Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I tried to talk on the air today thru the local PBS radio. I wanted to talk about the ethics involved in having an adult child who was diagnosed as PVS. They had this medical ethics person talking, generally about problems experienced by children and their parents when it came to making decisions in medical situations. See, our story is more rare. As father of the man I have very few rights. Obviously if we had a paper saying that in the event he was unable to make choices, I had the right to make them for him. Now one of the cases they talked about was a very bright child of 16 refusing to have chemo for his cancer, which would certainly kill him. The therapy he wanted to take was herbal and the doctors described it as "spice therapy" and therefor useless. The judge came up with a fair compromise but it merely confirmed the obvious: that we have no choices, we only have defaults, and in today's world, in America, New York, the default is the State. But I digress somewhat.. he said..
They put me on and told me I had a minute or two so I was able to set up the situation, how as father I was told by all the doctors that when decisions were being made for Jon, no matter what I wanted in the end they could get 3 doctors to sign off on what they wanted and that would be that. In point of fact, that's how they presented me with Jon's DNR. I didn't get that far before they cut me off, but they asked me to stay on so the guy could talk to me after. I gave him more details and he grew increasingly uneasy with the problems I had faced. He was of the very strong position that everything that had happened to Jon, or for him, was not legal., that as the closest competent relative I had the final say in all things, even to removing the feeding tube, ala Schiavo.

Funny thing about the concept of telling someone to starve my son to death, it opens the door (again) on the subject of The Good Death. In the Abrahamic (?) faiths we start off with a father killing his son and it goes right thru the two Testaments. In each case it is presented as a Holy Act and one which advances the soul of the Father toward a higher state, or at least he is never brought up on charges. I keep recalling the news story of the guy driving down a highway with a knife to the throat of his son, saying that his son was possessed and to save his soul he had to cut off the head. I forget if he even cut the kid's throat before they stopped him. But still, the original story was not overly interesting to me except for it's Biblical overtones, I would like someone to tell me how the boy is today? If the cops had been of the same faith as that man, they would have held the kid down, and after freeing his soul, they would bury the body with honors, calling it a Good Death. Same thing happens when some kid in Iraq steps through the wrong gate and gets shipped home under a flag. It's a good death.

If Jon is dying as I write this does it prove that Irony is the name of the currently dominent god?

If so, He is a Trickster. I learned, or was told, that they had stopped Coma Stim therapy for Jon. So he gets to either lie in his bed looking up at the ceiling, or sit in his wheelchair near the nurse station, sometimes with a TV on, sometimes just in the quiet dark.

I was told, it was suggested, that I grind up some Ambien I acquire from the web and stuff it into Jon's feeding tube. It has been found to help some patients, to 'wake them up'. The thing is, first, that as I have found, there is little chance that I would be able to mess with his stuff before some aide walked by. I figure it would take me the better part of the day to fiddle with any of his plastic tubular crap, it just freaks me out. My philosophy with drugs, too, has always been to be extremely careful about what you take, where you get it. That is, after those years of psychedelic majesty. After my first marriage, my loss of son, my loss of sanity and health. Took me quite a while to recover from having to ship Jon off to live with his mother at age 3-4. It ate at me for years. When Jon came back home he was such a great kid, a bit wild, but still with some work... Then he left yet again, this time to a mother who was breaking apart. She gave up trying to have a social life and having a wild violent kid around, so Jon was once again shipped off. This was pretty bad, with the drugs and such. By the time he asked to return to his mother, and she was ready to try again, I think I had lost him in some deep down part. I had never been able to save him. I couldn't even protect him from himself.

Now some man, who means well, is talking to me on the phone suggesting I administer a drug that was designed for something else, but seemed to help people with limited neurological abilities, or even 'locked in' types. But I have to order the pills from the web, then ferry them down 100 miles in powder form in some kind of bottle, I suppose, and somehow get it into Jon's feeding tube in hopes it isn't amphetamine instead. Although, that might be something to try. Personally, if I was going to try something this bizare I would most likely slip a bit of blotter acid under his tongue. I used to say I'd like to go tripping on acid so at least there would be colors at the end. It's not so funny a concept nowadays, but a nagging kind of buzz in my ear, my inner ear. "Slip the kid something! If it worked, you'd help him. If it doesn't, who could see a difference? He's a potato!" Yup, sits in front of the TV all day, never goes out. Of course, having sepsis and such a few times, maybe that's a wise move. It certainly is easier on the facility.

