Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ownership is odd...

“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said 'This is mine,' and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1754

("Fenced In" by Christopher Brown)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The moon is a big girl...

Why are we going back to the moon? It's like this. Men like to put their independence and their masculinity out there for all to see, but really we're biological suckers for feminine attention, like moths drawn to whatever glowing mommy energy catches our third eye. Just look at the lengths we go to. Of course, we'll deny it, and we may even train ourselves to get over this primal urge, but then you'd have to ask yourself why, and have a really good answer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Flying dreams realized...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To all the shit sandwiches...

One of my blood brothers just got handed a serious shit sandwich in the relationship department. I'd like to remind him that this is the time to be strong, calm, and willing to move on...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mushroom journeys...

Awoke to strange, tall mushrooms in Sarah's little tomato patch. Quite possibly Conocybe albipes, though it's a little hard to say. I don't think they're poisonous. Lost in mushroom lore now...

Reading about mushrooms will take you places. You will inevitably encounter the Amenita genus which includes the jacksonii species seen above, the classic Amenita muscaria, as well as the infamous Amenita phalloides, or The Death Cap Mushroom, the most toxic mushroom on Earth. The name Amenita triggered a memory of a lyric from an old R.E.M. song, The Flowers of Guatemala, and sure enough, if you believe the Internet, the song uses the Death Cap as a metaphor for the CIA's ruthless covert activities and mass killings that went on in that country to keep our own United Fruit Company in a perpetual business boom.

From there, I discovered that Amenita muscaria is also known for its hallucinogenic properties, though they are very different from the fabled psychoactive blockbuster genus Psilocybe. Amenita muscaria "trips" were frequent in Siberia, and the experience is frequently understood to be a form of wild delirium brought on by the severe illness ingesting these things cause.

It gets odder: The active ingredient in Amenita muscaria is excreted in the urine of those consuming the mushrooms, and it has sometimes been the practice for a shaman to consume the mushrooms, and for others to drink his urine - the shaman, in effect, partially detoxifying the drug (the sweat and twitch-causing chemical, muscarine, is absent in the urine). In Siberia, the poor would consume the urine of the wealthy, who could afford to buy the mushrooms.

And odder: The notion that Nordic Vikings used Amanita muscaria to produce their berserker rages was first suggested by the Swedish professor Samuel Ödman in 1784. Ödman based his theories on reports about the use of fly agaric among Siberian shamans. The notion has become widespread since the 19th century, but no contemporary sources mention this use or anything similar in their description of berserkers. Today, it is generally considered an urban legend or at best speculation that cannot be proven.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Aging American men are a peculiar breed. Becoming one, I'm scanning the crowds in search of a respectable roll model (no typo).

Lately, I'm particularly on the lookout for what I'm calling "BOMBJ"s: Bearded Old Men in Bomber Jackets. These thick gray wolves travel alone, they think, but packs of them can be easily spotted at trade shows, free outdoor concerts, and digital photography stores. When that jacket zipper's at half mast, you might just sneak a peak at the corporate logo on their golf shirts. I'm not sure I can pull this look off yet, but by the seams of my Dockers, I'm going to get practicing.

This guy's a little too neat, but you try Googling or Binging "Old Man in a Bomber Jacket" and see what you come up with... Incidentally, Bing - really?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Members only...

"There is so little that is interesting about exclusivity when it is solely determined by wealth rather than experience or knowledge."

- Jason Evans from this month's Aperture

(photo by Anne de Vries)

Saturday, June 06, 2009


I've heard that metal detectors are illegal in Italy. Makes sense, you can just scratch the ground and uncover one of Caesar's gold fillings. I've heard that chickens can turn from female into male on account of them only using their left ovary. Makes sense, if that one ovary goes out, the testosterone in their system takes over. This can make a hen crow at dawn and a peahen grow cock's plumage. I've heard that feral children with animal parents (i.e. Romulus and Remus) exhibit the triumph of nurture over nature, and that the exact opposite is true of children born of human parents who keep them in dark basements apart from all human contact. I've heard that most men lead lives of silent desperation. Makes sense, the world can only accommodate so many dreamers at a time. I've heard that the state parks might shut down this summer on account of the budget crisis in California. Makes sense, people don't want to pay more takes or make any cuts. Somethings gotta give! And finally, I've heard that Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a belly button. Don't believe me? Ask Karen Black.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

NIT Theory in action...

Of course, Obama is happy to blast "chosen" wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the one hand, and to use them as a diving board into a new global narrative on the other. He knows that the past eight years provided the necessary ugliness that had to occur in order to yield progress. Read my NIT Theory to understand what I'm after here.

Si si amigo, Bush was a wank, but I'm hesitant to knock him for getting us involved over there - despite the cockamamie reasons he and his dufus crew trumped up. Ultimately, Bush's actions gave us, gave Obama, a gift: A tangible, memorably painful history that is ripe for transformation. Behold the shift from war to something closer to peace and prosperity. It is the stuff epic presidents dream of Grasshopper.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Thunder in Los Angeles...

Not nearly as dramatic a visualized here, but rare and beautiful nonetheless.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Digital Shoebox...

We interrupt our usual naval-gazing with an important announcement...

Sarah's written a book, The Digital Shoebox, and it will be available via Peachpit Press in September. Get your pre-orders in now on Amazon!

The Digital Shoebox is a much needed "how-to" that addresses a rampant (but totally new) challenge faced by our species: Now that everyone and their uncle is a wild shutterbug, what do we do with all of the, yes, kajillions of digital images we're taking? Where should they go? How should they be organized? How do you sort, find, and share them? The book gives us seven simple steps that even your crazy uncle who lives at the laundromat can master.

I'm very proud of her and equally inspired by her stick-to-it-iveness... AND... now I can find those important images I need, when I need them.

(Illustration from the book by Christian Kasperkovitz)