Saturday, May 03, 2008

It's a Faux Analogy! Peanut Butter V. Science

Proof that having a really good suit and a tv-trained voice does not make you smart. Or Correct. Or in these Post Faux Days - Credible.

A spokesmuffin and a supposed engineer try to discredit Evolution - with peanut butter.



HT to "Hell's Handmaiden" who has some even MORE hilarity in store for y'all. Better yet, one of them is Creationist Generated.

The response is from "The Bacon Eating Athiest Jew" - so I betcha know where that's going.

I just had to chime in here to assert that you don't have to be an athiest to find these people too goddam* embarrassing to stand near.

*Not Demanding, Sir and or Madame. PLEADING!

Google Spanked Non-Erotically.


RankSpank
Way back in the days of yore, I had a Google page-rank of five, based on posts, links and traffic that I'd damn well earned. Then I tried to monetize that traffic using PayPerPost.

Now, I'd tried using Google AdWords, but after a few tries and a few unexplained account cancellations that seemed to revolve around newsworthy nippleage and/or the odd f-bomb I drop to gain attention, I decided that Google AdWords were incompatible with the blog you see here. You see, I don't write in order to optimize for money and traffic. I write what I write, based on my sources. And PayPerPost is one of my better sources for ideas.

I've found that generally if people are willing to pay you to blog about something - and willing to accept an honest response (the little +/- icon) - then generally if my site qualifies given the keywords I've set up, it might just be the idea I don't have for the day.

That's why my PPP assignments tend to be sporadic. It's this blogger's way of dealing with writer's block.

Well, I was one of many people who's blogs were "spanked" by Google with a drastic, arbitrary and of course economically devastating drop in page-rank, for the sin, apparently of taking money to write particular posts. You know, as opposed for taking a salary or a sponsorship to write entire blogs.

Somehow, apparently, that's more ethical? Or perhaps it's due to the fact that such blogs tend to be entirely acceptable to Google Adwords, since they are already hewing to some form of company line or theme that makes it easy for them to assign keywords. Well, whatever - but while my content may not be all that predictable, it did earn that PR5 honestly.

And of course, Google Pagerank has been a critical number when seeking out sponsorships and putting a value on your display advertising space.

Well, Izea.com has struck back with Izea Page Rank. Here's mine.




The idea, of course, is to compete with Google and Alexa, neither of which are seemingly all that friendly to the individual, entrepreneurial blogger.

It doesn't particularly bother me about Alexa not being all that great for me. It has always favored really high-traffic sites. Google, though, is supposed to go by the ethos of "first, do no evil."

Now having said that, I have not said anything before this because it was absolutely clear why some action of this sort was probably required. Google's search engine was getting cluttered by crappy pages from crappy blogs that exist only to exploit engine traffic.

Of course, the same could be said of AdWords blogs. And it should be. You see, there's little point in buying AdWords if it's going to give you crap traffic. Well, it's hard to know what criteria went into the "spanking," other than the obvious - those of us who were spanked know that we aren't considered suitable for Google.

But just as obviously, there were definitely "civilian casualties," people who take occasional posts, for whatever reason.

And personally, I think that a well-written, contextually appropriate paid post of mine stacks up against an unpaid piece of crap by someone wanting to churn out keyword-filled entries for their AdWords blog.

Yes, Google, Yes; I KNOW there has to be a way to filter out the Make Money Fast people. I also know that it's likely to be imperfect. I'm even willing to take something of a personal hit in order to improve search results. I use the damn things too. But in point of fact, people use Google to find stuff to buy all the freaking time - and posts like mine really do add value to that end of the business.

You, Google, need to get on board, and take a look at the ethical and practical rethinking that Izea is doing over at SocialSpark. The idea kicks ass. Maybe you should, I dunno, share data or something?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Oh frack, it's almost too late to do anything for Mother's day!!!

Ok, you poor negligent bastards, it's too late for anything other than mothers day flowers
from 1-800-Flowers.com. This may not be the tone which they would prefer - but this is Graphictruth. And the Graphictruth is, if it was not for neglegant bastards like you with large wallets and short memories, there would BE no teleflorist's at all. So at least use the one you can remember, and the one that is known for doing a better job than you could do at any hour. I mean, just because your alternative is a quick run to the 7-11, don't settle for a service that won't do any better than that.

1-800-Flowers.com - the first name in genuine gratitude for the absent-minded.

