Saturday, December 11, 2010


For only the dangerously weird. Track 13… DrumzSpace with little mercy. No foolin' around. Really. If you don't already know, you don't likely want to know. Well, then again… Caution. Do Not Stop on Tracks.

Hic Finis Est,


Epistolary Affairs & Realities…


I seem to be in the mood for historical reflection on modern times, today. So, I'm thinking about all the apparent weirdness of how folks, via the 'Net, with some text, a few crappy photos, perhaps eventually a phone call, form deep bonds.

This ain't all that new, as strange as it now seems to see two people that have yet to meet face to face, decide that they are friends, or even love each other. I'm probably not the only one that has wandered this virtual realm long enough to even see a marriage or two result. Weird, yes. Not unprecedented. Anthony and Cleopatra did it. That was about 2,200 years ago, when a letter from the suitor had to travel over mountains on horse back, across a great sea, and thence across a desert… and, almost a year later, he got a reply. Those two correspondents did make a fine love story in their endeavor, shook an empire, failed, but we remember them today.

About two millennia later, guys got on whaling ships from the coast of New England. They'd write home to their mother, ask about eligible young women back in town, ones that might like to marry them when they got home in three years. Then they'd wait for some random ship to come by, one that happened to be working its way back to Boston, or wherever, and pass on that letter. Then they'd wait for another random passing of a small ship on the Atlantic, and maybe they'd get an answer, and the process would repeat for about thirty months. Then… they'd get home and marry Gretchen Farmer, or whomever, and soon depart to leave her a widow to the fortunes of the sailing life.

Soon after, my grandmother from Russia came to these shores. She needed a husband. A man needed a wife. Some mail went back and forth to the old lady that managed these affairs back in the shtetl, and all was arranged. Pretty quick, Sophie was managing Szolmon ben Simon's affairs in America, and I eventually got my name via the mail, forty-nine years later.

A while after that, American guys got the US postal service to deliver mail order brides from the Philippines and Ukraine. Yes, much confusion, great sex that was too brief and ultimately calamitous in its aftermath, common divorce, and protracted dealings with the INS ensued, but none of this is unprecedented in the affairs of men and women on planet Earth.

We may have replaced scribes, horses, camels, and sailing ships with keystrokes, still, how else but by text, letters, did The Queen of Sheba hook up with my namesake?

Well, as Sam Clemmens observed, history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Hic Finis Est


Secrets and Anonymity?

So, today I'm thinking about my mention of non-anonymity being the default behavior for this space. Folks here should know plainly who they are communicating with. My impulse in that direction comes partly seeing how well it works on The  The WeLL, and has since 1985. But, my thinking has gotten a bit more global and acute in light of the recent Wikileaks nonsense. I'd post their URL, but, alas, they lost another domain host, today. I'm just to lazy to seek out the mirror sites that route around that sort of annoyance, as the 'Net was designed to do.

Anyhow, this notion of anonymity, and secrets in general, as some kind of broad societal norm, is a very new invention. For most of our 200,000 years on the planet we lived first in families, then clans, then tribes, villages, and only in the past five percent of that span, in small cities, then city states, then nations. Prior to that, everybody knew everybody's business. There were few secrets. Even in the modern era, it's only been in the past couple of hundred that most folks did not live in one room hovels with all of their kin. That's still the way it is for most folks, even today. Sheer proximity to other people makes it very difficult to keep a real secret, and certainly, you can't be anonymous when the only people you interact with are all within a few hundred meters of where you sleep, eat, and procreate.

Now, we've got most governments in the Western World shocked that some kid who worked in a server room and looks like Alfred E. Neuman, was able to bust those governments' and make off with their secrets, with nothing more that a little patience, some key strokes, and a DVD labeled "Lady Gaga". There have always been spies, but Bradley Manning is no spy, anymore than a cranky gossip in a bar who overhears some other drunk's over-honest blathering is a spy for passing that on to the next drunk who will buy the first drunk another beer.

Here we are. We're on the verge of a world that may again have to get by with no big secrets. We might have to deal square with each other, on all levels of social and political organization. That is going to be hard to get used to, but as we've moved up the chain of social evolution from the family to a planet wired with a common and near instantaneous means of communication, it is surely in store. No laws will stop this, because making something against the law does not erase the likelihood that somebody is going to break that law, and you can't run a society where you lock up all the clever children. Self regulation by individuals won't stop it, because as a species, we tend to produce a goodly number of cranky gossips, revolutionaries, and some few real do-gooders. Yes… also, plain old spies.