What I Learned: Wolves and Ravens

      Recently, a patron that I've been instructing on website creation hipped me up to the symbiotic relationship between wolves and ravens. 

    Wherever there is a pack of wolves, there can be found a conspiracy of ravens.  (The fact that a group of ravens is even called a conspiracy makes it even more noir)  As far as pure efficiency, a pair of wolves work best in bringing down as much meat as they need to eat.  However, wolves tend to run in packs of 4 or more.   

     Now a single wolf is capable of taking down a moose on its own and quickly consuming 9 pounds of its kill.  So a pack could take down a moose or two and eat enough quickly to discourage carrion birds.  However evidence suggests that wolves hunt in conjunction with ravens in order to accommodate for both the pack and the local conspiracy of ravens.  A 2 pound raven will easily eat twice its weight from felled game.  So wolves form larger packs than the 2-unit couple, so that they may net enough meat to feed a pack and a conspiracy.

    What my patron postulated nest was the kicker.  This relationship, which seems to extend to ravens being aerial reconnaissance to wolf packs, really signifies that both species are bi-lingual, according to my wildlife specialist patron.

   Take your own time and dip into the intertwining mythology of the hunter, wolf and raven. Such symbiotic relationships between predator and prey are common in the animal kingdom, as well as American politics. The insinuation that there is a interspecial communication going on with packs and conspiracies is downright delicious.

So I Learned.   

 

Reflections on Globalization

{Excerpts from a recently submitted essay}    

      It is easy to ask the question “Does globalization do more harm than good”, take a side and engage in an Aristotelian either/or debate. It is also a childish way of addressing a complex topic. Globalization is here to stay. It is really more important to ask the utilitarian question of how do we gglobalizationo about globalization with the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people and the least amount of harm to the least amount of people?

     Globalization really started as soon as one nation-state began systematically trading with another. Of course it got much more complicated than that with coalitions and trade organizations. The world’s first attempts at globalization were in the Colonialist Age. Google gives us the definition of colonialism as “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.” Let’s adapt that to “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial economic control over another country, occupying it through trade and culture, and exploiting it politically” and I think we have a fair understanding of globalization. It has been said that “Globalization is a form of colonialism that prevents the development of third world countries” (http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/287753/globalization-is-a-form-of-colonialism).

     One of the positive aspects of globalization versus its predecessors is that the tools used are much more peaceful and less destructive. Why send in expensive troops when you can send in jobs and sit-coms? We would like to think that this is an ‘exchange of ideas’ and that other countries are sharing equally with us. However for every “Gangnam Style” music explosion or the embracing of authors like Khaled Hosseini, we are exporting billion dollar movie franchises and selling cigarettes to low-income countries at a profit rate never before seen (http://global.tobaccofreekids.org/files/pdfs/en/Global_Cigarette_Industry_pdf.pdf).

 USB Culture Bombs     

Let’s refrain from pure cynicism and mere capitalist bashing though. There is an organization called Flashdrives for Freedom that is sure that the best way to take down the North Korean regime by smuggling in USB drives with American popular culture on them (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/22/flashdrives-for-freedom-north-korea-20000-usb-sticks). Flashdrives for Freedom is certain that when enough North Koreans are exposed to the wonders of Western culture, regime change is sure to follow.

       There is no doubt that globalization has had an adverse effect on Middle America’s economic stance, taking away manufacturer jobs with sustainable wages in exchange for fancy smartphones and cheap prices at Walmart. As a whole for America, globalization has been a boon but it’s hard to appreciate that when Main Street is all boarded up. The demonization of globalization is occurring because the technocrats who are winning at this new global game are neglecting to share with the displaced factory workers. It is the phenomenon of the “McWorld” we read about. Worse, some of these American victims of “McWorld” are falling into the tribalist trap, blaming the ethnic Other for their ills.

      As always, I see the key to a better tomorrow in Education and Democracy. Globalization built upon educating everyone as much as we can will pay for itself. Productivity and success will be our proof as the world learns more about itself and its people stand and contribute for the good of all.

