Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bewitched: Dakini

In the alley by the third to last shadow of the mid-day stood the door to the Dakini, a house of idle chatter, conspiracy, and oh, magic of the most secret kind, the secrets of children who play in the mortal world while yet protected by that most ancient spell called innocence. Light shielded by shadow, in a room shaped by incantation, hidden among the busyness of the mortals, two girls played as little witches will, making up forever evers from recitations of dreams, practiced sighs and wrinkled noses.

Twin proprietors of the pleasures of the patrons of the Dakini, they practiced feminine arts of wit, and guile, satisfying their indulgent desires so sweet, no mortal man could resist them nor tell the dark from the light haired. Nor cared any to take one when with the other, or ever knew that both were satisfied. Even as the girls competed for the most high and delicious adventures of their immortal imaginations, they remained without question, cousins, devoted to each other’s hearts, each other’s needs, and each other’s failings. Neither would ever fall to sorcery or treachery in the mortal world while the other remained with her.

Mortals believe that magic is spells. Spells are a mask that bends the surface of an illusion inscribed by light on the magical eye. The face that names the names is hidden behind the veil of appearances summoned from the heart as signs tumbling in clusters of sparkling light. Calling these names, she can fly fearlessly among the dark stars that consume beings such as she. Their dark penetrating hums become the land marks by which a witches craft is discovered. Each act of magic inscribes a map of the light devouring spaces.

“He is waiting”, said the light-haired witch laconically with a resigned sigh as she counted the coins in the box for her turn. To the young man seated behind them, they were serving maids preparing for evening work. To each other, they were luminous goddesses preparing for an evening of amusement.

“Then let him”, her dark hair cousin coyly said, drawling in her deliberateness. “See how he taps his fingers on the case he carries. If he is the tiniest bit impatient to ask his question, let the answer be even less forthcoming.” Her face drew into the small curve, narrow at both ends but with fully pouted purple lips. “Anyway, he isn’t here to see me, now is he?”

Her laconic cousin saw the hint of jealousy betraying her disregard when a tiny spark escaped as if launched from the arched curve of her dark mascara. “Signs of attachments, or do the signs hold no currency for you, Samantha?”

“If signs were currency, Serena, you would be wealthier than your Mother,” the other replied with uplifted eyes smiling.

Bending over her as Samantha counted, she retorted “If your Mother’s currency were better clothed, you would be my Sister, Cousin.” the dark haired girl laughed with a pitched giggle.

“He is still waiting” she reminded.

The light haired serving girl glanced at her unmade face in the mirror hung on the wall behind the lid of the counting box as she closed it. Identical to her Cousin, her unadorned dress and face distinguished her as she moved among her customers. Polite and unassuming, she minded her magic with care and did not tease the men. They saw in her plainness any woman they desired but did not see the true face of Endora’s daughter.

Her eyes fixed on the boy sitting there. “Is magic enough?” she asked herself nervously moving her lip.

Serena’s dress clung like blood to every curve of her body, spread thickly in a few places, but thinly to the edges of these. Sam wore the plain robes of a servant girl hiding all that would cause a man’s eyes to linger, using her magic to keep their eyes fixed on her bewitching smile, crinkling nose and luminous green eyes, as if in her plainness, her intimate secret would be safe.

The young witch did not wish to be unattractive; she wished to attract only one. Like the boy drumming his fingers, she could count time until the moment of attraction, but until that one moment, she could play safely, instructing the willing and letting her Cousin steal the will of the others as she pleased. She knew that once she loved, she would always love. Her Cousin was perspicacious. That currency was her immortal heart.

Her fear silent, her heart needy, she asked his desire of the Dakini.

He raised his eyes and looked upon her true face.

A door opened and closed letting him see the immortal behind it for just a single thought. The light dissolved into a million suns plummeting toward him, blinding him, scattering him then swallowing the shards. He died wordlessly, his eyes still reflecting the luminous face he had seen. He vanished from the little girl’s magic.

As her Cousin laughed cruelly but without malice, she heard her Mother’s sad words whispered in her ear,

“To truly love a mortal is to lose one’s magic forever and ever again.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lessig, Obama and Hillary

I'm debating my web mate, David Petersen, about the announcement that Larry Lessig is considering a run for Congress. Inevitably, this becomes about the Presidential race. David says it is about The Movement, the People. Like Obama, he talks about a wave of change that will sweep over Washington and change government.

My problem is I've heard it all before. It feels good. It resonates in the media.

Does it work?

Populist appeals are very workable in campaigns. George Wallace was an example. George W. Bush is an example. An 'empower the people' speech is always thrilling, but it conveys the idea that they are not empowered already, that they do not participate already, that they are not heard.

We elected George W. Bush not once but twice.

The people did speak. They always do.

This is not about an election where one candidate speaks for the people and the other does not. It is not about populism or a movement. It is about governing the country well and for the best benefit of the people so governed. Yes, the will of the people to participate is strong and vital, but the needs of governance are the means and audacity to fight for what is right and to know exactly how to take that fight to Washington in a way that will succeed.

