Privacy, right . . .

In an amazing statement, a person bilked out of $1200 in a Face Book scam claims “It’s an invasion of your whole privacy, who your friends are,”.  Well, what the hell was I thinking?  I was/am under the impression that facebook is a private company that elicts millions of people to publicize their private lives. 

What I don’t understand is how something that is public can be private too?  According to Wikipedia’s definition on internet privacy policies there are European and US standards but each site also has its own set of guidelines and firewalls to protect the user.  Still, once I agree to open up something like face book or twitter and begin rattling off information about myself and my friends haven’t I tacitly agreed that information about my life is now open to the public?

 Yes, there’s that and then there’s this:

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Mixed Martial Arts

How, and more importantly why, has this sport over the last fifteen years become so popular that people wear tee shirts showing the splattered winner’s faces and set up viewing parties at home?  One answer that I’ve read explains that it all began in New York city with formation of the something called the UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championships.  But Wikipedia presents a slightly different explanation, one that may be related to the David Mamet film, Red Belt.  It claims it all started in So Cal with the famous Brazilian martial arts family, the Gracies in collaboration with film maker John Milius. 

Whatever its origins, I personally hold it started with the Romans and probably explains the popularity of such weak film fare as Gladiator.   1993 seems to be the beginning of the current phenomenon.  According to the history of the UFC, gathering enthusiastic competitors from all kinds of fighting sports, the spectacles quickly became competitive events fought in an arena shaped like an Octagon.

 

The octagonal competition mat and cage design are registered trademarks and/or trade dress of Zuffa, LLC and are symbolic of the highest quality mixed martial arts events brought to you under the Ultimate Fighting Championship® brand name.  In 1993, UFC events were the first to feature an eight-sided competition configuration which has become known worldwide as the UFC Octagon™
 
The UFC Octagon is unique from any other fighting arena because the octagonal shape and structure have become inherently associated with Zuffa and the UFC brand name among mixed martial arts consumers, other mixed martial arts organizations and the national media.  The UFC Octagon is regularly featured on UFC Pay-per-view events, UFC® Fight Night™ and The Ultimate Fighter® reality TV series.  The UFC Octagon creates a neutral arena to showcase the skills of UFC mixed martial arts athletes. The UFC organization has established a reputation for providing the maximum safety to the fighters with commission approved ring structures, canvas, and all safety padding and fences.  Zuffa makes major investments to ensure the safety of competitors in the UFC Octagon — as a result, when people see the Octagon they associate it with the reputation and quality delivered only by Zuffa at UFC events.  
Add Las Vegas, males aged 18-34 and their companions, to beer drinking, football loving, and bet craziness and real Americans have apparently found their match.  Fight clubbing, clamoring for more wars, as long as they don’t actually have to enlist, the current followers of this sport brook no interference to their “god-given” right to watch other people beat themselves into bloody unconsciousness.  And then they sit idly by, as Micheal Vick is sent to jail.
What is it in our psychological makeup that somehow does see this violence for what it is?  In this dissertation, I found the following to be of interest:
Ernest Becker is a psychologically oriented anthropologist who focuses on fear of physical death as the mainspring of human behavior. He sees himself as continuing to develop Jung’s idea of the projection of the shadow, but he very emphatically argues that this shadow that is projected is a rejected awareness of one’s mortality. Because human beings are animals, we are mortal. But we also have highly developed brains that give us an ability to be self-conscious and to anticipate the future. We can see that death is our eventual fate, but because we are animals who are basically narcissistic, we want to be immortal. This clash between what we want and what we know is coming overwhelms us. It disturbs us so much that we invent all sorts of personal and social lies in our efforts to somehow pretend that we are immortal. One of the lies we tell ourselves is that if we can triumph over our enemies, we can rise above the limitations of our condition. We can project the shadow, that awareness of our mortality that we have repressed into our unconscious, onto the enemies or the scapegoats we attack in an attempt to prove that they will die and we will not. At root, violence against others is an effort to avoid facing one’s own mortality with existential honesty and courage.
Which brings to mind the film Rollerball and the conflict between the Oligarchs who run/own the games (See Las Vegas) and the players like Jonathan E who enjoy the competition for its own sake.
Am I getting anywhere with all of this?  Will any of what I think change the yearly income of millions this pay-per-view event earns or shift the viewers to whom I appeal for rationality to another choice?  Probably not.  Do I wish someone would comment on my original question?  Most def.

