inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #176 of 223: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Wed 13 Jan 10 22:06
    
Searching on: 

"disneyla" doctorow

Results in:

Cory Doctorow: Close Enough for Rock 'n' Roll
http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2010/01/cory-doctorow-close-enough-for-ro
ck-n.html
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #177 of 223: Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Thu 14 Jan 10 02:23
    
great column by Doctorow!
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #178 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 14 Jan 10 08:30
    
*Still no snow up here in the mountain retreat.  Eerie white fogs. 
One has to wonder what the people downhill will do for water, this
spring.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #179 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 14 Jan 10 08:34
    
You have to wonder, re those Edge.org guys, why so many apparently
bright and foresightful people would want to climb a faith-based
mountain where you can't see the top.  I mean: suppose you go up there,
and you get snowed in, and there's nothing to eat and you become the
Donner Party?  You could eat each other with some of that-there
"mandatory potlatch" action.

*It's always hip to quote Jaron Lanier, no matter what he says:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/science/12tier.html

“It’s as if culture froze just before it became digitally open, and
all we can do now is mine the past like salvagers picking over a
garbage dump,” Mr. Lanier writes. Or, to use another of his grim
metaphors: “Creative people — the new peasants — come to resemble
animals converging on shrinking oases of old media in a depleted
desert.”
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #180 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 14 Jan 10 09:40
    
Does "free" mean that we no longer value creativity? It's
commoditized? What sorts of things will people pay for?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #181 of 223: Harmless drudge (ckridge) Thu 14 Jan 10 10:27
    
>In theory, public officials could deter piracy by stiffening the
penalties, but they’re aware of another crucial distinction between
online piracy and house burglary: There are a lot more homeowners than
burglars, but there are a lot more consumers of digital content than
producers of it.

The result is a problem a bit like trying to stop a mob of looters.
When the majority of people feel entitled to someone’s property, who’s
going to stand in their way?<


That is just nonsense. There is nothing our culture does better or
more ruthlessly than protecting the property of minorities from
majorities. Evidently no one cares about protecting musicians',
writers', or filmmakers' property, is all.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #182 of 223: Harmless drudge (ckridge) Thu 14 Jan 10 10:55
    
If I read right, four things are said to be changing consumerism
beyond recognition:

1. internet buying, which displaces purchasing from geographical, some
temporal, and some social limitations
2. a growing taste for inexpensive, good-enough possessions
3. displacement of work like cooking and do-it-yourself repairs from
the home, resulting in less need for equipment
4. transient modes of life, so that people select possessions that are
disposable, portable, interchangeable, and ambiguous as to status

I think that an end to consumerism as currently practiced would be a
good thing for people who like to get beautiful things, arrange them
into beautiful rooms, and play host in their beautiful rooms. It would
clear the ground. All the people who play at surrounding themselves
with nice things, would go play at something else, probably at having
the latest multi-functional electronic box in their pockets. The ones
who were left, who were serious about it, would be more able to find
one another.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #183 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 15 Jan 10 06:19
    
I've been thinking more about the resource limits here on spaceship
earth. I had a discussion yesterday with Donna Kidwell, who's in the
technology commercialization program at the IC Squared (IC2) Institute
at the University of Texas at Austin - it's an entrepreneurial think
tank. JaeSung Ro, an Austin entrepreneur originally from Korea, was
with us. We were talking about the future of entrepreneurs, the failure
of traditional incubation models to be effective in the digital era
where physical infrastructure support is a less compelling need, and
the impact of globalization. I found myself seeing resource and
economic distribution issues in terms of fairness and accessibility.
U.S. economic prominence, and the production of wealth here, has
depended on exploitation of human and natural resources here and
elsewhere, and as we move toward a more "fair share" distribution and
more countries come online with the means to acquire what you might
consider a more fair distribution of income and resources, it's harder
for the U.S. to dominate, possibly harder for any one country to
dominate. Given economic acceleration and market sophistication in
countries like India and China, it's inevitable that we'll see a
"decline" in the U.S., which in this context I was taking to mean that
we would have less concentration of wealth here, and a more fair
distribution of wealth globally. 

So much of history has been a limited number of wealthy people taking
money and power and using various mechanisms, from overt brute force to
propaganda, to sustain their positions. That's all still there, but
it's more global, you have the same pockets of power in other
countries... I'm seeing that as more widespread competition, more
complexity, and probably more balance (not necessarily as an intended
consequence).

People think they can take individual political positions that will
somehow be relevant to all this, but it's like thinking you can take a
position that affects the weather. Or they might think that they elect
a Barack Obama and, by the force of his intellect and personality, he
somehow addresses and channels massive complex forces at play.

