"Books, Records, Films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the damn truth." - High Fidelity

November 5, 2012

Pre-Election Poetry

If they steal it
it will be Ohio
they own the voting machines
oh me oh my oh


I’ve seen them do it before
it happened at least twice
elections don’t matter much
if you pay the price

October 25, 2012

Barr/Sheehan 2012 Electoral Map

On the Ballot (93): 
California, Colorado and Florida
Write-in Ballot Access (128):
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
Rhode Island
West Virginia
No Ballot Access 59% (317)
Total Ballot Access 41% (221)

September 18, 2012

Liars and Outliers - How can we create more instant trust networks?

As directed, I read the first chapter of Bruce Schneier's new book Liars and Outliers (unfortunate title, I thought it was a takedown of Malcolm Gladwell) immedately upon it's arrival and I'm already having thoughts about it.  

Schneier is talking about reputation systems and I think a genuine interest and desire for Wuffie (the person to person based reputation system described by Cory Doctorow in Down and Out in The Magic Kingdom).  But on the other hand, what Schneier is also saying is that mankind has been able to cooperate and succeed even though it lacks this reputation system.  The creation of social norms that promote a societal good seems to be acceptable to most people and thus we can trust them enough to work with them and develop a working relationship.  

This of course reminded me of Burning Man and how when people are focused on working together, magic will happen.  It's just assumed and a given that at Burning Man no one will mess with your stuff or you.  It's very unlikely to see  "bar fight" at Burning Man.  Everyone is willing to work together.  There is something about our transition from human in normal everyday capitalist society to participant in a desert survival gift economy that ads a certain instant trust value to people you've never met before.  

How do we create more of this valuable openness that can lead to instant cooperation?  How can people who are turned on and ready to create more of this trust help lead to more and more interconnected trust networks?  Can Facebook or another such corporate owned social network really connect people in a way they can trust to create these trust networks?  Can friend to friend connections connect the whole world and allow us to trust everybody?  Can we flip this negative worldview of humanity simply by explaining the natural trust networks that already exist between all humans?  Not sure if Schneier will answer these questions in his book, but I certainly hope to find out.  It seems he's probably going to explain how this societal trust network functions with the help of people who break negative societal norms and the determint of parasites who break the system.    

(if it gets lost in my massive unread book stack, I wanted to get at least this part of the review out, because I was really honored that he sent me a signed copy at a good price for me to review.  I really enjoyed reading his classic book Secrets & Lies and it really influenced my thinking about the human aspect of security and trust, and now he's back for more....)

September 6, 2012

post burn thursday

nobody home
three pairs of goggles on my desk
in case of dust storm
hydropak is here
but empty
strange machine in "kitchen"
turns water into ice
still have my beard
but scraped my nail polish off
better than dealing with
the stink of the remover

August 10, 2012

Nashville Sounds vs. Sacramento River Cats (2012-08-08)

Hot weather, no hitting and a nearly empty ballpark allowed me to move around each inning, testing out my new zoom lens from every location, leaving me with so many photos, I had no choice but to make this video.

July 29, 2012

Thunt at the California State Fair 2012 Statistics

Thunt the Dragonslayer

 7 days, 6 concerts (Fab Four (Beatles), Happy Together Tour (60s), Rick Springfield, Dave Mason, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Police Tribute)

Rode Bike: 2 

Took Photos: 5 

Photographed Fireworks: 3 

Photographed Motorcycles: 3 

drum roll...

2,023 photos

also used tons of great coupons, bought two presidential magnets (JFK & Truman) and ate lots of great fair food (deep fried twinkee, eggroll on a stick, deep fried grilled cheese, cinnamon buns, slushy, chocolate dipped ice cream cone, corn dog, chicken wrap, chocolate dipped ice cream sandwich).

July 15, 2012

Burning Man sends out False STEP notices - you may already be a loser!

Truly unbelievable news this morning.

My brother won tickets in the STEP program!  Our whole group (6 total) will be able to go!  We can build a proper structure and have people to help out at camp!  Woooo!

But that was just when we were reading the email, an email that claimed to be "happy to tell you that tickets have been resold into the Secure Ticket Exchange Program and are now available for you to buy."

But when we clicked the link in the email, we were no longer happy:

This is heartbreaking.

I don't know how many of these they sent out, but not only is it hugely embarassing for the BMORG, but it's rude, insulting and demeaning to those still left in the STEP program.  You win!  No you don't.  There's no reason that this message should ever be sent out because of "routine server tests".  That doesn't many any sense.  (I'm an IT guy, and I hate to call for anybody's job, but this is a colossal blunder.  I can't think of anything worse that you could do if you worked for a ticketing website, than sending out false notices that people have won tickets.  Think about it.  The entire purpose of the website is to sell tickets properly...)

I'm starting to worry about the future of Burning Man, if they can't manage to get this ticketing situation worked out. 1,000 extra tickets went into STEP, but clearly they just did that twice or managed to load last week's database, causing this embarassing error.   Then they're going to put 1,000 tickets into the new land rush (and hope the servers doesn't crash too badly), this makes me think that next year's plan (which is still a secret, because you wouldn't want any feedback from the community) is simply going to be another land rush with better servers.  I used to spend most of the year making Art for Burning Man, now I spend it trying to get tickets.  Is this what they have planned for next year?