So, I think Jon will have to do without me helping out in either a pharmachemical or psychedelic family. Not yet, certainly. I will however strongly suggest to pretty much everybody in the food chain that something needs to be done with Jon, something that involves him getting decent care in a safe place by good people and close enough that when I find myself in a wheel chair, I can still get over to see him and nudge him. Dang.

I have enough unfired pieces, masks and sculptures, to do in a couple firings requiring 6-8 hours and then a week or so to recover enough to walk without a cane. But still, I can administer to myself drugs of choice, trying not to mix my Foster's too much with the ones my doctor gives me. I have an interesting balancing act here, trying to walk between ethics and morality, pain and joy. It's a classic shamanic location. I should build a nice sculpture of Janus, or maybe even Odin. He was a serious shaman, hanging from a tree, sacrificed himself to himself and coming back with visions. I suppose if I keep this religious theme to my work somebody is going to think I'm obsessed, but that's better than being posessed. I need to switch to a Greco-Roman style kiln so I can fire in a few hours what takes me maybe 6 in a pit. That's the original style I planned to build but I played with downdrafts to learn clay and now I want to build kilns to learn that technology, and to create some beauty. They have to be of a type which will go up fast and then fire fast and break back down to be able to size the kiln to the load. I need a lot of bricks.

...Now this paragraph is several days later and the new meds have managed to beat down a lot of the side effects of the neurontin. That stuff is very nasty. It got rid of the pain down the legs but screwed up my memory and them messed with my hands and even apparently gave me a few panic attacks and serious disorientation. Sheesh. Now I'm trying Cymbalta and Lyrica. Just freaking amazing what you do to avoid disabling pain. The crazy thing is that, if you think about it, all pain is is a signal to the brain that some nerves are being pinched. Why do they have to natter on about it. My spinal nerves are being pinched by crushed vertebrae and bone spurs. No kidding. Hell, I was there when I fell! I know all about them crushed bones. Why can't you simply put up a "message received" notice and get on with it. What the heck does my body expect me to do? Re-inflate the bones? Seems silly, sort of an organic spam. And of course as always I think about Jon. There in his bed, maybe feeling all kinds of biological spam from his body, so much that he can't even move his eyebrows. That's gotta be very distracting and disturbing. That's exactly why I think he drifts in and out of reality, why his eyes won't focus or even fix on my face. He knows I'm out there, but he's just too busy trying to shut all those nerve signals up.

Ever read the Amber books? The ones about moving through shadows? I am convinced that people like Jon move through shadows and drift in now and again to collect their mail. I sure hope so. If I had 6 years to just be in a bed and think, and have all these nerves screaming at me all the time I think I could work up a good fantasy, one so real that coming back to a broken body would be not a good thing. So that's what I think he is doing most of the time. He's out there dancing with a nice looking girl under the moonlight. If the Diety has any sense of balance and justice, my boy is dancing somewhere with the girl of his dreams. When the body fails, the mind moves on. Sounds about right to me.

Take care of yourself, wear your seat belts and when lifting heavy objects use your knees. The rest of the time try to work up a pleasant fantasy involving music, moonlight and somebody you care about.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Alvin Toffler and his wife Heidi have written a book called "Revolutionary Economy", which deals in part with the idea that our economy as normally viewed is changing, broken and in need of an enema. The old systems no longer work very well, in much the same way that our weather prediction techniques are based on old records and the way things work in climate change means the old records are out the door, honey. So the old ways we measure economy and economic health are no longer working because the economy has shifted. I've talked about value added and money as labor deferred or referred. This is part of the same thing. Funny thing is that old Alvin used as his first example the OS called Linux. He also included Gates and Microsoft as the 'old school'. See, Linux was built for free by a single man, someone who saw a way to improve things and who was such a part of the 'new economic paradigm' that he did not think to patent and conserve his new OS, nor to market it with press releases, ads and interviews. He placed it on the web with instructions on how to use it. Then around the world people came who looked at the new OS and found ways they too could improve it. The source code was right there. So now we see Linux being used by entire countries, or at least their governments.

