Saturday, July 31, 2010

The State of The Union

~The short version is “It's pretty well fucked.”

The slightly longer version this:

Corporate money, organization, and influence, for all intents and purposes, control all aspects of American life. And getting out from under that is well nigh impossible short of burning down the whole gaddam shithouse. [Disclaimer: a solution I do not support]

The Corporations have largely abandoned the GOP except as a weapon to terrorize the Democrats. The Dem's at least try to make Govt work, albeit tepidly. Corporations prefer Govt over Chaos. The latter is bad for business.

The GOP, thinking they had a lock on Majority from 2000 until Doomsday – which a number of them think is right around the corner – have gone utterly apeshit over this and are now proving that the Corporations were correct to pull back their support.

the Corporations have so plundered and debased The Republic that Chaos now appears the most probably outcome.

that, my Fellow Citizens, is just about that. You can go back to sleep now. We'll wake you up when it's time to die.

If you can make it there

From Slacktivist

Newcomers are often insecure, and a debt of gratitude can make anyone feel a bit awkward, so I try my best to be patient with some of the sillier things often said by those from the American "heartland" about supposed "East Coast elites" in general and New York in particular.

But that patience has its limits and I may have reached those limits listening to various non-New Yorkers bloviating about where and how New Yorkers ought to be allowed to worship. (I'm from the heartland of New Jersey, myself, where I was taught that real Americans don't imagine it's their business to tell someone where they can or cannot worship.)

So before I endure yet another silly speech about how the real-er real Americans from the real-er real America are so superior to the illegitimate pseudo-Americans of New York, I would ask that the speaker first respond to the following questions.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

1. Please indicate which stripe on the American flag represents your home state. (New York's is that red one third from the bottom.)

2. Please name the representatives of your state who signed the Declaration of Independence. (William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis and Lewis Morris signed on behalf of New York.)

3. Was your state originally part of a territory purchased by the United States and thereby paid for, in part, by the taxpayers of New York? If so, please say "Thank you."

4. Was your state formed out of territory claimed by armed conflict with another nation and thereby purchased, in part, with the blood and treasure of New Yorkers? If so, please say "Thank you very much."

5. Has your state ever committed treason in defense of slavery, declaring war on the United States of America and firing on American soldiers fighting under the American flag? If so, please recite the Pledge of Allegiance -- not as a loyalty oath, but just as an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with the words. Especially the last six. (The Pledge of Allegiance, by the way, was written by a New Yorker.)

6. How many American citizens reside in your state? If it's less than 19.5 million, please recite aloud the following sentence: "I acknowledge that more real Americans reside in New York than in [name of your state]."

7. Is your state willing and able to supplant New York as what E.B. White described as the "clear priority ... of all targets" and the "steady, irresistible charm" for "whatever perverted dreamer might loose the lighting"? Please circle the answer below and initial in the space provided.

No, of course not, don't be silly. _____

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

So now, what was that again you were saying about how the real Americans of the real American heartland are so much more authentically American than those pseudo-American New Yorkers?

Posted by Fred Clark on Jul 30, 2010 at 05:55 PM

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Life in The Desert

~The humidity has been in the single digits. It was 6% and 96° around 2pm and there has been a steady breeze. So we got a fire on our doorstep.

Crown Fire:

Name: Crown Fire
County: Los Angeles County
Location: North of Sierra Highway at Anthony Road, Agua Dulce
Administrative Unit: Los Angeles County Fire
Status/Notes: 2,000 acres
Date Started: July 29, 2010 2:22 pm
Last update: July 29, 2010 8:30 pm


Google Map Search:
Anthony Rd, South Antelope Valley, Los Angeles, California 91390

We can see the flames upon a hillside North West of Palmdale and this whole portion of the Antelope Valley is under a vast smoky pawl. I suspect we'll be staying sealed up over night.

I'll up-date as things develop....

Facing The Page

~I did a word count on the short story I'm presently writing for The Explanation and it came out at a little over 3600. And I'm only about 2/3's of the way done. Given that A; this is only one of a half dozen stories 'in the pipeline' and B; The Explanation is already at over 44,000 words, I suspect I'm looking at a final total of at least 60,000 and that's before I do any re-writing of the 'didactic sections'. This one alone is going to push it right up to 50,000, which is what I had thought would the total of the final first draft until now.

Plus, as I was going back through old entrees on the subject looking for material for said re-writing, I realized that I first started on this project nearly three years ago with The First Rough Assemblage of a Temple Information Package, which runs barely 6000 words.

And so it is....

Monday, July 26, 2010

And Now A Word From My Spirit Guide

~E says, ”Being slaves to your gods will be the path to your destruction, so stop it! Your deities are created by you, not - as far to many of you falsely believe - the other way round. You have allowed one deity to kill off another many times before, but only by denying that you created each deity in the first place.

Some of you try killing off all deities completely, but your race makes more every single day. It is past time for you to take control of your deities. They are your creatures, not you theirs.

Keep them while they are useful, but release them when they not longer serve you, and KILL them when they become a problem. Such is essential on your path to becoming gods yourselves...and such is the Path of your race, like it or not.”

Nebs Sez

"The concept of Unconditional Love is an awful trap. All relationships are based upon need. We need to eat. We need to breath. We need companionship. So even the saint who supposedly 'loves unconditionally' feels some satisfaction and nourishment from their Unconditional Loving and thereby has their 'saintly needs' fulfilled.

Just have your feelings in an Authentic fashion and allow yourself to have your needs might as best you can. Yes, it's messy, but it is also human and that is in fact the path that you are on.

