Thursday, May 30, 2013

Carts and Horses, Follow-up

A recent Guardian article expands upon a premise (conundrum) near and dear to us, here:
Beyond these domestic problems there is the failure of physics to accommodate conscious beings. The attempt to fit consciousness into the material world, usually by identifying it with activity in the brain, has failed dismally, if only because there is no way of accounting for the fact that certain nerve impulses are supposed to be conscious (of themselves or of the world) while the overwhelming majority (physically essentially the same) are not. In short, physics does not allow for the strange fact that matter reveals itself to material objects (such as physicists).
 Full article, "Philosophy Isn't Dead Yet."
Is our consciousness intrinsically tied to the electrochemical goo inside our skulls? Yes, it certainly seems that way. Can we thereby reduce all issues to a quantifiable, strictly behaviorist, materialist, (even positivist) science, and finally “solve” all philosophical quandaries through scientific measurement? Hardly.
To explain why would take us on a long journey through the history of both the past 100 years in science and philosophy. We might consider some major steps along the way to include the works of Neils BohrLudwig WittgensteinJacques DerridaWerner Heisenberg (though let's be honest: nobody truly  understands Quantum mechanics,) and of course Albert Einstein. The questions relevant to this particular inquiry seem simple enough, but they remain as perplexing today as they were in the age of the Ancient Greeks: what is the nature of mind? what is the nature of matter?
It is a criticism of ventures in this direction that such questions often lead to semantic arguments. We are no longer concerned with such "fluff," the modern consumer of pop science literature clearly wants "hard answers."
Semantic arguments are not necessarily just semantic arguments. Our presuppositions about consciousness, how we define it, how we define concepts such as “will” or “freedom,” are far more important than neuroscans when it comes to our consideration of whether our actions are “free” or “determined.” It is highly probable that our our nervous system has made up its mind about something before we become consciously aware of that decision—or so neuroscientists tell me—but that is merely “passing the buck” as they say. (For non-English natives, that idiom means "deferring responsibility." I'm told that idioms are "bad writing" because they don't translate well. So there you go.)
Within the context of the conundrum of consciousness, free will seems merely a footnote. What these articles, and those like them, seem to be proclaiming is actually this: "Philosophy and myth are dead. Long live science."
Few would argue that our consciousness is brought about by brain and nerves, but the question remains, can we have a unified theory of mind and matter, or must we continue to think of carts and horses? Is it our language itself that creates this delineation, which says “my body,” as if it was a bio-mechanical walker that my brain is floating in, and within that, a mind. (And within that? It’s “turtles all the way down.”) 
Full article, "Carts and Horses, The Deification of the Brain"

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Monsanto vs. The World

Monsanto—one of the largest agriculture and biotech companies in the world—creates genetically engineered seeds and food, or GMOs. They've also brought the world toxic chemicals like DDT, PCBs and even Agent Orange.

But who is Monsanto really? Why do many see them as one of the most evil companies on the planet—and why did 2 million people worldwide just stand up and march against this single company?

Monsanto vs. the World puts to rest the myths and shows the shocking reality. In this meticulously researched, short ebook, which cites nearly one hundred scholarly journals, books, studies, articles, WikiLeaks and even Monsanto's own documents.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Survivorship Bias

The Misconception: You should study the successful if you wish to become successful.
The Truth: When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible. 

In some years of World War II, the chances of a member of a bomber crew making it through a tour of duty was about the same as calling heads in a coin toss and winning. As a member of a World War II bomber crew, you flew for hours above an entire nation hoping to murder you while suspended in the air, huge, visible from far away, and vulnerable from every direction above and below as bullets and flak streamed out to puncture you. “Ghosts already,” that’s how historian Kevin Wilson described World War II airmen. They expected to die because it always felt like the chances of surviving the next bombing run were about the same as running shirtless across a football field swarming with angry hornets and making it unharmed to the other side. You might make it across once, but if you kept running back and forth, eventually your luck would run out. Any advantage the mathematicians could provide, even a very small one, would make a big difference day after day, mission after mission.
Survivorship Bias, Article. 

