Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:19 am

THE RAM DASS BRAIN HEMORRHAGE INCIDENT -- AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE, by Charles Carreon

06/19/10

Science has likely been advanced more through the ages by giving thoughtful attention to chance occurrences than by conducting planned experiments. Physicians have learned a great deal about physiology by treating the victims of accident and illness. In this comment I argue that the opportunity presented by the occurrence of Ram Dass’s stroke was wasted, present some of the reasons why this occurred, and venture some obvious inferences to be drawn by comparing his pre-stroke doctrine and his post-stroke experience.

The Involuntary Contribution of Phineas Gage to Knowledge of Brain Physiology

Every year another class of high school students learns one of the marvelous stories of psychology – the case of Phineas Gage, who on September 13, 1848, survived a dynamite accident in which a steel rod three feet, eight inches long with a 1¼ inch diameter was blasted through his left cheekbone and out the top of his head, leaving a gaping hole that amazingly, healed up. The rod’s trajectory was described by his physician, Dr. Harlow, as follows: The rod “entered through the anterior left lobe of the cerebrum, and made its exit in the medial line, at the junction of the coronal and sagittal sutures, lacerating the longitudinal sinus, fracturing the parietal and frontal bones extensively, breaking up considerable portions of the brain.” Dr. Harlow described the post-injury Gage as “fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operation, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible.”

Phineas Gage had suffered a crude, accidental, frontal lobe lobotomy that altered his personality for the worse. His case history fed interest in how the structure of the brain related to an individual’s personality, a topic now so widely studied that it seems strange that a tragedy was required to provoke inquiry into the subject. Yet so it was.

Ram Dass’s Philosophy of The Spiritual Self

Not long after he and Timothy Leary were fired from the Harvard University psychology faculty, Richard Alpert, Ph.D., traveled to India and, as he told the story in his popular spiritual how-to book, “Be Here Now,” met a charming, raffish, trickster guru named Neem Karoli Baba. After NKB passed Alpert’s toughest test – downing three tabs of Owlsley’s 305 microgram tablets of LSD, the famed “White Lightning,” without raising an eyebrow, Alpert was a convert. He ditched his trousers, donned a robe, swapped mantras and prayer beads for psychological jargon and hallucinogens, took on the name Ram Dass, and returned to the States where according to “Be Here Now,” he floated about on an ocean of love.

Ram Dass’s persona went through quite a few iterations, and he produced a string of books comprised mostly of edited extemporaneous lectures that he gave everywhere. His spiritual philosophy was, however, consistent over the years. Simply put, he taught that we each have a Divine Self separate and apart from the physical body. Perhaps, in his Buddhist moments, he might call it a Non-Self. But the important thing was that this awareness is not based on the operation of the physical brain or body.

Ram Dass’s Endorsement of The Spiritual Technology of Soul-Transference

Ram Dass was also a sincere promoter of spiritual technology based on the philosophy of the deathless, non-physical Divine Self. Through spiritual practices like reciting mantras, controlling the breath, and developing awareness of the subtle energy field that pervades and surrounds the physical body, he taught that spiritual practicioners could retain consciousness even while dying, and would be able to smoothly transition into deathless, non-physical awareness.

The Tibetan Buddhist version of this practice is called “Phowa,” the Yoga of Consciousness Transference, and it comes in three flavors. The highest level of Phowa is accomplished by those who realize the deathless, non-physical awareness during life, and when those people die, they shuck off the body like a dried husk.

Nothing happens. The second tier of candidates prepare for death by becoming skilled in unifying their awareness with a single-syllable Tibetan letter composed of diaphanous light about the fineness of a single hair, called the “seed syllable,” that resides in a tiny lotus of light in the center of their chest. During meditation, they practice raising the seed syllable, which is visualized as kind of springy with vital force, up to the crown of the head repeatedly, in what is essentially a fire drill for death. When death is imminent, they go all the way, using a special mantra that sounds like a hiccup to eject the seed syllable out the crown of the head and into the heart of the Buddha of Limitless Light, Amitabha, and obtain complete release from further transmigration. Legend has it that many Tibetan lamas and even ordinary people have made this process work. Of course, verifiable proof that the method works would be impossible to obtain, but at worst, it seems like a decent, dignified way to spend one’s final hours.

The third method of Phowa is for ordinary people who didn’t spend much time meditating, and this is to have holy people read from special inspirational holy guidebooks to the person who is dying, and even to their corpse after they are dead. These books provide a map of the “Bardo” state between death and the next rebirth, and since the Tibetans believe that the dead stick around near their body after it dies, reading to the corpse is an efficacious way of helping the disembodied person to make good choices in the Bardo, like “avoid the smoky red light – it leads to HELL!” Ram Dass was very familiar with this type of psychic guidebook. In fact, he and Timothy Leary took one of the Tibetan holy books on the subject, popularly titled “The Tibetan Book of the Dead,” and recast it as a manual for psychedelic voyagers interested in sparking and transcending the vaunted “ego death” that Ram Dass had identified as the psychedelic discovery that led him to study Eastern mysticism.

Over the years, Ram Dass had moved towards less dramatic forms of spiritual technology, becoming a proponent of a gentle brew of eclectic practices that he would dispense like, dare we say it, a soothing, vegetarian soup for the soul. Ram Dass was not dogmatic, but he was devoted, and in his own heart, a thoroughgoing convert to his own ideas. No doubt he was hoping that he had done enough spiritual practice and learned enough of the nature of the deathless awareness that he might have a shot at a top-tier, “nothing’s happening, I’m already there” type of Phowa. At least, he figured, he’d be able to take shelter in his heart chakra, unite his awareness with that of his guru, who would lead him to liberation, or at least, a better rebirth.

Ram Dass’s Rude Awakening and Modest Recovery

In February 1997, Ram Dass, the best-known American-born promoter of Eastern wisdom, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that he barely survived. Afterwards, he lost a lot of functioning – he could barely form words, or perform ordinary life activities. But much worse than that, he was a spiritually shaken man. Why? Because he thought God should have protected him from popping a vein? No. His philosophy was not so crude. He didn’t expect fate to exempt him from physical illness. He expected his own knowledge of spiritual technology to provide him with an escape vehicle, a psychic lifeboat, and instead, he got nothin’, bupkus, zilch, a flinkin’ nihilistic nowhere. He could remember his mental state while he was dying, and it was devoid of sacred, inspirational content. He was just looking at the pipes on the hospital ceiling as the paramedics rolled him down the hall on the gurney. A lifetime of spiritual expectation crashed, and death, the great equalizer, had paid an early visit to reduce him to the level of every other living being, so that next time, he would die without delusions of imminent salvation.

Since Ram Dass’s brain hemorrhage, he has become a regular smoker of medical marijuana. He says it relieves pain, frees him from “spasticity,” and “gives me the soul perspective – it makes the stroke livable.” He says he doesn’t smoke around other spiritual teachers, though, “because it isn’t spiritually correct.” Asked whether Deepak Chopra was correct that “deep meditation” was a preferable way to attain “shifts in awareness,” Ram Dass conceded he was correct, then waved a baggie of bud and said, “But pot works faster.” He’s back on the speaking circuit, circulating widely, apparently enjoying himself and making people feel better about life. It’s almost as if the brain hemorrhage never happened.

The Lost Opportunity

There is a huge, booming market these days in studying the relationship between the physical body and the meditative mind. A Google search for “physiology of meditation” produces over 700,000 hits. The Dalai Lama has been the headliner at a number of symposia that purport to bring together neuroscientists, yogis, therapists, and philosophers to share their knowledge, presumably to make progress toward a unified theory of consciousness. However, there is a paucity of meaningful experimental work. The “TM” group has pushed the “measurable benefits” of their trademarked “20 minutes twice a day” mantra meditation, but this is sales material, not scientific work. The brain waves of meditators have been traced on EEGs, biofeedback studies have been conducted, and recently a small Harvard study claimed that meditators actually have thicker brain tissue in some brain regions. But we still know very little about the physiology of spirituality.

So when an unfortunate accident comes along that might give us some insight into the issue, you’d think we might take it. You’d think someone might look at Ram Dass’s condition post-hemorrhage, and want to de-brief him on his conclusions. Question number one would be, “Do you still believe that there is a non-physical, deathless awareness existing independent of your physical body?” If Ram Dass answered, “Yes,” the next question would be, “Why were you unable to contact that awareness when you were dying?”

We should ask Ram Dass these questions because he was a practicioner of spiritual technology that relies on a philosophical postulate that is impossible to confirm – the deathless core of our personal existence. The fact that, after a lifetime of teaching meditation, he now relies upon cannabis to attain “the soul perspective” should give us some pause. What’s the point of a lifetime of meditating, if we end up lighting up a joint? He claims to be “a mixed message,” and in the realm of ultimate reality, that’s not a plus. He recently said, “Silence is the royal road to God. Silence prepares you for death.” But he’s now reported to be doing more preaching and talking than ever. Shouldn’t he be preparing for death more assiduously? However, there’s a good side to his continuing willingness to talk. That means that before he goes silent altogether, someone could ask him, “What happened that shook you up so much, and why does it not seem to matter anymore?”

Why Nobody Asks These Questions

Nobody asks Ram Dass these questions because they don’t want to hear the answers. If indeed, a man who was expecting to find himself all dressed up in spirit and ready to head for liberation or the next incarnation, instead found nothing, then a central justification for adopting his philosophy has been destroyed. For the last thirty or forty years, the media has fed us a steady diet of near-death experiences recounted by people who wandered through death’s door to discover tunnels of light, guardian spirits, dead relatives and angels, and came back to live a better life. And here we have the story of a guy who, by all rights, should’ve gotten a better reception in the last waiting room before final departure, and discovered absolutely nothing. Clearly, this is an answer that no one wants because you can’t use it to sell religious instruction, inspirational books, yoga mats, or meditation cushions.

A Few Inferences About Spiritual Technology To Be Drawn Despite Ram Dass’s Failure To Make Full Disclosure

I’d like to conclude by posing two questions.

First, is awareness inextricably bound up with the activity of the physical body and brain, such that we not only appear to be inert when we die -- we really are?

Second, if awareness and physical life are inextricably connected, is spiritual technology of any value at all?

Let’s face it – the spiritual lobbyists cannot answer “yes” to the first question, because their entire product is based on cultivating and coping with the fear of death. But as people who answer questions based on evidence, this is a question for which all the reliable evidence compels a “yes” answer. We may not like it, we may be prejudiced against believing it, but if we were asked to disprove it or be killed this very instant, we would admit that we have no proof. All of the proofs that have ever been offered wouldn’t convince any objective, impartial judge, as they all amount to appeals to the impulse to believe. And believing without evidence is the alternative to reasoned decisionmaking.

But my answer to the second question might surprise you. I think that spiritual technology has lots of value, but not as the insurance policy peddled by fear-mongers in religious robes. Spiritual technology, rightly understood, is a branch of life science and physiology, a collection of folk techniques for better living. There is a subtle energy body suffusing the human body. There are acupuncture lines and chakras that can be charged with energy. Harmonizing breath, calming sounds, and transporting music, are all real vehicles for strengthening the human organism and expanding its capacity for happy living.

Quite likely, there is no way to bridge the gap between one living body and another, even though it was tantalizingly depicted in James Cameron’s recent animation epic, “Avatar.” For all the self-promoting ballyhoo of Tibetan lamas who claim to have enjoyed multiple reincarnations as a “lineage of enlightened consciousness,” there’s no proof of the claims, and plenty of evidence that the entire tulku trip was a clever innovation by the clergy to put themselves on an equal footing with the hereditary feudal lords, and indeed to manipulate feudal families by inducing them to vie with each other for the privilege of having their sons chosen as the “reincarnations” of dead, wealthy lamas.

