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Longreads 2015 #1

The Agency is a NY Times Magazine piece by Adrian Chen on the hunt for a Russian-run "Troll Farm". It is interesting. Brew some coffee and take a rather long read. When you finish (or decide you want to skip to the end), read below (which begins by quoting the end of the piece):







I had practice, after all, from my months spent on the trail of the Internet Research Agency. I Googled the various Russian spellings of my name every hour to catch the latest posts as soon as they surfaced on LiveJournal and VKontakte. I searched Twitter for the URL of the YouTube video to catch every post.A few days later, Soshnikov chatted with me on Skype. “Did you see an article about you on FAN?” he asked. “They know you are going to publish a loud article, so they are trying to make you look stupid in front of the Russian audience.”

I explained the setup, and as I did I began to feel a nagging paranoia. The more I explained, the more absurd my own words seemed — the more they seemed like exactly the sort of elaborate alibi a C.I.A. agent might concoct once his cover was blown. The trolls had done the only thing they knew how to do, but this time they had done it well. They had gotten into my head."

This is just adding another node on the network requesting the same information.
Making it higher-ranking.  More searched.
You cannot observe the thing without changing it.

You're not just part of the solution, you're also part of the problem.

The things is that as we go forward and stop making sense, you won't find the ability to tell the difference so clear as that old saying.  That's the thing about old sayings-- often they are as much about the contemplation as they are about the direct conclusion.

Then again, so too with all things, yes?

I'm back at home with my own coffee.
Thanks again to those who've hosted me over the holidays, but my coffee is better.
For me.
Your coffee is thin and bitter by thirds or too noisy by half or too metal or too dark or too light or too mixed up and blue.
Just the way all other beds are too hard or too light or too dark or too light or too shaped not at all right by the other occasional guests in the house.

When we all look for the same thing it becomes easy to find, though the things we might look harder for offer more reward.
Or at least a different way on through to nowhere so unique that we can't leave the details up to each reading mind.
To mine is the thing while sitting while walking while reading again.  While writing and seeing and believing in self
Whether or not it can be explained as an individual or a piece of a manifestation of a bigger thing like an iceberg
Or a different thing like a will-o'-the-wisp or an anglerfish.

How is what we each see choreographed around us?
How is it pre-/self-selected/curated/managed/edited/sorted/remembered?

And then what does it say if we all do it the same way or if we come to different conclusions about what is around us?
What is more likely and which is more true?

Perhaps the reason it is on the list is due to how many times it was read... or some rather than no relation to it being on this list.
Perhaps this means something rather than nothing.  But by virtue of it being on this list, it is now more of either nothing or something.

It's a cold world out there...

But then again as we walk we release heat.  We burn fuel.  We move we eat.
Are we making it warmer or colder?  We breed we create more of us to do more of "us".
Are we making it warmer or colder?
Are we asking the right question?
Are there wrong questions to ask?

Heavens, hell we go again on our own.
2016 A New Year.
I will read more things from 2015.
Aka "The Past."
With apologies to Mitch Hedberg:
"Every[thing you read] is from the past".

Which means everything you write is
A message for the future.

We all knew time-traveling was possible.
So possible we'd forgotten we'd already done it.
That we do it whenever we read and write and discuss.
Our past selves so near that the person we're with remembers too.
But by the end we're not ever even the same persons we began as.
So to with the meaning of all things, no?

We try and we try to do our best or our worst and then we're all revealed to have failed or succeeded by the standards of others as/after we pass from this life.
We each could as easily be an elaborate ruse as a truthful direct representation of self.
We then again must return to "What is self" and here we.

A belated toast to all the best we are and were and hope to be.
Whether we ever understand it, it is all we ever mean.

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A Note on Banishmnet

There is a lot of land on earth.

Not as much land as there is water, sure, but there is a whole lot of it. 

Not only is there a lot of it, but there are all kinds of different nations, states, cities, towns, villages, communes, and the like spotting the landscape.  On top of that, there are different cultures, religions, philosophies and laws.  On top of that, there are all of these people.  People everywhere.  Even in places where no people live, people go and visit and check it all out.

So then why would we ever assume that of all possible places, contexts and cultures that the inside of a prison is the best place for anyone?

To use a common example:   Alcohol laws.  There are things which are legal one place and illegal in another.  Consider the dry counties that dot the US (Sometimes w/ enough concentrated dots to qualify as a "swath").  Most penalties in dry counties are relatively minor.

Ramp it up a notch and consider drug laws in the US.  The penalties for marijuana use can be far more punitive.

Now consider the options while disregarding whether you personally believe alcohol and marijuana should be legal or illegal.  Should folks who disagree with you on what constitutes "mostly harmless fun" be put into prison?

Have you ever *been* to a prison?

Perhaps we should reconsider simple exile.  If you are caught and convicted of certain crimes, you are simply not allowed back to the place in which it is illegal.  For example, all those humans driving marijuana out of Colorado to neighboring states could, rather than face jail/prison time can choose to be barred from, say, Oklahoma for life.

Let's consider political prisoners around the globe.  Perhaps a better way forward for everyone is to encourage/choose exile.  Just because there are intractable disagreements does mandate non-coexistence in the world.  Coexistence in the world does not require interaction.

We can argue all day about which crimes this would work for and if there are crimes which demand imprisonment, but the folly of removing people from the whole of the world for things which are illegal in one place and legal in another is troubling.

The notion of "state's rights" in the US has long been code for bigotry and prejudice.  What if, instead, we agreed that we all have differences and that, quite frequently, this is nothing worth going to prison over?  That we can have a broad federal agreement on what the basic laws of the land are without mandating that every place be homogeneous?  What if we can have harsh prohibitions against things based on the values of a community without resorting to depriving humans of their humanity?

We could stand up in our communities for what we believe in while not trampling the rights of others.

The phrase "separate but equal" comes to mind here, but is not quite accurate when we consider the connotations of that phrase.  In this case, we're not sorting by prejudged characteristics, we're sorting by actions and choices.

I'd love for a legal scholar somewhere to tell me why this is an idiotic idea (or at least something which I don't understand fully) and point me to the relevant literature.

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What if...

... the evidence that shows
"fatness" resembles a communicable disease is just representing that fat folks tend to like fat folks and skinny folks tend to like skinny folks?

Exceptions abound, obviously, but there seems to be a correlation/causation thing here.

I mean, one 130lb person around a dozen 360lb persons seems as awkward as one 360lb person around a dozen 130lb persons.

On the other hand, if you have five 300lb men around one 250lb man, you've got an NFL QB and his O-Line entourage.

The one 6' person surrounded by four 6'5" and over persons is a point guard.
The one 6' person surrounded by four 5'9" persons is a center.

If content is king,
context is everything.

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Good Morning

Fellow Early Risers
I see your lights on,
  some flickering.
And now newly some
late-early risers
  still pre-sun though.
Oh, salute to the
Nightowls and the
A nickel's advice
  for free:
Move to NYC.

Us Early Risers
Help ensure birds
  ease the earth
Around again and &.
All around the world
  the truth of bird-
turning all around
  the world.
Or at least on
  the Eastern

It was two hours back
In the black when I
  awoke to think
I wasn't where I
  thought I'd be.
I was on the edge
  of the bed,
You see.  Which is
  not the comfy bit.
So I got up.
Which is hardly the
  lightest thing
To wake me.

Somehow one gets
Used to the cars
  in a city.
Or the semis
  on a "rural route"
  in Pennsylvania.
Or the birds
  in subirdia,
On the other hand(
Or in the other
  mind) the
  inside is
  the same.
  The same misconceptions,
the same quirks of evolution
the same weird biological success
the same types of insight
the same mental failings
the same digestion
the same dreams
the same scars
the same hope
the same me.
    Just a
new set of outside sounds
 to engage with
 when I'm up up
 up before dawn
 wherever I am.
 whenever I am.
 whomever I am.
 whatever I am.

Now alarms go off an lights come on in not-so-distant houses.
These folks who have the gall to think they are early-risers.
Barks issue from impatient dogs, bays from hounds.
Impatient cats make the mewlings over kneaded bread.

How Roman.

The rest of the world seems more awake.
Is this, for me, to be a good or a bad?
What is it for others? What is liberty?
What is freedom?  Are these words which
Comfort us or challenge us? What of the
Word "Security"?

Now later than quarter past six.
How the hours have past.
Now the lights alight.
How the sky becomes all.
Now the hour lights the way.
How the dawn now shapes the day.

