Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moving on

Well, finally, yesterday was my last day on the job. I have nothing really to say about it, but feel somehow obligated to mark the occasion on this blog. However I might blow my next move, there's no going back in that particular direction. It marks a turning point regardless. 

I make a reasonably good IT guy, though I may be oversensitive to the absurdities of that line of work. I know that I don't know nearly enough about any of what's under my watch to answer to people's projections onto me. I know that given what I do know, I'm not nearly able - there simply aren't the resources - to secure and assure and arrange things in a completely sensible way. So much depends on teaching and training and compliance. I've always known that I should leave the work to the true believers. There are so many of them. I'm pretty skeptical that technology qua technology can continue to make our lives any better. Discretion always being the better part of valor, I must retire from that particular battlefield.

I've had to pay the bills, and like driving on the highway, IT work has been something I'm pretty good at. It takes my full attention, remains interesting and mostly leaves me to myself. But like driving on the highway, which I've done too much of in this job, there's no real accounting for the mental strain, the lack of good physical exercise, and where these things leave you at the end of the day.

I think I might be leaving the "field" at about the right time. Things are teetering on various brinks. Proprietary vs. Open Source. Black hats vs. white hats. Identity theft, privacy, online everything. Cloud computing is pretty cloudy, and mostly because of various issues of trust. I left at the moment of initiating the project I would have liked to start with. Electronic signatures. Doing away with paper. Giving people more time to do what they are good at.

But I remain unsure that there is any good direction for these kinds of technical advances.

For so long as we wish to retain our secrets, there will be some conflict between our "right" to privacy, and the need to put up ever higher walls around ourselves. For so long as we rely on complicated machinery to mediate our daily transactions, there will be no end to the efforts necessary to establish trust. There will always be some divide between the ones who run the machines and the ones who direct their running. 

How many of us were shocked right out of our wanderlust to learn how poorly airline pilots might get paid, after that crash right here in Buffalo? Or should we marvel at how safely we all fly, since the people who do it must clearly love it even more than taxi drivers, bus drivers or IT guys who all get paid so much better and have so much more margin for our error.

I wonder how necessary it really is to spend so much time on firewalls and intrusion detection and other sorts of fear response technologies? Now that President Obama has done the right thing again to announce that cyber security is an issue of national security, right up there with terrorist watching, might it still not be a good time to ask ourselves what this fear might be doing to us?

What is the difference, after all, if the threat is real or virtual? The North Koreans are rattling our cage. We have or should have extreme fears about our loosing nuclear energy upon the world, though at its root the thing which got loosed is a relatively little bit of knowledge. I think it must be a kind of fiction to think that it takes time and power to bring down the powerful. It is the weak we newly fear.

Do defensive technologies really ever leave us safer than without them? MAD defined the world of cold war stockpiles. Our shock and awe clearly failed miserably even in response to terrorist attacks, whatever your take on what might have provoked them in the first place.

So, what might cybersecurity really mean? In principle, "hosts" on the internet leave some trail. In principle, there is some motive behind every attack. But anonymizing is so trivial, and encryption so perfected that we might assume that absent good will, there would be no end to the resources that must be brought to bear to do the proper sleuthing. To read the contextual signals and triangulate on the actual motivating factor so we can squelch it.

Or maybe we'll discover that even the attackers are just bots masquerading their intentions which were only ever to grab our attention for a penny's worth. Maybe the real meltdowns will always be some pilot's error, some regulatory mismatch (some feedback loop which went out of whack to bring down the entire eastern seaboard grid), some fundamental misread of way too much complexity in the first place. Can we even tell the difference in principle between the motivated and the accidental? The crazies and the devoted?

I know I'm not alone applauding Dick Cheney for continuing to flap his lockjaw gums- he's such a good recruiter for the Left. He states our reasons with such utter innocence and clarity. All we need do is provoke some soul to violence by beating him down sufficiently that he starts railing against our machine, and then we can pin on the monster label. No matter how much "collateral" damage gets accomplished along the way. It was our very own revolutionaries who got us started on this American dream. It wasn't done without a lot of blood. Thank God the king's machine was not so nearly perfected then as is this one here and now.