The realm of “life after death,” or the space between one life and another, for those who fancy the notion that reincarnation or transmigration actually occur, has forever been the playground of deceivers, shysters, table-tappers, mediums, and spiritualists, and the daily operational base for priests and preachers. Harnessing spiritual technology, which can be used to deepen our experience of life, to the obsessive and useless project of defeating death, is just one more way in which religion and spiritualism wastes our time and resources.

Ironically, those who forget about death altogether and focus on living life to the fullest today, using every vehicle at their disposal, may find themselves in very exalted spiritual company.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:20 am

SMIDS: Social Media-Induced Delusional Syndrome, by Charles Carreon

7/25/12

A new mental disease for the Internet age is proposed for inclusion in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders: Social Media-Induced Delusional Syndrome (“SMIDS”). While tentative in its observations, this proposal has a legitimate basis in anecdotal evidence, and discusses the risks of attempting treatment of SMIDS-sufferers.

The primary subjective characteristic of SMIDS is the sensation of power gained from being part of a large, anonymous group of social media participants. By “anonymous,” we do not mean that a person who declares their identity cannot be suffering from SMIDS; rather, we mean that due to the large number of people joined in a Social Media Mob (“SMob”), each individual experiences the safety of relative anonymity. By “the safety of relative anonymity,” we mean the sense of security derived from the knowledge that there are so many participants in a SMob that it’s highly unlikely any one of them will suffer negative consequences due to their conduct.

The primary objective characteristic is the tendency to focus on an object of hatred (the “ObHat”), which intensifies as the number of SMob-participants grows, manifesting in antisocial cyber-behavior. Like members of a street mob who ordinarily manifest no criminal characteristics, yet become capable of flinging bricks and mortar and engaging in random violence when gathered in large numbers, members of a SMob may engage in behavior atypical of their usual behavior patterns. Such behaviors may range from online postings of sadistic wishes that the ObHat should suffer misfortune such as career failure and painful death, sending hate mails bearing similar ill-wishes to the ObHat, sending physical packets of disgusting materials such as offal to the Obhat, and directing Denial of Service Attacks towards websites associated with the ObHat.

The delusory character of the sense of power experienced by the SMIDS-sufferer can be easily discerned, and has tautalogical roots. In point of fact, the ObHat is unlikely to suffer anything like the severe sentences pronounced upon her by the Smob, unless of course the ObHat falls victim to Social Media-Induced Self Hate (“SMISH”). The massed expression of ill wishes by a SMob is thus similar to the effects of primitive curses among the aborigines — dangerous if taken at face value, survivable otherwise. Hence, the expression of ill wishes by SMIDS-sufferers are referred to as Cybercurses.

Common battle cries flying from the spittle-flecked lips of SMIDS-sufferers are “we are the Internet,” and “Google never forgets.” Such cri de couer reveal the roots of the delusion. The roots of the power delusion lie in the SMIDS-sufferer’s fear that in fact, he is powerless. The roots of the corollary delusion that the SMob can destroy the object of hatred by the objective force of massed Cybercurses are an attempt to curb the anxious feeling that participating in Social Media is in fact meaningless.

For ObHats victimized by SMIDS-deluded SMobs, the experience can be painful and shocking; however, unless the ObHat decays into SMISH, their suffering is transient and non-pathological. The same cannot be said for all those who suffer from SMIDS. Although at first, joining in SMob behavior may trigger only transient episodes of acute SMIDS, unnoticed by anyone besides the ObHat and the SMob, like other forms of Social Media dysfunctions, an addictive cycle often forms that leads to chronic SMIDS, with pathological characteristics that beg for treatment.

At present, the occurrence of Social Media induced dysfunctions is in its infancy, and the only known treatment modalities appear to be removal of the initiating stimulus, i.e., turning off the Internet. However, for persons who have come to believe that they “are the Internet,” turning off the Internet would be the equivalent of suicide, and thus unthinkable. Were any outsider to attempt to forcibly remove them from the Internet, the chronic SMIDS-sufferer would likely react with violent rejection and excuse-making behavior. Excuse-making would generally take the form of self-righteous expressions that the SMob merely wants to make a better world, and that the ObHat du jour is a genuine danger to the welfare of all.

For those in the helping professions dealing with SMIDS, and for human resources professionals who encounter SMIDS in the workplace, the first avenue of approach should be indirect. The serious danger, of course, is that anyone who confronts a SMIDS-sufferer with their conduct may find themselves turned into an ObHat, with all of the risky consequences associated therewith. A manager confronting a SMIDS-sufferer about lost productivity in their employment might wake up to find themselves the focus of a plethora of SMob attacks: fake Twitter accounts proclaiming that the ObHat must now disclose that they are transsexual, bogus Facebook pages embracing extremist ideologies, and an email box with new messages proclaiming things like: “Welcome to the Jihad, and Peace be upon you brother. Thank you for signing up for our Peshawar-based online training program in anti-drone warfare.”

Copyright 2012, Charles Carreon.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:23 am

SMIDS: Social Media-Induced Delusional Syndrome, by Charles Carreon

7/25/12

Image

A new mental disease for the Internet age is proposed for inclusion in the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders: Social Media-Induced Self-Hate (“SMISH”). This proposal stems from the writer’s inquiry into a closely-related disorder, dubbed SMIDS for Social Media-Induced Delusional Disorder, and explores the likelihood that both SMISH and SMIDS may simultaneously afflict one individual, with one disorder or the other gaining the upper hand due primarily to the nature of the sufferer’s interactions with Social Media.

The primary subjective characteristics of SMISH are a sense of insecurity and compulsive reinforcement-seeking behavior through Social Media. Secondary characteristics are a fear of judgment by Social Media Peers (“SMPeers”) and compulsive propitiatory behavior intended to head off judgment and establish trust-links that will protect the SMISH-sufferer from becoming an Object of Hatred among their SMPeers. A tertiary characteristic is total involvement with the Social Media world and a corollary loss of interest in relationships with Real World Peers aside from interactions within the Social Media world. At that point, SMISH has ensnared the sufferer in a cycle of addictive behavior from which they will likely exit only after a period of serious self-assessment, or an intervention by concerned friends and relations.

The objective indications of SMISH usually manifest sequentially and in conjunction with the emergence of the subjective characteristics outlined above. Victims generally progress from incipient SMISH, characterized by an inclination to overvalue SMPeers and devalue Non-Social Media relationships, to acute SMISH, characterized by increasingly compulsive abuse of Social Media, to the third level of true addictive behavior, characterized by frenzied posting and craven toadying to SMPeer authority-figures. The disease often takes hold in an acute form over the course of a few evenings, and progress to a chronic condition over a period of weeks.

SMISH does not require any particular type of host subject to become established, and the notion that only certain types are predisposed should be rejected at the outset. Narcissistic personalities might seem less inclined to SMISH than insecure types; however, the desire to gain mass approval of SMPeers appears to reveal hidden faults in even robust personalities, that, like gullies that turn to ravines overnight in a torrential flood, become deep fissures, exposing the raw heart of a painfully-suffering ego.

SMISH can produce consequences that seem merely pathetic, as when one sees a young girl posting compliments in praise of aggressive male personalities in hopes of receiving a word of approval. For youthful sufferers of this stripe, moderate treatment modalities, including redirection of the individual toward non-Social Media relationships and relationship counseling, may be entirely adequate. However, SMISH can evolve in two other identified directions: a suicidal state, or SMIDS.

Suicide due to SMISH is an established phenomenon for which a brief online search will provide sufficient anecdotes to eliminate doubt as to whether SMISH can be fatal. What is essential is that caregivers realize that once suicidal ideation has taken hold of a SMISH-sufferer, the condition cannot be dismissed as merely an Internet neurosis. Treatment for SMISH-induced suicidal ideation must be as radical as the condition, with the understanding that the stakes are life and death. The sufferer’s use of Social Media must be terminated immediately, all communication with or about SMPeers must cease, and an intensive program of self-approval must be put in place. Physical exercise, outdoor recreation, and non-reflective outward-oriented activities should supplant the previous introverted, obsessive attachment to Social Media. Such an aggressive course of therapy may well produce dramatic results in a short period of time if the disease is caught before it progresses too far.

The evolution of SMISH into SMIDS is far more insidious, however, because SMIDS-sufferers outwardly direct their pain towards the Objects of Hatred who are their chosen online prey. Like road-rage on the streets and highways, SMIDS creates hazards for other individuals of which society must be mindful. Since a separate discussion of SMIDS has already been published, we will not repeat that analysis here, and rather discuss briefly why SMISH has the potential to co-exist with or turn into SMIDS.

Simply put, SMISH is at bottom fueled by the fear of judgment by SMPeers. Among the community of SMPeers, dominant, aggressive personalities skilled in ad hominem argument and the use of pointed invective rule the roost. SMISH-sufferers are often passive personalities who lack verbal combat skills. Although initially attracted to Social Media because many of their Real World Peers are interacting online, as they learn to deploy propitiatory tactics such as shilling and toadying for their more aggressive SMPeers, they are seduced by the online environment and become addicted to its self-abasing rituals. Nevertheless, over time, they find themselves both immersed in self-hate at having sold their integrity for an impermanent sense of personal safety, and walking on eggshells, experiencing profound anxiety about the possibility of becoming an object of online derision, or most fearfully, an actual Object of Hatred (“ObHat”).

Many SMISH-sufferers adapt to their passive role online, and master the craven postures of appeasement seen on so many blogs and bulletin boards, where covens of SMISH-sufferers gather around dominant SMPeers in fulsome displays of unwholesome adulation. Many SMISH-sufferers alternate between SMISH and SMIDS on an occasional basis, joining occasionally with Social Media Mobs to hurl Cybercurses at various ObHats, thereby demonstrating their loyalty to dominant SMPeers, and ensuring themselves against becoming an ObHat themselves. Although not being entirely committed to the aggressive conduct, they nevertheless engage in it convincingly, much like an ordinary citizen who finds herself caught in a momentary mob hysteria, then later thinks better of it. Finally, some SMISH-sufferers “ripen” into the pure aggressive neurosis of SMIDS, as they discover that the only way to feel “safe” in a toxic Social Media environment is with a verbal rock in their hand, ready to give as good as they get. They have contacted their inner brownshirt, and civil society has gained a new enemy. For further discussion of SMIDS, see the related article.

Copyright 2012, Charles Carreon.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:30 am

A BRIEF MUSING ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GOOGLE-CENTRIC INTERNET, by Charles Carreon

4/26/13

It is now of course difficult to remember the Internet before Google, but actually, it existed. And it’s worth remembering what it looked like, not just for the sake of nostalgia, but rather, so we can adequately reflect on how the Internet is evolving as a Google-centric organism.

Actually, it’s worth remembering what computers were like before we hooked them up to the Internet. Our work computers were like little forges, in which we hammered out our productions, mostly documents, and printers were vital to their utility. So our work computers were essentially fancy typewriters that made revisions and formatting an easier process. We’d print out our documents and turn off the computer, and that was that. You wouldn’t spend hours fooling around with your machine unless you were truly a nerd, or a scientist, or a software engineer, because for most of us, computers didn’t really do anything interesting.

Then the Internet came along, and there was someplace to go. A screen became a point of departure. Totally different from a fancy typewriter. You used to hear writers talk a lot about “writer’s block.” I don’t hear too much about that anymore. It might have been a symptom of the typewriter itself, with that damned blank page sitting there waiting to be filled. Nowadays writers fear they’re about to be swamped in the flood of just plain old chatter that engulfs us. And printers aren’t all that vital, since most reading happens right off the screen.

So what the Internet did was to drastically increase the amount of time we spend absorbing information. If you can imagine being a shepherd, sitting on a hill all day watching your sheep, not communicating with anyone about anything, and then compare that with how we live our days – well, there’s no comparison. Your average person, forced to be that shepherd, might very well spend all their time looking for a cliff to jump off of. Information has become psychological food that we feel we need in order to be ourselves. And the Internet is an info-teat that few of us can tear ourselves away from for any serious length of time.