July 9, 2012

StubHub removes 3 scalpers selling 139 Burning Man Tickets while prices begin to fall

StubHub has removed the 3 scalpers selling 139 Burning Man Tickets and seems to be setting an artifical cap at 8. (which is still a lot of lottery tickets to win, they must have bought dozens of visa cash cards at walmart and beaten the hell out of the lottery to win so much, or just bought as many presale tickets as they wanted.  Ahhh, what one could do with money.)

But it seems that smart money is on the run, as ticket prices are falling on StubHub, with tickets being scalped as low as $750 and still not selling, because Burners will not pay above facevalue and the recent announcement that 2,000 additional tickets will be distrbuted by STEP and a private sale has struck fear into the hearts of the scalpers and has them on the run.  Prices are falling!

However, there are still tickets available for $999,999, $10,000 and $5,000.  As you the regular reader knows, all tickets purchased above the $5,000 dollar price include a golden wristband that grants the wearer to Golden PortaPotty access:

Look at the satisfaction on this man's face as he exits a Gold PortaPotty.

Have Faith and Buy Late! Let's drive these scalpers out of business!

Did you know, some people believe all scalping should be illegal?  Would you like to join those people?  Join Americans Against Ticket Scalping and help end scalping today!

June 29, 2012

A Call for a Distributed Wikipedia

I'm tired of seeing Jimmy Wales's face when I go to wikipedia.  He's not the subject of the article Bridges and tunnels in New York City and when I go there, I shouldn't see his picture, I should see a picture of a Bridge or a Tunnel, preferably in New York City.

It's time for wikipedia to grow up and leave the webpage model behind.  This same arguement also works for facebook, but I'm going to talk about Wikipedia today.  Now first, be forewarned.  I don't really know how to actually do any of this.  I'm sure there's some very complicated technical reasons why my solution shouldn't be implemented immedately, but then again I'm sure there's also some thought laziness and entrenched ideas trying to keep the genie locked in the bottle. Forewarned, I'm technically a historian who dabbles in technology, but I've also studied a bit of english, so I'm full of the bullshit, lock stock and ready to go.

First let's talk about the problem.

1. Wikipedia uses a lot of web traffic.

2. Web Traffic costs money

3. Wikipedia feels the need to put Jimmy Wales' face on every wikipedia page, annoying myself and countless others.*

I'm bored with the problem.  Let's talk about the solution.

What is a Distributed Wikipedia?  
- A distributed wikipedia is an encylopedia that you share.  
- You download a copy and then host the copy for others.
- An "open graph" for wikipedia articles.

How would I make one?  
 - Package the wikipedia into individual article packages.
 - Package the wikipedia into subject based packages.
 - Create a program where users could torrent and host the packages.
 - Create a browser plugin that would search the local wikipedia first and when the information is current, direct the user to their local copy of the wikipedia.

How would I use one?  
You would use the Distributed Wikipedia just like the normal one.  You'd search, and the computer would direct you to the local copy.  When breaking news is occuring, you'd be directed to the live wikipedia, although at some point the torrent updating program could be so fast that it wouldn't matter.  (in fact you'd probably be downloading valueable information as more people would be able to track and store the changes as they occur.)

How would it be different?
Wikipedia would not have to buy so many servers and use so much web traffic.  Most importantly they could stop putting Jimmy Wales's face on every single page (which itself is an ironic waste of web traffic).

Other solutions, how would this work for eliminating facebook?
Once the distributed "article" (information) publishing system has been created, an encrypted version will be able to easily rise up and kill facebook.  A true social network, where you store a copy of your friends information (even "blacknet/dark information" that they could encrypt and you couldn't see) is the obvious solution to the facebook privacy problem. (yes, there are risks in new software and could be viruses and breakins, but the current situation where one company owns all of your information and it's not encrypted isn't really acceptable in the long run while encryption technology still exists.  At a certain point, people will wake up from the spell of post-privacy and demand a return to reasonable privacy, or at the very least the technology will present itself that will make the change transparent to them, and perhaps all the advertising data generated in this period will be used for graduate studies into turn of the century Americana.)  

Again, I'm not a computer scientist, but I would like to start a process of describing this until someone invents it.  Thank you.  (this has worked before when I started describing an app that would allow me to check off habits everyday and keep track of streaks and then found the incredible "Habit App".)

* This is due to their totally awesome and lauditority stand against advertising.  Advertising is the worst kind of anti-information and Wales & co. have a bold and righteous position in their anti-anti-information stand.  Wikipedia should be about information first and foremost.  Fuck Advertising.  (that said, everything I've got is covered with ads right now because I'm unemployed and poor and begging for pennies.  please click away and buy from my sponsers whoever the great google chooses them to be.  Full disclosure I've been totally and adfree and unpopular for over a decade.  If all those pennies I ignored could have turned blogging into a second job and made me understand how to generate page views and audience like the Oatmeal, maybe I wouldn't be so poor and I could just sit and think and help people for a job, explain things.)

Clipping Limits Delenda Est!