Oh, yeah. I forgot the day too...

Today's Posts are brought to you by...

The point I want to make.

You see, I haven't made any money for a while, and I need to, because I desperately need two video cards. Or, more accurately, that was my motivation for clicking on Pay Per Post. You may have noticed - or not - that I haven't done a paid post for some time.

Well, as I said, today I needed the money, and so I clicked onto PPP. And, not only did I find two opportunities, I found the idea I needed for today. It's an idea that's been perculating in the back of my mind, it's all about new media and new economy vs. old media and old economy and it turns out that these two paid opps precisely illustate exactly what I want to say.

And this turns out to underline an idea that I've had in the back of my mind since my days in the newspaper biz; the idea that the most powerful ads were ones that underlined the article(s) on the same page, and vice versa, that an article acually gained some degree of importance by making advertisers compete to be on the same page - whether or not that correlation was real or completely accidental. This was back in the day of knife and wax, and I still think of advertising as my first calling.

You see, I spent most of my time as a newspaperperson designing, writing and physically placing ads. Before that, I designed and placed ads in all sorts of niche media for Judges Guild, an RPG company that specialized in D12 game systems and had a small ad budget that needed to be targeted wisely.

Like most very small companies, Judges Guild lived and died on advertising coupled by word of mouth and had very, very little discretionary income to use for that advertising. Every single penny was begrudged, as it came out of the owner's food budget.

Literally.

Now, I want you to take a glance at all the ads on this site for a moment. Scroll up, scroll down, the article will still be here when you get back. All the graphical and all the text adds are placed here by someone who is taking a few pennies from their food budget in hopes it will make you click on something.

Consider the reality and implications of that. Consider the fact that in many, many cases, these people are taking the entrepreneurial course because it allows them to be creative; or even more viscerally; because it allows them to feed their family about as well as welfare would, but with some dignity and hope attached.

This is also something of an epiphiany for me, and more importantly, it's going to be an important day in terms of illustrating the new reality of web-based media and advertising. You see, it used to be commonly understood that advertising drove media. But in the new media, adverising is "cost plus" - that is to say that advertising is something that the media owner can choose and place, and their success at that relates entirely as to it's relevance.

And second, direct media buys - such as google ad-words, blogpspot, and my own choice, Project Wonderful - are completely depeneant upon the tracking of my niche.

Furthermore, - and here's a beutiful and wonderful thing about the web - I can actually sell advertising "futures." I mean, in a sense. Today's posts, for instance. As a demonstration and experiment, based on my faith in the importance of this serious articles, will carry with them a unique "Project Wonderful" button bar, targeted at SEO optimizers, newsletter engine producers and all others who specialize in marketing the stuff that creative people make.

Ultimately - speaking from practice, direct creative experience and from direct observation of the market, creative people really suck at marketing their own work. And yes, I include myself in that category. Marketing is an entirely separate skillset, so radically different that I would have to say that no creative person should even consider going without at least an informal reality check from a marketer, and vice versa. People who are just getting into flexing their marketing muscles search desperately for things worth selligng - and it's my observation that they tend to run through several painfully instructive relationships before they find the thing, the people or the ideas that mesh with their personal particular talents.

This of course implies that it would make a great deal of sense for an internet marketing agency to scoop up people who are driven to the trade, who want to market, and who need to be put together with a deserving client, so they don't have to do their time in the ghettos of MLM or affiliate marketing.

My illustration of what that would look like is in my next post, and just to underline that, I will be paid for it.

Ethics are universal and ethical transactions always pay off better and over a longer term than unethical transactions. But it's not always easy to find a ethos that expresses one's ethic in a time of extraordinarily rapid change. I've decided to return to the vary basis of life to continue my exploration of that principle; survival, happiness and long-term prosperity are all direct evidence of learning to do the right thing.

Love what you do. Do that. Hire people who love what they do to make you money.

Update: I'm not actually getting paid for this post unless the good people at Pepperjam send me a tip. Apparently I forgot to click the "reserve this post" button. Well, I can hope for tips. Meanwhile, this post says exactly what I had in mind, so I'm stickin' to it.