Question: To what extent did Google make the Internet into a huge info-teat? I would argue to a great extent, because Google institutionalized the idea that the fruits of the Internet should be free, and trained us to use to suck on it shamelessly all day and all night. We have more than halfway evolved into Homo Informaticus, the inhabitants of a Google-centric Internet, into which Facebook is not going to make an appreciable dent.

A Google-centric Internet is, above all, searchable. The original Internet was not. Shocking, eh? You think I’m pulling your leg. No, really, it wasn’t! Even though it was tiny by comparison with its current enormity, it was huge, overwhelming, unmanageable, hard to navigate. And guess what? Domain names were really important. Yes, domain names were crucial, because without them, how would you ever find your way back to some page that you’d visited? Unless you’d bookmarked the link, you were screwed.

Pre-Google-centrism, we searched to find information, not sites. Today, you find sites by plugging a chunk of text you remember into Google, and wham, you’re back at that site. And you don’t really worry too much about this website or that one, because no site has a corner on good content. Which leads us to the next characteristic of the Google-centric Internet – the erosion of brand-name power in the media field.

Once the New York Times stood at the head of the field in the newspaper world, and a column on the op-ed page made you a leader of society. Today a place on the editorial page makes you who? David Brooks? Paul Krugman? Maureen Dowd? Whoop-de-do.

This might lead you to think that the media playing field has been leveled. Be not deceived. In a Google-centric universe, nothing is level. Every surface slopes towards the hole at the center. It’s shaped like a rectangle. You type words into it, and the next thing you see is a list of links, with the sponsored ones at the top. The order in which those links appear reveals the true pecking order of our society. Those whose links appear at the top can find their pockets filled with lucre, and thus Google selects the worthy from among us.

In the ages of monarchy, supplicants came from all over the realm to plead their causes at court, and one had to find a skilled courtier to gain the King’s ear. In a Google-centric universe, we have SEO specialists. Fortunes rise and fall with search engine rankings. De-listing, downgrading, banning -- these are the causes of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Google has taken upon itself the burden of separating the informational grain from the husks, and it grinds that grain into the gruel that flows from the info-teat. If you are looking for something, and Google has not found it, you are not likely to find it either. And if Google found it unworthy of being classed as legitimate information, it’s going to be on the thirteenth page of results or maybe nowhere.

So in the end, you see, Google is the editor of a vast script that the rest of us are writing. Text has become more important than ever before in the life of commerce and culture. And it is being produced in greater abundance than at any time in history. The production of text is now the great competitive enterprise, and the rewards are ever more capriciously dispensed. While Google purportedly labors to stay ahead of the scammers who would flood your search-results with irrelevant responses and vapid content, there is no one but Google to judge the quality of its efforts. Indeed, we have no way of knowing what we’re missing. The cries of those whose worthy offerings are spurned by the all-knowing search-algorithms cannot, by definition, be heard.

Ironically, in our fact-driven age, we inhabit a universe built on faith. Faith in the omniscience of the all-knowing Google. Once the Roman Catholic Church had a monopoly on truth, and the Pope was seriously believed to be infallible. It is perhaps a sign of the times that Benedict gave up the job. The mantle of infallibility has clearly passed to Google.
Copyright 2013, Charles Carreon.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:31 am

TO FIGHT INTERNET FRAUD UNLEASH THE TRIAL LAWYERS, by Charles Carreon

5/01/13

A Modest Proposal For A Private Right of Action Under the Federal Trade Commission Act

The Problem: Too Many Crooks, Hardly Any Cops


The Net is overwhelmed with fraud. Authorities are frustrated. Identity theft is commonplace. Banks absorb fraud losses as a cost of doing business. Bank robbers are fools -- the only smart way to steal is over the Internet. I have a solution: Give the trial lawyers an incentive to sue Net-fraudsters, and let’s see how quickly the problem is reduced from its current epidemic level. How do you unleash the trial lawyers? You create a “private right of action” under the Federal Trade Commission Act, giving lawyers for defrauded consumers the same rights as a U.S. Attorney working in the Consumer Fraud Division of the Department of Justice.

Not A Political Issue

This is not a political issue, although Internet fraudsters who already have hired lobbyists will be quick to turn it into one. Both social conservatives and consumer protection advocates who understand my proposal will find it appealing. If you like small government, or take a DIY approach to computer security, this should appeal to you. If you think government should provide protection to citizens, then you surely must agree that if government lawyers don’t have the resources to protect all of us from fraud, we should at least be given the right to help ourselves. And while they’re at it, Congress could explicitly give the FTC all the authority it needs to sue, immobilize and extract stolen wealth from Internet fraudsters.

Lawyers for fraudsters, of whom there are many due to the profitability of Internet fraud, will say that creating a federal right of action against Internet fraud is unnecessary, because there are consumer protection laws in virtually every state that provide a private right of action. However, this is misleading, because those state laws do not provide access to the federal courts, and your average Internet fraudster is usually pilfering your data and financial accounts from the safety of some state other than the one where you live. The federal subpoena power is nationwide, and the evidence of fraud is spread all over fifty states, so we really need federal jurisdiction to do the job presented by a national epidemic.

The FTC: Slow On the Draw and Seriously Outgunned

The FTC itself has only come into its consumer protection enforcement power slowly, by a series of legislative changes and judicial interpretations that established the FTC’s power to sue for orders seeking restitution for consumer injuries. It was not until the 1960’s that the Commission began using its rulemaking authority under Section 6(g) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 46(g), to define specific acts and practices that injure consumers, acts for which the FTC’s lawyers could seek damages awards in federal courts. In truth, the FTC consumer protection program has always been years behind and underfunded, given the scale of Internet fraudsters’ attacks on American pocketbooks. While the FTC certainly has an active consumer enforcement docket, it is a teacupful of remedy against an ocean of Internet fraud.