June 22, 2012

Cody goes to Burning Man 2011

In the year 2011, my friend Cody went to Burning Man wearing a GoPro camera on his head. Burning Man will never be the same.

June 18, 2012

139 Burning Man Tickets for sale by just 3 Scalpers on StubHub

This is what it has come to.  Three lone scalpers are selling 65, 49 and 25 tickets on StubHub.  139 Burning Man Tickets...

I don't know what to say about this. 

Oh Prometheus, Oh so disappointing

Spoilers ahead.

I really wanted this movie to be good.  I love the original Alien.  I love how nothing happens in the first 30 minutes and it builds the suspence.  I love the darkness of the ship and the haunting evil of Giger's Alien designs.  I really wanted to love Prometheus. 

Let's start out at the core of the problem.  The story they are telling is not the myth of Prometheus.  It's the story of Pandora.  I don't know how sucha big movie company with so many people working for it could make such an obvious mistake, but there it is.  One myth is about a god who brings fire (enlightenment/self awareness) to man.  The other is about a girl who opens a box and lets evil out.  Let's see. They flew across the galaxy to a box full of evil, opened it and let it out.  Maybe they couldn't use the name because they just used it in Avatar, but Avatar is the kind of movie where the unobtainable metal is named unobtainium.  If the myth fits, why not wear it.

The second problem is that this is a horror movie, not a science fiction/suspence film.  It's a big problem.  It's why characters who have sex are dying off in troves and why the two scientists who struck out on their own were the first to die (also they were afraid, fear leads to death), but it's not the movie I signed on for.  It's even started to get a little gory.

Other problems.  Charlize Theron is not a robot, but she should be.  It'd be a great character point, especially if she had sex with the guy anyway.  And speaking of the time she had sex with the guy so that he would be off the bridge and no one would be there when the distress signal came in from the scientists, couldn't we have seen some of that sex?  Wouldn't that have improved the scene if crosscut with the scientists death (which yes, I must agree Dave on this one, their death was horribly scripted and made no sense that the scientist would try to make friends with a hissing cobra.  Not that I think it was a good idea, but if you're going to do it, at least make the alien cute.  Give it eyes.  But again, that's a horrible road to go down, and I'm sure the designer wouldn't do it.  I don't know if HR Giger is alive (he is), but he would certainly roll over in his grave if you replaced his epic alien designs with a cutesy one eyed muppet). 

But let's get to the scene at hand.  The reason I paused the film and started this blog.  No it's not the scene where the robot starts to turn on them ala HAL9000.  That was the scene where I shut it off and went to bed to watch the second half today.  This is the scene right after the Doctor has had her space age machine abortion to get the alien out of her and is pretty much running around the stage with her stomach stapled, clearly bleeding to death.  She's just met with the rich guy who's not dead ala Contact (really, really ala Contact) and has bought his confusing nonsense hook, line and sinker.  She puts on a spacesuit and is going back to the house of death to meet with the Aliens who invented the Alien, probably for a long non-entertaining speech which will attempt to make sense of the mess of a plot that we're in.  But here's what really has me going here.  The captain busts in to her quarters.  He's never been here before and has no reason to be here.  He's not her lover or her friend.  He's the captain (he also had a ridiculous amount of knowledge that he seems to have aquired in some sort of flash of illumination, maybe he saw VALIS).  The captain then proceeds to argue about turning the mission around and taking the ship out of here.  Over the sink.  He's standing on one side of the sink and she's standing on the other.  Arguing about leaving.  This arguement should take place on the bridge with Charlize Theron who while not the captain (I think we're using the word pilot here) is clearly in charge of the ship.  Why is he not arguing with her on the bridge (they also had sex, which would add to the tone of the arguement)?  That's how out of control this movie has gotten.  You've got two dead scientists, a doctor who was infected and had to be blowtorched, another one of the scientists came back to life and attacked your ship with superhuman strength, again having to be blowtorched, the other doctor had an alien baby inside of her and then had it removed by a surgery pod (all of this happened on a ship full of computers, and presumably security cameras, but no one seemed to notice this naked girl running through the halls giving herself an abortion that turned out to be some kind of octopus squid monster).  All this has happened, but we should stay.  I feel like it's time for a classic Bill Paxton line from Aliens, "maybe you're not keeping up with current events, but we just got our asses kicked out there."  Of course this movie would be better if it was copying Aliens.  Especially with the plot.  We should know that they're weapons.  We should know that we're going there to get them.  We should have someone like Paul Riser with us, to represent corporate greed and a desire for an unstoppable army.  A madmen hell bent on wiping out planets who's heard legends of an alien force, so henious, the entire galaxy united together to build a prision.  A prison on the edge of the known universe, inside an exploded star.  A rotted out old hunk of a planet.  More of an asteroid really.  Where the universe hid it's worse creation, a species so evil....  And then they go there and let it out in the name of corporate greed.  That's a good movie.  Not what we have here, where the rich guy from Contact wants to live forever so he trusts two scienists, a few cave paintings and an issue of the Weekly World News and then goes on an space ride across the galaxy in search of his foutain of youth.  I have an idea for the rich guy, why not just stay in stasis?  If you have stasis boxes and tons of money, you might not be able to live forever, but you could take 10-20 year naps and have them wake you up if the technology changes.  If you started early enough in your life and had the wealth to set up a fool proof system to guard your chamber (and a helluva good power supply) you could stall until better medical technologies (or the ability to transfer your consciousness into a computer) could be invented.  It makes no sense to travel across the galaxy on the advice of a few tabloid scientists.  Even if you have your uptight blonde chick and nazi Lawerence of Arbia loving robot with you, it doesn't make sense.

