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Journal: Three baby mice

Journal by blue trane

August 13, 2014

In the bathroom at Millersylvania State Park, I found two baby mice. One was cowering against a wall, shivering, moving very slowly. Another was in the hallway, likewise shivering and not moving much or at all.

I thought of putting them outside, in the forest. I assumed their mother had been killed by a trap or something. (I had seen a squirrel earlier, running with what seemed to be a dead mouse in its mouth.)

I tried to pick up one mouse by the tail, but it kept squeaking and running away. I left it alone.

I went for a hike on the trails.

When I got back, I had resolved to get a box and move the mice outside. I went back to the bathroom to check on them.

I found a streak of fresh blood where one had been, it's flattened, mangled body a few inches away, jammed under a closed door. I found two others behind another door, also flattened and bloody.

I had seen only two, there must have been another behind a door somewhere.

I'm guessing someone, some kid, stomped on them.

I whistled Flee as a bird as I walked away from the bathroom.

I thought of Robin Williams recent suicide. A Fresh Air interview with him was replayed, a bit with the punchline: "Life is not for everybody."

But those mice weren't given a chance. They could have been saved. They didn't have to die violently, by murder, for no purpose other than that they perhaps annoyed someone.

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Journal: Lewis River dreams

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-14

Two dream scenes:

1) IMF associated with old growth trees, as if reserves were symbolized by the giant, 1000-year-old living trunks.

Is this how they think of reserves? I don't. Money reserves are artificial, human-invented, not natural like the trees.

2) My right hand being eaten by a fish, caught in the big fish's mouth, entirely inside the ring of the teeth. I awoke feeling pain in my right hand, trapped under a thigh.

Dream as a somatic warning.

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Journal: Island Camp dreams

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-15
Island Camp, WA

Two dream memories:

1) I was female. I was in a multi-story department store. My right arm would shiver periodically, and an amphibian-like creature, writhing, green, long-legged (like a frog), would come twitching out from my sleeve at a fast speed; it would shoot towards the floor, tumbling, then bound off somewhere. The offshoots springing from my (right) arm were different sizes, though all of the same general form (amphibian-like) and color (green on top, whitish belly).

I have a vivid memory of looking down at one as it emerged, at a greater speed than gravity would have given it had it just been falling from my shoulder's height; it felt as if it had squirted out from an aperture, a slit, somewhere on my upper arm, which I could not see because I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt (blouse?). The creature was falling beyond my sleeve upside-down, its whitish lizard-like belly at an angle slanted upwards, towards my head; its head cocked, its neck turned so it was making eye contact with me as it descended backwards towards the floor.

I was moving between floors in the department store, taking the stairs. I was trying to hide these amphibian births from the store security. I felt that if someone saw me squirting out these frog-like creatures, something bad would happen. It was embarrassing, if nothing else.

I had no control over the births.

---

Dream interpretation:

Day residue: I saw a frog a few days ago. And some tadpoles a day or so after that, a couple days ago. I still think of the salamanders I saw in a pond in the Willipa Hills, a few weeks ago.

I was feeling a lot of insect bites, or what I took to be insect bites, during the night before the dream. After waking up I scratched my upper right arm, wondering if there was an insect there giving birth?

I thought of the dream I had a few nights ago, in which my right hand was being bitten by a large fish. When I woke from that dream my hand was trapped under a thigh, being painfully squeezed. Was this latest dream some kind of somatic warning, as well?

Another interpretation:

The live births were memes, pushed out from my right arm as it wrote them down on paper. The memes (ideas, thoughts, written words) were dangerous to the employees of the business-oriented environment I was in, so I tried to hide. What I was outputting was out of place in the sterile, cut-and-dried world of the department store. My production was disruptive, disturbing, weird, uncontrolled.

2) Second dream memory:

I was consorting with a rich person, a businessman. He showed me a card with some ideas on it, asked my opinion. I wrote in my reactions on the card. He seemed interested. He was busy, and left. When he said goodbye I felt a sense of loss, as if I should have pressed him for further meetings about my ideas; why didn't he hire me, pay me a salary, give me some money for my contributions (which definitely interested him) so I could have a decent standard of living instead of living way below the poverty line.

Later I saw something produced by the rich man's company. It was the same card he had showed me, and my ideas and scribbles were on it. He had photocopied the card with my contributions and was distributing it. I wasn't credited. He appeared to be making money from the card. I wasn't.

Interpretation: A businessman takes my ideas and profits from them, without crediting of paying me. I'm not pushy, so I don't ask when I have the chance to be part of the business.

User Journal

Journal: Recorder

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-15

Island Camp, WA

I've been playing the recorder a lot. A group occupying the shelter at this campsite left this morning, so I have the camp to myself. Yesterday they left in one car during the day, so I practiced then too. But it's better when I'm not worried about them returning.

I practice "Paper Doll", "When The Saints Go Marching In", "It Don't Mean A Thing", "Someday", "Basin Street Blues", "All of Me", "Don't Fence Me In", "Do, A Deer" (in different keys), "Blue Skies" (just started today), "Summertime", and a Boogie Woogie bassline.

I'm trying to get a prettier, less breathy sound, especially in the high notes. I think I hit a high B today. High G I can get fairly consistently now, high A is more iffy.

It's nice, playing with the birds, squirrels, deer. Sometimes I start playing and birds start chirping.

I'm learning how to use breath control to make notes and phrases swing.

---

I recorded three or four songs on my phone. But I can't transfer them to the computer. I was able to before; it was fairly straightforward: email the 3gp sound file to myself, then download it and convert it into mp3 format using Audacity. However, on a different computer (Windows 8), I am no longer able to play the 3gp audio files: they are silent, or don't transfer at all, or don't show any waveform when imported into Audacity. The 3gp files play on my phone, but that's it.

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Journal: Lewis River

Journal by blue trane

2014-7-12

Lewis River

Bathed in the upper Lewis River today. The water was cold, but the air temperature was in the 90s. I thoroughly washed my feet and splashed water over all the rest of my body.

Yesterday I hiked a trail through old growth forest from the Upper Falls (on the Lewis River) to the Middle Falls, and back. Again the temperature was close to 90 degrees, so I took my shirt off. I crossed at least six or seven groups, a lot of them women.

One group had five or six women and one little boy. The boy had his shirt off, like me. When I crossed them the second time (on the way back), one girl looked like she wanted to take her shirt off, too.

It is exhilerating, finding an isolated place in the forest where I can walk naked, playing the recorder...

I spent the first night of this trip on the east end of the Swift Reservoir. I started the night in a tent, but I was right next to the water, and it was so humid the inside of the tent smelled moldy and the sides were wet. So I pulled my pads and sleeping bag out and slept on a tarp outside. The tarp was covered with dew drops by morning. Luckily the morning brought sunshine and hot weather so I dried everything out.

Second night, on the Upper Lewis River, I tried the tent again. But it smelled of plastic and was making me feel tense all over. After sunset I pulled out the pads and sleeping bag again, to sleep on a tarp next to the tent. This time it wasn't humid.

Third night: I slept in the tent. The plastic smell seemed less after airing it out all day. It kept the bugs off me. In the morning I noticed some congested sinuses which I didn't have when I slept with no tent outside...

User Journal

Journal: Some figures on the housing bubble 1

Journal by blue trane

http://www.milkeninstitute.org/pdf/riseandfallexcerpt.pdf provides some numbers:

The total value of housing units in the United
States amounts to $19.3 trillion, with $10.6 trillion
in mortgage debt and the remaining $8.7 trillion
representing equity in those units as of June 2008.

Of the approximately 80 million houses in the
United States, 27 million are paid off, while the
remaining 53 million have mortgages. Of those
households with mortgages, 5 million (or 9 percent)
were behind in their payments and roughly 3
percent were in foreclosure as of mid-2008.

So, say 10% of $10.6 trillion was at risk of default, or $1 trillion.

The notional amount of CDS
increased from less than $1 trillion in 2001 to slightly
more than $62 trillion in 2007, before declining to
$47 trillion on October 31, 2008.

So the derivative market inflated the real value of the mortgages by about a factor of 6, and then magnified the size of the possible default problem by a factor of 15.

I'm reminded of a sentence from John Lanchester's book, I.O.U. (another journal of mine on the book):

"Even once it's explained, however, it still seems wholly contrary to common sense that the market for products that derive from real things should be unimaginably vaster than the market for the things themselves."

Note that the total value of derivatives, according to the May 2014 BIS Statistical Release, was $710 trillion. So the $62 trillion 2007 figure has been increased by a factor of 10, again.

---

The Fed bought up trillions of the MBS assets, thereby letting off the hook the CDS holders who had insured them, I think. Pension funds held a lot of CDSes, so a SIGTARP report stated that it was prompted to action to save retirement accounts. Yet when Detroit experienced a dramatic increase in its liabilities due to an interest-rate swap with UBS, the Fed and the national government did not step in to help. Why not?

Fed Chairman Bernanke stated somewhere that helping state and local governments were too political for the Fed to get involved in. So it is the realm of fiscal policy. Why couldn't he say outright that the government can run a deficit to help out state and local governments? It worked for the Fed helping banks; why shouldn't it work for the government helping states and cities?

User Journal

Journal: The Trolls 81

Journal by Tom

Wow, it's been 15 years but I've finally got my own personal troll! :-)

I must apologize to everyone I've ever called a troll now that I've seen a real one. Yeah, there are trollish comments, but this... it's a different league. If you ever wondered who these brain-damaged morons were who set up geocities homepages with blinking purple text on blue background with red dots in Comic Sans - that kind of different league.

Now it does make me wonder about trolls in general. Has there been a study on this? I really wonder if psychologists have tackled this because quite honestly, you cannot be mentally stable and post in this and this content at the same time. So I do wonder if trolls on the Internet (the real trolls, not the people occasionally posting something stupid) do have a mental problem. It definitely looks like it. Probably insecurity issues, definitely an exaggerated need for attention, might be related to borderline syndrome or schizoprenia.

And, of course, the Internet provides:

As someone who has had to deal with family members suffering from mental illness, let me tell you that it's not funny. So despite the fact that they are, in fact, obnoxious, aggravating assholes, these sad little fucks also need help and their miserable little existence is not something you'd want to trade for yours, no matter how much you think your life sucks. Trust me, with a mental illness on top, it'll suck more.

Obviously, we can't offer therapy to people who usually comment anonymously and will often go to great lengths to avoid being tracked down. What we can do, however, is get a better understanding for how they act this way (they can't help it, mental illness is stronger than your conscious mind) and that the best thing we can do for them is to not continue the feedback loop. "Don't feed the trolls" - old wisdom there.

The last link in that list contains a few more ideas.

Now that I'm at the end, I kind of regret the smiley face at the top. But I'm leaving it in because this journal entry is a bit of a journey, even if it is short. Thanks to some Internet resources, a bit of research and connecting the dots, I've come a short way, changing my mind a little on this particular sub-sub-sub-part of life.

-----

A short additional statement on how to treat trolling. From what I've gathered from the resources above, a few comments (both here and in the various spammed threads) and my own life experience:

First, don't feed the trolls. Most of them seek attention, so if you stop giving it to them, they become frustrated and go away. Notice that they seek attention, not validation. A rebuke or an angry rant or even a shootout of personal insults satisfies them as much as anything else. Much like the old PR saying "there is no negative publicity", it is all about the attention itself, not about its content.

Second, stand your ground. Do not leave the site or stop commenting just because you're being trolled. It takes a bit to do that, yes. Trolls consider it a "victory" if they shut you up, either by simple flooding or by frustrating you enough to disappear. In their twisted minds, it gives them validation and somehow proves that they were right.

Third, if you see someone else being trolled, give them support. Doesn't take much - a single sentence is more than enough. Someone under attack by a real troll is being flooded. The troll will commonly post under multiple aliases or otherwise attempt to appear as more than one person. Psychological experiments such as Solomon Asch's show how we humans as social animals experience conformance pressure. So give that other person support by showing him that the flood he's getting is no the only opinion around. It doesn't matter if he consciously knows it's just one troll, the pressure is subconscious.