California Leads The Way

So what would a federal private right of action for consumers provide? Congress can look at the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), that provides strong consumer remedies in California. It should also take aim at the specific practices that are being used by Internet fraudsters to perpetrate their schemes for picking our pockets: the use of malware, spyware, and browser-hijacking software that turns your computer into a cash register for net-thieves. The time has come for law on the wild west of the Internet, and there is a serious shortage of badge-wearing federal lawyers. We need to deputize the trial bar to clean up the Internet and make it safe, for honest, law-abiding Net-folk.

© 2013, Charles Carreon
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:34 am

SHITSTORM BY THE SEA -- THE SEAN PARKER DIRA, by Charles Carreon

7/10/13

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The DIRA kicked off by Sean Parker’s wedding was like wood shavings soaked in diesel — easy to ignite and sure to burn hot: “Napster/FB billionaire destroys pristine redwoods to indulge Tolkien fantasy wedding wish of gold-digger wife.” Tweet that to a few thousand people, get a dozen retweets and a couple of faves. It’s a sign of truly bad times that people will stoop to this kind of activity not even for money, but just for clicks. Parker is right that he got served up as “link-bait,” although very few people other than Sean Parker and the rest of the digerati success-stories make any substantial coin from all of this traffic flying around dishing dirt. Which adds to the perfection of Parker and his wife as perfect rapeutation targets. He can’t complain — he created this monster!

Parker could do no right in his situation. He paid a million in fines for environmental violations he did not commit, and tossed another $1.5 Million at environmental causes, but none of it could buy him out of the kill-zone set up by the social media DIRA squad that put him in the crosshairs.

The only thing Parker could have done was ignore everyone and turn his mind to other matters, like Charles Carreon. Take that iPad and that expensive phone, and throw them into the recycling (tossing them off the Big Sur cliffs would obviously be a very evil thing to do and initiate a DIRA such as might crash the Net itself). He’s rich. He could ignore them. Lots of people told him to do that.

But no! Sean didn’t earn billions so he could hide away like any other person who’s been pelted with shame. He wants to have fun, wants his wife to have fun, wants to use the Internet like everyone else without seeing his name being drawn and quartered, becoming the butt of derisive jokes by people who don’t make as much in a year as he makes in ten minutes. He doesn’t want the pity from the politically correct, or the sympathy from his diminishing stock of friends.

Sean didn’t want to have to explain himself. But he did it anyway, out of a desperate desire to shout at the whirlwind. But the whirlwind heareth him not.

Sean thinks he got DIRA’d due to the petty avarice of bloggers-for-profit who want to ride the traffic-whale of his hateable celebrity (already set up to be knocked down by the unflattering depiction of him in “The Social Network”). Now seriously, how much do bloggers make? Not much, but like most hopeful online click-mongers, they will do anything to pump up their pathetic hope of someday having actual earnings beyond beer money. But no one needed to be paid to make it worthwhile to burn Sean Parker. The story of him and his elf-bride indulging in geeky, sybaritic pomp was an irresistible meme to those anonymous millions who thump the tubs in the echo chambers of social media.

But at least now we’ve seen what happens when a TechCrunch insider is hit by a DIRA. No one can protect them from it, but once it happens, they get all the digital ink they need to talk back to their rapeutationists. I mean, this is Sean Parker, who created Napster, that turned hundreds of thousands of copyrighted songs into everybody’s free music store through the magic of file-sharing. Who plowed those winnings into Facebook, from which he graduated as a cool billionaire. Who gave those pizza-and-soda-smeared zombies the landscape across which they now gaily rampage like bacchantes drunk on digital wine. They burned him! They destroyed his $4.5 Million fantasy wedding experience and made him cry out loud for mercy, because whatever you call it, that’s what his June 2013 posting on TechCrunch was. It was the cry of pain of a wounded human animal who has been gouged by the cruel speech of hundreds of thousands of people that he would much prefer liked him.

The DIRA zombies who lusted for Parker’s brains were fed a pro-environmental schtick that painted Parker as a plunderer of redwoods and destroyer of trout streams whose lavish fantasy-themed wedding in Big Sur was a symbol of everything wrong with cyberbillionaires. This easily-communicated meme slathered in hate-speech, passed through the information network like E.Coli in a batch of hamburger. The zombies who ate it don’t know they’re sick, though, so they’ll keep consuming the same shit, and calling it delicious.

It may be that the handheld mobile device is the most dangerous vector for transmission of the DIRA zombie virus. The physical evidence is overwhelming. Every day we see young people whose vulnerable brains have been entirely taken over, walking through the mall with that rigid step, slow and directionless, as they receive directions from their handheld, positioned exactly fourteen inches away from their eyes, their fingers stroking the glassy surface with a hypnotized stare. Their breath is shallow, as if their thoughts were being edited by an outer force, which they are. They don’t emerge from their trances no matter how long I watch them.

While talking back to zombies is futile, in Sean Parker’s case, because TechCrunch, a key DIRA-node, gave him a podium, he was able to solicit some sympathy and reasoned responses from people who realized that pissing off a billionaire might not be the best thing for their future careers. That sort of thought can snap even a zombie out of its trance. And I bet reading the occasional sympathetic comment improved Parker’s mood. But the zombie-to-human ratio is still skewed against Parker, and the echo chamber of hatred drones on, with brutal efficiency.

In response to Parker’s apologia pro se, the shit-slinging shifted tone, as exemplified by the title of an article at ValleyWag.com: “Sean Parker: Still an Asshole 10,000 Words Later.” This article, by Sean Biddle, fails to fulfill the promise of the headline. Biddle’s article doesn’t convict Parker as an asshole, unless stating your position in terms favorable to yourself makes you an asshole, because Biddle merely argues that Parker has spun the facts in his favor. All the invective is in the title. Why did Biddle inject the word “asshole” into his a headline, the use of which, in the wrong bar, could get your teeth knocked out in a Texas minute? Because putting “asshole” in your title punches it right up there in the Google rankings, silly! Or to use the language of the day, “It’s click-bait, dumbass!” Biddle wouldn’t have his job pushing digital ink if he didn’t know how to do that.

Parker’s proof that a billion and membership in the digerati won’t save you from a DIRA that has all the required elements for igniting that neuronal bonfire in the brains thousands of social network zombies, who will start spewing digital spitwads when the implanted suggestion is triggered. Frankenstein destroyed by his monster.

