The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Robert Anton Wilson Dead at 74

I really ought to check my spam folder more often. Some keyword dumped a friend's urgent email into it on Saturday, and I didn't find it until today.

Hail Eris!

Robert Anton Wilson, who came to prominence in the mid-70s (with Robert Shea, who died in 1994) co-authoring the "Illuminatus" trilogy, is dead, according to an obit notice passed to me Saturday by tommyc.

Boingboing is lots of fun anyway, but this major s-f writer and civil libertarian shd get a Lot of press. This is first I've heard about it. Anyone who sees other obits is welcome to let me know-- and in fact, encouraged to do so. Haven't checked the obit yet, but he has been in poor health and in poverty for some time now. Fellow Playboy writer Bob Shea, who was co-author of the Illuminatus trilogy passed some years ago. At the LST-50 conference I got a ride from Santa Cruz to SF with a man who had known Wilson at Playboy before the writer had turned on with acid, and had learned about morning glory seeds from him, for which my informant had wonderful things to say.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2007 14:52:02 -0600 (CST)
Subject: obit

Noted in today's NY Times the obit of Robert Anton Wilson,74. He got about 14 inches with reference to his SF trilogy, and his time at Playboy as an editor. Also referenced a website where he frequently posted in his last years, boingboing.net, which I haven't visited yet. No doubt more will be written on the west coast.
The obituary proper is HERE.

I remember buying the Illuminatus books as they came out at the little bookstore around the corner from our quadraplex red brick apartment in married housing. Philip Jose Farmer's VENUS ON THE HALF SHELL was up about the same time, as were CRAWDADDY and the NATIONAL LAMPOON, then the best two magazines in America. Ah, those were the days. Roger Zelazny's NINE PRINCES IN AMBER had just come out, and a wealth of exceptional paperbacks snookered me into thinking that writing was a profession with a future.

I always enjoyed Hagbard Celine on his yellow submarine, with his copy of TELEMACHUS SNEEZED, and that impossible melange of conspiracy theories, et al, that made the Illuminatus books the wild kaleidoscope funhouse ride that they were.

Years later, stuffy Umberto Eco wrote FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, which covered pretty much exactly the same territory without near as much fun.

Wilson become quite a prominent lecturer and Nuager, and his essays appeared just about everywhere, it seemed. I particularly recall a magazine piece, circa 1990, on the "Gorby blotter" LSD that was sweeping the underground techno scene in Europe. As the dosage had been lowered by a factor of ten, suddenly the hallucinogen LSD had become the stimulant and dance drug LSD. It was a weird piece of outlaw journalism, and it delighted higher cerebral functions, which was the hallmark of RAW's writings.Wilson explored the waterfront of popular culture in that unique manner, and he will be missed.

According to the TIMES, RAW's last blog post on January 6 said, in part and ALMOST in toto: "I don’t see how to take death seriously. I look forward without dogmatic optimism, but without dread. I love you all and I deeply implore you to keep the lasagna flying."

And here's the last lines that the NY TIMES decided to censor:

Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd.

What they're scared of, I don't know. It seems a pointless edit, but then, RAW having been a freelancer for most of his life was undoubtedly familiar with dumbass editorial morons editing his stuff just to be able to prove that they had the power to change it. Well, fuck the New York TIMES, anyway.

Instead, perhaps his last homepage posting is more significant. RAW had been hospitalized and well, here's a later post (by and unidentified party) explaining:

RAW Bedside Update
October 10, 2006
Like manna from heaven, donations poured in after word got out that Bob Wilson was increasingly burdened with steep health-care costs. Bob and his family are profoundly grateful and humbled by your support (see note below). This kindly swarm of donations has fully enabled Bob to receive the care he (and everyone!) deserves.

