I'd been having tooth ache problems from a rotten wisdom tooth. No more! The tooth is gone. Instead I have a mouth full of blood and numb with anaesthetics right up into my sinuses. Not to mention a mind and body in shock at what just happened.
But its all for the best. The wisdom was rotten anyway, and would have gone on causing me pain if left, probably only getting worse.
Meanwhile the KIAwiki seems to have more and more Foolish People on it every day. This is not a bad thing of course! Unfortunately I have only seen them perform once, not currently living that near London, but when I did see them perform Dead Language at the Institute of Contemporary Arts the show was incredible. All of insightful, witty and darkly comedic and worth every penny I paid to see it. I also had the pleasure of a few drinks with John Harrigan after the show, and seemed to get adopted by the artist Maryam Hashemi. I will definitely get out to see them again when I get a chance. A foolish night to remember indeed!
To be entirely honest, I have no idea why its taken me so long to write it up.
Anyway, I think I need to go and take some pain killers or something. The local anaesthetic I mentioned earlier is starting to wear off. How many other people go and write a blog first thing after having a tooth pulled? I must be a fool...
Okay, I'm probably going to reveal a slightly nerdy side to my nature here, but what the hell. I'm not ashamed to reveal that I spent a lot of my time between the ages of 11 and 18 rolling dice, some of which had numbers of sides other than six, and even a nice transparent set of them in pretty colours. Yes I was a role-player. I haven't been a part of a role-playing group for some years now, but at one time it was a large part of my life. And oh how much fun it seemed at the time!
And the first proper rpg I played was Dungeons and Dragons. Well a couple of days ago, Gary Gygax, co-creator of this wonderful game passed on to the Seven Heavens. Its not like I follow this stuff any more, but I do read some nerdy d&d influenced webcomics, one of which is Order of the Stick and they ran a special commemorative strip today.
I don't have much to add, as I haven't played these games for years, but it would have felt wrong to let his passing go without a mention.
A little while ago I read Liber Malorum - Children of the Apple, a collection of short stories themed on "sex, drugs, witchcraft, anarchy and apples." and I so enjoyed reading it that I promised Sean I would write a review.
Well its been a while now and I still haven't written one and to be honest I'm not sure I can. For one thing I am one of the authors who actually have a short story in the book, so would it be right for me to review it? Well certainly not without pointing out my obvious bias it isn't. In any case, a promise is a promise so I guess I ought to at least write some kind of opinion on this book.
At first I didn't care much for Passion by DJ Lawrence. It reminded me of everything I was bored of in the Chaos Magic and left hand path occult scene. Arrogant magicians using guilty rationalisations to justify cursing people whose only crime was to upset said magicians oh so sensitive feelings. But actually, this story is not what it at first seems, and ultimately it is one of my favourite stories in the book. Its a shame no-one seems to have heard from DJ (and his website, chaosmagic.com is still 404) in a while as this story makes me want to congratulate him on a job well done.
Also worthy of mentions are:
The Orchard of Becoming by Frater Kaotec, a brooding horror yarn with a nod to Lovecraft
Diana Nemorensis by David Blank, a delightful fantasy involving eco warriors, bulldozers and the supernatural
Queering the System by Jet Moon, a romantic comedy about gay anarcho-activists
In Dreams of Gold by Jaq D Hawkins, a gripping fantasy adventure involving pirates and strange sea monsters...
Avalons Apples by Stella Damiana, a tale about the whims of goddesses and the games they play with mortals, and of initiation to the mysteries
You definitely get your money's worth with this book, and I highly recommend reading it if you get a chance. I first read it cover to cover, and a certain magic does unfold when you read it that way, although I expect in future readings I will return to my favourites in what ever order takes my fancy.
Okay, before I write this review, I have to confess that I am not really familiar with Psychic TV and Genesis P-Orridge. I mean, I had heard about Genesis and TOPY and knew Psychic TV was connected with that in some way, but for whatever reasons had never felt curious enough to look into them further. None the less, I knew enough to know that when asked if I wanted to come up to Bristol and see them live, I wanted to be there!
And boy am I glad I was! What a night!
By the time I arrived at the Bristol BierKeller, my knowledge of the band was increased by watching their videos on YouTube, and listening to a copy of their latest offering, 'Hell is Invisible ... Heaven is Her/e'. So before the band came on stage, I bought a copy of the CD from their stall and put it in my handbag because I knew it was good.
Handbag? Well of course I was cross dressing for this event! Given my recent track record of going out I may well have cross dressed anyway, even if it wasn't Genesis... 😀
Anyway, their latest sound is very much Psychedelic Rock, and influences of Sid Barrett can be clearly heard in many of the vocals. Genesis did a damn good Sid impression on a couple of occasions, so good it had me wondering if it was a sample! Musically I could only hazard a guess at the influences, but I can hear elements of Pink Floyd, The Doors and a kind of dark twisted version of early Rolling Stones in various places. Someone more musically minded might be able to give a more accurate description, I just listen, dance and enjoy...
I apparently also made an impression with my dancing as at one point I earned Genesis singing the following words whilst pointing and looking at me, "I'm suspicious of you, I'm suspicious of your wiggling'. At least I think it was wiggling. I suppose I was practising my veil dancing moves (without the veil or belt), and that does tend to create an impression...
The only comment I have to make is that I am surprised how poorly attended the gig was considering how big Industrial Music has become, and that Genesis was a founding member of the first ever Industrial Band, Throbbing Gristle. There a lot of dates left on their tour, which has only just started really. Make sure you get out and see them if they come anywhere near you.
I was in Bristol over the weekend and was going to do a day trip to London for the Zippy Picnic on the Saturday. However, I missed the train with a non open ticket, and found myself with a day in Bristol instead. If I'd known I would end up in a vegan cafe, I would have been more sensitive than to turn up in leather jeans. Of course, I myself am not vegan, but I do like vegan and vegetarian food, and have often been known to cook myself meals that would qualify as each. However, I am a big fan of good quality blue steak every now and then... 🙂
I feel really inspired after my visit and plan to return next time I'm in Bristol with some time to spare. I highly recommend anyone in or visiting Bristol to do the same. Eat, talk to the members of the cooperative, possibly even sitting down eating with one of the people who prepared your food, donate some money, do some dishes, browse the library, buy some non-profit anarchist booklets and magazine, use the internet if you need to. This is not just a cafe, its a community. Don't just eat there and leave, take part! Collaborate!
If anyone knows of any others around the world, feel free to leave a comment with a link...
I have just finished reading my first ever on-line book from the Project Gutenburg library. Well, more like a pamphlet really, but inspiring none the less. It was Open Source Democracy by Douglas Rushkoff. I came across it searching on the title. I'd never actually heard of it, and although the authors name is familiar to me, I can't actually remember where I've come across it in the past. Probably several places.
His argument is about how new knowledge emergent, or bottom-up, organisation, such as one might find in chaos mathematics, the behaviour of coral colonies and perhaps more importantly considering the pamphlet title the Open Source Software movement, will eventually impact and revitalise democracy, returning power and participation to the people. This knowledge will in largely be experiential. In that we as individuals have slowly gained control over the spectacle of media. With the advent of of television, we were passive viewers of a strange 'magic'. Remote controls, video recorders, camcorders all played their part in giving us more control and power over what we watched. Finally video games, computers and the internet played their share in reducing our attention to corporate and government controlled centralised programming and allowed us to use media as a means of communication. As people get used to the participatory nature of the web, they will start to realise how unresponsive the current democratic system is. This, he argues, is why participation in elections are falling. Apparently though, people will start to demand a more participatory democratic experience, rebuilding it in such a way as to make it more responsive.
