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The Fixer’s Manifesto

26/02/2015

The Fixers Manifesto

originally found here

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2am

25/02/2015

2am found at PurpleClover dot Com

found at PurpleClover.com

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Who Can Defeat Killah Priest & The Mighty Wu-Tang Clan?

20/02/2015

Josh Hadley, that’s who.

Josh interviewed me earlier this year for his podcast, but a funny thing happened when he uploaded it.

He used an audio sample from Visionaries, one of the series I wrote for oh so many moons ago, as part of his intro to the interview.

Seems Killah Priest, a Wu-Tang Clan affiliate, has also sampled the same segment from Visionaries for one of his recordings, and his label has ‘bots crawling the ‘webs, looking for anybody who may have ripped them off.

Basically, they told SoundCloud to take down Josh’s Radiodrome podcast for copyright infringement!

Ha!  It’s going to take more than mere ‘bots to stop Josh or shut me up!

Vic Prezio - magnus brobot brawl

Listen to me blather on here.

Magnus, Robot Fighter brawl by Vic Prezio

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Everything You Need To Know About Human Nature

16/02/2015

The_Sons_of_Katie_Elder-366631389-large‘cuz everything is artsier
& fartsier in French

There’s a scene in the old John Wayne Western The Sons Of Katie Elder in which Dean Martin comes into a saloon looking for money to buy a drink.

He raises the funds by raffling off his glass eye, persuading the other cowpokes that it would be a good luck or a conversation piece.

He easily raises the money for the glass eye, taking a quarter from everyone in the bar (well, almost everyone; the villain isn’t interested in playing).

The winner (Strother Martin a.k.a. King Of The Prairie Scum) gets the eye, and Dino gets the money…but then Dino persuades Strother to sell the glass eye back to him for four dollars.

The kneeslapper, of course, is that Dino’s glass eye is just a needless prop, both of his real eyes are fully functional.

Everything you need to know about human nature in general and the underlying problem with contemporary American culture can be found in that scene.

Dino creates a totally unnecessary desire in the saloon’s patrons:  They are convinced that if they win the eye, their lives will be better for it, because they’ll have something other people will envy.

Mind you, until Dino entered the saloon and opened his fat yap, this desire did not exist.

They all took part in a gamble because they thought they were going to get something for…well, if not nothing then certainly for a tiny amount.

And while Strother did win the eye, he was persuaded to part with it for a 700% profit (he bought two chances for fifty-cents).

That’s the way they put it over on us.  That’s the way they sucker us each and every time.

Like a carny, they tell us there’s a winner every time, and maybe there is, but what they don’t tell us is that the game is rigged and there’s only a limited number of winners allowed and none of them will ever win those big stuff animals on the top shelf but rather just the crappy little trinkets on the table.

We are told (sold) by media what we should desire, what we should want.  We’re persuaded to spend to get these items of manufactured desire, but then as soon as we close our fists around one such phantom it disappears like a will-o-the-wisp and we’re told no, not that one, this one!  This is the one you want!

And they play us again and again and again.

We need to stop wanting shit.

We need to start telling people to fuck off when they try to sell us crap.

We need to start looking after each other rather than jockey for fleeting, ephemeral status that one do us a damned bit of good once we’re planted in the grave.

We need to recognize the slickee boiz are playing us for rubes, and we need to stop getting pissed off at the people who point these facts out.

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The Internet Is For Porn

14/02/2015

In a study released recently, Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, analyzed the General Social Survey, a 40-year+ sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago, and drew an interesting albeit it speculative conclusion from the facts therein.

To make a long story short, Downey attributes most of the drop in religious affiliation with increased Internet availability & use.

There’s doubtlessly a correlation here, but it’s a good question as to whether Internet use creates dissatisfaction with one’s religious affiliation, or if dissatisfaction with one’s religious affiliation leads one to seek out other answers on the Internet.

Religion vs Internet

This chart is interesting.  While the overall percentage of non-affiliated people rose slightly from 1974 to 1990, it wasn’t a dramatic drop and was marked by peaks and valleys.  After 1990 (Downey’s arbitrary starting point for mass use of the Internet), the percentage of non-affiliated people dropped noticeably.  I’m sure there are several contributing factors to this, but I think the initial surge in the Internet gave a lot of people who had previous drifted from their churches a chance to re-link online, however briefly.[1]

That honeymoon was brief, however, an disinterest in religion rose apace with the spread of the Internet up until the late 1990s.  Part of this 8-year plateau can be attributed to anxieties following 9/11, but the plateau had started before then.  It was certainly a time of great resurgence in the so-called religious right / moral majority so perhaps their PR efforts paid off.