I'm now going to try and watch the rest of this movie and hopefully not be disapointed more by the alien's speech that sums up the movie.

(live blogging more or less)

Now the captain is worried about brining the alien on the ship.  Minor concerns.

Big speech with Charlize and the old guy.  Fingers crossed that she's his daughter.  Twisted messages.  I think she was gonna suck him off.  There it is.  Father.  Predictibilitictable.  And the robot is the son he always wanted.  "I didn't think you had it in you."  Now the scientist is joking with the robot that infected her boyfriend and tried to grow an alien in her belly.  Now the robot is talking like a creepy child about killing his parents.  This thing gets worse all the time.  All this money.  All these sets and their goofy glowing helmets that light the actors faces, what a waste.

It's a ship, of course it's a ship.  It wasn't a city was it?  They found it because it was square shaped and stood out from the natural landscape.

Now the alien they traveled so far to meet just ripped the head off their robot (not a good idea to greet aliens with an athromprophic robot, just seems duplicitious on the face of things) and killed the old rich guy.  The entire movie for a fight scene?  "It's nothing", the old man's last words to the decapitated face of his robot son.  Now the captain just agreed to leave his doctor friend behind without a second thought and teh alien guy is launching a big weapon seat.  I recognize this scene, I think it was one of the production stills from back when I thought this was going to be a cool movie.  O that was such a long time ago.

Lots of cool graphics and animations as the spaceship becomes active again and the doctor is blown out the exhaust ports.  I've seen this scene as well, in the terrible Indiana Jones and the space aliens movie that the shouldn't have made.  Now the doctor can breathe on the surface?  I thought the environment was created by the ship.  "If you don't stop it, there won't be any home to come back to."  I think I had that on my cliche bingo card.  How can they destroy this ship anyway?  Guess the captain is a scientist now.  He's really a jack of all trades. Good thing the minor characters who were never properly introduced are staying with the captain.  Charlize's brilliant idea to live on an escape pod still leaves her running through the ship during the emergency and now it looks like she's in a small crappy pod that took her to the surface where I think she's going to have a fistfight with the doctor who recently had an abortion and an alien baby.  Maybe she should have landed her pod further away from the where the ship they planned to run into was obviously going to crash.  That was really awful and gory and uneccessary.  Wow.  Epic stupidity and all of the remaining characters are crushed by falling ships.  I know you have to kill everybody in a horror movie, but what a lame way to do it and the whole time we never see any classic aliens walking around killing people.  I don't even know if this is supposed to be the same planet where Ripley finds the alien.  Suddenly oxygen is a problem for the doctor who aparently wasn't crushed.  She found some sort of ship.  I guess it's the captain's lifepod.  No idea why this movie is still going.  Why not kill them all and get it over with?

What a classically horrible horror movie.  The human creature attacks her, or maybe he was tryign to save her, as an even larger monster attacks.  Long drawn out death scene for the alien.  So much computer graphics blending into other computer graphics.  If only anything was real as the alien implants him.  I look at the door hinge of the ship and wonder... cgi?

The doctor cries on the planet's surface.  All this horror that Pandora has wrought.  Love how the robot is still alive.  Fingers crossed for another Lawernece of Arabia reference.  Good thing there was a working car right next to where she was crying.  Back to the pit and she wants her cross.  Why not just grab the robot head and get out of there?  (second time in this movie someone has been only a head)  Now she wants to go back to their planet and see why the creators decided to kill humanitiy?  This movie makes no sense.  Isn't it more about the alien being out of control?  Bad narration ends this trainwreck.  "I am still searching."

This movie makes no sense.

June 14, 2012

How to admire the Beats

How do you admire Jack Kerouac after you figure out that in the end he made horrible television appearances, hated his fans and fame and drank himself to death in his mother’s house? His friend Dean died drunk in a ditch in Mexico.  I forget his real name.  Burroughs probably wasted a Gastby’s worth of great novels on junk but never died and outlasted all comers.  Bukowski was a drunk.  Thompson a suicide.  

When you really come down to it, the Beat to admire is Allen Ginsberg.  Like Burroughs he lasted forever, but unlike Burroughs he didn’t allow drugs to reduce his output or his international effect.  He was a force to be reckoned with, not a former football player drinking himself to death.  

What was the real deal?  Kerouac wrote about a spirit he didn’t possess or a spirit he once had?  You read his books and are filled with a passion for another world, a world that now doesn’t exist, where you could bum from town to town and get decent jobs without identification and background checks and then be free to spend the money however you want in a multicolored galaxy of shanty towns that are now all converted into cemented over Walmart parking lots.  You can have any color you like as long as it’s black - Henry Ford.  

With Ginsberg there’s something different not only because his poem chronicled the entire group and encompassed a generation, but because he put on a sheet and traveled the world spreading his message and causing chaos wherever he went.  He spent his time with the flower children on the bus and he also got kicked out of quite a few countries for simply expressing his true being.  That’s power.  

Google search for Carlo Marx (Ginsberg) quotes from On The Road reminds me that the book is about to be raped by the movies, which they’re also doing again to Gatsby and I’m sure are lining up at Salinger’s grave to get to Catcher.  Speaking of Salinger, where’s the extra books?  Most disappointing literary non-event since Mark Twain’s autobiography (which is only disappointing because I have a copy and haven’t read it and my copy might be the wrong version).

This version seems to have an extra line. I really like it:

"America, when will your technicians wake up and abolish money?" -- Allen Ginsberg

June 9, 2012

Burners announce Anti-Scalping Strategy - Have Faith and Buy Late

StubHub Burning Man Scalpers enter Barganing Phase as Burners "Have Faith and Buy Late"

Burners stick together.  We won't pay more than face value for Burning Man tickets.  We'll wait.  We'll wait until the last minute, when the scalpers are desperate and they're forced to sell their tickets for face value or near face value.  This was our plan from the begining.  We'd discussed the importance of having faith and buying late several times at Burners against Scalpers and now our grand strategy is begining to work.  Scalpers are getting scared and dropping their prices below $1000 on the StubHub scalping website for the first time this year.  Important note:  This doesn't mean it's time to buy.  This is just the begining.  As the festival approaches, prices will continue to fall.  There's no reason to allow scalpers to double their money.  Just wait.  The desperation is about to take hold.  

Have Faith and Buy Late.  Let's drive these scalpers out of business.

Please sign the petition and Join Burners against Scalpers today!

May 17, 2012

all still dead

Bukowski, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Kerouac
all still dead
all attempts to contact
have failed
Burroughs, who wouldn't shut up in life
is deathly silent now
no more pages
no more cut ups
no more long poems
no more drunken words
no more angry letters
no more poetry

leaving it up to me and you
I'm doing my part
I hope you'll do your part

Battle against Burning Man Scalpers continues at Burners Against Scalpers

Stub Hub's Goliath vs. Burning Man's David - who will win?

While still in the early stages (tickets have not been sent out, so all eBay, StubHub, TicketsNow listings are actually invalid (because you must have an item in hand to sell it) the fight against Burning Man ticket scalpers is going very well at Burners Against Scalpers.  I hope you'll join us!  452 burners have joined up so far!

Supermoon - Weiner Dog

Forest in Motion

I wish I had about a thousand snickers bars

I wish I had about a thousand snickers bars
lined up end to end
row on row
I wish I had about a thousand snickers bars
I'd eat them all
my fat ass in tow.
I wish I had about a thousand snickers bars
my teeth I'd keep
in a small case
for if I had a thousand snicker bars
you could barely see my face.

no more driving

smog monster

canceling plans to drive today
the state of california
has come to take my cars away
every year
they make me smog
because I'm poor
and my cars are old
every year
they threaten me
and feed the shops
forty four dollars
to turn off the
check engine light
forty four dollars
and fifty three to smog it
just pile more bills
in the never ending
money pit

April 8, 2012

Burning Man Tickets should be Non-Transferable

The tickets for Apogaea are non-transferrable, an element that many in the Burn community have voiced as being a clear and simple solution that BMORG should have used. The possible pros of this process, in my sometime less than humble opinion, FAR OUTWEIGH the cons. Yes it prevents people from gifting tickets, and for those of you who have read my previous articles on gifting, you know how important gifting is to the culture and the experience, as well as to me personally. Non-transferrable tickets do not prevent anyone from gifting tickets; any person who would like to gift tickets can simply gift the money for the ticket in place of gifting the actual tickets. Non-transferrable tickets almost completely inhibit the ability for scalpers to molest the system; and, more importantly, safeguard against the increasing commoditization of tickets. There are always ways to manipulate things, but for the majority, scalping of our culture, our friends, and our family would be prevented. There is also concern that providing ID to get into the city would be an invasion of privacy, and contradict the principle of Radical Inclusion. This is completely wrong. Everyone HAS IDs, and requiring ID to enter is not an intrusion of privacy. If you are flying on a plane to Nevada you have an ID. If you drive a car to Nevada you have an ID. If you are riding in a car, you most likely have an ID. Providing ID is not an invasion of privacy, and I for one would be glad to show mine at the gate to heaven, if it meant no one would be paying upwards of $1,000 for tickets. Regardless of how terrible my ID picture is and how much it makes me looks like a drug-dealing-scum-douche-bag-of-a-thug, I would happily do it.


Maybe next year BMORG will take some direction from the APO planners and use a direct headshot on the ticket-problem-zombie. I sure hope so. Lock and load BMORG, it’s your move.

April 2, 2012

Dear Mr. President, what are you doing to California?