Our Divine Imperfection can be a wonderful thing if we truly accept it. Doing so means when you get up each morning you always know what you're going to do today."

Saturday, July 24, 2010


...writing stories about one's future self seems to be somewhat least that has been my experience so far..stay tuned...

Friday, July 23, 2010


...hand written at 4:30am...

~We've had the windows open since around 1am, which is a Good Thing, especially as we just got the Park Rent and the electric bill is a bomb, close to $200. But if this weather holds, as it likely will because of the whole 'hot/cool-day/night desert thing', next month should be a bit less steep.

I'm not feeling so hot today, sinus stuff buggin' me. Probably the radical shift in humidity that's allowing us to crack the hatches.

Been sleeping a lot, as well.

The other evening I started giving myself grief about that, but I realized in the moment that I have been expending a great amount of energy on my Sisters lately, IM's, e-mails, phone calls, etc. Goddess Knows I am
not complaining about that; it is my job to do so and I'm good at that job. I simply have to remember that it does require a major output of energy and that I need to freely allow myself the time to recharge.

The Catch-22 here is that part of what makes me so good at this is my ability to 'show up one hundred percent in the moment' with each Sister and then when we're done, 'let go of it totally'. Because of that I often forget that I just put out so much juice and then wonder why I'm so fried.

I've also been writing steadily even since I let go of
X-Plan's deadline, both on that and The Imperium. Been busy chewin' on da intrawebz, too. Combined that with the above mentioned work and Yours Truly comes out pretty toasty. I'm in a generally good mood, just a bit crisp around the edges.

And that's the name of that tune...

Note@9:40am: Right after I hand wrote that, something I have not done in donkey's years btw, I went back to bed for a few hours. Felt much better as a result.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thoughts Upon Leaving Home [from 7/20/09]

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” ~Clarke's Second Law

~Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong step off that ladder onto the surface of the Moon. I expect most of you know that by now, even if it's not being plastered all over the mass media, there are enough reminders.

I was watching that moment of course. I'd been a hard core consumer of Sci-Fi for a decade even at that point, six weeks before my seventeenth birthday, and this was in fact a Dream Come True.

Most seem rather blasé about the whole thing now. But keep in mind that at time it had only been forty two years since Lindbergh had flown the Atlantic. And in the intervening four decades, we as a species have not made a comparable journey.

This is not merely disappointing, it is distressing.

Becoming a spacefaring race is crucial to us as a species for reasons of survival and for both our Evolutionary and Spiritual growth. Yes, the Earth is our home, but all of you reading this have various names for those who never leave home and I suspect not one of them is complementary.

Which leads me to the following; the image of a prototype design for an FTL Star Ship.

Yes, it's a hypothetical design propelled by a hypothetical engine powered by a hypothetical power source, though some think that power source is not all that hypothetical. The important part is that actual design plans are beginning to emerge.

There is still plenty to do inside our Solar System:

~Build a
space elevator

Industrialize the Moon and mine it for Helium 3

a zone for the relocation Earth's heavy industries

Mine asteroids for that industry

space habitats and even orbitals

Terraform and colonize Mars

~And in the process,
change ourselves as it's likely unmodified humans will not fare well in space for any length of time.

But the Solar System is also still our home and one day we will need to leave that home as well...and for that we need Star Ships.

I know this may seem pretty far fetched to many, so let me close this with another quote from Sir Arthur: “If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run - and often in the short one - the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative.”

And Happy Anniversary, Apollo 11.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"See Luanda and Die" [excerpt]

~Yes, I have been working on this thing....


The Makassar Maru slipped out of Panjim's harbor a little after one in the morning. That was very much her style, coming and going in the dead of night.

She was a disreputable looking vessel, faded paint and rust streaks on her and decking. But inside she was as spit and polish as the flagship of the Royal Navy. She had a good turn of speed and a pair of 3.5 inch guns wrapped under tarpaulins, one each, fore and aft. There were numerous other weapons on board, as well.

Though she was registered to a Dai Bo Shipping of Hiroshima, the Makassar Maru had never been within five hundred miles of Japan. She plied Indian Ocean route almost exclusively, where overly suspicious harbor masters could be told unofficially to “mind their own business” by very official Imperial officials.

On another registry in the files of a 'non-existent' government bureau in New York City she was simply listed as C-23.

At five thousand dead weight tons, the Makassar Maru was small enough to to blend in, yet large enough to be flexible. Powerful engines and over sized fuel tanks cut her cargo capacity by nearly half, but since it was usually some type of contraband, that was a non-issue.

She did have passenger accommodations: a high security brig forward that could hold twenty 'special prisoners' for long voyages or up to fifty for a short run. Topside were six small but comfortable cabins grandly called 'staterooms'.

There was only one passenger on this run however, William Frederick Dudley “Snapper” Pennington, Commander, Royal Navy Reserve, and he slept soundly in Stateroom C, the door locked and a Fosbery .488 revolver tucked under his pillow.

Once out of harbor, the Mak, as her crew called her, picked up speed, her bow hissing through the dark ocean, its surface slightly illumined by the slim crescent of a very new moon.

The sound of the engine's increased throbbing caused Snapper to turn over, snuggle in his covers, and then fall into a deeper sleep. He knew that India was being left behind, at least physically.

In all his dozen plus years with the aforementioned 'non-existent' government bureau he had never been this tired before and his sleep was blessedly without dreams.

He vaguely remembered turning over, looking at dawn's pink glow coming in the porthole, snorting derisively, and going back to sleep. Next time he woke up, the sun's light was flooding brightly into the cabin.

Coffee time,” he muttered and hauled himself upright.

At the edge of the bunk, a brand new pair of rubber flip-flops awaited his large callused feet. He'd bought them just before boarding and planned to wear nothing else for the duration of the voyage. Digging into his duffel bag, he pulled out a raw cotton shirt, short sleeves, v-neck. The red and white stripped shorts he'd slept in completed his ensemble.

After peeing in the cabin's small metal sink, he washed his face using a bar of the fragrant green soap he had come to favor during these last two years in India. He dried his face and then looked at the thing in the mirror.

It was still a handsome face, though certainly well lived in; tan and weathered, high brow, not too full lips, blue eyes, black hair with a bit of gray. He'd been a fine featured youth, almost pretty, which he had hated...except for the part where women swooned over him.

That boyishness had been well beaten out of him. Twice broken nose, once broken left cheek, and various small scars. Plenty more on his body, bullet holes and stab wounds. He was thirty pounds heaver than that slim ensign stepping out of the Royal Naval Academy sixteen years ago, yet he was as hard as jerky.

But there were dark circles under those blue eyes and he hadn't shaved in three days. He rubbed that blue-black bristle.

Well, Snaps, old man, you look like a fucking dago,” he said in his best Pukka drawl.

He then looked past that face to the reflection of his cabin and it reminded him of another small room, a simple cubical really, off of a throne room in the abandoned palace of a dead maharajah.

Five by twelve, but with an over twenty foot ceiling, it had seemed the bottom of a pit, which was precisely the effect that Snapper had wanted.


It was now nearly a decade since Snapper had been recruited by his 'employers' and he would work for them for two years before he learned the name by which they went; Room 19. That was it, the entire title. He approved of its simplicity.

Back then his 'supervisor' was Mr. Greane, a 'naval type' who was a rather elderly gentleman, but sharp as a tack, make no mistake about it. It seemed that many of those who worked for Room 19 were 'naval types'. These days, Mr. Blaque ran things. He also had the smell of the sea about him.

It was a well known and high ranking Royal Navy officer who first approached Snapper about 'alternative service' as he put it. The transfer came with an automatic promotion and a shift to the Naval Reserve List. He thought the assignment would last a year or two. This was before the adrenaline hooked him.

His first assignment was a simple 'bean counting' op to see if the expenditures of 'certain persons' matched their income using both legal and extra legal means which took him through central and southern India. It was a boring and tedious operation meant to test his patience and diligence.

It was during that trip he came upon The Palace, seen in the distance from the window of a train.

It belonged to a maharajah who'd gone broke and moved to his house in the city, where he had died. His family still owned the place, but had no money to run it, so the place stood empty and abandoned for decades. As the local economy had depended upon serving The Palace, it was now effectively in the middle of nowhere.

What a marvelous base of operations this would make,” Snapper had thought as he explored its dozens of large, empty rooms. He informed his employers of its potential and advised them to purchase it forthwith. To his surprise, they agreed.

He then went about his business and largely forget about the place. He would some times hear that The Palace was in use, but neither needed nor wanted to know the details of said use.

But when he realized it had become necessary to kidnap and interrogate Johannes Troutmann – and at length – right away he knew the perfect place to stage the operation.

Troutmann was an interesting character, in some ways quite representative of the Anglo-Indian Ascendancy that ruled Her Majesty's Indian Empire and much of Her other Imperial possessions.

Troutmann's parents had moved to India when he was three years old. His father was a civil engineer from Brandenburg and his mother a teacher from Saxony. As they were both devout Roman Catholics, they were not welcome in the Grand Dominion of America, a circumstance that brought many non- English Europeans to India.

Troutmann's father found work right away even though his English was poor to begin with. India's cities were booming and his skills were in high demand. His mother stayed home and studied not only English, but also the major Indian languages, which she taught to her husband and son. The Troutmann's prospered and moved up in society.

Somewhere along the way his father lost his Catholicism, not an uncommon occurrence in the Ascendancy, and became a Tamist, a follower of the Nine Fold Tara, the faith inspired by the Queen-Empress. His son followed suit. Mrs. Troutmann however remained a staunch Catholic and, when Johannes turned seventeen, she returned to Saxony and became a Bride of Christ.

This had a profound effect upon both the Troutmann males. The father went completely native, married a Hindu woman half his age, and proceeded to have seven more children.

Johannes left home just before that marriage and never spoke directly with his father ever again. He joined the Merchant Marine and was absent from India for over a decade. It is believe it was during this time that he was recruited by the SIR, the Sluzhba Inostrannoi Razvedki, Czar Michael's Foreign Secret Service.....

...the story of the Troutmann Episode here...


.....He slipped sunglasses into the V of his shirt, tucked a ciggy behind his ear, but left the Fosbery under the pillow. He knew where all the small arms on board were kept.

The galley was empty at mid morning, but there was still hot coffee in the pot, bread, some crock cheese, and he knew how to use a bloody broiler grill.

No newspaper. They were at sea after all. He grunted at that and made a mental note to raid the captain's library. Reading something was a key part of his morning ritual. When he had the luxury of one.

No newspaper was just as well. The whole purpose of sailing in the Mak was to unwind a bit. The wireless would inform him of any overriding crisis. It would be a week to ten days from Panjim to Cape Town. He'd be moving fast again soon enough.

At Cape Town he'd grab a berth on board any available warship of the Imperial Naval Air Service, which would take the ocean route to New York. Normally he would have booked a cabin on a commercial airship, probably an Imperial Airways aeroliner, but those stopped at Recife in the Brazilian Empire and relations with them were strained these days.

No use taking chances.

His operational logs were already en route in a fast scouting airship, probably reaching Gibraltar just about now, and New York before he ate dinner. By the time he reached New York, they'd be properly prepared to debrief him.