When the weather's severe and intense, or when you have a massive
shifting of the earth as we just had in Haiti, the best you can do is
the best you can do. Adapt. Try to be useful. Help and protect the
people you care about. Hope that a few buildings and people will be
left standing, and that neighbors will care enough to lend a hand.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #184 of 223: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Fri 15 Jan 10 18:32
    
Luisah Teish says it the best I've ever heard:

"Do what you can.

Use what you have.

Begin where you are."
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #185 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 16 Jan 10 03:24
    
Very faint sprinkling of snow in the mountain village.  The frozen fog
clung onto some of the vegetation, forming odd layered spray-paints of
ice.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #186 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 16 Jan 10 03:31
    
Very silent up here.  Getting rather a lot of fiction done.  Reading
more fiction than usual, too.  Not that I'm buying it -- I'm just
reading it.

Purchasing this stuff wouldn't help the authors much, as they've all
been dead a hundred years.

Except, that is, for Cory Doctorow.  Lugged Cory Doctorow's paper
novel MAKERS up here, now that I have a chance to get mano-a-mano with
it.

That is just one king-hell of a science fiction novel.  Nobody in the
world but him could have fabricated this amazing thing.  It reads like
it was written in 800-word Van Vogt bursts in between yoga sessions,
but man, this is the stuff.  It makes 20th century science fiction read
like antique collection.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #187 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 16 Jan 10 04:50
    
There would appear to be giant oceans of liquid diamond inside Uranus.
 It's gonna be hard to top that one as a closer for a State of the
World in 2010, folks.

http://news.discovery.com/space/diamond-oceans-jupiter-uranus.html
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #188 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 16 Jan 10 06:13
    
I, too, have a copy of _Makers_ sitting here on the left as I type
this. As you write in your book blurb, Cory's a cyberspace native. He's
seen the monsters of the noosphere's id.

We do have a few more days before we end on the 20th, and the news of
Earth 2010 has been dominated by the disastrous earthquake in Haiti -
triage, rescue and aid. They're still digging out survivors as well as
dead bodies, which are piling up in the streets. 

From the New York Times:

"Looting of houses and shops increased Friday, and anger boiled over
in unpredictable ways: residents near the city’s overfilled main
cemetery stoned a group of ambulance workers seeking to drop off more
bodies.

"Some people were bracing for the worst. Harold Marzouka, a
Haitian-American businessman who was hustling his family onto a private
jet to Miami, said he could feel the tension rising and feared that
hunger and desperation might prompt an explosion of violence."

I found myself imagining a future where much of the world is
struggling for stability after one disaster or another, and a few smart
technicians are trying to hold it together.

Earlier in the same article:

"The United States, in fact, took firmer control of the emergency
operation on Friday. After three days of chaos and congestion at the
airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s government ceded control of it to
American technicians, to speed the flow of relief supplies and
personnel.

"The Federal Aviation Administration, which began managing air traffic
into Haitian airspace, issued a stern warning to allow aid to flow in
a more orderly way: no planes from the United States, military or
civilian, would be allowed to land without express permission from the
agency."
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #189 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 16 Jan 10 06:18
    
On a more positive note, you've got Jean Russell building a global
army of thrivability (vs mere sustainability) advocates:

"Thrivability is our path out of unsustainable practices toward a
world where all people have a high quality of life, a voice, and a
nurturing earth supporting them. Using whole systems approach, we
evolve our way of being together, of collaborating, so that our
collective wisdom and action bring forth a flourishing world and
thriving life. R. Buckminster Fuller, we believe, was right in stating:
'You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.'

"We move from the defensive position taken by sustainability into the
offensive - claiming the world we want to live in and co-creating it.
 
"A thrivable world is a world we can live into, where dynamic tension
of needs and resources supports the existence and evolution of life and
consciousness."

http://thrivable.wagn.org/wagn/About_Us
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #190 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 17 Jan 10 04:59
    
Much more freezing fog last night.  Looks nothing like snow, nor like
ice or frost.  Never seen the like.  Local trees, weeds, cables, fences
are deeply coated with a strange growth of gray-white, weak, powdery
fur, built up micro-droplet by microdroplet and radiating in all
directions, like a mineral deposit.  

It's not alarming or dangerous, it's quite peaceful and pretty, but
boy is it weird.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #191 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 17 Jan 10 05:17
    
As for the Haiti quake, I haven't much to say about the catastrophe. 
It's a big catastrophe this year, and mankind suffers many.

Haiti's of some unique interest to me because of voodoo.  Voodoo is a
thriving American folk religion.  Modern voodoo didn't really start
getting going until the 1930s, but it's on its legs now.  I haven't
done a house to house poll, but I imagine it's safe to say that voodoo
has more social respectability and more devout adherents in more
nations and ethnicities now than voodoo has ever had before.  