I was unable to clip the vid at Pepperjam, so I really want to twist your arm to do that. Hint to folks at PepperJam. Never preclude the possibility of viral publicity. This vid should be as accessible as anything on Google or YouTube.

clipped from www.pepperjam.com

Unlike most agencies that offer expertise limited to one vertical, Pepperjam offers extensive professional consultation and management services across multiple areas of search-engine marketing (Pay-Per-Click / SEO), affiliate marketing, and online media planning and management.


blog it
We have all seen the offenses committed by people who don't believe they need marketing expertise; an offense often committed by a person who would not be fool enough to think that a receptionist existed just to answer the phones. Your marketing strategy, techniques and chosen markets tell people what sort of person you are. From that first introduction, they will or will not consider doing business with you. EVER!

I often shop at a store that sells overstock and the inventory of businesses that, alas, are no longer, and I often see blatant examples of this sort of thing. For instance - tuna in a can, crackers, a knife and a napkin - nice little instant lunch, right?

And so they said - with graphics and packaging that strongly suggested a personal hygene product. Any decent marketing consultant could have saved this product to successfully compete with Star-Kist along with asking the obvious question - who are you to try and compete with Star-Kist with the exact same product?

But this product didn't get that far - at least, not within my demographic. I probably would have noticed.

The fact is that, for all the books and advice written about marketing, it is an intuitive art; one that takes a certain sort of mind to begin with, and then a great deal of time and education making expensive mistakes on other people's dime. The more volatile the market is, the more this is true, except for the exceptions.

Do you know what the exceptions are? I can give you examples of exceptions - like Coke, like Tootsie Roll, like Gold Bond Powder.

Coke, of course, is the poster child for not screwing with an established brand identity, with it's "New Coke," although I happen to think that Pepsi Clear was a runner-up in the "dumb marketing ideas." I call it a near runner up because that's the sort of product that might actually have paid off - with a little better marketing. Clear Pepsi is weird, and it doesn't taste any different than Pepsi. Clear Pepsi with Rum is a clear Cuba Libre - which could have taken the umbrella bars by storm.

New Coke? Well, a good friend of mine, a professional dominatrix and former prostitute had a pithy phrase for this exact thing, which is worthy of it's own acronym.

DFWTM. "Don't [Screw] With The Money."

She was speaking of moving in with a base player, developing a coke habit, or risking your capital. It's funny how people on the edge of being poor have values that are starkly similar to those of very rich people. Neither believe in screwing with their capital assets. In her case, the "assets" were literally the left cheek and the right. She took the ideal extremely personally.

Which is exactly what Coke did, in trying to replace it's formula with "New Coke."

Now, if you are a marketer, these are probably pretty lame, prosaic or even inaccurate examples. You see, I'm a really good example of the sort of person who absolutely SHOULD hire a marketer. I know just enough to be dangerous.


In fact, it's probably true that if I did not love what I actually do more, I could learn to be really good at marketing. It's SO tempting to think that means "I could become good enough to do this myself."

But the fact is, really successful people and really successful companies have gotten that way not because they are "adequte," but because they focus on exellence in their core area of expertiese, and then seek out, track down and if needful, tranqillize and kidnap the flavor of obsessive geek that they need.

See video: Is it not true that the CEO of Pepperjam is the sine qua non of the well-fed, smugly successful geek? Well, that's precisely the sort of marketing geek you want. If he's as geeky as I suspect, he WILL annoy the crap out of you, but if he's as smart as I suspect, he will hire people to interface for him. People, whom I suspect, who understand that having blonde streaks and a smile adds 10% to their bottom line.

That is the sort of expertise you want on your side.

You may have noticed that I have said very little about Pepperjam, the company. Well, that's because I don't have to. At most, I would have needed 100 words plus a link to their video - and that would have been more than they had asked ME for.

But then, I don't take paid posts unless they can become one of MY posts.

The next post in this series will be a general unpaid post about the economics, ethics and reasons for monetizing a website in the first place, based on my experience in print and online journalism.

In order to make all these posts appear in the proper, top-down order, I'm backdating all the posts I make today, so that they appear below the first, explanatory post. I mention this because I do not ordinarly do this, but for today, I'm going to consider today's posting to be a whole which will be linked and promoted as such. In other words, if you are reading as I'm writing, the next post will be below THIS post.

Speaking of the New Media...

One of the marvels of these here "Internet Tubes" is the marvel of telepresence, wherein some good internet angel allows you to talk to your client or boss in real time, face to face, without having to cram your busy entrepreneurial butt into Business Class for three to seven hours while inhaling every new flu bug known to man.