By 2005, however, the decline in religious affiliation once again matched the spread of the Internet.[2]

Again, correlation is not causation, and there are any number of mechanisms that can be at play here, with no single one the sole agent responsible.

Aww, but what fun is that if you’ve got a cultural axe to grind?

Meet Joel J. Miller, author & blogger, who has parsed Downey’s analysis and has decided people no longer go to church because of Internet porn.

With no numbers to back his assertion up, Miller states Downey’s analysis reflects “the modernist prejudice that equates religion and ignorance.”

Well, yeah, it does, if by “ignorance” you mean “not knowing the self-righteous, self-congratulatory, self-important, self-centered jerks who run too many religious organizations and denominations were banking on none of their parishioners comparing notes with anybody outside the system.”

See, what’s driving people away from mainstream religions is the exact same thing that got them flocking to Jesus in the first place:  A recognition that whatever the current orthodoxy is trying to accomplish, it has nothing to do with what God wants, but more to do with said orthodoxy lining the pockets of its leaders and increasing the political clout of its membership.

Add to this the truly treacherous stewpot of misogyny and borderline-to-full-blown child abuse that flourishes in far too many denominations and mega-churches and even small neighborhood churches, and it’s no wonder many people are opting to hit the silk on the whole organized religion experience.

Who can blame them?[3]

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[1]  I think the 1976 to 1980 hiccup can be explained with Jimmy Carter.  Carter was a sincere, devout Christian who, in the aftermath of Nixon, got people who had only recently drifted away from their affiliations to come back; as the economy grew more problematic and several scandals erupted in & around his administration, people became dissatisfied again.  Reagan, a not-particularly religious person, could sure act like one and under his administration the trend reversed itself somewhat though it began rising again.

[2]  The Internet’s hiccup in 2007-09 I attribute to a decline in the economy, particularly a decline in middle class spending power prior to the big stock market / housing collapse:  People just couldn’t afford all the Internet services they had enjoyed before.  As the economy recovered and as technology prices dropped, Internet use came back.

[3]  Not any true Christians, who in order to be genuine followers of Christ need to adhere to his teaching of “judge not lest ye be judged”.

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The Patriarchy Goes Down Ugly

13/02/2015

If you’re keeping up with current events / pop culture in America[1] you’ll know there’s a men’s rights movement that has been started in counter-point to feminism.

Now, insofar as all people of good will would agree that everyone should be treated with equal respect in the eyes of the law, the idea of treating males as no better or worse than females in legal and governmental proceedings is a fair and just one.

Civil and criminal cases should be decided on the basis of facts, not stereotypes that help or hinder anyone.

That, of course, is what feminism is all about — the recognition that everyone is equal under the law regardless of gender or orientation — and so one would think a separate rights movement for males would be somewhat superfluous.

Not to tar everyone associated with the men’s rights movement with the same brush, but there are an awful lot of people who flock to that banner under false pretenses.

They have no desire to be treated equally under the law, but are seeking excuses for bad behavior that they enjoy at the expense of others — particularly women.

They have, in fact, bought into the same-old / same-old that got us here in the first place, and their attempts at a counter rights movement is just the frustration of the privileged as they realize that privilege is slipping from them.

Would that they were conscious of this.

What makes their torment so frustrating to them and others outside their circle is that they fail to acknowledge the position of privilege they enjoy not because they lack the intellectual capacity or curiosity to uncover such a truth, but that they are culturally incapable of recognizing the truth even when it smacks them repeatedly between the eyes.

Any questioning of the status quo is interpreted as a deliberate personal attack on them as males and as individuals.

And at the same time, they present themselves as helpless victims persecuted by a changing culture.

You can’t have it both ways, guys.

You can’t be a Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians while at the same time bemoaning the awful spell females have cast on you.

jean-goerges-vibert-gulliver-and-the-lilliputians-1340879204_b

 “Gulliver & The Lilliputians” by Jean Goerges Vibert

As with most movements, there is no one single leader at the head but rather a vast undulating can of worms with each separate thread or movement within the movement briefly enjoying its heyday at the top of the can before slithering down again.

However, it would be fair to say that few if any have been more instrumental to the men’s rights movement than Warren Farrell.

Farrell is best known for his books The Myth Of Male Power and Why Men Earn More.

Farrell is not without insight and a brief perusal of his books indicates some creative thinking about the various conundrums facing all genders in today’s society.[2]

The fatal flaw in his logic, indeed the vein of poison running through not only the bulk of the men’s rights movement but also the hearts of far too many critics of the masculine gender as well, is that males have a built in “boys will be boys / get out of jail FREE” card when it comes to their interactions with the opposite sex.

The cover of a recent edition of The Myth Of Male Power is an attractive feminine posterior in semi-silhouette.

Farrell could more accurately refer to it as The Myth About The Myth Of Male Power because:

“’I felt that it was a tasteful message that had not been communicated effectively to women about how powerless men feel around the beautiful woman’s body,’ Farrell told me. Cupping a hand over his crotch, he added, ‘Our upper brains stop working and the lower brain starts working.’”

That’s a pretty pathetic excuse for anyone to make, that somebody else is just so gosh darn alluring that they magically sway one from acting with common sense or common decency.

It’s the excuse used to justify all sorts of denigrating behavior towards females and males outside the preferred alpha group.

The magic of the feminine mystique (to allude to another book on the dynamics of male-female relationships within our culture) overpowers all real males, according to this philosophy, and as such excuses them for bad behavior on their part.

“I couldn’t help myself, she made me do it” is the excuse of the bully, the rapist, the abuser, the old school patriarch.

It dismisses bad behavior because “boys will be boys”[3] and as such are blameless for their reactions to alluring females.

I worked briefly as a pornographer back in the 1990s, but it was long enough to recognize the stereotypical straight male response to highly sexualized surroundings was a fiction deliberately crafted to assuage weak willed males as we picked their pockets.

When you deal with sexualized images on a daily basis, they lose their allure PDQ.[4]

It doesn’t matter what a woman looks like, how she is dressed, or whatever physical activity she is engaged in: If you cannot put aside any visceral sexual reaction to deal with her as an individual in an asexual context, you are surrendering control of your life not to her feminine charms but to your own desire to maintain your status at the expense of others.[5]

For all the good the men’s rights movement does in pointing out inequality under the law that should be addressed, they cause far more harm.

Like all protectors of privilege, they attempt to deny they enjoy such privilege by disguising it as victimhood.

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[1] And if you’re not, WTF is wrong with you?!?!? WAKE UP!!!

[2] One could argue he perhaps doesn’t go far enough to linking the various frustrations most people feel regardless of gender or orientation to the overpowering consumer culture we inhabit, but that’s another book for another day, I guess…

[3] Yes, there are certain general trends commonly — but not exclusively — found in one gender or the other in our culture. While there is doubtlessly a biological root to much of it, it is also shaped by the very culture we inhabit, which for its own utilitarian purposes seeks to have us fit easily codified roles so as to be more easily exploited.

[4] To that subset of the patriarchy found among conservative Christian denominations, the ones that are obsessed with pornography and view it as a terrible addiction that is as bad as actual adultery and as such a destroyer of marriages, I say if you want to keep your young teenage sons from fantasizing about naked women, get them a job with any purveyor of porn for straight males. Like repeating the same word over and over and over until the syllables lose all meaning, so does prolonged exposure to stylized depictions of sexuality. It’s the same reason candy shops encourage new employees to eat their fill on the first day; you soon get sick of it then settle down to the business of moving product.

[5] Not having a same sex orientation, I don’t know if this applies to gays and lesbians in similar situations; I suspect it does but can’t speak authoritatively on that.

 

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The Case Of The Clumsy Art Th– …uh… Appropriator

11/02/2015

So artist Scott Teplin spent the better part of a decade developing a distinctive font.

scott-teplin-jamian-juliano-villani-gavin-brown-3

And love it or hate it or like it or dislike it or just say “meh” to it, you can’t deny it’s a unique expression of an idea and as such is entitled to copyright protection.

jamian-juliano-villani-scott-teplin-gavin-brown-3

Some font developers just love doing that stuff and make their fonts available for free online.  Other sell their fonts for a charge, or develop them for exclusive use by a single client.

Fonts are cool, and I love playing with them,
but when I’ve used them professionally
I’ve either made sure they were free
for commercial use or paid for them.

Enter one Jamian Julian-Villani, another NYC based artist.  Ms Villani saw Teplin’s font, liked it, Instagrammed it without attribution, then in the sincerest form of flattery stole appropriated it for use in her painting, Animal Proverb.

jamian-juliano-villani-scott-teplin-gavin-brown

When Teplin pointed out the theft appropriation, Villani[1] doubled-down:

“Everything is a reference,” Juliano-Villani told artnet News in a phone interview. “Everything is sourced.” Artist copyright seems like a thing of the past.

“It’s a fucking John Lennon lyric,” she said several times. When we pointed out that Teplin, for his part, is claiming ownership of his lettering, not the lyric, Juliano-Villani repeated, “But it’s a fucking John Lennon lyric.”[2]

Basically, Ms Villani is ripping off a live New Yorker in order to rip off a dead New Yorker for her personal profit, and without paying royalties to either.

Ignoring the question of whether she was involved in Christian publishing, I was puzzled by something else in her painting.  To paraphrase Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction:

“You know what’s on my mind right now? It AIN’T the coffee in my kitchen, it’s the [pink elephant] [blue sphinx] in my garage.”

VF ttm03

Yes, the nimble fingered Ms Villani has =ahem= appropriated yet another artist’s work, in this case an illustration by the late great pulp sci-fi artist Virgil Finlay[3] for H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.[4]

Now, fair is fair, and folks would be right to ask:

“Just what’s the #@%&in’ difference between what she did and what you do with your Fictoids or Words Of The Prophets posts?”

For one thing, I’m not making money off the use of another creator’s art or words.  What I post may be freely accessed by anyone.[5]

My Fictoids are typically commentaries on the underlying art, and as such fall under the fair usage provision of copyright law.

I try really hard to use only those images which have entered into the public domain, and / or like Banksy am appropriating advertising art to make a cultural comment.

I strive whenever possible to identify and properly credit the artist, and have gone back and added artist information when I’ve learned it.

Likewise the Words Of The Prophets series of posts are quotes from public persons and as such fall under fair usage, or are otherwise in the public domain.  Any meme I use that I don’t generate, I leave any identifying URL on the image.

Ms Villani is probably in the clear re Virgil Finlay’s art; I haven’t been able to track down a specific date but I’m guessing it’s probably some time in the 1950s or 60s, perhaps even as early as the late 1940s.  Unless the copyright was specifically renewed in the 1970s or early 80s, I’m guessing the image is public domain by now.

The Lennon quote is kinda iffy, but let’s attribute that one to ignorance, not ill will.

I’ll even go so far as to say appropriating Teplin’s font, specifically in the format he used and with the message he painted, might also be a case of plain ol’ vanilla misunderstanding.

But refusing to acknowledge, much less compensate or thank Teplin when it was pointed out to her?

Not cool, Ms Villani.
Not cool at all.

Added later:  
Ms Villani and Mr Teplin
have apparently come to
an understanding and
made peace on the issue

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[1]  With a name like that, it’s almost as if she couldn’t help but be an antagonist in a story.

[2]  We’re going to skip the whole issue of what and how much of a work is considered fair use.  Song lyrics are notoriously tricky items under copyright law, and while one can reference the title of a song with impunity in a literary work, including any quotation of verses, no matter how trivial, invites a letter from a lawyer with ample precedence in her briefcase, so unless you secure permission first, don’t quote a song lyric, even tho people post whole lyrics all the time and make online memes from them.

[3]  Google Image Search the bejeebers outta him; you’ll be glad you did.

[4]  And, yes, Finlay was also an NYC based artist for much of his career, so Ms Villani wins the trifecta!

[5]  You want to use my words for profit, please contact me at the e-mail address below; I lay no claim on any artwork I do not specifically own the rights to.

 

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Indians

10/02/2015

05_discovery_wyeth_indianprayer

a good Indian
stays on the reservation
a better Indian
leaves it

some people think
that means they are better
because they stopped
being an Indian and left
to become something else

actually it means
they’re better Indians
because they aren’t letting
others decide who is / is not
a good Indian

when others decide
who is / is not an Indian
they’re making “bad Indian”
the default
and the good Indian
is the Indian who stays
where they’re told

the better Indian
ignores this

I am a follower of Christ
and I’m off the reservation

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art by NC Wyeth

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Where Is You?

9/02/2015

When I was a young child, I would try to look as far as I could to either side of my head in hopes of somehow seeing my self (note:  Not “myself”).

Even at age five or six, I was aware of my mind (or consciousness or soul or identity or whatever you want to refer to it as).  What I was curious about was where it resided.

Clearly behind my eyeballs, but specifically where?  I could look at my hands and feet, even my own face in the mirror, and know where they were located physically.

I was even aware of internal organs:  Heart, stomach, longs.  I could feel my heart beat, see my chest rise and fall with each breath, feel around my abdomen to feel my stomach when it rumbled and gurgled during digestion.

Even at age five I could describe those organs and indicate where they were located physically.

But my mind?  It was like there was some vast grey cavern behind my eyes, a cavern that stretched off to infinity and was filled with memories, knowledge, and experiences.

Call it my “mindspace”.

This cavern had no physical reality, obviously.  Despite an overexposure to cartoon physics, at age five I knew I couldn’t be carting a cavern around with me, if for no other reason then how could I lie down with my head on a pillow when I went to bed?

Despite that lack of physicality, my mindspace was and is very, very real.  It seems to me that my mindspace is where “I” exist.  My physical form is real, but there have been times when I’ve been sick or under a doctor’s medication when my body seemed to be detached but my mindspace stayed in place.

I describe my mindspace as a cavern, but that’s imprecise.  It seems to be a vast space, but there’s no direction or dimension to it:  There is no up or down, near or far.  When I dredge up a memory, or create a conversation between two characters in a story, it exists in the same place in my mindspace.

Alex Sharpe Ross - trapped by tape

My question of the day is whether or not everyone else experiences a similar mindspace, or does each individual experience their self in a different manner?

In other words:
Whereis you”?

art by Alex Sharpe Ross

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What To Do About ISIS

4/02/2015

I’ve got a lock on this,
don’t worry.

classics illustrated time machine

First thing we do is build a time machine and go back and tell ourselves not to condone torture and degradation at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, but to treat our prisoners humanely according to the Geneva convention, the Bible, and our own Constitution instead of stripping them naked, smearing their bodies with feces, threatening them with dogs, wiring their genitals with electrodes, and taking pictures of them with our smirking soldiers and thus giving ISIS the most perfect anti-Christian/West/America recruiting tool it could hope to have.

abu ghraib

Then we could take the time machine and go back to 9/12 and tell ourselves not to treat a bunch of loosely affiliated thugs as the second comings of Nazism and the Iron Curtain, but rather consider them to be just what they are:  Criminals who need to be tracked down, arrested, brought to trial, convicted, and imprisoned instead of being elevated to the status of a nation-state by declaring war on them.

Cobra_commander

In fact, we ought to take the time machine back to when we were supplying them in the mountains of Afghanistan because we wanted to give payback to the Rooskis for helping the North Vietnamese, and instead get our spies and arms dealers to stop doing that.

rambo3

While we’re at it, we can go back to the day after the fall of Dien Bein Phu and instead of being all pissy and splitting their country in middle and importing outsiders to run our half, we can be good sports and shake Ho Chi Minh’s hand and congratulate him on winning independence for the united nation of Vietnam.

No, wait!  Better still, we can go back to that moment when we broke our promise to Uncle Ho, who after fighting by our side against the Japanese in WWII was rewarded with betrayal and treachery when we handed French Indo-China — ‘scuse me, Vietnam — back to Charles DeGaulle, and instead tell ol’ Chuck to go oui-oui up a rope; America honors her promises.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to go back to 1918 and not invade Russia in order to support counter-revolutionaries in their civil war; after all, Europe sat back and let us duke it out during our civil war, so maybe we would have been better off saying, “Not our circus, not our monkeys” and just letting them hash it out amongst themselves instead of throwing our lot in with the losers and souring relations with the winners.

And maybe getting involved in WWI wasn’t such a hot idea, either; Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were already collapsing before we joined in.  Yes, we sped things up, but maybe if we hadn’t thrown our weight behind England and France they wouldn’t have been so draconian in negotiating peace, maybe even allowing the Kaiser to stay on the throne and keep Germany stable the way the Emperor kept Japan stable after WWII and then maybe a certain corporal would have ended up going to art school after all.

Jes’ sayin’…

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