I wonder if it isn't time to start dismantling the castle walls? Well, obviously I don't wonder at all. Tear down the fucking walls. Jesus Christ almighty God in heaven, tear down these God damned walls. I'm not saying terrorists are true rebels for freedom, only that someday soon they might be if we don't tear down these walls.

Isn't there some point beyond which the keeping out is just plain provocation to those on the other side? Isn't there some point beyond which all that is left is terrorism, when your point of view becomes that marginalized? When you have been squeezed out and nothing at all remains to live in except for the cardboard boxes which become your only home in a shrinking commons?

If there can be no more room on the planet for those Dan Quayle famous "happy campers" then isn't there some obligation on the part of the ones living inside the castle walls to admit that they just want all those bugs crushed in the first place? Thank you Dick for all that you are and represent. Thank God you don't represent me any more in any way. May you and all your riches rot in hell. Too bad my words can't hurt you.

Now, back to the main point. We are all implicated here. We live the lives we very much want to live, and can't be bothered by the outsiders who just want in. We even rationalize our fine good fortune as though it's something we have earned.

I wonder what would happen if there were some collective agreement to disclose ever more in public about who we really are in private? It seems that lots of proprietary databases know all sorts of things about where I've lived, how much I've made, how much I have in the bank and how much I don't give to charity.

I'm not sure why I didn't get the memo, but sometime not too very long ago the Feds started sending me my lifetime earnings statement - you know, that one which spells out how far I will have fallen in my entire lifetime's labors from making even half of what those sweetspot earners might make in less than a decade. You know, those people who make that magic quarter mil which allows us to think that maybe we can raise their taxes just a smidge. Who the hell are you, I want to know. Can I please get in on that action?

I rather trust the open source, it gets me beyond the sickening coy of lawyers who won't let their companies admit how much of their data's gotten breached. The second guessing of full disclosure since there might be too much at stake. The keeping mum about security breaches so that, huh?, the innocents don't get a hold of ways to hack, as if the bad guys weren't all over it already?? Do you really want to trust Google and only Google with your search habits? Sure it's gotta be embarrassing to get caught surfing porn, but if you follow the money, you must have a lot of company doing it.

Wouldn't it be interesting if every transaction left an actual trail that was in principle public? Not that anybody would be watching, but they could if they wanted to. That lights out meant lights out, but no money could change hands there.

I think there's a debate on NPR now about the morality of paying for sex. I'd really like to hear it, but I'm hoping I won't be driving enough for that. Here's my take on it: it's just a bad idea, and so unnecessary. But there ought to be actual cash for some such things, right? Drugs, sex, maybe rock and roll. Untraceable petty cash transactions? Or is it already way too late?

I'm not sure I mind what folks could know about me if they wanted to. I'd be a little bit embarrassed by my beer budget for sure, but that might do me some good. I wonder what would happen to all the rest of the folks left hanging out in the shadows?

Or would this just lead to that nightmare scarlet letter; Cheneyism by another name? A mainstream push again, to marginalize everyone who's different.

I'm really not so sure, one way or the other. I mean at least Cheney's consistent; he didn't change his views on gays just to appease his daughter. He's not waterboarding "folks" for thinking differently, just for harboring bloody intentions. 

I'm not so sure that people really care what their neighbors are thinking or doing, so long as it isn't harmful to them. We already mostly know who to stay clear of and why. We mostly always have.

Identify yourself! How about that? To be let in at any gate, you simply have to be willing to state publically who you are, and maybe leave some token to be retrieved at your departure. What would be so very bad about that. I'd go for a national electronic identity. Why not? I need it now even to cross over into Canada, a place I've often felt was home.

The boundary's already been crossed, though we have yet to wake up to that fact. We've already given up any right to privacy, just by agreeing to the credit terms. The phoning, the emailing, the Googling. Why do we trust those corporate entities more than we trust our government? Because GWB thought that we should? At least he has the decency to fade away in silence.

I find myself on just the wrong side now of every legal precedent; all that I once knew was right and good and true. 

How about the government issues our emailing address, as a branch of the Postal system (too bad that's been privatized too)? How about there are no penalties for crossing borders illegally, since you'd have to identify yourself electronically and, well, your whole goshdarned history just appears. And your nationality is the last thing that might disqualify you, since, after all, you took the trouble to get here for some good purpose, right?

They do know where you live already. Why not where you live electronically? Why not say to Google, OK, you can track those searches, but only if they have government issued IDs. Otherwise, it's all trash anyhow. That might help to make the good stuff come out on top, since the folks who would put it there have proven their earnest intentions by telling us who they are.

It's just a silly thought. I'm not sure I really mean any of it. Well, I mean the stuff about Dick Cheney, but I'm not sure about the rest. Might bear some looking in to. Might be a lot less scary than what is going on. Want credit? Want protection? Get an address, and then set rules about what can be tracked. Just about now, it sounds pretty cool to me, but then I'm a reconstructed techie gone over to some other side.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More on the Final Lecture

Still meandering in my thoughts, leaving my socks off to dry out my painful feet, too excited toward the finish of Who Owns You to keep reading. I have to pause for commentary. I've actually scoured the web for some time now for lucid grounding on what's meant by "The Commons" and how that relates to open source and GNU, and GPL. You'd think that would be a specialty on the net. Of and by and for the net. 

I'm probably not a very good searcher, or there may simply be that built in limitation to the way the network's organized, but in the end it took a copyrighted book for me to find what I'd been looking for. It's all there. An historically grounded explanation of what the Commons is. What it means. What enclosure is and was. The origin of letters patent, their relation to privateers (though that had to await a blogged addendum), their relation to government fiat. Their endpoint now in patents for genes. 

The government too now has squandered its franchise, by giving away too much of what was already mine. I am and will remain a commoner. In common cause against all those mere elites. I may play for you, but you will not own me. Lets get our hands out from each others pockets, say, and elect actual public servants. I'm sick to death of corporatism, I want free markets back. 

And unlike, say, my writing, this writing is succinct, compact, orderly, disciplined, and very much to the point.

But there are plenty of ironies. (And?? there are plenty of ironies?) This book was actually written by a former student of mine (I didn't teach him how to think - I can't claim that honor - just peripheral stuff. Foreign language. Merest clerical issue amongst the gold of education). He's someone I now "friend" on Facebook. How odd that I'd have to beat so far around the bush to find something so intimately nearby, even though he lives across the ocean where the living is so much more, well, civilized.

And how ironic that I have to pay so much, still, to find out what those GNU folks are almost desperate for me to have for free. This book is copyrighted and expensive, but I'm more than glad to pay the price. I'll gladly forgo those couple bottles of Rioja. Well, almost gladly. It's the spirit of the thing in either case, right? The ideas. The essence. Well no, it's more the flavor which mysteriously dances across my palate. It's the way reading this book inflames my mind.

Here at the end of the universe, having hitchhiked, never ever really learning how to drive that car of language, I find that there has been a flag planted. An end called to corporate dominance. A citizen has already arrived at this territory and claimed it for the public domain. Exercising all the powers of letters patent, having tricked the powers that be into letting the secret out in full public view. (what do you mean by "we," whiteboy???)

That secret being the very same one revealed by the Final Lecture. That while you might make gene-patent holding giant corporations or universities very rich by living in fear of disease and death, you might also foil The Man by having fun right up until your very death. Hell Randy Pausch even got in a really nasty dig at that university gatekeeper who wanted to own his thinking. Payback's a bitch, man. He who laughs last truly does laugh best.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pounding Pavement

There is absolutely no reason to be writing this post, but I'm going to anyhow. Earlier on this Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, my daughter just wanted to show me something on the web. We ended up watching the entire "Last Lecture" from Carnegie Mellon U. They'd wanted to give it to me as a gift at the surprise party - shock and awe party would be more like it - for my departure from my current job. Instead, there were extravagant bookstore gift cards, already devoured, and I found the lecture could be viewed for free on the Internet.

For those who've seen it, there is something remarkable about it for sure. I sensed the man's resolve to deliver this address well and completely, without tripping, and without much caring how or if the props worked well. The audience was a little bit more nervous - I guess they were his friends colleagues and students - and so he was deprived of any accurate feedback, almost until the very end. It must have helped that he is a professor, practiced in the art of holding folks' attention. It surely helped even more that he is engaging and entirely pleased with the life he's led.

I'd heard about the lecture. Given by a man sure to die within a couple of months of its delivery. Wanting still to live life to its very fullest, vowing to have "fun" right up until the end. Making no apologies, except implicit for those he knew would miss him. The one who wanted to give it to me said it got her through the summer of her mother's death.

I dropped my daughter off to her job and then, since it was such a nice day, started walking. I took a phone call from my sister along the way - all the absurd ways in which we live these days - giving her frank feedback on the ins and outs of visiting Mom and Dad this summer. Sitting in a schoolyard, I found I'd gotten over much if not quite all of my anger for her sticking by her "man" and seeming to abandon the daughter that he'd raped. He's in jail now and I truly do wish him a full rehabilitation, although I don't know how that's done. My sister said she's not even worried about her daughter, so strong is she. I echoed the remark about her strength, and had to admit that perhaps my sister has none left for herself.

I kept walking. It was only when I reached the water's edge, some many miles from where I live (well, maybe 4), that I realized the soles of my feet were solid blisters. Needless to say, the return trip was much slower and very painful. It's been a while since I've walked so far.

I walked past a lot of entertainment venues, many restaurants, the fancy women's club where I'd gotten married, night clubs cranking up the techno beat with bartenders getting loose, and finally to the water right across from the dock where I used to keep my boat. Miss Buffalo was loading with beautiful people who wanted to be thought of naked; the hot dog stand and clam bar loaded with people who never wanted to be thought of that way.

I don't quite get the waxy look, eyebrows, skin and hair maybe signalling that you'll do anything for someone's pleasure it they'd like. I had to sit down at the pizza joint which serves the nightclubs, since I was parched and hungry and my feet were burning. It was getting ready for the evening throngs this holiday eve.

All along the walk alone, no other walkers really, as cars would smoothly travel by, loaded with men and women all dressed to the nines, heading somewhere I would likely walk past. Travelling bubbles of laughter, screaming, some demure and more sophisticated. The sidewalk between the districts entirely deserted but for me. The only time I felt challenged was when I was staring over long at some guy's beautiful car, and he, shined up well himself, wanted to know what the fuck I was looking at.

I tried to sense some direction for this edgy little rustbelt city. The architecture, at least on foot, kind of goes now. There's more complexity than I'd thought, in line and complementarity; antiquity and new. It wasn't so hard to see the vacant storefronts all refilled, and the sidewalks bustling again. 

The cars, though, were a travesty, interspersed with motorcyclists revving up and down and seeming to wonder what to do. I'd replace them with horses, maybe, and trolley cars and ways to watch from dress where people were headed, instead of being left to judge by what beat dopplers by; what kind of makeup the woman driver wears. What kind of sunglasses. What kind of car.

That "final lecture guy" was into virtual reality. He wasn't horrified by Disneyland as I am. He truly did believe in scientific and technological progress. I liked his kind of students, all geeky and not at all like the clubbers I walked by, who just looked sort of predatory, or at least on some kind of full time make. I especially liked the female techies, who had a kind of earnest hot they weren't even close to being self-conscious of. 

I guess I'll have to give a pass to my doubts about virtual reality. Maybe it really is and still can be moreso useful for teaching and training and trying things out. But I don't really want to walk without having to deal with blisters. I liked the real sounds and smells and faces and even the tribal beat. I liked the water and the boats heading out for the evening, and didn't even miss being on them all that much myself. I liked the variety of people, some beautiful, some not, and some not even allowed to pause along their way for fear of disturbing commerce. Shuffled away from paying customers' seats. Cadging smokes.  Begging change.

So, it's time for me to launch. One more week of wasted time at work and then I'll have just a short while to make something of my writing. It won't look much like this place, I don't think. But then again it might. My words will meander along with my thoughts, looking for some shape to what is going on. I wonder if Epsom salts get sold anymore?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fools Rush in . . . Farewell to Jack Kemp

I want to tackle the big ones. I want to try the truth and beauty equation. Here's the plan: Beauty stimulates copulation, apparently. Copulation, when it's productive and not perverse, apparently has a lot to do with the processes of evolution. Controversially if you ever read Stephen Jay Gould, human intelligence seems like some pinnacle to the same evolutionary processes. So, in at least this minimal sense, intelligence and beauty seem like they might be linked. 

I'm thinking here that faceless animals don't copulate for anything like beauty. And I'm thinking beauty somehow overpowers pheromones and other organizers of ant farms to power aspects of human reproduction. 

And I have to accommodate, somehow, my absolute aversion to the stupid racist notion that beauty and intelligence are coupled. That winners always deserve to win. That's way way way too right wing for me, Jack. Lady Luck almost always deserves almost all the credit. Nor will I fail to notice that women do seem to trade on beauty; that there is some correspondence between social rank and hotness in this endphase capitalist dystopia. Which we will never see as such, because we live within the castle walls. Let them eat cake, indeed.

Sure part of this is that with enough money, almost anyone can be made to appear pretty good. Especially when the styles approach masquerade for daily life. Or when simple health equates to looking good in jeans, and when health is bought for money too. When you add to the dollings up, the bodily buffing up, you really can get something going. Not to mention airbrushings, and taking care about when and how you appear in public. Although it must be a lot of work, for certain. You have to give effort its due.

But let's just say, for starters, that the thing with beauty is that it turns your head. From there, doesn't there have to be something more? Or is it like the linkbacks here in the blogosphere, which I don't really care to get? The beauty gets you more starters. And how come so many really beautiful women are willing to trade on that?  Shouldn't it really just give you the strength not to? The confidence to go for something more than what you can get so easily? Or does risk always go along with nothing left to lose?

I know money is plenty hard to get, but the trouble with getting it by selling your looks or your skills or your talents is that you have to keep working harder and harder and always to deal with your insecurities that maybe he'll go elsewhere for what you once sold him. The Man. Old age should be relaxing. Unless, like me, you've dodged responsibility your whole life. Then you get what you deserve. Which is to work your way in to your dotage, armed only with what you never had, or lost in its true season.

How about this:  Beauty just stimulates the rest of us to copulate more? It's like a leadership role; like President Obama for instance, it sets a direction for our sweaty aspirations. Who would ever want that level of responsibility at this particular moment? But he stands up there, quite apparently keeping his good humor, and it kind of makes you want to work in that direction, doesn't it?  We'll set him straight eventually on the privacy stuff, and on the GNU public license, but in the meantime, what a beautiful mind, and it doesn't hurt a bit that he's quite black. It just makes him that much more believable, since no-one's been grooming blacks for long enough to have him descend from dynastic privilege.

Intelligence begets intelligence for sure, but not in the genetic sense, where everything regresses toward what's mean. It's the sharing which allows great things. Sometimes the showing off. The chasing after what might be better, and wanting to get there first. And at least a kind of working out from the kind of insecurity which provokes girls into flashing their tits as the one thing they know will get the guys attention, and maybe slow them down along the chase. Or cheer them on, stimulating the steroidal jolt. Or so it should. And guys should get over it already. Why not pick someone for better reasons than that everyone else wants her too? Save that for politics and shows. Alpha males must get fatigued from being everybody's target.

I do remain convinced that there is still a direction for evolution, but that it's not the one we're thinking. I'll have to do a lot more study, but I even think that intelligence is something more than something meta- riding like fluff on top of the survival of some fittest. There is this pattern re-cognition in the brain which makes it that much more likely that we can learn to avoid the pitfalls. Then something like invention, where we can take what we discover, and repattern it with tools, into something to give us huge advantage over what teeth nature can provide over eons of trial and mostly error. Tooth and claw into the wilderness, now beaten back by levity and light. Stirred but never shaken.

The gaffe we make right now is to mistake our proudest tools for that mind which made them. We act as if we invent what we discover, and as though our instruments can recognize patterns without us. They can't. They can only sort and filter among larger sets than we can handle all fleshy and alone. 

All machines are nothing more (or less) than elaborated levers to extend our power; our reach; our grasp. Information technology is nothing different, except that by replacing mind with brain in stupid overtheorizing about intelligence as though it were an isolatable thing, we've managed yet again to become hoist by our own petard, childish bootstrap style, into thinking that machines can think. (I swear I remember being read a childish story, about a boy who'd dreamed of flying that way, by lifting himself up by his bootstraps, or maybe I even tried it myself, though I could find no reference anywhere to either)

Mind is interactive, and depends on Proper Names at its centers, to propagate throughout the brainscape. Tools can help. Pen, paper, books and ethereal keys. There is some touching attachment, or should be, to the tools we like to handle. But these are not the same thing as human to human touch. And human touch should not be mediated by machines. Mind, sure. But mind is nothing without heart. And heart depends on more than depictions and other virtual renderings.

There was (at least) one intriguing part to that "What the Bleep" film wherein they demonstrated, sort of, that the eye will literally not see what it has not learned to. Their example was Native Americans not even able to see that Columbus' ships were on their horizon, because they had no category for ships. And perhaps there was also every sort of wild hallucination from which such things as ships might be difficult to distinguish. The shaman had to be consulted, and once authorized, then they could see!

Now, we've tamed the hallucinations, and created instruments to measure every kind of alien intrusion, even beyond the range of our native senses. Which only seems to guarantee that the thing we must remain blind to is ourselves, enslaved to us. We have no authority for that one.

We reward winning always most extravagantly. The beauty queens. Captains of industry. Superstars. Inventors. Discoverers. Monopolists. Gamers of our hearts. Vicariously, it's where we want to be, and really think we should be. We give a nod to Sherpas, provided they climb high enough themselves.

But recently, in our American time, we did learn that it is wrong to use other human beings for our service to the winners.  Humans should not own other human beings, this much we know for certain. But for a good enough price, and if the bargain is straight up, winners might be able to rent their slaves, perhaps at an hourly rate. Perhaps for better and for worse. Beauty betrays the terms. It would be more honest, wouldn't it, if the money were to change hands more boldly and the terms were more straight up? Though none of it, except for the money, seems worth the paper it's written up on.

Still, we dream of machines at our service, which can provide us colder drinks and more pure mixes, and no dirt upon our souls. Except that they foul the earth, finally, with non-digestible transmuted waste which concentrates our most toxic qualities, most toxic of all of which might be our insecure desire just to be served in the first place. As if God were meant for me personally. As if there can be that pinnacle from which all dirt has been banished, but the air remains breathable. As if.

And so, upon this Internet, we are certain we must remain anonymous, cloaked and firewalled away from those who would pry our secrets, or even worse, steal our very identity. I am, at least still for a moment longer wanting to remain anonymous. Wanting to abstract my words so perfectly that they can true all hearts away from cosmic dreams of removal from all dirt and germs that would digest our bodies, sometimes before we're quite ready for that earth to earth return on investment.

