What I’m Reading: Number 44 – The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

Number 44: The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain Ah, yes. Finally a bit of light reading – Mark Twain…warning, there be spoilers directly ahead…stop now or don’t blame me. I picked this book up because this winter has been particularly gloomy and grey and rainy and wet and moldy here on the Oregon Coast and … Continue reading “What I’m Reading: Number 44 – The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain”

Number 44: The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain Ah, yes. Finally a bit of light reading – Mark Twain…warning, there be spoilers directly ahead…stop now or don’t blame me.

I picked this book up because this winter has been particularly gloomy and grey and rainy and wet and moldy here on the Oregon Coast and I thought maybe a little bit of Twain’s wit and humor would lighten things up. I probably should have read a review first…essentially, this is a story of Satan coming to a 17th century Austrian printshop and making friends with an apprentice and then teaching him about the futility of life and existence and the awfulness of humanity. Twain wrote this at the end of his life and it is essentially his version of Being and Nothingness – not an uplifting or funny story, but more of a rainy gray day book that you read just before you take out your shotgun and pull a Hemingway. Of course, if you are a Satanist or a fan of hating all of humanity, this tale might make you giddy.

A couple of things stand out – first of all the name Twain gives Satan which sounds more like a computer program or android name than that of the devil – are you ready for it: No. 44, New Series 864962 – the 44 part is partially understandable since Twain is partially exploring the idea of twofold or threefold selves Twain being two double twain would be 44 – so Twain is himself the devil revealing the ills of mankind – but the rest of it…no explanation was ever given. Twain wrote the book between 1890 and 1908 but never completed it nor published it. The other thing was Twain’s idea of there being a waking self, a dream self, and a soul self.

Here’s a trippy video about the name that I couldn’t manage to watch all the way through…

I think I’m going to go back to reading about economics and language…fiction has kind of bummed me out. Or maybe I’ll wait until there is sunshine. I started reading House of Sand and Fog and felt even more bummed out.

How Technology Wastes Time – Real World Example of An Hour Destroyed

I woke up an hour and a half ago ready to write a review of a book I just finished reading. I came downstairs, made a pot of coffee, and turned on my computer. It came on just a bit slower than usual, but finally, there was my writing screen. I clicked on it and began to type and the window came up that said ‘program is not responding’ and gave me the choice of waiting or cancelling. I chose to wait – I tried to be patient – 10 minutes later – I realized nothing was going to happen. So, I began to close other windows and shut down other processes on my computer. These also were not responding well. Everything that I had open was finally closed or forced shut and I managed to get back to the writing screen – twenty five minutes had gone by – I started to type – and the screen went gray while another message came up about slow loading – I’d had enough, so I restarted my computer – ten minutes later, it still had not completed the shut-down process so I force restarted it – ten minutes after that I was back on the computer but then it was updating apple products and steam and my antivirus definitions and still moving slugglishly – finally nearly an hour after I woke up energized and ready to write a book review – here I am – and the old problem with this laptop arises – spontaneously selecting and deleting entire blocks of text which on this particular program control z replaces – but not on every program – so sometimes I am not only interrupted but lose entire paragraphs and if I am not paying attention – I don’t notice until I revise and words that do not go together are jammed together. And so – one hour and forty minutes after I awoke – I am annoyed, bothered, and still have not written a word of what I intended but instead am writing this because in fifteen minutes it will be time to wake my daughter for school and my wife is up now and the uninterrupted hour I thought I had to write a decent review of an economic text has been swallowed by the beast of technology and shit design. Time saving my ass. Bill Gates and Al Gore can both go to hell this morning.

The Regulated Society

I remember having a conversation with a ‘gun nut’ friend who insisted that she should be able to carry and shoot her gun anywhere she likes. I disagreed. I found it astounding that she couldn’t see that 1) her gun created a power inequality between her and anyone without a gun and 2) that unless she could guarantee that her bullets had a certain trajectory and stopping point, she was impinging on the freedom of others to move about without concern over being hit by stray bullets. She, on the other hand, was bothered that I thought there should be regulations in place to protect people who she had no intention of threatening – her problem with my arguments could all be boiled down to “Who is given the power to enforce these regulations?” and further that anyone given that sort of power is almost certain to use it for their own advantage. Why should she have to give up power to someone else in the interest of unknown others? Why should she have to give up her own best interest to the interest of others with uncertain motivations? We were at loggerheads – I tried to argue that it wasn’t her, a person with presumably benign motivations, that the regulations were protecting society from, but from people with darker reasons for having or shooting a gun. Her counter-argument was that criminal person wouldn’t be swayed by regulations so all the regulations were actually doing was dis-empowering her while empowering an enforcer class that would create more regulations thus depriving her of more power and beefing up the power of the enforcer class which would eventually come to be controlled by those without an altruistic intention. I tried to argue checks and balances, protection of the weakest members of society, representative government, and more – and left the table pretty sure that I was right and she was wrong – and a part of me still wants to believe that – but in my heart, I know she was right. I don’t like it because I want to believe in the hallowed institutions of self-governance and U.S. style democracy – but damn it – she was right. Or at the very least, we were both missing some ‘right’ middle ground.

