Dream Journal

Private Property: Several Absurd Scenarios

In the hinterlands far out in Nevada, rich citizens build a pair of eccentric mansions right next to each other. These private residences resemble city apartment blocks in their scale, shape, and modernist aesthetic. Yet a lone high-end car is usually all that can be seen on the miles-long public access road that links out to them (essentially just a private drive), crossing a sandy ridge which obscures them from eyeline. The buildings belong to a pair of relatives who still don’t often see each other, a father & son or perhaps an uncle and nephew, yet though the twin properties are huge the structures are built in a small corner practically touching, with the absurd addition of a tall wall between them blocking a direct view.

Zooming in on a map of islands in the Pacific, and it appears that one has been completely bought and taken over, now labelled “”. I realize the islands are a bit further north than I though, and the the round bad in the middle of the grayscale topological map is the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

Participating in a reenactment of the Titanic sinking, I remember the 1997 movie and position myself near the middle. When the ship keels into the air, I hope to survive the split by minimizing the distance I drop. I do, but things have gone a bit differently and it’s the forward half that stays afloat. Long enough, as it happens, that its momentum carries it within swimming distance of the shore of a small private island (owned by the musician Sting, in fact). The ship effectively pulls aside it. I spot a few Mexican dudes hanging out playing cards, listening to ranchero music. It’s oddly domestic enough that even on our sinking vessel we passengers hesitate to jump in the water and interrupt their day.

Dream Journal

Isla Wnifu, Island in a Darkening Ocean

Isla Wnifu (Waifu + Knife) is an island zoo full of genetically-engineered creatures. They’re kept within terrariums stacked in the walls of tall, overgrown, roofless rooms. The island has a trashed-out feel and I get the impression it’s regarded as dangerous or forgotten. But it’s somehow mine (or at least within my purview) — I am, unusually, allowed in this unusual place.

I’m swimming just offshore in rocky shallow water with a girl I mostly know from Twitter, KC Crowell. As afternoon turns into evening we start making out, and I’m trying to balance on the sharp sea rocks while she floats above me — it’s difficult, awkward, and uncomfortable, but c’mon… makeouts.

Dusk is fading, and I peer out into the darkening ocean, past concrete arches that look like freeway ramps, to the distant lights of the small boat that must take us home. We’re nearly set when I realize there’s a laptop that needs to be taken, and many more clothes (jeans, jackets) that should also come. The prospect of swimming across a long stretch of dark ocean begins to seem frighteningly risky. I start to scavenge from the crumbling anterooms of the bizarre creepy-crawlies, thinking maybe KC and I can seal the pants and make a floatation device.

Just as I’m heading outside again though a splintering wood doorframe, crewmen from the boat round the corner — I’m deeply relieved we won’t have to swim for it. The leader is a short Asian guy, the one who I’d previously made a deal with to transport us. I’d forgotten the other half of our deal… the men are carrying a massive whale tusk, as thick as a human being, long enough for six men to hold it aloft. It’s the second of a pair… and the extent of our deal. It dawn on me that that boat, these men, who I was so grateful to see a moment ago, could’ve left us behind without much fuss at all.


This Ol’ Twitter

And that's the l'il page...

Because it took me  long time, because I’ve not seen it before, because I can, I’ll tell you all about this:

Orin Zebest’s permanent Twitter archive for his Twitter account, @Orinz on Twitter

Yes, that’s right, it’s a collection of every tweet (Twitter update) I’ve ever Twitterered. Because who knows? could be bought by Fox News Corp., or explode, or any number of unfortunate things. Or perhaps it’s just a pain in the ass to search through 120 pages for one interesting thing. So, through the miraculous process of tedious copying and pasting, I’ve made myself a good, everlasting monument.

Course, I still have to maintain it. And I couldn’t actually fit it all on one page, since after about 2000 updates the code gets so large my web server can’t handle it all in one chunk (I split it into three, there’s one for 2008 and 2007).  But it still looks nice; like my real Twitter page just much, much longer. It was a labor of love. I’m pretty amusing, it turns out (to me).

That picture on the right is a screencap of my whole first year, the shortest (!).


40 Days in the Twilderness

Let me say this: an important part of modern life, with its bizarrely effective cures for modern-imposed lonliness, is staying in touch with friends, family, acquaintances, and persons of interest. And as might be expected, a big part of my modern life is spent on the Twitters—reading, writing, following links, meeting new people, generally feeling special about my place in the world. And damn, does it seem like it takes up a lot of time.