But think of this. What if we actually were accountable for all our searches? What if it weren't just Google sneaking into my thoughts and offering up advertisements according to what I've been thinking, and reading and writing and historically searching. What if we called that what it is; an unconscionable invasion of privacy no matter what they promise to do or not to do with my identity. This Googling of my soul, which I shall not abide very much longer. This tapping of my phone lines without my knowing. This unaccountable theft of our commons.

What if I were to true my searchings with other identifiable souls who might also hold me accountable for my misplacings of mouse among rodents; black holes among non-celestial ethers. What if, in other words, humans were to contact other humans who would be held accountable for transgressions? A sort of alternate Internet of love instead of greed and fear and embarrassment. Where DNS sought out, first, actual names of actual people, and less particular and more abstracted, their place of business, and after that, what they like to do with their time.

What if we were to start a movement where instead of being afraid to announce where I live and how to contact me, I were to publish almost everything about myself, and you did too? What if I let almost everyone see into my life if they really cared to, and what if that turned out to be the very best defense against identity theft because no-one could hold your secrets, as they now do, even from you? You would be publicly you and I would be publicly me, and my holdings would be there for anyone and everyone to count and every transaction would leave a bright red trail, so that you could even leave the door unlocked again like they do in Canada where they must still somehow know their neighbors, even still.

What if names were geographically located too, and after that ideologically, for civil civic purposes so that we might debate without hating one another? What if intersections among actual people were tracked, and texts and pictures and things to buy were catalogued where they belong according to the interests of the parties who want them. What if we were to find that some right wing interests actually do cross lines with left wing? In reading his obituary, I find that Jack Kemp doesn't seem such a bad guy, although when I met him in person he had some sort of vocal diarrhea worse than mine and jumped all over the place and never made any full sense. Such a champion of all Richies Rich.

But I can buy the idea that creativity and industry both are released by some rewards for them. I can also buy that some of the best and truest words were never motivated by anything at all, other than some beauty in their utterance. The best of art is never known because its baseline requires getting out from the contest, and in to that kind of beauty which kindles far away and off from any field. Why can these things not both co-exist? There are more kinds of beauty than those which provoke our loins and pocketbooks. There are other ways to arrange our co-existence on this planet than conquest, glory, and abstract removal.

What if we were to find that human metaphoric categories work ever so much more smoothly than machine-made approximations and that nothing we can ever invent will be a match for our own pattern recognition accomplishments. Certainly not for speed, where I can almost always recognize friend at 1000 paces, which helps at least to distinguish from unknown and possible foe.

What if the machine were realigned in service to all mankind and not, Sherpa like, only in service to the winners? And what if we were once again to risk riding in cars with strangers because most of our germs have already travelled the world around and our best defense is a kind of orgy of interinfection to build up our natural defenses against all viral mockings of our designs, since, I'm pretty sure, these interbreedings - tending in the end to brown I'm sure - guarantee more instead of less diversity, as long as diversity is not so much measured by the color of one's skin. 

I am so tired of superstar talents. I am so tired of wanting that kind of supercharged beauty. I am so tired of overelaborated super intelligence which needs to be checked by something more from the manual arts. I am so tired of measures for intelligence, which, like contests for beauty only show up parochial prejudices and miss the breakthrough minds every time. I am so tired of stigmas made against everyone who's not a winner, for whatever it is they're supposed to lack. I'm tired of being a winner without portfolio too, and needing always to reinvent myself. It's all a crass stand in for beauty to transcend our baser cartoon-like common denominators. I'll sing for Leaves of Grass.

Lets have a demasquerade! Let's let each of us be himself, and accept that Mom will always love us, no matter what we do. Sheesh, I make about as much sense as Jack Kemp talking supply side. But not only is beauty in the eye of each beholder, and intelligence for each reader to decide, what we can do to improve upon nature cannot be simply to strip it bare and purify its essentials. There must be more to art that drives us.