I Want an EBook Reader… Or a Tablet.

Oh great all knowing powers of the internet…

I want an ebook reader, or a tablet. See, I find myself reading a lot on the 40 minute ride on the train to work. I don’t really want to whip out my laptop because I don’t really want someone to steal it and thus me being forced to shoot them several times. I have no doubt my MacBook Pro titanium will withstand bullets being titanium and all that but the Hackers style light up keyboard just wouldn’t look the same with all that blood in it. Plus I’m not sure you can hose them out.

Thusly I am left with the problem: I want an e-book reader, but I can’t find one I particularly like. I want something around 10″. I want something which reads PDF files well (this means none of these crap android 2.x devices with their retarded memory management). I would like to avoid the ipad thing since they’re hideously expensive and out of my price range. The ceiling is really the Kindle DX. For about the price of an XBOX, it’s a kindle with the e-ink display, but at $250 it’s too much to be spending on just a book reader and it should do tablet stuff like nicely check e-mail and render pages. I’m not into gaming, but I do watch videos on it. The HP TouchPad is probably the right pricepoint for this and I’m sorry I missed buying one.

Basically the problem is that I could have a laptop with a 13″ screen for the price of the kindle DX, and while the batteries wouldn’t last quite as long, it would do the job. I just want something that weighs less than a laptop and no keyboard.


The View from the Top

I quit ebay (GSI) last week. It was a tough decision. The whole problem was largely due to how they handled the merger. They reset everyone’s time off and basically screwed people who had been with the company far longer than me out of quite a bit of money by doing that. When the company (GSI) started, people were given guaranteed options and vesting. Ebay reset that when they bought us. They also rolled out a new policy where you don’t get paid for time off you don’t use. Basically, it looked like they were setting us up for layoffs. From a technical perspective, it started out with “We’ll make you our east coast datacenter!” Then it became “We’ll make you a colo with a back-haul!” Finally it turned into “We’ve given you a laughably small budget to do this, so just make sure your oracle stuff makes it over here”.

The writing was on the wall. It sucked. I loved the people, I thought the acquisition was going to be my ticket into ebay, and frankly after putting in a crapton of time over and above 40 hours a week, I really felt like we were getting dumped on. More on the point I had only been there a brief amount of time. What if I was one of the guys who was there eight years?

Well, turns out they quit too. In fact, everyone who really knew anything about the system quit. Theres still good people there, but the problem is they’re a scarce commodity. The bigger problem is that the backfill sucks. People know ebay didn’t give the remaining people a very good deal, so the talent isn’t coming along. Finally the worst problem is the customers themselves are packing up for greener pastures. Customers were with GSI because they weren’t ebay/amazon. I won’t go into details but suffice the say putting GSIs review on glassdoor.com on the front page of slashdot the day we were featured was the nail in the backfill coffin. For me personally, the nail came when – after working with the teams for several weeks to upgrade a core product failed – they announced “POP THE CORK, IT WORKS!”

We know it doesn’t work. I would have been happier if they just punched me in the dick. At some point you just have to say, “Help isn’t on the way”.

Needless to say I’m much happier at Comcast. They gave me a top end macbook pro (solid state 128GB drives are fucking fast) and while the commute sucks (although part of it is my inexperience in riding the trains), the facilities are much nicer and the people seem pretty solid. Have some highrez pics of philly from the cafeteria.

Magic, Magick, Magi and Me

I’ve been taking notes on what I like and don’t like out of Michael Kraigs Modern Magick while at the same time reading Aaron Leich’s Secrets of Magical Grimoires. Aaron is an anthropologist and Michael Kraig speaks 10 different classical languages. Between the two of them it’s my favorite topics times 10. It’s a wonderful mix of psychology, classical thinking, mysticism and naval gazing. There’s literally enough material here to smoke all the cigars in hell and still have stuff to talk about.

I had written up the daily ritual (which I frankly get into and out of depending on how I feel) and mailed it out to a group of friends interested in this topic.

Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram & Kabbalistic Cross

Touch forehead – Ah-tah
Point down – Mahl-Koot
Right Shoulder – Vih-Gboo-Rah
Left Shoulder – Vih-Gdoo-lah
Fold Hands – Lih-oh-lahm Ah-men

LBRP – this represents the wheel of the universe:
Face East – Pentagram – Yuh-Heh-Vavh-Heh
South – Pentagram – Ah-doh-nye
West – Pentagram – Eh-hah-yeh
North – Pentagram – Ah-Glah
Carry line into the east, completing the circle.

Before Me: Rah-fay-el (God Heals)
Behind me: Gahb-Ray-El (Gods Stregnth)
Right hand: Mih-chai-el (Who is like God)
Left Hand: Ohr-Ree-El (God’s like or emination)
About me flames the pentagram, within the six rayed star
(About me flames the perfection of the elements, within me shines the light of the true god)


Middle Pillar
Eh-heh-yah and see the light in the heavens (or crown)
Yud-heh-vahv-heh el-oh-heem – Neck
Yud-heh-vahv-heh el-oh-ah v’dah-aht – chest
Shah-dai El Chai – Genitals
Ah-doh-nye Ha-ahr-etz – feet
(middle piller riff – breathe while sending energy up and down one side of your body, front, back, right, left, wrapping around).

KC, LBRP to close.

