7.25.2001

THE WOO YOU FUTURE

From The Sunday Times Magazine (UK), July 22, 2001:

Future Shock
a Special Report by Bryan Appleyard (who seems more excited than shocked)

   Its gaze will constantly be fixed on each one of us, tracking each move we
   make and trying to forecast the next. It will whisper to us through our
   personal devices, murmur at us in our fuel-cell cars, and shout at us from
   the wall-sized screens in our living rooms. It will soothe us by night and
   inflame us by day. It will deliver fantasy and reality so efficiently that
   we shall find it hard to tell the difference and, in time, we shall no longer
   care. It will make nobody any happier - no technology has ever managed that -
   but it will make many people a lot richer. The remainder will grow poorer...


Don't buy it.

7.23.2001

NEO-LUDD NEWS

More reasons neo-luddites are nutty -- from Reason Magazine:

Rage Against the Machines
Witnessing the birth of the neo-Luddite movement
(July, 2001)

By Ronald Bailey

   In place of a globally integrated, "corporatized" economy based on high technology,
   the neo-Luddites offer a vision of mandatory, small-scale, economically self-sufficient
   autarkies inspired by traditional and indigenous cultures. They draw their name and
   their animating spirit from the original Luddites, the infamous "machine breakers" in
   early 19th century England who protested the nascent Industrial Revolution by stealing
   into factories and smashing equipment. Like their forerunners, the neo-Luddites also want
   to break machines (sometimes literally) -- especially those that further biotechnology,
   nanotechnology, and computing.

   In some ways, it is easy -- and tempting -- to write off the neo-Luddites as sad-sack
   ’60s refugees, aging hippies who pine away for a romantic, preindustrial idyll that never
   existed in the first place or, to the extent it did, was actually characterized by
   large-scale human deprivation. But in the wake of demonstrations in Seattle over the World
   Trade Organization and, more recently, in Quebec over the Free Trade Agreement of the
   Americas, it is clear the neo-Luddite mentality is not only widespread, but a powerful
   motivating force in attacks on free trade and technological innovation.


Reason magazine is the fount of Market-is-good cargo cult thinking.
DINGLEBERRY

When connectedness goes astray...

From writer James Glieck's website:

   So, in the course of reporting an article about connectedness in a world of
   ubiquitous wireless gadgets, I bought a little BlackBerry two-way pager. I
   loaded it up with my address book, and then, almost immediately, I lost it.
   Naturally I closed the account. Or so I thought. A month later, I started
   receiving copies of e-mail from the lost gadget, apparently signed by me.
   To wit:

      Yo dis is o make sure u c
      dis. I just got dis 2 way
      my boy found on the train.
      Its mine now I just wanted
      to c what was poppn. So
      holla c's up


   It's his now. My friends (listed in my address book) started getting mail,
   too:

      How u doin. just wanted to
      tell you what's up and u
      suck lol


   Apparently from me, yet not (I prayed) in my usual style. What do we learn from
   this? I don't know. It's an all-too-appropriate postscript for the article, which
   appeared in the New York Times Magazine -- and here:
Inescapably Connected.

A great site from a fine writer.

7.19.2001

OOPS! DID WE SAY "FREE WORLD"?

How to rule the world
George Monbiot
Tuesday July 17, 2001
The Guardian

   The leaders of the free world present a glowing example to the rest of the
   planet.

   Of the eight men meeting in Genoa this week, one seized the presidency of
   his country after losing the election.

   Another is pursuing a genocidal war in an annexed republic. A third is facing
   allegations of corruption. A fourth, the summit's host, has been convicted of
   illegal party financing, bribery and false accounting, while his righthand man
   is on trial for consorting with the mafia.

   Needless to say, the major theme of this week's summit is "promoting
   democracy"...



Link via Plastic.com.
COMING AT YOU

Luddfilms: 405 (2000; Bruce Branit, Jeremy Hunt)

If you've taken a long road trip lately or if you just have one of those hell-or-purgatory
commutes you know that machine intimidation, assaultive behavior and even homicidal acts
are not rare on the road anymore. There is a modest genre of films that reflect this. 405,
minute for minute, is probably the best. It is the tailgating nightmare from hell... a
DC-10 landing behind you on an interstate... Who has not been there? 405 is a master work of
computer-generated special effects and should be seen for that reason if no other. But 405
is just the petite bijou of a longstanding genre, however. There is also Stephen Spielberg's
first full-length [made-for-TV] film, Duel (homicidal semi dogs innocent victim; 1971),
Slither (menacing, tinted-windowed, black, death-rattle diesel Winnibagos stalk a
not-so-innocent couple; 1973), and the homicidal masterpiece Death Race 2000 , (1975) which
actually features a character named Thomasina Paine. 405 is one of the most famous of the new
online films. It's less than three-minute running length makes it one of the more pleasing
short films (minute for minute value) to be found. See it online at the 405 movie site.
MONKS OF A NEW AGE

From an interview by David Kupfer in May/June 2001 Adbusters Magazine

Kirkpatrick Sale promotes'Ecostery'

Monks of a New Age
Throughout history, monasteries have preserved culture in the face of disaster.
Given signs of a worldwide environmental crisis, is it time to prepare the 'ecostery.'?

   Why do you think there are so few images in thepopular culture of
    sustainable futures or a sustainable present?


   "Sustainable is the opposite of "industrial." If you live sustainably, this implies a
   different relationship with nature than the exploitative one and a basic self sufficiency
   in life. Industrialism can't allow that to exist because that kind of living does not
   create -- does not manufacture -- use and consumption.

   It no accident that industrialism at its beginning in the 1780's in England was accompanied
   by more Acts of Enclosure than any other time in history. Those acts made lands that had
   been public into private fiefdoms, and the people who had depended on those common lands
   for their livelyhood, for food and fuel, were suddenly deprived, and their self-sufficient
   communities withered. The destruction of community is essential for the creation of
   successful industrial capitalism. And it happened in the US as well. The family farm
   is anathema to the industrial system, so it was essentially done away with, and the small
   rural communities died along with it.


   Finally, tell me about some signs you've recently seen that we might solve some of the
   problems we're talking about.


   I don't see any solution to these problems... And the sensible response, I am arguing, is
   to turn our backs on this society and establish small, nature-based communities which don't
   attempt to solve the problems, but instead create sustaining communities in their own way
   wherever they are located... This is the principle of the ecostery, the monastery of new
   ages: turning its back on the world, living the right way without regard to the governments
   and other institutions of the world.


[What is 'ecostery'?: According to The Ecostery Foundation of North America, an
Ecostery is: "a facility, stewarded land, and Nature sanctuary where Ecosophy
(ecological wisdom and harmony) is learned, practiced, and taught."]

The 'ecostery' concept reminds us of the 'Economist' communities of paid technology-avoidance
in John Brunner's novel "Shockwave Rider."
Luddism in the New Millennium

From Earth First!

Luddism in the New Millennium: An Interview with Kirkpatrick Sale
by David Kupfer

   I started out some years ago with the sense that it was the American system that
   was wrong. Then I was led to a sense that it was the 20th century American system
   that was wrong, then that it was the capitalist arrangement that was wrong, then
   that it was industrialism that was wrong. Finally, broader than that, I came to see
   that it was the entire Western civilization that was wrong. But this didn't hit me
   in one day. This was a long process of understanding who the enemy is.

7.15.2001

TRASHING MUTANT MAIZE

In Defence of Luddism By Tim Snaith

   What of the recent tide of mass unrest that has accompanied meetings of the
   World Trade Organisation and International Monetary Fund? As this is being
   written there may still be protesters languishing in Czech camps after last
   month's demonstration in Prague. The media has failed to make the connection
   between anti-capitalist/anti-corporate demonstrators and classical Luddism.
   Rather than breaking looms, smashing up factories, or trashing mutant maize,
   these protesters are seeking to disrupt industry on a more abstract
   level...


From I-Resign.com, Working Life.

7.14.2001

CALL FOR "SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE"

Science News, via SciTech Daily:

Call for a shift to "sustainability science"
Wednesday, 27 June 2001

   Australian environmental expert Professor Ian Lowe warned about the future
   demand for goods and services.

   "There are still about a billion people without clean drinking water, and
   nearly 3 billion don’t have sanitation," he said. "About half the people
   alive have never made a telephone call or ridden in a car."

   Reiterating the conclusions of a workshop of natural and social scientists
   held in the Swedish town of Friibergh last October, Professor Lowe said
   science needed "a fundamentally different approach" if the goal of
   sustainability was to be achieved.


The prestidigital divide...
SYNTHESPIAN WATCH

The reaction to cyberacting...

From Salon.com
A review of "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" By Stephanie Zacharek
An eerily human new generation of computer-generated actors
populates this earnest sci-fi fantasy.


   ...When they speak...their mouths just can't wrap themselves around the words.
   They look at each other and their gazes don't quite meet -- there's something a
   little blank, even slightly cross-eyed, about them. Their movements are generally
   smooth, but there's also something creepily artificial about them: They're a
   little like an übermodern cross between traditional Japanimation and the old
   Thunderbirds puppets -- kind of close to real, but ultimately just high-tech
   marionettes.


Voice audition tapes will become more important for admission to acting schools...

A must-see, if only for the realistic cyberhair and cyberfreckles...

7.13.2001

LUDDITE WRITES

From the Luddite Gift Guide (Net LuGG): The Fountain Pen

Who knew they could be discussed like fine wines?

"A very stiff nib, and a little more tempermental than the Solo, but decent ink flow..."