Copyright 2013, Charles Carreon.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:36 am

BLOOM'S "GLOBAL BRAIN" AND THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, by Charles Carreon

7/12/13

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One of the primary points that Howard Bloom made in his book, “Global Brain” is that among humans, social rejection sends us the same message as certain chemical signals given by the ancient colony-bacteria from which we evolved: “You are useless. Now please die.” From mere isolation to toxic social media exchanges, from parental rejection to sexual failure, all of these blows to positive self-valuation — we take them to heart.

Bloom says that sinking into depression in response to criticism is step one on the road to self-annihilation, signaling our immune system that the treasure of life it’s been guarding is worthless, and there is no point in manning the battlements. Soon, our cells will cease to defend themselves against outside aggressors, and neglect the internal rebuilding that is necessary to maintain our health and assure our longevity. We buy the propaganda, and we go down. Bloom cites a 1988 study of 1,814 children showing that 9-14 year-olds feared being shamed before peers more than almost any other situation. Bloom cites a Harvard expert for the conclusion “that humiliation was one of the most common causes of childhood and teen suicide.”

As wave after wave of hate-speech is unleashed against the target of a DIRA, they must take Bloom seriously, or the consequences will be grave. It is not healthy to absorb the impact of all that ill-will, or even the smallest fraction of it.  As the fog of nastiness swirls about them, infiltrating every corner of their lives, they should realize that duct tape and sheets of plastic will not be enough for this situation. Gloves, respirators, and full body suits are going to be required. It is, indeed, bad crazy. Merely breathing the exhalations of zombies can be lethal. Take no chances. First off, don’t Google yourself, or any other topic that’s going to expose you to the mountain of ugly speech associated with your name, unless you have to for purposes of litigation. If you’re doing it for litigation, keep professional distance while you’re handling the material, and scrub yourself psychologically with exercise and meditation afterwards.

Like Vincent Price in “The Last Man on Earth,” who survived night after night of zombie onslaughts, the author of this post owes his survival to precautionary measures, taken in broad daylight against the forces of darkness that, in my case, prowl not the external night, but rather, the dark spaces of the Internet.
 
Copyright 2013, Charles Carreon.

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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:52 am

2001, A SPACE ODYSSEY -- DULL MOVIE, GREAT SOUNDTRACK, by Charles Carreon

2001, A Space Odyssey was a sixties event. It screened in my hometown at the widescreen cinema on Scottsdale Boulevard. I remember it showed with a fantastic documentary about real space travel that I enjoyed a great deal more than the feature. That tells you something. It’s not a movie for kids, even smart kids who are interested in outer space.

When I was a kid, this movie seemed stupid, irritating, and implausible. I didn't think that grownups would let their machines kill them. When HAL started singing “Daisy,” I wanted another root beer badly, but it just went on and on, slower and slower as the astronaut turned off his circuits and the stupid retarded machine started whining. Then the ending was torturous. The astronaut gets really old and eats all by himself. That was about as exciting as watching the grass grow. It was slightly exciting when he broke his wine glass, but nothing came of it. All the adults were so solemn watching this guy get old in a room with too much light where there were no other people, so boring, and he just gets older and older. It was like an ad for why not to retire. It’ll kill you. At any rate, finally he does die, and the movie can end. Actually, that’s funny to run through, because now, I think it’s a pretty good movie.

But what I like better is the soundtrack from 2001, A Space Odyssey. Apparently, Kubrick chose the music to give himself some structure for shooting, but had budgeted for a composer to do a unique soundtrack. Ultimately, he stuck with his classical sources. A lesson to us all – we often end where we begin. My experience with the 2001 soundtrack came with a copy recorded on 8-track owned by my friend William Woods Chandler III, who gets the prize for most drugs in one small suitcase, including hundreds of hits of blotter, grams of brown sugar, and some cocaine so bad I don’t think you could have been busted for possessing it. He was a bad boy, determined to be bad, but actually very sweet natured and just looking for mothering. At any rate, if you don’t know about 8-tracks, they had a unique characteristic which was they would endlessly repeat if you didn’t pull them out. Sometimes they would also get warped by the Arizona sun in someone’s boiling auto interior, and then playback would be distorted. But if people were very twisted on psychedelics, they couldn’t tell, which could lead to funny scenes where straight people show up to find tripping friends totally grooving on a Jimi Hendrix tape so distorted that it was unrecognizable. The psychedelics made many strange things equal that way. Eight tracks were perfect, too, because if the music was appropriate enough that no one unplugged it, you could settle into it for the long haul.

This happened to me one night when we decided to light up the windowpanes and complete some written work we hadn’t gotten done earlier in the semester, and Kubrick’s soundtrack became our soundtrack. For three or four hours, the 8 track played and played and played. The Blue Danube, again and again. The strange atonal modern choir pieces, interspersed with gasps, breath expulsion, and eddies of queries and rumors spreading in a foreign birdlike tongue. The haunting, icily beautiful “Lux Eterna” may be the sound of the stars driving Van Gogh mad. Driving us all mad, if we let them.

Everytime I heard The Blue Danube strike up again, I saw Kubrick’s freely-rotating space-station, frictionless in the vacuum, with nothing to slow it down, the music self-regenerating and strong. This is tautological energy at its best. It kept me going the whole night, and I got the paper done.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:53 am

50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LAMA, by Charles Carreon

(Loosely, to the tune of Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover")

They’ve been enslaved so long, says Ambu wistfully,
The answer’s easy – but they won’t think logically.
They’re scared to ask for help as they struggle to be free, but
There’s at least 50 ways to leave your Lama.

She continued, with a serious attitude,
Unconcerned that she might be misunderstood,
Her thoughts oppose authorities, who say she’s rude,
But she knows 50 ways to leave your Lama.

Try these:
Just ease up on the sauce,
Norbu;
Ain’t ya’ heard of a condom,
Tendzin?
Get a grip on yourself,
Sogyal.
Just do it naturally!

