Friday, September 30, 2011

More Ways to Come to Grips with a Radically Changing World and to "Build 2020"

Adrian Molina is a hip hop artist, poet, futurist, educator, and thinker whose Build 2020 Manifesto: A People's History of the Future takes on such diverse topics as transhumanism, civil rights, mass action, economics, and peak oil, and sets them to beautifully produced tracks courtesy of a mutual friend, Eric "HipGnosis" Young.

Build 2020 is available for download at any price (including $0) and is truly priceless, deepening with each and every listen.

The final track, "Build 2020," spells out some of the many things that all of us need to do to take the power back and build a future worth having. They include seemingly mundane things like getting in shape, composting, bartering, learning to grow food, educating yourself and others on these subjects, etc. Here it is for your enjoyment and edification:

So take a listen, download all ten tracks, listen closely, pass them around, send Molina a few bucks in support (or get in touch and see how else you can help out), and take these ideas to heart. The world is changing around us, rapidly and radically, and we must do all we can to ensure that it moves in a direction that benefits all beings.

It really is up to us.

Special thanks to Molina and HipGnosis!

Ten Ways to Wrestle with a Rapidly and Radically Changing World

A while back I came upon an apparently defunct blog called Brainsturbator and spent a couple of weeks reading through the backlog of fantastic material posted there. One of the posts was so powerful and relevant that I have tacked up a modified, one-page version on my cubicle wall at work, right under a picture of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty.

I check it regularly, seeing if I am putting the recommendations into practice. While I usually find that I am not, or at least not enough, I do that whole "start where you are" thing and hit the reset button, attempting once again to take a baby step or two in the right direction.

Here are the ten things, I recommend visiting the site for the full breakdown:

  1. Practice is repetition is preparation is power.
    This might be the hardest for me. I have little discipline, and so I tend to get caught up in an interest, only to be swept away by the next, and so on. I will be exploring this further in the next couple of blog posts, I think.

  2. Create situations that cannot be controlled.

  3. Do not allow yourself to be controlled by situations.

  4. Seek information, avoid arguments. Especially good to remember in the "someone is wrong on the Internet" world of pointless pedantry and faceless flame wars.

  5. Seek predictive models, avoid explanatory models.

  6. Become an autonomous cell.
    "Work for your community, independently and perhaps invisibly."

  7. Don’t be a dickhead, and love thy neighbor.
    This is one of my favorites. And it is easier said than done, of course. And the anti-fascist in me has to ask, "Is the cop spraying mace in the face of a peaceful protester really my neighbor? How about the Wall Street hedge fund trader whose greed translates into real suffering for millions of people? Is he really my neighbor?"

  8. Invest in tools and share them subversively.
    I am reminded of the tool libraries like the one in Berkeley, CA and the Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign, IL.

  9. Become a Beacon of Insane Hope.
    Rob Brezsny springs to mind immediately, as do the late great Robert Anton Wilson and Hakim Bey/Peter Lamborn Wilson. I also find that the "Christus Victor" interpretation of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the Mahayana Buddhist ideal of the bodhisattva both fit this description.

  10. Please, be fearless.
    Chögyam Trungpa's Shambhala Training is a fine place to start, as are most martial arts. See point 1 above. Rinse, repeat.

Special thanks to Justin Boland for his work on the original Brainsturbator site!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Leaving Facebook

Not sure why, but it finally seemed like the right time to kill my Facebook account. Evidently it dawned on me that I was using Facebook for two primary reasons:

  1. To put ideas out into the world that I think are worth sharing, discussing, contemplating, etc.
  2. To connect with friends.
Neither of those reasons force me to use Facebook, though, and the latest blurb from Douglas Rushkoff, about how we are not Facebook's customers but its product, really hit home. I don't want to be Facebook's product. That sort of defeats the point of the things I post there. 

So back to the reasons I used Facebook.

Regarding the first point, I figured that I can just as easily share the sorts of articles and ideas here that I do on Facebook, and while fewer people may encounter them, those that do might be more included to contribute more than a "like" or a snide comment.

Regarding the second point, how many of my "friends" on FB are actually friends, how many are acquaintances, and how many were people I spoke to once in high school who remembered my name and tracked me down? Shutting down FB will mean more face to face conversations, more phone calls, more emails, and heck, maybe even a couple of hand-written letters. All of which are good things, especially if one of my goals is to build that elusive creature, community.

Anyhow, adios Facebook.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A system that leaves us helpless

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher talks about his guilty verdict:
"The big question for us at this point is how we as citizens are going to respond to [what those in power do to maintain the power, order, and security], what we as citizens are going to be willing to do to our fellow human beings in the name of just following the law. When the government tells us that it's not our job to question whether that law is right or wrong, as the judge did in this case to the jury, I think we need to be prepared for that moment, and make a more conscious decision of what we want our role to really be.... You could see it in [the jurors'] minds when they made that switch of accepting the fact that they weren't allowed to use their own conscience, and they had to make a certain choice, even if they thought it was immoral, and that's a really dehumanizing thing." [emphasis mine]

Under a Cloud in California, Charles Shaw:
"When the system we are told we must put our faith in and depend on leaves us helpless, and then mocks us for trying to help ourselves, it might be time to consider that perhaps its time to break from that system.... In an age of institutional failure, we--each other--are the solution to the problems we face, which are only, invariably, going to get worse, until we have finally shaken off the plague of the old world order and can proceed again with the business of living, this time, in the manner of our choosing."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My horoscopes for the week, courtesy of FWA

Props (and credits) go to Rob Brezsny at Free Will Astrology:

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22):

The History cable TV channel has a reality TV show called "Ice Road Truckers." It documents the exploits of drivers who haul heavy loads in their 18-wheelers for long distances across frozen rivers and lakes and swamps in Alaska and northwest Canada. They bring supplies to remote outposts where humans work exotic jobs like mining diamonds and drilling for natural gas. If you have any truck-driving skills, Leo, you'd be a good candidate to apply for a gig on the show. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, your levels of courage and adventurousness will be at an all-time high in 2011. May I suggest, though, that you try to make your romps in the frontier more purely pleasurable than what the ice road truckers have to endure?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22):

Pop chanteuse Katy Perry is renowned not only for her singing ability but also for her physical appearance. Her preternatural ability to sell her musical products can be attributed in part to her sparkling good looks and charisma. That's why it was amusing when her husband, the trickster Russell Brand, Twittered a raw photo of her that he took as she lifted her head off the pillow, awakening from a night of sleep. (See it at Without her make-up, Katy's visage was spectacularly ordinary. Not ugly, just plain. In accordance with the astrological omens, Virgo, I urge you to do what Russell Brand did: expose the reality that lies beneath and behind the glamorous illusion, either in yourself or anywhere else you find a need.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Dude calmly abides

From an excellent Utne Reader interview with Jeff Bridges, discussing a range of meat-and-potatoes topics, from Buddhadharma and Jesus to acting and feeding hungry kids to just sitting as a key component of both the spiritual path and the taking of a shit:

I noticed I had a resistance [to committing to do something to help children suffering from hunger] because I wanted to do other things with my time besides help people. So I said, Well, maybe let both of those things exist at the same time.
It’s like this. Preparing for a role, sometimes I’ll have to get in shape fast, lose a lot of weight. But I don’t want to work out so hard the first couple days that I’m sore and I don’t like it. I thought I would apply the same thing to this hunger work. I would go toward the light, so to speak, but if it got too bright and too intense, ’cause basically what it’s asking you is Be Jesus, be Buddha—give. And I’m not there. I’m not light yet. [Changes to a higher voice.] So just because you’re not there yet, are you not going to do it? [Cocks his head.] So I go toward the light, and if my selfishness comes up too much I’ll stop for a second. And then I’ll take little baby steps toward it. I like to experiment with myself, to go against habitual self-gratification. And then you try it and you say [high voice], Oh, hey, I kind of got off when I did that. That kind of felt good! It’s like taking a shit. Sometimes it’s best to just pick up a magazine and get in there and sit, rather than aaaaargh [mock straining]. It’ll kink up that way.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Three poems by José

In this weekend's CounterPunch, the Poet's Basement section published three poems by my good friend and dharma-brother José. The first poem, my favorite, is re-published below.

Wisdom is Not Half-Baked

We can ask the seasoned
How to identify the Great Silence-
That moist-warm womb at the heart of things.
A prayer book might get passed,
The hands waved over heads,
A tender look, a bleating lamb given.
Monuments have been raised trying to pass that torch.
Lamps were lit. In the algid flat air of knowledge
An idea or two might resonate. Aphorisms sometimes worked, too.
Still the noble walk secure,
The Good, with nary a p.r. man
Along the trails, where trees grow proper.
Some sit, inviting the shade to teach.
It does. Illimitably lacking science or spires,
Sprouting from that center, settled
Beneath the branches,
Atop the roasting, fecund earth.