This of course generated more confusion than answers and I was asked to provide commentary. Where do we start? Commentary on this sort of thing is entirely personal and even things like godnames are hotly debated from blasphemy to objections on framework and entomology alone.  The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Literally. If it speaks to you and it works, then use it. To wit, you can’t move mountains, you can stack the die. Thusly, the commentary follows with the omission of the adressees:

We recently made prosperity candles. Someone was offered a full time position out of the blue. I got a six figure offer from Comcast which bought me out of ebay. Mostly this is commentary on the difference between Wiccian rituals and how I prefer to do things. This does not mean one way is right and the other way is wrong. The proper way to execute this is a hack – just do it.
Step zero – YOU HAVE SOMETHING THAT WORKS. Wicca occupies low magic territory and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I don’t feel like it’s the best screwdriver in the threads-of-fate drawer, so we make new screwdrivers as they suit us.  I feel like the fundamentals of wicca are flat out wrong – “To the harm of none” simply refuses to acknowledge the zero sum universe. You got that full time position because someone else didn’t, etc.

Alright so the question is “WTF is the daily ritual?” It’s a really long answer.

The problem I have with the wiccian version is you ask any of them the important questions and they have no idea. The important questions are “What is eko eko azarak?” and “who are the guardians of the quarters?” Basically questions about why they’re saying what they are saying – and they don’t know.
If you read The Black Arts, eko eko azarak is flat out bullshit Gerald Gardener came up with:
Sorcery has a tradition of “Barbarous names”. They’re traditionally riffs on godnames. So in most traditional magic which has the angelic name which rules the hour of the day, (http://www.renaissanceastrology.com/planetaryhoursarticle.html) and instead of mars, jupiter, etc you would have either the names of angels of the traditional greek/roman gods. Dee got the brilliant idea to mess around with the form of the name where an angel rules the day, but a variation of the angel name rules the hour (http://www.john007dee.com/1250tutor.html – ANGELORUM BONORUM 49). This is not entirely unheard of in grimiore magic and it serves two purposes – when should you do stuff and if you know which spirit you want to interact with you can chant the names until you’re in the appropriate mental state of focus and intent…
So if you have no idea who you’re addressing with eko eko, you have no idea who rules what where for the quarters. So as not to spoil the ritual for you, it’s still all about intent. If you don’t feel strongly about it, it doesn’t matter.
All of this sounds fucking gay, the bottom line is that we have a microscope which determines how much mystical crap we want to pack into the ritual. It’s not always useful to use an electron microscope to look for tadpoles, is the idea. Traditional heathenry only concerned itself with the phase of the moon. Wicca adds full and dark moons to that. Solomonic magic has the ruler of the day. Renascence magic adds the angel of the hour. If you’re saying “WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS” the answer is “yes”. The candle is green. Money is green. Basil is green. We made the candles on a day when Jupiter was in a waxing position (SEE WHAT I DID THAR?). The moon was waxing…
What does this have ANYTHING to do with the reworked daily ritual? I wanted to come up with something extensible. Basically, idling the car in the driveway. You use the machines of magic without doing magic. Since magic is all about intent, WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING? The idea is to do stuff and observe how we feel, then use the framework for spells, and use the observation about how we feel to validate the operation of the spell.
The reading of the ritual is headers in italics, actions in font, names (or vibrations) in bold. To vibrate a name, you “sing” it per syllable and it’s written phonetically. To do it “correctly” it should feel like your head or heart is ringing. Pick a name and just say it while breathing out, or sing it, until you find a tone and breathing which seems to jive with you.
The Kabbalistic Cross is therefor what we replace eko eko with. It’s the gateway to enter the mystical state and tell our brains ITS TIME FOR MAGIC. (If anyone wants to know, it’s Matthew 6:13 in Hebrew. Why Matthew 6:13? A better question is “Why did Jesus pray?”).
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is stolen out and out from Crowley (http://hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib6.html). It does two things – it prepares the space as a “Clean” space and it serves to link us to the divine for part 1. The divine is the sum of the universe. If we subscribe to the idea of the Ain Soph, the unknowable god, the universe was created by his word and therefor we cannot understand him with names or concepts in this universe. To call the names of god in each corner is to acknowledge the sum of creation as the entire universe. The names: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Judaism The circle itself represents the zodiac and therefor you’re literally including or excluding forces from your universe when you stand in the circle.
Don’t like it? The guys over at http://www.myoccultcircle.com/ are just sweeping the floor and breathing with each sweep of the broom. So long as the intent is “clean”, that’s about all that’s required.
So then why the names of the angels? In short because the universe defines how we relate to god, the angels are how the universe relates to us. The traditional role of angels is to act as lawyers in the court of god, or the traditional role of spirits is to effect change in forces just out of your control. You could substitute names of familiar spirits, if you wanted, or names of different gods. Frankly this is the part of the ritual I am least comfortable with, and it’s a holdover of the idea that we can’t know god, but we have the authority to command spirits or fates, so what gives us the authority?
Finally the kabbalistic cross again – we’re separating the cleaning from the operation itself.
The middle pillar some people will probably recognize, it’s walking the chakras from yoga. It’s perfectly serviceable as either a prelude to magic or simply filling in the space the heart of the ritual would occupy. Me being an idiot lost where this came from and therefor what the hebrew expands to.
From there, LBRP to close and go.