teach. The choir might all be giddy with this kind of preaching, but it alienates the congregation and puts them at odds with the far better ideas you are trying to replace theirs with. Therefore it is mostly just mean-spirited masturbatory posturing that hurts the cause of those who would perpetuate the sharing of this meme.

meme7

This is really the same as the other one. It is an attempt to win an argument by belittling the opponent. So the contextual problem is the same.

Content-wise, it suggests that Lions are those who allow themselves to be caught up in the largest association of organized violence ever. If the point is that lions are brave, then this fails because it is not brave to be a joiner. Especially when you are joining the winning monopoly on violence. Therefore, in this case, those standing against the ‘lions’ would actually be the brave and courageous, as it takes far more of those qualities to stand against this den than with it.

Secondly, lions aren’t what protect lambs. Lambs would be hunted and slaughtered and eaten raw by lions. So the idea that those claiming to protect us are lions while we are sheep really illustrates the true nature of these lions and not the delusion that they live under. They are not our protectors. They are our predators.

meme8

I have no idea what is even going on in this meme. The words in the back appear to be comprised of buzzwords and stock phrases. I do not recognize the picture, but perhaps it is recognizable from other memes and their context is being carried into this one by repetition of the image?

There are a lot of memes like this. There is a group on Facebook called The Absurdistan Association that has all sorts of stuff like this. I imagine that it is part in-joke used to identify the sharer as ‘in the know’. It may also just be an attempt to be absurd through nonsensical image propagation.

If it is an in joke sort of thing then it is really just another form of consensus gathering and self-validation and groupthink identity building.

If it is an attempt at absurdity it fails on two levels. The first being that absurdity is not just randomly random. It is highly constructed randomness for specific effect. Absurdity is not a way of saying nothing; it is a way of saying something through clever juxtaposition. But you cannot be making an absurdist statement if the audience is limited to those in the know of the parts beings juxtaposed. The second reason is that the activity and medium of meme has become such a cultural norm itself that they cannot be considered far enough outside social norms to be absurd.

Mostly, this just seems to be what would result when the activity of meme-ing became a meaningless compulsion.

(note- an explanation from the person who shared this meme with me: “It’s really just an obscure kinda joke. It references the “Serbia Strong” meme which… I don’t even know where to begin. I guess it kind of mocks a strange, esoteric nationalism / adversarial positioning that was so popular in early 90s Eastern Europe that it inspired folk music and other strange behaviors”.)

meme9

Remember when you were a kid and you would spend ridiculous amounts of time ‘playing’ an arcade game without having put any quarters into it? This seems like the meme version of that.

Besides that it is an identity thing. The people who made, liked and shared this image want you to know that they do not like Obama. And since they feel no need to provide specifics with that message, the reason they do not like Obama is probably because they identify with the other side of the partisan false dichotomy. Either that or their reasoning is even more suspicious, like racism, and they are just smart enough to know that indicating that specifically is a social faux pas. But not smart enough to make a meme that actually attempts to illustrate some idea specifically.

Whenever something that began as clever becomes too popular, eventually the biggest idiots get a hold of it and completely ruin any semblance of purpose in it. Or illustrate the underlying insidiousness of it through accident and irony.

meme9.1

I would consider this an infographic. And while infographics may contain some of the residual contextual issues of memes through similarity of mediums and use, there is a bit of a difference. My critique here is not very strong. The worst thing I have to say for it is that it is a visual version of the ‘This Topic for Dummies’ books. If the infographic inspires you to further investigate the topic, great. But if it inspires you to be a barely informed expert in conversations on the subject, then it is intellectually irresponsible.

meme9.2

This is an attempt to appeal to people’s morality through their desire and identity. To be opposed to this meme is to appear either anti-woman, repressed or homosexual. Morality should be arrived at through logic and reason, not appealed to through instinct or identity-seeking or fear. To draw the connection between the differences in vaginas as a reason to support diversity actually undermines diversity by suggesting it is a value whose laurels rest only on shallow interpretations of what creates genuine differences in individuals and cultural groups.

meme9.3

‘That face you make when…’ memes.

First of all, these memes never say anything at all. There is no message. There is no lesson. And they are not even funny. The only function they have is recognition. And since they are usually faces from entertainment media, the recognition is that of mainstream media consumers. The statement is ‘I also watched that/I consume the same media commodities as you/I recognize what facial expressions mean’. Nowhere in that does any thinking take place. It just begs for validation and interaction without earning it. It is attention whoring with no other purpose.

i fear a day when this behavior reduces our language to the most simple of bullshit.

Woman comes home from work. Man flashes photo from TV sitcom of famous ‘How was your day, dear?’ moment.

Woman responds by flashing famous movie photo of someone with exasperated face.

Man flashed ‘uh oh’ face photo from Home Alone.

Child walks in, plays a short sound clip- ‘Wakkity smackity Doo!’

Cue laugh track.

meme9.4

Ah, the sunday school atheist memes.

First, this meme is not for generating any kind of theological or philosophical conversation. It is just making fun of people by reducing their beliefs into an absurdity. And since atheists tend to have more influence in internet culture it also says that ‘we make better memes, so we are smarter than you and your beliefs are dumb.’

In particular this seems to be addressing the problem of evil. Yet is does so with such reductionist hyperbole that it misses all of the nuances contained in that theological doctrine. It is thus the anti-theist version of sunday school parables. It becomes the sort of watered down and literal interpretation that is practiced by the people it is meant to mock.

Further, it does not differentiate between the many concepts that fall under the banner ‘God.’ It addresses only the modern evangelical theistic entity from Abrahamic traditions. Yet it is meaningless when examined in the light of pantheism, panentheism, pandeism, etc. Many other philosophies that include some form of primal being have addressed the problem of evil quite well.

This meme goes after the low-hanging fruit. And people who go after only low hanging fruit do so only because they are on a similar level of intellectual inconsistency.


I hope that I have illustrated just how much meaning lies hidden inside memes. Though you may like the surface message of its content, a meme might actually say things you disagree with or wouldn’t want to say yourself. The widespread compulsion of meme sharing has created a communication culture full of far more unspoken messages than spoken ones.  Memes, like medication, all have side effects. So before you swallow those pills, be sure that the consequences are not worse than the benefits. And in the case of memes, the medium is itself the message, an idea I plan to explore in my next discussion on the topic.

Thank you everyone who helped by sharing the memes I used in this experiment. You know who you are!

What Does the ‘Like’ Button Really Do/Mean?

like button

One of the most tragic paradigms of the human intellect is that of literalism. When we fail to address or understand things beyond their face value, beyond the most obvious observations and descriptions, we not only fail to fully understand something, but gain a false and delusional understanding of it in the process. When so many of our starting premises for our opinions, ideas and beliefs are constructed from these literalist misreadings of reality, it begins to have a massive effect, one that remains invisible behind the wall of literalism we have constructed through consensus.

The most unfortunate sort of literalism is that which we apply to ourselves. When our self-concept and self-awareness becomes constructed around delusions spun out of a refusal to investigate our deeper motivations, intent and inconsistencies, it becomes possible for us to become our own worst enemies. We can be unwitting co-conspirators of everything that we despise in the world when we fail to read more deeply into our own thinking and behaviors. And we can also be manipulated by those with a better sense of the power of obfuscation through literalism. And as distasteful and painful as it may be to hear, most of us are guilty of taking things too literally or shallowly much of the time.

I could spend days discussing the ways in which literalism becomes a tool of self-delusion, but for the purposes of this article, I wish to discuss the function and meaning of positive social media rewards and how our failure to exercise self-awareness may be having disastrous consequences on our social and intellectual environments. So before I discuss how this literalism becomes problematic, let us look specifically at Facebook and the ‘like’ button and try to understand the full range of motivations we exercise when clicking it.

I do not specifically or literally like this, but I am clicking like (etc.) because…

  • I approve of your interest/fascination with the topic.
  • I want to appear friendly.
  • I want you to feel safe in this conversation so you continue to play along.
  • I have not liked anything of yours for awhile, so I will like this to remind you that I like you.
  • I want to remind you that I exist.
  • I really dislike ‘the opposite’ of this.
  • I feel sorry for this person and want to show support, regardless of the content of the thing I liked.
  • This confirms my biases.
  • This validates me.
  • I want you to like me.
  • I will ironically like your insult in an attempt to dis-empower it.
  • I like everything I see on this topic, regardless of actual content.
  • I appreciate that this probably annoys certain types of people.
  • I want to smash my genitals with this person’s genitals.
  • To appease The Algorithms.

Some of these reasons are purely manipulation. Some are genuine attempts at kindness. Others are measured activity for specific effect. We use likes to rig the system, whether it is the rigid social media system itself or the only loosely definable system of human relationships and social interaction. But this much is clear, ‘like’ does not always mean you actually ‘like’ something. And if we are being honest we would see that most of our ‘likes’ are either not steeped in an actual appreciation, or off of one so weak that we are watering down the nature of appreciation itself.

Human values are largely constructed from consensus. What we view as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is, at the very, least strongly influenced by what we believe others also view as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Values do not necessarily gain their worth through majority rule, but they are often formed by it. And this process is largely non-conscious. We do not walk around aware of the fact that we are absorbing other peoples values, or that we are creating them. It just happens little by little over time. There are rarely any apparent indicators of this process in the real world. Most of the reward/punishment stimulation happens in the sub-context of our interactions. But in social media, this is quite different. We are aware of our ability to reward certain thoughts and behaviors using ‘likes’ or ‘upvotes’ or any of the similar social media tools. But that awareness of the tool is becoming increasingly ignorant of the cost, long term effects and larger understanding of it. We are creating new sets of human values without really understanding that we are doing it or how it is being done. And although this is true of humans throughout history, we are now doing is at an exponentially rapid rate. We are reconstructing reality and our values at unprecedented speeds.

One can drive a car a few miles per hour and not pay much attention to what is going on around them, and there will probably not be very great consequences if something goes wrong. But when you speed up and continue to speed up more and more without raising your awareness to match, you are almost certainly heading straight for a disaster. This is true of both automobiles and social paradigms. The like button may still look and feel like a slow car, but that is because it sped up slowly without us realizing it, as often happens when we experience things incrementally relative to our position to them. That car is now hauling ass and our ignorance and/or denial is going to lead to a disaster if we don’t increase our awareness of the car, the road and ourselves.

Back to social media. The like button and its counterparts are tools that the programmers use to determine what content we will see in our feeds through calculated algorithms. This keeps their content in the range that their advertisers want. When we ‘like’ something we are setting an agenda. And when we set that agenda we are creating mainstream paradigms and manufacturing normality. And thus we are creating values. This makes social media a powerful tool for ideological revolutions. We can create new norms and overthrow old dogmas by manufacturing consent for new ideas using social media tools. Yet this requires a highly organized and self-aware set of behaviors to be coordinated by large numbers of individuals. And while that is happening, far more often social media is being used with far less understanding and consciously calculated attempt to create better values.

This is where those ‘fake’ ‘likes’ become a problem. They are working to create values without awareness that they are doing so, or even necessarily what values they are creating, and what the effects and consequences of them will be. When our reasoning for using the like tool is done without regard to the effect that doing so has, we are transforming our value systems rapidly and blindly.

This happens in a lot of various ways, but let us illustrate it with some examples.

There is a man. He is a very handsome man. Very handsome. Even a profile picture of this man can douse panties faster than a fire hose. However, this man is also very stupid and somewhat immoral. He ends up posting idiotic political ideas a lot. Most of his followers do not agree with his stupid beliefs, opinions and ideas. But damn if they wouldn’t give up a year of their life just to have a steamy encounter with the man. So in the chance that there is any hope he will notice them, they like his posts, even when they mostly disagree with them. Over time, people see all of these likes and wonder if this guys isn’t on to something. Women view him as valuable to other women, which raises his attractiveness and the ‘likes’ it brings. Men view his worldview as appealing to women, and so begin to adopt it. Over time, the handsome man has gained a following of people who would have never approved of or shared his values on their own. But the subcontext provided by his attractiveness manufactured consensus over time.

Another…

There is a woman. She is a stupid and petty woman. People show up in her post threads just to watch the train wreck. The thing is, if she suspects you disagree with her, she will either ignore you or block you. So in an attempt to stay on that horse, people like her comments and give brief nods of consent. Over time the woman becomes more certain and enamored of her idiotic beliefs. Her confidence becomes a fuel which propels her into an even greater spotlight. And the more spotlight she gets, the more it appears that she deserves it. And the more it appears that she deserves it, the more skepticism breaks down and her audience grows. As it does, her idiotic and often hateful ideas grow with her. And thus ‘likes’ that were given ironically become a force which actually empower the target of scorn.

Another…

Many people have come to be critical of the government. Therefore when we see a post that is critical of government, we like it to insure that government-critical messages are seen throughout social media. The problem is, these critical messages often contain an error in their reasoning or an untenable solution to the problem. So when we like this message based on the criticism factor alone, in order to make it more visible, we are also making the erroneous logic and poor solutions more visible. Since we cannot choose how others will receive these packages of ideas, the greater effect might be something we would not have chosen to contribute towards. Where we liked the criticism of government because we wish to see an end to that institution, others may see a message that says that since government is flawed, we need more government to fix the flawed parts. So our like actually contributes to intellectual and social momentum that goes against our values.

There are likely millions of ways in which our ‘likes’ may have such similar unintended effects. And these effects, though perhaps not intentional, are shaping the world we live in. While using social media reward tools is a conscious action, the outcomes it produces are something far harder to determine. So we should exercise a high degree of awareness about our use of this tool. We should reserve our ‘likes’ for things that we not only truly and actually appreciate, but only for those that we find great meaning in. We have cheapened likes through overuse and as a result it is cheapening our values. We may give these likes with the very best of intentions, but that is merely the content of ‘liking’. Far more influential on the world we live in than content, is context. And the context of the like mechanism is incredibly complex. When something is incredibly complex, it is wise not to use it unless you are certain it is absolutely appropriate.

This is not just nitpicking. Our world is rapidly transforming. The central tenet and ends of this transformation is reputation. Reputation is being constructed from platforms like social media and tools like the like button. If we are not very careful and consciously alert of the world we are shaping with these tools, then we are going to end up a sloppy, gaudy mishmash of accidental values that result in a technological dystopia. We are in a transition period in which the rapid construction of a new era for humanity is being formed through interactions that are happening without a very great degree of awareness. If we do not begin to exercise some self-restraint and control and start to consider our actions in a much larger context, then we are in that proverbial car I mentioned earlier, using our heads to press the acceleration pedal down instead of to look out the windshield and see where we are heading and what else is out there.

I plan to begin using the ‘like’ button much less. Almost not at all. It is unfortunate that some people will find me to be cold and anti-social for doing so. I will almost certainly be measured by the stinginess of my like button usage. My failure to provide reward stimulus in social media forums will probably get me ignored or distrusted and despised. I will likely appear to be a total dick for not playing along with the game of coercive and compulsive liking. Yet I assure you that I do so not because I do not value the contributions and thoughts of others, but because I value them too much to water them down with automata and overly obvious behaviors.

Here is how I will now be using the like button, and suggest others who share my concerns do the same. Only like original content that I completely agree with and support. If I have no connection to the person who created the content, chances are that I will not like it unless the topic/subject and the ideas about them are something I am actually truly and fully amazed by. I will never like a meme, for it comes with its own complex set of problems. I will not like comments, unless they contain content that is absolutely flooring. Liking something just because I agree is intellectually dishonest, condescending and pretentious. I will no longer like anything for a reason other than that I actually specifically and literally like the actual content concerned as well as the context which it belongs in and contributes towards. And while I am certain that this is not going to make me very popular in social media, as least I can be comfortable knowing that I am not contributing to the Idiocracy by misusing and underestimating a very powerful tool that is shaping our future whether we believe and understand that or not.

It is not the things that we intend to do that become ruinous to our species and world- it is the things we do not intend to do, understand that we did, or that produce outcomes contrary to our intent because we didn’t think it far enough through. Humans can no longer just do what feels good and hope for the best. Our civilization is far too complex and becoming increasingly so. We stand now on the precipice of enlightenment or oblivion, and only constant attention to the world around us and making the right choices based on a high degree of understanding will save us from the latter.

Ronda Rousey, Charlie Sheen & Donald Trump Walk Into the Star Wars Bar

rousey sheen trump star wars

Ronda says to the bartender, “Shot of bourbon with a beer back, please.”

Charlie then orders, “Double shot of bourbon, no chaser. I prefer to go bareback.”

Not be outdone, Trump asks the bartender for a triple shot with a vodka chaser, explaining, “Any more than three shots and I usually end up on the floor casting vomit spells the rest of the night, but what the hell, right?”

The bartender pours the drinks and while handing Trump his vodka chaser wryly comments, “May the fourth bewitch you.”


 

Although my opening pun seems to explain the title of this article, it was not the inspiration for it. The title came from pulling a few keyword subjects out of Google’s biggest searches of 2015. It is an obviously blatant attempt to opportunize on the internet’s most popular themes. And while I will certainly take any traffic that comes this blogs way, I really am trying to make a larger point here. Much of what you see on the internet has its genesis in similar logic. Capitalizing on popularity without much regard to the quality or originality of content. That is what makes ad revenue and that is what gets the greatest response at websites and in social media.

Author Bret Easton Ellis, perhaps best known as author of the cult classic novel American Psycho, recently wrote a piece sharing some of the same concerns I have been having about internet culture. In ‘Living In the Cult of Likability‘ he discusses how technical aspects of social media lend themselves to an ever-narrowing channel of groupthink, compulsive approval and unearned validation. He further goes on to discuss what this means in a Reputation Economy. While I think he is mistaken in suggesting that we already have a RepEcon, he is absolutely right about what this behavior would mean to such a paradigm. A saccharine, plasticine dystopia. In the words of Quasi’s Sam Coomes…

“A cardboard world of painted skies, ’cause we all must agree to believe in the lies.”

Where Ellis misunderstands a reputation economy is that he sees the early evolutionary markers of the thing as the thing itself. A RepEcon is not really possible alongside scarcity and currency-based economics. It cannot be achieved until certain technological and sociopolitical advances come about. Yet despite the fact that we do not have a RepEcon, we do have a lot of the early indicators of one. As I have discussed in the past, online rating and review systems as well as the way that social networks are structured and how monetary rewards for online content operate are all glances into the future in their infancy. In them we can see how a RepEcon might operate, and based on that, Bret is absolutely correct to be concerned and a bit horrified.

Should a future in which reputation is the economic status of the individual ever happen, and that reputation is determined on the metrics, culture and validation symbols that are intrinsic to the burgeoning progenitors we have now, it will be a neon Idiocracy.  The internet has become a bastion of pandering, marketing and manipulation. At the same time it has also increasingly become a source of identity, status and passive consensus. The combination of these things is that the most popular content is often the most calculated and manipulative garbage which then becomes culturally canonized by our most basic desire to gain acceptance. It is creating a feedback loop in which what we want and what we are given are increasingly narrowing in scope into the most basic things we can agree upon. We are told what to like, which then sends back a signal about what we like, which then is used to create more of what we were told to like to begin with. And every time these symbols travel around that feedback loop these lose more of their signal and become ever-degrading symbols devoid of any substance except that which can be exploited by opportunists as another way to manipulate us.

The sad part is that in social media, we do most of this to ourselves. The vapid patterns of behavior in Facebook and elsewhere are self-replicating patterns of self-validation and consensus gathering. From posturing the perfect life to expressing ourselves ever more simplistically through the appealing reductivism of memes, we are creating a lowest common denominator of the individual by which we are identified by ourselves and others, especially the predatory opportunists. These forms continue to reduce human experience and distill it into a picture of normality which we are then invited and inspired to achieve. The current forms of online reputation gathering and display work not to create value from the reputation of the individual, but from their acceptance of and aspiration to a false construct of normality.

And there are far more insidious ways that technology is catering to us against our best interest. One researcher believes it will be possible to derive our emotional states from how we are using our mouse. He plans to use this technology as a tool for web designers and marketers to cater to the responses of their users to certain types of content and formatting. Using the information, site administrators, content creators and advertisers can then produce online materials geared for the lowest common denominator. Big Data is watching our every move and figuring out how to best profit from it. It is spawning more and more technologies to measure our responses so they can be used to manipulate us into behaviors that profit those funding Big Data. It does so at the expense of the individual and at the complexity which drives human progress towards greater harmony by creating an illusion of harmony that is nothing more than an intellectual trap.

Where my original vision of the RepEcon was starry-eyed and wistful, I have come to see some of the catastrophic pitfalls should that reputation economy be based on the values perpetuated by the current forms of social media, internet culture and these technologies intrinsic technical structures. A healthy reputation economy requires healthy sets of human values that strive towards higher complexity, not more meaningless consensus constructed from the manipulative paradigms of the industrialist era. If our values do not improve and come to recognize the beauty and strength of outsiders, eccentrics and other staples of a healthy intellectual community, then the RepEcon will evolve humanity into a pitiful Idiocracy of desperate infantile behaviors seeking validation by denying their own individuality.

I have a few more upcoming articles about the RepEcon planned for the near future, just as soon as I get done spending the loads of cash that flow in from this blog. Don’t be afraid to click those share buttons just below. 😉

How Social Network Users Miss the Point of Discordianism

discotrolls

As a long time Discordian I was excited to see the internet spreading the message of Discordianism far wider than pamphlets and books were ever able to. I find the philosophy suggested by this ‘satirical’ religion to be in possession of some valuable truths with ideological premises that can be used to understand all facets of reality. I believed that were Discordianism to ever reach a greater audience, the encroaching Idiocracy might be avoided. So I have been devastated to find that the internet, particularly social media, has managed to dumb down Discordianism itself into a meaningless excuse for all sorts of mindless and often juvenile behavior.

While you can find evidence of this behavior at Reddit, Tumblr and other online meeting places for ‘Discordians’, nowhere is it more pronounced than on Facebook. The Discordian Society group on Facebook has almost 12,000 members and is the most prime example of Discordianism having been co-opted by AOL-era internet trolls. And while trolling itself is a valid form of Operation Mindfuck when done properly, the type being done by these people has no particular ideological agenda, but is just an outlet for cheap shock and attention seeking of the most juvenile sorts. These people have so little reverence for actual Discordianism that they even dumb it down further by calling it ‘Disco’.

Disco Trolls do not understand that the parables regarding, and satirical veneration of Eris are actually a complex recognition of the nature of existence. Instead they think that Eris is a symbol of literal chaos-worship whose rituals require acts of chaos. Besides missing the point here, the juvenile behavior is not even chaotic. It is just crude low brow shock humor that often includes sexism, racism and other bigotries and bad ideas as their premise. There is nothing chaotic about that. There is nothing even ‘edgy’ about it, which is the aim of Disco Trolls. Edgy would be to upset some mainstream ideologies and status quo paradigms, not to vacuously replicate them in your own image for shock value. In a world being dumbed down, intelligence is edgy. But intelligence is regarded by Disco Trolls as a cause for ridicule and abuse. Any attempt to act outside of the narrow confines of their groupthink activities is despised and when you point out their general intellectual blasphemy you are met with vicious attacks of the kind that Greyface himself would take pride in.

The most common activity taking place on Discordian social media is the making and disseminating of memes, which is also the most common activity throughout most of social media. There is nothing at all edgy about memes. Nothing could be more commonplace or normal than meme-ing. And quite possibly nothing could be more dangerous to critical thinking and human intelligence than the anti-intellectual context of that medium, which seems to replicate like a virus, invading places where there was once healthy intellectual tissue with image based reductionism and oversimplification. Yet if you point this out to Disco Trolls, their only comeback is to invoke the internet buzzword ‘butthurt‘, which is a spell people online use to ward of any attempts at actually understanding someone else’s ideological position.  In the rare case a more extensive argument was made to defend memes, it was to call the behavior an art form, which is like calling commercial jingles music. It is also suggested that memes are similar to the images used in The Principia Discordia, but the contexts of time and medium make that comparison meaningless.

What all this adds up to is a large group of people who are convinced they are being rebellious by taking part in the most normal activities possible, while trying to spread their false discord by kindertrolling their own choir. And as if all of this attention seeking juvenile behavior were not obvious enough, Disco Trolls often appear to be emotionally damaged and self-esteem deficient individuals who use blatant hyperbolized sexuality to booster their frail egos. Sharing nudes with strangers online is not edgy sexuality, it is a desperate plea to get attention with the least amount of effort. There is nothing wrong with human sexuality, but people who wrap their identities in it are not healthy expressions of it, they are examples of emotional insecurities not so dissimilar to the sexually repressed. Lest you believe I am just being a prude, this behavior has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with validation. There is nothing transcendent about people seeking validation by appealing to the instincts of others.

Why do I care so much about morons co-opting the the name Discordianism and using it as a label to justify stupid, sophomoric behavior? Because social media is where people are likely to first encounter Discordianism these days. And where those philosophies once were able to awaken people to some powerful metaphors through humor, those who encounter Disco Trolls may never see the deep truths contained therein, and will instead be redirected to participate in a symbolic replica of Discordianism with none of the substance. What was once a tool of enlightenment has been relegated by social network habits into another factor in our devolution. It has made an illness of a medicine.

So if you participate in the above described behaviors but actually have some intellectual honesty, dignity and respect for Discordianism, you might want to consider changing your habits. And if you read this before you have been indoctrinated by Disco Trolls into their pink world of false slack, don’t confuse those intolerable Normals for Discordians. And if you are one of those Disco Trolls who reads this and you get pissy and defensive about it, remember- “Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.”

Welcome to the Idiocracy – The Growing Ignorance of Intelligence

idiocracy

Human beings possess a great number of virtuous characteristics. Much of what makes us unique individuals are the infinite possible combinations and degrees of these virtues (and flaws). Most of the time we are able to recognize the virtues of others and honor them. We generally have no problem appreciating virtues in others that we do not possess ourselves. Yet today there is one virtue that our culture makes a great show of proclaiming the most virtuous of all virtues, while at the same time largely failing to recognize and appreciate it. In fact, those who possess it often become the subject of scorn. That virtue is intelligence.

If I said that I was good at sports or could draw or play the piano well, nobody would accuse me of being an intolerable egomaniac or narcissist. However, if I were to make any claim to, or even insinuate intellectual prowess, I would be derided and despised by people at all levels of the intellectual spectrum. I am intelligent. I worked incredibly hard to get that way for little more reward than the despair entailed by being intelligent in an unappreciative and apathetic society. Just as athletes endure the physical pain of training and artists and musicians endure the emotional pain of bare expression even while practicing, I have put a lot of painful effort into rising above the average intellectual standards of this time and place in history.  This is not to say that I am one of the most intelligent people in the world (definitely not) or that it makes me a better overall human being. It is simply a recognition of a virtue I have achieved through a great amount of conscious effort over many years. Yet it is a certainty that this very writing will create the kind of backlash against me that I specifically discuss as being a major problem for our species.

As a writer for CopBlock.org I am regularly subject to attacks against my intelligence. Ignorance can be found in no greater abundance than where it pools up around authoritarianism. These attacks happen in place of a rational rebuttal of the things which I wrote. This alone is often a potent clue as to the intellectual capacity of the commenter, but their intelligence comes into even greater question when you examine the vocabulary, conceptual over-simplicity and logical fallacies that their responses consist of. Even worse is that they judge my intellect (rather than my ideas) not on its own merits, but on the sole basis that I disagree with their opinions and worldview. The wider the intelligence gap between myself and the commenter, the more voraciously vicious and resistant to reason they become.

That some people have a lower capacity for intellectual pursuits is not itself problematic. What is troublesome is the inability for people to recognize intellects greater than their own, and for them to center their attack based on their ignorance of intelligence. I would not expect people to agree with another’s opinions or worldviews based solely on a judgement of their intelligence. Yet when people fail to consider new information and ideas due to an underlying prejudice against those who disagree with them, which they falsely equate with intellectual inferiority, they create a feedback loop of circular reasoning that reinforces and strengthens their ignorance. This is the most surefire way to obtain and maintain a state of stupidity. When you ignore or deny everyone who might be able to teach you something new or how to see things differently, you create yourself a trap in which your evolution and growth are stunted completely. And this is now occurring at an  exponential and alarming rate.

This growing pattern has created a hostile and dangerous trend in our society. An increase in the sum of human intelligence does not require everybody to rise above average. History is full of individuals whose singular efforts were able to bring new knowledge and its resulting applications to all of humanity. All that was required of humanity was to recognize, respect and trust those geniuses and their ideas. The dependence on a tiny fraction of individuals to recognize and solve the worlds problems and questions has worked tremendously well in moving our species ever ahead. Yet as the trend of denying and even despising superior individual intelligence has rendered useless a resource that our species has always relied upon most for progress and clarity.

As intelligence itself becomes a less acknowledged and respected trait, it faces extinction. Devaluing it, or instead valuing a false symbolic replacement, means that it will decrease as a selection trait for breeding partners, which leads us down an evolutionary path to self destruction. When we fail to respect and honor intelligence we remove the motivation for individuals to seek it out and attain it through hard work. Finally, it diminishes any examples of intelligence which could inspire future individuals and become a basis for their own explorations. We are quite literally creating the perfect evolutionary conditions by which the virtue of human intelligence could become extinct.

It becomes necessary to ask how we got to this point. While public education, mainstream media and the other tools of the oligarchy are obvious targets, I suspect a far more insidious threat has recently become a massive part of our collective consciousness. The problem I am discussing is our increasing tendency to replace substance with symbols. Like the Scarecrow who can only recognize his own intelligence after the Wizard of Oz gives him a diploma, we have come to identify symbols for intelligence as being intelligence itself. The top down bureaucracy of modern society has created an ideology which reframes intelligence as a commodity. It has become the consumption and acquisition of these symbols that we equate with intelligence. Our lauding of intelligence as the ultimate virtue serves only to pay lip service a concept that has been rendered meaningless in the semiotic confusion surrounding it. We have redefined intelligence in accordance with our widespread vapid consumerism, or at least, have allowed it to be redefined thusly for us by those who profit from that ideology.

No where is this symbol over substance problem more apparent than on the internet, especially in social media and comments sections. The internet has acquired a wealth of symbolic baggage that replaces or attempts to dismiss critical thinking, rational argumentation and the cogent expression of complex ideas. It has become a veritable battleground of compulsive reductivism, where every aspect of human experience is distilled down into a MEME. And when we are not busy oversimplifying complex ideas in image forms, we use a limited vocabulary of buzzwords in place of a rational response. Rather than consider somebody’s thoughts and ideas, we dismiss them as being BUTTHURT and then walk away as though victorious. Since emotional states are subjective individual phenomena, they cannot be measured externally by those not directly experiencing them. So it is logically meaningless to make conjecture about another person’s emotional states for the purpose of attributing the products of their intellect to them.

The internet has created an entire language and method for dismissing those we disagree with for the very worst and most misguided reasons. And since the frequency of this behavior increases all of the time, we are spending ever increasing amounts of time and effort contributing to our own dumbing down. We become ever more proficient at practicing our ignorance with great efficiency, thereby alienating ourselves from and destroying the intelligence needed to save us from this self-perpetuating cycle. Unfortunately, these behaviors are now transcending the internet and becoming part of our in-person interactions and penetrating the entire fabric of our culture.

The fictional world of Mike Judge’s prophetic film ‘Idiocracy’ is increasingly becoming our reality. Ignorance and symbolic impostors of intellect are celebrated, reinforced and rewarded, while genuine intelligence becomes more and more alien and unrecognizable. Many people can no longer even recognize the authentic substance, let alone exercise healthy ways of reacting to it. If Einstein were alive today it is not unthinkable that his genius would be met with the assessment that his ‘shit’s fucked up and he talks like a fag.’ This momentum is creating a real-life Idiocracy that, if unchecked, could lead to the destruction of our entire species and planet. In the modern world, an Idiocracy could not exist long. We rely on intelligence for things as basic as maintaining nuclear power plants which would, without the attention of intelligent humans, create an existential risk of massive proportions. We could very literally self-destruct from our own de-evolution into willful ignorance and prideful stupidity.

Despite the fact that I just went into great detail explaining the grave danger of the rising ignorance of intelligence, I am certain to be subjected to the very behaviors I just warned against. People will still take the opportunity to prove my point by responding in the very ways I have rationally deconstructed for them. Like children at arcade without quarters, they will insist they are winning when they have failed to understand even the most basic facts about the game. Their pointless button-pushing and joystick movements will come in the form of responding with memes or the old ‘yer just butthurt’ and their victory statement will be the frustrated child’s cry of “Nuhn uhn, YER STOOPID!”

And yet I must seriously consider that to be the case. If I were really all that smart I might attempt to destroy the very fabric of the universe and spare us further shame and misery, instead of making feeble attempts to help our species rise above its own ignorance and the doom it entails. Maybe all those super villains had it right.

R.I.P. Butthurt

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R.I.P. Butthurt 20??-2015: A Eulogy

What can I say about Butthurt that has not already been said? It was a word. And we used it. I used it. Everybody used it.

Some people said that Butthurt was just another slang term, like all the rest. But slang is a subcultures way of going against the status quo. When it has been co-opted by mainstream society it is no longer slang. It is no longer a meaningful challenge to the majority consensus.

So we must take responsibility for the death of Butthurt. Through our repetition we robbed it of its vitality, purpose and meaning. Rather than using only as a taunt for people who were so frustrated they could no longer respond reasonably to an argument, we began replacing reasonable arguments by dismissing our opponents with the claims that they were just ‘butthurt’. It is funny how the very thing Butthurt stood against, it eventually became.


Let us not remember Butthurt as it was just before it died. Let us not remember it as the substance that had become completely erased by the symbol for itself. Let us remember it in a time when it stood proud and tall, imposing utter wreckage on those who let their emotions and other automatic responses replace sound reasonable arguments; not as the emotional response it eventually became itself. Let us honor it by engaging in critical thinking and having discussions of merit that do not just immediately slide right into internet buzzwords and cliches.

And finally, let us not take it’s name in vain. Remembrance of Butthurt should be done in silence, reverence and piety to Intellect.

In Pornhubs name we pray, Ramen.

Butthurt was preceded in death by ‘Epic’ and Memes and is survived by ‘Like A Boss’, Game Requests ‘I Support the’ and Star Wars Syndrome.

Memes Are the Laugh Track of the Internet & That Is Not A Good Thing

memes

The more time goes on, the more that I really come to hate internet memes. It would be enough to hate them for just how stupid they are on their own merits, but when we consider that they may also be dumbing us down, they go from to idiotic to problematic.

The first issue applies mostly to memes under the category of ‘humor’ or ‘funny’. The problem is that most of them are not funny. In fact, most of them do not even seem to be very authentic attempts at humor. In many cases some generic image and statement are slapped together and rely merely on contextual premises. This is especially true of images that get meme’d over and over again. Take, for instance, Conspiracy Keanu. The subtext that the meme is funny precedes the actual memes that are made from it. From this presumption all sorts of terribly stupid, innate or boring bits of texts can be pasted over it and it still has a supposed underlying funniness because the image is a symbol that is meant to suggest or imply humor.

This is much the same way that laugh tracks work. A mediocre or terrible sitcom relies on laugh tracks to make the unfunny seem funny. It provides a contextual funniness that exists only in symbol, but not in substance. It is an attempt to subvert your reasoning and taste in order to draw a desired response. It is manipulation. And so are memes. And while almost nobody intends to manipulate others with memes in the symbolic way I have discussed, it happens nonetheless. And it is happening on such a wide scale that its total effect on our culture and consciousness should not be so easily discounted.

Next worse are the memes that use shock or snark in their content. The shock memes are really the most juvenile form of internet humor there is. That is not to say that there is not some value in shocking media, but at the same time that memes are intended to be shocking, the nature of its medium makes it a highly conformist activity, which negates any meaningful shock value. When memes are the norm, there can be little shocking about them. So it largely becomes a masturbatory circle of jaded fools trying to outdo one another in order to seek attention. And its okay to desire attention, but to do it in such a cliched and pedestrian way is pretty disgusting.

Snark is similar. Yet the thing that is extra gross about meme snark is that there is an underlying assumption that meme snark equates to truth. Many people will use one of these memes in comments sections to dismiss entire complex ideas. Meanwhile the irritating self-satisfaction of the sharer is obvious, while at the same time unearned. The subtext beneath memes becomes a form of automatic thinking. The medium gives weight to something via unspoken contextual clues while being devoid of any meaningful content.

The usage of memes as responses to larger ideas or dialogues is infuriating. It is intellectually lazy. It replaces opportunities to have meaningful discussions with the automated behavior of simply pasting in a meme. And there are no logical responses to memes, so they rob logic and reason and intellect from the entire situation and replace it with visual cliche. Despite the potential of the social media to awaken minds and provide a forum for information exchange and valuable discussions that lead to growth and evolution, it has become a wasteland for seeking attention and validation for completing the merely symbolic function of meme distribution.

This problem, the problem of symbol over substance, permeates our culture both online and off. We reinforce our own ignorance and automatic thought and behavior by replacing things of merit or substance with things that have nothing more than a symbolic function. This kind of problematic thinking and acting permeates every subject and issue we face. Politicians and advertisers have long understood how to manipulate us using our automated responses to certain symbolic stimuli. The subliminal. The unspoken but implied. These tricks are used to disrupt our reason and free will. So why in the hell would we be using similar tricks to entertain one another? The result of meme activity will be to further degrade free thinking and reason. Not as part of some grand conspiracy, but as a side effect of an activity we saw only as harmless fun, rather than as a contribution to the reinforcement of our own worst mindless habits. It does not matter what is intended. The effect transcends your motivation.

So for Eris’ sake, stop with the memes already! If for no other reason than to return some value to them by removing all of the mediocrity and repetition. And if you ever reply to me in an online conversation with a meme, prepare to get this article in response!

Thoughts On Internet Friendship and Death

internet friendship

In 1998 I first began using the internet regularly. I immediately recognized it as an outlet for communicating in ways that I found more difficult to achieve in real life conversations. And as a result, I began to put more and more stock in the friendships I have made there over the years.

The usual rhetoric, even on the internet, suggests that internet friendships and activity are not as meaningful as real life activities. And yet the internet exists in the ‘real world’ and should not be seen as separate from it. How human beings communicate, interact and play has evolved through both social and technological advances all throughout time. We can even observe it doing so in our lifetimes, as technological advance has accelerated rapidly and exponentially in recent decades. So to view internet friendship as less real or meaningful as those friendships we nurture in physical presence is false.

The reasons that I have come to love the internet are many. Yet I will describe only those that describe its use for social functions.

The first is that the internet allows us to find friends with similar interests and values more easily than in physical presence. Outside of the internet, your chances are astronomically low of meeting people in your geographic locality who share a large number of your personality traits, opinions and joys. The smaller or more remote your location, the more difficult it becomes to seek out the like-minded. Yet since we should not limit ourselves to those who think, feel and act like us, the internet also provides a much larger range of viewpoints than location alone. Where we may avoid people we don’t like and miss their viewpoints in ‘real life’, we may be more likely to absorb thoughts, experiences and ideas that we would otherwise not take in.

The second, and I suspect more personally important reason, is that I simply prefer text to talk. Talking is easy to mess up. But in a format where we can edit and refine our thoughts, we are able to break free of social limitations, necessities and difficulties to have more poignant, distinct and revealing conversations. There is no awkward silence in text, at least not in the same way it exists in speaking conversations. There are also less expectations for when a reply will come. All of this affords one the ability to reread, absorb more deeply and formulate the most appropriate and elegant response. Not that we always do this…not that I always do this, but we are always afforded that opportunity. And besides that, it is also difficult to endure stammering or endless side-lining in others speech difficulties or quirks. Sometimes the sort of brunt immediacy of speaking/hearing create conditions in which good communication becomes far more difficult.

So having spent years online making and fostering friendships, I often find myself more active in and attached to many of those relationships than in most of my traditional friendships. And like in traditional friendship, the people I have formed bonds with online provide support, challenges and pleasure. We fight and make up. We laugh together and share sorrow. And we help one another grow as individuals.

One internet friend, a person I never met in real life, yet have known for years, recently died. Diane Miller is one the rarest of friendships I ever had. It is rarely that we see others as truly equal to ourselves. While we may admire and envy our friends, we often think of ourselves as the smarter, or more talented or kind one; usually depending on the qualities we value most in ourselves. With Diane I felt she was equal to me in all the measurements I weigh most heavily in myself (and thus in others). And I am an unusually confident and cocky bastard, so this is very rare for me.

When I first learned of her death I was filled with a great sadness. As she would have expected of me and done herself, I explored that feeling. And having done I found that my sadness was not fer, but for me. Diane had no fear of, or exaggerated desire to avoid death at any cost. Neither did she regret her life or feel she still had things to make up for. She contracted an unknown illness months before and passed away quietly one morning during breakfast. She did not fight for her life by becoming dependent on the medical systems and social structures and other necessities they operated alongside. She was also had her own unique views on spirituality and our deeper nature which kept her from being to attached to the world or afraid of leaving it. So when I realized I should not be sad merely because her life ended, I figured out why I was actually upset.

No longer could I ever call on her intelligence, wisdom and wit to inspire me or set me straight. No longer could I seek her opinion, her counsel or her support. This is why I was distraught at her death, and will continue to mourn for this selfish loss for awhile.

So I find it hard to believe that my friendship with Diane was less real or meaningful than ‘real life’ friendships. The sort of loyalty, dependency and love inherent in those friendships was exactly what I knew I would miss most when I lost my ‘internet friend’.
(From the wall posts I read after her passing, many people felt much as I did about her, and she seemed to be a great friend, mentor and inspiration to many.)

There is nothing less real about the internet or the relationships it fosters than anything else in existence. The internet is wonderful tool for learning, sharing and connecting. It, like everything else, is a tool by which we are learning to be whatever it is that we are. We should not disparage it or any other new paradigms. Least not since they occur ever more quickly all the time. As Diane would have said:

“There must be some reason over seven billion people chose to be here right now.”

In an earlier article I spoke about ‘Love In The Age Of Social Networking‘ which discusses some of the same concepts as the article you just read.

The Reputation Economy Under Construction

As I have previously outlined and further discussed, the coming of the Information Age will be the dawn of new economic systems that hinge on reputation. More and more of this development continues to peek back at us from the future in new commentaries and developments. Here are some recent additions to that list.

 

While this article does not directly discuss a reputation economy, it does discuss many industrial, political and social trends leading to the obsolescence of the old systems. More than just that, it discusses how young people are influenced by these developments and how it has shaped their realities and goals and hints at how that might play out.
The Third Industrial Revolution

 

This article further discusses how the role of technology is changing not just the economic, social and political fabric; but the very fabric of human consciousness.
How the Web Became Our External Brain & What It Means For Our Kids

This final link is a talk from a Google executive about link building. It is mostly boring technical stuff that only webmasters would understand. In short, in order to get your webpage to have have good search results in Googles search engine, it was once a simple task of getting your websites address linked in as many places as you could on the internet. Years after this ignited a spam war in every comments section on the internet, Google has begun changing the terms by which a website will receive search result listings within the first few pages of a search. Rather than the brute force of numbers, Google is working towards a system which only gives high rankings and displays to reputable links. Which is to say, links which are shared as content by webmasters on their page, rather than those just haphazardly strewn across webspace. The implication here is that in an Information Age, when we trade primarily in information using these technologies, your reputation will depend on horizontal networks created through voluntary partnerships which rely on quality and reliability. This is just one more way in which the economic systems of humans are moving from currencies towards reputations. The plot continues to thicken!
Googles Matt Cutts: Link Building Is Sweat Plus Creativity

Interview- Oz

Interview with Oz Wright June 9-12, 2014

If your worldview were a religion, what classic cartoon character would best represent it as a figurehead, and why?

I suppose this isn’t the easiest question to answer, if I truly consider the implications of it. What is my worldview, anyway? And if it were a religion, what would that religion be like? I didn’t really seriously consider too many classic cartoon characters to be the figurehead for my worldview religion. 

I decided to choose Wile E. Coyote as the figurehead, mascot, and spiritual leader of my personal worldview / religion. I believe Mr. Coyote fits the criterion of being a classic cartoon character, which could be subject to interpretation. I could not think of any other characters which would be able to personify the same qualities as Wile E. I wanted a figurehead who would lead by example, and although I strongly advise against attempting most of the stunts we have seen this particular critter try in his ever vigilant quest to capture the ever-elusive road runner. There are several admirable qualities about the Coyote that we can learn from. I realize that he is supposed to be a villain, but one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and I sympathize with the coyote. Although caught up in the modern world of science, technology, and consumerism, he has not lost the essence of who he is. He chases the road runner in his own mail-order, Rube Goldberg nightmare. After repeated failure he doesn’t get depressed and whine about his sad lot in life, no sir! He orders a pair of rocket-powered roller skates and a flame-thrower and goes back out to face his demons. It doesn’t matter how many cliffs he falls off of, or how many boulders fall on his head, he shall not be deterred. Use failure as a learning experience, as a stepping stone to achieving your goals. Some see him as the “bad guy”, because he wants to eat the road runner. I find no blame in this, as the coyote is a predator. He is hungry. He is engaged in a daily struggle to survive in a harsh world, and he is simply following his natural instinct as a coyote, in outlandish and hilarious ways. There is something very Zen-like in this pursuit.f He exists in the moment. What happened in the past does not matter at this particular time to the coyote. He is involved in existing, in being, in doing what comes naturally to him, in the moment. He is hungry, but no road runner can satiate this hunger, because the point of the journey is the journey. The coyote is hungry for the hunt, for the struggle, and I feel that this is an important lesson to learn. Wile E. Coyote also knows how to keep his mouth shut. He has the ability to speak, he did in the first shorts he appeared in. He has a fine speaking voice, talks like Frazier Crane or something. Either way, at some point he either took a vow of silence or ran out of stuff to say, and that’s cool with me. If the Coyote knows, he ain’t saying. He’s not going to narc you out, or call the police because you were playing the drums too loud. No time for that, he has a road runner to catch. I want someone to lead my religion who does things, rather than just says things. As long as you don’t follow him off the side of a cliff, it is hard to be misled by someone who doesn’t speak. He has no hidden agenda, he is up front about who he is. His motives are not obscure. Those are the main reasons that I would want Wile E. Coyote as my spiritual figurehead. There is much that can be learned from the way he acts, and what he does. The Coyote just IS, man.

What character or mascot from a children’s cereal would best represent the other side of your worldview, the darkness? Which breakfast marketing cartoon best represents the maligned aspects of an existence in which Wile E Coyote can be seen as a triumphant spiritual lesson?

Cap’n Crunch. That’s who I gotta go with. This wasn’t an easy pick. It was down to the wire on several cereal mascots. But the so called “Cap’n”, aka Horatio Magellan Crunch, is just a creepy old guy impersonating a naval officer. His primary purpose seems to be to go around making kids happy by giving them cereal. But I feel it is all much more nefarious. First of all, that shit really ain’t good for kids! I don’t think it has the most sugar, but it got enough, I know that much. So this weird old dude is lurking around your children, and “crunchatizing” the hell out of everything, which basically means giving out a higher risk of diabetes to kids. I’m pretty libertarian, so I don’t care what kinda dope you wanna push, just don’t be pushing it on the kids, man. And what the hell? You going to trust a man who dresses like that? I don’t have children, but I sure wouldn’t want a guy like that around any children. Promising happiness through sugar and consumerism. Cereal only buys temporary happiness. And you pay for it in the long run. Actually, you pay for it in the short term too- you seen the prices on that stuff? I can buy shwag cheaper than that. It’s a twisted marketing scheme, to try to use children as tools. I trust that guy about as much as I trust the government, and that is not much. And I can’t really think of any endearing qualities or positive attributes about the Cap’n. He seems pretty fake to me.

Good and evil are extremes of a rather wide swath of grey area. Most of us fit much closer to the middle. In literature the idea of an ‘everyman’ is widely used. What literary character do you think best fits the average experience, outcomes and temperament of the average human being?

 I suppose Tom Joad from “The Grapes of Wrath”. Granted, his experience isn’t exactly like everyone, most of you haven’t been to prison, or been through the adverse circumstances that he has. But an “average” human experience, to me, seems like an unusual concept, as all humans individually experience things radically different from everyone else. But Tom Joad is a very human character. He can be good, bad, or somewhere in the grey area. Really he just wants a decent opportunity to live and survive, and he cares about his family. And he goes through hell trying to attain that. To me, the guy seems pretty “normal”, whatever that means. I really am not well versed in literature, I mostly read non-fiction, so I have a limited set of familiar characters from whom to choose. I still feel, however, that Tom Joad would accurately reflect my concept of “everyman”. He mostly just sees what he feels is right and does that. He is willing to break the law in the name of morality and justice, as he sees it. I think many people are. It’s truly hard to represent the average character for everyone. I guess he is average to me.

Thanks Oz! Some nutrition for cognition for our readers to nosh upon.

Interview- Michael B.

Interview with Michael Bertolf June 10/11, 2014

Human individuals have come to tend more and more towards specialized knowledge due to economic paradigms. While this specialization has afforded us a high degree of knowledge in many areas it has also robbed us of the basic skills which make us independent. What are three skills most Americans once had but have now lost which we should relearn and why?

1) The skill/ability to do basic repairs/fixes around the home, 2) the skill/ability to make the basic things of life (clothing and food) and 3) the skill/ability to entertain oneself and others. It was hard to choose three as I think the commonality is self-reliance. These skills allow one to accomplish meaningful things that bring values of accomplishment, assisting others, and providing sustenance to oneself and others. They also square firmly (imo) to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They all give, at the base safety. As these skills develop into an unconscious competence they allow one to develop intimacy with others, increase self esteem, and allow a level of self actualization. They also allow us to learn what levels of things can we do, and where do we need to seek assistance, either in learning a new sub skill set, or some thing that requires another (or more) set of hands. They allow us to be independent, but also allow us to work with others. I can build a chicken coop by myself, but I doubt I could build a barn by myself. Even though both require the same base skill. The sad part is that many, if not most of the things in our homes are designed in such a way that they cannot be repaired, but must be replaced.

How about the role of art? As we further specialize art becomes an external phenomena to be consumed by those outside of its specialization. This is in stark contrast to only a short time ago when art was a part of our every day lives. Through communal crafting, making music in our homes for our own entertainment and the oral story telling traditions; we were once artistically independent. How do you think that the human condition has been affected by the bifurcation of art as process and art as substance?

I prefer to use the word art to encompass, not just esthetic art, but other activities that require skill and mastery(unconscious competency). Given that premise, I see the role of art as one that allows us to define and express who we are. This defining and expression is not just on an individual level, but also at the group level. The bifurcation of process and substance (and I agree that this bifurcation exists) has had a negative effect on our condition. First it has allowed a dissociation from very traditional art to the more modern definition that art is merely the esthetic “art”. One thing that has done is that now the creation of “art” is reserved only for those special people who make esthetic art. It’s separated us from our ability to express and define ourselves individually and given that to a small elite group, who may not, and quite often do not, have similar life experiences. It has also commodified art, making it a consumer product, rather than a shared experience. Instead of expressing and defining ourselves, now we have others defining who we are. It’s caused us to look to others to tell us who we are, rather than looking inward and defining ourselves.

The commodification of all things is the most disturbing outcome of industrial society. In my worldview I see ‘evil’ as being ‘mindless consumption’ and ‘good’ as ‘awareness and free will’. If you had to pick two forces, attitudes or paradigms to represent universal ‘good’ and ‘evil’ what would they be?

Evil would be the thought that children are property to use and abuse as the person wishes. Childhood sexual, physical, and mental abuse causes life long damage that many people never recover from at all, and a lot continue to deal with throughout their entire lives. 

Good would be self awareness. Which involves (to me) a critical knowledge of yourself, the ability to, at least attempt to, see the world through another’s lenses, have a sense of self responsibility, a good balance of justice v. mercy and a capability to examine the world in a questioning, and accepting manner.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, Mike. These interviews have many purposes including perspective gathering and sharing, which makes this a successful interview.

 

Interview- Lance

Interview with Lance Delvin Becker July 9, 2014

 

Assume we are descended from a hybrid of ancient primates and alien visitors. What would be the purpose of such an experiment and what would be the most awkward thing about having sex with an alien?

 

First off, we did; try reading the fucking Bible. Second, that’s the folly of human existence; we need to find purpose in everything and assume we have the capacity to perceive all purposes. The purpose could range from anywhere between an accident, to a 2nd grade science experiment, to entertainment, or malicious reason or any number of other alternatives. The absolute fact is there are no absolutes we can comprehend today and no truths either so fuck it, let’s party while we’re here and while we’re white. Sex with aliens? I’m for it so long as they’re sexy, humanoid, lady aliens and not clownoid, but I’d have to respectfully decline seeing as how I’m about to indulge in the holy sacrament of matrimony here in the next month. Sorry sexy, humanoid, lady aliens but I’ve already found an alien I fancy.

 

 

I read the bible once and I got a real bad case of the locusts. You ever try consummating your matrimony with a plague of locusts? And you think anal is noisy!

What is some advice your current self would like to give yourself on your five year anniversary?

 

 

I’ve not tried that. How many stars would you give it on amazon?

 

Most of them. At least some. Probably a lot.

 

I’d tell myself to tell me future self to tell his future self to put off having kids for another 5 years. Also, stop skipping leg day.

 

At the beginning of 2013 the world had just reached the 7 billion mark. We have almost already reached the 7.25 mark. That is 1/29th of the worlds population in just a year and a half. That is some serious bananas. If it were an absolute necessity, how would you choose to reduce populations in a short time span?

 

I would issue sex robots to all individuals between the ages of 10 and 100 instantly/permanently stunting the growth rate. Next, the sex robots would probably become Nazi sex robots and kill the Jews.

 

You should probably do that anyway. I am sure you could find some cyborg experiment volunteers in Palestine. Maybe take out the Confuscists, too.

Thanks for playing, Lance. Keep your shirts folded.

 

Shirts without sleeves are easy to fold.

 

You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know how to walk when the killings done.

 

If K-Rog was right about anything it was either that or tity-fucking Dolly Parton.

 

 

Interviewed- Advanced Ape

Interviewed by Joshua Hansen October 2012

 

Joshua Hansen- How do you prevent vaginal discharge from permanently creating a yellowy-white stain in the crotch of your panties? Is the nature of this discharge smegmatic? Furthermore, why can’t I remember yesterday from my left nipples perspective?

 

I like to use the a protective layer of newspaper comics between my vagina and panties. This has the dual affect of keeping my panties clean while making the comic Cathy interesting to guys. Smegma doesn’t seem to be the problem. I burn all naturally occurring lubricants up in a foggy haze of vegetable insertion while drinking Robitussin/Formula 409 cocktails. Finally, your left nipple has no perspective, it is merely a sycophant of your superfluous nipple and only sees what it sees. If you flog it with beef sticks hourly you may break its right nipple dependence or it may do to you what it did to Bob Seger. Its hard to predict. Not the nipple, the outcome.

 

Joshua Hansen- Is it possible to have three-dimensional self-correcting quantum memory, and do you feel as if you’ve gained personal mastery of the Val Salva maneuver, and if so, do you feel like this mastery has had a positive effect on your Peyronie’s disease?

 

Memory is not possible. What we call memory is just a series of fabricated ideas of the past that justify and validate our present predicaments. They say hindsight is twenty/twenty, but mostly they are blind fools calling the voids in their perception truth. I have not even attempted to master the maneuver as it makes for better television to Barney Fife my way through it. Finally, the first rule of Peyronie’s disease is you don’t talk about Peyronie’s disease. That’s all I can’t say about that.

 

Joshua Hansen- Would you explain the peculiar aftertaste caused by Ronnie Corbett’s penis in purely chemical terms, and if you could choose one Kenny Loggins song to play at your funeral, which would you choose? (no ‘footloose’ or ‘danger zone’)

 

In purely chemical terms it tastes like all of the noble gases bonded to an irregular double hydrogen molecule. With a hint of aluminum phosphate and cheese. The last question is easy, my all time favorite Kenny Loggins song is Kenny Rogers. But I wouldn’t pick that song. I would probably go with that one about wearing my sunglasses at night. Because I’m a Top Gun, funbunny.

 

Joshua Hansen- Thank you, and have a pickle-dick painting…

http://argotandochre.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/clark-walter-painting-fun-frida-pickle-dick.jpg

 

 

Interviewed by Ryan Ackerman October 2012

 

Ryan Ackerman- If you had to suck a guys dick, I mean HAD TO, who would it be and why?

 

I would have to ascertain the two most evil men on earth and then pick the lesser of them so I could reward him for being the second worst choice.

 

Ryan Ackerman- Assuming that rising to the top of a political party makes you one of the two most evil men on earth, who’s dick would you be sucking this 2012 and why?

 

Romney. His evil is only hypothetical at this point. Potential to play a more evil politician on the tv doesn’t equal actual evil committed.

 

Ryan Ackerman- Do you think he’ll be very conflicted with you going down on him? Would you at least wear a wig and let him call you wife #2?

 

If he would prefer me to wear the wig over the magic underwear I would compromise. But he would have to call me wife #5 and go easy on me and my gag reflex so I didn’t pentabarf on his magic undies. I am pretty sure its not gay if those are still on, so no conflict.

 

Ryan Ackerman- Other than being forced to deep throat, how do you view any president’s actual impact on you? Do you feel that any president actually effects your day to day life? If they do how do they effect you and what steps do you take to deal with that effect?

 

At this point I do not feel the president has any affect at all. The major parties are just puppets of banker agendas. So the president himself under this system has not actual impact except as a symbol that impacts the political dialogue that I have to try to work around to have a logical discussion about our failed system.

 

I mean, what if Romney was elected president and didn’t live up to his promise to legishate women, warmonger and ignore our coming economaclypse? Of course we know that would not happen, because its not in the elite agenda; but a democrat can break all of their promises and do more harm but we never consider it could possibly work in reverse. And that says a lot.

 

Ryan Ackerman- With that in mind will you vote? Do you feel that a vote for who you want is better than not voting at all, and why?

 

I will vote, although strong arguments can be made for non-participation. But we are too close to the edge for that right now, methinks. I will vote not only with and for my conscience but also to build momentum for ideas and help pave the way for a more informed and courageous citizenry. Of course, it may be too late for that, as well. So I will probably just vote to be able to scream I TOLD YOU SO!

 

Ryan Ackerman- Thank you for this excellent discourse.

 

 

Interviewed by Candace Kelly October 2012

 

Candace- Why do you think that humans bully each other?

 

I do not think that there is a singular reason.

 

One reason would be that the alpha trait still exists in our evolutionary nature and bullying is just an expression of that archaic function.

 

But most bullying is more likely caused be people who have …See More

 

Candace- You mentioned taking men out of the hunt… do you think that it is possible that this need for power and/or destruction is something that can be bred out of men as a species, or is this behavior so hard wired that it will be a permanent fixture in our society?

 

I think that human beings evolved this far without awareness of their evolution and how their activity contributed to it. I think that in order to evolve further we must do it through self-awareness and a methodology that examines how we want to evolve…See More

 

Candace- Evolution of a species is a tall order, even for man. What changes would you make to the education system to speed this process along?

 

The current educational paradigms are so corrupt that they cannot be changed to produce a positive outcome. This is an inherent problem within the systems and structures they reside within. The modern education system was designed specifically to contr…See More

 

Candace- Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

Interviewed by Sara North October 2012

 

Sara- If there is one character in Alice in Wonderland (book or movie) that you identify with, who would it be?

 

Well, it may sound to cliche but that would be Alice. Alice was an archetype of human curiosity and the depths we will often go to satiate it. Modern social structures work well to either kill this curiosity through fear and conditioning or redirect them to some activity that validates and perpetuates the institutions within those social structures.

 

Sara- So are you saying you can identify with a feminine perspective?

 

Not as much as I would like to. Although I do try as much as possible. I have a lot of work to go. But this is one of the most fascinating parts of our coexistence as distinct genders is being able to examine the internal via the external.

 

And that was so totally not an intercourse reference so let it go, Sara.

 

Sara- Do you believe in gender roles or physiological limitations?

 

I believe that evolution has certainly endowed us with gender-specific qualities that often lead to what we call gender roles. There are certainly some gender-specific roles or attributes that are socially constructed but to call gender itself a social construction denies the mechanisms of evolution. It is also contrary to what we can observe in other species, especially our fellow primates. There are obviously physiological limitations. For instance, men cannot give birth because our physiology is not equipped for that. And the male body has a higher amount of muscle per mass on average. That is not to say that a woman cannot be stronger than a man. Exercise could make most women stronger than most men. But the optimal limits suggest that the strongest man would be stronger than the strongest woman.

 

Sara- What are your thoughts on the statement “might, make right”?

 

That would depend on how we define ‘right’. In the traditional use of this term, ‘right’ is defined as the status quo rather than an agreed upon moral principle. As such, might cannot make right in the moral sense. Only consensus can do this. And when I say consensus I do not mean the democratic method of the tyranny or the majority. I mean voluntary societies held together by the consent of the individuals within them.

 

Sara- So if a group of people shared the common trait of cannibalism, and choose to live together, and voted it was ok to eat other towns or cities, but not their own neighbors, would this be morally right because they were voluntary societies held together by individual consent of the individual?

 

In my opinion, yes. And not because moral relativism, either. It is the responsibility of a voluntary society to defend itself and its own moral practices. No matter how amoral another society may be we cannot right that wrong through force, coercion or compulsion. You cannot right a wrong with another wrong and two wrongs do not make a right. It is inevitable that such freedom of association would create groups like you previously mentioned, those that produce an almost universally constant immoral value system. Hopefully by adopting a morally acceptable form of consensual societies we can evolve past these aberrant behaviors and ideologies and eventually live free of them, or at least mostly free of them with better solutions for dealing with them. In the meantime we must accept the kinds of people and societies that evolve naturally out of consensus even if we disagree with them. And if we cannot coexist without being endangered by them we must be courageous and fight them them at our own doors when they come knocking rather than breaking down every door and forcing the occupants to squeeze into our idea of the perfect home as an act of prevention that itself creates immoral activities.

 

 

Interviewed by Amy Hanson October 2012

 

Amy- What human failing are you least sympathetic to and why?

 

Blindness to authority. Mindless obedience. My main objection with it is that it creates conditions in which those lacking that weakness are caught in the cross fire. It seems to limit the choices of others more than any human quality I can think of. There are more followers than assholes. If we had less followers the assholes would not be such a problem.

 

Amy- What human failing are you most sympathetic to and why?

 

Empathy. While empathy can be a strength it can also be a failing when it is applied too liberally or without rationale. Good intentions pave the road to hell and all of that. Empathy in this way can lead to restrictions enacted for the ‘greater good’ that end up actually doing more harm than they resolve. But I am more sympathetic because empathy is also a necessary solution to many human problems. It just needs to be harnessed and applied with consent and not force, coercion or compulsion. When it does those last things it becomes authoritative and blindly obedient.

 

Amy- What is your chief characteristic?

 

Prankster. I identify with the prankster deities the most as well as other forms of pranksterism like internet trolls, comedians and whatnot. Shamanism is mostly pranksterism. Often the best sort of lessons come with humor and even some honest trickery. I suppose it does alienate me from some people but those are the people less likely to be swayed by my shamanism, so it is a fair trade.

 

 

Amy- I think everyone can agree that you are a prankster. Thanks, Joshua. Have a bomb ass night, yo! 🙂

 

Its pretty unanimous, fo sho. Thank you, Amy and have a wicked dope ass night, girl. 🙂

 

 

 

Interviewed by Trey Webb November 2012

 

Trey- As an author in what order of importance do you put the following: Environmental descriptions, character development and plot.

 

Also what writing styles and/or authors would you say have been the most influential in your own personal development?

 

 

Of those three I put them in the following order- Character development, plot and then environmental descriptions.

 

I do not really write a lot of environmental descriptions unless it seems the only way to put the characters or plot in context. I am not a fan of some of the ‘classic’ literary forms which ramble on with descriptors that do not seem to serve the characters or plot but are just for color or imagery. I don’t think that is really necessary in modern literature. Media has trained us to fill in those kind of blanks. We understand the world and even far away places from all of the media absorption and so we do not need descriptive dialogue. Since I always begin a story from a basic situation, usually involving characters, I find having strong characters as the most important element and then the plot evolves from the kind of personality that their character has. Just like in real life, people react differently to identical situations. So when the character gets in those situations they should make sense in the context of the character. So I usually even use plot to develop the character.

 

I consider theme above all of these. Theme is central to nearly every story. Whether that is just a gimmick that I want to exploit (usually for humor purposes) or some kind of political or existential idea. I consider most of what I write to be allegorical. Parables and parodies.

 

 

 

Trey- With character development being centric to your writings; What proportion of your stories would be something creative coming to you out of nowhere vs. you sitting down and crafting a character you had not yet thought of?

 

 

I don’t think I have ever written a character that was not in some way not based on myself. I always start with something within my own experiences, ideas and archetypes and then try to vary them enough from there to make them more interesting to myself and the reader. Not that I am not interesting enough as it is, but part of the writing process is exploration and all exploration should lead back to self-discovery. Since I also tend to start stories from personal experiences, dreams or jokes I don’t think they are ever from nowhere or unthought. They probably have existed for some time in at least an archetypal form.

 

Also, I forgot to answer the second part of your last question. Douglas Adams was the biggest inspiration to me. Reading Hitchhikers Guide made me realize the potential to use humor and speculation to craft parables and parodies. I think that science fiction when combined with humor is always the thing that inspires me the most. Christopher Moore and Tom Robbins were also pretty big influences as well as Mark Twain and Kerry Thornley.

 

 

Trey- In your writings, is there sometimes hidden meanings or metaphorical story lines readers should pay attention to?

 

If you write the characters based partly on your own self introspective, what would you say the plots themselves are based on, or maybe that ties into the first question?

 

 

Joshua Scott Hotchkin Well, there are always very specific things that I embed into the stories. Specific themes and lessons and whatnot. But I also know that all of that will be perceived differently to every reader, so I try to just bury layers of my own personal meaning and understanding in them so that in the act of interpretations the reader can also find layers of their own within.

 

The plots are generally just based on the necessity of the themes and character. Or leading up to a punchline. I dont really put any forethought into them. I just start writing and follow each word with another. My instincts usually work to satisfy myself with what comes from that method.

 

 

Trey- What would you find more personally satisfying: 1) A successful author, who lives successfully and comfortably off licensing and royalties. With a million fans. or 2) A successful author who’s work is pirated by everyone, who lives and scrapes by with the lifestyle of a starving artist, with a billion fans.

 

I am dragging you into the I.P. realm and putting you on the spot!

 

 

I need a qualifier. Is the writer still writing what they want to and enjoying it in both cases?

 

 

Trey- I will say yes for both cases.. I will also ask, would you write stuff you despised for wealth if it took all of your time, leaving little time for what you “want” to write?

 

 

I would rather be successful. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being comfortable for doing what you love most. I don’t understand selling out, unless it means the artist changed to make money.

 

I would certainly take writing jobs that were not fulfilling as my own ideas in order to gain enough success to earn artistic freedom. But I could not and would not write something I absolutely hated for money while destroying my own creative output. Writing is almost a compulsion to rid myself of that creativity. I must obey that urge.

 

 

Trey- (Scenario) I am going to pay you generously to write an Epic Trilogy, but I want the main character description and plot description right this moment.. Go!

 

 

A young Amish man joins anarchists in a post zombie-apocalypse scenario. In a world that has survived zombies and has even given the surviving ones rights a moral component tries to disrupt the left vs. right paradigm that keeps the zombies alive in order to control humanity. The do-gooders and the highly religious come off as the most ridiculous while our Amish character comes to terms with what his own beliefs mean in this new world.

 

 

Trey- In closing, and in regards to a topic I know you enjoy: What advise would you give parents who would like to prod their child’s interest in writing or perhaps nurture an existing interest, to develop their understanding of creativity or help their creative process? Help us shape young minds here Joshua.

 

 

Replace punishment with creative activity from a very young age. If you can teach children to use their creativity to deal with the issues that make them act out, but in a positive way instead, they will become both better writers and better people. I think the time is coming where creativity is everything and punishment is obsolete and that these new paradigms are inextricably going to be connected if we are to get there.

 

 

Trey- Thanks Josh for some very awesome insight into the mind of a great up and coming writer.. I hope you are discovered while you are still alive and not like some of those artists who are instantly self made soon as the dirt hits the coffin!

 

 

Interviewed by David Metcalf November 2012

 

David- If you could reinvent modern public education from scratch, which three core concepts would you want it to have, and how would they influence the daily direction of such a system?

 

 

Philosophy, independence and critical thinking.

 

A philosophy is necessary to be developed first and foremost. It is the basis of all education. From Philosophy stems why we learn and what we learn. By having first precepts or principles we can instill purpose and context into the content of learning. Philosophy is the foundation for education.

 

Independence is key to learning. Not every child needs to learn the same things at the same pace at the same time. What a child decides is important to learn should help them develop their own personal interests and goals based off of their philosophy. Disciplines like reading, writing, math, history, science and the arts are only tools to reach an individuals overall goal and should not be put in importance above the reason the individual chooses to use them. In order to do this we would have to rethink the ideas of classroom and teacher and instead opt for a solution that taught individuals independently rather than groups as the same.

 

The most important thing that an individual must learn is how to think for themselves. We must become adept not at answering things but at questioning them. We should not be testing students but giving students tools to test the world. Our education systems do not foster life long learning because the point of them is to condition students towards conformity. Once that goal is attained then learning becomes unnecessary. But the student who has learning as its own goal and is able to do so by challenging the assumptions they encounter will continue to learn and to helps humanity to progress.

 

David- To what extent is doubt–or lack of certainty–the basis for enriching a personal philosophy?

·

 

A personal philosophy should not be considered a destination but a journey. It should evolve with the individual in order to foster and represent personal growth. It should not be static but always changing in order to provide a more holistic and consistent worldview. New ideas, information and observation should act to move the individual forward. This is only possible when one is able to express doubt and uncertainty about their own assumptions and those they encounter. Without doubt and uncertainty we are led into the dead end of dogma and all growth of the individual and their core philosophy is stunted so long as they insist on absolutes and the infallibility of their ideas, sources and methods.

 

 

David- If you could go back in time to give a single piece of advice to your childhood self (in 2 minutes or less), what would it be?

 

 

This question assumes that there is something that I wish I could have avoided, something I could change or some experience that was unnecessary. I do not believe that any of that is true. I am happy to be who I am and every bit of the ride along the way contributed to that. I would not change anything so it seems absolutely unnecessary to go back and give myself any advice.

 

However I feel obliged to give you some kind of answer maybe I would go back and tell myself to start a savings account with a high interest rate so that when I came back to now I would have some cash waiting for me.

 

 

 

Interview- Carolyn

Interview with Carolyn Silvernail November 2012

 

I was born the eldest grandchild on both sides of the family as well as being the oldest sibling in my family. Looking back on that I can see how profoundly this shaped me in many ways. How do you think being and older sibling shaped you into the person you are today?

 

 

Well, I think being the oldest child is both a good and bad thing. I definitely think I’m more confident and sure of myself because of it. And I also tend to ‘look out’ for those who need looking out for, like I had to do with my sister growing up. I also hate when I see older kids picking on younger kids and I think that’s the ‘big sister’ in me reacting. But I also have a tendency to playfully tease people in my family (husband, sister) as well. Jason calls this ‘big sistering’. 😀 But this could be because I can be more of a kid than an adult at times. But yeah, I have no problem telling people what to do and at times I can come across as bossy, and I think that’s partly due to my birth order.

 

 

I think that I resented having a younger sibling at first and may have acted out on this by being vengeful to ease my own hurt at being knocked out of the top spot. With my brother I think that I can tell how this may have impacted him in many ways. Do you think that this is something that happens with all children and how do you suppose it effects younger siblings?

 

 

Yeah, I think that’s totally common. I resented having a younger sibling as well. I especially hated that she cried all night and kept me up. 😀 And of course we had EPIC fights growing up. I do think it affects younger siblings. Not being one, I would only be speculating, but I wonder if, as adults, they are drawn to people who have an older sibling mentality. Jason (my husband) and I are both older siblings, and we definitely relate in that way. Also, I still think of Amy as my ‘little’ sister. Of course I recognize that she has knowledge and insight into things that I don’t, but I have a tendency to default to the ‘older is wiser’ mentality.

 

 

In our culture age in general is a much greater focus than in others. We set all kinds of arbitrary age limits that fail to view people as individuals or the sum of their experiences and actions. It seems to me that by doing so we have extended the age of childhood far past its evolutionary function. Can you see any of the effects of extending the culturally applied label of youth in modern society?

 

 

I think there is a difference between biological and intellectual maturity. Of course biologically, we can begin reproducing at a relatively young age. And this makes sense in evolutionary terms. But Intellectually, our frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until we reach our early to mid 20s. So decision making, critical thinking skills, social responses, etc, are at a disadvantage. With this in mind, I can absolutely understand treating young 20-somethings as ‘almost adults’. This doesn’t mean I support the infantilization (is that a word?), of our youth. I think lots of kids are raised thinking: -‘you’re a star!-, -you can do anything!-, -the world owes you success!- and it does nothing but cripple them. We see this a lot in the military for example. Kids coming in and absolutely falling apart at the first negative obstacle they encounter. In fact, the Army has ‘resiliency’ programs to deal with just these problems. And I do think these problems result from parents (and probably schools) shielding their children from adult responsibilities.

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

Interview- Amy

Interview with Amy Hanson November 2012

Although I have a much firmer grasp of the English language and it’s usage than the average person, I am not very proficient at learning new languages. I have met other writers who were the same way. I think this is because sometimes creativity and technical knowledge can be at odds. Can you think of any other disadvantages at that may come with having more language skills than the average person?

 

 

I think studying a foreign language in the right way or with the right spirit isn’t limiting at all. I think there’s not only room for creativity and technical knowledge, but that the two must be synchronized if one is to reach proficiency goals and find the experience personally rewarding. The problem is that there is a lot of technical information to deal with and memorize, and sometimes there’s not such a great creative solution to going about doing this. But when that happens, I think one can still view this “drill and kill” problem with some creative detachment to lessen the frustration and focus on the payoff. Yes, there’s plenty of rote memorization and repetition that goes into learning a new language, but repeating something useful can be looked at as a kind of magical spell or mantra. We can be aware of and appreciate how the repetition increases the power of a thought or a skill and eventually manifests a new reality in which we can think and speak in totally new ways.

 

 

Do you think a person who is poor at language can be as creatively valid as someone who has above average language skills? Why or why not? Examples?

 

 

Yes, I think language skills are just one of countless ways to be creatively valid. I also think that being poor at language vs. good at language isn’t the most useful way of looking at things. I have students who find learning a language super difficult and still stubbornly trudge along and make the progress they are able to make. I find that kind of progress so inspiring and cool. Much more so than students who come in wired for it and don’t appreciate that or make much effort. The progress they make, if any, doesn’t usually impress me. I also think that it’s useful to try something and fail and deal with that. I think that failure should be not only be okay, but valued as an important learning experience in academics and in life in general.

 

 

How do you think our academic systems fail to respond in this difference in abilities and emphasis on creativity?

 

 

Oh, many ways. I’m not an expert on that and I’m sure I’ve got some prejudices that keep me from seeing it clearly. But I think the main problem might be that academic systems can make people think of learning as something that only happens in a classroom and by force. Education needs to be meaningful first of all and then this problem of abilities and creativity is resolved, along with other problems. I think John Dewey’s philosophy on education is totally right. The idea that teachers must access students’ lived experience to make learning meaningful and to inspire them to use it in their daily lives really speaks to me. Education has to be fully integrated in order to matter, and academic systems typically and historically aren’t able to do this with much success. But individual teachers have always and continue to do it everywhere and all the time, and this still inspires me. Another problem is our values as a culture. For some reason we rate abstract academic skills as better, more creative, and more respectable than we do concrete skills. I think that’s a huge mistake. It filters everyone though the same program, rewarding those who happen to be good at it and punishing those who aren’t. And those who aren’t don’t have the encouragement to value or think about, much less pursue, their own talents and interests, which are just as creatively valid and worthwhile, if not more so in many cases.

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

You’re welcome, Joshua! You too! 🙂

 

Interview- David

Interview with David Metcalf November 2012

 

Explain how pantheism informs your own ideas about politics, art and science. Are there central pantheistic concepts you hold which make your other principles consistent with pantheism and one another? What are they and how?

 

 

Pantheism guides my beliefs about the world, certainly. But the chief component that guides my regard for Pantheism is the multiverse.

 

The first cause argument does not support any concept of religion, for me. But it does support the argument for Pantheism. I believe that there was once a singularity in the moment before the first manifestation of the universe. At this moment, before the first Big Bang, the only thing that could exist was the concept. Metaphysical truths that are not bound to matter were all that existed. Saying that these essential concepts/truths were “God” is simply a semantic choice.

 

I still am working on deciphering any truth that could exist outside the existence of matter itself, but I believe that these truths may yet exist. This informs my belief in Pantheism that a higher form is bound into the stuff of the universe. Chaim Potok’s _The Chosen_ begins with the line: God is everything that he is, and is also everything that he _is not_. I find this a good description of Pantheism: God is bound into the fabric of the cosmos, but yet also represents that which _is not_ the cosmos.

 

Although the first Big Bang event (of which there may be thousands or perhaps nearly infinite) may have destroyed this singularity in the process (Pandeism), I suspect that some greater process still exists in the multiverse.

 

I believe the multiverse is what allows for Free Will, such as it is. I believe that, in Life, the universe finds its meaning. Consciousness is the vehicle with which the cosmos understands itself. All life is valuable because it animates the inorganic matter of the universe. Humans ought to place themselves as no more or less valuable than any other life-form, and certainly as merely equal to those we share our planet with. Life ought to be valued simply because it is rare. As Einstein said, humans will not know peace until they extend their circle of compassion to all living things.

 

To me, politics as they exist today are entirely too narrow. They gravitate towards a Judeo-Christian beliefs in humans as entitled to exploit the planet. Genesis commands mankind to view nature as his possession. Man is to exploit nature to his own will with absolute disregard for the consequences to other life forms. This is what makes Christianity abhorrent, its total disregard for our fellow creatures: our presumption of superiority over other life-forms of the planet. Christianity also informs society’s basic presumptions about the ideology of progress. This notion of progress ought to be weighed against our cultural achievements, which are still primitive if we cannot transcend geopolitical divisions and recognize the necessity to unite to preserve our existence as a species.

 

As a writer, I view myself as on the journey to describe the clearest truths as I know them. The multiverse will find some version of myself that accomplishes this task. I only seek to edify others through my writing and leave something greater than myself behind in my work. I would rather make my mark on human thought than live purely for my own self-interest. I desire to help unravel the grip of selfishness and ignorance on humankind. Hopefully, I will one day be able to publish something that can have the same impact on society that Rachel Carson achieved with _Silent Spring_. Her example demonstrates that books can change the world, and I feel that my writing is the greatest talent I possess with which to attempt to create a better world for others.

 

As for science, science is best tempered with wisdom and an open-mind. Science attempts to describe reality with something approaching our best theories about it. It will change with time, but should be appreciated as a facet of knowledge that balances mere intuition about the universe. Science informs us to have healthy skepticism for our own beliefs, but not to let those beliefs become dogma. Science should not create its own dogma, but should be incorporated into the basic position of doubt about ultimate truth and reality.

 

 

I will add an addendum that my answer to the “art” part of the question was handled as my possible contribution to art in my writing. Evaluating others’ art is similar to my standards for myself: the ability to advance the knowledge/and wisdom of humankind through its expression.

 

 

What are some examples of art that you feel express your abstract connection to pantheism in a few different mediums?

 

 

In literature, works like _A Wrinkle in Time_ and _The Dark Tower_ series deal with abstract concepts of the universe like space, the multiverse, an inter-connectivity. The idea that everything is intimately bound up in everything else (described by quantum entanglement) is a weighty concept that some popular fiction deals with. Since I feel that Pantheism is almost inseparable from the multiverse concept, any story that integrates multiverse reality is also associated with Pantheism for me. _Sliders_ is an excellent example of a TV show which is based almost exclusively on the multiverse. _Déjà vu_ with Denzel Washington brilliantly incorporates splintering reality on film. _The Last Question_ by Isaac Asimov is an excellent short that deals with a single iteration of a universe populated with humans. It would be an excellent short story for anyone interested in the concept of the singularity before the first expression of the universe.

 

Fractal art also has an aspect of multiverse/universe perspectives in it. The fractal concept is becoming a popular way of understanding how the micro to macro scale unfold as we enlarge our perspective from the atom to the cell to the body to the solar system and cosmos. Because the concept of space is both infinitely small and perhaps infinitely large, the fractal concept is a way of understanding the transition from small to large scale in the universe.

 

Outside of film and literature, I’m at a loss to think of abstract art that integrates Pantheism as a concept. _Old Souls_ by Tom Schroeder is an excellent example of non-fiction literature that attempts to scientifically deal with evidence for life after death in the form of reincarnation. If humans can be said to have the spark of consciousness within them, it may be argued that this consciousness is derived from a greater whole of the universe. The defense of such a belief involves pantheism, and reincarnation fits into this system adequately. Reincarnation also refutes the idea of some eternal punishment such as Hell (perhaps the most barbaric concept from Christianity). _Old Souls_ is a must-read for anyone interested in challenging their own beliefs about how life and consciousness work.

 

Life itself is a kind of art. Choosing a path for yourself involves the elimination of various possibilities into a single path. As all possible realities exist in the multiverse, our task is to walk the road in which we find the greatest meaning and purpose to our lives. Achievement of a personally chosen goal is not necessarily probable, but if it is possible then the path to it can be accomplished through enough effort and sacrifice. The multiverse accounts for all possibilities. It is intimately bound to free-will and philosophy, as all of a person’s possible choices are bound to all of everyone else’s possible choices in an endless field of possibilities. I sometimes wonder about the choices that bind me in the universe populated by other human beings who make their own choices. I speculate that even in having a conversation with another person, there may be parts of us that will find existence in realities other than my own.

 

 

Consider then the Ax Paradox which goes something like this- Is an ax that has had all of it’s parts replaced at different moments over time still the same ax? If an individual is constantly splintering off into an infinite of possibilities is there really any basis for individuality to exist? What then is our experience relative to the whole?

 

 

This is also known as the used car paradox, where the mechanic eventually replaces every part of his car, but then builds a replica car with all the original parts, and thus has two cars where once he only had one.

 

Let’s focus on how this relates to splintering reality on individual consciousness. I do believe individuality still exists in a splintering reality, because the splintering parallel universes are merely the mechanism by which intelligent beings are presented with the choice of which reality to occupy. Life essentially becomes a kind of hologram where all possible choices and the choices of others become integrated into the possible realities.

 

The idea that I may be on a path to several sister universes occupied by the various choices I impacts my decision making process. But in the common sense view, it does not always matter. The choice to complete my papers for grad school is a sensible one, although it helps to be aware that I could blow them off, and thus makes writing them feel more like a choice instead something being forced upon me. Working menial jobs has been viewed the same way, I may have a limited choice in whether to go to work, but the fact that I could simply accept the consequences of not earning money (perhaps becoming a freegan and changing my relationship to comfort), at least makes it seem more like a choice.

 

Is someone still an individual despite the endless copies of himself in nearly infinite parallel realities? Yes. There is something meaningful in whichever probable universe one finds oneself in. Each reality represents a series of choices and the blind happenstance that shape our lives. Awareness of parallel realities allows someone to acknowledge that any goal is achievable if they accept the effort that it takes to realize that goal. If it is at all possible for me to write an entertaining and insightful non-fiction work that someone will publish, then I choose to create that reality by accepting the tasks necessary to achieve this. It will probably require a period of poverty, a struggle to make ends meet before I publish, and not being complacent to use my free time entirely as I wish, but if I accept these things, then maybe I will shape my own reality enough to end up in that possible universe through volition. Awareness of your options broadens your volition.

 

My fractured consciousness over sister universes may be deeply bound into the experience of consciousness itself. Somewhere–perhaps distant, perhaps not–there may be versions of myself very similar to my present circumstances. And there are probably infinitely more copies of myself that are completely different, or even non-existent. All of this is merely the mechanism of the cosmos which enables full choice at any given moment. It’s been compared to a kind of video game which can understand any action you may perform in the game world. Life will react to any choice or action that you may take. But the higher level of being is _creating_ the life that you wish to experience through awareness instead of simply _reacting_ to life.

 

No one can tell you who you are. You must decide that yourself. Publilius Syrus said that “It matters not what you are thought to be, only what you _are_.”

 

I may depend on my friendships and family for my social well-being, but I know that my identity is entirely mine to choose. I see that the meaning of life is to choose the self that you find most meaningful. This also means choosing your path in a world which wants you to conform to its own dogmas. You always have a choice in the matter. You simply come to terms with the consequences of exacting your choice in the face of an unfriendly world.

 

 

Thank you sir, have a shpadoinkle day!

 

Interview- Trey

Interview with Trey Webb November 2012

As a fanboy of technology, yet someone not unaware of it’s possible dangers to humanity, what do you think is the most important thing we should be actively doing to prevent a technological-based catastrophe that we are not already doing, how and why?

 

 

I may not be the best “Fan Boy” per-say, as my television is CRT, my PCs are salvaged and I do not spend money on the latest gadgets. I do find amusement in manipulating it and I find it quite amazing the more it is unlocked.

 

The biggest risk I see is that it is becoming an extension of our natural intelligence. I am seeing people in general actually absorbing knowledge less and less, and becoming more reliant of technology. How many people remember addresses or phone numbers anymore? How many kids nowadays graduate high school and can count change in their head? Industry is a huge culprit, a massive enough solar flare in today’s age would cause food disruptions, energy disruptions and general wide spread panic. That same flare 50 years ago, not so much. That is how exponentially fast technology progresses and ingrains its selves into our daily lives.

 

The two biggest things I think people should consider: 1) Learn things before using the shortcuts, like basic math and memorization. Keep your mind sharp. 2) Design vital infrastructure with known cosmic events in mind.

 

The newer generation that is up and coming, born with a smart phone in their hand and the power of Google at their fingertips their whole life, may have a very hard time functioning without them. They may be in for a rude awakening with the right sequence of events.

 

 

So you do not believe there should be a moral approach or something ingrained in our values? You think an individual approach combined with emergency planning is enough to safeguard us against all possible problems that could arise?

 

 

Its not that I do not think that, but I think that is probably futile at this point. The wheel is in motion, technology will make us or break us. As a species we are drawn to the light of luminescent screens much like insects. It is quite possibly just the evolution of becoming a highly advanced species. The obsessiveness could be a phase, or maybe not. I can simply go into speculation land and try to guess what will happen.. If anything, I hope we innovate our way out of our current finite resource “sink” Technology creates efficiency, but what is it we are actually making efficient? The efficient extraction and consumption of resources that we have no way of guaranteeing long term viability.

 

With that being said, in a century or two we might once again be cavemen, or we might be a highly advanced techno-communist society, such as depicted by Gene Roddenberry. Unlocking the power to reassemble molecules, on top of unlocking potentially unlimited energy resources should make the market system defunked.

 

 

In that transaction some very important aspects of humanity as we understand them would have to be lost. What do you think that technology will wrestle from our humanity that you personally think will be the biggest lost, or you would be saddest to see go even though you are sure it will of necessity?

 

 

Trey Webb I think that question can be a double edged sword. People are loosing touch with nature due to technology since industrialization. People are loosing touch with family because the entertainment value of technology takes too much of their time. What really is entertainment? Its the passing of hours out of your life that you will never get back. So much technology these days with “personal devices” absorbs a single person from their world.. Where as early technology like television, brought families together in the same room for mutual enjoyment. Person-ability is being lost.. I imagine a lot of high school parties nowadays may just be kids sitting in a room texting each other being silly. Gathering up the courage to walk up to that girl you had a crush on and ask her to the dance, is a lost rite.. Now you simply have to type a message and hit send.. These are traditional values and what we get in trade may be greater.. It all depends if we were meant to live a single life span as a species in tune with the natural primitive world and having great satisfaction in that, then bleeping out of existence.. Or perhaps we are meant to chase the fountain of youth and become a universal omnipotent force..

 

 

As cheesy as it may be, the Movie “Surrogates” is a great example for what may be in store.. The loss of person-ability is the saddest loss to me, to answer your question.. Its not a loss to future generations who never had it to begin with. They may not choose their leaders on looks and speeches.. but words and ideas.

 

 

Do you think technology will be a greater asset or detriment to evolution of our conscious and the forms it takes? Could it make ours obsolete or will it push it to the next level? What do YOU think?

 

 

I think the process of life is constant evolution, so I think ultimately if we make it through the development phase safely it will be an asset, as it allows for utopia with machines as the necessary Morlocks. I think at that point it will push our consciousness to the next level, perhaps the other 66% of our brains are simply waiting for this moment. This is my own personal prediction and thoughts.

 

 

You think evolution occurs in the brain (hardware) rather than in the more abstract mind (software)? Does this put limits on our potential? If we do have a spiritual or metaphysical component of existence, could machinery also gain this from developing first a material based consciousness?

 

 

My gut tells me that our minds are fully developed, the evolution of the “hardware” processing capabilities of our brains may bring the mind into plainer view.. I don’t think it limits our potential, but to put it in simpler geek terms.. The operating system of the future has higher hardware prerequisites than our brain is able to handle.. so we are stuck in single threaded, single core, low RAM environments.. Evolution or innovation will allow us to reach our full potential!

 

 

In conclusion, what do you see as our best option- To integrate our biology with technology or to compete against technology in order to evolve?

 

 

I don’t have an opinion on that one as far as what I think is best. I say play the hand we are dealt, let the natural order as it exists decide including the market and hope for the best. You loose an arm? Buy an arm.. Cybernetics make it mainstream and benefits you in the current moment, time to get retrofitted.. Go with the flow is all we can do. That is evolution.

 

 

Thank you for the enlightening romp through speculation of our future, Trey. Have a rockalicious night!

 

Interview- Cassie (& Trey)

Interview with Cassie Webb October 2012

 

I never take ‘conspiracy theories’ with total disbelief, but I do always distrust the government because this seems like a more rational skepticism. What are some conspiracy theories that you find absolutely unbelievable and some things you absolutely believe that the government says?

 

Cassie- Some of the conspiracy theories I DO NOT believe is all the crazy reptilian alien/ dimensional being hype that’s spewed by David Ike and his followers. I believe little of what the government says, except as time goes on the government is “going hot” and admitting to more and more of the BS they are pulling over on US Citizens, They feel they have conditioned us enough that it’s time they can openly talk about some of these issues that have up till now been deemed as “conspiracy theories”. I will try to explain what I believe is really going on- We are under a New World Order take over, so many things going on from the weather (bio-engineering) to the wars and economy (political/social engineering) is all a part of the puzzle being put in place by those who support the NWO. The NWO is ran by a select few aka the Illuminati, mainly members of the Builderberg Group, People with “Elite Bloodlines” and the Elite Wealthy…such as the Rothchilds, Corporations and the super Elite and foundations such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Monsanto are all in bed together doing their part to bring all the puzzle pieces together. The ultimate goal is population reduction and turning the last of the population into slaves to the NWO. I will explain into further detail–

 

Cassie- Monsanto is a bio-engineering corporation creating genetically modified organisms, everything from corn to soy, all mainline crops. They can be bio-engineered to be drought resistant, resistant to soils with bad PH levels, ect. They are also terminator seeds, meaning you plant the seeds, the plant grows, and any seeds made by that crop are sterile, leading to having to buy more seeds from Monsanto. They are also contagious through pollination, if the GMO crops are too close to Non GMO crops, Through cross pollination the GMO crops will take over the non GMO and turn those plants into terminator plants as well. THIS IS WHERE CHEM TRAILS COME IN. Chem trails are a type of Bio-engineering containing aluminum dioxide, barium, lead, and other heavy metals. After sprayed into the air, in about 3-6 hours the particles fall down onto us, into our air we’re breathing, onto the crops we’re eating, and into our water supplies. These heavy metal particles get into the soil and change the PH level to the point only Montanto seeds will flourish when grown in the soil. It’s my belief and other’s belief that Monsanto is IN PART responsible for the Chem Trailing. The chem trails are also a handy tool in “Soft kill” meaning a slow kill, for population reduction, Aluminum and heavy metals get into humans and store in areas of the brain causing everything from Autism to Alzheimers.

 

Cassie- To get into social and political engineering, Our economy is purposely being stomped into the ground for the purpose of complete economic collapse…Why would this benefit any of these NWO people?? Once the economic collapse happens, People will be broke and hungry, looting will happen, it will be chaos…People will demand the “GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY DOES SOMETHING TO HELP!” That’s where the FEMA Camp facilities come in, this is where Posse Comitatus comes in, this is where NDAA comes in. All these people needing help will be shipped into these FEMA Camps, all others will be forceably rounded up/shot by the military (posse comitatus), and once all these people are in the FEMA camps, through NDAA they can all be kept there as prisioners indefinately…doing labor work or whatever they are told to do, for slave wages or no wages. VIOLA! Instant slaves! This is why Veterans and “Preppers” are considered terror threats, and our troops are currently being trained on why these people are bad and how to take them out. The Preppers will not need Fema/government help, which pisses them off, they want everyone put in the camps, and the Veterans will fight on the side of the citizens and not the government. This also ties into Agenda 21… Once the population is put into these Fema Camps / Living Facilities, it will turn into “People Zones” and “Nature Zones”… Just like on the movie the “Hunger Games”…. Agenda 21 is all about population control and keeping populaton centers confined, earth and environment over human life

 

What would be the ultimate goal of these conspirators, then?
Enter Trey, Cassie’s husband. He is unaware that he has just interrupted an interview but I decided to keep his dialogue intact.

 

Trey- I believe conspiracies like Rogue elements of CIA or State Dept. Fundraising for blackops on the black market. They can plan assanations and do experiments. I think the CIA also uses talk radio lik we Alex Jones for mind control experiments. I believe they were involved in Jonestown too.. See the corellation?? Jim Jones amd Alex Jones are related and have thousands of people ready to move to South America to avoid the boogieman. Mind control.experimentation is what I believe in, call me crazy..

 

Cassie- Population reduction = easy control of the remainder of the population = ultimate goal is total control. Only thing these people like more than money is control

 

Cassie- See, Trey thinks I’m a nut, and anytime I start talking about it all he brings up Alex Jones…. lol…..

 

Trey- This is your discussion! I was putting in my two sense. I do believe.what I said, not a joke. Ive been reading into this stuff since before it was cool. I kind of dislike.Alex because he had a good thing going and turned sensational.. Whatever anyone believes, just do real independent research based on fact, never put too much faith into talking heads, “articles” or statistical studies.

 

Cassie- We’re being forced into a police state, into total technocratic tyrannical governance. With so many constitutional rights being stomped on, with things going on like the TSA and all the illegal things they’re doing like groping people, it’s all being done to condition the public, and it will all keep getting more ridiculous slowly over time until the general population thinks it’s just business as usual. Same thing happened during the holocaust. The jews were conditioned to the point they would willingly dig their own trench, all line up, and get shot. Digging their own graves without a fight or even protest. They were conditioned to that point. Same thing is happening now.

 

Cassie- Ever heard of the Georgia Guidestones / American Stone Henge?? A lot of people believe members of the NWO Leadership had those put there, as the NWO new 10 commandments

 

Cassie- And just to touch on what you said Baby, Alex Jones routinely says that there’s really no place you can move to escape the NWO, He’s never really promoted moving out of the US, he talks about it and then follows up with it doesn’t matter where you move to, NWO is world wide

 

Cassie- And I don’t believe everything I hear on talk radio, or on youtube…. I’m not a gullible person, and I have done independent research into all these issues

 

Trey- Just to show how ineffective beauocracy is look up public data on global life expectancy slowly increasing the last 100 years. Their soft kill is not working.

 

Cassie- You don’t think? You should look up the stats on cancer rates and other serious conditions, including genetic conditions. We’ve become a country of fat pigs rolling in chemicals and scarfing down GMOs containing pesticides

 

Oh no, my interview devolved into a spouse fight! Just to warn you, I am going to use this like it is.

 

Final question- What is the most important tool in a marriage to solve basic ideological differences?

 

Cassie- lol!!! This was in no way a spouse fight, or even a disagreement really. There’s tons of things Trey and I don’t see eye to eye on… Anytime Trey and I have a MAJOR issue, we do what a lot of other people in relationships don’t do… We sit down and really talk it out, and delve into the psychological mechanics of why I think this, and why he thinks that, and typically in the end we don’t have to agree, as long as we understand where the other person is coming from on their view. I didn’t realize this was your interview question either… I just thought you sent me the wall post to ask me about conspiracy theories because you were curious! HA!! I totally forgot about the whole “Like” your status and you would send a question thing… how funny

 

Trey- We dont solve idealogical differencez Josh, we just let them be. No matter what happens I will still go visit Cassie when they relocate her to FEMA camp.

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

Cassie- Pfff!!! Very funny ROBERT (Trey)! Have a terrific evening Mr. Hotchkin!

 

Will probably publish this in the next bunch on Monday. Feel free to interview me back if you so desire.

 

Cassie- Oh crap…. you’re going to publish this?? People are going to think I’m a NUT. lol

 

Cassie- But- It’s the truth, so go ahead, Maybe it will inspire some people to do research on it and wake up to what’s going on, either that, or they will just think i’m nuts, guess I don’t care either way!

 

The only people who read me are total screwballs. Don’t worry.

 

Interview- Rusti

Interview with Rusti Morgan October 2012

 

What is the most important thing to never forget about tacos?

 

Rusti- The ingredients.

 

What are the key ingredients for evolving a peaceful society?

 

Rusti- Compassion without judgement, mutual respect, communication, consistency(while teaching) a good follow through when giving either punishment or reward, constructive critique.

 

Given that we do not seem to be working towards a peaceful society, how much longer do you think we can avoid a major catastrophe on the current path and where do you see the greatest dangers to humanity in the near future?

 

Rusti- Have we not hit A wall yet? I don’t know. I feel, overwhelmingly, that most sapiens are inconsiderate puppets… Yet, every day I witness true kindness, gratitude, humanity… They give me hope.. Some people just need to witness or have an altering moment before they realize they can make a difference.

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

Interview- Eric

Interview with Eric C. Smith October 2012

 

If you absolutely had to commit either necrophilia or bestiality, which would you choose? Explain why.

 

Eric- If I had to commit one or the other, it would have to be necrophilia. However I am curious on the particular “level of decomposition” the body (definately female) would be in. Since you did not specify, I will just assume she is a “freshie”. Although no longer among the land of the living, there are lots of products on the market that will keep things properly “wet & slippery”. One could also even use heating pads or lamps to “warm” the body beforehand so that you are not bone-ing a fleshcicle. I hope this properly answers your quiz, but perhaps I have put a little too much thought & detail into my answer. Then again, that’s probably what you were looking for.

 

Say that you did not have to commit either but had to tell your grandmother the story of having done so none-the-less. Which would it be then and what would be the story?

 

Eric- I would tell the story to her verbatim. She would not understand what I meant & would forget about it by the next day at the latest. After all, you did say MY grandmother.

 

What is the ugliest, most hateful thing you have ever done?

 

Eric- Ugliest & most hateful, hmmmm…. Once when I was about 12, I poisoned my fish so that I could use the cleaned out aquarium to get 2 pet gerbils. That might qualify more as sick & twisted than ugly & hateful, but it was the first thing that came to mind.

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

Interview- Don

Interview with Don Harrington October 2012

 

If the government were to use mass force against American citizens how many soldiers do you think would support the government and how many do you think would abandon or join citizen forces against the government at this point in time?

 

Don- Wow, that’s an excellent question. Are you watching Last Resort Thursdays at 8 (ET) on ABC? It’s asking a question very similar to that. I like to think that most members of the military would realize the illegality of the action and, at the very least, not participate.

 

I do not currently receive any television stations where I live and I am okay with that.

How about law enforcement agencies and other government agencies?

And what examples would you cite to support your opinion?

 

Don- Somehow, I’m not surprised. I like to think that any military or quasi-military organization would try to look at the lawfulness of the order before executing it. We take an oath to uphold any lawful order. Many will probably follow the order, at first, until they know what’s really happening. I can’t cite any examples, it’s just a feeling I have from having been in the military for 24 years.

 

History is ripe with all sorts of inhumane actions by men who were just following orders. When it is the highest imperative of an organization that the chain of the command always be followed it can become impossible to break the habit of obedience, especially when the changes occur slowly over time in such a gradual way that the consequences of ones actions are hardly noticed. These agencies also employ all types of people, some more or less susceptible to obedience or moral rebellion. Given such a conundrum with such high stakes, how could we assure that soldiers, police, etc. were prepared to recognize the need to disobey and act upon it?

 

Don- Unfortunately, Josh, we can’t. While those in military and paramilitary organizations are trained to follow orders, we aren’t totally mindless. And, we are still a part of the larger society, so we have many of the same kinds of people. How a particular individual or even a group of people will act in a given situation can’t be known until that situation occurs.

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

Interview- Ryan: Part 2

Interview with Ryan Ackerman pt.2 October 2012

Ryan was concerned that I had let him off too easily in the last interview so I agreed to a second.

 

Are claims by scientists that Universe is a computer simulation or a 3D hologram scientific, even though there is no way to falsify or prove such a claim except through abstract theories and math (although not experimentally)? Why or why not?

 

Ryan- I have barely delved into metaphysics. So as an amateur I can only say that your question is confining. To start with, the way that we perceive color leads me to believe this theory is not as far fetched as it sounds. I have never been satisfied with the concept behind “I think, therefore I am” either. I do however have serious doubts about the involvement of a man made computer, or any computer as we know it. That does not rule out time travel and technologies way beyond our age (as we know it). But I think all math is like it’s interior sector or statistics. You can use it for any purpose and make it support almost anything. Once you reach the upper echelon of math, there really are very few people that you couldn’t fool into believing that your calculations are accurate and prove your theory.

 

But my gut instinct answer is that this claim by scientists is being misused or misunderstood, and is a minor minority segments view at that. That doesn’t say it’s wrong, but it does make me feel that the fact that I am not driven to seek the answer to the 3D hologram computer simulations is the right decision and frees me up for discourse and happy time that syncs with my life as I know it.

 

Do you find such claims harmful to the credibility of science? Should science therefore accept a coexistence with metaphysics and create a new language so that claims of both scientific and metaphysical natures can coexist and not violate the principles of science while still allowing it to branch out into the meaning and purpose of our existence?

 

Ryan- I don’t. I think science is realistic. Critics of science often talk about scientific dogma. I don’t think that really exists except when science is being done wrong. When religion is done right, dogma should exist.

 

However, I think science should be open to metaphysics. I think great minds in science have always recognized that without this kind of open ideology, invention, ideas, creation, artistry, etc don’t exist. And science and art are such a beautiful pairing. I’m all for a pairing and rearranging of all types of ridged methodologies. Flexibility, discourse and creativity are what all things need.

 

The reason that most people give for eschewing metaphysics over science is that science is able to be proven through experimentation. With no way to prove metaphysical assertions it is thought to be a pointless endeavor. Do you think that proof is even possible in any discipline without an absolute objective source and that our ego-driven need for proof is itself a limiting dogma of our conscious experience?

 

 

Ryan- I think we are capable of much more than the hands we are dealt. Those cards come from a manufacturing plant that manufactures rules made of solid brick. People get stuck behind rules and guidelines because our minds are little organizers of perceptions. We put everything we perceive into these brick organized dividers to make life easier to perceive with this brain we are given. It’s the easy way. It’s the concept of Occam’s Razor. It’s being satisfied with the easy answer that “works” for our mind that someone has already laid out into the collective consciousness. Reality? Who knows? But it sure is fun to come up with new ways to understand what’s out there.

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

Interview- Brian

Interview with Brian Kling October 2012

 

What sort of jokes do you find personally offensive and not ever acceptable and for what reason?

 

Brian- I find nothing personally offensive, be it jokes or ad hominem attacks. There are certain types of jokes I do not usually enjoy. Blue jokes for example, but with everything there are exceptions. I did find Danny Tanner funny when I saw him live. But I’ve never been able to sit through a single episode of Two and a Half Men, because it seems like one extended dick joke (see what I did there?).

 

What do you think the nature of humor is? What makes things funny in general?

 

Brian- Tricky question. It seems counterintuitive, but funny is pain. When people are faced with experiences that are painful, we laugh at them. Doesn’t make sense, but it’s true. At the root of all of our jokes is suffering. Slapsitck is the best example, but it’s deeper than that. Comics are depressed, lonely people. Think of the humorous stories you tell about your life, I’ll bet the majority of them come from events that were not very fun at the time. Humor is usually in the delivery (people who know me in person know this well). I can tell the exact same story about some of my “adventures” and I can make the listener cry in agony or cry in laughter. Same story, same result (crying), different method. Pain is funny and sad at the same time.

 

I like the Incongruity Theory of Humor which states that humor is a product of dissonant information. When something is clearly wrong in some way, humor is like a pressure release valve to prevent us from going into fight or flight or utter confusion. Pain is certainly something that causes incongruities. You are supposed to stay safe and failing to do so becomes funny thusly. Some people also experience pain as pleasure without any humor involved. Although pain evolved as a warning mechanism in the biological machine, it seems to have spawned some pretty interesting auxiliary uses. Can you think of another way in which pain is used or accepted in seemingly incongruous ways or that it could be used in the future with positive results?

 

Brian- No.

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

Interview- Candace

Interview with Candace Kelley October 2012

 

Why do you think human beings are so quick to solve their problems through punishment or revenge rather than by other more humane and effective methods?

 

Candace- Most of us grow up being punished for bad behavior by our parents or other adults. Siblings and peers seek revenge against us for slights, real or imagined, throughout our lives. This teaches us from a very early age that if someone makes a mistake, they deserve punishment. If someone hurts you, revenge is your right.

 

Do you think that this is absolutely a learned behavior or that it may have some instinctual element to it? If the former is part of the equation is it possible that we could ever rid ourselves of acting on those impulses as individuals and as a society and how?

 

 

Candace- I do think that there is an instinctual element to it. We are animals after all. If you look at a pack of dogs long enough, you will see a few things. At first, the dogs will fight to determine a leader. One dog bites another. The dog who has been bitten will make an instinctual move to either bite back, or to submit to the stronger dog. This happens in an instant, without a ‘Gee, Spike, I’ll have to get back to you later when I’ve had a chance to think things through as far as my status in this pack goes…’. Eventually, the pecking order is established, and will remain until the top dog is obsolete. Now if you take the same dogs and neuter them prior to putting them into the pack, you will see an entirely different scene play out. I do not think that we want to neuter mankind, even if it does improve society as a whole by obtaining a more peaceful existence.

 

So, in essence, we are better off accepting some of our species shortcomings because it makes life what it is? I can agree with that. If change comes it will be through evolving our consciousness and not through force. In the meantime, what sort of alternatives do you think that we could be applying to social problems to ease the trauma of these human issues while breaking the cycle of punishment and advancing us towards a more humane future?

 

Candace- Yes. I think if we are looking to break the cycle of say… stealing, we must look to why the thief is doing what he does, instead of simply tossing the thief into a cage as punishment and robbing his wallet in exchange for release. For instance, if the thief is stealing food, perhaps he is hungry? Stealing money to pay bills? Buy drugs? Once the reason behind the act is determined we can focus our efforts, as an enlightened society, toward solving the problems which motivate this societal deviant. This is the only way to break the cycle. I believe that there will always be certain people who cause mayhem because something inside of them is broken, and because of these people we will still need cages in some form, perhaps a distant island where they can be sent, as some people just can’t be ‘fixed’. It is this reality which brought about prisons in their earliest forms, and which has led us to the current state of justice perversion under which we live in modern times.

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

Interview- Sara

Interview with Sara North October 2012

 

What is your most embarrassing moment on the internet?

 

Sara- I farted when no one was listening… LOL. No, but seriously, probably naked pictures I would really rather no one saw. I prefer airbrushing first, LOL!

 

Would you be more comfortable with 1,000 strangers seeing you naked online or ten strangers seeing you naked in real life given that you would never see or meet any of these people after the incidence of nudity?

 

Sara- Probably the 1000… just because if there is more of them its modeling, higher class stigma. If its 10 of them in person its more like the stigma with that is cheap or slutty… on the other hand, some of the bondage clubs around here have smaller events and those count as demonstrations so…. guess it depends on WHY I was naked then…

 

Would you like to live in a world in which nudity in public was commonplace? Why or why not?

How do you think that would change social structures and attitudes if it did happen?

 

Sara- Hells yes. This uptight Protestant view of morality and sex is sickening… uneducated children having babies because of parents to afraid to use the “S” word. Or how about not being able to use the word “penis” or “vagina” at the office because it might offend the over 50 religious types… who the hell decided the body was “dirty”? I dont see any reason we need to walk about naked, its cold. But you know, if men can walk around without shirts, why cant women wear bikini tops without the cops hassling them for “indecent? Whats with blaming women’s slutty clothes with why a man rapped her? What, did my CLOTHES make you do it?! Held a gun to your head and MADE YOU? Just doesnt make sense… if we didnt make everything “taboo” no one would give as much as 2 craps for it…

 

Sara- And you know, I dont cover my chairs or table legs either… damn Victorian ideals.

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

Interview- Talos

Interview with Talos D’Loristo October 2012

 

What purpose do you suppose dreams serve, if any, to our higher levels of consciousness?

 

Talos- I can’t answer for anyone, hardly even myself, being i can’t retain enough data on the subject. We know all about the wake-up part, where the dream distorts and the light of reason shines through to remind us that all we just been through was a false reality. What i don’t know is wether or not the same thing happens once we start dreaming again. There also seems to be different levels of dream. The difference between reading and conversing on subjects vs. the classic “lol, nakid during test” joke.. Jumping/flying, strange lead roles of people who seem like they’re not a part of your dream, but merely guides… *shrugs* If i had more of Jung’s material, i may have had a better answer. Also, if we had a way to actually record dream experiences first hand like they did in that episode of Max Headrom, and others, it’d be easier to make deductions.

 

To your question, perhaps it is those higher level dreams, the ones of depth and detail, maybe our higher consciousness is in its natural state, unburdened by our ego programming? The seeming apparent messages are the stepping bits to our evolving states?

 

Crowley was big on the concept of the Holy Guardian Angel being the evolved, higher soul of an individual, which guided man to his own mastery, perhaps dreams are exactly that to those who know how to see/hear, as the old saying goes.

 

Talos- Those who can see, will see rightly. ~ Rosicross and other invisible college texts.

 

As such, do you feel that dreams are something that we should try to control through methods like lucid dreaming or something we should experience in a raw unfettered state?

 

Talos- I’ve never been able to go to bed with the pure intention of lucidity. It just sort of happens, and those tymes that it does happen, something in the dream eventually glitches or pulls me back in. Having nothing more than random lucidity it seems to act as place marks that help me to remember more than usual. Triggers are random and i can’t explain what the experience would be like full lucid.

 

In those states the mind feels tired, the weight of thinking is mired by unusual. Sometymes this forces me awake. I actually dreamt of a wake-up person once. She asked me some question while sipping on coffee. I had an overwhelming familiarity with her, yet had no idea who she was. I mumbled out an answer uncomfortably, and she responded with “that’s ok, you can’t sleep forever.” I suddenly had to know who she was, but as soon as i attempted to look at her, i woke up.

 

The only two othertymes i can currently recall involved nightmares. One i was being chased by some monstrosity or another, the details lost to me now, but as i ran, i suddenly recognized the dreamscape as a particular Cemetery i was always trying to get to the top of. It was situated on a hill, surrounded by houses, but the oldness of the place always drew me in, and it was if there was a certain stone formation i was always looking for specifically and i’d know it when i finally found it. Actually, this area itself is kind of a source of its own lucidity, as the territory around it expands in my memory, the trigger to find and explore this area semi-freely expands as well. (realizing this itself may come off as dreamspeak, but i got no other words for it.) I say semi-freely because my dreaming self seems to be more easily distracted than my wakeside, and i either fall for some bait, or the scene just changes over. Sometymes i wonder that what ever this area is, i’m not supposed to find what ever it is, and there are programs put forth to keep me from it.

 

The other nightmare i actually managed to partition off, but it continued following me around as some kind of stick-puppet with theater type doorway. I hated that part of the dream and wanted nothing to do with it, so somehow sidestepped from the nightmare to the outside of it and thought i was done. I had a moment where i was looking around, trying to get bearing on where ever i was, and then distractions arose and i started into dream again, from the dream, the nightmare would creep it’s icon in, and then the nightmare would try to envelope the area i was in. As long as i could look it in it’s strangely painted eyes, it would stay put, but always just behind me. Again, this situation made me feel more tired than usual when i woke for daywalkies.

 

My question here would be, what purpose, if any do nightmares serve? Have i cheated myself out of some nocturnal lesson for finding outs in these situations? Or was the experiences of manipulating around it the better lesson?

 

I can definitely see a greater import to daytyme lucidity. Many people knee-jerk to such things as emotions, internet arguments, and other social type programs. It’s difficult for people to deal with day-to-day relations without automatically responding with conditioning. “SHE CHEATED ON MES, I IS MADZ! GRRRR!” can be sidestepped like the other nightmare to be “Well humans are addicted to pleasure, and are just animals in clothing, and i’m sure what ever the situation that brought these results were reasonable enough to be followed at the tyme so i guess, yeah…” Though the meta would be to question why they didn’t consciously interrupt their own lust programs in tyme to avoid bringing emotionally programmed hurt to the party of the first part. And like the first nightmare, if we can expand the territory before an emotional response, we can try to consciously navigate to…um… the sacred treasure or something (*wavey hands go “oooooooooo” dramatically*)

 

So in answer: Yes, Lucidity is important at every waking moment… once we master that, it’s highly likely it will be much easier during sleep.

 

Talos- Also, the “raw-unfettered state” of waking reality isn’t working out too well.

 

As you mentioned before, our sleeping lives are ego-free affairs. Wouldn’t increased lucidity in dreams thus insert more ego and perhaps spoil some higher function of our consciousness where egos are unwelcome and perhaps harmful to existential purposes we do not understand?

 

Talos- That would maybe explain why moments of lucidity fade quickly in dreams. It’s that whole “Not allowed” feeling i mentioned earlier. Again though, being most of us sleepwalk naturally even in wakefulness, it may be a totally different thing once we can master being awake. Otherwise, i can’t really speculate much more on the hypothetical. Lack of experience and all.

