Monthly Archives: December 2003

Stories give the universe meaning

Not that I'm that surprised, but within hours of me leaving here yesterday my internet connection crashed, leaving me with over 9,000 emails to download. About 4,000 of those appear to be reports on a particularly massive dictionary attack that was launched after I left (coincidentally I believe; those attacks are pretty much non-stop).

Anyway, I've been reading a lot of books about aboriginal story telling to help me with the scripting of SAVED (which thanks to Mandy Moore I'm going to have to rename). There's an abstract sense to a lot of northern story telling that revolves in part about describing states of being or ideas more so that a “plot” — this is where my interest lies. But to get back to my point, I wanted to recount a story that really touched me.

This takes place in northern British Columbia (ie. the west coast of Canada). When the Canadian government showed up, like it always does, they told the Gitksan natives who had lived there for thousands of years, “this is our land, we'll need to move you to a reservation.” The native elders replied,

“If this is your land, where are your stories?”

The Gitksan went on to take the Canadian government to court to save their homeland. Because they didn't build cities, or have a written language, even though “everyone knew” they'd been the inhabitants of that land for millenia, it was difficult for them to legally prove it. All they could do is bring all the elders of the trial to stand trial — where they sang. They sang the hundreds of songs and legends they had about the land that was their home.

The courts declared their stories legally worthless and continue to strip them of their home.



To illustrate the sense of humor that runs through this book, the picture above has the following caption: “Edward VII, one of the great polygynists of the Victorian era, advertised his prowess with a manly pose.”

If you've got friends (that are interested in social commentary, class consciousness, or even just finance in general) that you still need gifts for, let me recommend The Natural History of the Rich… I picked it up as light reading and it's turned out to be really fun. Basically it's a long series of anecdotes about rich people (both historical and modern, and both “self-made” rich and dynasties) which illustrate how they achieve success. It's very funny, and, in the words of the New York Sun*, “droll and delightful”.

"Wealth is a sort of disease when you consider yourself some sort of god, the creator of everything... but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out."
- George Soros

There are six hundred thousand petamillionaires (people with $5 million or more in assets) in the US. At this point “real” wealth is generally considered to start at a worth at an utter minimum of $5 million, and many would argue that $50 million would be a better number. If I am to believe the megasurvey data, then there are probably between 20 and 50 millionaires on IAM. Statistically there should be about 300 to illustrate just how common millionaires are (there are less on IAM of course because it's youth oriented)… Of course, there are an equal number of people with massive debt!

Anyway, I know that a lot of you reading this are either successfully self-employed in a field that you've helped define, or you're on your way to doing so, whether you've hit the jackpot or not. I thought those of you would enjoy the following quote:

"Almost all successful alpha personalities display a single-minded determination to impose their vision on the world, an irrational belief in unreasonable goals, bordering at times on lunacy. A blindness to consequences characterizes many dominant personalities. They don't see obstacles. They may not bother or even be capable of seeing other peoples' point of view. This blindness is what makes them, with equal sense, outlaws and heroes."
- Richard Conniff

I see that in a lot of the people I've gotten to meet over the past decade!

Anyway, I do recommend this book. It's very funny, and, if getting richer is your thing, it probably is even quite full of good advice. The book's been out for some time now (published last year), so if you don't want to believe me, there are plenty of glowing reviews at the Amazon link above.

* Yeah, I know it's not the New York Times.


Someone had mentioned recently to me that the US has been implying that they will be using torture on Saddam… Along those lines I wanted to link this story about torture of prisoners held in New York by America… You know, it's easy to say “oh, but that was just the guards; it wasn't sanctioned” but when the prison tries to cover it up, the general public isn't particularly outraged, I don't see how one can see that “we” (the collective West) are somehow “better” than the nations we regularly decry for their almost identical violations of human rights.

What, you think it's somehow worse to torture someone because you think they were involved with blasphemy than it is to torture someone and then gleefully mop up their blood with an American flag t-shirt emblazoned with “these colors don't run” because you think someone with the same color of skin as they have attacked you?

…and that's just the prison inside US borders. What happens outside?


I recently got offered these artifacts — tattooed mummified limbs from Peru — along with other pieces such as mummified babies via an old human remains trafficer contact of mine. I dropped out of that business because I wasn't comfortable with the ethical issues a la grave desecration and the potential destruction of valuable archeological sites by looters, but these are unusual finds so they came to me with them…

I might see if there's a museum that I can simply channel them on over to. I don't want them for my personal collection because, well, they make me spiritually uncomfortable. If anyone here is interested in them, is comfortable with the karmic implications, and has the facilities to properly store them (this is human flesh and it will break down in most environments), do feel free to contact me about it.

That said, I will only deal with people who I know on this or people who can offer me a trusted referral.

Risky business

Not that it's a big deal, but the normal encyclopedia URL is of course As you may know, the encyclopedia was designed to replace not only the old glossary, but also BME/Risks. I've got a prototype BME/Risks mode up and running now; it automatically kicks in when you switch to the URL (not that it does much at present).

Right now the changes are really minor — all it does is kick in the new title image at the top indicating the mode change, and it also highlights all risks entries in red (as you can see here). It will of course do much more in the future!

Also, piercers, please HELP ME with this. Because I am no longer working in a studio, I can't easily take pictures of all the problem piercings that walk in every week. Any time you have a problem (boils, unusual keloiding, tear-outs, ear guns in navels, whatever), please please send me a picture of it and any information you have on what caused it and what healed it. Thanks to Jorgen for this example: