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January 2007

Fucking airports and how we are all knobby twats who put up with it

I fly at least 6 times a year, and any romantic notions of air travel which I might have had years ago are now only desperately trying in vain to reason with those inner voices which easily shout down any such thing.

The fact that humans can fly about the world in structures larger than most buildings, structures that last for dozens of years and hardly ever fail, is of course fascinating.  One cannot overlook or discount the advantages; the opportunity for freedom and experience.  But does it have to be so fucking miserable?

Why must we be trapped inside an enormous structure (airport) for hours?  Why aren't there terraces where passengers can get some fresh air after traveling for hours?  The fascist "security" rules, the way we allow ourselves to be lined up as cattle at passport control lines, the way we allow strangers to touch the most intimate parts of our bodies in search of...metal.  Are we to accept the fact that now we can't even carry our own water onto the plane?  What. The. Fuck.  What about the rigid schedule and penalties for being human for a moment and missing a flight?  The reality of a stranger digging through our underwear, handling your dildo, diary, communist literature, porno magazines, in search of whatever they think they are in search of? 

Forget the bullshit threat of "terrorism."  How exactly is the air travel potential threat more serious than a London or New York metro?  A mall?  A city street?  Why is air travel some sort of distinct reality where no other rules of what it means to be a free human being is to be relevant?  Because of 9/11?  Anybody who gives 9/11 a few minutes of critical thought knows that it wasn't carried out by a few guys with box-cutters.  Come on.

Air travel has become a psychological experiment perpetuated on the populace by the elites...a way to train us to be fearful, to comply, to prepare us to be good sheep and line up for our slaughter when they decide the time has come.  And we continue to line up like good, fearful, and obedient.

Why do we have to sacrifice our humanity to be able to move about the planet as only humans have the ability to do?  Can anybody explain to me why this is acceptable?

OK...I'll see you in line one of these days in Kosice, Prague, Paris, London, New York, Chicago, Miami...it will be me...I'll be in full, fearful compliance just like you...with one thought on my mind...getting to my destination. 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

The immorality of the crowd

To listen to society preaching its morality is no longer acceptable.  Look around!  Can any evidence of virtue be found within the concept of nation, culture, movement?

The crowd has lost its morality and any conception of good can now only exist in the individual, or in the intimate relationship.

"From the late 18th century onwards, it is no longer from the practice of community but from being a wanderer that the instinct of fellow-feeling is derived.  Thus an essential isolation and silence and loneliness become the carriers of nature and community against the rigours, the cold abstinence, and selfish ease of ordinary society."

- Raymond Williams, The Country and the City

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Possessing beauty

We take pictures, struggle in vain to inscribe moments into our minds forever, and always end up at least slightly disappointed and empty if we give in to the urge to capture and possess beauty. 

We make peace with and find growth through beauty when we allow it to speak its wisdom to us...making it possible for us to understand, and communicate in dialog with, beauty herself.

"There is only one way to possess beauty properly, and that is through understanding it, through making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it."

"The most effective way of pursuing this conscious understanding is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them, whether or not we happen to have any talent for doing so."

- John Ruskin


Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

The Infobeing Manifesto: an alternate system

<p><p><p>The Infobeing Manifesto: creating an altern</p></p></p>

It’s one thing to talk about all of the overwhelming problems the world is facing, its another thing to fight the powers who are causing these problems, but what is needed is a real, feasible, and powerful alternative.

We humans are inherently neither good nor evil; but are to be judged by the consequences of our actions.  We are all subject to the laws of evolution that govern all aspects of life on earth.  While we are spiritually bound by our shared human experience, concern for with what is right for the species and for the planet is secondary to the instinctual drive to ensure our own survival and that of our families. 

We are all subject to the laws of evolution that govern every aspect of life on earth. While the fundamental forces of evolution within the earth’s biosphere (the realm in which biological life exists) are inescapable, humans also exist within and are capable of altering natural ecosystems. In addition, we simultaneously exist within and are capable of both creating and altering man-made ecosystems, which are generally referred to simply as “systems”. While these man-made systems are not necessarily biological, they too are governed by the laws of evolution. These systems include the workplace, financial markets, industries, governments, militaries, cultures, religions, sports leagues, and social movements. All of these systems are created and shaped by humans with specific purposes and intentions.

Because of our power to create and shape systems, there is a need to judge which of these creations are healthy and which are not. Through what lens can we judge whether a system is good? Because we will always be dependent upon natural ecosystems and a healthy biosphere, we must consider the extent to which man-made systems promote not only social justice and individual survival, but also the long-term survival of our species. So systems can be judged both by the results they produce for each of us and within the context of the impact they have on the biosphere.

With these guidelines, it is easy to incriminate today’s most powerful institutions and the systems they uphold. But incrimination alone too often only gets us ridiculed or ignored by society. While we are all spiritually connected by that which makes us human, our concern for with what is right for our species and for the planet seems to be secondary to the instinctual drive to ensure our own immediate survival and that of our families. To merely offer criticism does nothing to help others survive and therefore it doesn’t often motivate fundamental change. Fundamental change will only happen when we begin creating alternative systems that 1) help individuals meet their immediate needs for survival, and 2) have no negative long-term impact on the biosphere upon which we depend for long-term survival.

We all depend upon functioning systems for survival. In order to survive and thrive within any system, it is necessary to believe in and remain loyal to that system. And so for loyal members of a system, that system’s propaganda – biased points of view that enforce adherence to that system – understandably can supersede critical thought. It could even be argued that it is the more practical individual who shuns truth for the improved likelihood of short-term survival.

Resistance movements, focused on stopping destructive systems, have seen only limited success – perhaps mainly in cases where a critical mass of members subsequently opt-out of a system (thus weakening it), or the rule-makers decide to change the rules in order to achieve more desirable results. But when there is no viable opportunity for members to opt-out (a legal system or economy), and where the rule-makers are currently achieving the results that they believe are desirable to themselves, little success is seen through resistance alone. This is why something even more desirable than the status quo needs to be created, and it can be done.

In contemplating an alternate system, it is also important to understand that systems do not exist in isolation. In nature, ecosystems exist within, and depend upon, the larger landscape. The same is true with man-made systems. So, for a system to be sustainable, a natural condition is that it must be based in reality – compatible with the larger landscape upon which it depends. For example, when the rules of a social system conflict with the national legal landscape, that system should be considered less good and desirable because it is less likely to survive. An alternate system must be compatible with the larger landscape (or strong enough to overtake it).

To summarize, humans exist within many competing and overlapping man-made systems and natural ecosystems. But if the purpose of man-made systems is to enable humans to survive within the biosphere, systems are wrong to the extent that they destroy life directly or destroy the biosphere upon which all life depends.

Resistance is important, but the real solution is to create a better system that everyone to thrive without destroying the biosphere upon which we all depend for our long-term survival.  So let’s go beyond resistance and open the door to an alternative, better system.  With today’s relatively cheap and powerful communication technologies, we intelligent humans have never before been in a better position to do so.

The Infobeing Revolution

When people are given an opportunity to join a highly-functional, healthy system that provides superior benefits, they are more likely to opt-out of destructive, dysfunctional ones. Imagine a strong, sustainable system that 1) removes many of the dependencies people have on destructive systems, 2) enables members to thrive within a sustainable social framework and economy, and 3) works to peacefully change external, destructive systems.

Imagine a system that ties members together through the Internet, providing a reward structure compatible with the following goals:

- Members are given the tools they need to survive and thrive within the natural ecosystem,
- No harm is done to life,
- Focus on overall quality of life vs. materialism,
- Open to everyone, regardless of other affiliations or traits,
- A meritocracy of equal and unlimited opportunities providing fair rewards for all members,
- A reward system to incent behaviors that  benefit others,
- Focus on continual personal and community development.

This system could be designed by and maintained by a group of loosely affiliated founders working strategically toward the delivery of the various components needed. This group of founders would consciously work together to create rules and technologies to support the goals outlined above.

Ideas alone are not enough.  This movement needs to be grounded on something tangible. 

What is needed is a “virtual society” that exists both within and outside of existing societies. We won’t stop fighting the corruption and inauthentic culture around us, but we’ll do so within a strong, inter-connected community where we belong and in which we have removed some of our dependencies on the institutions we oppose.

Let’s explore some of the possible characteristics of such a system. In order to make our members less dependent upon flawed systems, a technology platform is needed that provides everyone with unlimited opportunities and appropriate incentives to grow and achieve an improved quality of life. Using this platform, everyone would be able to contribute their unique skills and interests to the benefit of the larger community. Doing so would result in tangible financial rewards and provide opportunities for a rich social life within a vibrant and healthy community.

While this network would be constantly expanding and improving, all of the necessary technology is already accessible, in fact much o fit is free (open source), today. But today the individual parts are not functioning as a system, only as disconnected parts. What is lacking is a group of individuals to piece it all together in the right way and to establish the right rules...then to spread the concept far and wide.

The idea is to enable everyone to effortlessly connect with all the right people in order to maximize their value to the community. Need 5 people to help you complete a software development contract? Send out a message, quickly assemble a team, and get right to work. Need 3 guys to help you move? No problem. Want to clean up a park and get paid for it? We could provide this opportunity. Want to get paid for the valuable service of feeding the homeless? Not a problem. When a system is set up to reward healthier behaviors, those behaviors become the norm and the revolution is complete.

A key component of this system would be the incentive structure. We should consider a point system to promote the right kinds of behavior. Members could earn points by helping others or doing positive work within the community. One way to look at it is that doing favors for others buys you the ability to ask for favors later. This system is much like the age old model of the “barter economy”, but it is more efficient because, through the point system, a favor done for one person can be returned by a different person…so everyone is free to maximize their value to the society by doing what they are good at and interested in. Aside from transactions between members, points might be granted to members for performing good deeds (like cleaning up a park or registering voters).