-----

I'd like to have comments disabled on this journal entry, for obvious reasons, but you can't publish a journal entry with comments disabled, so... 1000:1 bet that he's stalking the journal as well and will add his drivel below?

Also, if the formatting looks atrocious, turn off beta and revert to classic. Seriously.

User Journal

Journal: Privacy and Secrecy 9

Journal by ShieldW0lf

These two concepts are presented as being synonymous in popular discussion. A "You can't have one without the other." kind of thing.

This concerns me greatly.

I could write at great length about the threat secrecy poses to human culture, and have before, but that's not what I'm going to do right now.

I've had conversations in the past where I claimed people never had privacy in the first place, that between the government and the schools and the banks and credit card companies and whatnot, their movements and activities have been monitored since the day they were born.

But this was never precisely right. Because privacy doesn't require secrecy. That is what I want to talk about.

First, a couple of illustrations:

When you go to the bathroom, it's not a secret what you're going in there for. We know you're going in there to release waste. You know that we know. But we would generally agree that this gives you privacy.

When you live with roommates, and you take your special someone to your room and hang a tie on the door, we know what you're in there for. You know that we know. But you still feel a sense of privacy, and you still do what you went in there to do.

So. What makes these situations private, when they're not even vaguely secret?

The lack of a requirement to interact.

It's a matter of social decorum. Good manners.

At the end of the day, I don't really care that you know I took a dump. What I care about is that I don't have to carry on a conversation about it. I don't even want to have the "conversation of the eyes". I want to forget, for a moment, that you exist.

I don't think I'm exceptional in this regard.

So, clearly, you can have privacy without secrecy.

Let's examine something a little more pervasive.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 15 years, you're probably familiar with the "Reality TV" concept.

These people are living in a fishbowl. They have no secrets, and they know it.

But you can clearly see that, despite this, they will seek out a space where they are physically alone so they can have some privacy. And you can clearly see them relax, because their need for privacy has been fulfilled.

Why? There are likely more people observing them that ever before... how can they possibly feel like they have privacy?

The answer is, they don't need to react to you. They don't need to respond to things you say. That automatic reflex we have to decipher what your eyes are saying never kicks in. That is what they really crave.

So. One more illustration. Not even anecdotal. Could not tell you when or where I heard this, but here goes:

The story is, there is an Asian culture where everyone is packed in so tightly, and their building construction affords them no secrecy because their walls are so thin that a man walking past your house can see and hear right through your rice paper walls.

Nevertheless, these people successfully find the privacy they need. Because they do not react to things that are none of their business. They know their place.

There is a lesson here for us.

We are grappling with a real problem in our civilization. We have forged tools with the power to extend our senses further than our great grandparents could have ever dreamed. But we have not yet demonstrated the maturity to handle it.

The result of this is that there is a small class of people who have access to vast amounts of information about everyone, and a large class of people who have very little access and what access they have has been carefully chosen to control their opinions.

The small class of people and the large class of people are both fighting to preserve this state of affairs. The large class are defending the "right to secrecy" because they feel they are fighting to protect their privacy from their ill mannered fellows. The small class are defending the right to secrecy because they have an unfair advantage over their fellows and they wish to preserve that state of affairs.

Simultaneously, you have people who are fighting for "transparency", because they recognize the unfair advantage that is held by a group that seeks to control them, and they wish that unfair advantage erased.

In this way, we are turned against ourselves by those who would rule us.

I've argued this point exhaustively in online forums under my standard pseudonym, and have been jeered at, and invited to publish my real name, address and banking information.

This is what we're up against. I've got skeletons in my closet, same as everyone. I'm flawed, but I'm confident I'm no more flawed than any of you. If the veils of secrecy came crashing down for one and all, I'm confident that it would be impossible for anyone to attack my character and reputation without being seen for a gross hypocrite.

But, to go first is to allow hypocrites to destroy you, and to fail in your attempt to address the problem.