Here's a quick history of Robert Anton Wilson's scenario. Bob has post-polio syndrome which has severely damaged his legs and weakened his body. He had a hard fall in June of this year which landed him in the hospital. He has since not been able to walk and is thus confined to his bed (overlooking beautiful Monterey Bay fnord), requiring 24 hour care. Due to Bob's acute weakness in June and July, many of his family and friends felt that Bob could go at any time. He has since rallied slowly with up's and down's, and like most things, his condition seems in the maybe state. Bob has no pain, has a hearty appetite, is in steady good, sharp humor and is surrounded by family and friends. Praise Bob! All hail Eris!
Here's Wilson's last homepage post:

Note from RAW
October 5, 2006

Dear Friends, my God, what can I say. I am dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and totally stunned by the charity and compassion that has poured in here the last three days.

To steal from Jack Benny, "I do not deserve this, but I also have severe leg problems and I don't deserve them either."

Because he was a kind man as well as a funny one, Benny was beloved. I find it hard to believe that I am equally beloved and especially that I deserve such love.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, know that my love is with you.

You have all reminded me that despite George W. Bush and all his cohorts, there is still a lot of beautiful kindness in the world.


Robert Anton Wilson

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Back - Sort Of

All right. I had not intended to be more or less off line for so long, but we can lay the blame squarely at the feet of an MBR virus.

The computer has been sick for a couple of months now -- sick because I'd gotten down to below 1 gig on the hard drive, and things had slowed to a snail's pace.

So, I have downloaded and backed up and deleted, and cleaned and cleaned the registry, and reinstalled the Service Pack overlay -- a good idea, by the by, once a year. With all those lines of code in the OS, small bits "erode" on the hard drive over time, and eventually, while the Operating System's redundancies can work around, it slows and slows.

And, it's much faster.

But, then the crash: my identity disappeared, along with all of my email, and my address book, and the other two computers on the network caught the MBR virus -- a particularly nasty little bastard, that, by screwing up the Master Boot Record, convinces the computer that it can't find the C: drive, and you get that happy Blue Screen of Death: "INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE." And that seemingly incomprehensible STOP code, which I have, with some trepidation, learned to understand over the years.

Look: I never wanted to get into the guts of computers, but when I and "pard'ner" shot MOYST in 1997 (yes, ten years ago), he offered to put another hard drive in my Pentium 166 computer, and managed to wipe the drive that he was putting the new hard drive in to augment.

That last was the cause of some really creative and mellifluous profanity delivered in a deep basso profundo. But we move on.

A little later, I HIRED a tech to come in and resolve a problem I was having with the interrupt priorities on the sound and video cards (little did we realize at the time that using a 10 gig SCSI RAID drive and a Pentium I to edit a 108 minute feature was impossible). The "professional" techie -- whom I TOLD was NOT to fuck with the hardware or the innards of the computer, but was to ONLY resolve the software problem - waited until I was out of the room, opened the computer, and destroyed the machine. The C: drive data was eventually recovered, but that first computer was DEAD, baby.

And the bastards had the temerity to BILL us for four hours of techie time. They quickly and patronizingly told me there was no charge when I called, the bill clutched in my white knuckles.

Again, the syntax and sophistication of profanity in the English language was advanced incrementally. No acceptance of blame, or anything else. I'm sure that if I were the litigious type I'd have had good cause. But instead, I made a very serious vow: If I was going to continue to work with these infernal machines, I was going to know how to field-strip and clean them. I'd done it with my Ford Econolines over the years (Haynes and Chilton shop manuals, full and correct tool sets, and the weird tools, like the thing you use to pop the plate spring on the brake assembly when re-shoeing). And I was going to do it with computers.

So, I never let my partner -- who'd been sold to me as "Mister Computer" - touch my machine again, nor would anyone else. I got the shop manuals, and learned. My video editing computer, "Frankenstein" was built from scratch.

And, with a Pentium III, I DID finally edit and complete the feature, in 2003. It has remained in cyber-limbo these last couple of years, but that is more the fault of Alberto Gonzales than Bill Gates.

Speaking of which ... when I'd finished the film, and offloaded it, I was fixin' to grab the snippets I'd saved on the 125-gig RAID that I finished the movie with when I made the mistake of installing Windows 2000's Service Pack 4.