Yet even with such a point system, there is still a need to buy food and shelter in the physical world (which probably couldn’t be purchased with points). So an auction might be set up where individuals sell points they’ve earned (using market forces to set a point exchange rate). Some people would rather buy points than earn them (in order to purchase services or labor from network members) and, because valuable transactions within this system are based on points, there would be a demand to purchase these points.

In order to ensure that work performed by network members is consistent with the values and goals of the community, a rating system could be set up to hold everyone accountable. Each transaction that happens within the network might be subject to a community rating. Individuals, by way of their association with projects and transactions, might be subject to a “Green Compliance” rating. We could set up a list of criteria and allow anybody to review and rate transactions. So, for example, John might give Jane a ride to the next town in his H2 Hummer and, while he negotiated 10 points for the favor, he might later receive a Green Compliance rating of only 1. These ratings would reduce his payout, effectively discouraging him from driving a Hummer. Of course the individuals busily rating transactions would get points for doing so…performing the valuable role of encouraging responsible and beneficial behaviors (holding others accountable isn’t currently rewarded in today's Capitalist system).

The realization of this idea is the start of a new society, with virtual citizens from around the world, with its own economic (point) system, its own democratic governance and laws, and its own way of providing members with the opportunity to earn a living and achieve a more desirable lifestyle.  It fills in the gaps created by real-world governments.

While the above section lays out a vision of what this network would look like, along with a few simple examples, the first step is to establish a network of founders. At this time, we could use founders with the following skills: Web Development, Linux / Open Source Portal software development, Java Developers, Economics and Law (to devise a feasible and legal point system if possible), PR, Marketing, Sales / Business Development, and many more.

If we are going to change the world we have to proactively create alternative, healthy systems. This is just one example. Instead of waiting around for change to come from the establishment, we can be smarter than the establishment and put our skills to use. Doing so will be rewarding, but will also be a significant challenge to the “founders” of this network. It will involve constant negotiation and strategizing, disagreement and arguing, but time is running out and this sort of thing needs to be done.

 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Plans

It has become obvious to me the extent to which people talk of plans.  It isn't possible to spend much time with friends or family before questions of plans invade the moment; questions of career goals, buying real estate, moving, children, cars.  It would seem as though there's always something just beyond the horizon which is more important or promising than what is in front of us now; today, tomorrow, this week, this month.

I admit that planning is a natural reaction to an unsatisfying, largely unhappy existence.  It makes logical sense that we plan as a natural way to escape a present reality.

And, of course, it is completely healthy to have dreams and aspirations, none of which can be achieved without a plan.  Some amount of planning is an essential part of a healthy life.  But the risk of planning is that our plans become more important than our reality.  Faith in a plan makes it easy to ignore a present situation which is completely wrong...empty, lacking, or unhealthy.  Like religious faith, plans help us to cope with the present.  But vague notions of a hopeful future simply do not compare with the creation of a beautiful now.  Quite simply, to live for a plan is to waste away an entire lifetime reaching for something illusive and imaginary while never learn to exist in the present. 

Even when planners do achieve goals and plans come true, they don't know how to enjoy the moment.  This explains the grumpy American retired couple who plans for so long to go to Europe one day, only to find themselves miserable and arguing as they finally stand beneath the Eiffel Tower.  Naturally, they have developed a habit of blinding themselves to the present and now they don't know what to do with the moment when it arrives.  They don't know how to be.

The phrase Carpe Diem has become a bit of a cliche.  Like most cliches, it is misunderstood.  To live for the moment is to embrace what is all around us.  It is to perceive the people actually in our lives right now, to notice the colors of the day just outside our window, to become lost in a hobby, to spend all day and all night uninterrupted with a friend or lover, to be interested in the opinions of a taxi driver, to notice people as you walk down the street.  But most importantly, to seize the day means to think more about how you feel at this very moment than how you expect to feel, should feel, or hope to feel in the future. 

To live for today doesn't mean that we stop growing and making progress in our lives.  To the contrary, to live for today is to stop imagining and start doing.  It is to stop boring friends and family with your plans, and start coexisting with them in the moment.  It is to be your authentic self and to do what makes you feel happy, stimulated, fulfilled, and content today.  It is to find peace in the idea that, even though what is will not last, you will feel differently tomorrow and do something different when it is natural to do so.  You don't have to know now!  You don't have to feel that pressure!

These days, when people ask me about plans, I feel as though I don't even know how to speak in that language.  It has become a foreign concept to me.  How could I, or why should I, decide to do x or y in a year or two?  How could I know what is right for the future me?  Even if I did have some vague notions, why would I blind myself to the present moment as I think about it?

John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."  So the question is whether we let our plans overshadow our lives, or the other way around.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).