Ever read VALIS? Philip K. Dick; highly recommended. There’s a great concept in there, that if you can know someone well enough, you can find ten words or less that will literally reprogram them — Words of Power. (Obviously that concept is present in many places — coughD&Dcough — which speaks to its truth.)

So arguably “Know Thyself” are words of meta-power, because they’re the base instructions for how to be able to deliver to yourself your own Words of Power.

Do we have any greater superpower than the ability to type into our own terminals? To write in our own brains’ machine-language? I mean, if we do, please clue me in immediately; but in the meantime, I’m staying in school, because I can only see endless benefit in the post-post-post-doctoral program in Knowing Thyself.

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Bread and Roses, Then and Now

So here’s a song:

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
a million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts grey
are blessed with all the radiance that the sudden sun discloses
for the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we go marching, marching, we battle too for men
for they are women’s children, and together we can win
Our lives will not be sweated from birth until life closes:
hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.

As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
go crying through our singing their endless fight for bread
Small art and love and beauty their drudging lives they knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.

As we go marching, marching, we bring the brighter day
for the rising of the women means the rising of the race
No more this drudge-and-idler, ten that toil while one reposes
A sharing of life’s glories: bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we go marching, marching, we drag our mothers’ fears,
the tortures they have all endured still ringing in our ears
This fight is far from over, as the tortured still must know
If we want our bread and roses, there’s a long way left to go.

There’s silence in the Congo; there’s stonings in Iran;
in America a woman’s worth three-quarters of a man
I refuse to teach my daughter how she looks is who she is
You can keep your bread and roses, Mom, I’m taking some of his.

It’s a marching-anthem of the old suffragette movement — you know, the ones who were vilified in the media, arrested and tortured attempting to secure women in this country the right to vote…just a hundred years ago.

Actually, I wrote the last two verses above, on top of the four originals. I feel weird about modifying something of historical value (though it’s not like I did the original any harm), but in this case I think it was important. That movement — the basic right to be a full citizen, to be treated better than a convicted criminal or undocumented immigrant — is a century old. That’s both a long time — long enough to forget the fire and the worst atrocities of the before-movement days, the things that gave us reasons and strength in the beginning — and a short time, because three generations is hardly long enough to undo a culture of slavery that’s existed for uncounted centuries.

One of these days I’ll get a recording of my singing this, because I kind of love how I’ve figured out to weave the last couple verses in; but the important thing is there it is, and I hope it serves as a good reminder, if nothing else than of a beautiful piece of still-relevant musical history.

Posted in better thinking, no more forced pregnancies | Leave a comment

Apropos of Everything

Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;
You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,
And sweeter to my heart than all worldglory.

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,
Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot
And not to be trapped by withering laurels.
And in you I have found aloneness
And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,
In your eyes I have read
That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,
And to be understood is to be levelled down,
And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness
And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,
You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,
And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,
And urging of seas,
And of mountains that burn in the night,
And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
And together we shall dig graves for all that dies in us,
And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
And we shall be dangerous.

(1) It’s called “Defeat”, by Khalil Gibran. I’m looking to get the last stanza tattooed on me someday. Gibran’s work justifies every drop of sweat that went into the invention of language; if you haven’t read him, shut your laptop, call off work and go do it now. All of it, but start with “The Prophet”.
(2) You deliver that last line with a snarl. Go back and do this mentally if you forgot the first time. I’ll wait, dammit.
(3) I am brassy enough to make a tiny correction to the translation whenever I write this poem down. I made it here. Mwahaha.
(4) This poem is the answer the universe whispers back whenever I think “FML”, whenever I wonder if I’ll ever heal, whenever I struggle to find equanimity about my permanent and inevitable layers of isolation. Others — Rilke, Emerson, Borges to name a few — understood this feeling, but couldn’t do more than commiserate; Gibran feels special because he had an answer, not just an acknowledgement that yeah, things are like that for some of us and it sucks. Gibran saw the damnable psychophysics of human understanding and how it dropped a wall around sometimes exactly the people most desperate to make connections, AND he heard the whispers on the wires of why it has to be that way, AND he was able to write them down (and draw them; he was an artist too). The book this poem is published in is called The Madman, and it’s safe to say that without it, I’d (still) be one. -/@-

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Apropos of nothing, I swear, here's yet another defense of my intolerance of intolerance.  Feel free to play this song in the background while reading; I know it makes *me* feel better.  :)

It happens a lot during the holidays, but elsewhen too:  You find yourself in close quarters with people who were taught some kind of bigotry that's now gone "out of fashion":  Your racist great-aunt, homophobic grandpa, or otherwise-sweet-and-lovely friend of the family who just can't seem to resist looking disgusted when they realize someone is trans, nonbinary or likes to dress differently than society would dictate based on the junk in their trunk.