Dear Mr. President, what are you doing to California?
Dear Mr. President we seem to have a bit of a problem.
Dear Mr. President we have a slight disagreement.
Dear Mr. President, I don’t like how your agents are doing their job.
I don’t like them busting up schools where people learn gardening.
I don’t like them shutting down dispensaries while liquor and drug stores run rampant.
Dear Mr. President, do you know what your DEA is doing?
Dear Mr. President do you know that California pays more in taxes than it receives?
Dear Mr. President do you know that California has 55 votes in the electoral college?
Dear Mr. President do you know that if an earthquake seperated California it would ruin the economy?
Dear Mr. President why do you want to cause earthquakes?
Dear Mr. President why won’t you leave California alone?
Why won’t you let us live our own lives?
Dear Mr. President why must you punish sick people?
Dear Mr. President don’t you think they’re punished enough?
Dear Mr. President why do you have to add to their punishment?
Dear Mr. President I don’t think you’re really listening.
I think if you were listening, you’d hear California crying.
I think if you heard her crying you’d cry too.

I had to write this cause Ginsberg was unavailable.

April 1, 2012

Petition asking StubHub to stop scalping Burning Man tickets mentioned in the New York Times

I think we were just mentioned in the New York Times.
  Today the barriers to attending Burning Man are staggeringly high. The festival is still five months away, but no tickets remain for sale to the general public except through scalpers. (At one secondhand ticket Web site this week, the cheapest of more than 80 available passes cost $1,225; one likely prankster was asking a cool $999,999. The aficionados who call themselves “Burners” are petitioning the site’s owners to discontinue all Burning Man-related sales.) Serendipitous trips to Burning Man, like the one I took in 2002, are a thing of the past.
New York Times, March 29, 2012

March 30, 2012

Innovative StubHub Scalper offers Electronic Delivery of Burning Man Tickets

StubHub really is the like the Wild Wild West!  Not only can you sell tickets you don't have in hand and sell excessive quantities of tickets (in violation of a non-profit festival's policy), but you can even create your imaginary way to deliver Burning Man tickets "electronically"!  What amazing new technology will  StubHub and their bold and adventurous scalpers develop next?

I can only hope that it will be Aisle seating:

Please sign the petition and Join Burners against Scalpers today!

more than 300 have signed the petition asking StubHub to stop scalping Burning Man Tickets, will you join them?


March 28, 2012

Why StubHub should stop selling Burning Man Tickets or Why England should leave India

According to my detailed study of history (that is to say I’ve seen the 1982 film Gandhi with Ben Kingsley). In the film, Gandhi makes it quite clear to the British that they should leave India. He asks them to leave. Then he demonstrates that the Indian people do not want or need them. Then he asks them to leave again. Then they leave.

StubHub. You do not need the hassle that comes with scalping Burning Man tickets for the small amount of profit you will make as middleman.

StubHub. You have a chance to set a positive example and lead the ethical ticket reselling industry and leave this non-profit festival alone.

StubHub. You must leave Burning Man alone, we don’t need you reselling our tickets and poisioning our community with your “marketplace”.

One of the other things that Gandhi did (in the movie) was teach his people how to make Salt by simply plucking it out of the ocean and leaving it in a sunny window for three days (instructions courtesy of eHow). The Indian people were not allowed to make salt, because the British wanted all the salt profits for themselves. Just as StubHub is now profiting and allowing others to profit from a non-profit event.

How to make Salt:

1. Sign the Petition

2. Ask your friends to sign the petition, repost the petition on your blog, twitter or facebook page. Spread the petition around.

3. Make graphics and videos that show your displeasure with StubHub and their decision to profit on this non-profit event. Spread them around on Facebook. Link them to the petition and link them again! Talk about StubHub in the comment section of your favorite blog. Spread the links, videos and graphics around. StubHub doesn’t like it when you talk about StubHub.

4. Keep doing it until they stop. One of the key lessons from the movie Gandhi (and believe me, I’m doing you a favor by explaining it to you, it’s a very long movie) is that the British are just visiting. They don’t really live in India, just as StubHub doesn’t really live in Black Rock City. They’re just the first in a long series of ticket reselling middlemen who will stop selling Burning Man tickets. There are plenty of for profit sporting and concert events whose tickets StubHub can resell. They simply need to leave this one non-profit festival alone.

StubHub. Please stop scalping Burning Man tickets on your website. Please limit the sales on your website to face value to preserve the non-profit nature of the Burning Man event. Thank you.

Please sign the petition and Join Burners against Scalpers today!

March 19, 2012

Top 5 Reasons Not to buy Burning Man tickets from StubHub

Just Say No!
It’s come to my attention that people are actually buying scalped Burning Man tickets from StubHub.  (All tickets under $1500 are gone, some 8s have become 6s.)  I know that we all want to go to Burning Man, and some Burners have more money than others, but this still saddens me, for a number or reasons, most of them involving basic economics.

1. Burners don’t pay above face value - If we don’t buy them, the prices will go down.  Personally, if the STEP program doesn’t come through for me, I plan to buy tickets the week before the festival for face value from a very desperate scalper.  I think there’s going to be a lot of desperate scalpers at the last minute, because despite the demand for these tickets, Real Burners don’t pay above face value.