This part should be of particular interest to artists, musicians, writers, etc. that are looking to "go into the business,"
You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other. If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact the only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view. As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.” Of course the few that don’t fail in that deadly of an environment are wildly successful because only the very best and the very lucky can survive. All you are left with are super successes, and looking at them day after day you might think it’s a great business to get into when you are actually seeing evidence that you should avoid it.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Are Anti-Depressants Glorified Placebos?

Admittedly "yesterday's news" but this serves as a decent followup to the recent DSM V article 'Curse of Shifting Sands,'
Which came first, the mental illness or the drug? While in other areas of medicine this is a no-brainer (no pun intended), some argue that certain psychiatric conditions are created and classified because of the effects particular drugs have on the body, and not the other way around.
Three new books, reviewed in Dr. Marcia Angell's article "The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?" in The New York Review of Books, raise startling possibilities about the truth behind the explosion of prescriptions of pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness. (Dr. Angell, by the way, was the first woman to ever be editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine).
All of the authors of the new books agree on two thought-provoking viewpoints:
1. Our understanding of categories of mental illness and their treatments has been influenced by drug companies, through both legal and illegal marketing.
2. Mental illness is not caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
These views, however controversial, are documented well, Angell says.
Full article CNN.

Even stranger,
It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time.
It's not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It's as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger.
Full article Wired.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reality, Fiction, and Terrorism

Well, it's happening.
An 18-year-old high school student from the Boston suburb of Methuen is facing two decades in prison, charged with “communicating a terrorist threat.” The young aspiring rapper, Cameron D’Ambrosio, a/k/a Cammy Dee, reportedly posted the following to his Facebook page on May 1, 2013: “Fuck a Boston bomb wait till u see the shit I do, I’m be famous rapping, and beat every murder charge that comes across me!”
Of course, lots of songs have violent lyrics. But that doesn’t make the people who sing them a public menace. (Full article.)
Can't say any of us were especially surprised. Although there's some irony to the fact that he got bagged for those lyrics when rappers like Immortal Technique have been saying things like--

...for years.

This is also one of the themes for Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End and its standalone novella followup, 404 Documents.

Here's a little snippet of chapter 1 from 404 Documents: 

My ‘friend’ Bradley the Buyer once said to me, “If you want to get press attention, don't write a good book. Blow up a mall.” 
It's sad that he was right. Not that I blew up that mall, mind you. I mean, I didn't set the charges. I wouldn't have any clue how to do that kind of thing. I was always zoning out in science class, staring at the dingy floor, eyes unfocused, thinking instead about the broken thermostat in our culture. There was clearly no self regulation. Or maybe that’s where The Buyer comes in. 
I'm getting off topic, right? Because you probably want to know more about this mall, bomb scare thing that made the news, and less about the systemic dynamics of a culture. But that's just how my mind works. Everything is numbers and patterns to me. 
Say you're wearing a plaid shirt, right? And you notice I can't pay attention to a word that you're saying. That's not because I'm addle-minded, though a lot of people think so.
It's because I'm thinking about the mathematical topology of the patches on your shirt, their surface area, the possible relation of numerological and linguistic categorization systems and those deformed surfaces. Your plaid shirt can teach you the theory of relativity, see? But you're not thinking about that. You're thinking about the news stories, the broken glass, the wall of shrieking housewives. 
We live in different worlds, you and I. 
I thought I'd let you know that, if you want to really understand what happened. It wasn't about politics. It was about physics and fate. This is my account of a bombing that never occurred, and the way it ruined my life. Maybe it's a cautionary tale and maybe not, but I assure you at least this much: this is the truth, so far as I recall it. Proceed with caution.
I’ve got to say, I learned a lot about myself, these past few months. All it took was an act of terrorism. ...Or at least, the story about an act of terrorism.

Pick up the eBook for $2.99.

The lines between fiction and reality blend more easily than most people realize, because, after all, all of our "reality" is turned into narrative before it ever reaches us. 