Populists elected Carter. Populists elected Wallace. Populists want to elect Obama, to send populist figures to Washington such as Lessig. Populism can elect a President.

But the buck stops at the Oval Office. It is a real job not a movement. It takes a skilled fighter and one who's heart is as strong as the head. It takes a lifetime of commitment. It takes leadership, but David, leaders are not reflectors. Ultimately we elect our leaders to make decisions that may not be popular. We do not elect them to reflect our will but to govern us and to provide by the power we entrust to them, the protection of the opportunities of liberty and justice.

I've seen what Hillary Clinton can do. I like it. For me, that's what this is about: the only choice I have is to pick the candidate I believe can do the best job and that I trust to do it.

I've seen how hard she fights for her family and her country. I've seen what a woman can do when everything she values is threatened. She prevails. She preserves. She advances.

I trust her.

... And she's sexier.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Baby mine oh
Sweetly smiling
In my arms so close tonight
Promise made to Eve in Eden
Cries so little
Cries so low

Reconcile my heart to sorrow
To the end of days
Wise men tell of kingdom's glory
Pierce your side for wine and water

My Love,
Your hand
Needing mine
At the dawn

Though God's heart in me is breaking
I will bear you on.

len bullard - 02/20/08

PS: The music for this is

Once Again, The Geeks Are Clueless

The Republicans are making sure the money goes where it does them the most good. Smart. Unscrupulous but smart.

The Democrats are about to put John McCain in the White House. What no pundit thought possible, once again, we will do for the sake of spiting ourselves. The harsh bit is if one takes race off the table as every good liberal should, Obama is just a freshman Senator without any credentials beyond presentability. Given that, if we want to make some kind of statement, the big change would be gender. It appears that America is more biased about gender and fearful of women in charge.

The $40 million of our money spent by the Republicans to destroy the Clintons worked, and now for their effort, we will give them another four years, or we will elect another Jimmy Carter who while admirable, was too inexperienced to undo the mess left by Nixon. After that, we get another 12 years of Republicans just as we did with Reagan/Bush. You have to admit, it is a brilliant strategy. The Democrats take the fall for Bush Jr's criminal rule, and the same party that made that possible get another decade to loot.

John Cleese was right. The Queen needs to revoke our independence except for "Kansas which she does not fancy." At least the Brits understood that Ironpants Maggie was no threat and had the nescessaries to govern.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Between The Anvil and The Hammer

There is controversy about Raph Koster's keynote suggesting that virtual worlds and games are irrelevant to a world that has it's Darfurs. Some see this as a trivialization of the game worlds; others, a Panglossian attempt to recruit game devs into social causes.

Yes, media can change people not because it changes the way they think but because it can change what they think about and the act of thinking can change the way they think. D'oh.

A series like The Prisoner can change what we think about and did. It is great art and remains relevant or is possibly more relevant. If one sees games in this view, then games that give more to think about are positive.

Virtual worlds are different. They don't tend to have the same 'god like' Number 2 running the show and defeating every attempt to escape, though it is to be noted that through iron-will and persistence, Number 2 did break the will of his captors.

But these are still just works of art. Reality changes in much more complex and difficult to control ways. Did the Prisoner cause the kids to go to the streets in 1968 to stop the war? Some, likely yes. Did they stop the war? No. That happened when the cost began to bankrupt the economy, there was no political advantage, and it was clear no win possible except for the locals. Like Number Six, iron will and discipline broke absolute power.

So is there some lesson virtual worlds and games should teach with respect to Darfur? Maybe. If you want to create worlds that teach lessons, they can certainly do that.

Or perhaps Darfur will be another example to the West like Vietnam that absolute power simply will not change hearts and minds. It can aid them when they are ready to change but otherwise, human suffering like human evolution is controlled by humans who ARE the emergent controls.

I see the campaigns of the left and well-intentioned as hollow when it comes to acts. It takes incredible experience and planning to create real change. It is not enough to say, "We Can"; we have to say "We Can Do THIS" and this must be doable. Otherwise, as Orwell is quoted, the anvil breaks the hammer, and the follow on is that whatever was between the anvil and the hammer at that point is left undone.

Frustratingly sad but so. I am in sympathy with Raph because we can lose consciousness of what is to be done and what is doable by retreating into fantasy worlds. I agree with Prokofy Neva we can lose it just as easily while shopping for groceries. I disagree that art of any kind is the means, just a reflector. In this is the heart of the problem of our media society: leaders should not be simply reflectors. Hope is a condition, not a goal. Actions without a goal are as dangerous as words without a cause.

If you want to make a change, put $25 into an organization feeding the refugees. This will not solve the problem. It will keep someone alive long enough to make a plan and maybe act on that. Little acts can lead to great victories if they follow the human instead of directing them.

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