The actual argument is slightly more complex than my brief summary, and well worth a read in full if you have time. It is not my intent to reproduce it here. I have my own argument to add...
The reason I was searching on the term was because I had an idea. And the term 'Open Source Democracy' summed up that idea. I wanted to see if anyone had already thought of it. Rushkoff is heading in the right direction, but falls short of the idea that came to mind. Although I might be one of the people he mentions that will rewrite the rules. That's not a role I object to playing! So I shall put my idea out there right now. The sooner people start building towards the realisation of this idea the better really...
My idea was at first a reaction against the take over of democracy by corporate closed source electronic voting systems, with no paper trail, verifiability or accountability. Of course, being a software engineer, I realised the problem was not with electronic voting, but with trusting the building and running of electronic voting systems to closed source and unaccountable corporations. After all, with old paper voting systems, we wouldn't have trusted a private company to count the votes in secret. Yet this is effectively what we allow electronic voting companies to do today. Whether they have actually abused their position yet is besides the point. They shouldn't be given the power to do so in the first place.
Why would an Open Source e-voting system be different? For one thing, it would allow the public to see the source code and submit improvements, meaning better security, ensured anonymity of voters, and guaranteed accuracy. Any flaws in the system would be spotted and corrected without vested interests hiding the flaws for fear of losing profits.
But why stop there? Such a system has the potential to do so much more than simply recreate the paper based system. We could rethink democracy and make it much more responsive and participatory. Here is my idea for a new democratic system:
1. Every member of society can register as a voter, and must be uniquely identifiable to prevent voting fraud from duplicate voting counts.
2. Voters can also register as a candidate, with their own personal manifesto, and if they have them details of party allegiances.
3. Voters can register and change their support for candidates at any time. Via a secure website systems, local public booths or where available via a traditional paper ballot.
4. The position of every candidate is clear at every stage of the voting process, so voters can see whether they feel the need to back a different horse.
5. At the beginning of each month, week, day or even hour depending on the model required, the top n candidates are awarded seats, where n is the number of seats.
6. Seat holder with the most backers gets to propose the agenda for the next debate, and the other seat holders are given a set amount of time to prepare counter arguments before the debate starts.
7. After all the debate, amendments to the proposal by the lead seat holder must be declared, and each successive seat holder may propose an alternative option to the proposal.
8. Seat holders then vote on the proposal and the alternative options, using a single transferable vote.
9. Each seat holder represents the total backers they currently hold, which may be different from the total they had when they were first selected. In this way, everyone gets to vote on each proposal, not just the seat holders.
Well, at the moment it is little more than a pipe dream. And I would add some caveats to prevent the system from being taken over by tyrants. This reflects that I do not stop at support for Open Source, but take things one step further by supporting the principles of the Free Software Foundation.
First, all truly democratic systems have limits on the power of the government over its people. Most people recognise freedom of speech as an important cornerstone of democratic liberty. However, I extend this to suggest complete individual sovereignty in matters of mind, body and soul. Not only should it be beyond the remit of government to violate an individuals sovereignty, it should be considered treason against democracy for them to make an attempt to do so, resulting in an immediate ban from candidacy at the very least.
Of course, it would be good to see this system developed and tested in experimental communities before attempting to introduce it for a real government, so that any flaws in my proposal or the initial implementations of it, can be ironed out. But I think I have come up with a basic blue print for advancing on the road to a better and freer society that early democratic efforts set us upon. Later I would like to see the system tested in a real governmental situation. With all the controversy over the House of Lords reforms in the UK, our parliaments second house might well prove to be the ideal testing ground.
The UK government has already started the Open Source Academy to promote the use of cost saving Open Source Software in local government and with the Conservative Party already promising a level playing field for Open Source Software in the UK, the early signs of political momentum building in this direction are already there. But the nature of emergent behaviour politics is such that we have to build it from the bottom up rather than waiting for the powers that be to do it for us.