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.
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As some of you may know, I've recently had to move. The reasons are mainly economic, and I don't really want to discuss details right now. But I'm in a different part of town now (Calabasas, near where the Ventura Freeway leaves the western edge of the San Fernando Valley) and I'm staying with someone. There's nothing romantic or sexual about the relationship: We're just living together.
When the time came to move I had to leave behind a lot of stuff, much of it junk but some of it useful stuff. And that got me to thinking of how I relate to physical possessions. Had I been defining myself partly as "the person who has X"? This society tends to encourage that sort of thing. But if I want to keep playing that game or anything similar, I think it's more appropriate for me to define myself as "the person who can do X" where X is various kinds of creative-type things. That's closer to being unique, since it's not the kind of thing just anybody can accomplish by throwing money around. People can buy possessions, and they can buy the fruits of someone else's talents, but it's much harder for them to actually do those things the way the other person would have done them.
Like many theologians and philosophers, I've now and then been thinking about what comes after this life. I have no immediate plans to shuffle off this mortal coil, but it's pretty much bound to happen sooner or later. And that is the ultimate in letting go of physical possessions. Various religions differ as to what abilities and talents you take with you into whatever the next phase is, but most agree that you can't take physical objects. So the more attached one is to physical stuff in this world, the more traumatic will be the transition to the next. My family history tells me I probably have between 25 and 30 years left here, so it may be time to start thinking about such things.
In a way, leaving all that junk behind felt sort of liberating. There was some grief over a few specific things, but they were generally things I hadn't really used for a long time. In effect I was holding onto them just to be able to think of myself as having them. Maybe I would have done something with them sooner or later, but it's likely I would never have gotten around to it. So now I don't have those things tying me down, and I feel more free for it. For some time I had been sort of not feeling good about my surroundings because of all the clutter, and now that's over.
Could I have gotten rid of the more useless junk without having had to move? Possibly, but I probably never would have. It's a different state of mind, different criteria for deciding what to hold onto and what to let go of. Perhaps I could have eventually learned new ways of deciding what to get rid of, but I probably would never have gotten around to it. So even though this has been a very traumatic lesson, it may be one I needed to learn.
Some may wonder why I didn't plan ahead more for moving. I'm not sure myself. Maybe it was simple denial. Or maybe part of me wanted the move to be hurried, as a way of forcing myself to dump the junk. If you believe in things like karmic lessons and Spirit Guides and such that's probably the best explanation. If you don't, then there's probably no good reason beyond simple denial.
The cats? They're now in the care of a neighbor next door to the old place, and he feels they'll do OK. The transition may be traumatic for them, but they'll manage. This new place has cats too, but they're different. More about that some other time.
Why didn't most of you hear about this sooner? Because I've long had this thing about keeping all my personal problems and vulnerabilities and weaknesses secret. I think much of it came from parents who were overly judgmental, and who would criticize all the things I'd done wrong but never say anything much about things I did right. If I did something that they knew about, the response would be either criticism or silence. If they didn't know about it, the response would of course be silence because they would have nothing to respond to. Since keeping everything I did and felt secret would get about the same response as doing everything perfectly, and since doing everything perfectly (especially according to someone else's criteria and personal tastes) was impossible, I just kept as much of my life as possible secret. And repeated parental admonitions to "Quit complaining, because nobody else cares" also played their part.
Being picked on in school by classmates who would jump at the chance to exploit any vulnerable spots they could find was probably also a factor. Again, secrecy reduced the danger. So there have been quite a few layers of shells to break through here.
And this need to break through shells may itself have been another lesson. The WELL has a place for requests for what they call "Beams", which can be anything from good thoughts to expressions of support to prayers to positive energy, depending on how you view such things. And when things were looking their worst I finally broke down and posted an account of my problems there. The response was amazing. People actually cared about me. And that's how I got in touch with the person I'm staying with now.
And that arrangement may turn out to be a good thing too. He's also into computers and contract work, but in somewhat different areas from what I'm most familiar with. We've been discussing ideas for projects we might work together on, where we each have experience in areas the other lacks. So things may work out for the best after all.
Here in Calabasas there's been a lot of fuss about a proposed development. So a few days ago I got to thinking about the role property taxes might play in all this. At present they're based on the value of the property. So if a property is being under-utilized it might be assessed at what it would be worth were it more fully developed, and taxed accordingly. This (along with other costs of ownership) gives an incentive for maximum development.
But what if property were taxed on the income it generated? Then undeveloped property would not be taxed, and the cost of holding it would be reduced. If you were holding it in hopes of its value increasing, you wouldn't be taxed on it until you sold it or developed it. So you would have less incentive to rush into some kind of development project.
