W-18: A Novel Opioid The Media Is Getting All Wrong

By Terry Gotham

I try not to use Burners.me as a megaphone, but as I read about this substance & how it was being covered in the media, I needed to make an exception. To be clear, we have no evidence of this substance being found or consumed at Burning Man, but I believe it will become a problem in the painkiller consuming community on the West Coast over the next 18 months. W-18 is a novel analgesic that was patented as the 18th in a 32 compound series by a trio of Canadian researchers in 1984. First flagged by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs & Drug Addiction in 2014,W-18 started turning up in prescription oxycodone pills seized by Canadian law enforcement in early 2015. It’s been banned by China, but the reasons why are unclear. The news stories on it started to pile up in April, so started digging. I found two scoops of sloppy reporting and a shocking lack of real information.

Continue reading

Can Radical Inclusion Handle the Truth? Welcome to Shadow History

unpleasent truths

Part 1 starts here. There is a lot of information, a lot of ground to cover, a lot of foundations to lay. Burning Man is not just a rave. There is much more to it, and when we look at it in its proper historical and geographical context, an incredible story unfolds.

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Download the presentation:
Shadow History of Burners Part 1
Powerpoint file with notes (recommended)
PDF of the slides

Audio-only Podcast: Gnostic Media Episode 247


Yesterday I shared some of my personal Burning Man stories. How I first got caught up in this thing. Even though Cargo Cult was not so long ago, a lot has happened in my life since then.

I have tickets for this year, and my plan is to attend…if they’ll have me. Which is the point of this post. Are we really all welcome? Even the critics? Even people who speak truth, and debunk propaganda? How far does Radical Inclusion really stretch?

If you speak out against the Ruling Group, do you get blacklisted (like a cult)? Or is this truly a city of freedom and inclusion?

I started this blog in February 2012 to comment on what is being said about Burner culture on the Internet. Since we began, the global Burning Man hype has been catapulted to unprecedented levels. Now, I’m not claiming sole credit for that. New stories about Burning Man appear in the media at least once per week, giving me a steady stream of content to share opinions about. How do those stories get there? BMOrg’s team of at least half a dozen full time PR staff may have contributed; The Simpsons and Oprah sure didn’t hurt. Having a year-round Burning Man reporter embedded at the Reno Gazette-Journal didn’t hurt either.

In that context, 1500 stories about Burning Man going to an audience of millions is just more momentum to the avalanche…

Bringing truth into an environment constructed upon propaganda and magical thinking has not occurred without ruffling a few feathers. That’s the nature of truth.

I feel that we have been successful in waking some people up. But for every Burner who may have seen the light, there’s at least one who has been brainwashed into thinking we’re the Enemy.

As Bohemian Grover Mark Twain once said, “it’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled”

This year Burning Man celebrates its 30th anniversary. Attendance is higher than ever, ticket prices are higher than ever, demand is higher than ever. Everything seems great, right? Why do I have to complain, when it’s clearly all just swell?

At the same time, we’re told “we’re saving the world”. That’s good, right? Surely we can just talk about how we’re saving the world, rather than complaining?

Well, I would love to. But it’s not up to me: I don’t hold the purse strings of their nearly $40 million annual budget. We have to look at where the money gets spent. Is it really going towards world-saving activities?

The best the Org could come up with at their recent Global Leadership Conference was $3000 of art grants split between 4 projects. And they think this is making the world a better place? IT’S TWO DA VINCI TICKETS AND A VEHICLE PASS. Plus tax, handling fees per item, $22 to post a letter, etc.

That’s what the new 2016 innovation of “Art Tickets” bought. A total of 2 of these VIP tickets were used for doing good in the world. The other *cough* 998? We will probably never know what happened to that money.

Just the increase in vehicle passes from $40 last year to $50 this year brings BMOrg an extra quarter of a million dollars cash. For providing nothing. And we’re supposed to bow and scrape about this $3k?

Nobody could really be that stupid. Which makes me wonder if this is all some sort of giant Kool-Aid test. How much bullshit can we dump on this community and still get away with it?Ticket and art budget shenanigans being two recent cases in point.

They’ve employed Ministers for Propaganda for 23 of their 30 years. Their magickal cauldron is called the Devil. The event takes place inside a pentagon, with satellite images freely available. It is all right there in everyone’s face. No irony required.

Over the last few years, in addition to writing this blog I have also been working on a book about the Shadow History of Silicon Valley. It has been an intriguing, surprising, baffling, and exhausting adventure. There is no “Hero’s Journey” here for me. I am no longer trying to discover myself, or figure out how the world works. I know how the world works – and it scares me. There should be more people trying to spread awareness, to break people out of their trance. Instead, society is being deliberately dumbed down. Propaganda, logical fallacies, and cultural Marxism rule the day. Facts like “vaccine problems get prosecuted in a secret court get conflated with propaganda like “anti vaxxers are ignorant and want to kill little kids”. Or “Trump supporters are all racist Nazis”.

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” George Orwell, 1984

Why should you care? Maybe you shouldn’t. Nobody is forcing you to read this blog. I am just writing to share my opinions to whoever is interested. The BJ is doing that too, and if you like their propaganda better than our facts, then please enjoy.

dumbed down

 


What is my motivation?

I am researching the history of computers. Burning Man plays a small but important part in this story.

I am certainly not trying to harm Burning Man in any way by learning about it and writing about it. I love Burning Man. I think everyone should go at least once in their lives. What drew me to this party in the first place was the idea of experimenting in different ways of civilization. Let’s get back to that.

I have chosen a very specific channel for publishing my research at this time: Gnostic Media. Jan Irvin’s work is founded on the Trivium Method, which I encourage everyone of any age to learn. It is one of the most powerful tools I have in my life, one of the few antidotes to propaganda that I have ever discovered. It is a framework you can use to relate to your reality. This happens to be the claim made by the “Hero’s Journey” framework that Esalen promotes:

heros journey

The main difference that I see between the two frameworks is that the Trivium Method encourages you to focus on facts and what is known and visible to the five senses. It encourages logic, analysis, and critical thinking. The Monomyth Method, on the other hand, encourages groupthink and magical thinking. It is excellent for consensus decision making, inclusion of minority viewpoints, positive emotions, a sense of teamwork, and a feeling that we are all one. It is woefully inadequate for r/K selection theory K breeding of closely knit clusters of success.

I believe that to survive and thrive in the new digital world we need to rely on the most ancient of skills: Grammar (Who/Where/When/What), Logic (Why), and Rhetoric (How). If you get the grammar right – meaning that you have a clear understanding of Who the players are, Where everything is happening, and the timeline of what is going on – then the What, How, and Why can become self-evident: they unfold automatically.

The Magical Thinking Propaganda method means that you use words and charisma to trigger peoples’ emotions. You want them connecting to the leader and following them; you don’t want them thinking too much about the Why, How, and What. Using this method, you can lead people into doing illogical things that are against their own self interest. Drugs and hypnosis can be used to enhance suggestibility.

The Trivium Method wants us to consider crystal clear facts, and identify speculation and contradictions. As much as possible we use primary source documentation. Whenever we quote someone, we are quoting them verbatim. We provide citations and references supporting our claims. References used by the Magical Thinking method will most often be to prior examples of Magical Thinking, that are presented as authoritative.

Disciples of the Magical Thinking method will say that the Trivium Method is negative and fear based, or they will otherwise try to discredit it. They will say that their positive methods uplift people, while negative approaches only hold people down and create limitations.

The Trivium is thousands of years old, and is the basis for a classical education. If the results of applying it are negative, it is because what is being considered is negative to begin with. Magical Thinking is only ever positive; reality is relative, something to be distorted and manipulated.

Which one should you believe? Magical thinking says trust the charismatic leader. Trust the cult that wants to disconnect you from the outside world. The Trivium Method says learn how to do your own research and make up your own mind. We present facts and evidence; consider them. We don’t say “our method is superior”. We say “prove us wrong!” It is significant that competing philosophies do not share such a focus on the truth.

Think for yourself, question authority.

What would I have to gain from lying to you? Money? What money? This is free. I’m not selling any thousand dollar tickets. Power? What power? Burning Man doesn’t impress people any more. There’s no power in blogging. Friends? I have plenty. If anything I could lose social capital from this course. Ego? I would be better off writing my own memoir than studying the exploits of others.

If you doubt my motivation, perhaps allow your head to entertain for a moment the possibility that I am an honest man with good intentions. If I was, then what would I do? How would it look different from what I’m doing right now? I am putting my good name (already smeared by these people) and perhaps even the health and wellbeing of myself and my family on the line. For what gain?

What if there actually isn’t an expectation of gain? What if it is about Gifting, and Communal Effort? Noblesse oblige. Leaving someone else’s alleged principles aside, what if I really want to Leave A Big Fucking Trace? Something permanent, that might last beyond my years. The same Beasts the Founding Fathers tried to fight – Tyranny, Secret Societies, Central Banking, and Imperialism – are alive and well, and stronger than ever. Now in the 21st century becoming smarter and smaller and less visible, attacking our very minds and even our souls with electronic, chemical, biological, and anthropological weapons.

We, humans, our species, we need to wake up – urgently. Corporations and Artificial Intelligences should not be allowed to become the apex predator species on this planet. They can never be punished, never be jailed. Who do they account to? We have had 2 full Presidential terms since the Wall Street crimes of 2007-8, which have been clearly exposed in movies like The Big Short, Inside Job, Margin Call, Too Big To Fail…not to mention all the mainstream media. And yet, nobody gets in trouble. Why not? Why do we just passively accept corruption, corporate coups, and human rights abuses? Am I supposed to just sit down, shut up, and take it? ARE YOU?

If you’re still wondering WTF I’m talking about, please allow me some time. It’s taken me three years to get to the point where I can publicly share this research. The introduction is more than 2 hours because there is a lot of ground to cover. [I’ll try to make the next part shorter, I promise!] I think you’ll find it interesting, I certainly have putting it all together.

Am I trying to hurt Burning Man or the Org? Absolutely not. I love Burning Man. Everyone should go, at least once. See for yourself. Be inspired at what there is in this world, Disneyland, the Maker Movement, Art Basel, and Spring Break all wrapped up together. That’s still – after 30 years – a pretty unique and special combination, no matter who’s pulling the strings.

I have made an effort to place my research into a broader historical context, which should not in any way impede the Burning Man Project’s ability to raise donations and Black Rock City LLC’s ability to sell tickets.  I am not responsible for any organizational turnover or management issues within that group of companies – which recent times have seen a lot of.

I’m just a Burner, checking things out for myself, doing the research, and sharing it with you all, for free. Open your mind, or not, it’s up to you, I’m not preaching anything but truth. After truth comes reconciliation. I hope that then, the creativity and advancement of humans can truly be unleashed.

 

 

Burning Man and Me

It’s time to take a slightly different tack here at Burners.Me. Before the new voyage gets fully underway, I want to share with you some of my own journey so far. There are only 3 people who I know were here with me from the very beginning. One of them I met at Burning Man, and two of them I brought to Burning Man as virgins. I want to start today’s tale by telling you about how I lost my own Burginity, and how things developed from there.


The first I ever heard about Burning Man was on a mailing list. WIRED magazine had launched an online sub-brand, HotWIRED. This was back in the days when the entire advertising world was geared around print, TV or radio. Could a magazine exist in cyberspace and in the virtual world at once? Most people on the digital side of the Brave New World would tell you yes; in those days, most of the people from the “dinosaur media” Mad Men side would laugh in your face and then head down to the Gold Club for a 5-martini lunch with a Fortune 500 client and a juicy expense account…but I digress.

 

hotwired 1995

 

Sounds fun, right? It’s interesting that this “buck nekkid” from 1995 was still thriving almost 20 years later in this infamous 2014 Conan Shirt-Cocking incident:

Leslie Bibb would’ve been 20 at Burning Man 1995.

The next I heard of Burning Man was when uber-hip tech writer Bruce Sterling called it “The New American Holiday” on the cover of WIRED in 1996.

wired 1996

The links beyond WIRED and Burning Man went beyond skin deep. BM Founder Danger Ranger hooked up the network in WIRED’s first office. WIRED sort of spun out of Mondo 2000, and early burner John Perry Barlow was on the masthead of both.

In those days in San Francisco there was a social scene in the city around tech, but it was more like what you would see in New York or London. Well dressed people, black turtlenecks rather than hoodies, drinks but not too many, canapes and a house DJ, maybe a brief speech from the CEO. There was an intersection between the Web, advertising agencies, and big clients who had the budget to try something cutting edge.

My friend the Wolf had moved from Melbourne to San Francisco, and had a pretty good job at a place called LinkExchange. They put on a monthly event called DrinkExchange, which was a great way to network with other dot-com entrepreneurs. He had taken me to my first festival in Australia, 10,000 hippies camping in tents next to a river called ConFest. There was one generator at the entire event, a guy selling t-shirts with a single vinyl turntable going. He was causing much hippie hate for his sin of playing electronic music, but I was grateful for it.

We both read the WIRED article and talked about Burning Man. I couldn’t make it to San Francisco in September 97, I was working hundred hour weeks in my business in Melbourne. But he lived in San Francisco, so he and his wife packed up their tent in their SUV and headed in with their Aussie flag flying.

I spoke to him after, eager to know how it was. “Amazing!”, he said. “You have to go. You would love it”. That was enough for me, I was sold.

The next I heard of Burning Man was in the most unlikely of places. I had flown up to Sydney at the request of the Government, to talk about what Australia could do to remain competitive in the Internet age. The guest speaker at the workshop was a guy called Dr John Gage, the Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems. If you’ve ever had the pleasure to meet him, a lovely guy, true gent from the old school. I had met him several times before in various places around the world.

Sun stands for Stanford University Network. Like Google and HP, it spun out of Stanford University to become a multi-billion dollar company, staffed with former students and using technology developed in the labs there. In early 1998, they had a revolutionary technology called Java, which is still widely used today. Java meant developers could write their code for one type of computer, and it could run on any. Today it’s just “Internet”, or even “cloud”, it’s apps in your phone or you go to a web site. But back then, software for a PC didn’t run on a Mac. There were all kinds of competing operating systems and browsers. Sun had a vision to unify the Internet, and we were completely on board. The Wolf had been the President and Founder of the Australian Java Users Group, and my company Sausage Software sold the first Java applet on the Internet. We were monetizing Java before even Sun was, and because of that, we were well known to them and had a good working relationship. So John greeted me cordially. “How’s Adrian? Have you seen him?”, he asked, employing the Wolf’s non-Playa name which he preferred to use for business.