The afternoon before he left Panjim, a hard looking Royal Marine major had showed up with two even harder looking Royal Marine sergeants to pick up Snapper's lock box, a steel case with three locks and two wax seals.

“I'm here for the item, sir,” he said, offering Snapper a form on a clipboard to sign. And “Thank you, sir,” at attention after Snapper signed it. “Loquacious chap,” Snapper had thought.

Snapper watched from his window as the two sergeants put the box into a closed van. There was an open truck full of Marines armed with various types of automatic weapons stopped both fore and aft of the van.

He would have preferred something a bit more low key, maybe one of his local operatives with two bully boys and a donkey cart full of straw. But he knew the whole operation had passed far beyond that point.

“A show of raw power is best, I suppose,” he thought as he watched the military convoy pull away from his doorstep. There were in fact six heavily armed men in his house at the moment.

Still, he did slip away quietly after dark dressed as an ordinary seaman lugging a ratty looking duffel bag and he was quite certain that his exit had gone unobserved.

He ate his breakfast slowly and silently, feeling the ships engines throbbing through his feet. “About twenty, twenty two knots,” he estimated.

When he was done, he washed his cup, plate, and silverware. “The proper gentleman is aways a good guest,” had been drilled into his head before he could tie his own shoes. He put on his sunglasses, lit his cigarette from the broiler grill, and headed topside

It was a clear warm day, about eighty degrees at the ocean's surface. The breeze from the Mak's speed was quite pleasant.

Snapper leaned on the railing and watched the water rushing past. He allowed it to mildly hypnotize him, letting his body and mind loosen up. That both were wound tight was an understatement.

The ship's engines suddenly throttled back by at least half. Snapper automatically looked up and scanned the horizon. Off the port bow was a sliver of white.

He focused upon it with great intensity. Soon enough its silhouette resolved itself into a warship. Of course, a white hulled warship in the Indian Ocean meant only one thing: the Royal Navy.

He relaxed a little.

He could tell the vessel was moving at a good clip by the speed with which it grew. A single fast warship traveling alone meant either a corvette or a frigate, probably heading into Panjim, mostly likely on general maritime security patrol.

No wonder the captain had slowed down. An old rust bucket like the Mak whizzing along at twenty knots would raise the suspicions of a first year midshipman, especially with a Japanese ensign waving at the stern, ally or no ally.

A few more moments passed and then a small grin twitched upon Snapper's lips. He knew that outline by heart; a Truxtun class fast frigate. Too soon to tell which one, however.

He was slightly surprised at how happy seeing her made him feel, no matter which ship she was.

His first billet out of the Academy was HMS Truxtun herself, only a year in commission and already upsetting the Naval Establishment. His classmates were green with envy.

He served two years in her as a Nav/Com officer and received his first promotion from her captain, Sir John “Mad Jack” Hartley, who was quite the old seadog by then. It was the happiest time he had ever known, before or since.

His eyes practically caressed the oncoming warship, her sleek six thousand ton hull, clean lines, two raked funnels, a pair of turrets forward and one aft, each mounting a single 3.5 inch Mark VII Ellis gun.

It was Truxtun's speed – rated at thirty two knots, but demonstrated at up to thirty eight – and her Ellis guns that created such a stir. Properly maintained and operated, the Mark VII, a five barrel electric rotary cannon, could fire thirty one 3.5 inch shells per minute, sufficient to reduce a battleship's superstructure to ruin if she got close enough.

The Royal Navy's 'old guard' still had their bowels in an uproar over the creation of the Imperial Naval Air Service as a separate arm a few years earlier. That Ellis guns were an Air service innovation simply added insult to injury.

But a number of the crusty old bastards fell in love with her once they saw her glide swiftly across the water. Nine more were ordered.

Snapper finally got a fix on her hull number; large black characters reading F-51. He thought for a moment. “HMS Bonaire, ” he whispered. Truxtun was F-43.

She was almost upon them now, her hull a high gloss white, superstructure a flat off white, red and blue bands on her funnels. Her 'spit and polish' was fully evident from stem to stern.

Most of her on-deck personnel paid little overt attention to the disreputable looking tramp steamer, but four officers on her bridge watched the Mak closely through their binoculars.

The Mak dipped her ensign as the Bonaire slid past and got a brief toot of her horn in acknowledgment.

Snapper still leaned casually against the railing, but as the Bonaire's stern came up, her White Ensign flapping vigorously, he could not help but come to attention and give a crisp salute. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed one of the officers on her bridge point that out to the captain.

And then she was past. And getting smaller.

He looked up at the Mak's bridge. Captain Ederveen was watching him, too. He nodded his head and Snapper nodded back.

Suddenly, he felt very tired. Time for some more sleep.


Five hours later, Snapper lay in his bunk dozing. It was a truly wonderful sensation. He did not have to be anywhere he didn't want to be. He did not have to see anyone he didn't want to see. He had nothing unpleasant to attend to.

Fucking bliss,” he muttered with a smile.

There was a quiet knock upon the cabin door. He instinctively grasped the grip of the Fosbery and almost flowed out of the bunk to the door.

Back to the metal bulkhead, pistol at the ready, he said, “Yes?”

Captain's compliments, sir,” said a voice from the other side of the door. Snapper thought, “Good English, slight Malay accent.” He let out a deep breath and opened the door.

A fierce looking South Asian greeted him with a polite smile.

The captain is serving dinner in an hour and fifteen minutes, sir. Medallions of veal in a massala sauce he told me to say,” the crewman said pleasantly.