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Stimulus check, ho

Yes, you can read that anyway you want to.  But the point is that I got my (wait for it) . . . letter telling how much my stimulus check will be and where on line I can go to find out where the hell it is.  That sure sort of stimulated  me.

Especially since I am sort of floating between the save it all in the Emergency Fund and the spend part of it to buy something I have been putting off getting for about a year.

Like most music-heads of my generation, making tapes was what you did.  But as technology evolved, and like, has gotten, well, different, I have moved away from making my own.  I used to listen to music all the time back when FM meant free from commercials music.  But these days of promos instead of honest reviews and downloads and Ipods and MP3s just feel fake to me.  Plastic in the old sense of the word.

When I saw the Crosely CD Recorder though, my mind went immediately to the treasured 300 albums I still have stored safely in my workroom.  I could splice some great stuff was my first thought.  But my second thought was to impose the 10 second rule while pondering what else I could do with the $300 out of pocket.  At that time my ING savings were earning 3.4% so adding $300 to the 5k already there would bring in about $15 a month compounded.  Not bad.  Plus,  well that was it for the pluses. 

So I went ahead and hesitated.   Seven months went by and every time I was in Target or Linens & Things I somehow found an excuse to check to see if it was still there and maybe on sale.  Target dropped its price twice, once by $10 and once by $25.  Still . . .

Then came the news of the Stimulus Checks.  Whoa!  Since the money was extra I could just treat it like found money, right?  Plus, ING was now down to 3% and falling.  So now I was looking at $9 a month compounded that I wouldn’t earn.  Okay then, this was my emergency/special occasion fund wasn’t it?  All systems were go but somehow I found reasons for not.  Damn, how did I turn so frugal?

Fate, meanwhile seemed to be working the situation too.  My check is being sent in the July cycle.  Gas prices show no sign of falling, the economy be heading deeper into a recession followed by a spectacular inflationary period and now is not the time to slip down the slope.

And then I saw it.  Posted in the window for all, and especially me, to see.  20% off on your first purchase when you sign up for our Linens & Things store credit card.  Uh oh!  that is $60.  My dream for just $240 of found money, I’ll pay the credit card off right in the store.  

I’ll only lose out on $240 worth of interest earning but I will gain that in pleasure just in compiling my first CD.  I think I am going for it.  Come July or high water, that is.

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Let’s Get Stuffed

JD over at getrichslowly.org  sparked a little controversy with the we-are-Number-One-crowd last week when he posted this chapter from the Story of Stuff.  The offence taken certainly indicates how screwed up this whole consumer thing has gotten.  For one thing, we are all tied into the process through our economics (social capitalism) and our economy (the free market) and our politics (based in a fear of communism) and our religion (the failure to recogize the atheist in all of us).  So any discussion of this kind leads almost inevitably to arguements and anger and dismissal of the original idea which was that we all have too much stuff.

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Cars and Trucks

Sophistication has its limits even in the US of A.  Apparently so does Hudibras.  So the news last week from GM was as much surprising as it was long over do:
GM announced plans at its annual stockholders meeting today for new company strategies designed to “aggressively respond” to this increasing demand for fuel-efficient cars that the North American consumer can afford. The company will be focusing on a series of efforts aimed at cutting costs, eliminating jobs, and limiting its dependency on truck and SUV sales.