We give these people a lot of slack.  And sometimes overlooking each other's flaws is appropriate and necessary, for instance when what grandpa said is never going to reach the ears of the passing stranger he said it about (or any impressionable youngsters), and fighting with him will only hurt and upset your family, yeah, sometimes you have to just let it go.  But there's a difference between acknowledging that there's no tactically-advantageous move you can make right now to fight this injustice, and letting yourself be convinced that maybe it isn't really their fault, isn't really that unjust, or gods forbid, that maybe when you're older you'll face the same issues and want forgiveness.

NO YOU WON'T.  Because the problem is not conformity to a societal fashion that went out of style:  We're not making fun of grandma for her love of disco here.  We're talking about bigotry, and bigotry, no matter the particular form it takes, is the (DEAD WRONG AND AWFUL AND STUPID) assumption that some people are just better than others.  It's that assumption, whatever its content, that makes you wrong, and undeserving of forgiveness until you earn it.  It's not "loving the gays" or "admitting blacks aren't inferior" that your older relatives need to learn:  It's that treating other humans — or sentient creatures of any kind, really — like shit because the numbers game currently makes it easy to get away with doing so is an awful thing to do and doing it makes you a bad person.  Full stop.  Go home.

So yeah, if you (or I) grow old and changes in society bring to light the fact that you've been assuming all this time that you were better than other people because of some accident of fate, then FUCK YOU; CHANGE.  There's no excuse for mistreating other beings that way, no matter what your criteria are or were.  Grandpa's problem, great-aunt's problem, family-friend's problem, is that they're bigots, and bigots do NOT deserve coddling, respect, or understanding because they somehow don't know better.  They're adults:  They know better.  They've seen discrimination, unjustice, ostracization and probably violence; they know what it does in the moment and in its long, horrible fallout; and for contributing to it, the very best they deserve is a middle finger and the disdain of everyone around them.  

Yes, more people used to be homophobic (etc.); it used to be easier to get away with.  So what?  All that means is that there are a lot of people like our hypothetical grandpa; it doesn't do a shred of anything to make them right.  Sometimes we have to pass on an opportunity to point this out, out of respect for the rest of our friends and family and becuase it's not the right place or time — but don't confuse that with backing down, or letting up on them, or on yourself.  Bigotry is wrong and stupid, in any society, in any generation.

Merry Christmas to all, dammit.  :)

Posted in better thinking | 2 Comments

Sleeping Over

Being polyphasic has made me a pain in the arse of a person to have sleep over.

I will try to put my alarm where I can get to it quickly but sorry it's going to go off when you're right in the middle of sleeping and then I will get up and there will be rustling and movement and lights though I will try to keep these all minimal thank you sorry

Yeah I brought some coffee because I'm going to be up and hanging around your place for like four hours before you guys wake up so if you don't mind I'll make some coffee while I do that and I promise I won't mess with your stuff

But where can I plug in my laptop and hang out please


Oops, that was me

Sssh, go back to sleep, sorry

::grumbles:: hibernators

Anyway, I REALLY like the company and it's super nice to stay over somewhere sometimes and get that change of scenery and thank you for inviting me

…and for, I guess, even though you didn't have to try or anything, staying the f out of my way for a few hours while I work on my novella.  :D

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It’s called the “Smart Sleep Polyphasic Planner” App, and here’s what I think of it

[I’m sick of thinking about this, so instead of writing a post on it, I’m just posting my letter in response to the company(?)’s second attempt to get me to endorse their product below, with some added emphasis and a link that always cheers me up a bit.  But while not perhaps as smooth as a real post, this does accurately capture my opinion, for those of you who were wondering.  Oh, and the site — I’m not giving them a link, but if you really want to see it — is at smart sleep team dot com.]

Hi Dmitry,

I'm not an iPhone user, but thank you for letting me know about your project.  Unfortunately, as before when you asked me to look at it, I still strongly disagree with your plan to market polyphasic sleep, and I think that especially your claims that it's "scientifically proven" (when it is emphatically not) are disingenuous and will make all of us who are fans of polyphasic sleep look bad.  There's no shame in our style of sleeping having not been adequately scientifically researched yet, but your unproven claims and attempt to attach scientific validity where there is none will push us over the line into pseudoscience.  I've worked really hard to avoid that, and to avoid making unsubstantiated claims in my own writing, so it's both disappointing and irritating in the extreme to see someone throwing accuracy to the wind and making all sorts of wild claims in an obvious grab for money.  You're making a lot of claims that, when they don't turn out to be true for many people and/or your app can't deliver them, are going to make polyphasic sleep seem less valid a lifestyle choice.  All so you can make money off it.  
Thanks a lot.
Your site is incredibly marketing-heavy and very light on facts, and missing a lot of necessary disclaimers (and oh yeah, any citations at all).  You try to prescribe schedules for people in ways that completely ignore individual variation, and in some cases seem outright dangerous (people with serious health problems should sleep in two 3.5h chunks?  Who are you to say that, besides someone who desperately wants to be sued??).  I also have a pretty good idea of what data is really out there on polyphasic sleepers, and unless you've been carrying out studies and not telling anybody, it's really scary to think that you must have used a bunch of forum posts, blogs, and reports from mostly-unsuccessful adapters to support your claims that you can solve all these sleep- and time-management issues for people, and to pre-build schedules for people that, again, when they don't work, are going to convince a lot of people, including hopeful polyphasic sleepers, that polyphasic sleep doesn't work.  I get that it's harder to monetize information, caution about scientific language, and individual variation than presumptively picking methods and coding them into something easy to get people to pay for. But I think good information is way more important than monetization.  I suppose it was inevitable that others wouldn't agree with me eventually, but it's still really infuriating.
You could have written an app that was useful to people who are or want to be polyphasic without making any of these claims.  If you weren't so selling-focused, you could simply provide good tools and information to help people learn, choose schedules, and succeed at adapting; but instead, you resort to claiming to have scientific backing for polyphasic sleep's benefits, and to having knowledge about how people's individual polyphasic schedules and adaptations should work, so that you have something to sell.  Well as it happens, I *am* as close to an expert in polyphasic sleep as there is right now, and I know where your (100% nonscientific) information is coming from, and I call bullshit.  (Even if you weren't bullshitting, to be fair, I'd probably be annoyed at the attempt to monetize a type of sleeping, of all things — capitalism ad absurdum, ugh — but as a bonus from the perspective of angry letter-writing, you're also full of shit, or at least your website is.  I especially like how your "schedule designer" has less than a year of polyphasic sleep under her belt, and your two whole testimonials are both anonymous.  That tells me more about this product than anything else you've written.)
I'm really disappointed to see polyphasic sleep being commercialized this way, especially with such an irresponsible amount of inaccurate language and unsupported claims.  I'd urge you to make changes, but I already brought up these concerns the first time you wrote me, and they certainly weren't addressed. It's obvious that selling people on polyphasic sleep as a product is more important to you than helping people or advancing alternative sleep schedules as an option, so instead of a cool alarm / scheduling system, which I would have liked as much as everyone else (if not more), we get a branded orgy of lifehacky marketing-hype.  (Your marketer(s) are very talented!  Please give them my greetings from Bill Hicks.)
You asked if I'd endorse your product or write about it…well, much as I'd rather not, I'm going to have to write about your product, if only so that my readers don't think that I endorse it at all.  And obviously I forbid you to use my name, my book, my website or the group adaptation project in any of your marketing materials.  You're kind of doing the exact thing I've feared most and tried my hardest to avoid tainting polyphasic sleep with.  You'll probably make a lot more money off of polyphasic sleep than I did, of course, being that that's your goal.  I just hope that in doing so, you don't cost those of us who are or could be really helped by polyphasic sleep our credibility.
PureDoxyk / Marie
Posted in polyphasic sleep | 2 Comments

The Polyphasic Sleep Group Adaptation…is All Yours!

