Archive for May, 2008
The Seasteading Institute (www.seasteading.org) is a group devoted to setting up permanent dwellings on the ocean and has apparently received $500,000 funding from various parties including the PayPal founder and Google Execs. The story is from http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/news/2008/05/seasteading . The idea is that all available land is already controlled by an established nation, leaving no possibilities to set up new experimental governments. From the article:
“Government is an industry with a really high barrier to entry,” he said. “You basically need to win an election or a revolution to try a new one. That’s a ridiculous barrier to entry. And it’s got enormous customer lock-in. People complain about their cellphone plans that are like two years, but think of the effort that it takes to change your citizenship.”
Even if their big idea doesn’t end up panning out, their story should live on in internet lore for confirming the dream that two guys with a blog and a love of Ayn Rand can land half a million dollars to pursue their dream, no matter how off-kilter or off-grid it might seem.
I think that at 89 degrees or whatever the forcast is at, this looks to be a pretty valuable Saturday. Any plans? We should probably do something sweet.
I recommend some combination of: smoothies, beer, basketball, softball, BBQ, chicks (I’m not gay I swear), boombox, etc.
It’s that time of year again. Time to buy your tickets for Burning Man before the price increases another fifty bucks (due to posting delays this jump has already happened). Now I know what you’re thinking; but Spencer, I’m a huge square with a full-time job and even if I could get a week off I wouldn’t spend it at some hippie extravaganza. Or, in the case of Josh, but Spencer that will ruin my Cal Ripken-esque streak of consecutive Bumbershoots attended. Well before you completely close your mind to the possibility let me tell you a little about the life-changing experience that is Burning Man.
Last year I received perhaps the best birthday present of my life, a ticket to the Burning Man Festival, from myself. Following a week long, miserably unsuccessful attempt to convince someone I knew to attend as well I accepted the fact that I would be going solo. So I hit the road, fully loaded with both snacks and supplies, with my sights set towards Northern Nevada. I originally intended to take the drive easy and arrive at Burning Man in a couple days, but somewhere in Central Arizona after my third Old Glory Energy Drink (only 99 cents for 24 oz.!!) I threw my plans out the window and continued on my Neal Cassady style cracked-out marathon drive all the way to Black Rock City (the name of the fake city formed by Burning Man participants) in one crazy day. Driving through Nevada at night is truly a surreal experience. I traveled at 90 mph on a two-lane highway for six hours without seeing anything but the occasional shanty/ghost town and oncoming semi that appeared to be attempting to run me off the road. I made it to within a hundred miles of Black Rock City before the insanity caused by sixteen hours on the road by myself made me rethink my safety and pull over for a catnap in a Motel 6 parking lot. The following morning I arrived at Burning Man not really knowing what to expect, yet incredibly excited by the possibilities.
Prior to making my pro-Burning Man decision a friend of my informed me that the event “has absolutely everything that anyone could be in to.” I would soon discover that his incredibly small scope of things a person could possibly be in to included only fire dancing, electronic music and naked old men…pause for laughter…but seriously, there were a lot of those things. It is beyond my abilities to accurately describe Burning Man, but if you can imagine a barren dessert converted into a makeshift city constructed and inhabited by 50,000 of the weirdest people you have met you will begin to have an idea. I guess the closest comparison would be Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with less horrific violence and more all-loving new agery. In fact, there is even a Thunderdome replica in which contestants battle with Nerf swords, surrounded by a screaming mob of freaks. By night the city becomes illuminated entirely by glow sticks and glow stick-like light sources. Electronic music permeates the city leaving no refuge from its thumping, pulsing robot beats. In a matter of hours you have gone from being surrounded by awe-inspiring structures, sculptures and people to being trapped in the heart of the largest rave on the planet. While I am not the biggest fan of the rave scene and was definitely not in the right mind state to fully enjoy the experience (some combination of coke and horse tranquilizers would be about right) I still found myself amazed by the sheer magnitude of partying, plus the ubiquitous fire dancers that were pretty awesome to watch. Speaking of drugs I am fairly ashamed to admit that, due to the unreliability of mushroom salesmen, I was more than likely the biggest square at Burning Man last year, consuming just half of a joint and a case of Natural Light. However, I found that drugs weren’t exactly necessary as throughout the week just walking around Black Rock City feels as if you are constantly riding a wave of hallucinogenic euphoria (this doesn’t mean that I won’t be taking any drug I can get my hands on this year though). For the majority of the week I experienced an inner peace and feeling of perfect contentedness for no real reason except that I truly enjoyed being in the midst of insanity.
Despite the sensory overload of wackiness, the best aspect of Burning Man was the sense of unconditional acceptance. In place of the feeling of being constantly watched and judged while walking the streets of a civilized city is a welcome feeling of brotherly love. Never before have I been around so many people who are ecstatic for no other reason than the fact that they are a part of this world. People are unrestrained by social norms and free to be whoever the fuck they want to be. Burning Man is a “gift” economy, meaning that you can’t buy or sell things within the city (unless, of course, you are Burning Man itself which allows it self to peddle ice and coffee) so one can trade some beers to get one’s bike fixed, receive dinner for camp construction assistance, or be given a grilled cheese sandwich for absolutely no reason while walking back to one’s tent. Greed is replaced by generosity; rigid individualism is replaced by the caring community so lacking from modern society. Yes, there are some glaring flaws, sanitation comes to mind, and sustainability is near impossible but overall Burning Man is a city re-imagined, an example of what humanity is truly capable of creating. Plus, you can get super fucked up and climb on crazy shit. And if my meandering, overly positive thoughts on Burning Man aren’t enough to convince you to come with me, perhaps the possibility that you could run into people like this will.
So, who’s in?
If interested, Burning Man 2008 will be held from August 25th to September 1st, outside of Reno, Nevada. Tickets are $295 and can be purchased at http://tickets.burningman.com. If, like me, that’s a little outside your price range you can apply for a low income ticket for $145 before May 31st. Instructions are on the same page. If you need some more convincing, talk to Cojo.
I had an interesting experience at training last week in Chicago.
I flew in on Monday night, and my firm had a reception waiting for us with an open bar. Pretty cool – but this is where I think I may have made my initial mistake. I challenged my coleagues to a competition to see who could finish the most gin & tonics before the open bar closed. In hindsight, it might have been wiser to choose a drink that cast me as a little less queer.
As the night progressed and I socialized with everyone, a particular dude that I will call Thomas befriended my group and me. My initial size-up of this Thomas character was that he was a complete fag. Not in the sense that he liked guys, but more in a Clint Russell kind of way where the guy just ruins everybody elses time becuase he is so annoying.
As it turns out, my initial size-up was innaccurate – Thomas does like guys. In particular, this one. After a night-long relentless barrage of Thomas flirting with me, he finally got to the point and flat out asked me if I wanted to hook-up. It went something like this –
Thomas: “Hey BigDog – you sure pounded a lot of Gin & Tonics tonight. That was awesome!” Thomas then steals my work nametag.
BigDog: “Thomas, give me my nametag back”
Thomas: “I’ll give it to you tomorrow if you have a couple shots of tequilla with me! Yeah!”
Thomas: awkward silence……….. “I mean, do you want to go hook-up with those chicks?”
For some strange reason both the music industry and copyright law interest me. I am not really sure why this is, but what I do know is that I really can’t stand the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and like to stay up to date on watching them burn their industry to the ground. Especially now that judges might be understanding that mafia style tactics of trying to make an example of people is not a viable business model.
Before I go into the RIAA I feel that I should at least justify my stance on the issue. First off, as a pirater I mostly take a product that I would not buy in the first place. My mp3 player has over 20 gigs of music and that would roughly come out to about $5000 had I planned on buying that music legally. Music has become a commodity and our generation is both bombarded with it (see MTV/commercials/ringtones/movies) and demand it (see all the earplugged people walking around/working/exercising/reading/generally living in a stereo music cloud). Obviously im not going to be able to pay to fill my Zune, so instead (and conveniently for me) I consider it free advertising for me to make a copy of an artist’s music and keep it on my mp3 player to show and play for others. For example below I will suggest some music and tadah, free buzz for your artist, Universal Music Group, you’re welcome. Also, since my preferential medium is digital distribution it’s not like there is a theft taking place. You will never be able to convince me that creating my own electronic copy is in any way theft, no matter how many FBI ads are put at the beginning of a DVD that says its the same as stealing a car, because its not. If I could make a copy of that car without stealing any resources from you, you can bet I would. I understand that there are future monetary gains that may have been forfeited by me making a copy from someone else, but maybe if you actually had a pricing scheme that allowed me to get what I wanted you would be better off than trying to having your lawyers running around suing people to try to take out as much flesh as they can to plug the holes in your sinking ship of a music industry.
I know that you hear that you starve artists by pirating their music and not paying for their product makes them not want to make music but, lucky for me, I find that people that are making music only because they can make money at it happen to make shit music. If piracy had started 10 years earlier, there is a very real chance I would not have heard any Nickelback songs. I find that comforting. Plus if we all act right now, newspaper headlines could read: Paris Hilton unable to feed self, starves. It’s not like she is selling tapes out of the trunk of her car to make ends meat people, she put out a record because she would be turning down money not to. So sorry musicians but you will have to actually learn to play music and play it at live shows to make a living at this… unless of course you are Nine In Nails, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Madonna, Jimmy Buffet, the Eagles or any other artist that has figured out that you can make more money by selling music straight to the consumer and cut out the middle man (thats you RIAA). Not to mention that this week NIN has put out another free album, this one you can’t even pay for if you wanted to.
There are many alternatives to the current broken model: iTunes monthly subscriptions (with compensation to the industry to each iPod sold) – a $5 surcharge for your internet subscription to get a library of music – selling advertisements with downloads or streams – http://www.pandora.com – all very possible business strategies that would bring in a lot of money. Selling mp3s at the current album price is not viable.
So thank you RIAA, you have inspired to make sure everyone is sharing files correctly. And now as an encore…
I assume Big Dog is still trying to use Napster to download his Hootie cuts, so do yourself a favor and start using torrents. The main benefits are a much better transfer method which increases speed and a much better way to search for files. Using torrents is a two step process and here is what you need to know. A “torrent” is a link that takes you to a list of people that are seeding a file and a “client” is the application that manages the download.
First go to www.utorrent.com and download the free program ( the “client”), and install it.To search for what you want to download go to a torrent searcher, like www.torrentz.com or www.piratebay.org. Here is an example if you went to torrenz.com and searched for The Black Keys, you would get a link to their album Love Potion here (at least listen to the first 3 songs of this album they are fantastic). You then click on whichever site you want to download the .torrent file from (usually the first one) and your uTorrent program will automatically open it download it. A torrent will have a list of files it contains and you can choose to leave any of them out if you don’t want them. For example that Black Keys link will probably give you all the mp3s for the album and some album art and maybe a playlist, click off any files you dont want. For extra credit download this album too (its the best album I have heard in awhile).
If you still need help, watch a nerd explain the process step by step http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KV5mG6k4pg
Last saturday a majority of the people who write on this blog went and saw comedian Doug Stanhope live. I make no effort to hide how queer I am on Stanhope. As fucking retarded as this sounds he has probably influenced my outlook on life as much if not more than any other person on this planet. Well that last post made me think about this video so I thought I would post it as a compliment to the post. Also for the record the show was awesome and if you get a chane check out Doug Stanhope any and every opportunity you get (www.dougstanhope.com)