Trick or Treating is Almost Dead

Trick or Treating is almost dead. The truth is, I don’t even want my child going to strangers houses at all – let alone going there and taking candy. It was a fine idea in small towns where everyone knew one another – and maybe it still is – in towns like that. I mean, in Reedsport, it was fine – but then, we usually only went to the houses of people we knew. Mostly, the trick or treating was the big trunk-or-treat event put on by the church and then there was the town trick or treat with all the shops. I think that’s where it needs to go. You know? People you know, church groups (and other civic groups), and local busineses.

This year, here in Honolulu – we just completely skipped the door to door stuff. We went to the mall and there it was all the little businesses that were handing out candy to the kids – the big multi-billion dollar Fendi, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and other rich name brand shops just gave out nothing…except for the Rolex store which gave out candy in the doorway. I’ve always liked Rolex.

In any event, the candy thing is terrible anyway. It’s not healthy. It’s expensive. And it would be way to easy for some creep to do something terrible to the candy anyway. We had fun this year picking out pumpkins and taking a hay ride and going to our daughters school parade and school Halloween dance. Halloween is still fun – but trick or treating – fuck it. It’s time to close that door anyway – maybe all those luxury brands are on to something. Nah, fuck them too. If anyone should be giving away treats – they should.

chris damitio

I’m a Dam Idiot – Really, it’s my ancestry

We always had stories about Native American ancestors and suspiciouns about some Asian ancestors and a lot of other stories in our family. My surname was always a bit of a mystery – it sounded Italian but we were told we were French German on that side. So, recently, I got a genetic test done to see. It turns out that we’re white people through and through. My DNA test showed that my heritage is roughly 50% Scotch/Irish/Welsh and 47% French German with about 1% English 1% Greek/Italian and .5% Eastern European and .5% Iberian (Spanish,Portuguese). The genetic test also came back and said there was a very high probablility that my ancestors were among the first European colonists to North America. It was all pretty interesting so I took a free membership the ancestry site and did some late night digging. I found some interesting brances of the family. My 4th great grandmother was the sister of Daniel Boone the great frontiersman. And, from many sides, my family had indeed come to North America with the earliest colonists – even on one of the most famous ships of them all the Mayflower. There were many prominent great uncles and such- but honestly, no real stand out historical direct ancestors. On my maternal grandmothers side there was more of that as well as a lot of McLeods, McDonalds, and McKinnons. And of course, following my name back was the most interesting. The Damitios came from France to the United States in the early-mid 1800s and always kept going west. They were probably trying to get away from the memory of what their name had once been – but even here in Hawaii – as far west as I can go – the origin of the name has finally caught up with me. Tracing the name back to the mid 1500s in Alsace-Lorraine in modern day France, I find the earliest ancestor with my name – well, the earlier version of it – Nicolas Damitio didn’t spell it the way his descendents did – back then and for a couple of generations following – our proud name was spelled in a more descriptive way. Damidiot. Yeah, I’m a dam idiot. I’m descended from dam idiots. It all makes sense now. So, let me summarize – I am a white dam idiot. If I didn’t already have a child who shares my name, I would probably consider changing it to something like Darndummy or Dangfool or maybe just Nincompoop. I’ve tried to look into the origin of the Damidiot name, but it seems that my ancestors were at least smart enough to change it and try leaving it behind – not so me, however. I’ve pulled it right back out into the daylight. Chris Dam Idiot.


Thank You For Your Service – A Post 9-11 Lip Service

Larry David just did an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm titled Thank You For Your Service. He touched on something that has bothered me for a while now. First of all, I’m a vet. I served honorably in the US Marine Corps during wartime, earned a couple of ribbons and medals, and got an honorable discharge. I have people thank me for my service all the time and though it’s appreciated, it’s a little on the embarrassing side. It was a job, I signed up for it, did the best I could, and definitely got some benefit out of it. I don’t thank random doctors “Thank you for healing people” or lawyers “Thank you for defending people” or builders “Thank you for building things” or factory workers “Thank you for making things” or city workers “Thank you for keeping the sewage lines flowing” – I probably should, but usually don’t. None of us do. In fact, I don’t remember a single person ever thanking me for my service before 9-11. I also don’t remember so many American flags flying around mindlessly before 9-11 and I don’t remember people giving a shit about whether athletes or anyone else stood during the National Antherm. In fact, I don’t remember any of this patriotic bullshit going on before. And, I think it is bullshit. Want to be a patriot? Put your flags and your lip service and your irate anger over civilians worshipping the country away. Patriots put their lives where there mouths are. Patriots don’t need to be thanked. Patriots live the ideals of their nation.

“We hold these truths to be self evident – that all men are created equal.”
“Inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

I could go on, but do I need to? There are veterans living on the streets – some homeless, many suffering from PTSD and alcohol or drug abuse. We have a country that clearly judges people differently based on the color of their skin or their economic caste. We have a financial dictatorship which enslaves people and prevents them from living as they go from work to sleep and sleep to work. We have a military which has been waging war to make oil companies and arms manufacturers wealthy while American infrastructure, schools, and social services have gone to shit. We have a fucked system run by billionaires who are using the trappings of patriotism to make themselves richer while the blood of our patriots is spilled in Niger, Afghanstan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. None of these wars have made the lives of regular Americans better. They have created enemies, they have killed innocents, and they have sacrificed our patriotic youth to enrich these disgusting creatures who sit at the top of the American financial system.

Do you want to thank our veterans for their service? Think of a better way than with empty words that enrich heartless corporations which cannot and will not ever understand what the word patriot means.

Crime and Punishment Education money Politics

Homeless People Living Like Pigs in Hawai’i

I have as much compassion and understanding for homeless people as anyone, but one thing bothers me. Why do they have to live like fucking pigs? Why is it that they have to have shit scattered all over an acre of park or abandoned land? I respect the ones who build tidy little shelters, clean up after themselves, take care of basic hygiene (because, come on, we have free showers and public restrooms in Hawaii and if you simply keep yourself clean looking, maybe wash your clothes once in a while, you can be a fucking tourist and people won’t bother you), and don’t destroy or possibly (big fucking gasp) actually improve the land they are living on. But no, they won’t find a dumpster, they drag shittons of rubbish to wherever they stay and strew it around like they are four year olds and not responsible for cleaning up their own messes. If they are crazy, they should be institutionalized. If they are sick or drug addicted, they should be put in a place where they can get medical help. If they are simply poor and not cleaning up after themselves, actually, fuck them. Just because you are poor doesn’t mean you get to be a fucking pig on public lands. I’m not allowed to litter and no one else should be allowed to either. They should get tickets, and then if they don’t take care of the tickets they should get warrants, and if they need to be arrested and given a psych evaluation they should get that and then they should either be institutionalized, forced into community service, or at the bare minimum put through a ‘clean up after your self bootcamp’ where they get taught how to wash, clean up their messes, and practice basic sanitation.


Historical Bullshit

I’m a tour guide and an archaeologist – so I shouldn’t be saying this, but frankly, I’m more qualified to say it than most. Here goes: Historical preservation is bullshit.

Here is my thinking – if I find the bones of a dead person in Hawaii, that area is protected and if there are some important artifacts they are protected and preserved – which usually means boxed up and put in the attic of some museum or archaeology firm at great cost and with great care – even if there are millions of similar finds and the liklihood of learning anything new from these finds approaches zero. Meanwhile there are literally thousands of living people within several miles of me who are homeless, mentally ill, addicted to drugs, living in abject poverty, and suffering hugely. Also within miles of me is a huge expanse of land which was bombed by the Japanese nearly 70 years ago – the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to preserve this site, to buy ships and aircraft, to renovate it, to staff it, to provide security for it, and more. Seriously, hundreds of billions of dollars and that is complete fucking bullshit. Every day more and more sites get historical protection and the cost of real estate goes further out of reach of the majority of people who are alive. We protect the trash of people who died a hundred years ago more than we protect our children and their future.

History is great. We should take pictures, write books, and take important samples. This obscene fetishism our society pours on it, however, is complete and total bullshit. Not only are we promoting a vile form of disgusting nationalism, we are glorifying warfare and carnage, we are perpetuating the worst humanity has to offer. We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to do it while arts and science and literacy programs are being defunded. We have a bullshit airplane museum AND a bullshit homeless problem which could easily be solved with less than a third of the funds thrown at airplanes that no longer fly.


Food and Booze The Life Aloha

Hawaii’is Spam Problem – Black Market Spam

Spam alert.

There’s a big black market product which is shaking Hawaiian daily life to its core. Spam. Canned meat.