Group Adaptation was a resounding success!

The Polyphasic Sleep Adaptation Group has been officially over for a month (give or take), and it helped a lot of people, and gathered a lot of cool data on the adaptation process! There are still quite a few active members, and much talk about what people want to do for another adaptation — a try-again for some people, and a new shot at it for others — starting in January (with a December ramp-up, since it’s been so helpful to start a month early and do planning together — one of many lessons we’ve learned.)

…But I’m Outie

However, as many people know already, I’ve decided that I can’t keep running the group, much as I enjoyed it. I thought I could justify it if I charged money for it, but as I got deeper into setting that up, several things were realized:

  1. It’s been a solid part-time job’s worth of work, and I already have a full-time AND a part-time job, the latter of which is getting more serious and time-demanding (in good ways!) by the day;
  2. While people have told me they’re willing to pay, they (understandably) don’t want to pay much, and I don’t want to charge much, and it’s a very thin margin; plus, the push-pull of trying to make enough money to keep doing it was, I think, going to be bad for the group’s goals of spreading information and helping as many people as possible; and
  3. I think we all like how much of a community it is; and that’s another thing that gets hurt by having to run it too much like a business. I’d rather have more people be involved, and not be getting paid myself, than be struggling to run a good enough group by myself, or feeling bad about accepting free help.

So…Let’s all just do it together for free, shall we?

SO, here’s the New Deal (hah):

  • I’m stepping down from “running” the group in terms of daily management, though I’ll keep ownership of the stuff I own so that it stays running, and I’ll stay on as one of the admins, and as a generally-involved person.
  • I’m promoting all of the currently-active Phase 2 people to admins. They/we will promote other admins, ban people who make trouble, manage / add resources, etc.
  • All you have to do now to use the group is to email — I’ve set that address to go to the admins. We’ll take care of adding you to Phase 1 and getting you started. YOU CAN GET IN ON THE GROUP AS OF DECEMBER 1, IF YOU’D LIKE TO DO A GROUP ADAPTATION!
  • There will be a calendar soon, I hope, showing when people are starting their adaptations so they can buddy up; but in the meantime, assume that some people are starting new adaptation projects on most or all firsts of the month. It’s really, really smart to join the group a month before you plan to start your adaptation: Planning is key!
  • Anybody who wants to hire my super-involved personal help for an adaptation can still do that. I’m cheap as far as lifestyle gurus go (yes, technically that’s what this is :) — $500 gets you a month of daily help. I can’t do this for more than 2 people a month though, because of how much time it takes, so make sure you schedule carefully and ask up front if that’s a thing you’re interested in. I will be around the group here and there, but I spend more time in Phase 2 than Phase 1, for several reasons.
  • Phase 2, if you didn’t know, is a private chat area where the long-term polyphasers ascend to. It’s a similar setup to the main group, but its channels are set up more to talk about living polyphasically than adjusting to a new schedule. Generally we “promote” people to P2 when they’ve had at least 2 weeks of unbroken polyphasic sleep and are showing clear signs of adapting, though promotion is by necessity subjective and up to the admins. The purpose of separating the groups is simply to provide a space for long-term polyphasers to talk and support each other in ways that wouldn’t be useful for people adapting to hear about. P2 is also where the administration happens, though not all people in Phase 2 are made admins: The admins decide to make others admins based on how helpful they are to the group.

So things are the same, only the group is free and run by consensus. Yay!

The long and short of it is, things are the same as they have been, only I’ve opened up future decision-making to the group, and we’ll all be relying a bit more on each other to do the active running and maintaining of the place.

I’ll set up this information on the Polyphasic Sleep Information Portal page for future reference, and I’ll add other group-related things like FAQs to that page as they exist. I’m also, since I set up and am at least for now maintaining most of the resources, available as a point of contact if you have questions — but please be understanding, as I really have limited time to offer to this effort now. It’s been a fun three months, but it’s time to move on! And a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who participated!!


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