It is a sad reality that literary misunderstandings lead to prison times, to murder, to holy wars. This is the world we live in. 

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Wittgenstein's Vienna

Wittgenstein's ViennaWittgenstein's Vienna by Allan Janik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is somewhat of a surprise to me, but this may be one of my favorite works of philosophy. The reason why is simple: Wittgenstein's Vienna studies the thought of a particular individual not just on its apparent ground, but also, and possibly more fundamentally, within the context of the culture and history in which it arose. This is something that should be done with many of the thinkers and artists of days past, but Wittgenstein in particular almost demands this treatment.

The proof of this is given in how much he has been misunderstood.

Let me give an example:

"A whole generation of disciples was able to take Wittgenstein as a positivist, because he has something of enormous importance in common with the positivists: he draws the line between what we can speak about and what we must remain silent about just as they do. The difference is only that they have nothing to be silent about. Positivism holds--and this is the essence--that what we can speak about is all that matters in life. Wittgenstein passionately believes that all that really matters in human life is precisely what, in his view, we must remain silent about!" - Paul Engelmann.

I think it has more to do with my stance than some great intellect or anything that my initial reading of the Tractatus -- which in detail I barely understood upon first reading -- is in fact what Wittgenstein had intended, and precisely what many smarter and more famous individuals than myself had completely misunderstood. The last section of the book, which people like Russell though was a sort of throwaway addendum, is in fact the very heart of the matter. And W's later work (touched on in the posthumous Discourses) is not so much a departure from his earlier thought as a clarification about language, which does throw a serious curve ball in regard to the demarcation between that-which-can-be-spoken and that-which-must-be-passed-over-in-silence.

The Tractutus, in other words, is essentially not a work on logic and language, but rather a work on ethics/value/meaning. This thesis is presented very well in Janik and Toulmin's book, and their methodology is such that it wound up being one of the central books in our first investigation of myth, "The Immanence of Myth." (Weaponized.)

View all my reviews

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Tumblhoo! - What Had Happened Was #14

  GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective.

Today grumpyhawk and Benjamin discuss the acquisition of Tumblr by Yahoo! and what that could mean for all the "not-family friendly"/NSFW blogs there, a failed attempt at DRM'ing the news, preemptive policing (think proto-Minority Report), Nintendo monetizing fanvids online, and interesting news in fast food, all on today's episode "Tumblhoo". Or should it be Tumhoo? Whatever.

Show Notes:

  1. Yahoo buy Tumblr
  2. The Tumblr of Wolven as mentioned by grumpyhawk
  3. Cops test drive preemptive policing
  4. Who owns a 'Luigi's Mansion' walkthrough video, the player or Nintendo?
  5. Nintendo claims ownership over gamer fanvids on YouTube
  6. KFC delivered to Gaza through tunnels
  7. McDonald worker has car stolen, car appears in her drive thru

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Murdered Soldiers & the Mythology of Terrorism

Wednesday 22nd 2013, 1421
  - Woolwich, South London.

That’s when the call was placed to police - that’s when the authorities became aware that two men were hacking another to death with machetes. But there were witnesses to this act - it happened in broad daylight. Bloodstained hands were caught on camera-phones, tweets going viral while the perpetrators explained why they had done it, to passers by.

They didn’t run, they waited for police. Fourteen minutes later, armed police showed up, and were charged by at least one of the perpetrators. They promptly shot him. Both perpetrators are now in hospital, under guard.

The dead man was a serving soldier. The perpetrators were young black men, who were Muslims. Media makes much of them shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic, and their statements that the reason for this is Western troops in Muslim countries.

There will be countless other editorials on this act, and terrorism in general, for many years to come, but as a Briton of a certain age, I grew up with mainland terrorism. Irish Republican paramilitary groups were making threats and blowing things up and killing people throughout my childhood. It’s nothing particularly new, because ultimately, yesterday’s act was an ideological murder.

And those have been going on for hundreds of years - just look at the work of violent political messages throughout the years.

