MsGeek.Org v2.0

The ongoing saga of a woman in the process of reinvention.
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Heard the Word of Blog?

Monday, March 29, 2004

OK, it's been a while since I have gotten a chance to blog, so basically it's time for yet another edition of Geekback.

One, I was up in the Bay Area between Thursday Night and Saturday Afternoon. I wasn't there for pleasure, I was there at a hastily convened family reunion for the benefit of my father in law, whose cancer has spread and his time is getting short. This was not the greatest time for this to happen, because tomorrow morning...really, really early in the husband is off to play All Tomorrow's Parties in England with Saccharine Trust.

I will have to get to school on Tuesday and Thursday on my own. I had to miss Thursday's classes, which bummed me out for the reason that I could not see part two of the movie version of Billy Budd. In an effort to find out how the damn story ends, I have attempted to wade my way through the ponderous prose of the original Melville novella, but have found it a painful slog. Peter Ustinov, who adapted the novella for the 1962 motion picture version he also directed and starred in, added some scenes that are not in the book but were probably in the stage play.

I suppose the reason the movie was shown in Philosophy 20 was Captain Vere's strict adherence to naval law being an illustration of the extremes to which Kantian ethics could be taken. To most, Billy decking Master-At-Arms Claggart was something the asshole deserved, and the fact the blow was fatal was merely Karma having its say in the matter. Captain Vere could not be swayed, Billy hung for his crime, and a legend was born. Hopefully that's the essence of what I was to take away from the movie. Hopefully I won't come off as a complete idiot when the movie is discussed in class tomorrow.

Today I also got the results of the battery of tests done on me in the name of finding out whether or not I have a math Learning Disability^H^H^HDifference. Long story short, yes I do. It's not full-on Dyscalculia, but it basically entails a lot of elements of that malady. I have deficits in short-term memory, number sequencing and processing speed. To wit: it's a lot like being a "Mainstreet" G3 PowerBook. No cache, low-end processor. It can do the job, but it does it slowly. I now qualify to get special help and accomodations in my math classes. I hope it will be enough to where I can finally understand the subject.

As far as my cryptic comment on the Spring Equinox: the "specialness" of this particular Spring Equinox has to do with events that happened April 8th, 9th and 10th in Cairo, Egypt almost 100 years ago. At noon on those three days, Aleister Crowley sat down and wrote what he heard in his mind. Some say that the voice he heard in his mind was that of an unnatural being called Aiwaz. Some, like Israel Regardie, believe that the communication was from Crowley's own subconscious. The result was Liber AL Vel Legis, The Book of the Law. Those who believe Thelema to be some sort of new religion look upon the book in the same way Jews look at the Torah and Tanach, Christians look at the Gospels and Moslems look at the Quran. I don't consider Thelema to be a religion at all, but rather a philosophy spelled out, both in plain words and in code, in the rather cryptic and sometimes embarrassingly melodramatic text.

Anyway, the book suggests that there had been a major paradigm shift on the Spring Equinox of 1904 CE. I am one to place the paradigm shift sometime well before then, around the time of the American Revolution and the discovery by Herschel of the planet Uranus. But there are thousands of people who go along with the former date, and their considerable mental energy was something I picked up on when I wrote that little entry in my blog. Oddly, there are not really going to be any major commemorations of the centennial of the Book of the Law aside from a special edition of the book released by Weiser and the OTO. I suppose it's all well and good...Crowley all but threw it away after he wrote it, only finding the manuscript a few years later.

Once you distill the book down to its essence, there are a few bullet points I can put in as a jumping-off point for anyone with further interest to explore:

  • Every man, and every woman, with no exceptions for race or ethnic origin or any other arbitrary way we humans divide ourselves by, is worthy of respect by the very virtue that they exist. And part of this respect implies that we acknowledge that every human being has rights, also by the very virtue that they exist. Jefferson's trinity of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" is as good a summation of these rights as any.
  • The metaphysical conditions we live under have changed. The last time a change of this magnitude happened, we went from being largely agricultural people in small villages with limited trade, no tradition of warfare, and worshipping Earth Goddesses; to being city dwellers ruled by strongman kings and worshipping Angry Father Gods with supplication, prayer and sacrifice. This time, we are moving from this paradigm of kings, warlords, vassals, serfs, Angry Father Gods and sometimes Suffering Redeemer Gods to a new era, where the rules are not yet written. This new era is symbolized by the Egyptian deity Horus, a powerful, youthful being who when shown as a humanand not as a falcon is either a child or a young adult. The previous aeons, that of Isis the Mother and Osiris the Father, were humanity's childhood and youth respectively. This new aeon finds us at the brink of adulthood. A time when we must accept our responsibilities at the same time we embrace our new freedoms.
  • The name which has been chosen for the philosophy of this new aeon is Thelema. It is a word predating Crowley, and which was used by the satirist Rabelais as the name of the "abbey" that Gargantua founds for high-born, intellectual men and women. From the Greek, the name means "will." Further, I would say it has the connotation of freedom of will, the freedom to make decisions for ourselves without bowing to any external authority. The philosophy also predates Crowley, and includes the writings of such folk as the legendary Lao-Tzu of China and of people like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.
  • The central operating principle can be summed up thusly: Follow the watercourse way of your life's purpose in an aware manner. In the book, the principle is stated as "Do what thou wilt shall be the Whole of the Law....Love is the Law, Love under Will." It has passed on to Neo-Paganism as "Harm none and do what you will," which makes explicit the concept that no true will, no life purpose, is at loggerheads with any other will. A companion phrase in the book is "The word of sin is restriction." When something one does is harmful to oneself or to others, it's a good time to question that behavior and make necessary changes.
  • It is to be expected that old power structures will not take this new state of affairs lightly, for by its very nature this paradigm shift implies doom for them. What happened after 1904 CE in human history? World War I, World War II and the uncorking of the Nuclear genie from the bottle, the reignition of conflict between Islam, Judaism and Christianity over the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 CE, and finally the new innings of the Crusades fought between the tinhorn Saladin, Osama bin Laden, and the lionhearted but pigeon-brained President George W. Bush and his allies.

I have been struggling with even posting this to my blog ever since 3/19. I am not interested in preaching religion here, I am not interested in converting anyone to my belief system. It bears repeating: I don't even consider all this to be religion at all, but a philosophy. However, it's part of me and isn't "let's talk about me" the prime maxim of blogging? ^_^

I cannot say, even, that the new current afoot in the world is going to be worth a damn in preventing assholes like the aforementioned bin Laden and Bush the Younger from destroying ourselves and rendering the paradigm shift moot. The aeons are metaphors for stages in human evolution. If we humans go extinct, that's it, game over, cede the planet to whatever creature is going to develop sapience next, be it rat or cockroach. All of this is moot then. I have to say that these times feel even more perilous to me than any I have experienced in my 40 years, worse than the Vietnam Era, worse than the frozen depths of the Cold War during the Reagan regime.

Then again, Crowley was convinced that the world would eventually go through a Dark Age as bad or worse than that which struck Europe and Asia after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire and which only ebbed back a millenium later in Renaissance Italy. Well, certainly the current situation we face has the potential of doing just that. I hope we can pull ourselves out before this comes to pass. I really do hope so.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Here's a casemod that has got to rank as the best one I've seen yet: someone built a computer into an antique Underwood typewriter. It looks right out of the movie Brazil. However, I couldn't help thinking about another movie, and how the mod somehow didn't look complete without a talking anus. Exterminate all rational thought indeed.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Just a little note to wish everyone a happy Spring Equinox. We're about an hour into Spring now. This one's a special one, and I will explain the reasons in another post when I'm a little less drowsy.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Here I am at Valley waiting for the gym to open. Due to financial constraints, the gym closes at Noon and stays closed until It doesn't make sense, but then again, it doesn't have to. After all, the knives are being sharpened in Sacramento for further cuts.

At least one good thing is happening. Tomorrow I get the last payment from the first and last student loan I will be taking out while at Valley. It couldn't come at a better time. The car is misbehaving big time, Richie is going to be in Britain playing a few gigs with Saccharine Trust next month, and this damn work study program didn't work out for me. I'm going to have to economize big time until Richie gets back from the UK. What, you thought that maybe I'd get a chance to go to Ol' Blighty? Think again. :P

Friday, March 12, 2004

OK, now that Cory Doctorow has unloaded about what's in his gadget bag, I think I'd better sound off with what I keep in my purse.

In the GeekBag:

  • Palm m125 handheld
  • Logitech Palm Universal Connector Keyboard. Draws lots of power while in use...not nice when you are on triple-A batteries.
  • A couple of 32MB SD cards...originally bought for backing up m125 (freebie software no workie) but will now be the home for whatever Palm Reader books I can throw onto it.
  • Ericsson r520m europhone...bought 100% unlocked. This is the last Ericsson made in Sweden. Bluetooth and IRDA connectivity, no camera, no MP3 player, no nonsense. It's still being sold in Britain at The Register's geekstore.
  • SonyEricsson handsfree unit with scanning FM radio. Really nice for walks.
  • Extra r520m battery
  • r520m travel mini charger.
  • Three way pen/PDA stylus/laser pointer from ThinkGeek
  • The usual stuffs: wallet, keys on a lanyard, hairbrush, random pens and pencils, cases for regular glasses and prescription Ray-Ban übershades.
  • Sugar-free "powerful" mints. No, they don't have caffeine in them. Yes, I could use caffeinated mints due to school demands.
  • Conspicuous by their absence: cosmetics.
  • Occasionally present: school books, spiral themebooks.

Not the most geeky load but pretty geeky, I think.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

OK, just so people won't worry, I'm feeling better. And I don't mean in the Mr. Creosote sense of "better." No need to get out the bucket, thanks. ^_^

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Spaulding Gray is dead. We were expecting it, true, but it still hits hard.

It hits hard especially since I have been depressed lately. I am currently in another skirmish with Financial Aid. It seems that since I have to take my math classes at a slower pace I won't be able to get financial coverage for the classes I need to take. Why? Because in August I had to work out a "Personal Education Plan" with counselors at Valley. Why that? Because if I didn't, I wouldn't get any financial aid at all.

The Financial Aid officers basically are treating the education plan, something that was entered into before I even stepped into my first math class, as if it is etched in stone. It sucks. Never mind that they are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and any number of other regs if it is found that I have a legitimate math learning disability.

I suppose half a loaf is better than none, and getting a smaller amount of financial aid is better than none at all. I'm getting tired of fighting the bureaucracy there. It is clear their priority is not matching students with financial aid but saving the LA Community College District money. If the priorities weren't the way they are, I wouldn't have to fight this so hard.

There are other things that are depressing me right now, but I'd rather not blog about them. Way too personal.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I haven't posted here in a long time so I'd better get on it.

First off, an annoyance which has been under my skin for a while. The major local news stations all claim that they have a new and special doppler radar setup, which THEY BUILT all by their lonesome. ABC 7 TV in particular has been a major offender on this score. Well, guess what, folks, they're just putting their own brand on Uncle Sam's very own Nexrad. Doppler 7000+? Thank the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You see, when people talk about the government and how much they waste our tax dollars, an example like this of something that no single company can build on their own is very educational. When companies like Disney/ABC (and Viacom/CBS, and Fox/NewsCorp, and GE/NBC) take credit for something that they only indirectly financed if at all, you don't get an accurate picture of where your money goes.

Repeat after me. We got a spiffy doppler radar system because Uncle Sam built it. Not Disney/ABC, not any of the big networks, not ClearChannel, not any other big media mega-conglomerate. Thank the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for Doppler 7000+ and whatever else the other networks calls it. We also got a spiffy Internet because DARPA, a government agency, did all the legwork and spent the money on it. Interstate highways? Thank your Uncle. There are some things that are too big and don't turn immediate profits. Those are things that aren't especially attractive to the Private Sector. Who's going to do it if not the Private Sector? Umm, it's that big, bad guh'mint doing it.

I said it before, I'll say it again. The money you give to Uncle Sam is the price you pay for civilization. Same goes for your State government. Same goes for your city government. Your taxes are the price you pay for civilization. Want your potholes filled, the streetlights working, the power kept on, your kids schooled? It doesn't come cheap. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

On a lighter note, we now have our Ghetto Home Theatre. This Slashdot article was part of the process of figuring out how to make it all work. It turned out that all that neat information about TV Tuner Boxes was unnecessary. This is what Le Target had on sale last week for $88. In the immortal words of Dewey from "School Of Rock"...this TV melts faces. (We bought the "School Of Rock" DVD at the same time. Good flick.) Stereo circuitry, a picture tube from Panasonic, a nice clear picture, 3 inputs. Kicks all manner of ass. Add to this the mighty set of Advent AV370 powered speakers I have been using for the past four years with computers I have, my two DVD players, my VCR and my Dreamcast, and basically what you get is the world's cheapest Home Theatre. I'm stoked. W00t. I've been watching some of my DVDs and I'm in awe. No more envy of the folks with the booming home entertainment centers. Pass the popcorn, dude.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Plastic's got a great food thread going. Here's my addition to the fray. This post is a salute to the often maligned and misunderstood Ramen noodle. Itadekimasu!