Snapper returned the smile. “Please tell the captain medallions of veal sounds lovely and thank him for giving me time to make myself presentable.”

The crewman grinned. “Certainly, sir. Do you have all that you need, sir?”

Yes, thank you.”

Very good, sir.” The crewman gave the slight nod that passed for a salute on The Mak, which Snapper returned, then headed back up the companionway. Snapper closed the door. He noticed he was squeezing the grip of the pistol.

Steady, Snaps old man,” he whispered.

He shaved and showered in the closet sized stall at the head of the companionway. He dressed in a fine cotton shirt and the raw cotton pants that went with the v-neck shirt he'd worn earlier...and his flip flops, of course. He fished around in the duffel and retrieved a leather bound jewelry case. From that he took his Naval Academy graduation ring. It still fit comfortably.

Now he felt properly dressed for dinner.

To be continued...

© 2008/2010 Michael Varian Daly

Monday, July 12, 2010

In Which Her Prophet Expounds Upon Catastrophe Porn

...reposted from just after Winter Solstice of last year...

~This 'rant' was prompted by a comment made on a post where I said, "...[R]emember we're an Open System. Coming and going is part of how we'll Spread The Word. None of this hiding out in the compound bullshit. That's for those who are waiting for Jesus or Hale-Bopp or what/who/fucking/ever to come and 'take them away'.

No End Times around here, babe. The Wheel keeps Turning and we have to do the Work ourselves, Blessed Be!!"

A friend asked, “And your plan to deal with a potential Climate Change end to the current Interglacial's stability and the utter collapse of the technological levels needed to make the Sisterhood viable is? The current Climate Catastrophe pretty much kills off contemporary society as we know if it even is a medium-range scenario, while your Sisterhood depends on a much higher level of technology which in turn means Climate Change must be averted which is now not likely..... “

I replied, “I suspect a pretty high level of tech will actually make the transition, but part of our game plan is the 'lifeboat' scenario and we'll be able to preserve a goodly amount of tech ourselves if it comes to that.

In addition, Stage Three of our desert community will be based upon this design. There are other elements, but it is best to keep those under wraps for the time being.”

I felt the need to expand upon all that, so here goes....

First, let me state up front that I believe that Climate Change is real and that it is fully coming upon us in the next quarter century or so.

I cannot say for certain if we caused it or if it is simply part of Mother's natural cycle of things. I strongly suspect it is a combination, that we pumped a batch of pollutants into an unstable climate system and then 'shit happened'.

I also believe that we cannot stop this process, and maybe not even ameliorate it. But I do believe we can ride it out. Some of us at least. Many are going to die. Most actually.

I know that's easy to say with equanimity from my comfy First World life, but there it is. I presently live in a double wide in a mobile home park on the far outskirts of the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area and I'll just have to settle for that level of 'cultural authenticity'. I sure the fuck ain't gonna move to a tent in Darfur and nether are any of y'all, so you can shut the fuck up!

While there are huge numbers of folks who are in full on denial about this, there are also a cluster of people, mostly educated white males, who seem to be actually looking forward to this. John Michael Greer writes very thoughtfully on the subject – which makes him all the more depressing - and does manage to conceal his feelings.

But my old summer camp counselor, Jim Kustsler? Fuck, dude, you can hear him whacking off as he preaches Collapse. I consider him the foremost purveyor of Catastrophe Porn, the Al Goldstein of The Collapse.

But this is just End Times for intellectual atheists and is steeped in the same type of Apocalyptic emotions, but comes from those educated white males who feel alienated from, and dis-empowered by, the monstrosity that is, if you'll pardon the phrase, Modern Civilization.

James Lovelock seems really the most sincere and authentic in this matter and his sadness is palpable. He may not think that we shall become extinct, but he can see the pain and suffering ahead, and to his great credit, it makes him weep.

I suspect I'll do some weeping myself, but I have been tasked with a Plan and need to limit the exercise of that particular emotional luxury. I have Work to do.

My own view is that Modern Civilization is not going to undergo a Total Collapse. Shit's gonna get Real Hairy, but I don't buy the End Times/Late Roman Empire paradigm. History does repeat itself, but never in the same way.

While the sheer size and complexity of Modern Civilization is part of the problem, it is also what will save our bacon, though maybe not bacon itself. There is massive informational redundancy built into the whole thing, so much so that wiping it all out is nigh impossible, short of an asteroid strike. *bites tongue*

Plus, this is not some Hollywood scenario. The so-called Collapse will happen over decades and will never be truly complete. Many parts of the whole will die off partially or totally, but other parts will survive nearly intact.

Things like The Road are just what I named above; Catastrophe Porn. You can watch them with popcorn or with lube, depending upon your proclivities.

Me, I don't watch them at all.

Cynical as a I am, I'm really one of those hopeful solution oriented mother fuckers, and if you have a problem with that, I'll shoot you in your fucking face and take all your stuff.

And so it is....

Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball

July 06, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Note To 2012 Doomers

~If you really believe that OMGZ The World Is Going To End!!!!!tm on December 21st, 2012, then WTF are you doing on da intrawebz blabbing about it? Why are you not out there having as much sex as you can? Or getting as drunk and stoned as possible? Or seeing all the places that will be gone in a few years? Or telling those you love that you actually do love them...and then going traveling and drinking and fucking?

Why are you instead hiding in your little life the same as always? Cause if that is in fact what you
are doing – you would not even see this is you were engaging in the above activities – then you really Do Not Believe that OMGZ The World Is Going To End!!!!!tm on December 21st, 2012 and you just need to STFU cause you're really annoying the rest of us who are trying to focus on solutions for actual 'end of the world' issues like Peak Oil, Economic Meltdown, Global Warming, Corporate Evil and so on.

