10.29.2001

LUDDITE LIST

An excellent list of Luddite resources on the net:

   Luddism and the Neo-Luddite Reaction

10.19.2001

WENDELL BERRY ON WTC

From RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS

Thoughts in the Presence of Fear
by Wendell Berry

   VII. We did not anticipate anything like what has now happened. We did not
   foresee that all our sequence of innovations might be at once overridden by
   a greater one: the invention of a new kind of war that would turn our
   previous innovations against us, discovering and exploiting the debits and
   the dangers that we had ignored. We never considered the possibility that we
   might be trapped in the webwork of communication and transport that was
   supposed to make us free.


This article first appeared on OrionOnline.org, the web magazine of ORION and
ORION AFIELD, in a feature called "Thoughts on America: Writers Respond to
Crisis." The number of contributing writers continues to grow.
See http://www.oriononline.org.
BOOKED TO FLY?

Dynamite cover illustration on Heyduke Lives!
keeps a young man off a United flight...

Amazing!

Found via BookNotes.
TALKING WTO

Lifted from Boing-Boing:

Rod sez: "...[T]hese activist/pranksters called the
"Yes Men" run a WTO parody site (www.gatt.org).
The organizers of this textiles conference mistakenly
sent an invitation to this spoof site, asking if a
representative of the WTO would like to deliver a
speech. One of the Yes Men accepted, and delivered
his own subversive speech, in part commenting on
how the economics of globalization are so much
more efficient for businesses than the economics of
pre-Civil War slavery. The speech was strongly
received; the Master of Ceremonies praised it three
times during the day. The Harper's site being so thin,
I doubt they'll put it online, but here's the full text of
the speech on the Yes Men's site."

Text of presentation.

10.18.2001

PICKS

Question: Why don't more bookstores and libraries use blog technology to
do "staff picks" content?

Here's staff picks from Powells.
[ICH] BIN [EIN] LUDDITE

What we need in a time of crisis is good, clear thinking...
What we get is this...

Incredible Gilder rant-o-the-month: OSAMA BIN LUDDITE...

   ...information tools alone can save us from the depredations of desperate
   technophobes -- the Bin Luddites, for whom a mud-brick New Jerusalem
   ("Afghanistan, Land of Nothing", The New York Times headlined one dispatch)
   apparently harkens relief from the tribulations of freedom and wealth. The
   Bin Luddites could no more build a 767 -- much less a World Trade Center,
   or even a flashlight -- than they can feed (never mind, free) the oppressed
   masses whose interests they claim to advance. But armed with hijacked
   technologies and apocalyptic grudges, they pose a devastating menace to
   all civilization.


         --From The American Spectator’s October 2001 issue.

And let's not forget the threat to our precious bodily fluids, Mandrake.
NOTED: INVITING DISASTER

Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology
by James R. Chiles

10.17.2001

THE HUMAN PROBLEM

From Kuro5hin:
The Company of Humans (Technology)
By localroger
Sun Oct 14th

   You probably don't remember the technological advances of the Cambrian Explosion,
   or even the unfortunate business with the asteroid 65 million years ago. You've
   never known a world where seeds and teeth and fur and feathers had not been
   invented, where the most interesting conversation involved mutual attempts at
   poisoning.

   That's why I need to explain to you the threat that resides among us. Today the
   NatureNet is threatened by one of its own, an entity that doesn't play by the rules,
   threatens everything it touches, and uses trickery to destroy what it cannot own. I
   refer, of course, to the Homo Sapiens Corporation...

10.15.2001

GEORGE THE REASSURER

   ...The President smiles with the disarming smile of a man
      who has seen God, and found Him a true American,
      not overbearingly smart.

   The President reassures the Chairman of the Board of the
      Humane Health for Profit Corporation of America,
      who knows in his replaceable heart that health, if
      it came, would bring financial ruin;

   he reassures the Chairman of the Board of the Victory
      and Honor for Profit Corporation of America, who
      has been wakened in the night by a dream of the
      calamity of peace.

            -- from The Reassurer by Wendell Berry
                in the collection Entries, 1994

10.14.2001

INFORMING OURSELVES...