Unfortunately, the good comes with some bad. Since it is always about profit, and not very often the workers, nothing in the announcement mentions plans for reeducation, or transitional support for the unemployed thousands as four plants will close by 2010.

Investors cheered the decision, sending the company’s stock up about 2 percent in early trading.

What makes this news a Loser is that this decision smacks of not being about what is right and sustainable for the economy but what self-serves the interests of Wall Street and by extention we the stock holders.  Because no matter how you cut it, we are caught up in a web of our own making.  We have to consume, we need to make money, we are invested in the very corporations that we know have only self interest at heart.

Contrast that to this kind of story of a Winner from Alex at YBwhoUR?  It’s about an inventor named Matt Shumaker and his motor bike.  It’s an example of what each and every company should be using as a reason for being.  What do people need not what can we sell them. 

I think that a long time ago that was the way it must have been.  Then came the Mad Men, and the idea that the business of business was making money first and useful products second or even third.  Excessiveness meant success.  The more you made the more you could sell became the business model.  And it worked in two ways.  One, to show that we are a successful and abundant country where everyone has a chance to have more and more stuff.  Two, to set up a way of producing things that explained why we needed to be powerful enough militarily to enforce ourselves upon the rest of the world when the need arose. 

So now, even as we look at the younger generation as the ones who will have to solve this problem, we may be facing, are facing the possibility, that all the excess is about to come back and overwhelm us.  Unless, of course, GM is not too late and then, well, . . . ?

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Changing Venues

I have decided to go back to Blogger for now for a variety of reasons, most of which you can read here at www.itaintthemustard.blogspot.com.   I hope this doesn’t confuse the issue too much but for the time being it is what it is.  Please come visit or at least comment if you will about the change.

Whew!  If you read the above then you’ll have to wonder what is going on now.  The truth, I love, itaintthemustard but I do truly hate the way Blogger is set up.   Too cranky, too unreliable, too lacking in the smooth and articulate ways of wordpress.  So I think I’ll just have to make do here until I can afford an alternative.

So yes I am back.  Ignore the first paragraph, if you will.

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Weekly Tags, # 7

On one of the blogs I frequent for the discussions the talk of late has been about the power less ness of the blogoshpere.  Or rather the way the blogosphere can sap the energy from acting by just blogging about acting.  One meme that appeared was the apparent lack of cross cultural exchange, ie., that everything we see (I see) comes to us through a westernized point of view.  So like a born-rich person really can’t say that they understand poverty, we can’t really say we understand what the rest of the world is really going through.  It is a point of view that is hard to deny but doesn’t seem right nevertheless.  Take for example, this blog I found on Memorial Day.  Trace back the links from the commenters and you should see what I mean.

Right now I am listening to UBUWEB.  Kenneth Goldsmith taking me through a collection of sounds and thoughts from the years 1983 to 1993.  I may not be getting cross cultural but I am crossing time cultures.

It is enough to split your personality which may be what is going on here at the SchizoFrenetic site.  With a point of view on the marketplace but quite definitely aware of the political arena too, our careerist Zak gives me quite a bit of cross culturality too.

But this site represents my week travels best I think because the week included T and I heading up to West Hollywood to listen to Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge read from their writings.  Walking the streets with people of the same sex and comfortable in themselves with themselves has to be as cross cultural as you can get in this country that still has some doubts about who we all are.

My final mention for this week is TED talks.  I was pointed to it after beginning to read Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight.  Technology, Entertainment, Design is a site that disproves the point of view that the internet doesn’t represent action by doing what it is about.  Grown out of a 1984 conference in Long Beach it now sponsors international array of speakers at the annual and sold out meeting.

The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.

In addition, TEDGlobal sponsors world wide activities, and the TED Prize offers $100,000 each to three conferees to a wish to “change the world.” 

Blogging may seem like a static exercise from where one can yell, laugh, cry, and piss and moan from the silence of your lonely room but as I hope you can see from the journeys above that ain’t the half of it.

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