On the other hand, I suppose
somebody has to buy all those fucking books about The Great Mayan Doom Fest of Twenty Twelve.

Friday, July 9, 2010

X-Plan Up Date

~I slept and then went back and re-did the whole set of X-Plan* posts again. [*that's my new shorthand, which I personally think is pretty]

The revised, edited, expanded, updated X-Plan is now here at
The Explanation Blogspot, which I also cleaned up by deleting all the old versions. Plus I've posted the Portal Post on all my bloging platforms and switched out the old URL's in places like my LJ Header Post.

This is still just an interim measure as I plan to post the final and complete X-Plan on, which is itself in dire need of work, still having links to the late lamented Commie Journal and being pretty plain and boring design-wise

But that's for 'later'. Now, I take a nap....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Framing and Messaging

~I am quoting this here as a Note To Self. Most of you know I've written off both parties and am working toward another paradigm. But the outline below is certainly one to learn from vis-a-vis said 'other paradigm' and very much worth studying and adapting to fit its needs and strategies.

George Lakoff

Disaster Messaging

Democrats are constantly resorting to disaster messaging. Here's a description the typical situation.

  • The Republicans outmessage the Democrats. The Democrats, having no effective response, face disaster: They lose politically, either in electoral support or failure on crucial legislation.
  • The Democrats then take polls and do focus groups. The pollsters discover that extremist Republicans control the most common ("mainstream") way of thinking and talking about the given issue.
  • The pollsters recommend that Democrats move to the right: adopt conservative Republican language and a less extreme version of conservative policy, along with weakened versions of some Democratic ideas.
  • The Democrats believe that, if they follow this advice, they can gain enough independent and Republican support to pass legislation that, at least, will be some improvement on the extreme Republican position.
  • Otherwise, the pollsters warn, Democrats will lose popular support -- and elections -- to the Republicans, because "mainstream" thought and language resides with the Republicans.
  • Believing the pollsters, the Democrats change their policy and their messaging, and move to the right.
  • The Republicans demand even more and refuse to support the Democrats.

We have seen this on issues like health care, immigration, global warming, finance reform, and so on. We are seeing it again on the Death Gusher in the Gulf. It happens even with a Democratic president and a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

Why? Is there anything the Democrats can do about it? First, it has to be understood. It doesn't just happen.

The Difference Between Framing and Messaging

Framing is the most commonplace thing we do with thought and language. Frames are the cognitive structures we think with. They are physical, embodied in neural circuitry. Frames come in systems. Their circuitry is strengthened and often made permanent through use: the more the circuits are used, the stronger they get. Effective frames are not isolated. They build on, and extend, other frames already established.

All words are defined in terms of conceptual frames. When the words are heard, the frames are strengthened -- not just the immediate frames, but the whole system.

Fit matters. The brain is a "best-fit" system. The better a new frame "fits" existing frames, the more effective it will be; that is, the more people will think, and make decisions, using that frame.

Frame conflict

The activation of one brain circuit may either activate or inhibit another. A frame that fits a system will activate other frames in the system and make them stronger. Strongly activated frames will weaken frames that they inhibit.

There are progressive and conservative frame systems. Activating the conservative frame system, weakens the progressive frame system -- both individual frames for particular issues, but also the system as a whole.

That is how framing works. There are consequences.

High-Level, Moral Frames Matter More

Higher-level frames, deeper in the system, have a disproportionate effect.

The more the language of frame is repeated, the stronger the frame gets, along with the system the frame is in. And the weaker the frames of the contradictory system gets. The stronger high-level frames are, the more effective frames that fit them will be. And the less effective frames that contradict them will be.

In politics, the high-level frames are the moral systems that define what is "right" for a conservative or progressive.

Most Framing is Unconscious

Frames are conceptual; they are the elements of thought. Most thought is unconscious. Words activate frames. We are rarely conscious of the frames that are activated by the words we hear. Yet those frames are there in our brain circuitry, and more we hear the words, the stronger the frames get, even though we aren't aware of it.

Framing is Long-term

Framing is the establishment of permanent (or long-term) high-level frames and systems of frames with the brains of voters. Framing can be done by long-term careful political messaging, or through education (say, by controlling school textbooks).

Prototype Framing

An important part of framing is the establishment of prototypes: social stereotypes, prototypes (typical case, ideals, nightmares, salient exemplars). Stereotypes are used in automatic reasoning and decision-making.

Bi-conceptual Framing

For important domains of thought, like morality, religion, and politics, it is commonplace for people to have two inconsistent frame systems that inhibit each other. When those frames apply to different issues and in different contexts, we speak of "bi-conceptuals." When you can shift back and forth on an issue, you are bi-conceptual on that issue. That is, you can frame the issue in two ways, using inconsistent higher-level frame systems.

Contested concepts

In politics, the high-level frames are moral frames. There are opposing conservative and progressive moral systems. Important political concepts are "contested," overlapping in some classic cases, but diverging in content depending on the moral system. Thus, vital political concepts like Life, Freedom, Responsibility, Government, Accountability, Equality, Fairness, Empathy, Property, Security, and so on are contested.

A major goal of political framing is to get your version of contested concepts accepted by the voters. Messaging can then use these concepts and their language freely and effectively.

That is how framing works generally -- independent of whether the frames are used in politics. In politics, bi-conceptual voters can shift back and forth on an issue, depending on how the issue is framed in terms of higher-level political systems.

Political Messaging

Messages use words. The words activate frames. In political messages, you have a double intention: to get voters to think using your frames and to keep voters from thinking using the other side's frames, which contradict yours.

Your message will be more effective if it fits existing high-level frames in the brains of voters, and less effective it contradicts such high-level frames.

Political messaging and bi-conceptual voters

Your goal, with bi-conceptual voters, is to activate your system of political frames and inhibit the other side's system of political frames. Your message should therefore fit your high-level frame system, and it should not fit the other side's high-level frame system. If it fits the other side's high-level frame system, your message will be helping the other side, because it will tend to make voters think using their frame system.

Why Does Disaster Messaging Arise?

Suppose the other side has structured its messaging over a long period of time to consistently strengthen its high-level frames, prototypes, and versions of contested concepts in the brains of voters. They can now do effective messaging by using those high-level, morally-based frames in messages that evoke the existing strong high-level frames.

Why Conservatives Consistently Win Messaging Battles

In the US, conservatives have set up an elaborate messaging system. It starts with an understanding of long-term framing and message experts who know how to use existing their long-term frame systems. Then there are think tanks, with experts who understand the high-level frame system and how it applies to the full range of issues. There are training institutes that teach tens of thousands of conservatives a year to think and talk using these framing systems and their language and argument forms. There are regular gatherings to consolidate messaging and policy around a contemporary issue that fits the conservative moral system. There are booking agencies that book conservative spokespeople on tv, talk radio, etc. There are lecture venues and booking agencies for conservative spokespeople. There are conservative media going on 24/7/365.

As a result, conservative language is heard constantly in many parts of the US. Conservative language automatically and unconsciously activates conservative frames and the high-level framing systems they are part of. As the language is heard over and over, the circuitry linking the language to conservative frames becomes stronger. Because the synapses in the neural circuits are stronger, they are easier to activate. As a result, conservative language tends to become the normal, preferred "mainstream" language for discussing current issues.

This messaging system has existed and has been extended and strengthened over many years. Democrats have a few of these elements, but they are relatively ineffective, since they tend to view messaging as short-term and issue-based, rather than long-term and morally based. Democrats tend not to understand how framing works, and often confuse framing (which is deep, long-term, systematic, morality-based, and conceptual) with messaging (which is shallow, short-term, ad hoc, policy-based, and linguistic).

This situation puts Democrats at a messaging disadvantage relative to conservatives, which leads to conservative victories. Hence the regular need for disaster messaging.

Polling and The "Mainstream"

When the Democrats are out-messaged, they call upon polling and focus groups to given an "empirical, evidential" account of public opinion and which language is preferred by the public. The "evidence" comes from polls and focus groups that test the normal "mainstream" language and logic, versus language and logic that is not "mainstream." This is, naturally, conservative language and logic, because the conservative messaging system has systematically made it that way patiently over years. The pollsters therefore report that the "mainstream" of Americans prefer the conservative language and logic, and the policies that go with them. The pollsters then suggest moving to right to go to where the public is. They then construct and test messages that move enough to right to satisfy the "mainstream." They also construct "good arguments." If the "good arguments" activate the conservative worldview, the conservative position will just get stronger in the brains of the voters.

What's Wrong?

When the Democrats use conservative language, they activate more than the conservative framing on the given issue. They also activate and strengthen the high level, deep conservative moral frames. This tends to make voters more conservative overall -- and leads them to choose the real conservative position on the given issue, rather than the sort of conservative version provided by the democrats.

Disaster framing is a disaster.

The "Center"

There are bi-conceptuals of many kinds-- you can have partly conservative, partly progressive views on many issues, and people vary considerably. There is no general ideology of the center. The myth that there is a single "center" is an artifact of current polling practices.

Here's how this works. Ask people whether they When you pick a given issue and poll on the most common "mainstream" language. It will be favored by both full conservatives and bi-conceptuals who happen to be conservative on that issue. Those bi-conceptuals may identify as "democrats" or "liberal-leaning" or "independents." With suitable framing, those bi-conceptuals should shift on the issue, while the true conservatives will not.

Do they form a "center?"

That is an empirical question, but they do not appear to. Change the issue and a new issue-specific "center" may appear, person-by-person.

Such polling is rarely done, so claims about a single "center" -- or a single left-to-right spectrum -- should not be believed.

The Importance of Bi-conceptuals

Pollsters tend not to test for bi-conceptuals. They are not just undecideds, or independents, or mere swing voters. They are voters who have both relatively strong progressive and conservative high-level moral systems and apply them in different contexts to different issues. There are usually a significant number -- in the US my guess is around 20% ± 3. They often determine elections. If they are given only conservative messaging, that messaging will activate their conservative frame system. If they are given progressive messages often enough over a reasonably long period, there is a good chance that their progressive moral system will be activated and strengthened.

The directly contradicts the traditional view of mainstream pollsters. As a result, it has not been tested empirically on a large scale, though there is one solid result.


Don't move to the right. Start thinking longer term. Build as much of a communications system as possible. Design long-term framing for your own high level, moral system and basic policy domains. Fit your immediate messaging needs to the long-term frames. Carry on both kinds of messaging in parallel.


Design polling to study bi-conceptuals through value-based frame-shifting. Always use batteries of questions.

How Conservatives Change Policies Without Winning Elections

How do conservative Republicans have a large effect on policy even when they are largely out of office? Their communication system is never out of office. That allows a conservative minority to stonewall and resist and gain popular approval for it. Their communication system intimidates Democrats into disaster messaging and policy shifts to the right. The Republicans don't have move the country in a conservative direction by holding office. Their communications system can get the Democrats to move the country to the right by forcing disaster messaging upon them.

The example of immigration

The most recent example of disaster framing is reported on in an important Politico article by Carrie Budoff Brown "Dems Tough New Immigration Pitch". It's an excellent piece, and I will be quoting liberally from it.

Brown reports that Democrats have taken "an enforcement-first, law-and-order, limited-compassion pitch that now defines the party's approach to the issue." Democratic leaders are now following the advice of pollsters Stan Greenberg, Celinda Lake, and Guy Molyneux and strategist/focus-group dialer Drew Westen: Talk like Republicans.

"The 12 million people who unlawfully reside the country? Call them "illegal immigrants," not "undocumented workers," the pollsters say." The pollster team was organized by John Podesta of the Center for American Progress.

"When [voters] hear 'undocumented worker,' they hear a liberal euphemism, it sounds to them like liberal code," said Drew Westen, a political consultant who has helped Sharry hone the message through dial testing. "I am often joking with leaders of progressive organizations and members of Congress, 'If the language appears fine to you, it is probably best not to use it. You are an activist, and by definition, you are out of the mainstream.'"

And craft a policy with lots of Republican elements. Here is what President Obama, following the pollsters' advice, said at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House:

"The way to fix our broken immigration system is through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. That means responsibility from government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do. It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -- they've got to be held accountable. It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally. They've got to admit that they broke the law and pay taxes and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law -- and then get in line and earn their citizenship."

Conservative Republican elements are being communicated here: Use force against the illegals ("secure our borders"); get tough ("held accountable"}; personal, not social, "responsibility"; criminals ("living here illegally"); be punitive ("admit they broke the law and pay taxes and pay a penalty"); English only ("learn English"); they're getting free handouts ("earn their citizenship.").

Put aside for a moment the substance of the policy, and notice that these are conservative Republican themes that fit a conservative Republican view of the world. Democrats, starting with the President, are using the language that activates the conservative Republican view of the world. Why? As Brown reports,

"We lost control of the message in the 2007 debate," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a pro-immigrant rights group that worked with Center for American Progress founder John Podesta on the messaging overhaul.

"We were on the inside fighting off amendments, and the other side was jacking up their opponents and getting Rush and Hannity and O'Reilly on fire about this. We needed to do a much better job on communications."

But the biggest factor came from Greenberg's polls: the threat that Democrats could lose "swing districts" in elections, but could win them with this message. So the Democrats not only adopted the message, but much of the largely conservative policy that went with it.

A major feature, however, is that the "illegals" would be legalized while on the path to citizenship. The conservative response is obvious: It's just amnesty warmed over. The Democrats are still soft on "illegals" -- a term now embraced by Democrats who follow Drew Westen's recommendation.

With the Administration's lawsuit against the recent Arizona anti-immigrant law, you can bet that the Republicans will use that lawsuit to pin "soft on illegals" on Democratic candidates. And the Administration's new "tough" right-wing rhetoric will only help support the Republicans.

Repetition over The Long Term

The only way progressives can avoid the disaster of disaster messaging is by regularly saying what they believe, in an effective messaging system -- out loud, over and over, with the idea of changing how the public thinks and talks over the long haul.

Here is an uncompromising example of a possible op-ed:

End A Bad Law: 287 g

Bad laws, laws that hurt far more than they help, should be eliminated. Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is a bad law. Here's why.

Almost all immigrants who entered the US without papers are honest, hard-working, decent people, who have often risked their lives to come the America. They do essential work, mostly for low wages, work that makes the lifestyles of most Americans possible: cleaning homes, caring for children and the elderly, gardening, cooking in restaurants, working on farms, doing odd jobs, working on construction. They deserve our gratitude. They are America's mainstays, good guys. There are twelve million of them in America, helping us all live better every day.

A small number, as in any population, are bad guys: occasional murderers, human traffickers, drug dealers, gang members, and thieves. They need to be captured and convicted.

But 287 g mostly harasses, jails, harms, and deports the good guys, and in doing so, mostly lets the bad guys escape.

287g allows local police and jailers to act as deportation agents with ultimate power over the lives of the good guys, who are assumed to be guilty until proven innocent. Their very entry into the US without papers constitutes sufficient "guilt" to justify their mistreatment and deportation.

287 g promotes a form of racial profiling. 287 g is immoral, an affront to the human rights that define what America is about.

287 g is also ineffective in getting the bad guys, partly because it uses so many resources on going after the good guys.

As Alex DiBranco reports, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that 287(g) is poorly managed, ineffectively organized, and arbitrarily implemented from place to place; ignores or actually provides false information to the public; fails to focus on non-citizens who pose a safety threat; gives shoddy training; and lacks oversight and has not terminated those local partners who have clearly violated the terms of the agreement -- local law enforcement officials running amok in hunting down harmless undocumented immigrants. 287(g) also deters undocumented immigrants who witness a crime from coming forward and encourages racial profiling in which Latinos are "guilty until proven innocent."

287 g should be ended, and replaced by a law that protects the good guys and pays serious attention to catching the bad guys. It is not just ineffective; it is downright immoral.

The Point

Almost every day, I get a request from somewhere in the US -- or various other countries -- to help some group do disaster messaging. It's sad. Reframing rarely works with disaster messaging.

To work long-term, progressive messaging must be sincere and direct, must reflect progressive moral values, and must be repeated. Progressive framing is about saying what you believe, telling the truth, and activating the progressive worldview already present in the minds of those who are partly conservative and partly progressive.

Framing is, of course, about policy, more than about messaging. What you say should go hand-in-hand with what you think and do.

And, of course, the best messaging requires an excellent communications system, or it won't be heard. Progressives have the money to build such a system. The question is whether they understand the desperate need for such a system, and whether they have the will to build it.