Here at Modern Mythology, ideas and myths are our speciality - and though ‘Terrorism’ has entered the mind of many across the world, if we break things down to their most fundamental level, ideological attacks - indeed any kind of violence are ultimately designed to effect some kind of change.

The techniques grouped together under the moniker of ‘Terrorism’ are asymmetric warfare designed to maximise their affect by influencing whole populations. The efficiency of a suicide bomber is that, until detonation, that person may be indistinguishable from any other person on the street. Threat may thus come from any direction - the entire population becomes weaponised, in a sense. Equally, with the Woolwich attack, the weapons used were easily obtainable - and the perpetrators did not resemble the traditional post-2001 image of terrorists.

They were not of Asian or Middle-Eastern appearance. They do not appear to have been part of a larger network - rather individuals only connected by the ideology of radical Islam, of which it is simply impossible to monitor every subscriber.

But let’s break things down even further, even beyond the murderer’s message or ideology. Let’s get down into the guts, to the action itself.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fighting For The Future - What Had Happened Was #13

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective.

Hey Everyone! We're back with another episode of What Had Happened Was. This week grumpyhawk and Benjamin discuss how Aereo fights back, preemptively, the White House picks it's first Chief Privacy Officer, FBI document references the Electronic Communications Act from the 1980's, How the MPAA insists that considering fair use before filing a DMCA takedown is crazy, and controlling robots with our thoughts. All of this on today's episode "Fighting for the Future".

Show Notes

  1. Aereo Files Suit Against CBS to Head Off Second Copyright Claim
  2. White House picks Twitter lawyer as internet privacy officer/
  3. DOJ - We don't need warrants for e-mail, facebook chats, etc.
  4. FBI documents suggest feds read emails without warrant
  5. MPAA insists that considering fair use before filing a DMCA takedown would be crazy.
  6. Controlling Robots with your thoughts.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cultural Illness and the Curse of Shifting Sands DSM V

In evaluating dysfunction or illness, we have long followed the seemingly straightforward model of diagnose, treat, evaluate, iterate

Studio Gibli
However, diagnosis has long been the secret -- or not so secret -- Achilles heel of the psychiatric establishment. Many philosophic issues arise, issues of cultural relativism, ethical issues of financial interests in pharmaceuticals, to name a few. These are issues that 'by the book' psychiatrists frequently dismiss as 'merely philosophical.' Indeed, it's been a relatively long time since Freud or Jung were taken entirely seriously by the establishment doling out the meds.

"By the book." What is "the book"?
Since DSM-III (American Psychiatric Association 1980), disorders have
been defined in terms of syndromes—that is, clusters of symptoms that covary together (see the section following, titled “Need to Explore the Possibility of Fundamental Changes . . .”). ...
The major focus of field trials for DSM-III was establishing the reliability with which multiple clinicians could come to the same diagnostic conclusions when presented with a patient’s expressed signs and symptoms. In this manner, it was possible to demonstrate that an atheoretical, descriptive approach could result in a reproducible diagnosis in multiple clinical and cultural settings. Following the publication of DSM-III in 1980, data began to emerge by 1983 from some new studies that were not consistent with the syndromal definitions in DSM-III. ... A Research Agenda for DSM V

For those that continue to see the DSM as a gold standard in this regard, we don't need to recall the times when homosexuality was considered a mental illness. There are remain plenty of conceptual holes with the schema of the DSM 5. In fact, the NIH has gone so far as to disavow the DSM V as a successful diagnostic standard. 