Which is why I’m giving it up. Not forever, please! Just for the holiday season. Yes, the season of Lent. I checked, and it doesn’t say you have to be Catholic or even Christian; you just have to give something up. Do you disagree? I hereby challenge you to give up your disagreement for Lent. This is just something people do nowadays to prove something to themselves. I’ve got something to prove: I don’t need Twitter to amuse me, to keep me informed, to fill up all the little nooks and crannies of my days. I don’t need it. I just enjoy it. Several times a day, every day.

Lent is only 40 days without. Besides, I discovered something in the course of actually reading the Wikipedia entry… Sundays don’t count! If they did, it’d be 46 days! Ha ha! Loophole!


Dawkins Envy

It’s easy to be misled when you want to believe. That’s the lesson that Richard Dawkins is here to teach us today.

I like Richard Dawkins. He’s a hard-working man, a man with strong beliefs and ideas and principles. He’s written many books on evolution and its related genera. He also coined the word “meme” way back in 1976. And, apparently, he’s a blogger. But who has time to read blogs anymore though, honestly? So I was pretty thrilled thee days ago when I discovered his now six-day-old account on Twitter. Finally! I can follow the day-to-day musings of a bona fide scientist, one who’s books I’ve actually read, from the comfort of a corner of my monitor’s real estate.

The rest of Twitter was pretty happy too. It’s one of those things where @hrheingold tells @tyrsalvia and she tells me and @sfslim hears it from both of us, from whom @Kalli hears it, and before long everyone within shouting distance knows that Dr. Dawkins is enjoying poached salmon with Hollandaise sauce and a nice chardonnay. The magic of the modern age.

It made me imagine a smart uncle who gives sweet and worldly advice, like what I read about two hours ago:

While I still have 1700 of you paying attention, I just wanted to say: Whatever you believe, respect others beliefs. It’s not wrong to be kind to people who don’t believe the same as you. You don’t have to be militant atheists. People who claim to be Christians can be hypocrites, but they’re just people, and all people make mistakes. Try to be good to one another. That is my message of peace to all of you. Love one another. It’s ok.

Things could’ve just left off there. What nice sentiment, if… uncharacteristic. But it went on…

Consider that being hostile towards others has never won any followers. Richard Dawkins is just an old man trying to leave behind a legacy. Just like I, a Chrisitan [sic] do not follow Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, don’t be mislead [sic] by someone just because they share your belief system. It’s easy to be against people who are different than you, but try not to be like that. Take the high road, unlike RD. Thanks for listening and following along. Have a nice day.

I see. Ok, I see. So the whole thing was just to attract readers so that someone might make a statement about… the real Dawkins’ religious beliefs. Why, now that you mention it, he is one of the world’s most outspoken atheists. He has enemies. Well then, I suppose that impersonating him and misleading his fans is a perfectly legitimate way to express your disagreements with him, and certainly not counter to any message you may have earnestly wanted to deliver. Well-played, chap (this is my sarcastic font).

You fooled me at least, although others were not so easily duped. I mean, I understand why people read the updates from Fake Ira Glass and Fake Stephen Colbert. Those are entertainment personalities. I mean, it wasn’t as if anyone was seriously hoping @DarthVader was, in fact, a mischievous James Earl Jones. To some degree the creative impulse is spawned by simply having a username free. Lord knows I understand that, having recently been acquainted with cyber-squatters. I considered being the escaped Philip K. Dick robot for a time. I never wanted to be the robot, of course — I just wanted to pretend to be him on the internet; to take on that persona and explore it till I reached a conclusion.

Fake Dawkins realized his conclusion rather quickly, and the warning signs were there all along, if one were to look. Dr. Dawkins was in Oxford, but somehow his timezone wasn’t. Second, he missed a Douglas Adams reference, though one might assume he wouldn’t since he wrote the man’s eulogy. Of course, something all 1700 of us missed, the fifth tweet: “I hope this will open a new avenue of communication for atheists and non-believers on the web.” The plan laid bare.

Nothing sinister there, I suppose. Nothing more sinister than duping a bunch of teenagers into thinking a cool band is gonna play for prom, then having a bunch of local reverends dress up as Devo. Which, come to think, would be much much cooler than Fake Richard Dawkins. My one truest and shiniest hope is that we’ve learned something here today. Something about belief; indeed, faith. Twitter’s not real… and neither is the internet. It’s all made up from our heads just like evolution. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s all just concepts. The concept that, yes, I can peek in on the wondrously normal lives of those famous and endeared to me, and I can know them as I never would have before, and I can—at moment’s notice—respond to them personally and have them respond in kind. Well, it wasn’t real. That’s ok. Often the reality is never as good as the fantasy (mmm… hollandaise sauce). But then again, one can always hope that it will be.

EDIT: I’m just gonna leave this right here: