Intoxicating Freedom

Last night I was reading the final chapters of The Golden City last night and found it’s indictment of modern society particularly on target, to wit:

When people believe they have no real power, their only choice becomes what to consume. Our society’s constant emphasis on buying things has nothing to do with the loss of morality. We feel powerful when we buy something, so we are easily manipulated to buy more.

Freedom is the ability to think, act, and express our views. In a free society, our rights are respected as long as they don’t harm others. A political system that allows freedom has validity no matter how you view mankind.

– Gabriel Corrigan in The Golden City, a novel by John Twelve Hawks

Then it occurred to me that the freedom one experiences at Burning Man is precisely that non-consumer driven variety of real personal autonomy. Aaron Muszalski (a.k.a. sfslim) also speaks of the powerful agency that participants find on the playa in this PirateCatRadio podcast. I personally felt this freedom to be intoxicating, and I can easily imagine that others do as well.


Ever since I returned from Burning Man, I have felt a gut twinge whenever I’ve put on my wrist watch. Somehow wearing the arm band has felt more like a shackle to the default world rather than a useful tool in a convenient package. Weekends have been largely watch-free, but today is the first work day that I’ve deliberately left the wrist watch at home. Yes, I have a clock on my person in the form of the modern day pocket watch (i.e., mobile phone), but I’m no longer encumbered by the physical band around my arm. The feeling is strangely liberating.

The beautiful

IF there is something fundamental and basic common to every sentient thing in the universe, what would it be? I offer that it is the perception of the beautiful, and in that perception, we can identify with and become one with all.

There is too much order in nature to be entirely accidental, but then again, there’s so much chaos. Within every human mind there are conflicting forces always at battle. One, the primal, is the animal instinct with desires to gratify the self, indulge, conquer, take, dominate. The other, the civilian with aspirations to give, be compassionate, fair, amenable. But the common point at which these divergent forces can meet is the beautiful. The beautiful can tame the wild spirit and enlighten and ground the most “elevated” society figure. Within the beautiful, there is a clearing, and the clearing is good.

I found the above bit of idealistic drivel today while cleaning out some old net storage. It’s at least seven years old – perhaps older.

Time to turn pro?

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
– Hunter S. Thompson

I think it just might be time to go pro. The edges are fraying and the threads are coming loose. I used to joke that ‘the end of the Republic is nigh’. That phrase isn’t so funny anymore. I have hope; perhaps even hope beyond all reason. Probably because I can’t fathom what’s on the other side that I have such a hold on what I know and a hope that it won’t change too much. Time will tell where these words are paranoid delusions of an apocalypse that never came … or intimiations of a dark future unknown to us all.

On the scarcity of the infinite

Mike Masnick writes on Techdirt an eloquent summary of the current state of the music industry and copyright:

What it really comes down to, yet again, is that this is a business model problem. For years, an industry that relied on artificial scarcity is discovering that it’s hard to keep that artificial barrier in place. It can’t pretend something is scarce when it’s really infinite — and trying to limit it will only backfire in the long run. What you need to do, instead, is figure out new business models that embrace the infinite nature of the goods, and focus on selling additional scarce goods, preferably additional scarce goods that are made even more valuable by freeing up the infinite good.

The false scarcity of an infinite good really struck a chord with me. True enough, there used to be a bit more reality to the scarcity of music, but after the advent of the internet, that’s no longer a possibility at all.

Capt. Corry P. Tyler


On Wednesday of this week I took off of work to spend the day with Heather and the boys for the last trip of the summer to the local water park. We got there when it opened and stayed until it was within twenty minutes of closing. At the beginning of our day I remarked to Heather that I’d forgotten to bring my cell phone, and she said she had left hers at home as well.

We had the best of days — letting each of the boys choose in turn which ride they wanted to go to next. Their vitality and courage is amazing to me. At their age I was never as brave as they are. We left the park exhausted and ready for a good dinner.

We drove home to change into dry clothes before dinner to find that both of our cell phones had voice messages waiting and there were over 20 missed called on the home phone callerID — all from Heather’s father. We knew that whatever the news was it was not good news.

Heather’s cousin Corry had died early that morning in Iraq. At once tears flowed and a deep anger welled up inside both of us.

Corry Paul Tyler, 29, an Army captain and 1999 West Point graduate from Woodbine, Georgia, was one of the 14 soldiers killed in the crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter near Kirkuk in northern Iraq on Wednesday, August 22, 2007.

In the dark hours before dawn, Corry and three other soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry, Fort Lewis, Washington, picked up ten troops from the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, after a night mission.

All fourteen aboard perished when the Black Hawk suffered catastrophic mechanical failure and crashed.

Corry was a husband to his loving wife and a father to his three young children. He was the sole remaining male in his family which allowed him to avoid deployment; yet this was his third tour in Iraq.

Corry hoped to go to medical school and become an Army physician. He was to have heard soon if he had been accepted.

Today there are 3723 U.S. deaths in Iraq confirmed by the Department of Defense. Before Wednesday, that ever increasing number was more of an abstraction to me than reality. With the death of Corry, the addition of one integer to that total number, it is no longer an abstraction. It’s an open wound of pain and loss of infinite proportions for every family of every fallen soldier and citizen.

Capt. Corry P. Tyler served his family and country honorably to the end, and he shall be remembered by all those who knew him as one who lived deliberately and deeply.

Links to related news stories:


Heather knows me better than I know myself. Or, rather, she remembers some of me that I seem to have forgotten. She got me more than a few movies for Christmas, and I have to admit I was surprised by the titles. In particular, What Dreams May Come (1998). I watched it last night though, and, as I told her, I really enjoyed it more watching it for the second time (years after my first) than I remember upon the first viewing. As I was watching the movie, though it won an academy award for visual effects, I kept thinking to myself that watching this movie is really just trying to watch a metaphor. Though the visual s were stunning – it wasn’t the sights that made the most impact on me last night. It was the writing, nay it was the thing that the writing was pointing to that resonated with me so well. The movie would have had equal effect if I could have only heard the dialog and not seen the pictures — possibly even more impact. What struck me is that there have been parts of me that I used to identify with so well that I’ve let atrophy over recent years. And I’m ashamed for it. I like or liked) those parts and I’d hope to find them or develop new ones in a similar vein. I’ve got more thinking to do on this subject. Much, much more.