Pope Salmon the Lesser Mungojelly
Feb. 11th, 2009
10:34 am - money is melting
The actual date when the technology was available for the bulk of U.S. attention to switch from old media to open blogging was at least twenty years ago. We've been slogging through inertia for decades.
Similarly, I believe that the date at which it was first possible for the U.S. to switch from a currency based economy to a more rational system of organizing collective activity has already passed. Now we just have to slog through a few decades of people saying "but that doesn't count somehow" before we can actually implement the change.
Money is absurd on its face, and deeply irrationalizing when employed. Real value is multifaceted, not quantifiable. On some level you know this basic fact, and yet as a hypnotized participant you may have the unsupportable feeling that to this dramatic wrongness there must be some compensating right. There is, but only historically; looking at value through this simplifying lens allowed it to be processed by an information system so antiquidated that its bits must literally be purchased and manipulated individually.
Like the blogging revolution, what I am talking about is not so much a transfer as a broadening of power. No one system alone will replace the roles money now plays in our life. Indeed, because of the conservative inertia, I expect it to look more like a gradual attrition than a sudden transformation. Parts of the transformation-- blogging, free open source, media piracy, flashmobs-- are well underway, and being understood only in isolation (certainly not as a threat to commodified value itself).
Over the next few decades, though, we will be forced to become aware of how all these new allowances are spreading and stitching together. The line that separates "real" things in the "real" money economy from the encroaching "unreal" things will fall into as helpless a retreat as the mainstream media are now in. Already we must rationalize to ourselves that so many things which didn't used to seem so "unreal", like entertainment, news, and communication, have solidly crossed the line.
And underneath this transformation, acknowledged or not, will continue the voluntary but complete abdication of the day-to-day operation of society to artificial intelligences. But that's a whole other story.
Dec. 8th, 2008
Google is always just a step behind the avant-garde, which is impressive for a large company. They've just added this thing searchwiki, which allows you to comment on results and vote them up or down. That seems to me like an emerging consensus: Comments should be allowed on everything, at worst tucked far away (as these new Google comments (unfortunately) so far are). Why trust something that doesn't allow comments? What has it got to hide?
And furthermore this most base style of commentary is emerging: Thumbs up or thumbs down. Some sort of colosseum we're all entering! It's odd; I feel in the end it must be a phase. But for the moment it's unquestionably better than what we had before: Comments used to be almost universally sorted by date, which leads either to a scrolling empty newness or to the even bizarrer world of "first post!" Community editing is surely imperfect, but compared to that unfiltered firehose it seems a dawning light of rationality.
So those two parts together form a somewhat working system: Everything allows comments, and colosseum filtering makes those comments relevant and rational. Until something better comes along, I expect that model to gradually permeate everything.
Nov. 28th, 2008
08:17 pm - pictures of me on flickr
i haven't posted on flickr in forever and forever! i just added some pictures from some many months ago when i met my sister's horse, Cherry Cola.
It's typical of articles about marijuana that they take the subject so lightly that it becomes crass. This article by Rosie DiManno is no exception. After admitting to having smoked marijuana, she describes a bust which disrupted a community and likely ruined several lives, and then jokes that marijuana activists would respond only by watching Simpsons reruns and eating "Cheezies". As a marijuana activist myself, I felt called to respond to her assertion somewhat more forcefully.
( my most recent letterCollapse )
Nov. 27th, 2008
12:06 am - EPA, regulate greenhouse gases!
It was ruled by our Supreme Court (a bizarre institution which I in no way support, incidentally) in the decision Massachusetts v EPA that the EPA has the ability, and indeed the obligation to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. (Obvious enough, once you think about it!) Since this is still Bush's EPA, they have of course dragged their feet. This is my comment to the EPA:
Subject: EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0318 Global Warming Is Of Course A Threat To Public Health
A broad scientific consensus has lately emerged that global warming is real, dangerous, caused by human activity, and is moving even faster than we previously thought. Please act now to regulate the chemicals that we know to be causing this unfolding worldwide tragedy.
Nov. 23rd, 2008
Nov. 11th, 2008
There is much talk about the absurdity of anarchist candidates. I have concocted a platform which I believe should appeal to anarchists and other advocates of direct democracy. It does not exactly contradict the absurdity, so much as exploit it. This is the only platform under which I myself would ever consider running for a public office.
The platform is quite simple, and has nothing whatsoever to do with any issues at all. The candidate would pledge (save perhaps true emergencies) to make absolutely no decisions themselves. The decisions would instead be delegated to a mechanism of direct democracy. The candidate would be a figurehead, and their vote would always be cast as the new mechanism demands.
The electoral system offers a promise, a promise to allow the people a chance to grab at the authority which only kings once held, a promise which we-- I speak here for anarchists, and for other believers in the possibility of true and direct democratic power-- have often derided as false, as worthlessly partial. What though if we were to take them at their word? What if we were to indeed take the power offered, and give it not (as they would have us do) to a single corruptible small human mind, but instead simply to grab the power and HOLD it?
Hold it indeed, hold it quite easily, I would submit, as who could dare run against such a system, if even partially functioning, on the astonishing platform that they would take the power away from the people at large and invest it entirely and unaccountably in themselves alone? Anarchist candidates are absurd indeed, but the absurdity has always belonged to the other party. Let us take them up on their fool's gambit.
Sep. 30th, 2008
04:03 am - Free the Airwaves
My whole life it seems I've been aware of the stark situation, that the "airwaves"-- which are hardly property in any ordinary sense, you must understand, but a social agreement about what color one's signals are allowed to be-- while supposedly owned and directed by the people have in fact been owned and directed by large corporations, which consciously use them to assist in maintaining a particular social order.
Only lately has there been the growing consensus and social momentum towards undoing this astonishingly destructive state of affairs. It's a bit late, since we're mere years from undoing the color prohibitions by force of technology (prohibitions of particular wavelengths?! clearly it's just a matter of time), but since these are critical years the timing may yet make some difference. I certainly strongly support all efforts to open as much bandwidth as possible for relatively unrestrained public use.
Sep. 22nd, 2008
I was not around for the sixties, but I have heard two tremendously different stories from my society about the "sexual revolution". The Official History I have been given calls it that, the "Sexual Revolution". It focuses obsessively and entirely on sex. That story is a story of the transformation of sex from (before) a method of social control by absolute prohibition and the oppressive structure of traditional marriage, to (now) a method of social control by spectacle, a forbidden and yet highly available fruit to busy the mind and distract the public.
That transformation in the structure of control was necessitated by a popular movement of rebellion, but it was not of course that movement's objective. No one looked at how marriage was an institution of control in that society of those times, and thought that it would be better instead to have sex glamorized, turned into a public spectacle, and used to continue selling the last gasps of Capitalism to an increasingly bored populace. It's my intuition that the true objective was deeper, more real, had less to do with "sex" as now defined, and remains utterly unaccomplished.
The Spectacle, forced by an unusually conscious human movement of transformation to look directly at Touch, and at Sex, and at Naked Human Bodies, did an admirable job of adapting. Its main compensation seems to have been to recast the concept of "sex" in as narrow a way as possible, focusing it specifically on those sexual activities which are most dangerous & controllable. That alone might have left other sexual freedoms free to sneak around the edges, except that the new "sex" was allowed to expand its cultural role very powerfully, put not just in public but in the center of public awareness and given slack to ooze its way deep into the public mind, into the many dangerous unthinkable activities which our society unconsciously believes must somehow be restrained.
((i never finished this essay but i'm posting it anyway! maybe i'll finish it someday))
Sep. 8th, 2008
01:35 am - Second Draft: Overgrowing the Prohibition of Plants, Fungi, and Mind Transforming Chemicals
Individual Homo sapiens monkeys now struggling against senseless chemical and botantical prohibitions encounter difficult obstacles, which are real and substantial and primarily emotional. To act as an individual is to act toward achieving a goal. This is the desire of those who would continue prohibition: That we as individuals should each hold in mind a goal like "The End Of Prohibition", briefly struggle in our own ways toward that goal, and experience failure. Failure is all we can possibly experience if we attempt to attain that grand goal by ourselves, in one or a series of rebellious acts; our first human action alone naturally fails to end the human war.
( Only together can we win.Collapse )