2. They don’t even have the tickets in hand - It’s one thing to buy some one’s extra ticket on eBay, when they’re holding it in their hands and have taken a picture for it and the receipt for all to see.  It’s quite another to buy from a scalper three months before Burning Man tickets are even shipped.  Regardless of your financial situation, there’s no logical reason to buy something from someone who doesn’t have it.  It’s like buying nothing for something.  Only a sucker would take that bet.  

3. They could have their tickets rights revoked - Scalping is anathema to the Burning Man community.  When these scalpers are caught (and they will be caught) they will lose all of their ticket rights. This includes the tickets they already sold to you.  And don’t expect StubHub to have your back when your scalped tickets don’t arrive in the mail.  It’s clear from our interactions with them in the past that the tech support department at StubHub is like the lady from the phone company in the classic SNL sketch.  “We don’t care, we don’t have to.”  The scalpers will have your money and all you’ll have is a receipt from StubHub.  Good luck getting them to accept that at Gate.

4. The tickets could be counterfeit - What’s easier than beating the Burning Man Lottery with Visa Cash Cards and multiple addresses?  Simply printing your own tickets at home!  How do you know that the scalped tickets on StubHub aren’t just stylish knockoffs?  Counterfeiting technology has become so advanced that even the hundred-dollar bill is updated every few years (and it keeps getting uglier!).  They put in magnetic strips and use fancy paper with special inks, but the counterfeiters keep coming back.  How hard do you think it will be to counterfeit Burning Man tickets? Watermarks?  Magnetic Strips?  Counterfeit tickets will be out there.  Don’t get StubHubbed.

5. It will cause permanent damage to your soul  - It’s one thing to joke about how the $100,000 Burning Man tickets include Gold Port-a-Potty access and if you have a red star on your lanyard, you will be granted access to an enchanted air-conditioned garden packed with nymphomaniac sex slaves dressed as Tinkerbell who will service your every human need, but that's really just a load of bullshit.  Your $2500 ticket will grant you access to the same dusty wasteland that my $240 ticket would if I had won the lottery.  Burning Man is about more than just buying the ticket.  Your alligator skin wallet may get you in the door, but after that it’s up to you.  There are no beer gardens or lavish amenities.  There are no bracelets that entitle you to all the alcohol you can drink. You have to earn your drinks, by acting silly or reciting Shakespeare (and sometimes they don’t like Shakespeare).  If you didn’t bring shelter from the dust, you’ll be out in it (and there’s gonna be a lot of dust this year).  It’s not enough just to buy the ticket and take the ride.  To really go to Burning Man you need to join the Burning Man community 
and you join that community by not paying above face value for your ticket. We all want to go, but Real Burners don’t pay above face value.  If you do, what does that say about you?

Become a Real Burner. Don’t buy Burning Man tickets above face value.  Be patient and wait for your ticket to find you.  It’ll be there. Be true to Burning Man and Burning Man will be true to you.

In the meantime, please consider Signing the Petition (we’re nearing 300 and it would be really neat if we made it). It'd also be great if you joined Burners Against Scalpers on facebook. I know we can solve this problem if we all work together.

March 14, 2012

StubHub should stop scalping Burning Man tickets

This event is not about commerce. 

It's one thing to sell an NFL or concert or music festival ticket for profit. Those things are all about profit, and I don't see any reason why a ticket-holder shouldn't get in on that revenue-stream.

But this is essentially a non-profit event, that is an experiment in alternatives to commerce. If tickets become so expensive that only the wealthy can afford them, it sabotages the experiment.

Please help us preserve the nature of this event.

Sign the Petition and Join Burners Against Scalpers today!

March 12, 2012

Spring Cleaning Sale Spectacular! (mainly books)

That's right, it's spring cleaning time again at my house and that can only mean one thing!  More books for sale!  That's right, we've got everything from old history books to old children's and young adult books (once actually read by me, yes that's right!).  Selling my entire collection of Phillip K. Dick books as I continue the migration toward the Kindle and an e-reading future.  But that doesn't mean it's too late for you to get in on some serious dead tree action.  Old books smell better, can be dropped in pools and never run out of batteries like their electronic counterparts.  You can even take them apart on road trips and leave parts of the book behind to lighten your load.  You can build forts out of paperback books (if you collect enough of them) and hardback books make great dominoes.  Great for airport reading and students too!  Everybody needs books! (I even have hundreds more that I can't bear to sell right now.)

If you've ever wanted to support Thomas Hunt and say, hey, you're doing a great job with your website, but you aren't the type of person who will give a donation without getting a free gift, now is your chance, because every single purchase helps support Thomas and comes with a "free" book of your choice! (or even more "free" books if you buy more than one!)  Everybody gets a book!  That could be you, choose a title from Thomas's extensive library and buy it now (supplies are limited)!  All books are priced to sell and that means cheeaaaaap! (you'll probably pay more for shipping than you do for the book, but that's the way things are these days.  Books are cheap and gas is expensive, you get it.)

Hopefully later today I'll complete the second half of spring cleaning by listing everything else I found that I'm not using on eBay, but I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch.  More information to come...  Happy Spring Cleaning to everybody!  Get rid of that old stuff!  Get it into the hands of someone who will use it.  I hope my books all go to good homes, where they will be read and then treasured on a shelf as I have.