 

Variations of Self

   I am not a proponent of the Single Self theory. We wear variations on the various roles, job-titles and social labels we are given. Masks if you will.  The masks can take on a life and personality of their own and when we are weak-willed and/or merely superstitiously enthralled they can lead us and change us.  Jack Vance touches on this briefly in the first of his Planet of Adventure series The City of the Chasch.  citcha The tribal nomad humans that the hero Adam Reith meets incorporate masks (or Emblems) and the Emblems' personalities into their society.   Reith's first companion, Traz Onmale, wears the Emblem of the tribe's leader (Onmale, the origin of his surname) but Reith convinces him to give it up and escape the tribal life with him.  Be observant of what mask you are wearing when and if your actions are of your core self or the mask.  Learn to exert yourself above the Will of the mask.  Learn to give in to a mask when it best for a situation. 

   This can be used for self-programming.  Uncle Al used to use a large ring, probably some gaudy Masonic thing, and each finger would be assigned personality traits.  He would exercise his Will so that when the ring was on say the vegetarian finger, he would act accordingly.

  This may seem similar on a lower scale to when we fetishize objects into being our "lucky" T-Shirt or "holy" underwear.  However in these cases we think the object comes to us with these special 'magical' properties already endowed, having nothing to do with us ourselves as higher beings.  Like that T-Shirt came from the factory cosmically attuned to help Favorite Sports Team win or your G*d only approves of those in certain mass-produced undershirts. 

Chthon by Piers Anthony

     'Chthon' was Piers Anthony's first novel.  There is no hint of Xanth in this book, no preponderance of puns. Word on the net is this book took Piers 7 years to write, some of those years while he was in  the army.   'Chtnon' has a dark oppressive feel about it at times. Hell, the title itself refers an underground,  'inescapable' prison.

The book begins with our protagonist Aton 5 entering Chthon as a prisoner.  Interesting name our protagonist has. Aton (or Aten) was the sun god that the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep (aka Akhenaten) tried to set up as Egypt as the center of a monotheist religion.  So at the beginning of the book we have a sun god thrown into the darkest underground with no hope of escape.  This theme appears in classical mythology with Ra's chariot traversing the underground every night.  I always saw a correspondence as well with Christ's apochyphal travels through Hell in between Good Friday and Easter resurrection. Seen in that light, the book starts to take on the stance of a more personal struggle by the author, Mr Anthony (Aton?) determined to cross the Abyss and free himself.  A 7 year journey to break out and become the author he wanted to be.

    There is a second plot/theme in this book.  Aton 5 as a child met a siren, a 'minionette' named Malice.  The unfolding folklore is interesting, everyone has a vision of an idealized love interest created as from childhood. Then about three quarters of the way through this second plot takes on a dimension that can easily be confused with misogyny.  I don't think it is.  Frankly it seems to me that Piers had seen many abused women in his life, maybe raised by one or early formative dating, and projects that onto female characters.  Or he goes the other route and shares with us an internalized idyllic fantasy. Not misogynist merely unenlightened. Keep in mind that this is Piers' first novel and he went on to change and grow.   I'd recommend his Incarnations of Immortality series to a difference 15 years later. 

Sundiver by David Brin

sundiver-david-brin-hardcover-cover-art    

[NOTE:  Books and other media are discussed on this blog from my private viewpoint. These are not reviews and will probably contain spoilers.  For pure reviews, please consult my Goodreads profile. The discussions will be updated as I feel apropos]

     This is my second time reading Sundiver and again I enjoyed it immensely.  Two of my running favorite concepts are here: applied schizophrenia and engineered evolution. 

   The applied schizophrenia seems more of a plot saver placed to give the protagonist a device to win the final showdown.  I was left wondering if it was really necessary for the book.  Was this a concept that Mr. Brin had been mulling over while writing the book?  Did he really feel that Protagonist needed it to win the day?  Is this foreshadowing for the rest of the series?

                The engineered evolution, used on a galactic scale, gives our myriad alien encounters a social structure which I enjoyed in a Star Trek/Babylon 5 kind of way. 

                I have read several of Mr. Brin’s books and they have all struck me (so far) as flawed masterpieces.  He lays down some really heady concepts while being able to flesh out characters that I enjoy.  He tries hard to make his work accessible and this seems to translate as the need for a Final Confrontation.  This climaxes usually disappoint me, maybe I find them unnecessary, maybe I just don’t agree with his methods of resolution.  I’m not sure yet but whatever the perceived flaws they certainly don’t stop me from picking up another Brin book or devouring his thoughts on Quora.

                The most frustrating thing about this book?  Both times I have read it with the full intention of continuing through the rest of the Uplift series.  Both times I have gotten distracted and moved on to other things.  In fact it I finished this book at the beginning of the summer and haven’t had time to collect my thoughts about it much less continuing the series.  I’ll keep trying.

