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449: A Crisis of Listening

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C-Realm_449_coverKMO talks with yoga teacher and oral history archivist Susan Kraft about listening and mindfulness. KMO echos some skepticism articulated by Evgeny Morozov around the popularity of practices and applications designed to facilitate “mindfulness.” While Morozov isn’t even convinced that “mindfulness” means much of anything, Jeffery B. Rubin argues that techniques developed to help monks deal with the causes of suffering prevalent in the time of the Buddha don’t necessarily answer to all of the needs of “cognitively oversaturated lay people in the West in the 21st century who want to raise self-esteem, heal emotional traumas or be more productive in a frenzied world.” Susan agrees that mindfulness practice is not a universal panacea for the ills of the information age, but it remains a useful tool among many that people can use to improve the quality of their experience.

CRV128

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Vault_Cover128The conversation with Jasun Horsley continues here in the Vault. Jasun describes encounters with a terrible and untenable reality in childhood that, for a time, he interpreted as alien encounters like those reported by Whitley Strieber in Communion. Later he came to the conclusion that they had a more “mundane” origin. The conversation turns to the use of psychedelics which Jasun doesn’t regret but which he sees having been more often the result of a compulsive habit of dissociation than as a peek behind the curtain of reality. Later, KMO continues his meditations on the slow decline of the Roman civilization and compares it with some of John Michael Greer’s recent blog posts on the turbulent economy.

448: Zero Cubed

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C-Realm_448_coverKMO welcomes Doug Lain, the new publisher ar Zero Books, back to the C-Realm Podcast. Doug talks about his transition from solo podcaster to his current role, and then Jasun Horsley joins the conversation. Zero Books will publish Jasun’s most recent book, Seen and Not Seen: Confessions of a Movie Autist, at the end of January 2015. The conversation twists and contorts and covers the topics of autism, popular media, independent media, and the struggle to earn a living while doing creatively satisfying work and servicing hypertrophied egos.

CRV127

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The fasces symbolized a Roman magistrate's power and has remained a favorite symbol of power.

The fasces symbolized a Roman magistrate’s power. It remains a favorite symbol of political authority.

KMO delves into the conspiracy mentality and compares the rantings of Alex Jones on the corrupting influence of professional sports on the character of the nation with a meditation on the creeping corruption in Roman society. In a reading from Cullen Murphy’s book,  Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, KMO relates the changing connotations of the Latin word suffragium over the centuries from something associated with empowered civic participation to something synonymous with entrenched corruption and self-interest.

447: Back At It

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C-Realm_447_coverKMO took last Wednesday off, but now he’s back at it. This first C-Realm Podcast of 2015 features no guest, but KMO borrows from various sources to give a rundown of the tensions in New York City between the police, the mayor and citizens of various allegiances, ethnicities and political convictions. He also dips into the plot of the Cory Doctorow short story, The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away. What are the prospects for maintaining civil liberties in an increasingly intrusive, high-tech surveillance state?

CRV126

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Vault_Cover126KMO begins the new year with a conversation with Glen Ganaway about the history and culture of the New York Police Department. The NYPD has engaged in a virtual work stoppage in which they don’t arrest anyone “unless they have to.” Are the police inadvertently demonstrating how useless (at best – utterly toxic at worst) the normal performance of their assigned duties is? That may be a little harsh, but so was the massive stop and frisk campaign that singled out young black and brown men in NYC for routine harassment and abuse. Glen objects to the role of the police as enforcers of superficial norms of behavior and appearance that let massive financial crime go unchecked while directing disproportionate force against perpetrators of the most trivial of offenses.

CRV125

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Vault_Cover125In this final C-Realm Vault podcast for 2014, KMO and guest, Eric Boyd, look back at the 2014 and forward to the coming year with an eye to technological, social and political trends. Will 2015 be the year that the VR finally makes good on its decades old promises or the year when real-time spoken word language translation, telepresence and crypto-currencies start to render the idea of national identity a quaint relic? Maybe, but emphasis should probably rest on the word “start” at this point.

446: 2014 Wrap-up

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C-Realm comic characters: The Lion and The Chick

C-Realm comic characters: The Lion and The Chick

For this final C-Realm Podcast episode for the year 2014, KMO and Eric Boyd look back on the events of the year. From the personal to the geo-political, it has been an eventful and satisfying year for each of them. The conversation ranges from the difficulty in quantifying the benefits of a regular yoga practice to the effects of low oil prices on politics and the deployment of alternative energy technologies. Eric thinks that the progress of Moore’s Law may be faltering, and yet breakthroughs in artificial intelligence keep on coming. KMO ends with a brief discussion of the C-Realm webcomic.

CRV124

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Alec Guinness as Marcus Aurelius

Alec Guinness as Marcus Aurelius

The conversation with J. P. Harpignies continues here in the Vault. It can be very frustrating to live in a time when the direction of cultural development seems to be in the opposite direction of where we want it to go. KMO re-iterates Catherine Ingram’s prescription to take an evolutionary perspective to avoid getting caught up in egoic reactivity, but JP argues for making use of multiple lens and acting from human-scale concerns when appropriate. Later, KMO discusses the long decline of the Roman empire and tries to tie it back to the themes of the conversation with JP.

445: Pocket Utopias

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C-Realm_445_coverAuthor and conference organizer, J. P. Harpignies, recently interviewed utopian SF author, Kim Stanley Robinson, on stage at a Bioneers gathering. KMO took a recorder over to JP’s place to continue the conversation. They look at the value of utopian thought and ambition as well as the dangers. KMO and JP agree that the idea that Earth is just the cradle of humanity and that we are meant to leave it to establish an interstellar civilization is a dangerous conceit. KMO ends with a reading from JP’s new book, Animal Encounters.