Say:
I just don’t think like Naropa,
Trungpa,
I’d rather count my own money,
Kazi,
Not if we can’t tell nobody,
Kalu.
You’ll feel Mongolian-free!

Recite:
You’re not as big as your Daddy,
Sawang;
Jetsunma is a joke,
Pednor,
Ya’ got the wrong Karmapa,
Dalai.
We ain’t in Lhasa, ya see?

Well how can she expect a heart to bear this lonely pain?
To break the bonds that keep you spiritually safe?
Well she appreciates that, and help is on the way,
In the form of
Fifty ways to leave your Lama.

You love to meditate, but it makes you so uptight,
Behind the serious looks you use to block the light,
And when she kisses you, you’ll realize she’s right
And recognize you need one of these
Fifty ways to leave your Lama.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:55 am

A CHILD'S NIGHTMARE, by Charles Carreon

H. A. Guerber, The Myths of Greece and Rome wrote:Hercules, son of Jupiter and Alcmene, found Prometheus, killed the vulture, broke the adamantine chains, and liberated the long-suffering god.


I liked the Prometheus story from childhood. A real anti-hero he was, braving the wrath of the gods to provide us with the means to cook our food, light our homes, warm our bodies, fire our cars, power our appliances, run our factories, wire up our networks, burn our enemies, and cremate the planet. Maybe Jupiter knew what he was doing. He may have known that, however much you refined animals, getting Eros to breathe life into them, and Pallas Athena to endow them with souls, they would still be incapable of wisdom. Fire, thus, should remain off limits to them.

Our current planetary crisis, in which politicians smoke up the last of the atmosphere with their cigars, turning the whole planet into one big smoke-filled room, and spray radioactive isotopes around like confetti, while species expire faster than the national debt explodes, is of course based on fire. But that's a lot like that statistic that concludes bread causes crime, because over ninety percent of all crimes are committed within twenty four hours after the consumption of bread. It's not the fire, it's the assholes burning down the world who are the problem.

When I was a child I had recurring nightmares when I was three, four, five years old that would wake every person in the house. Outrageous screaming, kicking, yelling, freakout nightmares every goddamn night. Drove everybody crazy. I was famous for it, and such a cheerful child when awake. Miserable, too, because they were always the same, in black and white. Two men, one tall like a beanpole, the other short and squat like a black pot, had a weapon that looked like a mortar tube that would spout a fountain of flame that they would use to catch the whole world on fire. The dream always ended with the entire world on fire, 360 degrees all around the horizon nothing but flames. Real scary.

Of course I could read at four, and the headlines screamed war war war, communists, red trials, etcetera everyday. Commies, Japs, Krauts, the Hun, all that war jargon was still thick in the air. My uncles were all heavy drinkers, because they had been "GIs" in the war, and they liked to take the weight off their heads. Everybody drank a lot in those days, and smoked like chimneys. More fire.

I was sure glad when I stopped having that recurring nightmare. It was embarrassing as well as painful. But I minded the pain more than the embarrassment. It was absolutely terrifying, everything on fire.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My best memory about fire came about one morning when I was four years old. The night before, I had bundled up with my Nanita Trini Noli's family, riding in the pickup truck driven by her son Pete, a big Apache with hair black as coal, a smile and time to be friends with a four year-old kid. During the night we drove the windy desert road up to Wickenburg from Phoenix, and then into the hills around Wikkiup. In the morning, as the dawn light brightened the cab of the pickup, we were jouncing along a dirt road, and as I woke, I smelled the most beautiful campfire smoke I have ever smelled. Must have been mesquite or juniper. It was like the finest incense. Shortly after that, I learned that the smell was from the woodstove of the bunkhouse kitchen. We ate breakfast with like twenty cowboys who were shovelin' down huge portions of food that the cook was dishin' up with a generosity I'd never seen before. Then I got a taste of warm, fresh cow milk. So many new experiences on that trip. Tara put up a picture of me in the chile patch that was taken by Pete's sister Patsy, who was really cute, a beautician who married a German pilot. Always a class act that Pat. Pete also made good in a solid way. Became a plumber, and bought his own ranch, married his gorgeous mexican high school sweetheart Maryanne (who Patsy didn't really like at first), and stayed married. I saw Patsy at my Dad's funeral a couple of years ago, with her husband -- she has so much dignity.

I thank my stars for the simple influence of Nanita and her family, who gave me a home that my parents, with their tremendous intellectual and political awareness, couldn't quite provide. Somehow my family was capable of talking about the most high-flown topics in a house that was literally, at times, falling down around us. Surrounded by stacks of books and papers, having to clear a place on the dinner table to eat, or a place on the couch for a visitor, or even yourself, to sit.

Nanita wasn't like that. Her house was neat. There was always good food in the kitchen. There were usually other kids around to play with, although my Dad thought these children weren't that smart. And Nanita did awesome things, like wash laundry with her breasts exposed (and they were quite large), and pound deer jerky with a hatchet on the wooden kitchen floor. (It breaks up the fibers so it's more tender.) Nanita died in her mid-sixties after a long period of being bedridden after she fell out of a fig tree. She had been picking figs to make jam. She made the most incredible fig jam.

When she was dying, I had just returned from Europe. Everybody said she was asking for me over and over. I had been, they all said, her last child. I made it to her bedside several times. She knew I was there. It was really great. I wish that I had that opportunity to say goodbye to my own mom, who died suddenly, or my dad, who died by himself in a nursing home after two years of quietude. But I was lucky to be there with Nanita.

The whole business of dying, and of wanting company when you’re doing it, is important. People say you always die alone, but everyone seems to like some company. Oh, sure there are those lamas who die propped up among pillows while saying "HIC!" and sit there for a week before they fall over, thereby displaying a miraculous feat. And they wouldn't care if they were alone or at the Jefferson Memorial. They're ready to die alone or in a crowd. But for the rest of us, c'mon, gimme some company. Fucking stick around for me to go -- I won't keep you long.

The dying are jealous of the living, because they can't trade places. The living have nothing to gloat about, though.
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