The Papa’s poetry

My initial fascination with the internet back in the late 90s and ongoing was the sense that all of humanity's quirks & eccentricities was slowly growing into cyberspace.  What was forming was a huge superconsciousness fueled by porn and cat memes. (For what it's worth, cats currently outnumber porn)   A new evolution of consciousness was upon us.

    As make-your-site places popped up, like geocities and angelfire, you got a true glimpse into people and their individual qabalahs for better or for worse.   I joined in the best I could, in those days of heavy shamanic self-medication, randomly creating accounts, dropping rants and then finds new places to sprinkle with my prose.  It was more personal as the content was created rathered than the recycled posting that happens on social media now. 

   My father-in-law has been going slowly deaf most of his adult life.  Years as a solitary self-employed lumberer tethered him to his own thoughts as the chainsaws help eat away at his hearing. He is retired now.  Recently the Papa and his new bride went and acquired iPhones, stepping bodly into the 21st century, tickled by the thoughts of being able to speak to the computers help in their hands.

    The Papa continues to be a man of nature. The sunrise finds him up and ready for a walk. He drives off to secluded spots with his trusted companion Windy and spends the first several hours of the day getting thick with nature.

     The new iPhone has made this ritual a little different.  The Papa sends out dozens of photos & videos to his children, bride and grandson of his morning explorations complete with the type of in-joke ridden captions you expect from a man who doesn't let the silence stop him from thinking.  When asked he apologized for not putting me on the list but I insisted.  This is what I enjoyed, 21st technology sharing with us the poetry of a man's soul.  The is what the internet, the Great Glass Bead Game, is for.

3 Lives

We all live three lives: a public one, a private and our secret life.  Most of us tend to work on one/the other or both of the former and ignore or work around the latter.

When we are in a relationship, at first we only share our private lives.  As the relationship deepens, we cannot help but be affected and effect each other with our secret lives.  This is not conscious.

This hidden part, this is where are neuroses, our 'demons' tend to be buried.  Our secret lives are secret for a reason. We are protective, if not ashamed of them and having someone so close to your inner core is frightening.  This is partly why familiarity breeds contempt.

To further a or any relationship, it our duty as a Lover to strengthen our 'inner core' as it were in order to deepen the relationship.  Tame our neuroses, lay the demons down on the talking couch.  Keep time for yourself to dwell in the 'crazy' continue to have a third secret life.  But temper yourself into your private life so that you be Love & Healing for those who share private lives with you.

The Story part ii

stumbleI come to life stumbling.

The roads are dirt, my feet are bare and the only way i seem to keep my balance is by bending forward while pedaling back with my feet. Every step is a lurching jerk. I have to pull my shoulders back before i trust my body to respond and let me slow my pace.

Great effing Horus, i must be drunk. I try to blink the blur away, and squint to see the edges of form, but to no avail. As my attention from my balance wanders, the next step on my left i lose my balance. Slow down, I’ve been here before, I’ve got this, I tell myself. Thrust left hand out grip invisible rail and swing right food around extra on its next step, stumble twice on right and raise right palm up and away.

Inches away from a startled woman. “Tthorry” I slur, lurch left and stumble on.

As the grey-out fades me back in i realize I’m in the middle of a rather wide dirt street, surrounded by dull brown buildings. It’s night and people are out and milling. Most ignore me, except for those who step out of my path, glancing back to make sure I’m not dangerous. I do my best to glare back and then realize I’m approaching this all wrong.

I manage to stop without falling over, fooling my dumb balance by reaching out and pressing against non-existent walls quickly on one side then the next telling myself i can somewhat stand. I sway for a minute or two triumphant.

I slowly bring my arms up either side of my head, breathing out and drop on my ass.

“Ugh-Oh!” I cough as I land on my bottom in the dirt but I seem to be ok and stable in my lazy lotus position.

No one seems alarmed.   Maybe drunks are normal in this town.

Where am I? How did I get here? Why am I so drunk? I keep swaying back and forth and my left hand twitches like I’m having a seizure.

Someone grabs me by the neck and throws me on a flat surface. I can’t help but start babbling, trying to explain I mean no harm but all that comes out is nonsense and drool. I try to rise and only succeed in vomiting on myself.

That’s when the beatings start.

Kept in a dirt room for days, I am beaten often. My tormentors all seem cut from the same mold: large, arrogant and brutish. Straight out of central casting. No matter their race or gender, not a one under 6′, all thick & broad shouldered. One of them has fists like large rocks and biceps bigger than my head. Sometimes he gets disgusted by me and hits me till my world grows black

They are angry when I talk. Even when I attempt to mimic whatever language they speak, I am kicked and hurt.

Sometimes there are others, they examine me and discuss me like I am meat.

One of them, Ahmed I will learn later, has me cleaned and carried away. I am his now. I don’t know why. Maybe he was told to.

I think they do it on purpose

A thoughtful piece by Jesse Walker:

http://reason.com/archives/2015/03/15/what-we-mean-when-we-say-conspiracy-theo/

Having lived through the neo-conservative revolution with it’s “stay on message” media philosophy, I tend to see shifts in media truespeak as orchestrated. A perfect example is the brilliant slander of the term “political correctness” to hurl against someone who calls you out on your bigotry.

 

The Story, the prologue

man-fishI dreamed I was standing feet away from a murky lake in Peru, where you hunt the large lizard-fish. Johnny called them the Mi-Go, which shows you his lack of ability for remembering detail. The books said they were simple to catch & beneficial to eat. So there I was. Standing on the edge, staring into a cloudy reflection, a large pool the colour of semen, the consistency of bubbly bath-water. i was nervous, fuck it, i was scared, the mere idea of being underwater, unable to see, unable to breathe, wrestling gilled lizards the size of men.

My fears were unfounded. I found a specimen almost as soon as I entered the water. It was docile & i was quickly dragging it out of the water, it’s surprisingly flesh-like back clasped to my naked chest. I carried the gray-green amphibian to my nearby abode I insisted on calling The Shack, though it was up a story of bare stairs. The inside was also stark, white, barrack-like w/ two cots & a sink on the left. In the middle of the room stood a silver reheating pan, w/ remnants of sliced up sausages & onions littered on the bottom, somehow reminding me of Jean Paul. I was sure he had been here previous to me. Always one step ahead that Jean. I shouldered the large catch onto the bed on the left & turned to the person on my right, who hadn’t been there before. Without words they assured me we could stretch the catering pan to accommodate the fish and cook it using burning wood. When I turned back away, they were gone again.

I was squeamish about cutting into the thing with a face combining the worst of human and cod.  I down the knife and decided to stall by checking the back supplies. The cupboards were full of canned goods, & a refrigerator opened in front of me. Replacing the door out of the building, there was now a side hallway lined w/ iron-bar doors on the north side. Through the doors i could see dozens of metal shelves w/ boxes of canned & bottled foodstuffs, & even some bagged dried vegetables. I returned to the main room & looked at the large dead fish lying gaped-mouth on the bed. I still wasn’t up for cutting in to it so i lay on the second cot & took a nap. The next few days i avoided the fish-cutting by finishing as many other preparations as possible. Finally I had the silver pan stretched, the fire started & the Mi-Go (?) laid out. I started an incision at the base of the spine and quickly decided to avoid furthering the bloody mess. Time to add garnish. I had taken some dried mushrooms, an onion and was grabbing some bottles of tomato juice for my permanent hang-over. The back of the store-room opened up, some industrial lights turned on and I saw some olive-skinned men moving in the back. One of them saw me & started apologizing that the store-master was unavailable and that they would be open later. I realized the foodstuff was not the property of the shack nor mine to take. Undeterred, i stared at the man and placed two American fives on the shelf in front of me. He said nothing. I had either paid for my pillage or added another footnote to the White Man as arrogant thieves.

Back in the main room they were all there, all my aspects, ready for the ritual. We lit the candles and vibrated the opening words. I wasn’t ready. My hangover got the best of me and i passed out. I awoke in an armchair, sandwiched by incubus and succubus.  I was too dazed to fight it and lay there overpowered by the feeling of flesh.

This probably would’ve continued on had not the Mi-Go (?) broken the spell. It lay on the cot again, my vision zoomed in to watch it’s head take on a human appearance. The shock woke me up and i stepped back into the hallway. The Mi-Go (?) had grown arms, muscular and human, and was crawling across the floor towards me, trying to scream for water. The cut i had made in its back winked obscenely at me. I was scared. I had almost killed and eaten something so close to human. Would it come back with Deep Ones seeking vengeance? Was i cursed for my intent and causing harm to the creature? As it crawled into the storeroom water bubbled up from the stone floor and the creature sank underground, still silently screaming for the ocean. I had either failed or barely escaped damnation. The world went blank.