Reminded again of the coyness of wartime information and the unusually
untelegenic war in Afghanistan (watch us blow up this rock!), we point
to the text of an old Neal Postman talk on "Informing Ourselves to Death":

   I believe you will have to concede that what ails us, what causes us the most
   misery and pain -- at both cultural and personal levels -- has nothing to do
   with the sort of information made accessible by computers. The computer and its
   information cannot answer anyof the fundamental questions we need to address to
   make our lives more meaningful and humane. The computer cannot provide an
   organizing moral framework. It cannot tell us what questions are worth asking.
   It cannot provide a means of understanding why we are here or why we fight each
   other or why decency eludes us so often, especially when we need it the most. The
   computer is, in a sense, a magnificent toy that distracts us from facing what we
   most needed to confront -- spiritual emptiness, knowledge of ourselves, usable
   conceptions of the past and future. Does one blame the computer for this? Of course
   not. It is, after all, only a machine. But it is presented to us, with trumpets
   blaring, as at this conference, as a technological messiah.

   Through the computer, the heralds say, we will make education better, religion better,
   politics better, our minds better -- best of all, ourselves better. This is, of course,
   nonsense, and only the young or the ignorant or the foolish could believe it. I said a
   moment ago that computers are not to blame for this. And that is true, at least in the
   sense that we do not blame an elephant for its huge appetite or a stone for being hard
   or a cloud for hiding the sun. That is their nature, and we expect nothing different
   from them. But the computer has a nature, as well. True, it is only a machine but a
   machine designed to manipulate and generate information. That is what computers do, and
   therefore they have an agenda and an unmistakable message.

   The message is that through more and more information, more conveniently packaged, more
   swiftly delivered, we will find solutions to our problems. And so all the brilliant young
   men and women, believing this, create ingenious things for the computer to do, hoping
   that in this way, we will become wiser and more decent and more noble. And who can blame
   them? By becoming masters of this wondrous technology, they will acquire prestige and
   power and some will even become famous. In a world populated by people who believe that
   through more and more information, paradise is attainable, the computer scientist is king.
   But I maintain that all of this is a monumental and dangerous waste of human talent and
   energy. Imagine what might be accomplished if this talent and energy were turned to
   philosophy, to theology, to the arts, to imaginative literature or to education? Who
   knows what we could learn from such people -- perhaps why there are wars, and hunger,
   and homelessness and mental illness and anger.


Found via Wood_s_lot with cites to Doc Searles and thence to The Obvious.
TEN RULES FOR BAD SCIENCE FICTION

Via Boing-Boing: 10 Rules for Bad Science Fiction

   Remember that technology introduced at the start of the story always causes
   everyone's problems, while technology introduced in the middle or at the end of
   the story always solves everyone's problems.This could be referred to as the
   "If-Only-I'd-Invented-It-Ninety-Minutes-Later" Conundrum.

10.12.2001

NED BLOG = BONG LED

From the The Internet Anagram Server at Wordsmith.org:

Neoluddite =

   Delude I not
   Denude toil
   Odd lie tune
   Idle end out

So you see, technology is useful after all...

10.11.2001

FEED ME!

THE TECHNO-ECONOMIC IMPERATIVE
by Marylaine Block

   ...I doubt if any of us anticipated the kind of resentment that can creep in, as
   the need for new computers, new programs, new connections, new technical support
   staff, gradually eats away at our budgets, using money that might otherwise have
   gone for books and periodicals, for more librarians and higher salaries. The
   techno-economic imperative is a lot like Audrey, in Little Shop of Horrors, getting
   bigger all the time and a lot harder to resist when it says "Feed me."


An editorial from EX LIBRIS.
VERY FINE

The best of chewy thinking is to be found lately at Ethel.
WHAT LINCOLN SAW

This from Craig at BookNotes:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes
me to tremble for the safety of my country.... corporations have been enthroned
and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the
country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the
people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is
destroyed." -- U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 (letter to Col.
William F. Elkins) Ref: "The Lincoln Encyclopedia", Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan,
1950, NY)

10.05.2001

DOPPELBLOGGER?

We have received a message from the other side...
Puzzled by recent mentions of Blog "twinning," we
heard from another Nedblog....

Ned Blog classic will continue...
NED NEWS

Ned has not been posting much lately. The WTC tragedy
has, with Ned as with others, given pause. I have been
busy lately cherishing my daughters (ages 5 and 6) and making
a living. And, like many bloggers, I read the NYT
every day (in paper, not online), including their special
section on the WTC story, and without fail the page of
capsule life stories of the dead and missing. They are
fascinating and sad, a tiny scattering of anectdotes in
place of lives... What is appalling is to consider how
many such pages (with 10 or 12 stories daily) the NYT
will have to run to tell all the stories of the missing...

There was an NPR interview (RealAudio) yesterday with a NYT editor
about this...

More posting soon. -- Ned