And it completely FUCKED my SCSI drivers, and made the drive inaccessible. And when I finally managed to get it back up (again, after advancing the Art of Cursing, Plain and Fancy), there was a Hobbsean choice: either dump the footage and start over, or spend thousands of dollars to recover the data and lose the use of the drive -- which I would have to replace.
I chose to recover the drive and lose the data. I don't regret the choice.

I built a new computer, and found that my new favorite supplier, Pinnacle, had been sold to AVID, and the upgrade to my Liquid Video NLE required Windows XP to install.

Nope. I will NEVER buy another Windows Operating system, and, were I to end up with a computer that has it pre-loaded, I will WIPE the hard-drive, and install Windows 2000 SP4. As soon as practicable, I migrate to LINUX, but for the time being, I have too many graphics programs that only work in this environment, and I'm not cutting off my nose to spite Bill Gates' face.

Well, we're the same age, you know.

And I appreciate the fact that you young people have such disdain for my generation as computer illiterates. My generation felt the same way about Television illiterates. The TV and I showed up in the same year. Cousins older than me remembered a time before TV.

As some people now remember a time before video games. (Or, more correctly, computer games). I played those old games on the BASIC computer in the basement of the TCU science building. You know, the ones that printed out each screen on another accordion fold of a box of computer paper: the same ones that Nolan Bushnell played, and turned him on so much that he invented PONG, and founded ATARI.

And, unlike most of my generation, I never pretended that computers were going away.

But yeah, I understand the contempt, the generational gulf that separates the digital generation from the old analog humans. Hell, I remember learning how to type computer punch cards for my FORTRAN IV course in '74. Computers today bear so little resemblance to computers then that they hardly seem worthy of the same name.

Anyway, I built Big Blue in 2005, and networked the computers, etc. etc. and I can't believe that once we thought we could shoot a video feature on a Sony VX1000 with its primitive 32k sampling and edit it in Spark in Windows 95.

Seems almost as long ago as punching cards to run FORTRAN IV programs (you filled out a job request form, wrapped it around the cards, choked a rubber band around it, and threw it in the bin. The next day, IF you were lucky, the printout and your card stack were waiting. Usually, the cards were sitting, lonely save for an "error" code in your job request form.).

Long story short: I've taken a month to retool, defrag, backup, move, delete, clean, defrag, etc. etc. with all computers.

Columns run through my mind, alternating with strings of obscenities as delicately constructed as Austrian pastries. But I don't write them. Instead, I fix.

Yes. (See Theodore Sturgeon's short story "Bright Segment.") I fix.

Besides, you haven't needed anyone to note the media manipulations (upstaging the Congress with the "surge" brouhaha), the insane rationalizations about the war, or any of the rest. I said it was wrong before the fact. During the fact and after the fact. I've noted at length the manner in which we are propagandized and lied to by the alleged guardians of our freedom, the "media."

Howie and the Gang have been silent (although the Sam Adams Alliance is a-fixin' to birth their promised webpage). The "CitizenFOIA" bunch have failed to follow through with "Freedom of Information" data mining project, and the mainstream media dropped Howie like a hot potato to instead fawn after Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - editorial fantasies always being preferable to reporting facts, evidently.

No: there's been nothing to do except to clean my computers and watch the Grand Guignol tragicomedy continue to unfold.

There's a really bright comet circling the sun.

The sabers are being rattled again.

The monkeys of the Right have fresh targets of hatred to fling their feces at.

The Democratic Left continues to spend more time eating their own than fighting the Limbaugh Loonies.

And George W. Bush, idiot bastard son (see Zappa), draft dodger, usurper and mass murderer continues to be the most frightening moron on the face of planet Earth.

So there's been no great need for commentary.

But ... take a look at Sandlapper's excellent piece on Betsy DeVos and "All Children Matter" at http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/1/11/234443/202

I'll be talking about that in future.

Meantime, the siren song of the microchips calls to me, and the crew has failed to secure me to the mast.