Sunday, January 30, 2011

10 Tips for Clean Living

Just because I need to write something, I thought I'd outline some general operating principles that I think are sound.

I usually believe what I say at the time that I say it.

1.> Not being too proud of your opinions is a good thing. Still, if you have to choose between having a belief or an opinion, you're better off to have an opinion. Language is important. Why 'believe' or 'disbelieve' something when you could ponder, doubt, think, feel, wonder, guess, suppose, or estimate? Try mixing some of those words into your dialogue next time you're elaborating on how you feel about a complex topic.

2.> Everything's going to be alright... so long as your problems are primarily first world problems. Sorry about how much this all sucks for the rest of you. Really.

3.> Diet mayonnaise sucks. Other than that, diet and exercise really do seem to make a difference.

4.> Having a lot of conversational boundaries tends to result in some pretty narrowly defined psychological boundaries.

5.> Your inner critic needs to go fuck itself once in a while. The more, the merrier, honestly.

6.> The question of whether or not God exists is a whole lot less interesting than the question of whether or not you exist. It requires someone unusual to question the obvious.

7.> Being a little bit afraid of death actually helps you get shit done.

8.> I generally hate people who shit rainbows out of their ass just for the sake of being smug, but it turns out that smiling actually does fire electricity into the 'happy' part of your brain. It's an easy, quick fix... also, prozac.

9.> I think it's really important to occasionally scream out obscenities when nobody expects it. Remind everyone not to take you for granted.

10.> Get your ass off Facebook for a bit. Also, if you're playing World of Warcraft, and you're not an invalid, or retired, consider quitting. You know those experiments where a monkey sits with a wire into the pleasure center of his brain, and just presses the button over and over until he dies because he can't take a break for a food pellet? That's you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just a note on the power of language.

When I first discovered and used email, I was just thrilled with it, for about a period of three weeks. When it dawned on me that I had just discovered a new obligation, I admit I withdrew a bit.

Ditto for cellphones. As a privacy advocate, I've had a hard time convincing myself that there's any real need to carry those damn things around.

I even think answering machines are a bit weird.

Social media is another link in that chain. "No, Mom, I don't want to be facebook friends. Yes, we're still friends."

It occurs to me that one of the more interesting facets of social media is how it seems to map itself on pre-existing deep structures in our brains based on its use of language.

As a thought experiment, imagine a website like facebook that was identical in every way, had the same users, the same popularity, offered the same amount of connectivity in the same format, but instead of connections being labeled as 'friends' they were labeled as, I don't know, say, 'assfaces.'

Instead of 'liking' something or someone, you got to press a button to 'jerk off' to it.

It would change the whole context of it, wouldn't it? But why? Everything else about it is still the same. It should be no different than putting your profile in piratespeak mode for kicks, right?

Anyways, I get that there's research behind this. Reading text simulates having memories. Nothing that new or profound there, perhaps...

It's good to keep in mind, though. These interactions have taken on some dimension of significance that is disappointingly misleading, I think.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Demotivational Posters and the Occult

I had a crack at creating some demotivational posters. The results were as follows:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

8 ways Weird Al, Seth Green, Clare Grant, or membership in TeamUnicornFTW could help you survive a zombie outbreak

This is going to require some explaining, but I'll try to get to the good part quickly.

I've been putting myself out there. I'm trying to get a feel for the Feng Shui of life. I'm cool, I want people to notice it.

In some peripheral way, I managed to involve myself in a performance art stunt by Weird Al Yankovic, Seth Green, and Clare Grant, whose TeamUnicornFTW project has produced some of the best celebratory (if self-referential) geek culture memes in the past two years.

The stunt itself involved a number of photographs being posted to the Twitter feeds of the participants showing them in various states of... uh... trying on lipstick, throwing up skittles, and attacking each other with weapons. I can't explain it better than that... you either 'get' the joke, or you don't.

For whatever reason, it struck me that it would be an interesting thing to do to re-frame some of the images as cards for the game Magic The Gathering (at least a couple of the participants are fans of the game. How do I know this? I'm lame.)