This is not to argue that there is no need for a standard, or that the DSM is entirely bogus. I have neither the background nor experience to make those claims. However, it is fairly well established that the diagnose for disorder model is plagued with these "philosophical issues." The issue of culture is one that comes up most frequently, next to quandaries of brain and consciousness, body and mind, which we have already touched on.
Anthropologists have become increasingly interested in embodiment—that is, the ways that socio-cultural factors influence the form, behavior and subjective experience of human bodies. At the same time, social cognitive neuroscience has begun to reveal the mechanisms of embodiment by investigating the neural underpinnings and consequences of social experience. Despite this overlap, the two fields have barely engaged one another. We suggest three interconnected domains of inquiry in which the intersection of neuroscience and anthropology can productively inform our understanding of the relationship between human brains and their socio-cultural contexts. These are: the social construction of emotion, cultural psychiatry, and the embodiment of ritual. (Full article.)
Another example:
There is little consensus on the extent to which psychiatric disorders or syndromes are universal or the extent to which they differ on their core definitions and constellation of symptoms as a result of cultural or contextual factors. This controversy continues due to the lack of biological markers, imprecise measurement and the lack of a gold standard for validating most psychiatric conditions. Article.
These are indeed philosophical problems. But that doesn't mean that they don't need to be considered seriously. Philosophy is, in many ways, at its worst when applied to itself, and at its best when applied to the rest of the world. There are deep rooted philosophical issues inherent in many methodologies that are simply painted over with staid narratives. 

There is so much variance from culture to culture that in some, disorders present themselves that exist nowhere else. It's been loosely classified as "culture-bound syndrome."  
In medicine and medical anthropology, a culture-bound syndrome, culture-specific syndrome or folk illness is a combination of psychiatric and somatic symptoms that are considered to be a recognizable disease only within a specific society or culture. ... Even though the concept is controversial, the term culture-bound syndrome was included in the fourth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) which also includes a list of the most common culture-bound conditions (DSM-IV: Appendix I).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Emotional Freedom Techniques, pseudoscience flavor of the moment

Art by Alex Grey
Emotional Freedom Techniques or "EFT" seem to be the flavor of the year in terms of Deepak Chopra style cure-all therapies, claiming to fix everything from PTSD to dental pain to obesity. (Deepak Chopra does in fact provide a testimonial.)

However, when you look closer at the techniques, they present very little more than hand waving towards Eastern-style meridian / energy work and fairly tried and true self-hypnosis techniques. While many therapists have in fact discovered some amount of efficacy in regard to emotional trauma, this is in no way certain.

Is skepticism toward this practice simply sour grapes on the part of practitioners of "less effective" therapies, as the proponents of EFT would claim ?
An article in the Skeptical Inquirer argued that there is no plausible mechanism to explain how the specifics of EFT could add to its effectiveness, and they have been described as unfalsifiable and therefore pseudoscientific.[5]

The falsifiability claim is a very important one. For something to have any place within the context of the scientific method, it has to be able to be falsified. If you can't demonstrate that something is untrue, how can you demonstrate that it is true? This method includes the possibility that something demonstrated "untrue" could later be demonstrated "true" and vice versa, and further that rather than being a binary yes or no, there are degrees of truth and untruth. None of this matters in the context of pseudoscientific claims that so often depend on anecdotal proofs and tautological claims.

As a long-time practitioner of many arts that have their origin in Taoism and Chinese Medicine, it might seem odd that I would be skeptical of a practice like EFT. My first sign was how many of the books on this subject are 75% aimed at assuaging doubt, rather than actually providing practical methodology. At the same time, these "proofs" are all tautological, almost none of them getting at the actual issues involved in neutrally demonstrating a claim.

I have a rule of thumb about all practices, especially those that fall outside the possibility of falsifiability:

They must not depend on belief to work.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Mother's Love and a Soldier's Devotion - Santisima Muerte in Perspective

When you stare into the empty eyes of La Nina Blanca do you feel the resonant warmth of a mother's love? It's there, if you look deep enough, at least for those who pay Her true devotion. Even those coming from a more objective distance can't help but notice the prevalence of motherly care that attends Her presence.

At Her shrines children run forward clutching icons of Most Holy Death, apples in hand to present Her with gifts for blessings She has bestowed their families. Newly weds stand ready with offerings to thank Her for their opportunity at future prosperity. Even gunmen come to Her as a mother, heads bowed in respect, offering tremulous thanks to the great matron whose hand has been held another day from executing a final judgement on their actions.

These are sights not easily accepted by many in the United States and Mexico, who view such passionate expressions towards an icon depicting death as aberrant and perhaps diabolical. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi during his recent trip to Mexico denounced Her no less than 3 times in four days, comparing Her tradition to the religiosity common among the organized crime families in Italy. In his most harsh condemnation he decried blasphemy against Her devotions while continuing to conflate the entire practice with criminality:
"It's not religion just because it's dressed up like religion; it's a blasphemy against religion...The mafia, drug trafficking and organised crime don't have a religious aspect and have nothing to do with religion, even if they use the image of Santa Muerte,"
Written from a cartoonish and limited perspective on the situation, these statements fall far afield from the silent embrace of Muerte Querida (Beloved Death) as it is known by Her devotees. Unmeasured words from an aloof Cardinal cannot change the fact that this social degradation inflaming his rhetoric is a systematic failure propagated by the very orthodoxy and officials that he stands as a representative for. From the shadows of the society that corruption in his church helped create, La Rosa Blanca smiles on Her children as they overcome their daily struggles and find strength in a powerful devotion to Her faithfulness.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

We Were Promised Replicators - What Had Happened Was #12

GHCstitcher Subscribe via RSS, or download the episode directly.
What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective.

Hey everyone! Today we're discussing government monitored phone calls, Facebook limiting Path's API access, DRM-free E-books, 3D Printers, Injectable nanoparticles, and an update on America's Worst Superhero, Florida Man. All on today's episode.

Show Notes:

  1. Former FBI counterterrorism agent implies that US records all US phone calls
  2. Path texts my entire phonebook at 6am
  3. Facebook Blocks Path’s “Find Friends” Access Following Spam Controversy
  4. Tor Books says cutting DRM out of its e-books hasn’t hurt business
  5. Staples First Major U.S. Retailer to Announce Availability of 3D Printers
  6. Road Ready 3D Printed Car On The Way/
  7. Injectable nanoparticles maintain normal blood-sugar levels for up to 10 days
  8. Real-life stories of the world's worst superhero - Florida Man
  9. Relative of the aforementioned Florida Man - Florida Woman

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Myth of Freedom From The Web

Is the internet a cultural experiment we cannot turn back from regardless?

From The Verge:

In early 2012 I was 26 years old and burnt out. I wanted a break from modern life — the hamster wheel of an email inbox, the constant flood of WWW information which drowned out my sanity. I wanted to escape.
I thought the internet might be an unnatural state for us humans, or at least for me. Maybe I was too ADD to handle it, or too impulsive to restrain my usage. I'd used the internet constantly since I was twelve, and as my livelihood since I was fourteen. I'd gone from paperboy, to web designer, to technology writer in under a decade. I didn't know myself apart from a sense of ubiquitous connection and endless information. I wondered what else there was to life. "Real life," perhaps, was waiting for me on the other side of the web browser.
My plan was to quit my job, move home with my parents, read books, write books, and wallow in my spare time. In one glorious gesture I'd outdo all quarter-life crises to come before me. I'd find the real Paul, far away from all the noise, and become a better me. 

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Dionysus' Dream

One of the many scenes cut to bring Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End down to its fighting weight. Still a worthwhile entry point...

Brown water spurted out of his mouth, splashing to the grungy deck beneath him. He could place himself even before his eyes opened. The sharp scent of salt on the wind, the sound of seagulls wheeling overhead, the perpetual rocking; how, he didn’t know, but he was on a boat.

Dionysus lay helpless on the deck, his arms and legs mostly bound, looking up at the wheeling seagulls and three of the dirtiest men he had seen in his life. They spoke to each other gruffly but easily.

“Th’ bastard’s gonna live, looks like,” said a scratchy, thin voice. Dionysus cracked open a stinging, briny eye, to see a man in a stained wifebeater kneeling over him. The rubbing of rough hands rattled like dried corn husks in his ears as they bound him with waterlogged rope.

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Myth of the Lazy Youth

As we have seen time and time again in our exploration on this site, one of the challenges of modern myths is their relative invisibility. It is the outsiders of any age, those who are alien to their own times, that make the best artist shamans, and the same goes for mythic explorers. If you are too close to a culture, you will very frequently mistake the truisms of culture, the myths, as a fact. This is true with "human nature" (as we have seen), and it is also true with our myths of labor and work.