Soon the dreaded/lauded lights can go out and instead I can use a distant ball of incredibly hot gas to keep the planet warm and light my way.  Now *that* is a pretty cool deal.  All of the rest of the mucking about we humans do is lightweight compared to this Sun and Earth thing.  Sure, we're designed for the environment in which we exist (how else could it be?  Whether we were shaped by where we existed or designed to exist where we're been placed... this remains the way it must be.) but that a stable enough environment exists to engender long-term communication over time and space through text, video, radio, wired internet, wireless everything... that is... something remarkable.

And we can't tell you what our purpose is other than that we are what we are.
Nor can an ant tell anyone its purpose.
Nor can an anteater.

And yet there are mounds of ants.
And yet there are cities of people.
And yet there are wars between peoples.
And yet there are wars between ants.

And yet we play sports and have games and feasts.
Roman is in many ways just human.

But not in all.
All feasts are not the same.
Nor all breakfasts, for that matter.

Back to reading before breakfast.
I wonder what I'm making?

I wonder what we're making?

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the view

and this is the view

this is all i've got.

these words and these thoughts.

but in my world, it is all you have too.  your thoughts, your words.  can you turn a phrase, tell a tale spin a yarn? pick a word split a verb change your tense?  punctuate abbreviate bloviate? (the sounds and inhuman grunts you make in response are informative.)

and here i am on my low horse trying to make sense of how or why i push everyone away through opinions crisply stated and arguments passionately made.  inaccurately because i don't know my ass from your mouth.  i mean... i don't know shit about shoot i forgot the point of this potty talk.

this is the way we roll we roll and this is the way we dig our own graves.  breath by breath step by step.  what else must i convey aside form the simple fact that it is hard to make sense of the rest?  the beauty you see may be like maggots to some. the drinks you drink are death not fun to some.  the some arenot some but all to some.  the all are not all but none to some.

how wide is your vision? how deep are your dreams? how small are our lives and is there anything left to hope for.

i write and type i read and i skim.  i work and i work to understand this ridiculous spinning madness i sleep on, walk on, jump off of and land on again despite my best efforts to break free and fly past the oxygen farther and further from the myth of the sun melting my wings and closer and closer to the reality that that is all too calm a description of what a sun would do.  wwjd ain't got shit on wwsd.

but then i go again, making object like people and reverse that to make it more common.  flip it to make it more remarkable.  like a remark one would make.  or,,, here i am remarking on remarking on remarkability.

sic sic sic. i read it. i read it again.  i left it in.  i got no editor, i'm just some non-punk non-kid sitting at his parents' table during a holiday wondering what the hell this all means and why the times i feel most alive are when i'm spitting someone's words back at them all twisted.  or when i'm parroting back a song written by not-me.  or when or when... what is this but a rush of nothing? where is the satisfaction? what is there out in the world that surpasses this measly nothing i am?

we are all nothing-- i'm nothing special in my nothingness.

if this breath is the same as the last then you're already dead.

ozymandias tells me i can build nothing which lasts and all is illusion of permanence.
the illusion of permanence is an illusion of permanence.

i must find a way out of this corner. i lash out and snap out and behave in startling ways sometimes even to myself.  i'm finding disappointment inside and little else of note (though there is definitely some vital bits int he parts left out! like... the kit!).

i'm seven sides of wasted talent with your babyback ribs.
i wish i could roll myself up and smoke me just to see.

i'm done here. the air will never clear.

this is how it comes out. brambled tangled wanting. riffing raffing signing.  standing sitting walking. jumping jumping jumping and hitting my head.  wondering how i'll ever be dead.  but what else instead? the words are all that sing, and i imagine you reading which makes my mind hum and my feet beat the beat.  the notion that there is another any other out there who can help me with what's in here... is tooo much to bear since i've not met that many.  but then again, what do i help with? what am i good for?

i breath.  i supply the plants.  i'll supply the worms when i die.  i'll push the daisies while i lie.


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and now so i publish another piece of shit

Or is this even published if i put it up on a blog that no one reads in the uncharted backwaters of the galaxy?

If i waste all of the work I've put in and the readings and the writings to put these words on the internet for no profit, will you buy me some food tomorrow? Share some wine?

What if I had no talent? What if all I could do was grunt?
Would you be more likely to share or less?

Which is the best or the worst or the way we were or the way we should be?
The way we would be? Is that better? Would based on what? Could based on how?
The best? The worst? We don't even know these words any more.  They are simply chatty talk to be a way of 1 or 0, black or white, fight fight fight.  We gotta know where you stand, otherwise how will we tell where you'll fall when we split open your head and take out it all?

That is, the stands that you take... are they worth your life?
The life that you breathe as your own... is it worth your stands?
But what if instead of taking stands you sit? What if instead of picking sides you know that the divine or ineffable or merely the sense of order or even the sense of entropy that pervades the universe... what if you know that the sense that is there taken is one of non-judgement?  What if rather than the hottest places in hell being reserved for the fencesitters that the hottest place in hell is reserved for every single time you took a stand on anything?

Who the hell said there was a hell?
Who the hell said there wasn't?
What the hell is a hell anyhell?
Just a metaphor? Just a myth?
Then why does it still chill me, despite being brought up without religion?  Why does it still gnaw at me like an unfed pup? The same reason it disappears from me when I look it head-on as I cannot contain the concept.  Or the way that it runs from my side when there are so many other things to mull over.

This is me.  I'm just a guy typing at you.  Or... typing at myself in the future.  Or... typing at us in the future.  Or just typing at the future because I can't reach the past no matter my wingspan or howmany stools I stand upon to reach the cookie jar.

I shout I shout but there's too much to let it all out.  I reach the bottom and still there is more. Unlike Pandora's box which mercifully had a floor.  These words tumble and tumble until the ventilator blues suck them in, clean them up, and spit them out.  But still mine again mine again hit the ore again or again walk away.  Dig into the earth and see what there is.  Fly into the sky and see what there isn't.  Deep into your mind and relax the nothing.

Across the nothing for no one, a wasted effort a shrug.

Naw, this ain't a breakup post... unless I'm breaking up with trying.  Or not-trying.  I can('t) hardly tell the difference anymore. Or is it just that I'm half-trying at everything these days?  Is the future a real thing that I need to concern myself with or is this just some infinite present?  Is the life something I have and is mine or will it just be degifted and was just on loan?  What the heck is a life anyway but a way of describing breathing?

How is your breath today?

Have you been caring for your breath? Deepening, broadening? Understanding the filling? Grasping the emptiness?  Is this just a mental exercise or a physical?  Why do I keep giving false choices?  Why is there a need to speak in questions?  Is there a way to express doubt without a mark that asks?

My breaths might well be pointless, but is that any different from yours? Or the rest of ours?  Or the best of ours?  When we add up the long sum of humans, will breath be anything other than the most important thing we did?

Are we just alchemists turning stars to poop?
Are we just magician's assistants flooding all that surrounds us with ephemera?

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this is what.

This is what, the moment where the clock ticks and i write something profound?
This is what, the breath in which the heart beats until I grasp what surrounds?

This is what, the thought that saves mankind, the action that acts a salve?
This is what, the nothing that begets nothing that begets nothing at all?

This is that, the thing that I excrete on the page and leave for another.
This is that, the shit that I smear on the walls.

when i breathe i breathe all breaths (and so to do you)
when i sleep i sleep all sleeps (and i hope you do too)

when the sun warms the earth, it is all suns.
when the moon lights the night, it is all moons.

there is no place but this. can you make it a happy place?
there is no happy but what you feel. can you make it worth feeling?

how we walk through this time, is how we've walked through all others.
how we wonder and grasp, is how they've all wondered and grasped.

the whole world a single flower, can you show me the way?
the single flower a whole ideal, can you show my the why?

this language is twisting, running and listing to port.
this tongue is now kissing, so profligate a a gift.

the lines are now splitting, scampering this way and that.
the meaning is shimmering, giving us just enough light.

the light is now fading, off to the right.
the dawn is now breaking, on to the left.

with this weight we wander, not knowing our selfs.
with another thought we ponder, no result to lift.

another another another line another.
bother don't bother don't bother my brother.

this word this world this wandering world.
his word her word like there is an other.

all of us y'all of us pall of us here,
tall of us short of us all of us near

the end we all work at not knowing the goal
just as the the doe knows not the foal

yet tends to bend the world to make
the soul that follows us in our wake.

yet again yet again
die again try again

rye again gin again
sin again sin again.

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"He's just this guy, you know?"