Insert obligitory reference to Isacc Asimov's "The Caves of Steel" here. Few realize that far from being a Disutopian vision, his idea of a society that starkly limits interpersonal contact was his own fondest desire.

Mine too. The fact is, that aside from making it possible to "do bidness" across vast spaces, telepresence will also allow you to "do bidness" across certain sorts of interpersonal divides as well.

But more importantly, it's emblematic of a change in the way "bidness" is done, the sorts of people you will be doing it with, and of course, the time frames in which you will be doing it.

Telepresence is just one example of technical capacity that is making the "old economy" obsolete and the new economy mandatory. Oh, it doesn't hurt that for every telepresent conference, you reduce your carbon footprint significantly. Indeed, that one change alone in getting things done could add to your bottom line while taking huge steps toward a "greener" operation.

The beauty is, while this is a first-class, top tier, status-forward solution, it's still probably going to cost less than the fuel for a single cross-country trip in a company jet.

I suspect that in the future, corporate jets will be reserved for technical people who have to actually - you know - touch things.

Eww.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Greg Palast's mordant appeal.

Greg Palast is asking for our help again. He's one of my primary sources and he may well be one of yours. Well, here's what he wants to find out.

One million Democrats attempting to vote in this year’s primaries found their names missing from voter rolls. WHERE THE HELL DID THEY GO?


And guess who's helping him do it? Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

And this proves to me that both have great big clanging brass ones. I mean, just ask the shade of John Connelly how safe it is to ride next to a Kennedy who's on his way to upset an applecart. Hence, the "mordant appeal headline."

Here's what came in the mail; one of Palast's PBS-like appeals. Save, unlike PBS, he's promising me stuff I really can't do without knowing - and I know he can dig it up.

Robert Kennedy, Greg Palast: The Final Investigation?
One million Democrats attempting to vote in this year’s primaries found their names missing from voter rolls. WHERE THE HELL DID THEY GO?

Law professor Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and journalist Greg Palast are launching an investigation. We want to know: where are these votes? Who swiped them? How? And how do we prevent it from happening in November?
The investigations team needs your help. RIGHT NOW. The not-for-profit Investigative Fund needs support to pay the cost of phones, airfare, microphones (hidden, when needed), detective agency fees, camera crew, researchers and all the infrastructure of inquest.
We need, right now, two dozen Producers to put up at least $1000 each to pay for the preliminary investigation and production. You’ll get a tax deduction, a box loaded with DVDs of the finished films now planned from broadcast internationally – and maybe, just maybe, an honest election.
This time we plan to put out our findings on the manipulation of the vote BEFORE November.
Can’t put up $1,000? Then Donate $500 and get a package of all of my books and DVDs signed to you. Even a $100 gift will be put to good use – and we’ll send you my three latest DVD films, including “The Elections Files” (Watch the trailer) from our BBC TV investigations which I'll sign personally.

Bobby Kennedy, in his masterful article in Rolling Stone, exposed how Ohio votes vanished in 2004. The Palast team, for BBC Television, unmasked the vicious ‘scrub’ of Black voters in Florida in 2000.

Now Kennedy and Palast have joined together with an extraordinary team of investigators to hunt the missing votes of 2008 BEFORE we have a repeat of 2000 and 2004.
I haven’t sought funding from you all this year – but now I must. Neither I nor RFK take a dime of compensation from the Palast Investigative Fund. But the fund’s hit empty and we can’t ask a our brilliant crew to continue to survive on dog food – they’re beginning to bark at embarrassing moments!
Become a Producer and get personalized signed copies of the books RFK calls, “investigative masterpieces,” The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.
Or donate at least $100 – try to make it more – and get Armed Madhouse (hardbound) and the CD, “Live from the Armed Madhouse,” signed.
Our investigation is non-partisan. It’s not about saving Democrats, but saving DEMOCRACY.

But we know who's playing games with the ballots.
FACT: On Super-Tuesday, the number of Democrats missing from voter rolls in New Mexico exceeded George Bush’s 2004 ‘victory’ total by 300%. No wonder McCain’s campaign says New Mexico is “in play.” The question is who’s playing with it?
Join our effort. If you’ve got a tip, a document, a witness – CONTACT US. And add your name to the list of Producers and Supporters.
Some Americans have taken a bullet to protect the ballot. All we’re asking is that you take a tax deduction. Add your name in bold on screen as a producer of the film that will open eyes and stop lies. Donate HERE – and PASS ON this request to friends and patriots. Let’s stop the attack on democracy NOW – so we can make this the final investigation of a stolen election.
I can’t tell you how much your support of our investigations has meant to us.
Yours,
Greg Palast
Ok, now here's MY naked appeal. I would love to be able to be a "producer." So I'm going to go and design a one hundred dollar t-shirt. I'm going to make sure that it's of damn high quality and that it will make YOU look both good and progressive.