The way this works is that everybody needs a good stable OS that can do certain things. I needed an OS that could handle graphics, as in CADD, and some for games or playing around with my digital photos. Turns out Linux handles graphics very nicely. Let's say I needed a CADD prog and couldn't find one I could afford. I might find one in a book but then I have to get the code, compile and test it, and then use it. This slows me down a bit, but let's say I know a coder who loves to play around with code. They just can't get enough of it. Maybe they drink too much coffee or something. Anyway I give the code to them and when they fix it up for me I use it to design a new addition for their house. Saves them lots of money on drafting fees and I got a free CADD prog that does everything I like, and if I want to change something I can post the source code on the web and people can fiddle around until it works even better. Now this economic scenerio does not show up in any of the government's economic records because it was all done for free. In fact, if the government found out about it they would want the two of us to pay taxes on what the government says is the value of the transactions. So we make sure they never find out. Now we have a hidden economy which has the potential to shore up or even completely support an otherwise broken economic paradigm: fierce capitalism.

Capitalism works on the principle of taking more out of a system than you put into it. The excess, the cream on the top that you as capitalist take off is value added by the workers in the form of paid labor. See, if you used slaves to get work done you could charge a hell of a lot less for your goods and undercut your competitors but the government won't let you. Now as the production leaves the country and we are left with telemarketers and car parks the economy looks increasingly empty, yet people still get by. They eat, so they obtain food. In some cases they can grow food, especially if they doubt the quality of the food they would have to buy. IN most cases they buy, but let's say they buy from a local store. The local store knows them, so they can have a credit line. Maybe they can make nice herbal soaps and the store will barter for flour and sugar. People in the country and suburbs could live a long time like this. In the city you have trouble growing food, or making soaps. Well, actually the soap is not a real problem, but the chickens might be... except that my daughter in Brooklyn says there are chickens all over the place, but they are illegal and often used for cock fights. But this economy is also off the books. People in the city barter what they have for things they need. This is the true economy except in the old economic paradigm money counts as goods and labor and as the amount of money in an economy migrates increasingly to the top it appears as if there is no labor happening, no visual economy. Bill Gates cannot possibly be seen to have worked as much as three billion people, yet his bank account says he did, since money is a record of labor accomplished. But money has become a commodity itself divorced from production. That means that for some time the very rich get by trading money back and forth without any of them actually producing anything. They forgot why we trade. We trade to eat. We trade an hour's work for a loaf of bread. We trade the chickens we work for to the man who wants to eat the chicken and he gives us a new hot water tank for our bathroom. He had several he didn't need, and he needs to knnow that his food is fresh, untainted and clean.

The old reactionary economy works after the fact. You get paid after you work. With barter you get paid as you barter and the work can be accomplished when the people need it. Work deferred is money, and in this exchange the chit is memory, not paper or metal. You can't tax that which you cannot find. But governments need money to work and in the current American model it gets it's deferred labor by extortion. If you do not turn over 1/3 of your wealth to the government you will be attacked by the government and harmed in some way. So you pay your taxes. In exchange you get promises that this is the only way, or at least the best way to handle things like life and death. So a third of your life is spent being a slave to a system you may or may not benefit from. Oh, they say we are protected by the government from harm, but look how many people get raped, murdered and in the case of the WTC, blown up and burned alive. How safe are we? What about the schools? We pay for them and we find that as the economy has been changing our schools still teach in much the same way they did 150 years ago, except now we teach even less towards the future as adults and more and more teach to get high marks in an SAT exam. We do not teach people how to use ebay, paypal, google and so forth, yet those systems are clearly the new economy, or at least systems like that wherein people can post online what they need and how much they can trade or pay for it and people around the world can respond. As long as a means is found of collecting the material being traded people get by. If the economy is evolving into something that does not easily work with fierce capitalism and we are not teaching those skills to our children with our schools then how will they learn? By using the new economy! Face it, ebay and paypal are pretty darn easy to understand. You don't need a double entry spread sheeted accountant to understand that the old do-dah you have and don't want just flew out the door to some guy in Detroit and in exchange for which you have a certain credit noted on paypal.

If schools continue to promote such activities as football and basketball as part of the educational system, based on principles laid out in the 1800's, we can expect taxes to go up and quality of education to go down. Why? Because in fierce capitalism the price of commodities always goes up with demand. That means that a good football team, being in demand, will cost more and more as schools feel the need for stadiums, lights, sound systems and nice uniforms, nice chering squad, high profile coaches.... not one iota of which goes towards the stated product of that school: education to prepare a young person for the economy they will be participating in. Notice how more and more jobs require college degrees? And not just degrees, but Master's and even PhD's! For instance, I only have a high school education, but all my life I have studied art and art history, yet I am not permitted to teach those subjects at any level of our educational system because I have no college degree. It's against the law, not just a pattern set up by social needs. We need teachers. We need eager teachers with lots of experience and good communication skills. You'd think if education was important people like me would have a way to give their skilled labor to society and teach. But in fierce capitalism I have not 'paid my dues'. I did not buy a college degree and so I cannot give away my knowlege in such a way as to benefit the people who want it, ie with credit towards that college degree we all need to get a job. Isn't that odd?

Yet for all that I can set up a web site with lessons in sculpture and lectures and videos and even links to PDF files to take the place of books. I could do all that and have a better art history class, for instance, than the most expensive school there is. The people who learned from me would have not one credit to their name based on their educational experience with my web site. Our educational system does not credit knowlege, it only acknowleges credit. Let's say there is a man out there who can understand the way a star works. He can work out in his head equations which connect gravity, magnetism and electricity. Now he wants to tell the world because with this knowlege one could create cold fusion and each home could have a small fusion generator which would free new homes from the electrical grid, which is anyway failing from overuse. But this guy can barely speak, he's in a wheelchair and he's dying of a congenital fault in his personal system. What a loss for the world if he dies before he can communicate his information. The thing is, the people with the talking computers need money and he doesn't have much. He was a math teacher before being striken by this disease, he had little money to save from his meager salary. He needs a complex set of machines and computers to give the world this information and he can't do it under fierce capitalism because the people who have the goods want credit, not a stake in the future of the world. But let's say a geek in Iowa happens to be working on a wheelchair with a computer embedded and a speaking system based on puffing into a plastic straw. He's like that Finn who invented Linux. This guy lives in the country and wants to get his house off the grid, but doesn't want to have to cobb some parts for wind plants or biodiesel generators. He decides he wants fusion. Before the web these two guys would never meet but since the web they are seconds apart. The government wants a piece of the action. They want the cripple to pay sales tax on the chair based on their estimate of it's value and they won't even let the other guy hook up the cold fusion generator because he lives inside the Town of Wilton and the Town Engineer demands a stamped set of plans with references to the building codes and various state and local restrictions. The old government prevents transactions which benefit the individual (and the general public as well), not because there is a problem of public safety, but because it has gotten into the habit of only saying YES to something if it first gets it's cut. I know a church which was not allowed to move into their new building because it was made from a geodesic dome and the town engineer did not know how to read the stress load printout on a geodesic shape. It wasn't a safety issue, it was an issue of ignorance holding power over the needs of the people. Our current government, as exemplified by George W. Bush, is completely ignorant of the direction the world economy is going, and since we are a part of that economy we will have to figure out a way to work around the government until such time as that government simply fails to get in the way by virtue of it's being irrelevant.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

It's been 6 days now since my sweety-pie flew off to Ireland to have a little time off with her sister. One of those things that just flies up and you have to grab them. The day they took off was the day that they were working on that 'huge' and dangerous plot to blow up airplanes. I have to be cynical about that one, the most damage it seems to have done is lose Margaret's luggage for a few days and confuse the take off schedule. The more I hear about it, in fact, the more I wonder if there was anything more to it that a group of stupid kids talking about what they'd like to do, not unlike a group of stupid kids watching an early Meg Ryan flick (from before her lips got weird) and suggesting how they'd like to tie her up and have their way with her. I suppose they'd be guilty of conspiracy or something, but in fact they never were going to hunt her down. So we have at least 24 people in custody and so far no trace of explosives or material for explosives. In America we'd find explosives even if we had to sell the bags of ammonium nitrate to the conspirators ourselves, like we did in upstate NY.

That's part of the problem with the world, they haven't picked up on how to nail these bad guys. Just join the group, get them all worked up, introduce them to an FBI secret agent, sell them weapons, arrange for a meeting and then arrest them. Why, if we did this more often we'd have all the bad guys and all the potential bad guys in jail before you knew it! We'd need to turn the prison system inside out, though, with all the bad guys outside the prisons and all the good guys (ourselves) inside. There just isn't enough room to build the number of prisons you'd need to house them all. Heck, if we really got hard about busting everybody who breaks a law or who talks or thinks about breaking a law we'd need to take over part of Canada.

Which brings me to my interest in taking over part of Canada. All those bad guys who come over from Canada and infiltrate our country are getting away with serious crimes, like coming into the country. We need to be sure of our borders. So we need to set aside a security zone across our northern border to protect the American way of life. I figure about 10 miles should do it. JUst draw a parallel line 10 miles inside of Canada from sea to shining sea and we occupy that strip pf land, booby trap it, put in a few million land mines, guard dogs and so forth and then we can be pretty sure that theose soft Canadians won't be letting bad guys into America. Same goes for Mexico. Everybody knows that the Mexicans are still steaming about our little annexation of that stinking desert we now call Arizona, New Mexico and the rest of the south west territory. We know they are sending swarms of illegals into this country to try to take back the land we appropriated by becoming citizens and voting it away! So we move in the troops, maybe even accept squads of good old boys with pick up trucks, binoculars and shotguns, and send them all to a point about 10 miles over the line. Just until we get a handle on this.

The Brits must have done something right because Margaret is feeling perfectly safe traveling to Ireland and not worried at all about the IRA blowing up a bus station or something. The Brits occupied Ireland for hundreds of years, but this was before all the sophisticated weaponry we have now, like unmanned drone planes and smart bombs. But it worked and now the Irish consider themselves to be good solid business partners and solid citizens of the Empire. If only the Iraqis could be so reasonable we could all be very rich men. Not the grunts on the street who make the goods, but the people who put up the cash. That's how fierce capitalism works. You buy the army, you use the army, you disband the army. Everybody borrows to buy the Humvees and plasma screens and everybody is happy.

Margaret's happy eating sausages and drinking ale at the local pub. She said that Ireland is beautiful, filled with nice houses and castles and so forth. She's gonna bring me back a little jar of Irish dirt, which I might just add a bit to my garden, just to see how me taters grow next year. Actually, if you think about it, if everybody had a pint of ale and a sausage for lunch the world would be a better place. The Muslims don't eat sausage because it contains pig. That seems a bit odd to me, how the Muslims and the Jews don't eat pigs, but the Christians do. Why one sect would eat an animal and not another is so very odd. Why would you create an animal that is perfectly edible and then tell your human creations not to eat them? Makes no sense to me, but then I don't understand why you'd let cattle wander around just because you think some of them might be God incarnate or at least one of your relatives. I'd eat a relative. I'd cheerfully nibble on one of my cousins if I was really hungry and I'd appreciate it if they would consider doing the same for me, at least if they're still as cute as they were last time I was in Kentucky. But I suppose the guys who live out in the desert and whose cousins wear those sacks over their heads don't feel the same way as I do about familial cusine. And isn't it strange how the Irish look at a sack of potatoes and get all drooly in the mouth? Sure and it can't be the shape, or the color or smell, because it's just a sack of potatoes. But you take them taters and you peel them nice, get them all steaming hot and then smear butter all over them and it's a wonderful thing to be puttin in yer mouth, doncha know! And I feel the same way about my cousins. Under the right set of circumstances I think I could do it.

