House Hunters [International]

If you want to see a world of equality, turn to television. Yes, basic cable television.

In all HGTV shows, the producers pick and choose interesting projects to air. And they have arrived—for business and praticality considerations—the ultimate goal of the much fabled, much maligned Gay Agenda.

That’s all there is to it. That’s the big secret about our soi dissant Agenda: don’t think of our sexuality as having anything to do with anything, except when it comes to the gender of those with whom we have loving, romantic, sexual relationships. You know how your own relationship presents itself to the world, and you know what to keep private. Well, most of you, anyway.

On HGTV, whether it’s about decorating or renovating or buying and selling, a couple is a couple. Cohabitants are cohabitants. Period.

What I find, as expected, is that there’re more differences between couples of different wealth than there are between same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples of the same class. Don’t believe me? Just go watch.

But there’s even a bigger difference at play: Americans v. Non-Americans.

Compare any people to any other people and you’ll find that the biggest difference by far is Americans.

Americans are boorish. Americans are greedy. Americans are (almost by definition these days) imperious.

HGTV has two different show of more or less based on the same idea: buying a new place to live. House Hunters, and House Hunters International.

I started watching House Hunters (the domestic one) and then couldn’t stomach hearing these Americans feel claustrophobic because a home was less than 3,000 square feet, or it “only” has four baths to go with the five bedrooms. Or bitching that a given room’s color is “not my style”.

Jesus Skatebording Christ on a Cracker.

I went so far as to remove the show from my TiVo because such patent ugliness, but quite soon after I did that, I saw an ad for the International version.

I thought it was a great opportunity to see what housing is like in a lot of different places around the world. And it has been! Or at least it used to be. Lately, it’s just all about American whities swooping in on Central American locales and bitching about how un-low-maintenance the colors of the tiles. Or even better, that the master suites are too small if they’re smaller than an NFL endzone.

I loved the show when it was in Europe. It was English folks looking in Paris, American expats who’d already gone native looking for flats in A’dam. Calm, classy people who care about what they want and not just how much bigger/better a place they have compared to their former neighbors.

Still, I’m holding out for more shows with fewer Americans. I can’t help but think the rest of the world is hoping for the same.

I’m Feeling Dune-ish

There’s a certain transformation (still not sure if it’s permanent) that’s come about in me in reading just the first half (so far) of Eckhart Tolle’s book, "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose" brings more than just perspective. It’s slowly but steadily confirming a trend that I’ve suspected for a long, long time: I am a Feral Buddhist. In the sense that even though I have no formal training or study in Buddhism (something I intend to remedy), I seem to have arrived at very many of the same notions. I just don’t have the language (I know!) for them. But I’m learning.

The gist of what I’m saying is that in the face of base, false accusations and lying out of fear or irremediable arrogance, meeting it at the same level is only continuing in the vein of egoic unawareness. Moreover, if such stuff must be met, there should be a larger wisdom not to meet or challenge lies and fabrications, but to quell the fear and anger that produced such in the first place. Yes, "larger wisdom". Sometimes words can comport with specificity.

What has Dune to do with all of this? Well, Frank Herbert was more the prosaic poet than an easily pigeon-holed fiction writer. I learned from him the beauty of lyrical qualities baked into simple prose—not so simple a task.

Anyway, Dune. I rarely read science fiction, except when I cannot say no to Kurfty (well, you try it!) The only science fiction that ever stuck with me is the entire Dune series—ending properly with Chapterhouse: Dune. I’ve used it as a metric to observe the continuing evolution of my world view and perhaps even my psyche. It is a fixed point, which is required for any measurement: without space, there is no time. Without time, no space. This, in my opinion, is the nexus where physics and philosophy and poetry occupy the same space at the same time. I have been astounded at the increased visibility of self (the awareness that says “I”). With that has come empathy at the expense of sympathy (a more than fair trade), wisdom at the expense of intellectualizing, truth at the expense of Truth and fairness at the expense of justice.

It’s that poetry of phrase that makes a text quotable, and Frank Herbert is easily the most quotable author I know. I should have added “Herbert, at the expense of Alexis de Tocqueville in "Democracy in America" as well.

Everyone can quote the Litany Against Fear, so I’ll give that one a much needed rest. The one that always comes to mind (and now I understand that it’s all about a well-fed ego) is a poem that headed up I believe the first chapter of “Dune Messiah”:

Here lies a<br/> Toppled God.<br/> His fall was not a<br/> Small one:<br/> <br/> We did but build<br/> His pedestal:<br/> <br/> A narrow and a<br/> Tall one.

It’s a compact treatise on the dangers of an egoic mind.

There’s one parable about the nature of humans’ participation in the world entire in that we are not peoples inserted into a planet’s ecosystem, but rather we have emerged from it and are intrinsic to it:

It is said of Muad’dib that once when he saw a weed trying to grow between two rocks, he moved one of the rocks. Later, when the weed was seen to be flourishing, he covered it with the remaining rock. “That was its fate,” he explained.

To choose to give up the power of choice is the only sin, the only enjoinder of the mind and the spirit.

Anger and fear are one in the same thing. This is a fairly recent revelation for me, but one that shakes a certain measure of order out of chaos: actions and the motivations behind them fall neatly into pairs as a side effect of the revelation.

No one likes to admit he or she is afraid, but when fear and anger are the same, I can say with fair confidence that no one likes to live with anger. So why does it make sense to some to live begrudgingly with fear and yet refuse to diffuse the anger? Yes, we are a marvel.

How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.

Everyone, on the other hand, enjoys being certain, about anything. That’s always a trap. Always. Certainty is an absolute, and that should be the first clue that certainty is a dangerous gambit. Certainty is the trap. Certainty is the thing that shuts everything else down: no more choosing; you’ve chosen! No more thinking; you’ve answered! No more feeling; you’ve settled it, sunk it with a stone and you’ve convinced yourself you’ve left it to drown.

Larger wisdom doesn’t live in the world; it’s not of the world. It’s a lonely pose, far and away from everyone else. It’s of no world, really. It’s a spatial harmony in which there is no dissent because it doesn’t participate:

Show me a completely smooth operation and Ill show you a cover up. Real boats rock.

Not an easy thing to say to another. Not an easy thing for another to grasp. Most don’t. What I take that Dune quote to mean is that sometimes things go off the rails in a marriage, a friendship, even a workplace. The difficult part (always) is what follows: do you expend energy to resolve a point of contention or do you pretend it never happened? Do you bother to get closer, knowing that there will be rifts that require constant alertness or do you stay in a safe, completely fictional world where nothing but conviviality exists?

The purpose of argument is to change the nature of truth.

I’d rather live close to people and brave those dangers and remain vigilant to be sure none of those coverups gain too much momentum (because no one is brave enough to confront them). But thats just me. Another quote which only at first feels extreme:

You should never be in the company of anyone with whom you would not want to die.

Let the let the extremeness of it pass through you, then consider the possibility of a reckoning at the end of things. Was that final tableau representative of your life? Those people you were consorting with in those final moments. Are they the standard by which to measure your own eternity?

Then again, this is only an extreme consideration when you declare degrees of transgression, degrees of violence:

The convoluted wording of legalisms grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other. Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference of degree. You have done violence to him, consumed his energy. Elaborate euphemisms may conceal your intent to kill, but behind any use of power over another the ultimate assumption remains: “I feed on your energy.”

On whose energy do you feed? Would you rather feed and remain or respect and fade away?

The only way to avoid argument is to remain apart. This brings to mind solo efforts: the loner who refuses company, the smug who collect to themselves in order to feel superior. But the more common (yet far less easily spotted, perhaps because of that commonality) are the groups which would create artificial worlds, banal empires where social territoriality defines boundaries: self-made ghettos

Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague rituals.
“Enclosures of any kind are a fertile breeding ground for hatred of outsiders,” she said. “That produces a bitter harvest.”
“Enclosed,” she said. “How tempting it is to raise high walls and keep out change. Rot here in our own self-satisfied comfort.”
Rules build up fortifications behind which small minds create satrapies. A perilous state of affairs in the best of times, disastrous during crises.

Therein is created a vague desire to express individuality:

“My son displays a general garment and you claim its cut to your fit? […] What a fascinating revelation!”

Watch for members of a given empire to jump at perceived insults for no other reason than to give some credence—however sickly—to the phantom notion that their own individuality remains intact. This is probably the easiest way to recognize a hunkered-down empire. That is, if membership isn’t defined by surface features; in that case, the obvious should suffice.

At times, even a larger wisdom must account for practicality. How else can wisdom expand itself? Wisdom without relevancy isn’t wisdom, it’s religion.

[…]The drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable—except when you see it happen in the drawing room.

Enclosures are more about keeping people out than keeping them in, but a true enclosure has no means to maintain itself without a regular influx of energy: members become ectothermic. Since they produce no energy themselves, the take it from others. This can take the form of extreme bias; this can take the form of vampirism; this can take the form of pillage.

These musings are all well and good, but how do you exist beside such? How do you protect yourself in the face of a threat that has so single thing to call out for debate or battle? Well, you don’t. Making someone into an enemy always costs you something:

We tend to become like the worst in those we oppose.

So if opposing isn’t the answer, what is? Is there even an answer to be had? I don’t think so: any quest to find a concrete answer ends in a dangerous place. Answers must be avoided. Instead, search for better questions. It’s the ego that needs answers, needs to be self-satisfied and not left in any kind of limbo. In limbo, egos starve.

When a wise man does not understand, he says: “I do not understand.” The fool and the uncultured are ashamed of their ignorance. They remain silent when a question could bring them wisdom.

Never fear expressing yourself. Just remember that not everyone is configured to accept the meaning in what you say. If you’re expressing yourself with the goal of winning, stop. You’ve already lost. Draw no conclusions yourself, because you draw people into matching egos with you. Real learning requires humility (admitting you don’t know a thing must happen before you’re receptive to learning) and initiative (a person can only be led up to the curtain, the learner must choose to peek over it herself). Therefore, put a burden on the listener; you’ll never force understanding. Rote is not instruction.

Ultimately all things are known because you want to believe you know.
Eternity moves.
Real boats rock.
<br/> <br/> <br/>

“It’s Morning In America”

Dear Senator Obama,

You may recognize the title of this entry: it’s the very ideological kernel of Reagan’s apocalyptic rise to power almost 30 years ago. Everyone has to agree that, at the very least it was effective, and at the most abstract, it was successful in imbuing Americans with a stronger sense of self.

Not a bad idea, to give confidence to anyone out there lacking, but Reagan’s campaign left the rails very early on: pride went to insistence, insistence to demand and demand? Well, Manifest Destiny.

Ugly resonance with Germany’s second rise to power in the twentieth century. We deserved whatever we wanted. We were entitled (yes, the biggest entitlements under Reagan) to go where we would, do what we would, damn the consequences—but only to other peoples.

There’s another opportunity here, just like in 1979/1980. We are feeling down at heel. Only this time, there’s objective evidence that our incursions elsewhere have brought others into calling us out. Did you ever wonder why you see some collections of luggage that are covered in Canadian Flag stickers? I used to think that it was a national pride thing, an esoteric act that speaks for itself (as opposed to country western singers goose-stepping into your homes). Now? I’m not so sure it’s not just Canadians wanting to be sure you don’t mistake them for Americans. And I don’t blame them.

I’ve been considering doing it myself.

It so tends that conservative ideals, when presented with a Beginning view the potential as a means to whitewash the world: they’re the brush clearers and erasers, pushing whatever present potential into an actuality that extends the reality they already know. By force of mind and heart (heart?) they bring out the cookie cutters and macadam machines and apply themselves to owning minds and hearts and instead of providing the basics, they proselytize the converts towards worrying about that themselves.

Liberal ideals tend towards as many degrees of freedom, extending only the basic ideals into actuality and nothing more. There’s no ownership of mindshare except insofar as engendering a mindshare where the mindshare of others is respected. And thus begins the chain of attitude-begats that creates more and more freedom of mindshare.

You see, in most of the world, it’s a luxury to have the time to ponder, the space to meditate and the fully belly that unmoors the mind from quotidian concerns.

I tend to liberal ways of thinking simply because they make a lot more sense to me: ideas and theories emerge from who we are, and so if basic animal concerns are met, the sky’s the limit.

In the recent movie WALL•E, people were portrayed as too dependent on technology—to the point where those things which make us such a marvel in the universe had been left to die, just as Earth was left to die. Their reaction could be guessed from a light-year away, but the guesses were wrong. Every now and then we humans dig deep and do the right things not because it would gain us monetary or other material gains, but rather because there’s faith in our own future, out there in front of us so far we couldn’t begin to estimate where and when and how our acts in this lifetime might contribute.

Now it is time, Sir, to be the best leader you can, the best possible type of leader: a man whose leadership doesn’t create sycophants so much as it creates a vast population of other leaders. A leader who does not dictate so much as engender initiative in those over whom he presides.

Global dislike of Americans is justified, but only when measured by our recent behaviors across the world. They really wouldn’t dislike us if we showed them what our self-esteem can move us to do for the betterment of others.

It’s not our culture and our values that need to grow and expand, it’s our sense of time our abilities to improve lives that need to grow. We need to expand what we can give and in the giving, we expand our hearts as well.

Mr. Obama, these are the things a leader should bring, especially to a people who expect and yet fail to appreciate the things we do have.

From a planetary pulpit, remind the world how great we were once, and that our failings of late are a temporary shade over our heads. Bring us into the sunlight, where all the good things grow.

<br/>Regards, <br/> Jeffrey J Barbose

How Microsoft Talks To Microsoft

From a letter from Monkey Boy Ballmer to the troops:

• Apple: In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Today, we’re changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We’ll do the same with phones—providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences.

“Narrow but complete”? (the emphasis is mine). Last time I checked, there were browsers, mail apps, calendar apps, text processors, word processors, development tools, iTunes, chat applications, RSS readers, blogging editors, you name it! Oh, and a little set of applications called Microsoft Office.

Is that really the best they can come up with? “Narrow”? Translation: we have no idea how they’re doing what they’re doing and it’s killing us.

Here’s what they say about themselves: while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Translation: legacy stuff is killing us, and all that it’s worth is a single bullet-point, but then again, everyone knows that the more bullet-points you can attach to a product, the better! Hang on a minute……naaaah.

Either way, the future is killing Microsoft.

Giggling Like A Schoolgirl!

Jon_176306t.jpgI just cannot stop looking at Jon Hamm. Can? Not!

If I had a serious type, it’d contain any single part of Jon Hamm.

In fact, perhaps now I have a definite, concrete answer to those who ask what my type is.

On second thought, no. It still holds, but I will say that Hamm is about as close to perfect-looking as any man I’ve ever seen.

“Mad Men” takes place in the early 60s, which is when I was born. The 1960s had style, a style which I still prefer to almost anything. Cars, furniture, clothing…everything minus the racism and especially sexism.

Perhaps I was born 35 yrs too late?

Or Jon Hamm is just categorically beautiful.

Squee!

The Jim Morrison Suite

If I was going to make a trip to LA, I knew immediately that it would have to be a vacation on-the-cheap. At first I thought it would be a little upscale to stay at the WeHo Ramada, but then a friend (Hi, Matt!) told me that that Ramada was the Beck’s Motor Lodge of West Hollywood.

Ew.

So there were two “motels” (the name always reminds me of family vacations in 1969-1972) in the area. Both motels—the Alta Cienega and the Holloway Motel—were right there in the middle of it all, but when I researched each of them, there were comments about them being basic, clean, cheap; but there were also off-the-charts castigations of each.

So that was a wash. Then I found it: The Jim Morrison Suite. The motel room that Jim Morrison lived in for two whole years, serendipitously the same years that my family and I stayed in motels on frequent trips to the beach. So that felt right, in a kind of teleo-temporal kind of way (no, I don’t know what I mean either).

Yes, I mentioned this before, but now I’m showin’ pictures!

<br/> <br/> IMG_0627.JPG <br/> <br/>

I posted a whole web gallery via MobileMe (née .Mac). For your edification. Oh and let me add, whoever posted that the “old Chinese woman” at the Alta Cienega was evil or in any way horrible, suck it. She was totally awesome. I checked in closer to 5pm and I interrupted her making dinner and seemingly overall very busy, but she was kind and smiling and helped me out. I’d asked her for a clothes iron and she offered to bring it up to my room—and did, about 10 minutes after I got there.

<br/> Web Gallery Images of the Jim Morrison Suite

On The Road

18-July-2008

12:30 - SFO International Terminal. Horrible. Monitors too small and too few. Stairs everywhere. Completely confusing when you first walk in: One monitor attached to each Aisle instead (and at the sides, not the endcaps) of a central one or two to direct you properly.

15:15 - Virgin America Flight 1847 to LAX, Seat 8A. At first I hated the purple lighting, but it worked on me after awhile. It felt more peaceful and cooler. Of course, that could have been the little AC sphincter above me. Large amount of legroom in the exit row, but the tray doesn’t pull up close enough to use a MacBook Pro on it comfortably. Boo.

17:26 - Alta Cienega Motel, West Hollywood. In the Jim Morrison “suite”! Yes, this is the room where Jim Morrison lived for two whole years. And I’m in it right now. No sign of ghosts, which makes me believe that Jim Morrison is not dead! Shut up, my logic is undeniable.

17:36 - Still here. There are exactly three doors here in this “suite”. Hmmm…The Doors minus the three doors here = Jim Morrison! My logic is undeniable. Where are my sunglasses? There’s a CVS across the street. I can see it from my window. WWJMD? I’ll have to buy another pair before my head explodes from all this sunlight. Where is my smog salvation?

17:41 - Still still here. I added my own graffiti to the walls. The Ethels & The Toll. Also? I ironed a shirt that doesn’t bother staying ironed. At least the collar might stay okay.

19:15 - Ciao - My third viewing. First viewing in the City, with Alessandro next to me on my left Second viewing in Berkeley, solo because I needed it to be that way. Third viewing for me.

••• <br/>

Ok, so I was going keep going here, but I had a blast and with such great people that I don’t even want to go back and extract details. At least not just yet.

I will say this: I slept like the dead (pun intended) and woke up well-rested. Will wonders never cease?

Figures

I went to see Hellboy 2 tonight with my friend Shiun. Yes, I saw it last week with Kurfty, post-incident, but it was fun enough that I wanted to see it again (after having done “homework” by watching the first Hellboy.

Just my bad luck that it was a Moviebears outing. Yes, there are variations (of a sort) on that tired theme.

Worse still, I was stuck sitting next to the guy who started hitting on Sam right in front of me a while back. And after I pointed out that I was Sam’s boyfriend? Yes, you guessed it: he kept right on hitting on Sam. Bear Typical. And they sure love their Typical this, that, the other thing.

In a sense, though, those Typicals came in handy, in a certain way: my friends are both Asian, so by the time I got into the theater, there were many bears in many seats, except all around my friends. Asians are anathema to the bears. It was kinda funny, actually: it’s like that little experiment you do with pepper on the surface of water on a plate? One drop of soap in the middle and all the pepper appears to scatter to the edges.

Speaking of soap, of course the “bear” sitting next to me (who during a trailer for a thriller movie yells “Scare bears!”—yet another variation on the overall theme) might think less about the Bear Typical of “mansmells” when he’s out and about and might end up uncomfortably near a human being.

It’s like they said in Wargames: the only way to win is not to play. I don’t think it’s coincidence that my life hit a major accelerator in happiness and overall feeling better since I detached myself from groups of bears.

Good God


westsideweb.jpg

Please, Please, Please! Someone tell me how it all went so wrong? When did things get so irritatingly stupid that it’s considered a draw to name a simple dance party “Pornstar Alley”?

Literalist prats (oh look, I made a funny) throwing flesh and literalism at everything just to make it sell?

I don’t know what’s worse: that they offer such emotionally and intellectually retarded “branding” or that it actually works among the intended audiences?

I’m not stupid; I know that sex sells and all that. But when did “sex-industry” start to be a sell? Are pornstars the ultimate heroes among us?

This kinda ruined my afternoon.

Couldn’t Call It Unexpected

While I still do worry about that episode I had on Friday, I feel reassured more. Intellectual grokking always comes before emotional, at least so far.

I saw my doctor this morning and she’s forbidden me from calling it “aphasia”. Why? well, the easy answer is: because she said so. The less subjective answer: there’s no indication post-angiogram that anything bad happened. Then she played the age card: you’re 44. It happens.

Ouch.

She knows me so well. She knew me well-enough this morning to tell me that I know enough medical stuff to be dangerous, and she also knew how much I hated question marks when it came to anything health-related. That’s when the gloves came off.

She told me she was pulling no punches when she likened me to a woman who had come in with a pregnancy scare: she’d claim she was only making out with her boyfriend and that her panties stayed on the whole time, but could she possibly be pregnant? Even after a pregnancy test came back she’d swear she might be.

So I’m a non-pregnant woman.

For completeness’ sake, I’m going to have an ECHO and an bilateral carotid arterial ultrasound. Already scheduled the ECHO for tomorrow morning.

Assuming all-clear on both tests, I’m now planning (again) on LA.