Let's consider the example presented when one generation judges another,
"Twenge and Kasser analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future survey, which has tracked the views of a representative sample of 17- and 18-year-old Americans since 1976. They compared the answers to key questions given by high school seniors in 2005-2007 to those provided by previous generations.
To measure materialism, the youngsters were asked to rate on a one-to-four (“not important” to “extremely important”) scale how vital they felt it was to own certain expensive items: “a new car every two to three years,” “a house of my own (instead of an apartment or condominium),” “a vacation house,” and “a motor-powered recreational vehicle.” They were also asked straightforwardly how important they felt it was to “have a lot of money.”
To measure their attitudes toward work, the seniors rated on a one-to-five scale the extent to which they agreed with a series of statements, including “I expect my work to be a very central part of my life,” and “I want to do my best in my job, even if this sometimes means working overtime.”
The researchers found a couple of disturbing trends. ..."
(Full article on 
It isn't particularly difficult to smell the distinct scent of bullshit in this article. This is the same gripe the elder generation has had since time began about the younger generations: they are lazy, they dress funny, they aren't concerned with the same things, they represent the end of 'the old ways,' and so on.

Furthermore, it's become quite apparent to people that the game is rigged and that it has fuck all to do with how hard you work whether you are materially successful or not. So why kill yourself to make someone else rich? Is it possible that the younger generation has just become disillusioned with the idea of breaking their back so that they can wind up on the street? "Success" has everything to do with your family or the connections you make or the people you fuck over.

Myths often emerge from anecdotes. The myth of the lazy youth does, and so does the myth of the lazy rich. For instance, Bush Jr. didn't work hard to become president, and those that did work hard to become CEOs are generally such workaholics that the rest of their lives are totally out of balance.

Even numbers lie, or at least, numbers need to be interpreted within the context of a narrative. But if we're to believe numbers, then systemic workaholism is also at an all-time high in the US and yet employers and the rich keep touting these myths of the lazy youth.

I'm personally dubious of any claims leveled toward an entire generation, much as such claims toward race, nationality, class, or gender.

However, sometimes generalizations can be applied that are more true than untrue.

If the claim posed by the "lazy youth" myth is true, it's only because these ne'er-do-wells were deluded their entire lives by parents, system, media and peers alike -- and nothing is going to easily undo that.

As we've discussed, the best way to get youth to learn things is through play. Even cats know that and they have brains the size of a walnut. Humans have an inborn creativity and ingenuity that only systemic rubber-stamp education and employment could quash.

So I would say-- work hard by playing hard. Not that everything is always pleasant, God knows. But if you're engaged with your passion, then it won't matter so much.

If anything I'd claim the real issue with "this" generation in question is not laziness so much as idleness through distraction. It isn't a lack of myths of work, but rather a lack of myths of passionate play. Our education system is failing, and that is in part because it seeks to work against our own nature, rather than with it.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Friday, May 03, 2013

Privacy, Robots, and Technology of the Future - What Had Happened Was 11

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What Had Happened Was is a grumpyhawk collective podcast co-hosted by grumpyhawk (that would be me) and Benjamin Combs. In this "week-in-review style" show, we cover and comment on stories with a tech, science, weird, or strange sort of angle. Visit to see and hear more from the collective.

Welcome everyone! @grumpyhawk and @benjamincombs discuss a wide array of topics today, including feeling empathetic toward robots, privacy concerns for future generations, awesome new technology, and more abuses of technology laws. All on episode 11 of What Had Happened Was.

Show Notes:

  1. White House launches official Tumblr page, promises 'there will be GIFs'
  2. The robots are coming, but will we love them?
  3. Do Young People Care About Privacy?
  4. LG promises smartphone with flexible OLED display this year
  5. First commercial white space service brings high-speed internet to rural California
  6. Google, Facebook, and others could face fines over government wiretap refusals

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Kali Bhakti (announcement)

After a brief hiatus, Kali Bhakti is back online.


[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]


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