It's a difficult problem. I'm not sure how to get from where we are to where I believe we need to be. I see it as a real possibility that we will destroy our own potential to grow beyond the limitations of our fragile flesh rather than develop the maturity to cope with this situation.

However, I think that creating a sense of the distinction between privacy and secrecy is an essential step towards having a dialog that will lead us there.

Thank you for reading.

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Journal: Soylent News 4

Journal by TheRaven64

I've not been posting on Slashdot much this week, because I've been trying out Soylent News, which is using (and old version of) Slashcode (with some improvements) and lacks corporate overlords. It seems to have captured most of what I like about discussions in Slashdot, although is suffering slightly from not having nearly as many active users (50 or so comments is still the norm and it probably needs 100+ to be sustainable).
If you've not visited yet, I'd recommend giving it a go.

I'm TheRaven over there.

User Journal

Journal: Web pages jumping around

Journal by blue trane

I was just reading the introduction to an article on Slashdot's front page. Suddenly, the page refreshed, and reloaded leaving me with a view of the top of the site. I had lost my place, my concentration, and the train of thought I was engaged in.

The early internet wasn't like this. Now, when a page loads it jumps around. So I start reading some text, and suddenly an ad above the area loads, and the text jumps off the screen.

This happens even on wikipedia.

Is it a deliberate strategy on the part of advertisers to get you to notice their ads?

Is it an unintended consequence of loading pages in parts, not leaving enough space for the top parts?

Is my viewing experience not important to the developers?

Whatever, it is really annoying to me when i'm reading something and then suddenly the browser moves it out of my view.

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Journal: Paradise Cove 1

Journal by blue trane

January 5, 2014

One of the main goals of this road trip was to visit the site of Rockford's trailer.

In the 1970s, according to the evidence in the Rockford Files, Paradise Cove had free public access to the public beach. In one episode (The Queen of Peru) a motor home parks next to Rockford's trailer and Rockford, despite being annoyed by the kids' noise-making, nevertheless tells the father that he has a right to park there since it's a public beach.

Today, Paradise Cove seems to have been fully privatized. The Paradise Cove Cafe charges for beach access ($20 for walk-in, $30 for beach parking). There is a large trailer park in the Cove which now covers the hills behind Rockford's trailer, which in the 1970s were wild. In one episode, Rocky runs up the hill behind the trailer; today there are fences and roads and signs saying "No access to the General Public".

Things were better in 1970s pre-Reagan America.

I liked Rockford because money didn't faze him. He met a lot of very rich people, but he didn't want what they had. At the ends of lots of episodes he gets stiffed out of his fee or reward money; his reaction is invariably to laugh it off. Sometimes he wins, and celebrates. When he doesn't though he doesn't lose his cool. Money played some part in the game Rockford played, but it wasn't the goal. He didn't worship money or use it to keep score.

Another reason I like The Rockford Files is the sunshine under which a lot of the outdoor shots were filmed. It's 75 degrees here in the middle of winter. Looking at maps in the chilly Pacific Northwest, I wanted to see what some warm weather felt like. Today I went for a swim!

Some more pictures of Paradise Cove, and also the mudrock (?) formations in the adjacent Santa Monica hills, are in this folder of road trip pictures.

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Journal: Stockton

Journal by blue trane

"The Miwok Indians lived in the Central Valley among the delta's waterways, using them for food and transportation." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockton,_California)

Stockton is a shock after coming from Indian Grinding Rock Park, where the Miwok ground acorns.

The park was relatively quiet, and the air was fresh. Lots of trees.

Stockton is industrialized, with a constant sound of trucks and trains. I'm in a Motel 6, next to a large trucking yard. All through the night trucks drove past. There's also a garbage dump down the road.

I went for a run to get out of the room which was giving me a headache. I passed an electric traffic warning sign on a small trailer, alerting drivers to a street closure. The end date of the closure was 12/31/2013; it's 1/4/2014 now. So they haven't taken away the out-of-date warning sign. Symptomatic of the city's budget problems?

I should have stayed at the park campsite. The charge was $30, and I didn't have it in cash.

This city reinforces the feeling that western civilization has gone completely wrong, and the Miwok had a better idea of how to live. The air was fresh in the park; here, back in the motel room, already the headache is coming back.

