The Laments of Lucidity

I learned to lucid dream in my teens and I must tell you that it's an amazing experience. There's no way to truly express the profound freedom of willfully taking flight. The rush of shaping the world with god-like power, and of course there's also turning any moment, with anyone(s), into sexy time. However there is also the obligatory downside.

Science Fiction Keeps Us Flexible

Given the vast potential for variety of lifeforms in nature it's highly unlikely we're the only intelligent species in the universe. However it's also just as unlikely that any other intelligent life would be in any way similar to us in form, technology, or culture thus when encountered it's also not likely that we'd recognize them as intelligent.

It's Just Sex - A New Breed Of Women

Stereotypically men are perceived as sexual predators with the ability and desire to have sex indiscriminately. However this convention of emotional detachment towards sex is more and more applicable to women, and this trend isn't the boon to freestyle poon that most men might think. While it may at first appear the 'All You Can Hump Buffet' sign has been turned on, a shift in social conforms of this kind is bound to dramatically change sexual dynamics.

Historically women have been notorious for placing high emotional value on sex and as such the fastest way into a woman's panties was through her heart. This sex-is-love perception has always been a source of control over women by men. If you remove the emotional element unscrupulous men lose a great deal of leverage in the sex game.Without sway over the her heart your average 'player' is left to stand only on the quality of their sexual performance. This leaves a lot of guys holding a roll of nickels in a room full of dollar slot machines.

This also means that, where before women tended stray when her emotional needs couldn't be met, now she's just as likely to step out based on her sexual urges alone. Guys have always fantasized about a non-committal woman that can enjoy sex and move on. I don't think however most men are ready for the reality. Being so easily replaced on a physical urge, waking up finding that she snuck out in the middle of the night, having their calls avoided. This is going to take some getting used to. Especially for a gender whose pride is so easily bruised.

But the loss of emotional advantage isn't the only shift in the game. No longer are women content to sit at the bar waiting to be approached. They're going hunting for a man that meets their sexual criteria. Essentially you could see it as the line between predator and prey blurring with men dropping a notch on the food chain. The worse part of it is that this shift has gone nearly unnoticed. Most men still think they're the ones doing the hunting because women are THAT good at it.

It however won't be a secret forever. Eventually guys are gonna get bored with easy game and women are going to tire of playing down their power. With too many predators in the woods territorial conflict is inevitable.

So now the questions. Is this a social evolution the result of women trying to conform to what men have said they wanted—in essence a careful what you wish for scenario? Or has the tendency always been there hiding and only now is it socially acceptable to act on? Is this perhaps a precursory shift back to a matriarchal society where women hold the reins and men are subservient? If so, what kind of social issues will come out of it? Will men aggressively reinforce their dominance over women, or roll over for a belly rub? Is it possible to reach a balance of sexual power?

For now, Happy Hunting.

How Starbucks Fuels The Future

Starbucks. Maybe you've heard of it, a popular little coffee shop that has stained a permanent ring into the veneer of our society. It could give McDonalds a run for it's money as the iconic representation of the American lifestyle. However Starbucks has provided more than just a place for casual business meetings over a blended coffee drink. Around 3PM on any given weekday Starbucks plays a vital role in the future productivity of this Country.

Breaking the ridiculous tradition of not serving coffee to minors, Starbucks provides caffeinated beverages to throngs of Middle School and Jr. High students. Children between the ages of 10-16 can be seen sitting around sipping iced coffees and Frappuccinos so big they need to use two jittering hands to hold the cup to their lips. These kids are the future and thanks to Starbucks they're primed for maximum efficiency.

Coffee has played a vital role in the productivity of the work place for decades. You'd be hard pressed to find an office without a pot brewing throughout the day. However in the past, coffee was bitter and unappealing to children, now through the creativity and marketing of Starbucks this nectar of efficiency is available to tomorrows fast thinkers. Indeed I would say the green aproned baristas that methodically press out latte after latte are as important as America's educators in shaping the world of tomorrow.

Hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Disorder be damned. These are not problems, they're evolution. The world today moves fast and our youth need to think faster. By the time they're ready for their very own cubicles, industry and information will move so quickly that the rest of the Starbucks-less world will appear to be standing still. So give little Tommy another Double Shot, hand Cindy a frap and stand back slow poke!

Save Some Gas and Walk Off Some Ass

Wars have come and gone, tragedies have shocked us and disasters have momentarily shaken the foundations of our society, but there are three things that have been a permanent headline in the daily news since before I can remember. Gas prices, pollution and American’s health.

Not only have these topics been a news mainstay, the issues themselves have become worse. What's even sadder is that, unlike war or natural disasters, the solution to these problems isn't out of our hands. In fact the solution to all three of these issues is so simple it’s laughable that every able-bodied person doesn't stand up and take action. All you gotta do is walk!

By putting one foot in front of the other you can live a life less effected by gas prices, dramatically reduce pollution, be healthier, and even save money. I walk to get my groceries, to get my mail, and meet friends for coffee. I walk everywhere. If I can’t walk there I ride my bike. I don’t own a car, I don’t even have a drivers license, never have.

"But you NEED a car!" I've been told my entire life that I can’t survive without a car. But I am – lets say over 30 years old – and while not having a car has occasionally been a disadvantage, it hasn't been any more so than not owning a big yellow backhoe. It would have been nice to have one once or twice but it definitely hasn't stopped me from getting around or living my life.

People act as if not having a car is like being crippled despite the fact that human civilization spread across the globe on foot. Now we'll drive around the mall parking lot for twenty minutes to find a space closer to the entry because we can’t walk a fifty feet. The fact is that people are lazy and have put convenience above everything else, including the good of the community, the environment, and even their own health.

According to the Center for Disease Control 2012 report more than half the U.S. has a prevalence of obesity over 25% and almost a third of the U.S. is over 30%. The numbers aren't going down either. It doesn't take a medical degree to figure out that if you walked the two blocks to get your groceries instead of driving you'd be healthier for it. You’ll also save money on the gym membership that 67% of people never use after the first week.

Let’s skip past the environmental benefits of not driving your car and cut right to the financial benefits. The average American’s car payment is around $450 a month with auto insurance at around $1200 a year, then consider that the average fill up is around $50 twice a month when gas prices are stable. You're easily putting close to $8,000 a year going into your car, not including maintenance, deductibles and extras such as car washes and air fresheners.

Walking is free! A really good bike will cost you $200, and a bus pass is about $60 a month, plus now you have any number of ride share apps for your phone. Even with an occasional cab ride you might spend $2000 a year to get around.

Now lets revisit the environment and our national security. Nearly 70% of all the oil consumed in the United States ends up in a gas tank. If you reduce the use of cars you reduce the demand on oil therefore cutting our dependency on foreign reserves. In addition, the less oil burned the less pollution being produced. Result: better air, safer Country.

So how do you get around? There’s no place in the United States – and I would dare say the World – that you cannot get to with a combination of your feet and public transportation of some kind. Be it bus, train, carpool or cab. Yes you lose some convenience but don’t think of what you lose, think of what you gain. You save money, reduce dependency on oil, reduce pollution, and live a healthier life by simply leaving your car behind. But that's not all!

If more people walked there'd obviously be more people on the street and on buses inevitably resulting in more social interaction. We might even be less distant from one another, connect more and start to form real communities again.

I am not a fool, I know not everyone can just stop driving; weather and location are big factors. But everyone can try driving less. Grab the kids and walk a few blocks to the grocery store, make the little beggar carry some bags back. Bike more places if possible. At least carpool or take the bus to work a few days a week. Maybe walk to lunch. At the very least pick that first parking spot you find at the mall.

Put one foot in front of the other and you'll be so much better off for it.

Anonymous-less By Association

The other day a friend and I went for ice cream. This was a very particular brand of ice cream that's only sold locally, and only in a few obscure locations. We paid in cash so there was no traceable transaction, and I don't carry a cell phone so my location could not be tracked. However, despite the covertness of the purchase that evening an ad for that specific obscure brand of ice cream popped up in my Gmail.

Before you start folding aluminium hats for your family, I'm not suggesting a conspiracy or a Big Brother type scenario. It is however a perfect case study in how all that “anonymous meta data” that we agree to share when we use social networks and various online services such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter provides far more information than you'd ever imagine.

In this case the only connection between me personally and the purchase of the frozen treat was a Siri search to find the closest location made by my friend on her iPhone (not using my wifi) before we left my place. Her search on a mobile device from my GPS location combined with our frequent associations online was enough information to trigger targeted advertisements. Bear in mind that no "personal" information was required for this association to be made.

First you need to understand that there's a technical/legal differentiation being made when it comes to "personal information" in data. Without going into too much detail lets just say that anything that can be found on your birth certificate or drivers license is legally "personal information". Account data generated by an online service is not. Your name is personal information. An ID index in a database is "anonymous". Your home address is personal information. The GPS coordinates of your mobile device is "anonymous".

We're not going to go into the actual brokering of information between data providers and advertisers because it's extremely complicated and I need my fingers to last the rest of my life. Who and how the information is sold isn't the point anyway, how it's used is.

Anonymous ID001 does a search for ice cream from the GPS coordinates -1223,2344. This happens to be the GPS coordinates from which anonymous ID002 does a lot of searches. It can also be correlated that ID001 and ID002 communicate frequently (no need to know what they talk about, just that they talk). From these completely anonymous data connections it can be determined that it's highly probable that ID001 and ID002 share similar interests and therefore targeting one with ads based on the purchases of the other should be effective.

It very well may be the case that no block of data ever sold contains a name, address, or even an email address of any specific user. In that sense the data is technically "anonymous". However there is no such thing as anonymity when it comes to data. Data points can be computed and correlated to quantify the context of your every relationship and association without ever officially storing your "personal information". With the amount of intimate details we provide online via social sites and searches, all that anonymous data equates to very very very specific information about you.

If you were looking for a conspiracy theory here's something to think about. At the moment, to the best of our knowledge this data is being used to target advertising at us. A benign enough pupose, and occasionally even convenient. However consider for a moment that this information is why Facebook is worth nearly 70 billion dollars. This data is a very valuable commodity being bought and sold on the daily. You gotta assume it's being sold to more than just advertisers, and you can't make that assumption without wondering who else is buying it and what they might be using it for.

If you consider the very likely possibility that the Government is also purchasing this same anonymous data, then in a very literal sense we do live under the watchful eye of Big Brother. The irony is that, unlike the dystopian sci-fi predictions, we're not being spied on, we're freely and enthusiastically handing ourselves over. The system didn't need to subjugate and dominate us, it merely needed to validate us.