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

Interview- Ryan

Interview with Ryan Ackerman 10/12/19

 

 

Where does it hurt the most?

 

 

Ryan- In my roots. It makes it so hard to pick up and travel.

 

 

Speaking of roots, modern transportation allows us to spread out from our families like never before in the past. What long term consequences, good and/or bad, do you think this holds for our society and ideas about family?

 

 

Ryan- I use video chat with my kids when I travel for work. I hate it. It makes me hate not being there face to face. Transportation is expensive. Gas is almost $5 a gallon where I live now. I want to plant more roots and start a farm. But I would love to travel with the family, and the pets. I need a teleporter. So that’s my take. Our modern transportation technology is too expensive and slow. Cheap teleportation or nothing for me.

 

 

Say that we had teleportation but the price was that you would age as much as it would take you to travel to that place by bicycle. Would this be a fair cost and how much would this affect your use of the technology?

 

 

Ryan- I already hate flying. It’s such a hassle. Aging as a price to travel? That’s an easy no. I just want to travel to exotic places with the family. Nothing is stopping me but money and convenience. And those are stopping me currently just fine.

 

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

Interview- Trish

Interview with Trish Burgeson 10/19/12

 

 

What led you to the liberty movement and to learn about basic principles of Austrian economics and the non-aggression principle?

 

 

Trish- Well, i guess the underlining thing that got me into all of the above is 9/11. Although i didn’t see it for what it was really(or did and doubted myself) at first, over the years i heard things here and there i wanted to check out. Once i started into that, i later found Dr. Ron Paul, and furthered myself and my want to learn about the liberty movement and sound money and such. Since then, i think i have grown again, and realize now that even if the doctor won, nothing would really change, the whole system is fucked, and so now i am getting into voluntarism and anarchism. Also, getting involved with Paul People was what ultimately led me to wanting to eat organically, stop eating fast foods, and just be healthier in general.

 

 

Do you think that the distant human future will also work best according to these principles ar do you think that as we evolve and so does technology that new social/economic paradigms might eventually be favorable to ones based on the principles of individualism? What do you see long term and why?

 

 

Trish- Hmmm….well i can say right now, i dont think society should mean.more, or get more liberties granted as individuals. If it is growing in that direction i think that would be wrong way to go. I think as a society our goals and stuff will change and evolve, but as idividuals, we should all take pride in ourselves and be free to do as we please.

What do i see long term…

Umm…i see us bankrupting ourselves soon, so i think that will have a HUGE impact on our future. Any country or kingdom that has ever spread itself out this thin has collapsed. We also have been using up all the planets resources over greed, and i believe long term, unless we make huge changes, we are going to see our planet running out of fresh water and other critical things that no one really thinks enough about to care. We could have been running.our cars off hemp and other.oils this whole time…but instead we purchase gas from BP for over 5$ a fucking gallon!!!

 

 

Besides societal and physical evolution, what else do you think may lay ahead for humans as conscious beings?

 

 

Trish- I believe we are (as we are now, i believe the.ancient people were much more “in touch” than we are) soo far out of touch with the spiritual rhelm, and our spiritual conscious….if we can go in the right path i think it will be in the direction of having a more advanced spiritual development, and a greater connection to everything around us. I believe psychedelics help us connect with other dimensions and help us understand ourselves on a deeper level, and that’s one reason why the government keeps us away from those kinds of things. And when i say spiritual stuff, i am not referring to “god.”

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

 

Interview- Ian

Interview with Ian Koehler 10/19/12

 

 

You have two fags in your mouth and you’re three of them, where did you set the butter?

 

 

Ian- On the fridge, but it fell off.

 

 

If you were a python what would you refuse to wrap yourself around?

 

 

Ian- Any given Cobra, or James Brown

 

 

Assume James Brown was actually a shape shifting alien that had a mission which he used music to achieve but was totally unrelated to music. What would that mission be likely to have been?

 

 

Ian- To promote the awareness of Haggas

 

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

Interview- Kim

Interview with Kim Miller 10/19/12

 

 

What kind of music would Satan most likely listen to and why?

 

 

Kim- I’m thinking jam bands. He’s a big fan of 25 min. guitar solos. I’ve heard he’s been to every Widespread show, EVER.

 

 

If you caught one of your children experimenting with Phish, how would you react?

 

 

Kim- Splendidly. At least it’s not The Grateful Dead.

 

 

What would Satans least favorite national park be, and why?

 

 

Kim- Hmmm. Thats a thinker. Too bad you didnt ask his favorite, thats easy. I’m gonna say the everglades, cause we all know Satan hates humidity and old douchbags!

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle night.

 

 

Interview- Mellisa

Interview with Melissa Tague 10/19/12

 

 

What is the perfect number of humans on planet earth?

 

 

Melissa- 600 billion

 

 

We now have 7 billion and many starve to death or cannot get water or other life sustaining items. If we could solve those practical problems, do you think there would still be social problems related to that number?

 

 

Melissa- Yes. There will always be greed and hate. There will always be people trying to put others down or making it so that life sustaining items are not available for all. There will always be persons who just plain won’t share.

 

 

If there were none of those people would life be very interesting to you?

 

 

Melissa- because life is what you make it. Watch facebook at any given time and there is drama going on. If you take that away there is the fun of games and reuniting with friends. Same as life. I took out the “haters” long ago and now I see the beauty in life. I live where there is wonderful scenery no matter the season, I see much of the wildlife roaming free, and I get to witness people being kind to one another. Life is always interesting, it just depends on your point of view.

 

 

Until editing the interviews I did not realize I had gone one long on this one.

 

But don’t you think that without some darkness we would not recognize the beauty of the light? If we did not have evil would we not have good reasons and examples to make us strive to be better?

 

 

Melissa- No. When the Rapture comes God will rid the world of all evil. All of Heaven will come to be on earth.

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle day!

 

 

Interview- Catherine

Interview with Catherine ‘Badonkadonkbear’ Olson 10/19/12

 

 

Why do you think so many people are willing to support the politicians and policies behind warfare even though they stand morally opposed?

 

 

Catherine- Baa baa, black sheep, have you any wool?

 

 

Are you avoiding the question or did Mother Hubbard possess your eternal soul for some unpaid debt?

 

 

Catherine- I answered the question. Because people are complacent. Complacent people, regardless of belief system, tend to get herded. Baaaaa…. I think I am in the mood for lamb chops, love chop. Spare any mint jelly?

 

 

How pleased were you with the number of touchdowns you scored last season?

 

 

Catherine- Well, considering the amount of ball-handling involved, very, very pleased!

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

 

Interviews- Joshua

Interview with Joshua Hansen 10/19/12

People always talk about bags of dicks but they never elaborate the details of this artifact. How many dicks, what kind of bag and what else does this conjure up when you hear it.

 

Joshua- I like to envision an eco-friendly bio-degradable duffle bag filled with 30 boners of different length, girth, and color. Like a multi-cultural kaleidoscope of dong. But the various penises are only really seperate and distinct within perception. They represent a unified dong ‘substance’, as everyone knows that there are essentially two substances, physical substance and the indivisible dong substance, which act upon each other to constitute the metaphysical “wholeness”.

 

Joshua- our dongs throb as one…

 

If one had a metaphysical hole to penetrate with their physical penis, what do you suppose the long term effects on their personality would be and how tight and wet are those holes?

 

Joshua- the nothingness of the metaphysical hole isn’t a sort of ‘something’ which we could discuss in a meaningful manner. it would equivocate to the negation of negation penetrating the absence. this is hard to clearly envision in the minds eye, but when one cognitively exerts themselves it is self-evident that that shit would be mad hella tight, yo…

 

Who do you think would have a tighter hole; a bigfoot or a unicorn? And is a bigfoot fucking a unicorn the same as the thought of a bigfoot fucking a unicorn epistemilogically and ontologically?

 

Joshua- Bigfoot’s are well known for the sloppiness of their major orifices. Epistemologically they are similar, as neither pertain to ‘knowledge of’, ‘knowledge how’, or ‘knowledge that’. Ontologically they are different, as one is potential and one is actual. Axiologically, they are dissimilar, as the first scenario is an abomination to natural law and the divine intellect, while the second is both morally permissible and the highest realization of erotic potentiality. Also, it’s hawt.

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

 

Interviews- Faleisha

Interview with Faleisha Fleck 10/19/12
If there were a one-size-fits-all heaven, what do you think it would look like?

 

 

Faleisha- That’s tough. My first thought was it’s not possible because people have varied ideas of what is pleasant. I then starting going through what my idea of heaven is and what is generally pleasing to all. What I decided was a grassy field with fruit trees. Weather is always 68 degrees with mild humidity. And puffy clouds.

 

 

What is more evil- A man who says he will do bad things and does them or a man who says he will not do them and yet still does?

 

 

Faleisha- At their core both are evil. However, personally I feel that the man who says he won’t but does probably does more damage. The first guy, you expect evil. You know it will happen. The second guy you trust to keep his word and when he doesn’t, it’s painful. Not only has the second man done something bad but he has betrayed your trust.

 

 

Is there any real difference, then, between those who support either man?

 

 

Faleisha- Short and sweet? No, there is no difference assuming the people have the information given in question 2.

 

 

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle night.

 

 

At this point I decided that there was one more question necessary to round the discussion out so I asked on further question.

 

Would not seeking that information if it is available not itself result in and thus be just as evil?

 

 

Faleisha- Yes dear, we should always seek as much information as we can gather. Always in all things

 

 

Interview- Marcus

Interview with Marcus Dean Malone 10/19/12

 

 

If you were ask to make the most horrible tasting, yet perfectly edible sandwich, what would it be?

 

 

Marcus- first thing that came to mind is a peanut butter cap’n crunch, curry, and dill pickles on rye

 

 

Sounds awful. Who do you think deserves to have to eat this sandwich for artistic treachery and why?

 

 

Marcus- I was gonna go political, but fuck that. Robert Pattinson, I need no reason

 

 

Would you rather sleep with a perfect ten once or have a lifetime supply of your favorite candy?

 

 

Marcus- tough call, if I died tomorrow the lifetime supply would be moot… I’ll go with the sex, live for today I say

 

 

Thank you, sir. Have a shpadoinkle night!

 

Interview with Shawna




What is your earliest musical memory?

Shawna- listening to The Beatles – Abbey Road on my dad’s big giant stereo cabinet and obsessing over the album cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and all the famous people in the crowd. also was obsessed with the art work on The Rolling Stones – Some Girls album. first song that ever made me feel sad was The Beatles -Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End. to me they were all the same song.

If you had to have sex with one Beatle when they were 16, who would it be. (you are your current age)

Shawna- Pete Best because Ringo didn’t join them until he was 20? i think?



Shawna- i should feel wrong answering that hahhahaha!

What is the biggest problem with senior citizens these days?

Shawna- i have zero issues with them. i LOVE old people. i love hearing stories about their younger years.

Thank you, ma’am. Have a shpadoinkle night!



Love In the Age of Social Networking

lovesocialnetworking

“Fifty years from now do you really want to tell your grandkids you fell in love using a Facebook app? No, you want to show them the heartfelt love letter you wrote her one night at 3 a.m. Followed by an Instagram of your junk. It’s the Sepia that makes it so romantic.” — Stephen Colbert

Although Stephen Colbert jokes, or at least that is what I am told he does, he echoes a sentiment that is still prevalent in our society. There is still a basic assumption that the internet is incapable of being a respectable and proper medium for romantic relationships. That connections generated between individuals through the world wide web are not as valid as relationships with their genesis rooted in more traditional terms devoid of modern technology. The common thread of criticism always seems to have as its fulcrum that technology adds a falseness to virtual courting. The assumption then is that human courtship has remained in a constant state of behaviors and expectations throughout time which modernism cannot address and that something has been lost.

The problem with this assumption is that human courtships have varied wildly over time and cultural boundaries. When we explore romantic relationships throughout time and place we can find no constants or absolutes. Even obvious things like ‘kindness’ do not seem so common when we consider the cruelties that have often accompanied courtship practices in individuals and societies. In fact, courtship itself is not even a constant part of human relationships and pair bonding, as we can clearly see from arranged marriages that still happen in many cultures today. As it turns out there is no common thread amongst humanity in which technology may disrupt. We remain as adaptive as ever to the constraints and advantages of our immediate environment in seeking out romantic relationships.

The next assumption that is often related to this erroneous line of reasoning is that the internet, social networking and virtual courtships are just a fad. The above quote by Colbert refers to the sepia tone quality of film associated with the middle of the twentieth century, a time also associated with modern ideas about ‘dating’ and yet preceding the sexual revolution. As if in fifty years we will return to a Leave It To Beaver like existence, having shed the false trappings of the twenty first century for a romantically simpler time in which most of its vocal proponents never even lived. Although it is quite likely that modern humanity is on a collision course with its own avarice and hubris, should we survive this critical mass of our humanity in the death knell of the industrial age and birth pangs of the age of information, the internet and its social structures are unlikely to be going anywhere. In fact they will likely advance into degrees of sophistication which make modern internet romance seem dreamy and pastoral to the critics of those future technological paradigms.

The sort of coupling that is now associated with social networking and internet dating may be closer to our traditional courting behaviors than those immediately preceding the internet. Until the early part of the twentieth century is was the custom for courtships to be held mostly remotely via letters, sketches, photographs, poems, autobiographies, etc.; all of the same behaviors associated with online romance. In the nineteenth century and prior a ‘date’ was a term associated with prostitution and those in a courtship only saw one another on rare, special occasions. When dating became popular in the Jazz Age it was associated with chaste associations with multiple partners in order to ‘play the field’. As a result of the sexual revolution and advances in birth control the chaste nature of these dates was no longer the norm. Today dating is strongly associated with ‘hooking up’ and is often not intended as a means towards building permanent bonds between individuals. This is not to say that modern dating is a negative or immoral practice, but only to illustrate that what critics of internet courtship think of as traditional behaviors are in fact very modern ones. The practice of meeting and courting an online partner through exhaustive communication bears far more resemblance to traditional western modes of romantic genesis.

The greatest contributing factor to the success of online dating is it’s ability to connect like-minded individuals in a growing human population that alienates people through specialization. While we have continued to grow our species at an alarming rate we have also set conditions for the specialization of the individual. This has been done in many ways. Economic paradigms insist on specialized educations and career fields that narrow an individuals knowledge and interest. At the same time the sheer amount of culture (art, music, literature, cuisine, lifestyle) available to us means that we have less in common. Globalization of culture has meant that culture itself has decentralized. No longer does geography determine our cultural identity so much as our free associations with a multitude of cultural icons. To put this idea simply, a hundred years ago a person was likely influenced almost entirely by local customs and culture, while the modern human has for their influence a plethora of customs and cultures perpetrated internationally by modern media. The human of today, at least in western society and its counterparts, largely chooses their own interests rather than having them foisted upon them by locality and necessity. When we consider the size of the human population we find that it is highly unlikely that we will meet complimentary companions merely by local searches. The internet provides a forum for highly specialized individuals to meet the most likely candidates for courtship.

At the same time, many of the social institutions in which the like-minded were likely to meet have also eroded. Community activities, church and even traditional workplaces are no longer as prevalent in our society as they once were. And it does not appear that these institutions will return to classical forms any time soon. In their place, modern courting began to root itself in the leisure industry. Bars, resorts and travel became the new grounds for courting rituals. This trend meant that human romance had adopted for its breeding ground the marketplace and became another form of western consumption. We had become burdened with the price of purchase as the cost of romance. Our social institutions gave way to economic ones as in many other areas of our life. Considering the ability of almost any western human to freely access internet, social media and dating sites we are seeing a trend in which love is being removed from the marketplace and being made freely accessible by these new social institutions.

Criticism of internet courtship is often validated by the superiority of traditional values. Yet as we have seen, online romance bears far closer resemblance to those traditions than does the meat market of the twentieth century. While there is little doubt that web-based love will continue to evolve in strange and unthinkable ways, this is the course that humanity has set itself down and criticism of it is as hostile and sterile as any other form of neo-conservatism. By embracing these new paradigms we can contribute to steering them towards more positive interactions and avoid the mess modernism made of traditional human values in the meaningless and promiscuous marketplace partnering. Meanwhile the liberals engaged in social satire, like Mr. Colbert, will continue to ironically lambaste internet courtships like the good little neo-con puppets they may or may not realize that they are. That is fine by me. Let them have their skepticism and anger and misery. I have love. And I have social networking to thank for that.