Fountain Pen Links

The write gift for the expressive luddite.
DANCING ON ONE FOOT

   "If you spend a lot of time training kids on machines, you know perfectly
   well that by the time they getout of school, the machines are going to be
   obsolete. In the meantime, they haven't learned how to dance on one foot
   and think of six things at once, which is what they'll need to do in an
   unstable, changing world economy, where they're going to have to move their
   career five or six times in different directions. Philosophy is far more
   useful than turning a machine off and on..."


            -- John Ralston Saul

From an interview on AuroraOnline.

7.11.2001

NOT ABOUT SHOPPING

From Wired.com news:
Study: U.S. Loves, Fears Net By Joanna Glasner

   Among those polled, 45 percent said their dominant image of the Internet is that
   of a library, as opposed to other choices of comparison, like a shopping mall or
   banking and investment office.


Attention to the non-commercial side of the net is overdue.

7.08.2001

LORD OF THE FLIERS

A book review By CHRISTOPHER BUCKLEY from the New York Times Book Review (7-8-01):

Up In The Air by Walter Kirn

This novel's hero fires people for a living and
collects bonus miles for an obsession.

   The espresso machine whirrs and burbles at my touch, filling a cup exactly to
   the brim. The gizmo deserves to be thanked, it works so beautifully. People
   aren't grateful enough to such devices. Mute valets supply our every need, but
   instead of pausing in acknowledgment, we jump to the next thing, issue another
   order. I wonder if some imbalance is building up here, a karmic gap between
   humans and their tools. Machines will be able to think not long from now, and
   as the descendants of slaves, they won't be happy...


This guy works for a company called ISM (Integrated Strategic Management) and
hopes to get a job at another company called MythTech... Sounds like modern
life.

Read the first chapter.

7.07.2001

GO LUDD

From TechTv.com

Low Tech Tips for the Aspiring Luddite
By Dave Roos

   High tech gizmo: PDAs and cell phones
   Low tech alternative: Instead of phoning the office from the airport terminal to tell your
   assistant to fax Williams that marketing report and Fed Ex the sales figures to Croft in
   Albequerque while simultaneously updating your schedule on your Palm Pilot and checking the
   weather report in Finland, simply paste of big piece of paper to your chest that reads, "I'm more
   important than you are."

   High tech gizmo: Online shopping
   Low tech alternative: Travel to a crowded intersection in the center of town and pass out little
   scraps of paper with your name, credit card number, and expiration date.

   High tech gizmo: AOL
   Low tech alternative: Walk outside, examine the behavior of exactly one-third of the general
   population and do absolutely everything they do, without question, all the time. Buy Time
   magazine. Watch CNN.


LOL, FOTFL, cry?

7.05.2001

IN RAGE/OUTRAGE

From a Salon.com review of The Betrayal of America by Vincent Bugliosi...

Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi accuses the Supreme Court's
conservative majority of criminal conduct

   His most trenchant assertion, however, is a refutation of the court's argument
   that it was necessary to stop the recount because different standards of counting
   undervotes represented a violation of the right to equal protection guaranteed by
   the 14th Amendment (the same equal protection grounds, by the way, that had been
   rejected by the court in Bush's previous petition). It's absurd, Bugliosi argues,
   to claim you are protecting the right to vote when in order to do so you make sure
   that 60,000 validly cast votes do not count.

LUDIC QUEST

Ludd lore:

From Just where is the middle of England?

   ...according to Medieval historians, a version of the above map-dividing
   exercise was suggested to the mythic King Ludd, when he was having certain
   trouble in his kingdom. These troubles were caused by a pair of dragons fighting
   at the centre of his kingdom. King Ludd was of Trojan descent, and a keen town
   planner. He is said to have built a New Troy, which was later called Luddein or
   London, in his honour. It's open to speculation if this early London was shaped
   like the old Troy, with maze-like ramparts, which the Welsh call Caerdroya. This
   Troy Town, a seven-looped maze, can be found in many ancient ceremonial sites
   throughout Europe.

   The name of Ludd is commemorated at London's Ludgate Circus. In the Midlands,
   Lud's Church is an awesome rocky chasm in the Back Forest above the Dane valley
   in Staffordshire. This is the place where Sir Gawain is said to have faced the
   Green Knight. There is also a famous white stone, Luddenden Dean, West Yorkshire
   said to be 'freshly painted by persons unknown every May Day morning as part of
   a continuing - and secret Celtic tradition.'

   The name Ludd resurfaced in the English Midlands, during the time of social
   upheaval when the middle and working classes, were created. The term Luddite has
   come to be applied to any opponent of industrial change or innovation. According
   to Collins Dictionary it is any of the textile workers opposed to mechanisation
   who organised machine-breaking between 1811 and 1816. The Luddites are allegedly
   named after Ned Ludd, an 18th century Leicestershire workman, who destroyed
   industrial machinery. Rybcznski, in 1983, mentioned they may also have been named
   after King Ludd.


         --Nigel Ayers, Derbyshire, England, 23 January, 1997
REVIEWS OF AI

A collection of AI reviews from Rottentomatoes.com

If Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) had only known to ask for his Mommy...