Every penny of my proceeds go to Greg for this undertaking. I will update later with the exact url for the shirt. Once I do that, I'll be forwarding this around.

Now, to my fellow bloggers; I would like you to give this a push. Every blog that links to this will be included on the shirt. So, like, please do that. I'm going to give everyone a day to decide and then up it goes.

But I'm going to continually update - and there is a reason for this. Ultimately, this will be a collector's item, and the fewer the names on the back of the shirt, the more valuable that shirt will be, twenty or thirty years from now.

The ultimate4 question will be whether this shirt will be something you can proudly sell on eBay - or something that you have to sell clandestinely using some untraceable medium of exchange. But that is why we invest in hope, in overpriced t-shirts and the efforts of people like Greg Palast.

It's not what your pastor says - it's whether you sleep thru the sermon.


GTL was wondering aloud why McCain's paster - a raving loonie by all accounts - is getting a free pass because McCain sleeps through his sermons, just like Barack Obama probably does.

Moving on to the substance, having dismissed the story as the non-story it is and taking a swipe in passing of McCain's discomfort with the width of the loopholes in McCain-Fiengold, he gets to the point.
The Gun Toting Liberal™: "If you think for ONE MOMENT, “Panama John” lacks a “skeleton” or two in his closet, you’d better think AGAIN. The man’s been to war and he was captured as a POW. My hat’s off to him for that, and I sincerely do mean that. On the other hand, I’ve been to war, too, and I guaran-damned-TEE you — you do NOT want MOI to be YOUR “Leader Of The Free World”. I’ll never be the same again, and I wasn’t even captured and/or tortured by the enemy like “Panama John” was. God Bless him, but it is simply not POSSIBLE for the man to be even the slightest bit “normal”. Ask any other war veteran and unless they, like “The Sherrif”, are blinded by the G.O.P., they’ll wholeheartedly agree."
And that's the point I think we should all consider. I've been through my own sorts of wars - equivalent levels of stress, according to folks who tell other folks they need to be wrapped tighter - and I will tell you that PTSD really does do permanent damage.

This can be a blessing or a curse, but I cannot see any way where he could possibly turn it into a blessing for him and us in the Presidency. A Senator has the slack they need to cope. I'd be real tempted (from the viewpoint of either party) to have him as SecDef. It is going to be a chrome-plated bitch rebuilding our armed forces, and we will need someone with that level of street cred with the troops to do it. One thing about PTSD - it really does enhance your level of rational paranoia.

One thing I have noticed about presidential candidates - and this troubles me in general - there are few enough legislators who are competent enough to pour piss out of a boot; it disturbs me to see the good ones go down the crapper with the bad; the general outcome of a failed run for Presidency seems to be the end of one's political career.

Illustration Credit:

Pipe Down Now, Silly Liberal Shirt by Libertymaniacs

Customized (0ne might even go so far as to say "Perverted") By yours Truly.

But then, that's the beauty of the whole idea.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My hidden agenda is to make you think I have a hidden agenda.

Goddess knows it must seem like I'm wildly concerned with selling you stuff lately. Well, I kinda wish the explanation was the obvious - but obviously, if I were that good at selling shit people didn't really need to buy I would have no time to blog at all.

The point is far closer to this: that in order to do what I should to - blog - I have to pretend to myself that the whole point to it is to sell you crap you don't actually need, while at the same time, making crap that on some level is crap that you actually do need to see, and internalize as a message, whether or not you literally buy it, and indeed, whether or not it's even salable crap.

At this particular point in time, I'm actually drunk enough to say that out loud. I'm not going to actually hit post until I'm sober enough to ensure that veritas is enhanced by vino, but I'm honest enough to know that brutal self-honesty requires a little support from time to time.

That probably sounds like whining - but it's so very not. And therein lies the point.