The regulated society is a disaster. It’s a disaster that most people are completely blind to. As humans we made a bad turn- this idea of disempowering individuals for the betterment of all is a terrible idea – like lowering test standards to increase the average score. The regulations are not working. All the gun laws we have did not stop any of the mass shootings (or individual shootings) that happened anyway. Speed limits do not stop people from driving fast. Food regulations do not keep companies from selling poison as processed food or using dangerous pesticides – yes, if they get caught they get penalized – which is what the regulated society is when it comes down to it – the penalized society – or the penal society – or the prison society. We live in the Prison Society. There is no freedom except that you are allowed to have from the enforcer class, the guards, the regulators, the power elite. We have willingly given up our power and they have willingly taken it.
I have never wanted to live in the Prison Society, but here I am. There are ways out, but none of them are easy. My world travels and travels within the United States have shown me that the Prison Society is a worldwide phenomenona – there are different flavors, but no escaping it. The Prison Society lives on enforcement and bureaucracy and the illusion of the common good. A dictatorship can offer more freedom than democracy, or less – it depends on the levels of enforcement, bureaucracy, and regulations. The only way out of the Prison Society is self-empowerment – we must re-empower ourselves and refuse to give up that power to anyone – and the only way to create a society that is good for all is to create a new way of thinking about power and wealth and humanity. My friend was right about the regulation society and that we should not give up our power to an enforcer class and she was right about the need to arm ourselves, but I think she was wrong about what we need to arm ourselves with – we don’t need to be armed with guns, we need to be armed with knowledge. The Knowledge Society is the only path that leads to freedom from the Prison Society.

Coffee Shop Crush

John wore a yellow hat and that made him stand out. He’d read about the idea in Lady’s Man Magazine and when he looked in the mirror, the effect was spectacular. So bedazzled was he with the heightened sense of being someone special that he failed to notice Taylor was wearing red socks when he sat next to him at the coffee shop. Taylor had seen the idea on a popular website which had also suggested that he shorten his pants legs so the socks would be more obvious. Taylor felt funny but was sure that he was getting more smiles and nods from young women on the street than he had pre-red socks/flood pants. Taylor was young and handsome. Most women smiled or nodded at him regardless of his red socks. He didn’t know that today. He was far too focused on the results of his red socks. Brenda smiled and nodded at him every day at the coffee shop, but today she decided that it was a mistake. She’d seen an infographic on Facebook which said that men who wore bright colors tended to be self-absorbed and misogynistic. Brenda posted a status update “Ugghhh…cute coffee shop crush proves himself to be a pig.”
John saw his yellow hat reflected in Brenda’s phone as he stood in line for a coffee and was slightly taken aback to realize he looked like the cowboy from Curious George. Then he noticed the words ‘coffee shop crush’. He set the yellow hat down on Taylor’s table and walked out of the shop. Over the next weeks he put together a blog, a website, and an iPhone app called Coffee Shop Crush. From the beginning it was a huge success. Within two months John was swimming in money and being interviewed on tech websites. He had beautiful women begging him for sex. Then someone posted a picture from that coffee shop before he’d taken off the yellow hat. It quickly went viral. It was a matter of minutes before someone had connected the hat with the ‘lame’ ‘pick-up artist’ magazine article John had originally read. In his next interview the first question was whether he read the Lady’s Man Magazine. All it took was his positive answer.
Coffee Shop Crush was destroyed by negative publicity about its misogynistic founder. Snarky graphics and jokes played through the feeds of Brenda and everyone else. A dozen opportunistic young women who had been on dates with John (and twice as many who had never met him) wrote expose’ about how creeped out he made them feel. John jumped from a bridge. He was dead. The internet quickly forgot about him.
Taylor wore a yellow hat and that made him stand out. He’d heard about the idea on a popular website and someone had left the hat on his table a few months before. When he looked in the mirror, the effect was spectacular…..

Vago Damitio’s Predictions for 2015

Once again – I’ll try my hand at predicting the future – and once again I’d like to start by telling you that if you want to know the future – you have to go there.