“I just spoke to him, he’s doing great!”, I replied.

“Oh! Were you at Burning Man?”, Dr John Gage asked.

I was stunned, but I tried not to show it. This is a grey-haired, bearded old dude, that flies around the world – probably in a private jet – meeting with Presidents and Prime Ministers and celebrities and thought leaders. And he knew about Burning Man?

“Oh, do you go?”, I asked, trying to be nonchalant.

He laughed. “No, but my son goes,” he replied. “Religiously. You should go. I think you’d like it”

 


 

In 1998, I showed up for my first Burn, not really knowing what to expect. It wasn’t like today “oh there’s art cars, people wear costumes, there’s gifting and when you get hungry just go to one of the food camps”. There was very little of that. Food camps? Maybe the neighbors were having a barbecue and would offer you a spare sausage, in exchange for a cold beer. There wasn’t any of this Ten Principles guff. It was Self Reliance – aka Survival – and Leave No Trace. There were a few people in costumes – dressed up freaks. But nothing you wouldn’t see walking down the street in SF. Money was frowned upon, but if a Ranger came around with a bag of mushrooms you probably wanted to have some cash at the ready. Everyone was friendly – we were all in this together. You could walk up to anyone in any camp, and they would gladly start talking to you. It was an amazing feeling of neighborhood, camaraderie, shared adventure and suffering. In terms of entertainment, it was a little light. Only a small handful of rave camps. However, these were spectacular, with gigantic art and aerialists and pyrotechnics. There were people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.

Now don’t get me wrong – all this is still present at Burning Man today. And much, much more, and many more people. But back then, what I’ve just described was pretty much it. The Man stood on a bunch of hay bales. When it burned, people ran up to the fire and threw their own stuff into it. Trinkets to sacrifice, photos and papers, sometimes even buildings. All got thrown to the fire, we were all burning everything together. Shedding the stuff we didn’t need from the past, burning it in the fire, ready to move on.

I went with a buddy of mine from Australia, an aspiring amateur DJ. We both loved electronic music, and found enough of it there that we liked. We rented a car, the best one we could get from Hertz. A Cadillac. Burning Man only went for the weekend back then, there was no Temple burn. My memory is hazy but I think even the Man may have burned on Sunday. We slept in shifts, 3-4 hours at a time, in the car with the engine running and the A/C on. We didn’t need a lot of sleep!

We managed to catch a total of 1 gig from the limited program information we had. It was the founder of Burning Man, a guy in a cowboy hat named Larry Harvey, who shared a vision at Center Camp of what this thing meant. It sounded pretty good, and fit the vibe we were feeling, the cats we were grooving with, and whatever it was that someone somewhere along the lines of free shots may have spiked our tea with.

We both had the time of our lives, and vowed to return again. I made a new buddy, Johnny. We were sitting down and passing a joint around towards the end, talking about when we came back. The thought that we would make a huge art car or a complicated theme camp didn’t cross our minds – although there were a few examples of those things there, that wasn’t really The Thing. Burning Man was about getting away from society to a place of freedom, rather than exhibiting our art work and ingenuity to impress our neighbors.

Instead, we thought about comfort. Fuck sleeping in a car. We needed RVs. I wanted one with those mechanical pop-outs – we’ve never seen that type of technology in Australia or New Zealand.

“Next time we come here, we’re gonna have showers and beds and bathrooms”. We cemented our vision with a fist bump.


Since I first heard of Burning Man – before I even attended – I have only ever missed it for work reasons. And a lot of things happened for me between 1998 and the next time I could return to Burning Man, in 2001. When I finally could return, I had retired from the company I founded and sold about half of my shares before the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. I was bumming around the world, driving through Europe in sports cars, chartering jets, staying in Presidential suites, renting villas in Ibiza, getting bottle service at nightclubs, mingling with minor celebrities. The usual playboy stuff. Needless to say, I was having the time of my life.

I rented an RV. It had 3 slide outs. Johnny returned. The last time we had seen each other was three years ago, at Burning Man, dreaming over a joint about what our next Burning Man experience would be. I was pretty happy with my RV; how had he done? It turns out Johnny had one-upped me. He had bought a full rockstar bus, with matching trailer, on eBay. It had leather seats and crystal glasses…maybe even a chandelier. He and his wife and their cat Maverick had spent the last year driving around the US in it.

We high fived each other. Both of our dreams came true! The things we thought of at Burning Man, had manifested by the next Burning Man.

What could be next? If we came back for a third time, where would we go from here? Another joint was passed around. Dreaming. Then, it hit me…forget the entire side of the vehicle popping out to make it bigger. What if the roof slid out vertically, and created a second story? I shared my dream with my new friend.

“WHOA, DUDE!”, Johnny said, as he most definitely inhaled. “THAT’S LIKE TOTALLY RAD!”

I could tell he didn’t see my vision the same way. Constraints of practicality were clouding his judgement. I was determined to make it happen.


 

The next time I showed up at Burning Man was 2004 – coincidentally, the year the Nine Ten Principles were announced. We were big in SF that year, or at least we thought we were! We launched Majitek at Java One at the Moscone Center that June. We threw a hipster party upstairs at the newly opened W Hotel – next door to the Museum of Modern Art and the not-even-dreamed-of-then St Regis, where I later spent 2.5 amazing years of my life. This time we rented the Presidential Suite at the W, decked out in resplendent purple. I hope it’s still the same today, haven’t been there in a while. These days, if I’m in that part of town you’ll most likely find me at Fang.

Our launch party managed to draw some talent, including Marc Benioff from Salesforce.com who was the kingpin of the town at the time…and still on the A++ list today; and Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal tech commentator and founder of Re/Code. Walt was pissed that in running from 10 hours of manning our booth at the show, to opening the doors for our free drinks after party, we kept him waiting 5 minutes. Fair enough, we could understand…Australians desire cocktails promptly also. He is probably used to companies built on other peoples’ money where the assistants have assistants, and the door bitches have door bitches. That’s still the preferred model today for most of these flash in the pan hotshot tech companies.

Java one was in early June. Burning Man was in late August. What happened in between, to inspire me to return to burn?

Well, I was at home in Australia one day. I used to live on the largest private landholding in Melbourne, almost 300 acres. Mostly environmentally protected wildlife habitat. Sacred forest, but with a lot of subwoofers. The kangaroos loved the doof mate. The louder I turned it up, the closer they’d come to the house. They usually moved in packs of about 7-12. One big male, 2 big females, maybe 1-2 younger males…and the joeys. Little babies jumping in the pouches, legs scrambling in the air and tails flailing as mommy had to help scoop them in. I saw this every day, multiple times. But when the music was on, it was like the tribes gathered. Kangaroos would surround my house in every direction, as many as a hundred. I realized after years of living there, after-parties and pre-parties and actual parties that went for days, that some of these kangaroos had grown up their whole lives with this music. And then their babies were born the same way. Feeling safe with the bass. Connecting with the human in the place where those noises came from.

I should mention that this is probably the smartest home in the world at the time. I had a team of engineers developing custom software for the control of building systems. I have never been to Bill Gates’ famous lakeside mansion, but I have talked to people who have, and techs who work on it. I have never seen the inside of Paul Allen’s yachts, but I have done business with a guy who sailed around the world with him for 2 years as an on-board tech. Mike Markkula, the Apple Founder and Chairman of Echelon, was gracious enough to invite me into his home in Woodside. The home left mine in the dust (he has a 12,000 square foot theater that seats hundreds, taking the “home theater” concept to an extreme)…but he still had light switches. I only had touchscreens – in 2004. iPods were new. A large Asian tech conglomerate sent a team of their best smart home people out to the house to see if they might want to license our technology. We never got a deal, but the next week our slides were up on their web site. Minus our branding, of course.

So there I was, in one of the smartest houses in the world, thinking about ways to capitalize on all the goodwill we created at our bad ass after party and successful Java show. How could I make a bigger splash in Silicon Valley than a hipster party at the W?

And then on the TV running in the background I see something that stops me in my tracks. The Discovery Channel, content from the US. Will Smith’s trailer. A semi-trailer, the sides of it fully pop-out, but then the roof extends to make a second level.

O.

M.

G.

My Burning Man dream came true again! What I envisioned, manifested before me.

I had an amazing travel agent. This was before I had a Black Amex – maybe before there even WERE Black Amexes. It was before the Internet disintermediated what was really a highly skilled profession. My lady Joanne was the bomb. She could get me ANYTHING. So I called her up, and said “get me Will Smith’s trailer for Burning Man”. And she did.


Time to Burn some money…

Thanks very much for the use of your trailer Will and Jada, if you are reading this. Glad to hear that Will is now a Burner. Thanks also to my dear friends at Anderson Mobile Estates who can deliver a home away from home anywhere in the world. I like doing business with good people, that’s what puts a smile on my face; you don’t get better than the Anderson family.

Will Smith chose not to take one of his fleet of these to Burning Man this year

Will Smith chose not to take one of his fleet of these to Burning Man 

That year, the Who/What/Where guide listed Paris Hilton. This was before she was well known as a million dollar DJ, or a leading light of Freemasonry. Back then she was mostly known for her sex tape One Night in Paris, which highlighted American innovation in night vision technology, combined with skill and enthusiasm.

paris hilton freemasons quarterly

Anyway, people put two and two together and made 5. Paris had a sex tape, the Burning Man gig guide listed her, and this crazy double story trailer was there. Obviously, Paris must be in the trailer! And so we had literal paparazzi waiting outside for us to open the door. The minute we walked out – and I had 4 girls staying with me, who mostly wanted to be topless – the cameras would be snap snap snap. Fortunately they didn’t even care about me, they were looking for Paris. But still.

Interestingly, the girls I was with that year and some of their friends who I met subsequently, seem to perhaps fit the profile of an Intelligence honey trap. One had a sister in the NSA, and boasted about having blackmailed a Senator in Washington DC. One turned out to be working for the Department of Defense. One’s Dad was a famous (or more fittingly, infamous) CIA fixer, who helped John De Lorean and Michael Jackson, and was well known in the UFO community. Another one’s stepfather was a high level Freemason in Kentucky. And another associate of this girl gang claimed to be descended from a famous civil war general. She also claimed that she had been raped by her former long term boyfriend. Without giving too many details away that might expose the identities of other victims of this spooky crew, it turned out that her ex was on the other side of the country with witnesses on the date of her alleged assault, while photos of her out partying that night in a different city were on her Facebook wall. I’ll leave it there, I’ve probably said too much already.

Suffice to say I was caught in a honey trap by this ring, who were operating at Burning Man and within the SF tech social scene. I wasn’t the only one – so were 4 other successful businessmen I know. Very smart guys. These lithe young sparkle ponies used the power of lies and allegations, combined with “no win/no fee” ambulance chaser lawyers, to prey on people who had only shown them kindness and generosity.

“Oh well, it’s the way of the world”, some might say. “Serves you right for being rich, you must have stolen that money”, say others. By this theory, it’s fine to take someone else’s bike at Burning Man. It’s about gifting, but if someone is rich enough to leave their bike unlocked, they must not care about it, so they must be gifting it to whoever walks by and their RADICAL SELF EXPRESSION and RADICAL SELF RELIANCE in the moment of IMMEDIACY means “gift me that bike!”

Alinsky was working out of UC Berkeley when he wrote this, with a young Hillary Clinton as his intern. He dedicated his famous book to “Lucifer, the original radical”. 3 of Burning Man’s Ten Principles contain the word RADICAL.


 

2010 was my most epic ever Burning Man, although at the time it was all unfolding it had the usual mixture of extreme highs and lows. I called up Ron Anderson to see about renting Will’s trailer again.

“I was just talking about you!”, his smiling voice said over the phone.

Although we had become good friends, we weren’t in touch that often. So this was a bit of a surprise.

“Your ears must have been burning”, he said, then laughed as he realized his own pun. “I’m here with two lovely young ladies who want to rent one of my trailers for Burning Man! I was just telling them about you”.

That led to me meeting Brenda and KP (hi ladies!), some of the many wonderful Burners who I have become friends with after spending time together in the outside world. They were organizing the Burning Man experience of a lifetime for an ultra-VIP client, a likeable guy who you’ve probably never heard of. I rented Ron’s “rock star bus” which must have had a nuclear-powered air conditioner and nano-technology blackout blinds. That thing was a cocoon.

anderson-mobile-estates1

We camped with Overkill and Villains & Vixens. This was my first experience being at a camp with an Art Car, in this case the Fish Tank. Great vehicle, friendly crew, if you see it on the Playa go and say hi.

Fish Tank at JuPlaya

Fish Tank at JuPlaya

The camp also had a chef and a private masseuse. Artist Hans Haveron – now appearing on Skin Wars Season 3, and winner of the Red Bull challenge at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art – was there airbrushing nude models. There was a line of nude models stretching outside his dome waiting for their turn, pouting at not being able to use their looks to skip the line. Artists from the Lucent Dossier Experience were in our camp, and there were theatrical and musical performances every night at dinner.

The chef and his team were cooking for about 80 people. We got a string wristband, this indicated to the chef who had paid in to the meal plan. As it turned out, about 76 wristbands had gone out, but they were feeding 90-100 people at each meal. This caused some big headaches for the kitchen in provisioning and rationing. “Sure, we would love to gift food to your new girlfriend! But that means one of our camp members who paid must starve”. This is the practical reality of Radical Inclusion versus Gifting.

The masseuse was gorgeous, and friendly, but also very busy. I put my name down for a massage, but I was perhaps #30 in the list. The reality of sticking around at Burning Man waiting for hours for something like that to happen is pretty impractical, and probably every person in the camp wants at least one massage. Imagine how tired the poor girl would be after 80 massages – doesn’t sound like a fun Burn to me.

Plug-n-play sounds great in theory, but once everybody hits the Playa, well – it ain’t the Four Seasons no more. It’s the same lines at the same stinking desert porta-potties.


I brought quite a big contingent of Aussies to the camp. About a dozen of us. The Wolf was with me, still burning after all those years. He brought a virgin. I had 4, including 2 of my best friends who had been hearing about Burning Man from me for more than a decade. They both finally caved in and decided to come at the same time, and both were in their element from the get-go.

After everyone arrived and got settled in, we were sitting around at the table. My friend Bree from Melbourne looked at me and said “so tell us about Burning Man Zos. We’re here. What’s so special about this place?”

I didn’t hesitate.

“Magic”, I said.

“Magic? What do you mean”.

“It’s simple”, I replied. “Wish for something, and then it manifests in front of you. This works in the real world too, if you have good karma, you can wish or pray for something and then you receive it. But there’s a latency of manifestation. The time between wishing and receiving could be quite high, although if you have good karma and are detached from the outcome, there seems to be less latency and things manifest much quicker”.

I paused. “Are you with me so far?”

Bree nodded, as did the rest of our group who were listening with keen interest. “Wish for something, and then you get it.”, Bree summed it up nicely.

“Exactly,” I agreed. “Well at Burning Man, that latency of manifestation disappears. Wish for something and it appears right in front of you”

Bree laughed in disbelief. “Well in that case, Zos…I want a pony!”. Everybody laughed. A pony! As if she would get a pony in the desert. Animals are banned at Burning Man, for starters. Let alone all the MOOP a pony could create. Ha ha ha, what a crazy concept.

Well blow me down if not *40 seconds* from when she said that, a huge black guy in a pink tutu bounced up. He was riding one of these:

“Oh my god!”, Bree screamed excitedly. “A pony!”
The gentleman had not said so much as a hello to us yet. We didn’t know if he even spoke English. But when he heard her excitement at the pony, he immediately grabbed the unicorn and gifted to her.
Bree’s first instinct was to refuse the gift. “Oh no! I couldn’t. It’s too much”. Good manners, that girl.
“It’s Burning Man”, said the unknown gifter. “Get used to it”. And with that he sauntered off, sans unicorn.
Well, Bree was kind of excited at this point. She wished for a pony, and now she had one. We set off for a walk to the Esplanade, to see the Man and the Inner Playa. Bree was walking/riding her unicorn, I was walking next to her. A guy bounced up, he had a unicorn too. “Hey!”, Bree said. She waggled the unicorn head at him in greeting. He waggled his back.
“It’s not right!”, he exclaimed. We both looked at him, puzzled. What was up with this dude?
He explained himself. “It’s not right that she has a pony and you don’t”. And he handed me his unicorn stick.
I checked my own reflexive urge to politely decline, and warmly accepted his gift with a big smile and a big hug. Now we were both at Burning Man, each with a pony. So far about 5 minutes had elapsed since Bree made her initial wish.
We walked a little bit further, and sure, we saw the Man. But we also saw a giant fucking horse!
Bree and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.
“Ok Zos!”, she condeded. “I get it”.
Welcome to Burning Man.
rocking horse img_8273
horse art
Trojan Horse, 2010. Image: Sharona Gott/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Trojan Horse, 2010. Image: Sharona Gott/Flickr (Creative Commons)

photo: Peter Wardlaw

photo: Peter Wardlaw


I bought my RV on eBay for $19,000. And we still take dumps in the portapotties.

This has been my home for the last 3 Burning Mans. $19,000 on eBay. Whatever you take to Burning Man is going to get trashed, so why buy a fancy one?

When I had the vertical slide-out in 2004, I got to experience Burning Man from a whole different angle – literally. Get up above the rooftops of the RVs, and you can see a lot of what’s going on in the city. I recommend including this in your camp plans, you don’t have to spend big bucks.Even just take a camping chair on top of your friend’s RV.  You can see so much happening once you get a bit of height.

The last time I was at the Nevada Burn, 2013 Cargo Cult I watched the burn from way up high. This was also the first time I ever convinced one of my family members to come to Burning Man. My sister flew all the way from Bali, direct to the Playa. And we watched the UFO burn from on top of the Balanceville Art Car. My sister shoved fellow first-time Burner Susan Sarandon out of the way so she could take this photo with me:

Image: Peter Ruprecht

Image: Peter Ruprecht

balanceville

 


 

Burning Man is amazing and inspiring to me. It has inspired me to gift this blog to the community, thousands of hours of effort. Like most gifts at Burning Man, it’s not universally welcomed. Not everybody wants this gift. Fair enough; to each their own. I have not used this platform to promote myself or my businesses, simply to share my opinions and my research. I have invited anyone to come on and contribute, and many have. Thanks to all those Burners who have taken time to write guest posts, including Nomad Traveler, A Balanced Perspective, Toburn, Pantless Santa, Sandstorm, ShiftyFox, Halcyon, Rabbitt, AleXander, Buena Chica, Shift Pods, Jex, Damian, Jillian, Nick Heyming, Nicole Sparklecorn, Kestrel, Shaggy Dog, Jal Lee Mon, Ayahuasca, Joycebird, Dark Arps, Simon Yugler, Jill Marlene, Alex Mak, Beth Lillie. Sorry for anybody I left out! And thanks especially to Terry Gotham and Whatsblem the Pro who both have contributed so many great posts. I count 28 names there, plus my own – so it’s a little unfair to say that we only ever present one side of things. Anyone is welcome to write a guest post or comment.

Thank you to all the BURNILEAKS whistleblowers who have come forward to share information about what is truly going on. Our whole community owes you a great debt. Although we have not won the transparency battle, and in fact are probably losing it…it could have been so much worse. It still could. Burning Man for the Burners is something worth believing in. We do have the power.

Thanks to those amazing photographers who let Burners share their work with other Burners without kicking up a stink about it, particularly those who have personally helped me like Peter Ruprecht, Josh Reiss, Duncan Rawlinson, Eleanor Preger, Gilles Bonugli-Kali…and anyone who has ever shared a photo here or elsewhere on the Interwebz. Love your work, keep helping to share Burner art with the world.

I would like to give a massive thanks to YOU for reading this. Please don’t be shy about participating in the conversation here, we’re all in this together. Burning Man at its best is a shining beacon of hope in a technotronic age – that the basic goodness of the human soul is the natural way for us to be, and that The System of The Man in the Default world is not the apex of our civilization. The best is yet to come, and we have an opportunity and an obligation to create the best future we can possibly imagine for our ancestors to inherit.

Thank you for your participation.

Tickets 2016: What Really Happened

 

Church fire

Image: Dan Rademacher | Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

At first, it seemed like things were going very smoothly this year. I logged on in the Pre-Sale, got straight through, got 2 tickets and a vehicle pass, no problem. Whole thing took less than 3 minutes. Of course, that cost $2271.74. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $1207 for a $997 ticket, but for anyone who wants tickets, there are still those VIP Da Vinci’s available. Log into your Burner profile and click this:

Screenshot 2016-04-18 09.28.46

Although it says the limit is 2 per person, the reality is it is at least 2 per profile. Anyone can create a profile and buy these tickets, so if Medici Camps want a hundred tickets they will get them. A little bird told us that you can just log in and keep buying 2 at a time, after buying Art Tickets the button is still visible on the profile. One camp has already purchased more than 100 Da Vinci tickets from a single profile. [Pro tip: if you still need a vehicle pass, you can get one here without getting the Leonardo’s; some readers have pointed out that BMOrg says VP-only orders will be voided, so you might want to make a small donation just in case]

After the Pre-Sale, the Directed Group Sale happened. Although most camps got a reduced allocation from last year, the sale seemed to go through hitch-free for those who did get codes.