People take it plenty seriously, but, well, what good is it?

One has to wonder if there was even one Haitian adept who foresaw this
 quake with his magic powers, and took any coherent steps.  Like, why
wouldn't  he bundle up the dreadlocks and the Tonton Macoute
mirrorshades, and just blow town for a while?  Like maybe to Rio de
Janeiro, where they've got voodoo galore and also an Olympics?  

Was there even one wizard who was stirring the blowfish poisons and
getting ridden by his loa, and who got, like, a tip-off from Erzulie or
Baron Samedi?  Could he preserve himself, his followers, his wife, his
kids, his Mom?

Or did they just get crushed by the falling substandard concrete
blocks pretty much like everybody else?  

You'd think there'd be a certain wry Voltairean skepticism about
voodoo, like after the massive Lisbon Earthquake when Voltaire wrote
"Candide."  I don't expect one.  On the contrary, I'd expect belief in
voodoo and voodoo practices to intensify massively after this.

"What can we do now?" asked the King of Portugal after the giant
Lisbon earthquake.  "Feed the living and bury the dead," said the
bishop.  Some time-tested ecumenical advice there.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #192 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 17 Jan 10 05:28
    
"Thrivability is our path out of unsustainable practices toward a
world where all people have a high quality of life, a voice, and a
nurturing earth supporting them. Using whole systems approach, we
evolve our way of being together, of collaborating, so that our
collective wisdom and action bring forth a flourishing world and
thriving life. R. Buckminster Fuller, we believe, was right in
stating:
'You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.'"


*Y'know, I like Bucky Fuller rather more than the next guy, but that's
not a 'global army of thriveability."  That paragraph basically
describes the Lions' Club or the Kiwanis, except with more New Age
feminists.

Armies are not Fulleresque imaginary social movements that adjust
trimtabs by obsolescing paradigms.  Armies are huge numbers of drafted
kids led by "Unconditional Surrender" Grant who engage in some American
economic reform by levelling Richmond and setting fire to Atlanta.  

I'm a little unclear as to what Bucky's visionary gifts might have
given to a successful reform effort of that kind.  I'd be guessing he'd
be in the Union Observational Balloon Corps.

"All people have a high quality of life, a voice, and a
nurturing earth supporting them..."  I don't wanna come across like
the crackerbarrel cyberpunk cynic here, but I'm way too much of an
Andre Breton fan to put up with smooth malarkey like that.  As Andre
once asked the French Communist Party, "What about the seven year old
girl run over by a streetcar?"  Where's her "voice" and her "nurturing
earth"?  She's a blameless kid run over by a street-car. She is the
tragic dimension of life.  It happens literally every day.  

People who try to elide this fact lack a street-smart awareness of the
inherent wonder and horror of the human condition.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #193 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 17 Jan 10 05:47
    
http://www.welcometohr.com/wp-content/uploads/mosh1.jpg

If Norman Rockwell had been a punk instead of painting giant glazed
consumer turkeys.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #194 of 223: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 17 Jan 10 06:13
    
*Satan weighs in on that Haiti issue:

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/letters/81595442.html
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #195 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 17 Jan 10 07:52
    
I would've thought the concept of "thriveability" would have appealed
to you, as a design maven. Sustainable design seeks to "eliminate
negative environmental impact completely through skillful, sensitive
design" (via Wikipedia). How would that change, if we were designing to
thrive, rather than merely sustain? Sure, thriveability is heady
idealism, but that feels revolutionary given where we are. I find it
more appealing (natch) than cynical despair. 

Jean Russell wrote a post called "Facing the Abyss" in September that
addresses your point:

"Let’s imagine the arcs of the future streaming before us. To the
left, let us see the future that stems from inaction – failure to
change course. It is riddled with crisis and vast human and living
system suffering. Likely large scale migrations as one area becomes
toxic (in actuality or in energy and access to resources). Disparities
in wealth, aka access to the things we need, escalates into greater and
greater Extremistan. To the right, let us be powerfully visionary and
imagine the best possible future. Turn off the inner skeptic. Imagine
future generations enjoying natural areas and clean air, imagine
everyone having ready access to water and healthy foods, medical care,
shelter, etc, where they are free from gross conflicts and free to
pursue their passions.

"The real future is somewhere in the middle, I suspect. But, for this
thought experiment, let’s assume that one can either be a pessimist
(left) or an optimist (right).

