Duck! and Gather

Archive for the ‘self reliance’ Category

Let’s try starting this in Tweet-sized chunks:

  • Rethinking my duckandgather blog. Maybe we won’t have to “duck”.
  • Social media will save us from the need to duck, and history will end.
  • Social media will kill Google, and bring the Corporations to heel.
  • Social media is driven by we the People; not by management.
  • Nobody dies. Crisis averted. We all live happily ever after.

Yeah, Twitter is good for some stuff. But deep analysis ain’t among them.

Another way to start is the following: As part of my day job, I deeply analyze the social media landscape (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). Today, in the middle of that work, I had an epiphany: Could the emergence of this dynamic hearken the end of history as we know it?

Let’s start the analysis with my purpose in starting this blog back in late 2003. Basically, I had read two politically opposite books in 2003 — both of which seemed true to me. Assuming their truth, I looked for their intersection. And what I found in there was surprising to me. I found that these books seemed to be predicting that America was heading for an existential crisis, and that crisis would take the form People vs. Corporations.

With this thought in mind, I spun out a number of  bold predictions for George Bush’s second term. More than a few hit the mark.

Since Obama won in 2008 (as I predicted in 2006), I’ve been sort of holding my breath, waiting for the collapse. Well, not waiting passively. As I’ve mentioned previously, I live in the hills surrounding Silicon Valley and, with my wife, have created a reasonably self-sufficient life — one that could support us and a few others for a few years without having to go “down the hill” into the Valley.

Hey, I’d have refashioned my life in this way even if I hadn’t come to the “doomsday” ideas above. The fact is, I like chopping wood, raising vegetables, and purifying mountain spring water, to name a few regular practices of mine.

But you know what? Today, on June 8, 2010 — 7 years after I read those two books, drew my conclusions, and watched as history seemed to validate them — I’m reversing course. My epiphany is that Facebook and Twitter and their ilk will save us from ourselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

This blog is where I discuss semi-random theories of mine about American society, politics, sports, etc. — all with an eye toward a predicted impending collapse and coming renewal.

I suppose I also talk a bit about my unfinished book Personality and the Brain here too.

In addition, I started up a website called Holonation a year ago. Among other things Holonation is a community blog. There, I (and others) discuss theories and pose questions on health, both physical and mental.

One interesting dynamic with Holonation is that users are finally starting to sign up who were not contacted my me or by friends of me and it turns out … they’re all women! Indeed, over 80% of the (small) Holonation user-base seems to be women.

Contrast that with the folks who read this blog and/or listen to the accompanying podcast. Except for my sister Kathy (who doesn’t count for these statistics), I suspect that the vast majority of Duck! and Gather readers are men.

Then for Personality and the Brain, interest seems to be split pretty evenly along gender.

When I get a chance, I’ll try to get rigorous on these statistics.

Anyway, if you’re in the mood for some Oprah-like dialog (albeit from a man), here’s a blog I just posted on Holonation: Transforming Grief into Joy.

Enjoy!

As my dear readers and listeners have noticed, from time to time I digress and expand on a topic of little interest to many of you (e.g. Sean). But as I have pleaded, my purpose for doing so has been to illuminate parallel dynamics within American consciousness.

As I have explained previously, I see sports as an allegory of American life. Just as young children are mirrors of the family life in which they grow up, American sports are mirrors of the culture (such that is) in which they perform. So for, example, I’ve pointed out that since 9/11, the champions of the three major sports (baseball, basketball, and football) have been “team” teams, not “star” teams.

The only exception to this was in 2006 when the Miami team “won” the the NBA title, and the Pittsburgh team “won” Superbowl XL*. Back then, I argued that those two seemingly model-breaking events actually were the exceptions that proved the rule. In other words, I entitled the accompanying podcast “Revenge of the Sports Corporations.”

So we come to last night’s Superbowl between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. What about America’s future can we read in the tea leaves of that game? Here is my quick answer:

1. Life is lived in the flesh, not on paper

The New England team was favored by 12-14 points in Vegas. They ended up losing by 3. Paper did not match the flesh. Why?