So far, so good. That’s about 30,000 Burners in the door. Rich people, and those with enough Borg points to be on the World’s Biggest Guest list, can come to Burning Man.

But just being on the DGS list doesn’t mean that your camp got all of the tickets it needed. A neutral sample from the Theme Camp Organizers group showed 94% got less than they needed this year.

Which bring us to everybody else. Regular Burners, who want to just log in when the sale opens and hopefully get in there early enough that they can buy a ticket.

This is where the problems began.

The 30,000 tickets sold out in about half an hour; it took a further half an hour before people in the queue were informed. From the Reno Gazette Journal:

At about 12:35 p.m., 30 minutes after tickets went on sale, Burning Man announced that all tickets were in the “baskets” of buyers at the time. By 1 p.m., tickets were officially sold out…More than 70,000 people registered to purchase 30,000 tickets

Assuming that most people are buying 2 tickets, that is potentially 140,000 tickets wanted from a pool of 30,000 tickets. Although clearly demand exceeds supply, this is just a regular day in the ticketing world. This problem has been solved, well, and long ago.

Jenny Kane at the RGJ raised some criticism of the last-minute move to add the “Waiting Room”

Since demand has far outpaced supply in recent years, Burning Man has experimented with different ticketing processes, this year trying out an online “waiting room,” which Burning Man threw into the equation via an email announcement last minute Tuesday night.

The waiting room was a response to “anticipation of high demand and a high server load,” according to the email. No information was available about the sudden change of process on Burning Man’s website.

Some Burners criticized the waiting room as a move that returned the system to a lottery-style ticket sale, others said that the waiting room was a joke since Burning Man’s email was sent out so last-minute, and some Burners did not receive the email in the first place, according to reports on social media.

Because some Burners reported acquiring tickets after skipping the waiting room, some Burners suspected that there was a glitch with this year’s process, a theory that Burning Man organizers denied.

“Everything seemed to go as planned,” said Jim Graham, Burning Man spokesman.

Whether as planned, or a glitch, reading a post from BMOrg explaining how the ticketing process went wrong this year is nothing new. I started this blog in early 2012, and ticket troubles have been an annual story every since. The usual response is “we know you are frustrated”, followed by “blame Burners (sort of)”, and then “blame anyone else we can”. In previous years, the problem has been blamed on the previous ticketing vendor, Burners buying tickets for their friends, scalpers, and hackers.

This year, the problem was Burners accidentally entering the early room too early (but it wasn’t their fault), and Ticketfly (supposedly, entirely their fault). BMOrg, of course, did nothing wrong, they are a highly competent organization that unfortunately (and inexplicably) regularly encounters undeserved bad luck.

From burningman.org:

Early in the planning process for the 2016 Main Sale, Ticketfly wanted to put a waiting room in place before the sale to accommodate the expected high server load. Under this plan, Burners who entered the sale before it opened would be placed in a “pre-queue” waiting room, and when the sale opened, everyone in that room would be randomly assigned a place in line.

We pushed back on this idea because it conflicted with our longtime policy that arriving early for a sale shouldn’t give one an advantage over someone who arrives when the sale officially begins. In this respect we’re kind of industry oddballs — it is standard practice in most high-volume ticket sales to use a waiting room like this, but it is philosophically out of line with how we feel participants should be treated in a sale.

In response, Ticketfly insisted the system was necessary to ensure a smooth sale, so we sent our standard night-before reminder email to everyone registered for the sale, including an explanation about the waiting room, to be transparent about the process.

…Needless to say, we don’t like being in the position of having to notify people late in the game of a change in how the system works.

Well, that’s the official story, anyway. You can read about it at the BJ or the RGJ. BMOrg knew about the waiting room since early in the planning process, but only chose to tell Burners about it by slipping it into a last-minute reminder email…in the name of transparency.

According to BMOrg, there was only one problem: Ticketfly opening the waiting room at 11:30 insterad of 11:45.

Ticketfly did not anticipate how the safety net would interact with the waiting room, and proceeded to open the expected waiting room at 11:30 am, 15 minutes earlier than we’d agreed and publicized. This waiting room was open for 35 minutes, still ending at 12:05 pm. Unbeknownst to us though, the roughly 3,500 people that arrived in the “safety net” period were given preferential placement ahead of everyone else to buy tickets and vehicle passes.

The full story of what went wrong includes some key details that will need to be addressed to avoid these problems in the future.

A summary of the main problems reported:

  • The sale “officially” starts at 12:00. BMOrg modified this to start at 12:05 for people in a “20 minute waiting room” that officially started at 11:45. This announcement of a new method (get in even earlier than 12 and get tickets) went out at the last minute, and not to everyone
  • The waiting room was actually open earlier than 11:45
  • Some people who waited in the waiting room for 20 minutes or more did not get tickets
  • Some people who logged in after 12:05 got tickets with no queue
  • BMOrg asked people not to open multiple browser windows. Each time you did, you increased your chances of getting tickets.
  • The code involved in the waiting room system made the process vulnerable to hackers trying to outsmart the system.
  • After the last ticket was sold, there were still many people waiting in the queue, who were forced to stay there for at least an extra half hour.
  • It appears that tickets that were “refreshed” – put back into the pool because a transaction was not completed in time, or a credit card failed – were not then offered to the people who were waiting the longest. Instead they were offered to whoever logged in the most recently. I say this because of reports that people logged in after 12:20 and got tickets, while others logged in to the waiting room before 12 and didn’t.

The entire ticketing system is a big black box. Is there even one person that knows how BMOrg’s code AND Ticketfly’s code AND Queue-It’s code works? If so, then maybe they should be taking responsibility for these annual clusterfucks.

One of the great ironies of Burning Man is how fiercely BMOrg fight against transparency, now that profit has been removed from their activities. They will say they don’t because they got a friendly to write a puff piece in Philanthropy magazine. YMMV. Apparently, one of the outcomes of this year’s Global Leadership Conference was “Radical Transparency”:

Our leaders are advocating transparency because it reduces Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, a.k.a. FUD. Keeping things secret allows for FUD to spread and we all know how our community loves a little drama.

Something tells me “leaders advocating transparency” really means “Regionals are being forced to implement Burner Profiles”. But I’ll keep my mind open – maybe BMOrg 3.0, of the people, for the people, by the people, really is “coming soon”. Personally, if we’re going to have an 11th Principle I vote CONSENT. Gratitude is a good one. Transparency is not a Principle of Burners, it is simply a fundamental requirement for a non-profit that wants to raise tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors. Unless you’re the Clinton Global Initiative, of course!

A disconnect between BMOrg’s words and actions is par for the course, and the ticketing system gets more opaque every year. To figure out what really happened in the Ticketing black box, we have to do some investigation. Fortunately, we have some very competent technical engineering talent within the Burner community, and by taking in the comments from Burners about their experiences, we can attempt to deconstruct what really happened. It may not be perfect, but it’s the only option we have in the circumstances.

The night before the ticket sales started, BMOrg sent out a last minute email, announcing a change of plans. I guess up until then, they had no idea that there may have been high demand and a high server load. Not to mention that many of the Burners were probably high too.

In anticipation of high demand and a high server load, a 20-minute waiting room will open Wednesday, March 23 at 11:45am PDT. Actual sales begin at 12:05pm PDT.

Opening multiple browser tabs won’t improve your chances; when the sale opens, everyone in the 20-minute waiting room will be assigned a place in line that is not related to when they entered the sale. Anyone who joins after 20 minutes will be placed in line after those already in the queue.

A Balanced Perspective described this well:

In actuality, what occurred is the opposite of what the Borg stated. Black is White. Any people whom opened their browser window prior to near to 11:35am, and waited for the sale at 12:05pm, gained near to 7,000 tickets. In addendum, any people whom opened their browser window after near to 12:04pm gained tickets. In addendum, any people whom opened a new browser after 12:05pm gained tickets. Few Burners whom obeyed the Borg gained tickets. How might it be possible for an organization to screw the people whom desire to obey them in such a horrible manner?

He makes another good point, which is that if this was a one-off, we could dismiss it as coincidence. But it’s been every year since they announced their “transition”. These ticketing problems should be seen in the context of everything else that has been changing at Burning Man this decade:

  • the shift to a “mall of participation” featuring vending machines at the Man base,
  • tourist packages being promoted on the official site,
  • “ironic” timeshare sales with brochures handed out in a market at the Man base,
  • Directors running multi-million dollar hotel camps with sherpas,
  • the art budget shenanigans where the money spent on the Man and related infrastructure is now accounted for as “grants to artists”, and we’re told that has increased compared to past years
  • the massive increases in ticket costs over the past few years,
  • and of course the frequent tweaks of the system which every year have been pushing secondary market prices higher.

Without getting too bogged down in the technicalities, let’s try to break down the 2016 Main Sale problems.

Shaggy Skier offers some detailed analysis at Reddit:

TicketFly allowed people into the ticketing system before the queue opened sometime around 11:30. These people were given an authenticated session on the ticketing system and thus bypassed the queue once tickets went on sale. { I’d bet my left nut on this }

The waiting room / queue (aka a company called “Queue-It”) handled queue placement based on unique cookies assigned to the browser upon hitting their website, and not your secret access code (aka “promo code”). This meant opening multiple independent browser instances increased one’s odds. { I’d bet my right nut on this one }

Professional scalpers absolutely know about the later, and probably the former flaws. Profit motive … motivates people.

Here we have Problem 1: people were allowed to enter the system before it officially opened.

This raises the question: did someone deliberately put these “back doors” (or loopholes) in the system, so that insiders – either at Ticketfly, BMOrg, or Queue-It – could get in before anyone else? Or once again, did BMOrg change their system and it “accidentally” made it way better for scalpers those who knew the loopholes?

According to reports online, not everyone was sent the email about the Waiting Room. Was this selective, sent only to “preferred” Profiles? Why else did some people not receive the email?

Shaggyskier on Reddit:

 

The devil is in the details. From the URL that redirects us back to TicketFly we can see they’re using a Queue-it feature called Safetynet. We can read about Safetynet on Queue-it’s website:

The SafetyNet feature constantly monitors your website, auto-queueing excess users when website capacity threshold is exceeded. End-users within website capacity limits do not see queue numbers. The SafetyNet feature can be implemented as a small JavaScript on your site (like e.g. Google Analytics).

Or in other words Queue-it will keep passing people through to TicketFly, and authenticating their session cookie until the website gets busy enough to be ruled ‘at capacity’. See the problem now? The website doesn’t start getting busy (and/or the queue wasn’t manually enabled) until it gets close to sale time! Anyone who clicks in before then gets an authenticated session on TicketFly’s server – and will no longer be sent to the queue.

I can personally state that Queue-it passed me through to TicketFly (thus authenticating my session) as late as 11:25am, and a friend recognized the same thing happened to her. My friend clicked early on her own accord to “make sure the IT department wasn’t blocking the site”. How many people did that?

“But I did click the link before the queue got going and I got an ‘Invalid Promo Code’ message?”. That’s right. You did. Your promo code was still set to only be valid from 12:05 onwards. If you re-clicked your link, or re-entered your code after 12:05 then you have tickets right now since you still had an authenticated session.

So if you got there early – like, before it was supposed to be open – you got a code to get tickets, because you bypassed the Safety Net in the queueing system. As the waiting room filled up, those codes were allocated via the queueing sytem; by the time the system processed its way through to the end of the queue, all tickets had been sold.

Meanwhile, people logged on at 12:20 and got tickets. Maybe by that time, server load had died down and the queue was not so crowded; meaning the “very early” and “very late” people got processed differently. That’s Problem 2.

Problem 3, is that the cookies used by the Queue-It system were not linked to UserID. Opening more browser windows got you more cookies, which got you more chances to get in to buy tickets. This calls into question yet again the role that the Burner Profile actually plays in this process. In the past we have speculated that it could be used to favor Virgins over Veterans, something that is supported by the strangely consistent “40% Virgins” ratio we have had ever since this new ticket lottery process began.

Problem 3 is particularly bad because it is the complete opposite of BMOrg’s instructions that opening more browser tabs would not give you more chances. While technically this statement could be true depending on the browser and OS, in general opening new browser instances, and running different browsers at the same time definitely made a difference.

Problem 4 is a consequence of Problem 3. The system had no way to differentiate humans from Browser sessions. If one person with one code opened up 10 browsers, it thought that was ten people in the queue. Each one had to be processed individually, before moving on to the next. The system would have wasted a lot of time rejecting sessions that timed out before completion. How else to explain a 30 minute delay between all tickets being in baskets, and the sold out message? Most people should have been able to check out in minutes once they had tickets in their shopping cart.

Problem 5, the “little green man” is not really showing you accurate information. When the time gets down to zero, there is no guarantee you will be able to buy a ticket. It is just looking at all the sessions, and making an estimate of how long it will take to get to processing you. This appears to be based on the size of the queue and your place within it, and not the number of tickets remaining. If this is true, the queue would seem to be getting shorter but then suddenly get longer again as a bunch more people got in the queue; you would seem like you were close to the front, when really you had no chance – which definitely happened last year.

If the Little Green Man’s position is tied to the queue, not the number of tickets remaining, then the LGM is bullshit.

Even when all the tickets have been sold, the system is still processing these queued sessions. People see the man moving, and think there’s hope. The reality is, for regular people logging in to buy tickets after noon (the original instructions), there was almost no hope. The best way to get tickets was to figure out a way around the rules.

They did at least reduce the time wasted by Problem 5 from last year. Instead of waiting up to 2 hours in the queue before being notified that no tickets were remaining (but you could still make a donation), this year it seems to have been more like 30-45 minutes.

We are told we need this convoluted system to prevent scalpers – that is, selling $397 tickets above farce value. Meanwhile, BMOrg are selling a seemingly unlimited number of tickets for $1207. Wake up people: THEY ARE THE SCALPERS! If you really want to stop scalping (0.6% of ticket sales), link IDs to tickets. To stop insiders with large blocks of tickets selling them on the secondary market for profit, link IDs to tickets. It’s pretty basic. But nothing like this has ever been tried. Instead, we have the opposite – a system that started off as brilliantly suited to boosting secondary market profits, and over the last few years has been refined and improved even more to make it a wet dream for anyone wanting to sell tickets for more than $397 farce value.

Low income tickets are still available, but processing them has been delayed 3 weeks:

Heads up: there’s a delay in processing Low Income applications. Normally we strive to respond to applicants within eight weeks, which means the first wave of applicants would have been notified by the end of April. Unfortunately some behind-the-scenes hitches will cause a delay of 2-3 weeks.

What “behind-the-scenes hitches” could there be? Surely the method of processing Low Income Ticket applications does not change from one year to the next? Maybe they need to see how many more VIP tickets can be sold in that time?

A few selected comments from Burners on this year’s ticketing SNAFU:

Alex:

I was in the queue five minutes before the start, then sat in the queue, then sat until there were no more tickets available…

Two of my friends clicked on the email link after 12pm, got straight in and purchased tickets. I’m happy for them

BCool11 says:

Our friend jumped into our 8 person group chat at probably 12:10 and asked us “hey sorry i’m late i’m on the screen that asks for a code”

we pretty much tell him he’s SOL because he didn’t register for an access code. My girlfriend give him her access code since were all waiting in line. I tell her that she may lose her place in line if he uses it on his end.

Literally 2 minutes later he responds back that he has checked out and tickets and vehicle passes were purchased. No one else of our 8 person group got through. He literally put in the code and was pushed through to the checkout page. It really goes to show that there are flaws in this system

23 replied:

If you’d given him your other codes he could have repeatedly purchased your group’s tickets.

Pinthead:

I truly believe people in the waiting room had a huge disadvantage and if you followed the rules they suggested entering the waiting room at 11:45 and never refreshed, closed your browser or opened up another link you where just screwed.

Snakelee:

So two years ago, the OMG sale allowed for queuing 30 minutes before the sale started. My wife and I both tried to get tickets and I noticed that we could queue up really early, so we both queued and we both were given the option to buy. Lots of people from our camp tried to buy in that sale and none of them got in.

Then, that method hit the main sale this year. I know multiple people in our camp queued really early and got them, but I didn’t queue until 15 minutes before and wasn’t able to get tickets. So basically, I think this happened 2 years ago for OMG and then it was routed out to the main sale. I didn’t try the OMG sale last year, I bet they did it this way and have some experience with this method of sale.

I bet that they won’t have this patched for the OMG sale this year and it will be scalper central at 11:29:59.

GHKMasterRace:

After reading all this shit im gonna start being an asshole and getting tickets how ever I can. 

zz_z:

That’s pretty much what you have to do, our camp had 50 people in it last year and only two people got through the main sale this year. The system is broken.

Conclusion

This “waiting room” was a trap. The bottom line is, if you followed the official last minute instructions, and joined it between 11:50-12:00, you reduced your chances of getting a ticket by an order of magnitude.

The idea that “ticket sales start at 12 but people who get there before 12 can buy them first” is silly. It either starts at noon or it doesn’t.

Why not follow the Principle of Immediacy? Start the sales at 12:00:00, and process them on a first-come, first-serve basis. When the last ticket is sold, whoever is at HQ watching $14 million cash hit the bank in 30 minutes or less could immediately send out a Tweet (100k followers) and a message on the Burning Man Facebook page (1 million). It’s pretty fucking simple.

If the Ruling Group were Satanists, they would delight in laughing at the suffering of all these Burners trying to follow the rules, jumping through senseless hoops, and wasting an hour or more of their life just to experience disappointment, disillusionment, and bitterness. But, hey, maybe there’s some other motivation for this sort of thing now happening every year. Maybe, like they say, they did a great job and it’s all just Burners and Ticketfly’s fault.

How was your ticket experience this year? Did your camp get enough tickets? Please share in the comments.

Radical Self Reliance, Fly-In Culture, and Leave No Trace

Image: W Magazine

Burning Man’s airport is busier than ever, with BMOrg now pushing to bring in larger capacity planes. Image: W Magazine

A guest post from Jal Lee Mon, who poses a provoking question for your thoughts.


 

Ok everyone. Let’s get a conversation (not a name calling contest) going on a subject that is related to another open sore that festers still in our community. And by guilt by proximity, it is being called out as tabuoo as well, even when it really isn’t.
I’m going to start by saying this idea I want to talk about is, technically, following all of the tenants we so love and uphold. So just read the whole thing before you judge and unleash on the comment section.

I’ll lay it out as a story, to catch your attention.

This guy wants to go to Burning Man, as he has done ten years previous. But, he is unable to get the funds needed, which come to around $1000, all said and told. So, he has given up hope of making it, missing yet another year. Missing home. He has tried volunteering for the BMOrg, but has heard no response. He has contacted the Temple crew to help. He is covering all venues. Thinking up new ideas. And, one day, while talking to a friend who lived out of the country, he had a bit of an epiphany.

Imagine you are from another country, or even just really far in this one. Say, Maine. You want go to the Burn, but the thing that is holding you back is that you can only really, logically, and in many cases technically, get there by plane. This does two things instantly. It means you are sleeping in a tent, or bumming space from somewhere. If you are really lucky, you flirt with the guy who has the huge RV and he lets you stay with him.
Second, it means you are limited to what you can carry. Food, costumes, personal supplies. Etc.
In other words, being “Radically Self Reliant” becomes a gambit of bumming favours, buying shit from Walmart you will later give away or dump, and relying on beef jerky and diet shakes for your meals. Then there is the bike. Shit, I’ll just grab a $50 one from Walmart. The one in Reno overstocks hundreds of those cheap cruisers right before the Burn. You know the ones. They are abandoned by the hundreds when the burn ends.
Here is where the thought came from. By “forcing” this Law upon people, we are in fact making it harder for them to participate, and are actually directly responsible for a large portion of all the shit that gets left behind.
Stay with me here.
So, you have a veteran Burner, one that has been there and done that. He has all the extra gear, all the extra tools and needed supplies, and even an extra hexayurt. But, he can’t make it to the Burn, for lack of funds.
Enter the Burner that is coming in from the airport with a backpack and a few bags. Instead of them dumping hundreds, thousands and in a few cases, tens of thousands of dollars into cheap shit that will later be tossed, rental cars that are going to clog up the Playa, consume that much more fuel, and likely cost the renter that extra “cleaning fee” the rental shop nails Burners for after the event, etc, etc….
::takes breath::
Why not have them pay someone like the Vet, which would get him to the Burn, where he would supply the other Burner with the essentials. This would end up costing less, wasting far, far less, and it would facilitate the attendance, participation and enjoyment of someone that might otherwise decide it was too much money/trouble/etc?
This touches dangerously close to the Turn Key subject that drew so much hatred and anger, that it is a discussion we should have. Because there are a lot of Burners who are able to drive there with a thousand pounds of gear, and they could help those who can’t. Hell, who knows…there might even be a organization that already does this.
Is it breaking the rules if the services you are giving make you just enough to get you a ticket and to the Burn? No profit. Just, some kind of weird BM Air BnB that helps two people.

Thoughts?