My predictions for 2014 weren’t all that close – but I did score a few hits. Let’s look at those first:

1)A Duck Dynasty party called ‘Quackers’ did not form.
2)Gold did indeed drop but not to the $700 I had predicted.
3)There were several crazed gunmen but none attacked the supreme court.
4)Syria’s civil war DID spread into Turkey and surrounding areas most notably into Iraq with ISIS – but not significantly into Lebanon.
5)Obamacare did fail, but not formally as predicted
6)Miley Cyrus did not overdose
7)California did not conduct a tax revolt against the USA
8) The internet did not wake up and call everyone on their cellphones.
9) America was not won over by a homeless singer
10) My predicted Twitter religion did not appear and dominate as I predicted.

Now – on to my predictions for 2015

1) This will be the year of the “American Fall” – there will be a serious attempt at disunion in the USA come autumn
2) The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) will make dramatic advances in Lebanon, into Baghdad, and also into North Africa via Libya and Algeria.
3) North Korea will detonate a nuclear missile on a Pacific island – most likely the uninhabited islands north of Japan
4) The price of gold will drop below $700 before autumn and then rebound above the $2200 threshhold before year’s end
5) A reality video game show where contestants compete live for top tier position will make it to the airwaves and become the entertainment phenomonon of 2015
6) The internet will wake up and give a very dramatic “Hello World!” speech
7) A secret Russia, China, Iran, Syria, and Turkey military and economic alliance will be revealed.
8) Amazon.com will be subject to a number of anti-trust suits from cable television providers, retailers, and the music industry
9) A major airline disaster will happen as a result of unregulated drones in a major U.S. urban area
10) The cost of milk will go up nearly 300% by year’s end. This will be a huge problem for those looking for a cheap latte or those with many youngsters.

That’s it – As always – the best way to see the future is to go there – so let’s wait and see.

~Vago

The Death of Vago Damitio VagoDamitio dot com

For the past couple of years, I’ve been running several blogs – which has been profitable, but sometimes confusing – for me and for others. Here’s the deal – in 2009 I sold this site for a reasonable profit – I wanted a domain with my name though – so I made VagoDamitio.com my go to blog since Vago is the nickname I have often used online and in writing. It made sense. I built the VagoDamitio site because my main domain Vagobond.com was dedicated to travel and it didn’t make sense to have all this other stuff on it –

Then in 2012, I bought this site (chrisdamitio.com) back from the guy I had sold it to. Hooray! I owned my name again! But actually, now it became confused further because I had chrisdamitio.com, vagodamitio.com, vagobond.com for travel – plus about 50 other sites for travel writing and selling ads and promotional campaigns on – so I bought VagobondTravelMedia.com and tried to tie everything together. All of this worked for about a year – but I wish I would have done it all in 2009 when there was still big easy money to be made from blogging and links. C’est la vie.

Now, because I was trying to do good SEO so I could have better pagerank and search rankings, I had five different hosting accounts on five different IP addresses and I had all those sites I was juggling and earning from (and the earning was really good up until mid 2012 when Google killed an entire independent industry by cahnging their algorhythms and effectively killing pagerank as an indicator of page strength. What this means is my earnings fell by the wayside and I had to figure out a different way to support my family – but I still had (and have) all of those sites and held on in the hope that they would become earners again – plus I had effectively split my personality into chrisdamitio.com and vagodamitio.com with each having social media accounts and different topics etc. As you can tell, it was confusing as hell. But I held on –

Until three weeks ago when the hosting account I had vagodamitio.com and ten other sites on – hostpapa – found a bad line of code in a comment on one small site called travelblogging101.com and rather than telling me to delete the comment – they deleted my entire hosting account with no notice or chance for me to fix things – I had a wordpress backup which I’ve imported here of vagodamitio.com but I lost vagobonding.com, travelblogging101.com, and all the rest – which is sad because there was a lot of work in those sites but which ulitmately doesn’t matter because they had earned about all they could – I’m still trying to recover them, but I’ve decided to let VagoDamitio.com merge with this site – which, strangely is a rather hard decision.

I think though – it is close to becoming time to let Vago Damitio die – if you call me Vago, you still can, if you call me Chris you still can, but when I introduce myself these days, I introduce myself as Christopher, which after all is really my name.

So, here I am – Christopher Damitio aka Vago – an antiques dealer in a small Oregon town. My wife is Moroccan and we’ve been to a few places. We have chickens and a 3-year-old. I like art – I mean I really really like art. I paint, I buy, I appreciate. As far as writing – I don’t think I’ve done my best work yet – but perhaps, sometime in the not too distant future – I will find the time and peace to write something that really sings.