New England won the Superbowl of January 2002. That was the first of three Superbowls that New England would win over the ensuing six years. But they didn’t just win in 2002. Instead, that team hearkened the dawning of the new epoch in America (i.e. community over star individuals).

Since 2002, the New England team has “talked the talk” of this new epoch. I won’t bore you with all the details which show how they elevated the community (team) over the individual star. But what last night’s game showed me is that it is one thing to speak the truth; it is altogether another thing to live it.

The New England team of last night talked it. The New York Giants walked it. In the new epoch, walking trumps talking.

2. Look to the children, for the children will lead us

Children say the darndest things that embarrass the adults. This is because babies are born staring straight at the truth, and it takes many years to be taught how to spin and falsify the truth. The coming epoch will be a time of great, frightening change. Adults will have a hard time with it, being married to their own false consciousness. But the children will go with the flow.

And so the new and better ways of life will come from the children, not the adults. I know that seems hard to believe today when some of the children are named Lindsay and Britney and … (I’m drawing a blank to come up with more — I don’t have a TV). But history says it will be so.

So let me quote what Eli Manning said after last night’s game. After all the plays and non-plays by “adults” (i.e. the “knowns”) like Brady, Moss, Harrison, Seau, Thomas, Welker, Strahan, Burress, Toomer, and Manning, the game defining ones were made by the children (i.e. lesser knowns or unknowns) with names like Tuck.

As Manning said last night after the victory: “I’ve got two words for you: David Tyree.”

The lesson for the new epoch: listen to the children.

3. Jesus was a nice guy; Christ is a myth

In the new epoch, false messiahs will arise. As I have argued in my “All Hail the Messiah Obama” series, I believe Obama is just such a false messiah. But read that series! I strongly support Obama for president (I just voted for him this morning in California’s primary — actually, my wife let me check off her ballot).

I believe that, circa 2008, Americans are children who cannot yet think and act for themselves. Just as children need the guiding hand of a truth-speaking adult, so we Americans need proxy inspiration from the false messiah Obama.

And still, just as healthy children grow up to learn that their parents are not God (nor the Devil), so we Americans will need to grow up to learn how to talk and walk the truth for ourselves. In the new epoch, self reliance will be the rule. Nobody will be pulling your ass out of the fire. You’ll be doing it yourself or you’ll burn.

Thus I come to Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England team. In the months, and weeks, and days leading up to last night’s game, Brady was presented to us as Christ. Last night, we saw that he is no Christ (and, trust me, if Tom Brady isn’t Chirst, nobody is); instead, he’s just Jesus.

As Jesus, Tom Brady shits and his shit stinks, and he struggles (even just a bit) when the pressure gets too high, even for an extraordinary chap like him.

The lesson for the new epoch is: Don’t pray to anyone but yourself; and while you’re at it, don’t pray to yourself too much either.

The theme of this four-part blog series is: I want Obama to win the presidency, but I’m not so sure I like the guy. In the previous posting, I wrote:

In short, me, Peter, doesn’t need a messiah. But I firmly believe that this nation does. And I firmly believe that Obama is that messiah.

As I explained in the second posting of this series, I believe America needs a messiah because most Americans are children who take little or no personal responsibility for their own existence. As such, Americans need the guidance of an all-powerful adult. When the “children” look like adults themselves, “all-powerful adult” is upgraded to “messiah”.

But what would this messiah do for us Americans that we need so badly? In short, he would unite us. Unity is a necessary precondition for saving this country.

For the past four years, I have been predicting a coming “doomsday” in America. Although such a day would certainly be painful, it would have the side benefit of uniting us. That is, one of the upsides of really shitty things happening to us is that we find common cause with other people who have experienced the same shit. It’s an eternal human dynamic.

So for fours years, the only uniting force that I could imagine that would bring this nation of 300+ million individuals together as one was the force of mutual calamity. But that thought made me very nervous because calamities by their nature come as a surprise. If calamities weren’t surprising, we could prepare and either avert them, or at least come to terms with them.

But surprised people, especially frightened children, are highly irrational beings. And when those surprised “children” are adults, they can be quite dangerous.

So for four years, I’ve been thinking about how to survive the aftermath of when the majority of this country finally wakes up to the realization that this great nation is f#$&ed. History shows when these sorts of awakenings happen, chaos is loosened for a period, until fatigue sets in, acceptance emerges, and some sense of normalcy is returned. Think New Orleans.

The trick of living during such times is to survive the chaos. The A+ trick is to not merely survive, but to prosper. A failing grade is awarded for non-survival.

Well, when one’s head is thinking that way, one spends some energy toward enhancing self-sufficiency, and strengthening one’s community relations.

But then along came Obama. In Obama, I could see a better way toward unity. A quicker way. A shortcut.

Sure, calamities will unite us. But at what cost? A messiah figure can do the same for us — much quicker and much cheaper. A messiah could bring us together, so that when the unavoidable calamities do come, they arrive as not such a great surprise, and the ensuing chaos is ameliorated.

Now, it’s a whole other blog series to explain this next statement: If Obama wins the presidency, I expect there to be an assassination attempt against him. Not because he is a black man. But rather because he will be the man, like FDR before him, and Lincoln before FDR, who inherited a f#$%ed country off the rails, and did what was necessary to restore order. For his efforts, Lincoln was assassinated, whereas FDR survived the 1933 coup attempt against him.

Should President Obama be assassinated after he had brought this country together, then whatever dark days will surely follow that tragedy, we will be more prepared for them.

So as I said in the first posting of this series: Booyah for Obama for president! I don’t have to like him as a man to passionately hope he wins. I just have to love America.

In the previous two postings of this series, I explained why I passionately favor Mr. Obama for U.S president. There isn’t even a second choice. Not just this year — for at least the past 20 years.

But in this posting, I’m going to explain why I don’t much care for Mr. Obama as a man. My personal reservation boils down to my beilef that he is a self-styled messiah.

In short, me, Peter, doesn’t need a messiah. But I firmly believe that this nation does. And I firmly believe that Obama is that messiah.

So in this posting I’m going to explain why I think Obama sees himself as the messiah. But this posting is going to sound like criticism of Obama. And of course, children can’t understand the subtle distinction between criticizing a man qua man, and at the same time, promoting the same man for president.

For you children, perhaps it will help if I say a few words about Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards. First, with Mr. Edwards, I believe that he is a personal fraud who is speaking a poignant national truth. As between a self-styled messiah (Obama) speaking the truth, and a fraud (Edwards) doing the same, my beliefs choose the former for America.

As for Mrs. Clinton, all I can say is that when I woke up this morning and checked the news, my first reaction was: What is wrong is the people of New Hampshire? Are they blind? Moronic beyond hope? Are they incapable of understanding the scourge of Clintonism?

My second thought was: I’m glad the dark avatar otherwise known as Hillary won. This victory will keep it/her in the national spotlight long enough for the nation’s other children to learn from the mistakes of the New Hampshire children. Because if Obama had won New Hampshire yesterday, it/she would have crawled back into the computer which generated it/her, and Clintonism would have died a loathsome death, before even the sleepy children of America could wake up to face the new dawn. And that just wouldn’t do.

OK. The rest of this posting is for the 3 or 4 other people in this country with an academic interest in, and true understanding of, a personality theory known as the Enneagram. To you 3 or 4, it goes without saying that insanity and enlightenment are relatively rare, whereas the vast bulk of our consciousness is spent in the middle of these two extremes. And in that vast middle, people are people, Christ is a myth, we all shit, and our shit stinks.

What is Mr. Obama’s shit? He’s a Seven. As I’ve explained elsewhere, the Enneagram is a theory based on what we find unattractive in others; NOT in what we find attractive.

With Mr. Obama, it’s pretty difficult to find things about him that are personally unattractive. But if he is a Seven, one would expect to find pleasure addictions, taking more credit than he is due, receiving flattery as manna from heaven — basically, the messiah toolkit.

A year ago, I explained how, if one looked close enough, one could find these attributes as a theme in the life of Mr. Obama.

Fast forward a year, and we have that famous Iowa victory speech of last week. This was a profound speech because it attracted favorable commentary from not only the liberal media, but from the sort conservative commentators who eviscerate Mrs. Clinton. This speech showed clearly what Mr. Obama is for America: The Great Uniter.

So when I first watched that video, I got goose bumps. (11:58-13:05) It felt good being a Canadian in America heading for my citizenship interview next week. I still get that feeling when I watch the video again.

But me being me, I also look a little closer than most. For example, I noticed a couple Seven things about Obama during the 15 minute speech. On “receiving flattery as manna from heaven” I draw your attention to the moments during the speech when the crowd interrupted Mr. Obama with chanting or cheering. Specifically, notice two different such moments: in one, the crowd interrupted with chants of “U-S-A” (3:50-3:58); in the second, with chants of “O-ba-ma” (4:56-5:10).

Notice anything about Mr. Obama’s reaction to these two interruptions? During the U-S-A chanting, Mr. Obama waited patiently for the audience to quiet down, with little expression on his face. But during the O-ba-ma chanting, Mr. Obama beamed that 10,000 watt smile of his, and seemed to milk it all in. I see that and I see I a guy who suckles flattery like a babe on a tit. Bingo! Seven.

Now, on the issue of “taking more credit than he is due”, I draw your attention to the point in the speech when Mr. Obama said something to the effect: “Years from now, when we have made progress fighting global warming, getting past the oil-based-economy, ending the war, etc., you will say that you were here on this day in this place where it all began.” (8:48-9:30) Wild cheering ensued. Hell I got goose bumps.

But think about it. Who won the Nobel peace prize in 2007? Al Gore. For what? Raising world consciousness about global warming. Now, of course, Al Gore’s work stood on the shoulders of a great many others who have been working on these issues for decades.

So if, 5 or 6 years from now, America and the world have made improvements on this score, it would seem safe to say that these improvements began long before the Iowa caucuses, having nothing to do with the political aspirations of the junior Senator from Illinois. But there he was last week, pre-emptively taking more credit than will be due him, even in the best case in which he ends up playing a central role in moving the issue ahead. Bingo! Seven.

Finally, having “trashed” Mr. Obama, let me conclude by trashing myself. This is a four-part blog posting in which I all but declare myself as the “Obama-boy”. I explain why I am passionate about this fellow’s political candidacy. I really, really want this guy to win.

Also, I’m smart enough to know that, if the above analysis resonates, his enemies could use it to harm the very candidacy that I promote.

What gives with me? Returning to the Enneagram, I am an Eight raised by a Five father. As an Eight, my attention is tuned toward spotting weaknesses in phenomena outside of myself. So watching the Iowa speech, I not only got swept up in it all, I also (subconsciously) watched for signs of weakness, error, and excessive aversion/attraction.

Being raised by a Five dad served to channel my weakness spotting energy into an academic sensibility. About any phenomenon that interests me (and a great many do), I ask questions like: Why did that happen? How does it work? What are the patterns? How does it relate to other phenomena?

As you can probably guess, I am terribly boring to most people in my own life, including my wife. So instead of boring all of these people, I instead bore you. But since few if any of you actually read my blog, my speaking may as well be a tree falling in a forest with no one around to hear.

Which brings me back to my Eightness. Yeah, I’d like it better if “you” existed and we could have a dialog over these matters. But even if you don’t exist, I get pleasure merely from speaking, whether or not anyone is actually listening.

In other words, speaking my mind — no matter what sort of shit is floating around in that bowl — trumps promoting my own interests. I would not have done well in the Russia of Solzenitzen, nor in the China of today — where my only blog readers would have been the thought police.

I realize this is an odd existence. Perhaps even a bit damaged. Whatever the case, it’s a blissful existence in this blessed free country of ours.

Toward the end of Part 1 of this series, I wrote:

[My belief that Mr. Obama sees himself as the messiah] “turns me off” him as man, yet makes me passionately favor him for U.S. president.

Reading closely into that last sentence, you might notice that I am drawing a distinction between myself on the one side, and the bulk of the American population on the other.