What if we had not overrun the Miwok in the mad rush for gold? Things could have been done differently; white settlers could have coexisted with the Indians, mutually benefited. Civilization could have brought technology but learned to keep population down and live in balance with the environment. We could have had a much more utopian setting instead of the Stockton that exists today.

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Journal: Burr

Journal by blue trane

From "Burr", by Gore Vidal, page 420:

An usher opened the front door. In the muddy courtyard, a groom stood with my horse. Jefferson looked at me curiously. "I must say that I had rather thought you would be coming back to live here."

"To this house?" I asked most pleasantly.

"Why not? But I meant to Washington City, to this Congress, representing one of the western states."

"It is still a possibility."

"You ought not to waste yourself, Colonel."

"I do not think that it is I who have done the wasting."

Jefferson blushed; and bade me farewell.

From Matthew Davis's biography of Burr (in the Preface):

I soon discovered that Colonel Burr was far more tenacious of his military, than of his professional, political, or moral character. His prejudices against General Washington were immoveable. They were formed in the summer of 1776, while he resided at headquarters; and they were confirmed unchangeably by the injustice which he said he had experienced at the hands of the commander-in-chief immediately after the battle of Long Island, and the retreat of the American army from the city of New-York. These grievances he wished to mingle with his own history; and he was particularly anxious to examine the military movements of General Washington on different occasions, but more especially at the battle of Monmouth, in which battle Colonel Burr commanded a brigade in Lord Stirling's division.

Further on:

Four days after, viz., the 28th of June, the battle of Monmouth was fought. It was on this occasion that General Washington ordered the arrest of General Lee: 1stly, For disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy on the 28th of June, agreeably to repeated instructions; 2dly, For misbehaviour before the enemy on the same day, by making an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat; 3dly, For disrespect to the commander-in-chief, in two letters, dated the 20th of June. On the 12th of August the courtmartial, of which Lord Stirling was president, found Lee guilty, and sentenced him to be suspended from any command in the armies of the United States for the term of twelve months. The history of the battle of Monmouth, with all the consequences that followed, has long since been given to the world by the friends and the opponents of the respective parties. It is only necessary to state here, that Colonel Burr, on that occasion, was ranked among the supporters of Lee, and had himself real or imaginary cause of complaint against the commander-in-chief.

In this action Colonel Burr commanded a brigade in the division of Lord Stirling, composed of his own regiment and some Pennsylvanians, under the immediate command of Lieutenant-colonel Dummer. Gordon, in his History of the American Revolution, says, "The check the British received gave time to make a disposition of the left wing and second line of the main army in the wood, and on the eminence to which he had been directed and was retreating. On this were placed some batteries of cannon by Lord Stirling, who commanded the left wing, which played upon the British with great effect, and, seconded by parties of infantry detached to oppose them, effectually put a stop to their advance. The British, finding themselves warmly opposed in front, attempted to turn the American left flank, but were repulsed."

Shortly after the action had become general, Burr discovered a detachment of the enemy coming from the borders of a wood on the southward. He instantly put his brigade in motion for the purpose of checking them. It was necessary to cross a morass, over which a bridge was thrown. He ordered Lieutenant-colonel Dummer to advance with the Pennsylvania detachment, and that he would bring up the rear with his own regiment. After a part of the brigade was over the bridge, Colonel Barber, aid to General Washington, rode up, and said that the orders of the commander-in-chief were that he should halt. Colonel Burr remonstrated. He said his men, in their present position, were exposed to the fire of the enemy, and that his whole brigade must now cross the bridge before they could halt with any safety. Colonel Barber repeated that the orders of General Washington were peremptory that he should halt, which was accordingly done, and the brigade, in their divided state, suffered severely. Lieutenant-colonel Dummer was killed; Colonel Burr's horse was shot under him; and those who had crossed the bridge were compelled to retreat.

So, Burr had the feeling of being wasted those in command over him at Monmouth.

(More on the Battle of Monmouth: http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-monmouth.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Monmouth.Dean.USMA.edu.history.gif)

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