"If I live my day to day life believing that the only possible outcome
is the future to the left, why should I take any action? Why should I
even get up in the morning? My brief life might be full of some
immediate pleasures, but it will end with no inspiring legacy and a
terrible shame that thousands and thousands of years of human evolution
collapsed in my day. Personally, choosing to believe that feels like
suicide of the spirit to me. It is all for naught. Don’t bother leaving
a sign to mark the grave.

"If I live my day to day life believing that the possibility (without
being totally blind to the brutal facts before us) – that there is some
possibility to move from the stream on the left to the stream on the
right…in my lifetime it might not be 100% to the right, but maybe 70%?
Where might it go? What might I do to move that path to the right –
toward possibilities of humans evolving in dynamic relationship to the
systems around us – toward thriving?"

Re Haiti and voodoo, Pat Robertson says voodoo actually *caused* the
earthquake, that Haitians were cursed because they've made a pact with
the devil. http://budurl.com/whatajerk

The Haitian consul general said pretty much the same thing:
http://budurl.com/anotherjerk

Of course, voodoo isn't devil-worship, but a complex religion built
around belief in a supreme being, Bondye, who is distant and
indifferent. So they have to work with the lwa (loa), which are lesser
spirits. If Pat Robertson thought about (a stretch), he'd realize
Bondye and the lwa could be his own God and tribe of angels. How many
lwa can dance on the head of pin?

Kind of a charmless fantasy, really, that earthquakes are
manifestation of supernatural intentions and not manifestations of real
instabilities in the structure of the earth - the Garden of Eden built
on shaky ground. And I suppose this applies to hurricanes, too -
surely God's wrath at the practice of voodoo in Louisiana brought
Katrina down to clean the drains.

Xenophobia in the 21st century. Monsters from the Id.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #196 of 223: Ed Ward (captward) Sun 17 Jan 10 08:54
    
In re all of this utopianism whizzing around here, I came upon this in
an article by Tony Judt that feels about right. The article is about
fear of democratic socialism, but the quote's bigger than just that. 

"If we have learned anything from the twentieth century, we should at
least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more
terrifying its consequences. Imperfect improvements upon unsatisfactory
circumstances are the best that we can hope for, and probably all that
we should seek. Others have spent the last three decades methodically
unraveling and destablilizing those same improvements: this should make
us much angrier than we are. It ought also to worry us, if only on
prudential grounds: Why have we been in such a hurry to tear down the
dikes laboriously set in place by our predecessors? Are we so sure that
there are no floods to come?"
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #197 of 223: Lisa Harris (lrph) Sun 17 Jan 10 10:30
    
More from offsite reader Stefan Jones:

Haiti. Kee-ripes.

A few years ago the place seemed to be top runner for being the poster
child for compassion fatigue. But now we're seeing fundraising by text
message breaking all sorts of records and George Clooney hosting a
prime-time all-network telethon. I just hope it's enough.

Haiti could really use something like the CCC. Hire young guys, haul
them up into the hills and put them to work planting forests and flood
control systems. Give them food, clothing, education and money to send
back home to mom. It would cost a hell of a lot, and it would probably
come out of my tax dollars, but I'd prefer that to paying the DEA or
Coast Guard to deal with them.

And then there's . . . how do I put this? If we can't regreen a
tropical island that has non-toxic soil and lots of rain and sunlight,
where do we get off thinking we can terraform Mars or put a working
ecosystem in an orbiting can? That's not Worldsmithing 101, it's an AP
course.

Stefan
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #198 of 223: for dixie southern iraq (stet) Sun 17 Jan 10 10:33
    
Speaking of Voodoo, there's a perceptive note in the NY Times week in
review from Madison Smartt Bell, who knows the country, about its pull
& hold on a country that has so much death:

Today is a good day to remember that in Haiti, nobody ever really
dies. The many thousands who've had the breath crushed out of their
bodies in the earthquake, and the thousands more who will not
physically survive the aftermath, will undergo instead a translation of
state, according to the precepts of Haitian Vodou, some form of which
is practiced by much of the population. Spirits of the Haitian dead —
sa nou pa we yo, those we don’t see — do not depart as in other
religions but remain extremely close to the living, invisible but
tangible, inhabiting a parallel universe on the other side of any
mirror, beneath the surface of all water, just behind the veil that
divides us from our dreams.  ....

<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/weekinreview/17bell.html?ref=weekinreview>
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #199 of 223: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sun 17 Jan 10 11:31
    
ANd speaking of Tony Judt, but off the immediate topic, he has a
gorgeous, if profoundly upsetting, essay, "Night" about his descent
into Lou Gehrig's disease.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23531
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #200 of 223: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Sun 17 Jan 10 13:21
    
#190: we get that often this time of year in Idaho's Treasure Valley,
when we have inversions. It's really pretty.
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook