3.31.2001

NEWS FROM THE IPH (INTERNET PIONEERS HOME)

Where the geekzers are gathered on the sun porch, talking about the old days...

From USA TODAY
Net pioneers move on
Disenchantment sets in, and it's real

By Elizabeth Weise

   If the technologists who created the Net are this disenchanted with its bells and whistles, can the rest of us
   be far behind? Will we all soon get to the point where the Web holds little lure and we want only to e-mail people
   we know, and then get offline and actually see them in person? What could be bad news for dot-coms could be
   good news for us as a species...

   "It may actually be for the better. I've recently started to remember that
   having friends in meat-space has certain advantages over cyberspace."


We are reminded of the group of geezers reminiscing about the good/bad old days in
Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl: "We dreamed of living in a vestibule!"
"...And you tell yoong people that t'day and they waa'nt believe you!"

Link spotted on The Morning News.

3.29.2001

DEATH.COM

Where's Evelyn Waugh when you need him?

From The Atlantic Monthly | March 2001

NOTES & DISPATCHES - LOS ANGELES

The Hollywood Forever Way of Death
Digital immortality -- and not just for the stars

by Ed Leibowitz

   Millions can meet Maurice now, in death -- countless more than could ever have known him during a lifetime
   without notoriety or fame. Access to the wistful memories Hofler recorded is not limited to his
   survivors; anyone can find Maurice's life story online, at forevernetwork.com. Three centuries hence a social
   historian investigating the aspirations of African-American telecommunications workers in
   late-twentieth-century southern California might pull up Maurice's multimedia biography, part of which is set to
   the music of Heatwave.


Question: when the presence of dead pages build up on the net, will this result in
a corresponding increase in orphaned pages?

Oddly interesting article with good links. Now offering live webcasts of funerals. Creepy.
UNSILENT SPRING

Many of you are not old enough to remember documentaries, but they used to be made quite
regularly. And some old craftsmen still do, like the venerable Bill Moyers...

The BookNotes weblog recommends:

Okay, show of hands. How many of you watched the PBS documentary TRADE SECRETS last night?
I see. Hmm. Well, when it repeats in your area, DO NOT MISS IT!

A Moyers Report: Trade Secrets is the companion website to the chilling 90 minute
documentary about the chemical industry.

   I consider myself in good company to be attacked by the industry that tried to smear
   Rachel Carson when she published Silent Spring. As its own documents reveal, this
   is the industry that kept from its workers the truth about what was making them
   sick; that opposes the right of citizens to know what is polluting their communities;
   that manipulated its own science to hide the hazards of chemicals; that spent
   millions of dollars to buy political influence, carve loopholes in environmental
   law, and create a regulatory system that it controls.

--- Bill Moyers, in response to industry criticism of his documentary

Also see the excellent "Right to Know" resource list on the report website...

BookNotes is one of the best of the thoughty blogs.

3.28.2001

SOME KIND OF POISON...

From the Feature TOOLBOX - REAL PEOPLE REAL TECH
in [INSIDE] Magazine (4/3/01; p. 20)

Judith Regan, publisher and president of the Regan Company, a division of the
ReganBooks imprint of HarperCollins, and host of This Evening With Judith
Regan
on Fox News Channel, when asked...

   Has technology Made your Life any easier?

replied:

   No, it's just increased the pressure. Certainly it's made
   life infinitely more interesting and infinitely more amusing,
   but the faster we go, the faster we have to go. We are all
   being poisoned spiritually, psychically and emotionally by
   too much tech, too much media. It's not that it's inherently
   evil, just that it's seductive...


Let's see... poison, not evil, just seductive.... What's that?
GOOGLE NET LUDD INDEX, 3/28/01

What luddy stuff is out there on the net? Google says:

   Luddite = about 27,800
   neo-luddite = about 2,470
   neoluddite = about 62
   ned ludd = about 2,070
   king ludd = about 1,730
   general ludd = about 2,790
   anti-technology = about 5,060
   antitechnology = about 427
   technorealism = about 1,570
   technorealist = about 240

Searched 1,346,966,000 web pages...
UNSHOPPING LIST

UnShopping: Links & Leads
From Co-op America.

A growing number of organizations and publications are addressing the problems of
overconsumption . Many now have a presence on the Internet so they can help seekers
like yourself all the better. You'll find more answers, ideas and contacts at these web
sites.

3.26.2001

OUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS, MANDRAKE!

Explain to us again, Uncle Eugene, how biotechnology and eugenics are different...

From Slate - The Better Baby Business
The Nobel sperm bank wasn't the first scheme to breed "superbabies."
The weird history of "positive" eugenics. By David Plotz
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2001, at 12:30 p.m. PT

   The horrors of negative eugenics overshadowed the more benign side of the movement: "positive
   eugenics." Rather than ordering vasectomies on mental patients, positive eugenicists encouraged
   the fit (Cabots, Roosevelts, etc.) to go forth and multiply. Of course, many eugenicists favored
   both positive and negative approaches, and positive eugenics was infused with the same
   WASP supremacist ideology as negative eugenics.


Link found via SCITECH Daily review

A similar Wired article on eugenics: Blaming the 'Defective' People by Kristen Philipkoski

Is biotechnology just eugenics in a whiter coat?

3.24.2001

DARK RUMBLINGS

Adbusters - TV Turnoff Week April 22-28

   What happens during a seven-day experiment in life without
   TV? A whole new space to think emerges. You find yourself
   passing time in ways you never expected. And you start to
   wonder: when I reach for the remote, who is really in control?


See the anti-TV commercial they have produced...

Adbusters Anti-TV weblink page.

3.23.2001

FILMS MISSING FROM OUR LIST

Another out-of-print find from the Technology Run Amok Department:

Not available on VHS/DVD: Gog (Ivan Tors; 1954)

   Built to serve man...it could think
   a thousand times faster!
   move a thousand times faster!
   kill a thousand times faster
   ...THEN SUDDENLY IT BECAME
   A FRANKENSTEIN OF STEEL


Rumored to be broadcast sometimes on Turner Network.
OUTLOOK

Link via wood_s_lot

From "What Is Enlightenment?"

The Disappearance of the Outside
Andrei Codrescu, a Romanian exile, poet and
social critic, talks about consumerism, spiritual
subversion and the dangers of the seemingly real.

   ...the success of consumerism and spectacle has to do with packaging. You could say that
   more than two-thirds of the things that make us happy do so because of the package they
   come in, the box. There's nothing inside. Our attention span has been severely reduced over
   the past two or three decades. Some people blame television, and it's probably true. But
   Attention Deficit Disorder is not an entirely negative condition. We also have ADD, or a
   reduced attention span, because we want to absorb and incorporate more and more information
   and more and more products in order to make sense of our world. It is only an ascetic minority
   that tries to do without things, without technologies, without consumption, but even they are
   inextricably linked to these things. Even those people who consciously refuse to participate
   are still connected to the global culture, so in a sense there is no choice but to be within
   it and to think it. So our short attention span comes from an effort to defend our humanity
   and also our sense of self from a culture that splits it all the time, that divides it, divides
   it, divides it. Because capitalism is schizophrenia; it is a multiple-personality-producing
   force. In order to defend yourself against that you have to absorb very fast more and more, and
   so you don't pay enough attention.


Codrescu's new book, The Disappearance of the Outside, will be available in May, 01.

TLR also recommends an excellent fiction about the disappearance of the real:

The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem

3.22.2001

MEMORY LOSS

Link found on the excellent New Pages Weblog

Have we forgotten something? In the Technological Age, as in human middle age, you eventually discover that you
do not have enough memory. In our history, a similar memory loss and deficit occurs. Here's one tally:

Lost Memory - Libraries and Archives destroyed in the Twentieth Century
A downloadable document (RTF, PDF, Postscript) that lists major disasters that have destroyed or caused irreparable
damage during the 20th century to libraries and archives, whether written of audio-visual. (From UNESCO)

NewPages is the Portal of Independents! News, information and guides to independent bookstores,
independent publishers, literary periodicals, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative
newsweeklies and more.

O, do not ask, "What is it?" Go visit.
CROUCHING ROBOT, HIDDEN DRAGON

The popularity of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon reminds us to recommend to you its Luddite precursor:

I Love Maria (David Chung, 1988)
In a just world, this would be a top cult film, shown at midnight in classic theatres everywhere, running
endlessly to demonstrate DVD players in elecronics and computer stores, and discussed in academia as a
postmodern milestone. It's an action comedy with a sweet/stupid nature, jaw-dropping robot martial art
balletics, and remarkably literate allusions (including Robocop, the Statue of Liberty, and Shakespeare's
Romeo and Juliet). The story? A robot-equipped gang tries to take over the world by breaking just about
every law, but chiefly the law of gravity. However, in this genre everyone breaks the law of gravity anyway.
It turns the Classic Maria concept [from the 1927 film Metropolis] on its head with the "bad" Maria as a
human gang member and the "good" Maria her robot replica, reprogrammed to goodness. The Rotwang figure is
called (in the English subtitles) "Big Brother"(!). The cops are Keystone. The principal evil robot seems
to have been constructed from auto salvage and to be powered by steam. The English subtitles also contain
some unintended comedy. When one character is thought dead, the subtitles for another character's lamentation
note that the deceased is at last "relieved of the yolk of life." This is a movie that will make you happy.
Trust us. It's an undiscovered classic. Get it. The DVD is a better bargain than the VHS.

Review from The Luddite Reader Film Pages.

3.20.2001

JUST GOT AROUND TO POSTING THIS...

From Slashdot (News For Nerds. Stuff That Matters.): Is Technology Killing Our Leisure Time?

Posted by JonKatz on Tuesday July 11, @10:30AM
from the a-wired-up-world-where-work-never-ends dept.

   Americans for centuries have believed that new labor saving devices will free us
   from the burdens of the workplace and give us more time to ponder philosophy, goof
   off, explore the arts, and hang around with friends and family.

   So here we are at the start of the 21st Century, enjoying one of the greatest
   technological boom times in human history, and nothing could be further from the
   truth.


No time to explain. Sorry.
DEMOCRACY, YOU SAY...

Spending becomes voting...and more problems of "democracy" in the 21st century...

The New Statesman Essay - Democracy can be bad for you
Cover story by Eric Hobsbawm - 5th March 2001

All regimes pay lip-service to representative government. But can the "people's will" provide the
solutions for the 21st century?

   It is argued, with more theological conviction than historical evidence, that any services our public
   authorities can provide are either undesirable or better supplied by "the market". Post offices,
   prisons, schools, water supplies and even welfare services have been handed to or transformed into
   business enterprises, while public employees have been transferred to independent agencies or
   replaced by commercial subcontractors...

   Market sovereignty is not a complement to liberal democracy: it is an alternative to it. Indeed, it is an
   alternative to any kind of politics, as it denies the need for political decisions, which are precisely
   decisions about common or group interests as distinct from the sum of choices, rational or
   otherwise, of individuals pursuing private preferences. Participation in the market replaces
   participation in politics. The consumer takes the place of the citizen...

NEW AND NOTED (More Danger...)

The Ingenuity Gap
by Thomas F. Homer-Dixon

   Is the day coming in which our ingenuity can't keep up? Homer-Dixon fears that it is:
   "the hour is late," and we're blindly "careening into the future." What we face, he says,
   is a "very real chasm that sometimes looms between our ever more difficult problems and
   our lagging ability to solve them."

3.13.2001

NOTED: DANGER GUIDE

Lethal Arrogance: Human Fallibility and Dangerous Technologies
by Lloyd J. Dumas

   Lethal Arrogance is the "Silent Spring" of the technological realm, particularly with regard
   to those technologies that can threaten great numbers of humans or property...

      -- Amazon.com reviewer
THINK LOCALLY

From The Ecologist - THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME...

Could 'bioregionalism' be the way out of our environmental crisis?
Kirkpatrick Sale puts the case for the political philosophy
he helped to develop.

   ...that is why this nation, and the industrialised system it has spawned, has
   so little regard for the natural world. We don't live on any one part of the land
   long enough to know very much about it, and it enters our consciousness mostly
   only when we wish to exploit it...


Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of the newly reissued Dwellers In The Land: The Bioregional Vision
and Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution:
Lessons for the Computer Age
, which appears to have gone out of print (look for it at abebooks.com).

3.11.2001

HOW WE GOT HERE

An unusually well done (and well illustrated) timeline on
The History of Modern Communications, Computing, & Media

From the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation website.
...dedicated to the major scientific themes of Arthur C. Clarke's life and work.

Starting in 1793:

   ...The French State Telegraph is established - the first
   organisation of its kind in the world - to run an optical
   telegraph network, initially between Paris and Lille...


Worth a look.

3.10.2001

NEW - LUDDITE MONKSITE

Those Luddite Monks are puttin' up a website called Free Monks

The website is just the latest development in the story of monks from the Saints Augustine and
Serafeim Sarof monastery in the hills of central Greece, whose songs against technology on two
recent CDs have gained them some notoriety. The monks, who call themselves the "Free People,"
first released a CD called "I learned to Live Free." It was no Byzantine chant. Reports are that
it was rock and roll with "revolutionary lyrics hitting out at big power, globalization, drugs,
conformity and the new world order." Their new CD is titled "SOS-Save Our Souls," and it contains
more of the same in lyrics about money, power, drug abuse, and human exploitation by modern
technology. In addition to the CD, the monks have produced a music video clip that shows a man
implanted with a microchip, his movements monitored by "Big Brother." The lyrics
are: "I am a little chip so small / that will drive you to slavery / buy whatever you desire in
this world / as long as you live without God / the Internet and information has consumed you."

It's Greek to us (the site, we mean). Take a look.


WHO WE ARE

Welcome to Ned Blog, the news blog of The Luddite Reader http://www.ludditereader.com.

3.07.2001

SPECTATOR BITES PRACTITIONER

Acting as the Thought Police, Messrs. Gilder and (the aptly-named) Vigilante
make a citizen's arrest...


Perhaps the worst hatchet job Bill Joy has experienced yet:

From The American Spectator:

   Stop Everything...
   IT'S TECHNO-HORROR!

   From Silicon Valley via Aspen, Bill Joy wants to call
   the police. On science. On technology. On the industry
   that made him rich. The Left is Overjoyed.

Ok. So we went out and bought this Spectator issue ($5.95 - ouch!) to read this long article
about Bill Joy, whose road-to-Damascus experience regarding some dangers to our future in new
technologies seems to have generated indignation and fury in the high-tech industry and among
certain of its feeding pundits. The poorly edited article (it's written in the first person
and lists two authors) is pure character assassination and name calling. It includes the
by now standard Gilder neologism; this time "virtualosophy." Gilder/Vigilante elevate Bill Joy to
leadership of the 21st century "Techno-Left," the key member of the "Joy-Dexter-Lovins...trinity
of Techno-Horror
." The godless Techno-Left, they aver, will "become the main adversary of freedom and
faith in this new century
." And, although Spiro Agnew is dead, the two-headed author seems to be
channeling him at times in the article ("Glomming on to Joy's tract as if hugging a redwood is
the collective green goo of the gonzo reaches of environmental movement...
"). This article is
a wretched and ill-conceived piece, showing little regard for the public arena of discourse that Joy served
with his provocative article.

To Mr. Gilder and Mr. Vigilante: Gentlemen, have you no shame?


In his own words... Digital West Interview of Bill Joy

A compendium of Joy's controversy:
Special Focus on Bill Joy's High Tech Warning (from the Center for the Study of Technology and Society)

3.05.2001

PLAIN ENDS - LUDDITE JOURNAL BEGINS

As reported in the "Street Librarian" column by Chris Dodge in UTNE Reader:

   The final issue of the simple living journal Plain ("The Magazine of Life, Land and Spirit"),
   #26/27, includes an announcement by editor Scott Savage that he's planning a new "thrice-yearly
   compendium" called Luddite Journal (60805 Pigeon Point, Barnesville, OH 43713; $11). Printed
   "computer-free" on letter press, Plain is published by the faith-based Center for Plain
   Living.

Scott Savage is the author of The Plain Reader and A Plain Life: Walking My Belief.

3.04.2001

WHERE CALIFORNIA SHOPS

Lehmans Non-Electric Catalog
on the web

   For over forty years we've served our Amish friends and others seeking a simpler and more self-sufficient lifestyle.
   Since many live "off the grid," we specialize in products that don't require electricity: Hand-powered kitchen
   appliances, homesteading tools, grain mills, cheese-making supplies, composting toilets, oil lamps and gas lights,
   water pumps and filters, gas refrigerators, wood-burning stoves, and much more. Many of the items date to the 1800s...


Really.

3.01.2001

NEW AND NOTED: WHITE (-COLLAR) SLAVERY

The next installment in the book of life: The Sheep Look Up.

From Salon.com - [In Books]

Review - Ladder to nowhere
by Suzy Hansen

   For the last decade, white-collar Americans have slaved longer, harder and with fewer
   benefits -- while promised riches never materialized. And these are the "good times"?


Salon interviews author Jill Andresky Fraser about her book "White-Collar Sweatshop:
The Deterioriation of Work and Its Rewards in Corporate America."


   Although we thought technology would make our work lives easier and more creative, the real impact of our
   laptops, our Palm Pilots, our e-mail and our cellphones is that we can't ever not work...

IF GUNS ARE OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL BE ABLE TO ACCIDENTALLY SHOOT THEIR CHILDREN

Come to think of it, isn't gun control just one narrow focus of luddism? Do we really need all this technology,
all these little machines made to send small pieces of lead through the air at great velocities? Hailstorm.

Here's a cite that demonstrates that the NRA is the Machine that needs to be broken...

I Was An NRA Whipping Boy (Found on Plastic.com/Media)

   "Last Saturday a part-time weekly columnist in the local paper printed an article calling for what he felt were
   reasonable gun control reforms -- testing and licensing of all gun owners," NetSerfer writes. "Within hours of
   when the paper hit the newstands and Web, he was bombarded with what appeared to be a
   well-orchestrated -- though often barely coherent -- email attack from NRA members across the country..."


The part-time weekly columnist is Bob Quarteroni, the paper is the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The original column. The reader response.