Now the Brits feel the same way I do, I'm sure. They don't go on about it, but you look at the Royal Family and tell me that breeding close to the line hasn't produced a fine crop of men and women. Look at old Charles there with them wind powered ears of his and that big sh*t eating grin and tell me that they haven't been crossing the line from time to time. That's how all those Royal Familes in Europe got that way, by refusing sausages, eating potatoes and smearing butter all over their cousins. The problem, as I see it, in the Muslim world is that they're still fighting over wells and goats and they should be fighting over stock options and commodities. I say plug the wells, bring in bottled water and plasma screen teevees and everybody would be too busy watching reruns of Bay Watch to worry about the goats. Peace in our time. With all those huge freakin' familes... Osama is like 56 of 75 kids or something... you almost have to be involved with your cousin if you're involved with anybody. But according to Genesis (the book, not the band) we all started from Cain fooling around with his sisters or possibly their goats. In the former we'd expect offspring of either extreme intelligence or extreme skill with a banjo. In the latter we'd get mutant STDs. After whacking his brother old Cain took off and created Babylon or something like that. Couldn't have done it with his mother. I don't think Eve would have stood for it, not after being burned on that whole Tree of Knowlege thing. So it had to be his sisters or possibly his nieces. Now, Able is out of the picture and we assume that most of the kids would have stayed close to home, but a few must have wandered. Maybe there was some debate over finding Able whacked in the field. Maybe some of the kids thought it kind of sexy whacking your brother and they took off after Cain to create a new place to live. But you'd have to be into incest or something to pull it off, unless we could do it with goats and not end up with satyrs. Unless... maybe we ended up with satyrs and that's why those guys in the desert never have pictures taken with their shoes off! In fact, waving your shoe at someone, or even touching someone's shoes is considered in really bad taste. That's why they objected to having the Marines knock father Iraqi to the ground and put their boot on his head. It was just the boot that was the problem as it reminded them about the occasional cloven foot they get from their ancient connection to a goat in Babylon. Wow. This could explain so much.

But if only they could have grown taters in the Mideast instead of relying on goats so much. It would have changed world history. Think about it... 5,000 years ago someone stole someone's goat and we are still arguing about it today. Still getting all steamed up over a well, too. Now if we had taters instead we might still be arguing over the well, but after a couple pints of ale and a shot or two of Tullymore Dew we'd be singing and laughing and making passes at our cousin and the world would be a better place for it. I love Bible stories, they give me hope for the world. That is, except for the one where everybody dies and burns and then only the Jews are left. That one bothers me a bit. But if we all of us descend from Adam and Eve and they were Jewish, then we all of us are Jewish and maybe there's hope for me yet. I missed my bar mitzvah and a few other rituals, but still I have hope. I'll talk to my rabbi about it as soon as I know who he or she is.

I can't wait for Margaret to come home and see what I've done with the house while she was eatin' taters and taking pictures of pubs and castles. I'm painting the bedroom, cleaning the floors and fixing up the paths in the yard between and around the flower beds. I guess in the long run I follow the path of Able rather than Cain. Oh sure Able never lasted long but he apparently appreciated a nice garden and kept a few goats. I tried the goats but they never shut up so I stuck with chickens. Cain, it seems, built houses and opened up a law firm, even arguing his case before the Supreme Court. There were only 3 people on the Supreme Court in those days, but it still was a great day for old Cain. It wasn't his fault, he came from a broken marriage and his childhood was marred by his father's drunken tirades against the Grandfather, Yaweh. Adam would brew up some vodka from the taters and grains they grew and then start in bugging Eve about how she'd let herself go so bad since leaving the Garden. She put on weight after the first dozen or so kids, she became surly and disrespectful and constantly accused Adam of still having feelings for his first wife, Lilith. Small wonder Cain lashed out and ran away.

I'm thinking of a pale green for the bedroom. Margaret likes a nice green these days, having gotten tired of yellow. If I could get the entire bedroom painted and ready for her when she got back I bet she'd be so happy she'd allow me to paint the kitchen when we redo it. I'd like to try some very discrete wallpaper in the kitchen, something with flowers or grapes but very discrete. Maybe I could try a band of wallpaper along the wall just above the counters. I saw that once so it looked like the kitchen was in a garden and it kinda opened up the room. I'd like to be cooking in a garden, it'd be cool. I can add pots of herbs and there ya go, a garden kitchen. That would be nice.

Well, I suppose talking is not walking and I have to walk upstairs to start sanding the walls and planning my next move. So much to do, so little time. Four more days until my sweety-pie comes home! I think I've done pretty good so far, keeping pretty sane, keeping busy. Didn't buy any goats.... I got that going for me.