When I’ve said over and again that “I love America”, what it is that I love is the ideal of America, the meaning of that ideal, and the historical, eternal singularity that underlies this meaning. As for the American people, I love us no more and no less than I love any other people in the world.

The ideal of freedom is why I love America better than I love any other nation-state today, and better than I love any historical nation-state about which I have read. Indeed, the only better nation-state than America that I can imagine is no nation-state at all.

But my imagination is an illusion. Anarchy can never succeed on this Earth. Functional anarchy requires one impossible precondition. Namely: a self-reliant, self-responsible citizenry.

Hunter-gatherer clans by definition satisfied this precondition, or they perished. But in this post-modern world of ours, the hunter-gatherer life is a vanished, impossible dream (or, for many, a nightmare).

In our post-modern oil-enabled life, profound personal irresponsibility is the fat middle of the bell curve of our existence. In Europe and Asia and pretty much everywhere but America, this personal irresponsibility takes the form of blindly following the norms and taboos of your own culture.

In America, there is no such culture. And into the vacuum created by this cultural absence have rushed the corporations that, as John Edwards explains, are deadening our minds and wasting our bodies. Where the rest of the world’s population blindly follows cultural norms and taboos, we Americans blindly follow the corporate-defined norms and taboos.

Because of this, we Americans are the fattest nation in the history of mankind. We exhibit unprecedented rates of degenerative disease — in the children!, for the love of god. We experience a depth and breadth of social pathology (e.g. serial murder, kids who kill, going postal, abortion as birth control, eating distorders, ADHD, etc.) unrecorded in history.

Follow the cultural strictures of your non-American country, and you may find yourself wearing black and overdressing on a balmy November day. Follow the corporate-defined “good life” in America, and you may well find yourself fat, diseased, and dancing with insanity.

We post-modern humans are children. We can’t seem to think for ourselves.

Other nations have cultures to keep the children in line and out of harm’s way.

We, the lonely, the lost, the abandoned children of America enjoy no such luxury. We children need a messiah to lead us out of this dessicated wasteland of ours.

And look! Here he comes. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.

With a title like that for this posting, you might be wondering: Is he pro-Obama or anti-Obama? If so, I would answer your question with another question: Do you mean concerning Obama personally as a man, or Obama for U.S. president?

Let’s start with the second question: Do I favor Obama for U.S. president? I’ll answer this way:

I moved to this country from Canada almost 20 years ago, in the summer of 1988. In 20 years, I have never seen a national U.S. political candidate for whom I would have cared to vote. (I would have cared to vote for Bill Bradley back in 2000 had he won the nomination, and for Matt Gonzalez for San Francisco mayor in 2003 — had I been a citizen and a San Francisco resident).

Next week is my citizenship interview. After 20 years here, with an American wife and child, it would seem about time I took this step. But as I’ve written and spoken on this site, my love for America goes way beyond my family circumstances. To my mind, in all the millennia of written history, this nation is a singular one — and the only one with which my personal identity is intertwined (i.e. “America” means “freedom”, and I am free).

As I have blogged, predicted, and podcasted for the past four years, I hold the firm belief that this blessed country of ours is “off the rails” and headed for an epochal crash. I am apprehensive about the degree of horror that will be visited upon this nation. At times, I wonder if America will survive it.

Mr. Obama is the single phenomenon I have seen over the past four years that I believe could have the effect of softening the blow of this coming crash, lessening the horrors that await us, and bringing us through the dark days ahead.

Should I be granted citizenship next week, one of my first acts will be to figure out what I could do to help propel Obama’s candidacy. And if he wins the nomination, you can be sure I will vote for him come November.

So on the question — do I favor Obama for U.S. president — my answer is pithy and clear: Hell, f#&%ing, yes.

In my next breath, I’ll say: I don’t much care for the man himself. As I discussed last year, and as I will be explaining in more detail in the next posting, Mr. Obama seems to fancy himself as the messiah.

That belief of mine “turns me off” him as man, yet makes me passionately favor him for U.S. president.

Strange, huh? Read on.


for the money has gone too far

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