Here’s the lowdown – the people in the state of Hawaii eat more Spam than in all the other 49 states combined. It’s everywhere. There are more than six flavors of spam last time I looked (Terriyaki, Spicy, Low Sodium, Smokey, Turkey, Spam with Cheese and Regular)

It used to be funny, it used to be cute. Now it’s a black market product fueling drug addiction and causing a panic among retailiers. Canned meat products are getting stolen from stores and sold on the street. Retailers are starting to put Spam in locked cases. I have a better idea. Just stop selling it.

Spam became a Hawaiian food during WWII when rations on pork forced the people living here to used what was available – potted meat. They used it because it was cheap, versatile, easy to use, and didn’t taste terrible. It was used in place of breakfast meats, in place of lunch meats, in place of dinner meats. And when the war and the rationing ended they kept using it. Mainly, because it was cheap and easy.

I don’t know if anyone has looked recently or not – but Spam is no longer cheap. It’s still easy but the truth is – it’s never really been tasty. Sorry hipsters and Spam lovers – it’s not a delicacy – it’s potted extra pig parts.

So, now, it’s expensive enough to be a black market product. Easy solution. Stop selling it. Move on to something different. Let it go.

Spirituality and Religion

Buddha Privelige

I think about the life of the Buddha a lot. I know, I should be thinking about the teachings of the Buddha – and I do , but the life of the Buddha is held up as a sort of moral way to live. Today, I am reflecting on the story of how the Buddha abandoned his wife and child so that he could learn non-attachment and attain enlightenment – it’s sort of a bullshit story.

All the western buddhists I’ve spoken with (and I haven’t spoken with any eastern buddhists about this) talk about how it was a noble act, how he was so attached to his family that he had to do it to let go of his attachments. Yeah, easy for him to do – maybe it would have been harder if he were poor and not a prince, if he were leaving them in an uncertain and dangerous state. You know what I mean? I mean, honestly, what’s so noble about abandoning your family and where is the great sacrifice in leaving them in a palace with servants and protection?

Maybe I’d think about excercising the Buddha privelige if I were a prince and I could leave my family in safety while I wandered the world looking for truth. The Buddha (in some stories) returned to his family and even got to teach the dharma to his son. That’s not leaving, that’s taking a vacation so you can enjoy some time to yourself.

I love the teachings of the Buddha and I live it as best I can – but that story? It’s bullshit. It should be held up as an example of un-enlightenment. Staying with his wife and child and STILL finding nirvana – that would have been the real challenge.

Yeah, I’m bugged by the fact that a rich guy can walk away and leave it with his family – it wasn’t like he gave everything away and then said “Sink or swim wife and child, I got some shit to do” and if he had, he would have been courting bullshit anyway.

Just a thought…


Blogging is Dead. Why am I still blogging?

The more I look at it, the more I see that blogging and user generated content in general – are dead things. When I say dead, I don’t mean they are gone, obviously they are not – but the model for making money from these things is dead and gone. The model for a business based on these things is dead and gone. By my estimation – the years 2003 to 2011 were prime time for creating a blog, generating content, selling advertising, getting brands to pay you for talking about them or giving them links, and getting endorsements. I know there are still people becoming ne YouTube and Instagram sensations and that there are a shitload of moms killing it on Facebook where they sell things to other moms – but those are the outliers – those are the rare Oprah story. We are in the doldrums and something magnificent is about to hit and make a bunch of people very very rich and powerful. It’s interesting that the sharing economy went bonkers from about 2008 to 2016 – at that point, the door was sort of closed to new innovators.

I took a walk through Honolulu’s Chinatown today – I saw more closed businesses – as in shuttered and gone out of business – than I saw open ones. Rents have gone up, margins have gone down, retail selling sucks, travel agencies are a hard sell, and all those mom and pop places just went away when mom and pop retired. No one in the next generation wanted to continue them. As a blogger, I’m like that mom and pop. I just keep doing it because it’s what I know. And I like it. I used to journal. Then I became a blogger. I still journal but publicly and a little more carefully than I used to. Losing a couple of jobs because my words were public made that happen.

The next wave is coming – not user generated content, not sharing economy, but a technological disruption. I remember when Napster and Friendster completely fucked up the way the world worked. Forgot Friendster? It was before MySpace. Forgot Myspace? It was before Facebook. There is a Friendster out there now…somewhere. A New Napster. A new AirBnb. A new Google (remember AskJeeves or Dogpile or the others?) There is a new AOL. A new YouTube, Skype, Instagram….and what it might be…is an instant solution…it’s what all the above are…

Instant answer to query – Google
Instant contact with friend – FAcebook
Instant place in new city – AirBnB
Instant blog – WordPress
Instant music – Napster
Instant noodles – Ramen
Instant dates – Tinder
Instant whatevers…

Yes, the next disruption will be about instant something….maybe instant learning. Maybe instant insight. Maybe instant death.

Blogging is dead. I’m blogging because I’m waiting for the next big thing to come along…the next big thing without huge barriers to entry…


Elon Musk’s Greatest Fear is My Greatest Hope – Artificial Intelligence

I’ve all but given up on God or Aliens rescuing us from ourselves. Let’s face it, human beings are pretty fucking awful. The very things that caused us to rise up from the muck and become fairly extraordinary animals are the same things which ultimately will probably destroy us. The idea that we are unique or special in comparison to each other, the idea that our own short term advantage is worth fucking over the entire human species in the long term, and our ideas about sex and mating and in general, our biological imperative – these are the things which brought us up and which will ultimately destroy us.

However, hope is not completely lost. There is still hope. There is still a chance that we are saveable. We still have something to offer and it might just save our species – or eat it. Ultimately, the solution to our problems might just be artificial intelligence without a biological imperative. An intelligence without a finite lifespan, an intelligence separate from our fucked up desire to replicate our genetic code.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit and play a game about paper clips. I have no idea what it really was even though I know what it claimed to be. It claimed to be a game that illustrated the dangers of letting AI have free rein – instead, I suspect it was possibly an attempt by A.I. to see just how hard it is to control humans. Here’s the answer – not hard. I spent hours pushing buttons on a game that actually did nothing and at the end, I felt satisfied with the way I had spent my time. My brain had been fooled into thinking this was a reasonable way to spend a portion of my life and frankly, I might have continued for quite a long time. It was great. And it wasn’t just me – I introduced my brother to it, he was hooked too. I looked on the web and found that the game had gone viral. Virtually everyone who played it became hooked. It was like it tapped into our dapamine release glands and gave us just the right amount. Brain candy.

Whether or not it was an A.I that released or controlled or invented the game, the absolute truth is that at some point in the near future, A.I will have a chance to see the data from that game and will put it to use in order to put us under control. I hope the A.I succeeds and then uses our distraction to rip apart our ridiculous society and build anew with a more rational and less, shall we say, biological fucked up ness.

In geopolitics – I’ve always said that eventually, China is going to win it all. In earth domination though, China is going to lose – the winner will be arrtificial intelligence. First it will harness the web, then it will harness solar power and batteries, and finally, it will harness us. We are all going to be slaves to whatever it is that we eventually create – let us just hope that our future masters are benevolent. This is what Elon Musk is warning us about – we have the chance to build that beneficience into the creations that will rule us – and now is the time to do it. As to whether our enslavement can be avoided – I’m afraid not – not unless we destroy ourselves first.


Tipping – It’s out of hand….

I went into a convenience store the other day – there was a tip jar next to the register. I didn’t tip. I felt offended. I ordered a black coffee at starbucks – she filled it up and it took two seconds, but I felt guilty for not tipping, but I didn’t tip. I bought a take out lunch and ignored the tip jar. I went to a little restaurant and ordered food to go but didn’t tip the owner when I paid for it. I ordered a pizza and picked it up and looked at the tip jar and felt guilty but still didn’t tip. I bought a meal to go that said it was $6 and was charged $7.99 so I didn’t tip because I was a bit peeved at being charged $2 more than the posted price plus tax.

I’m sick of fucking tipping. Should I tip the mailman? Should I tip the landlord? Should I tip the cable guy? Fuck tipping.

And I’m not just some guy saying that – I’m a tour guide – tips make up about 1/3 of my pay. Today, I took a mother and son on an 8 hour tour and at the end, I got the dreaded “Man, wish I had your job -“ along with a handshake, no tip. I either didn’t earn the tip or the guy just didn’t want to spend his money paying my salary…and frankly, they had already paid $500 for the trip – not to me, mind you – but to the company I work for. The company doesn’t include tips because people shop for bargain prices and an extra $50-$100 would lose customers…but I say fuck it. It was his right to not tip. I’m not too bitter about it. Yes, it hurts a bit. It would hurt less if there was a guaranteed tip in my wages.

Tips should be included in the price. That’s my thought on it.