wafting your way along the slipstreams of the Info Highway

from Bubbles = Tom Digby



Issue #17

New Moon of May 17 1996

Contents copyright 1997 by Thomas G. Digby, with a liberal definition of "fair use". In other words, feel free to quote excerpts elsewhere (with proper attribution), post the entire zine (verbatim, including this notice) on other boards that don't charge specifically for reading the zine, link my Web page, and so on, but if something from here forms a substantial part of something you make money from, it's only fair that I get a cut of the profits.

For more background info, details of how the mailing list works, etc., look at issue #Zero.

If you email me a reply or comment, please make clear whether or not it's for publication.

It's May, when I've often thought of the passage of time in my life, probably because of childhood association with summer vacation. "It's May, June is coming up, another school year is almost done." So all through my childhood and teen years it was a month of anticipation of pleasures to come, a sort of personal end-of-year, even if it isn't recognized as such by anyone else. Do other people have other times of year that are personal New Year times to them?

What if it were more common for people to have Personal New Year celebrations at different times? We sort of have that in birthdays. But the anniversary of a person's birth may not tie in with significant events in later life, so that may not always be the best date for a Personal New Year. And a person may have more than one Personal New Year during the year. For example, a Jewish business person might have their birthday, regular New Year, Jewish New Year, and the company's fiscal year, all at different seasons.

Maybe these would turn into personal Sabbats, a personal Wheel of the Year that's different for each one of us. We might get together periodically and acknowledge these for those who have them right about that particular time, but by their nature they're generally solitary, or for small groups that may not correlate with membership in any larger circle. One familiar example of this is the wedding anniversary of a couple. Others may celebrate with them, but the date belongs to the couple, not to the group.

The traditional Pagan "Wheel of the Year" is built around being in a non- Sunbelt part of the Northern Temperate zone. Thus it isn't particularly suited to places like Los Angeles. But a personal Wheel of the Year would, by being personal for each person, be more universal.

So what need I do toward this end? Maybe draw up some kind of diagram of it, with the traditional Solstices and such marked for reference, but then with other dates of personal significance marked as well? Put that on your altar, if you're of a tradition that keeps such. And be prepared to change it as the years pass and new events make their mark and old ones fade?

Maybe the first thing I should do is design a form that I can print up and add these dates to? For Pagan use, I'd probably have a circle divided up into eighths, with symbols of the eight Sabbats. People who feel differently could mark a circle into twelfths (like a clock face) for the months of the mundane year, and/or start with Christian or Jewish observances. But in any case, that would be just a form for adding dates of personal significance. Maybe make a new one once a year, and keep the old as a record? Or maybe burn the old, as part of some annual passage ritual? All kinds of possibilities come to mind.

As I first-draft this there's a neighborhood cat on my front steps. Sort of brown and white, kind of long-haired. Now he or she has wandered off.

Yes, the cat has gone bye-bye. How come we say things go bye-bye, but we don't say they come hello?

There was a thing in Science about certain specific mutations leading to deformities of the hands and feet. One case had an extra finger, or at least part of one, sprouting from a Y-shaped bone that normally is just sort of linearly bone-shaped. That leads me to wonder what if someone with that deformity dies and the body happens to fossilize and somebody finds that Y-shaped bone thousands or millions of years from now. Will they get all confused and think it's a new species or something?

It reminds me that the popular picture of hominids gradually evolving from quadrupedal to bipedal posture with intermediate stages of walking somewhat stooped over is now believed to be wrong, the result of finding a fossil with some kind of bone or joint disease. So goodbye to the image of each generation of quadrupedal apes putting less weight on their forelimbs than the previous, until the knuckles barely brush the ground, then they don't quite touch at all but sometimes brush the tops of tall grass ...

I feel like inventing something and getting rich. Should I start writing the informercial now? Or should I develop the product first? That's the fuddy-duddy stick-in-the-mud serious approach. Develop the product first, then market it, like Grandpa would have done. Yup.

On the other hand, if you market it first, you could play up the air of mystery about not knowing what the product is yet. Buy it now, and watch the suspense mount as the developers close in on their goal. Will they be able to bring it in on time and within budget? Will they be able to include any features? If so, what kind of features? Hardware features? Software features? Both? Vitamins? Good gas mileage? A user-friendly interface? Well-known artists? New miracle ingredients? Energy savings? Hypo-allergenic, available in both Mac and Windows versions? Batteries that can be recharged with the optional AC adapter? Makes its own gravy? Just pop it in the microwave for five minutes, and eat it right out of the box? Plays on any CD player? All these features, and more? Possibilities are unlimited, so don't try to limit them. The sky's the limit, and maybe not even that, if it turns out to be some kind of spacecraft.

But even if I don't want to reveal what the product is too soon, it's easier to write the informercials if I have at least a vague idea what I'm going to be advertising. So I think I'll hold off on the marketing plans for now.

Since childhood I've thought of the year 2000 as one of those goshwow future things to look forward to. But what when it eventually gets here? What will I have to look forward to after that? There'll be the usual small stuff, conventions and new projects to work on and new zines to write and parties and readings and so on, but there won't be anything on the grand scale of the year 2000. Even space exploration isn't quite that big a deal. So I'm wondering if there may be the mother of all post-party letdowns about four or five years from now.

If this is widespread in the population generally, it may show as an increased rate of clinical depression, more suicides, more deaths from vague ill-defined causes, and so on, starting around 1999 and trailing off over the following decade or so.

They say that certain retired people die at a higher rate than those who keep working at something. And loss of a spouse at any really advanced age is also a major risk factor for dying soon after. In both those kinds of cases there's no one obvious cause, but more of a general thing of "nothing to live for" that manifests in various subtle ways that may be hard to pin down at autopsy. This would be the kind of thing to look for, but in the population as a whole.

So if somebody wants a fairly long-term research project, here it is. Start NOW, to get baseline data, although it may already be closer than would have been ideal.

What if phone numbers took wildcards like file names? Let the * stand for any digit. Then, for example, if you hit 1 (***) and some seven- digit number you'd get a conference call with whoever had that number in every area code. Or, if you were really feeling important, 1 (***) ***- **** would ring everybody in the country. Great for massive telemarketing. Also good for TV promotions, since you could call everybody in a whole area code all at once to remind them that your show is about to start and they should turn on their TV and watch it.

So who do I write to to get this implemented?

I went to a Fred Small concert a few weeks ago (April 26 96). There was a song about how American soldiers killed Indians and their horses while chasing them hither and yon across what is now Idaho, and another about how a woman in Australia died because her child had always been taught to be afraid of the Aboriginals and thus didn't run for help in time. And so on.

This got me thinking about the old "White Man's Burden." Back in the days when the sun never set on the British empire, that meant some sort of obligation to be a good teacher and a good ruler for whatever natives one's country happened to have conquered. That's pretty much gone now, but there's a new "White Man's Burden" on our shoulders: Guilt.

And there's a general Human Burden as well. There was stuff about recycling, and greedy corporations raping the planet, and so on.

But I remember when it was quite different. Forty or fifty years ago we would have cheered images of the U.S. Cavalry wiping out this or that tribe and sending the remnants to some new homeland of Washington's choosing. And we would have thought to ourselves, "Yes, a camp full of Aboriginals is a dangerous place to let a White child go near." And then we would have been shocked at the song writer for having that not turn out to be the right attitude.

The song about the gay adoption would have been even more shocking, because it was sympathetic to the couple and didn't explain how depraved they were or how they were probably going to rape the children as soon as they got old enough. It was almost as if homosexuals could be decent people.

So there's been quite a change in mainstream and near-mainstream values over the last half-century or so.

Currently there seems to be a trend toward greater empathy, seeing yourself in others and seeing things from the other side's point of view. "How the West was Lost" from the native viewpoint, and so on. And some, such as animal rights advocates, are working for more movement in that direction, taking in other species as well. But is this a real trend toward some eventual union of all sentience, or is it just a momentary pendulum swing, a blip in the overall scheme of things? There are forces pushing in the other direction. It may depend on the future course of the economy: Bad times lead to more zero-sum us-them thinking, a smaller pie you're more reluctant to let anyone else have a piece of. So if you happen to feel empathy should be a basic value, pray for prosperity.

There was a big article in the Times about those vacation packages to sell people on time-share condos. Sort of a ripoff in a sense, but technically not. Just on the non-ripoff side of the line. And lots of high-pressure stuff in the sales pitch, with an emphasis on Act Now and "Don't research this deal." If something inside says "Insufficient Data for Decision," ignore it and commit now.

Now Putri-DOS Corp. is expanding into other fields. They bought a condominium building and are now in the process of converting it to time shares. And they're giving out free samples to good customers of their software, former employees, and people who are prominent in their User Group. My friend's is in a building in the beautiful San Fernando Valley, convenient to the 101 and 405 freeways. It's a two-bedroom one-bath unit in a security building, and it's his every day from 5 to 6 am.

Maybe that's not the best of all possible slots, but prime time such as lunch hour is reserved for paying customers. This is, after all, a business.

More seriously, I could see people with consecutive slots in such an arrangement getting together and joining forces for parties and such. That might work, even if it doesn't sound putrid enough for the Putri-Dos people.

                             TORCH SONG SOLO

The last man on Earth(?) sits alone in his camp
On the way to the Olympics.
How he has come to be Torch-bearer is kind of hazy,
Along with why there seem to be no crowds along the way
To cheer him on.

He's not really sure where the Games are,
And even if he knew for certain
It wouldn't seem right to go straight there
Without first finding people along the way
That he can show the Torch to.

A secret part of him also suspects
That if he ever did arrive at the stadium
He would find no pomp and pageantry,
No cheering crowds,
And nothing to do
But collect all the medals by default
And ever after
Have nothing to do.

So he will run the Torch forever,
Taking whichever road looks most tempting,
On the chance that somewhere 
The cheering crowds
Are waiting.

                                        Composed 0215hr 7/25/84

Copyright (c) 1984 Thomas G. Digby

Permission is hereby given for small-scale non-commercial reproduction 
provided credit and copyright notice are given.

                                -- END --

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