March 10, 2012

Why you should sign the petition asking StubHub to stop scalping Burning Man Tickets

Just a great comment from the petition and I wanted to highlight it.  Thanks James! 

This event is not about commerce. It's one thing to sell an NFL or concert or music festival ticket for profit. Those things are all about profit, and I don't see any reason why a ticket-holder shouldn't get in on that revenue-stream.

But this is essentially a non-profit event, that is an experiment in alternatives to commerce. If tickets become so expensive that only the wealthy can afford them, it sabotages the experiment.

Please help us preserve the nature of this event.

TicketsNow responds to the Open Letter to TicketsNow asking them to remove Burning Man Ticket Scalpers

Seriously StubHub, you should be taking notes. This is how to communicate:
This is good customer support.  No angry phone calls on a Friday night, just a quick and reasonable response.
I just wanted to thank TicketsNow for their quick and reasonable response to my Open Letter to TicketsNow asking them to remove Burning Man Ticket Scalpers.  I hope they make the right choice and choose to take the tickets down (the tickets are being sold before they are in hand (violation of their policy) and the sellers are selling more than 4 tickets per person (violation of Burning Man policy)).  They only have two sellers right now, a 7 and an 11, so it shouldn't be that hard of a decision to make (and if they make the right one, they'll be differentiating themselves from StubHub, which could be a major positive for them).  Regardless of the decision they make, I'd like to again thank TicketsNow for your their quick and reasonable response!  Thanks TicketsNow! I hope you make the right choice.

March 9, 2012

StubHub had no difficulties Scalping Burning Man Tickets in the Past (and they would like it to stay that way)

I wish knew how to record phone calls, because I have just been contacted by StubHub.
It's 7:30 on Friday Night and I just got a call from "Patrick with StubHub".  Patrick sounded angry and wanted to talk to my brother.  (My brother has emailed StubHub three times.  They replied twice.  That is all.  I have emailed StubHub once.  They have not replied.)

I thought, "Wow, a chance to talk to StubHub!", so I decided to ask them a few questions.  (I didn't know how angry StubHub was at this time.)

I asked StubHub why it was okay to sell more than 4 tickets and if they would stop.

StubHub said that they "believe people are pooling their tickets together."

I didn't really think it was a valid excuse and I wanted to ask him if they would stop the reselling of tickets above face value, but things were starting to get uncomfortable.  He informed me that he wanted us to stop contacting him (4 emails total).  He sounded angry and scared.  I assured him that we would not contact them again. 

StubHub then said that "they sold burning man tickets in the past, and never had a problem before you started contacting us."

Open Letter to TicketsNow asking them to remove Burning Man Ticket Scalpers

TicketsNow should remove Burning Man Ticket Scalpers.

Dear TicketsNow,

There are several sellers in your Burning Man ticket sales section that are in violation of both your policies and the policies of the Burning Man festival and should be removed immediately.

Violation of TicketsNow policy:  
You must have the tickets in-hand before you can list them on TicketsNow.
A: All tickets not held at will call will be mailed starting in June 2012. - Burning Man Ticket FAQ 
 Violation of Burning Man Policy: 
A: We hope you'll only buy what you need, as that makes more tickets available to others. Regardless of which price or which sale, no person may purchase more than four tickets total. Pre-sale allowed 4 tickets per person. The Main Sale allows for 2 tickets at the tier you are randomly selected for based on your registration. Tickets sold through our Low Income program are one per person. - Burning Man Ticket FAQ
Please remove the offending sellers from your website.  

Thank you for your time.

Thomas Hunt

Send your own letter to TicketsNow (sales@ticketsnow.com) asking them not to scalp Burning Man Tickets today!

Internet Outcry reduces the number of Burning Man Tickets being scalped on StubHub

Number of Burning Man tickets being scalped on StubHub reduces because of you! 
Your hard work spreading the word about Burning Man Tickets being scalped on StubHub is paying off!  Your voice is being heard!  Keep telling your friends that it's not acceptable to resell Burning Man Tickets above face value and ask them to tell their friends!  Keep the pressure on StubHub by Signing the Petition and Joining Burners Against Scalpers today!

*chart based on scalpers selling more than two tickets. reduced from 97 (Mar. 2) to 28 (Mar. 9).

Journey - Video Game Art takes a huge step forward, then a small one back

Watching this video game demo called Journey about a Bedouin wanderer on a desert quest. It is an eternally glowing affair, the sand constantly flowing with magic dust, the sun lit mountain in the distance is always your destination.

Bedouin character is climbing a niagra falls-esque waterfall now. What a beautiful game.  The waterfall opens. A hidden passageway. Our hero waits for the steam to clear and runs in, unafraid.  A giant staircase waits. Where do these stairs go? They go up. They go up.

The sand dunes are pink. The mountain and the light still visible in the distance, now surrounded by a sea of clouds. We are far away from our goal.

A kite flutters in the breeze and the demo ends unexpectedly and the YouTube selection collage appears. In the upper right hand corner is a large pair of computer-animated breasts. Video Game Art takes a huge step forward, then a small one back.