I am first and foremost a visual thinker. On my best days, I am able to translate my visualizations into words fairly seamlessly. But some days, I need to indulge the thought that there is a "Hidden Agenda," and thereby explain why it is you should relate to the message and/or concept I've squeezed onto a product. In reality, the only thing I've ever needed to hide about my agenda is how badly I suck at hiding it.. :P

Drunk, sober or stoned; I'm afraid with me that what you see is what you get. It takes a great deal of ethanol to overcome my training to dissemble, to imply there is something unspecified and attractive hiding in the depths, to cater to your inexplicable neurotypical belief that every human motive is really cloaked in the the semblance of moral rectitude.

No, with me, the real deception has always been this - the learned practice of implying that there is a hidden, deeper motive to what it is that I do. In particular, I've learned that it's far more acceptable to have an apparently poorly concealed motive to make a relatively honest buck at your expense than to admit the fact that money itself is a damn poor motivator for me.

Understanding as I do that for most people, money IS important, and that it translates well to applause, I can start to ask for value for value fpr that which I do that I consider valuable.

But I will tell you something right now that I suspect strongly applies to all artistic personalities (or there would be no market for agents) - the idea of an artistic work of mine being inherently valuable is not just alien, it's frightening.

You see, like most children, I desperately wanted to do the things my parents did. And my father was an Irish traveling salesmen. No, wait, it gets better - he was a disabled, NORTHERN Irish traveling, RACIST salesman.

How did he get disabled? The official stories vary, from jumping off a load of plywood and landing the wrong way to far too many years driving a jeep too fast over dirt roads.

Me, I think he said the wrong thing to the wrong people thinking that he was safe saying it because of a similarity of skin color, or a common interest in other bigotries - and got the crap beat out of him. Goddess knows there were ten thousand times the thought occurred to me and in point of fact, I never actually met anyone who met him twice that looked forward to the third time.

Well, you might imagine how well emulating my father worked out for me. To give me credit, I never even tried to emulate his social skills. But, to underline my lack of clue - it never once occurred to me that social skills were what it took to sell things to people who could do without those things. Looking back my father was a salesman in the way I'm a writer and an artist, an intuitive genius.

...yeah, I know how that sounds. Bear with me for a moment, it's not the brag it you might think it is. And my point is that he could not "pass on his trade" any more than than I could.

In my experience, "genius" always involves a trade-off. Some brains, some people, some minds are just more specialized than others, and when they are digging into their best thing, they are of course seen as brilliant. Even if they can't manage basic hygiene, or figure out how to match their socks.

People, like my father and like myself, need to realize that they need other people who are neither blessed nor afflicted with that spark of genius - because whether it is a blessing or an affliction really is not largely up to us.

You see, I'm not neurotypical. Neither was my father. I'm a multiple personality and an autistic or if you prefer, an artist - and my father was, depending on what terms you prefer, a sociopath or a salesman.

People like me and my father are far more dependent than we would like to pretend on the quality and the advice of our enablers.

You know how I know that?

Let me introduce you to my mother.

And at this point, let me tell you something. I do "honor my mother and father." Like most folks do, they did the best they could with the tools at hand, according to the customs and assumptions of the day. Unfortunately for them, neither of them was the sort of person for which the customs and assumptions of the day would lead to good results for me. Both would have been better off as unmarried, child-free "free thinkers."

Neither of them could or would make that leap. And it does neither of them any honor at all to pretend they were any good at trying to be what they were not, or pretend that they should have tried in the first place, even though that trial resulted in Yours Truly.

I'd like to take credit for the moral fortitude of my own choices - but I'm afraid that like most folks and certainly my parents, the majority of my moral fortitude is revisionist hindsight; one part rebellion, two parts incapacity, three parts ex post facto rationalization of things that worked out well despite best parental advice.

You see, my mother was a photographer and an adventurer who's courage failed. I grew up being bored and unintentionally inspired by the photos she took while being a courageous free spirit in post-war Japan. But, she was female, and she thought that mattered more than her talents or muse.

But perhaps even more importantly was the fact that she was NOT a teacher. She was an adventurer, a free spirit, a "not teacher" born into a family of really amazingly good intuitive teachers. Alas, that is also a calling that far too many think of as a profession or a trade. In a sense, it's true. Many people can overcome a lack of native ability by training, in the same way that one may not be born to be a seal, but can learn to swim.

My mother was capable of teaching in exactly the same way that a cat is capable of swimming.

But ultimately, her family thought that becoming a teacher was a safer and more rational choice than exploring that which she actually was. I am, in large part, the product of her regrets, and that is which I honor. Had she followed her muse and her real nature, I doubt very much that I would have been born at all. She certainly would not have married my father. In all honesty, I suspect that her sexuality was as lesbian as it gets. Apparently even lesbians marry their daddies if they are forced to pick a man, just as men tend to marry their mommies, if the same applies.

You see, her father was a traveling salesman, who, having realized his mistake, rarely came home. What a rude shock it must have been, then, for my father to spend most of his marriage with her living on bile and disability. (Note illustration.)

You see, each of us are the sum of every bit of luck and every choice of every ancestor we have, unto the seventh generation. It is amazing to me how many people read the Bible religiously - as did my mother - and the more religiously they take it, the more wildly they miss the point.

In point of fact and experience, the Christian Bible, and in exactly the same way, the sacred texts of all other religious traditions, are the distilled common sense of those who learned the hard way, and you, as the reader, have to understand that in order to profit from it. For not only does it matter that these people "know better" than you do, it also matters WHY.

And for that matter, unless you have been in the anaougous shoes of the people who write scripture, it's not that easy to intuitively discern that "why" part.

Let me give you an example; "Saul of Taris." As much as we know about Saul, or as he was later known, Paul, most of what we should understand remains unspoken, in large part because Paul himself took it for granted.

Saul, you see, was a jew. But he was also a Roman Citizen and a tax collector. There are very few tax collectors who make even the slightest ripple in history, much less create large bodies of art, scripture or literature. In all probability, Saul of Tarsus was a tax collector even as was his father before him. The problem was, Saul was not born to be a tax collector; he had either a lack of the proper inclinations and skills, too much empathy, or somehow his sexuality (which many presume to be gay, though I'm only willing to go as far as "not ordinarily heterosexual") collided in some hideous and personally unresolvable way with his sense of self.

Been there, done that, MADE the T-Shirt!

Paul one of the most hideous and best recorded nervous breakdowns in all of history. Fortunately for him. Unfortunately for us, he spent the rest of his life trying to explain and or blame that breakdown as being the fault and/or responsibility of other people.

If prophets were perfect people, they'd never be foolish enough to be in that position in the first place.

The thing to learn from Paul is NOT what he thinks you should do - but rather to learn the things you should avoid in order to not suffer as Paul did. Paul himself did not understand that, even giving an extraordinarily sharp mind, so we may all forgive ourselves for being a little unclear on that point ourselves. Aside from that, as my entire life history attests, knowing what does NOT work is not a great deal of help in knowing what will work.

Save, of course, at times like this.

There are cusps and moments in history where everything is going to change and no common-sense assumption based on history or tradition (absent a full understanding of the reasons for making that rule of thumb in the first place ) will work. While human nature will guide the outcome in all cases, we as human beings seem to have little ability to understand our own nature or the governing needs and drives of others; most especially in the cases where the underlying, unstated and unconscious natures of other persons differ from our own.

Right now in these times, as Alvin Toffler's worst nightmares come true in our laps, wallets and personal lives, knowing what used to work is a somewhat useless thing. The only reliable guide is the ability to usefully extrapolate from a negative result, because the only thing that can be predicted as the rate of change goes vertical is that whatever works right now will probably not work tomorrow, with an increasingly short window of opportunity for any workable solution.

By preference and inclination, I'm a Conservative - but in practice and of necessity I've had to apply my conservatism to ideas and approaches that seem wildly radical to any person not so blessed as I with such a mixture of functional distinction and practical wisdom.

I don't think of myself as being therefore wiser than the average bear, nor do I "look down upon" most folks. But I am increasingly thinking of myself as a niche commodity with increasing application.

And thank you, my dear readers, for your support. :P

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Arabic Phrases that could Save Your Life!

OK, not really. But laughter really IS the best medicine for PTSD. Take my word for it - it's one of the few things in Reader's Digest that's inarguably true, other than the fine print in the hemorrhoid ads.


"Don't Shoot! I'm voting for Obama!" and "Don't Shoot! I'm Voting for Ron Paul!"

"Support the Troops" yellow ribbons are about as funny as the crutches they don't buy. Send a bunch of these to Iraq and you buy some guys a moment of laughter. That's better than all the Faux Patriotism you could possibly slap on the ass of your car.

These stickers come with real adhesive. Magnets are for people who want to be able to change their minds.

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