Then I posted some of the resulting images to my Twitter feed using some of the same addresses and hashtags to bring it to the attention of the right people.

Clare Grant got back to me scant minutes later with this message:

"@boylegd Wow. These are all Amazing. Thank you SO much!!!"


It's like I touched the hem of Weird Al's robes. Biggest thing to happen to me today.

UPDATE: Rileah Vanderbilt (on the right hand side of the Fuck, Yeah card shown above) has also been saying nice things. Clare, Rileah, you girls really put the awe in awesome, thanks for taking a look!

Monday, January 10, 2011

15 must-see websites about Felicia Day

So, it occurs to me that Felicia Day is actually Shiva the destroyer, a harbinger of the apocalypse.

If you don't know who Felicia Day is, suffice to say that she's a smart, cute, neurotic actress who has practically defined the phrase 'famous on the internet' by placing herself at the center of the apotheosis of geek culture into the monster it is today. She is the quintessential somewhat-hot girl at the Farscape convention.

Her signature work is on the webseries The Guild, which is about a bunch of people who have willingly become precursors to the battery-pod slaves in The Matrix. These people play World of Warcraft all day. They waste their lives and they fucking love it, revel in it, celebrate it.

Which, you know, is sort of the only logical thing to be doing when you really start to look at how things are going.

The bees are dying. Just think about that. Fuck!

The bees are dying.

No more bees. No more honey.

Or flowers.

Or food chain.


I mean, you know, I am in danger of edging into 'rhetoric' mode again here, but how is it that anyone who even understands what 'ecology' means isn't either be rioting in the streets, putting a gun to their childrens' heads, or getting themselves fixed and settling in to a nice, involving time vampire of a game that will just feed signals to the pleasure center of their brains until it's lights-out time? Game on.

Look at that temptress. Come to your doom. Come fade away.

The David Boyle / Pat Cadigan Letters

In conversation with noted science-fiction author Pat Cadigan (via Facebook):

Me: Wait, I read a book once. There was something in it about "thought crime", or was it "group think"? I think my teacher was trying to indicate that it was important that I read it, but now that I think about it he spent a lot of time weeping at his desk and sighing heavily. He was probably a terrorist.

Don't worry, someone probably shot him. Now you won't be troubled by any more dangerous ideas.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

7 Things About Sarah Palin That Science Can't Explain

A few thoughts as we enter a new decade with smoke rising on the horizon.

1.> I would like to encourage Americans in the future to try to be more respectful, less shooty, and less prone to rhetoric in their politicking. This is important to keep in mind as the Chinese take over, the seas rise, the farmlands dry up, the oil and water shortages begin, and the Wal-Marts become landfills.

2.> I think it's great that people are surprised that the lowered standard of living in The United States has resulted in a hick uprising. It's almost as if liberal idealism was a privilege afforded to the comfortably affluent, and not the natural endgame of evolution. Well, at least I get to be a bit smug about having a history degree. We could have seen this coming, guys. And I would guess that this isn't even the tip of the iceberg.

3.> The 9-year-old who was shot dead at the Giffords event was featured in the book “Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11." This is tragic, if sort of startling in its grim irony to those of us who feel we gave up hope on 9/11 (you remember, when two airplanes knocked down three buildings in violation of the laws of physics or common sense?). Yes, the zealots have been running things into the ground since then (up here in Canada as well, lately). To be frank, the apathy and high-minded invincible ignorance of the moderately educated liberal left is at least equally responsible for getting America where it is today. It's not that people are getting shot, it's that the bullets weren't aimed at George Bush 9 years ago.

4.> Democracy has clearly failed, as it auto-corrects against any attempt at long-term planning and thus cannot meet the needs of a society in ecological escape. Totalitarianism seems like the lesser of two evils when considered against extinction, and is probably a humane alternative when compared to the massive die-off that we are hurtling blindly towards right now. I know socially liberal people will find the thought repulsive, and I would agree, but I can only submit that any putative future historians will look back on us as a people dedicated to ignoring reality and the mandate of physics.

5.> I struggle to express myself here in a way that isn't meaninglessly rhetorical. I'm not even sure what I feel or think these days. I think that maybe I think the death of the 9 year old girl could have been avoided, but people (the smart ones, I mean) need to do more than tsk tsk about it... they need to rethink some deeply-ingrained assumptions. Maybe I think all the tut-tutting being done now is sort of like an 800 pound man at the buffet table announcing that he's going to eat a salad for his 5th plate of food.

Monday, January 3, 2011

10 Reasons Why Arnold Schwarzenegger Could Annihilate Lady GaGa With His Mind

Well, this article here makes the point pretty well... this man was a badass among badasses, able to live up to his own legend in a way that Hemingway could only dream about, a king by his own hand, who indeed wore his crown upon a troubled brow.

When asked if she thought he had been good for California at all, porn star Aurora Snow
answered, "Heck no! So happy to see him out! He cut education & security!"

It was a screed on Twitter, after all. Perhaps elaboration would bring her points into perspective. Seriously, though? She seems like a nice, smart girl, but this, in a nutshell, spells out to me why as a species we're doomed, and why democracy is a total failure.

I don't even live in California, man, but I hear an awful lot about what a bad job this guy is doing.

I mean, he took over a sinking ship when he took office. He kept his finger in the hole and kept the boat afloat for seven years. That's an accomplishment, right?

What, he made cuts? Uh, didn't he take office promising to make cuts and stuff? Wasn't the economy notoriously in the crapper already?

Can we pretend for the moment that democracy isn't a sham and a joke and assume that Obama's presidential record is somewhat meaningful as something other than a cover story? Let's do that. It is immediately apparent that in the realm of politics, people have an attention span that makes goldfish look like fucking illithid elder brains. Why the hell would Obama have anything but the full support of the people who voted for him for at least four years of trying to correct Bush's fuck-ups? Oh, right, this is the same electorate that mostly didn't show up to EGG HIS CAR when he stole his second election.

Fuck it. People get what they deserve. California, getting what it deserves. American people, getting what they deserve. A bit harsh, eh? That's democracy for you. You get what you deserve.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

7 things I figured out in 2010.

1.> Finding the right balance between zen and motivation is less like juggling on a tightrope and more like sliding down Occam's Razor on your crotch.

2.> It's ok to give yourself a break once in a while.

3.> When in doubt, go for a walk. Seriously. I've made my first headway this year against a 16 year fog of depression and the key to it was walking. Making your brain make happy juice turns out to be easy... at least, things seem more manageable. I just want to point out that I am not a huge fan of exercise for its own sake, but I'm always glad after forcing myself to do it.

4.> About knowing yourself: we are creatures of habit. Your cognitive override is a quiet little voice riding on the back of a crazy monkey. That said, the monkey is trainable. Form good habits and then sit back and let the trained monkey do the work. Changing attitudes and behaviors isn't really an uphill struggle without end, just a conviction to overcome the inertia.

5.> If you are depressed a lot, or for a long time, that will change the physical structure of your brain to the point where it will become a self-sustaining state. Looking in the mirror and saying 'shee, I'm pretty awesome," is not about wishful thinking or pathetic overreaching... it's a way to reprogram your mental state. Surround yourself with supportive people as much as you can.

6.> Keep a clean, well-lit space for writing. That applies to every aspect of your life, really. Clean up the house. Clean up your head. Do all your email every day. Make those phone calls. The most prolific writers in the world (Isaac Asimov being a great example) had a habit of answering every fan mail they ever received.

7.> As for the existential crisis: we are built to see meaning in things and to react to perceived meaning. That fact is in and of itself either meaningful, or it isn't. People who assume that it isn't are exceeding their programming and wind up insane. So, even if God is dead or the sky is an empty black void or whatever, the awakened individual should understand that it is necessary to believe in something. What you do has meaning. The way you live matters, until Cthulhu rises.