In practice this scheme would effectively take so much property off the tax rolls that it might not be viable. But what of a hybrid scheme? Reduce the present property tax and make up the difference with a property-based income tax. I could see the slow-growth factions favoring something of that sort.
At one point while I was typing something I added an extra letter to a word, which got me to wondering why English doesn't allow triple letters (except for a few things like phonetic renderings of sound effects). Do any of the major languages allow them? I don't think French or Spanish or German, etc., normally use triple letters. Is this just coincidence, or is there a reason?
I've been sort of playing cat and mouse with the spelling checker. Sometimes my typing fingers will garble a word really badly, and I'll invoke the spelling checker to see if it will suggest the word I really wanted. Sometimes it will, but often as not it won't. So then I manually make a partial correction and try again. How many partial corrections do I have to make before I get close enough that it can guess the right word? Sometimes one will do it, but sometimes it takes three or four before the desired word appears in the list of suggestions. And occasionally I get the word completely corrected before the checker guesses the one I really wanted. I guess this means that even though the technology has come a long way, it still has a long way to go.
Part 1: The Dali Lama dies and gets reincarnated, and the priests seek him out and have various tests to determine who he's reborn as, and bring him back to their temple to be Dali Lama again.
Part 2: Every so often you hear about some criminal (such as a serial killer) getting several life sentences, or sometimes several death penalties. But how can you do more than one?
Synthesis: When the condemned dies and gets reincarnated, corrections officials would seek him (or her) out and bring him back to prison for another life sentence or another execution. This wouldn't be possible under current American law, but I could see some society that took official notice of reincarnation doing it.
There are, of course, engineering-type problems. The new reincarnation of the Dali Lama is generally found at a young age, perhaps around five to ten years old. You probably wouldn't want to execute anybody that young, so you'd need to keep them in custody until they reached young adulthood. Maybe start them out in a juvenile facility until they're ready for adult prison?
And what if they didn't remember the crime? How do you tell them about what they'd done in that previous life so they'll be in the proper frame of mind for prison or eventual execution?
There are other questions, such as what kind of education you give a child you know is destined for a lifetime in prison without ever entering normal society, but those are just details that we don't need to worry about until the more fundamental questions are settled.
Every so often I get to wondering, who and what and why am I? I think I'm me, but am I really the same me I was yesterday? Or is that one off in Plergbistan being a peasant or a palace guard or something? Reincarnation during sleep. That's not something often spoken of, but there's no good reason why it can't be happening. If you reincarnate without taking your memories with you, so you're in effect somebody else, why wait for the body to die? Why not just take off at any time, or at least at any time the body isn't busy? And why does the body you go into have to be a newborn? Why not just take any vacant body that happens to be lying around? And if that body has memories, then when you take it over you'll have those memories and you'll be whoever that person has been being. It'll all seem normal. So even though you think you've been you all your life, maybe you really haven't.
But be that as it may, there's not much anyone can DO about it, except start a religion around it, or maybe write it up in zines like Silicon Soapware so people will think you're strange.
Now and then I've been to restaurants that have sandwiches named after celebrities. The most recent one I had was a Julio Iglesias sandwich. But I don't think it actually had Julio Iglesias in it. It looked and tasted more like ordinary cow meat than anything else. But now with all the stuff about cloning in the news, I'm starting to wonder what the future might hold for gourmet celebrity-chasers. Might you eventually be able to get a celebrity sandwich that actually contains some of the celebrity it's named after? The celebrity gives a cell sample, probably in a procedure sort of like a biopsy, and thereafter collects royalties on whatever is grown from it (assuming it's not another whole person). And if you're just growing a vat of meat the animal rights people can have meat that wasn't taken without the consent of the animal it was originally part of. So people on both sides of the table would benefit from this new technology.
Walls I was born in a country of thrown stones And spent my days retreating into exotic lands Of imagination Or else hiding behind walls Of forced wit and nervous laughter Listening to the pitter-patter of pebbles Against my stronghold. I eventually fled that land And wandered in poverty Until I found a realm Where my fortune in strange coin Would be accepted. Still I built walls -- Until I noticed that here thrown stones were few And bruises healed easier And the view, fresh air, and sunshine Were more than worth sweeping up An occasional broken window. No more walls? But I am by nature a builder, Scheduled for frequent deliveries Of lumber, nails, bricks, and mortar: All the materials for building walls. No more walls? No more walls. But the materials for building walls Can also be used To build bridges. Thomas G. Digby written 0315 hr 3/05/77 typed 0410 hr 5/22/77 entered 2210 hr 4/12/92 -- END --
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