inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #151 of 240: From Kenny Mann (captward) Fri 13 Jan 12 02:20
    
E-mail from Kenny Mann:


====================================================================
"I still believed in my heart that some old guys would take the stage
in one of these clubs, with some grumbling or just a lot of bar
business — clanking glassware and dopey frivolities — followed by
sounds from the stage that would lull the patrons into a kind of dumb
selflessness, before the musicians transported us to a place where we
no longer knew or cared who we were when we came in or no longer had to
care about where we were going; as if what we brought with us no
longer existed.

"These guys would have been biding their time somewhere out of sight,
since 1953; working on a plan for the night that I just happened to
drop in on. They would steal back what had been stolen by whatever made
history take a wrong turn. It would save everything we have all been
unconsciously guarding and hoarding, just as these musicians had, bit
by bit, week in and week out, in the meantime, all along. These
musicians would have swept away all the substitute music that had been
foisted on us in a cynical attempt to make us believe that's what the
music had been and always would be. That substitute music would all be
forgotten, and all that was meant to be would finally have been
revealed."
====================================================================
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #152 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 13 Jan 12 05:51
    
This is what World War III looks like:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/industries/angry-crowd-pelts-beijing-ap
ple-store-with-eggs-after-release-of-new-iphone-4s-delayed/2012/01/12/gIQAlMVt
uP_story.html?tid=pm_pop

"Angry customers and gangs of scalpers threw eggs at Apple Inc.’s
Beijing store Friday after the iPhone 4S launch there was canceled due
to concerns over the crowd’s size."

...

"Hundreds of customers including migrant workers hired by scalpers in
teams of 20 to 30 waited overnight in freezing weather at the Apple
store in a shopping mall in Beijing’s east side Sanlitun district."
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #153 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 13 Jan 12 06:32
    
"These guys would have been biding their time somewhere out of sight,
since 1953"

*Yeah man, the good old days, like Boris Vian reviewing the first
album by Serge Gainsbourgh.  Now that's a "record review."  It's really
a pleasure to me to read this, even in a rather ham-fisted translation
of Parisian jazz lingo.

http://tamtambooks-tosh.blogspot.com/2012/01/boris-vians-review-of-serge-gains
bourgs.html

Today, even if you're as hip a muso-figure as Boris Vian, it's very
hard to write a "record review" with this vivacity -- because you lack
the milieu of readers that was directly generated by Parisian record
stores.  You can see that this hectic essay, while it praised
Gainsbourg a bit, is a kind of priestly exhortation to the choir to run
over to the record store and drop some money in the collection plate
so as to preserve a certain French spiritual scene.

When that economic basis went, the scene went as well.  The modes of
musical production and distribution are radically different now.  Music
writing is quite different too.  Gainsbourg was probably ecstatic when
he read this Vian review -- and I have little doubt that he read it
immediately -- not just because it says nice things about him, but
because of things it was doing for him: boosting his sales and granting
him scene credibility.

We can still read the words now, but the society is gone; Vian's
exhortation can't perform the same functions. 

Other functions are performed today in our network-society milieu of
retromania, but their alienness is underestimated.   We think that
because we read the words on a screen, and hear the music as a file,
it's still somehow the same words and music as it was on paper and
vinyl.  But it isn't.

It's sweet to think that music is so powerful that it could restore
that missing modes of the past, of music-as-another-mode-of-being.  But
music is so cheap, fluid and omnipresent now that it's become an app,
a feature. It's not the weighty old analog music, any more than this
Well discussion is a Left Bank Parisian cafe' discussion.

People still listen to Serge Gainsbourg -- there was a recent, pretty
good biopic movie about him, and his critical reputation seems to be on
a distinct upswing; his manipulative sleazebag cynicism seems to mesh
with the tenor of our own times.  

But Serge's much-gifted daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, doesn't earn
her living selling plasticware in Paris record shops.  Charlotte is
much more the modern "multimedia multiartist," a multilingual
multinational actress-singer-socialite-celebrity.  Serge was one of
them, but Charlotte is one of us.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #154 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 13 Jan 12 06:38
    
*I forgot that I wrote this thing this year.  This essay for FRIEZE
makes some of the points I was just trying to make, but in a more
rhetorically elegant fashion.

http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/twenty-years-fore-aft/

*I'm kinda pleased with the way that one turned out; I was pretty much
firing on all my futurist cylinders.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #155 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 13 Jan 12 10:42
    
*A pair of interesting articles on the demolition of the middle class.
  You can either jump or get pushed, but there's no longer a "there"
there.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/economics-blog/2012/jan/13/many-americans-2
012-worse

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2011/12/08/acting-dead-trading-up-and-leaving-the-mi
ddle-class/
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #156 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 13 Jan 12 15:12
    <scribbled by jonl Fri 13 Jan 12 15:13>
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #157 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 13 Jan 12 15:14
    
From the article at that second link:

"Not acting dead involves a strategic spending pattern that marketers
are starting to call trading up: buying premium in some areas of your
life, while buying budget or entirely forgoing spending in other
areas. This pattern of conscious, discriminating consumption defines
the emerging replacement for  the middle class....it is a fragmented
social space, with each little island being defined by a specific
pattern of trading-up, and an associated lifestyle design script."

By this description, I've been "trading up" for a long time, and I
knew people who were doing it 30 years ago (Ernest Callenbach wrote a
book about similar behaviors, called _Living Poor with Style_).

Quite a few people I know and many more that I don't know, though I
see 'em regularly enough, could cut massive fat from their lifestyles
and still live pretty well. They consider themselves middle class, and
that's probably accurate - they're in the 99%, but still rich by any
number of measures. The new austerity ain't here yet, but the future
doesn't appear particularly affluent, so I suspect that those who learn
to "trade up" will be in less pain than those who don't a half decade
from now.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #158 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 13 Jan 12 20:04
    
*Sign of the times: Electronic Frontier Foundation spots menacing
drones on the electronic frontier.


Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Contact:

Jennifer Lynch
 Staff Attorney
 Electronic Frontier Foundation
 jlynch@eff.org
 +1 415-436-9333 x136

Who Is Flying Unmanned Aircraft in the U.S.?

Government Withholds Information on Drone Flight
Authorizations

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
filed suit today against the U.S. Department of
Transportation (DOT), demanding data on certifications and
authorizations the agency has issued for the operation of
unmanned aircraft, also known as drones.

Drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment –
including video cameras, infrared cameras and heat sensors,
and radar – that can allow for sophisticated and almost
constant surveillance.  They can also carry weapons.
Traditionally, drones have been used almost exclusively by
military and security organizations.  However, the U.S.
Customs and Border Protection uses drones inside the United
States to patrol the U.S. borders, and state and local law
enforcement are increasingly using unmanned aircraft for
investigations into things like cattle rustling, drug
dealing, and the search for missing persons.

Any drone flying over 400 feet needs a certification or
authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration,
part of the DOT.  But there is currently no information
available to the public about who specifically has obtained
these authorizations or for what purposes.  EFF filed a
Freedom of Information Act request in April of 2011 for
records of unmanned aircraft activities, but the DOT so far
has failed to provide the information.

"Drones give the government and other unmanned aircraft
operators a powerful new surveillance tool to gather
extensive and intrusive data on Americans' movements and
activities," said EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch.  "As
the government begins to make policy decisions about the
use of these aircraft, the public needs to know more about
how and why these drones are being used to surveil United
States citizens."

Dozens of companies and research organizations are working
to develop even more sophisticated drones, so their use is
poised for a dramatic expansion in the coming years.
Meanwhile, news reports indicate that the FAA is studying
ways to integrate more drones into the national airspace
because of increased demand from federal, state, and local
governments.  EFF's lawsuit asks for immediate response to
our FOIA request, including the release of data on any
certificates and authorizations issued for unmanned
aircraft flights, expired authorizations, and any
applications that have been denied.

"The use of drones in American airspace could dramatically
increase the physical tracking of citizens – tracking that
can reveal deeply personal details about our private
lives," said Lynch.  "We're asking the DOT to follow the
law and respond to our FOIA request so we can learn more
about who is flying the drones and why."

For the full complaint:
https://www.eff.org/sites/default/files/filenode/EFFDroneComplaint.pdf

For more on this case:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/drones-are-watching-you

For this release:
https://www.eff.org/press/releases/who-flying-unmanned-aircraft-us

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading
organization protecting civil liberties in the digital
world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight
illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital
innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms
we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of
technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization.
Find out more at https://www.eff.org.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #159 of 240: From Kenny Mann (captward) Sat 14 Jan 12 03:18
    
Kenny Mann via e-mail:


"These guys would have been biding their time somewhere out of sight,
since 1953"

*Yeah man, the good old days, like Boris Vian reviewing the first
album by Serge Gainsbourgh.

It's just a reboot. The kids are alright, back at home, in the rest of
the story -- rocking -- while our hero is lost out there in K.C.,
checking his elaborate delusions on how it might have all gone wrong.
Which, of course, it did. Boris, Serge et al might have been to clubs
like that, slumming. Who hasn't?

Sometimes the noise slides over into being music, regardless of time
and place. Music is pretty unreasonable that way.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #160 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 14 Jan 12 06:14
    
*The Economist suggests that we'll soon have so many drones in the sky
that they'll have to have "deconfliction" anti-crash hardware
installed, so they don't bash into one another and tumble into the
civilian streets.

American drones will, naturally, be hovering in a cloud of American
lawsuits.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/01/civilian-drones
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #161 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 14 Jan 12 06:21
    
*Dematerialized technomad wanders the planet in nothing but high-end
sports gear.  Plus Apple internet and cell access, of course.

http://www.grist.org/list/2012-01-04-this-guy-only-owns-15-things


  1.    Arc’teryx Miura 30 backpack
   2.    NAU shirt
   3.    Mammut rain jacket
   4.    Arc’teryx tshirt
   5.    Patagonia running shorts
   6.    Quick Dry towel
   7.    NAU wool jacket
   8.    Toiletry kit
   9.    Smith sunglasses
   10.    Wallet  (((I wonder how many paper and plastic items he's
got in his wallet)))
   11.    MacBook Air
   12.    iPhone 3GS
   13.    NAU dress shirt
   14.    Patagonia jeans
   15.    Running shoes  (((where's the multitool?  What an amateur)))

*If you've got networked friends on the ground willing to supply you
your 15 things when you got off the plane, no reason you couldn't
wander the world in your pyjamas.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #162 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 14 Jan 12 06:30
    
Occupy the Sky with citizen drones:
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/01/occupy-drones/

"Having thoroughly figured out how to cover giant events from ground
level, they are now exploring ultra-cheap alternatives to the
hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollar news choppers used for aerial reporting
of big events like protest marches and police clashes. In the process,
the video bloggers are discovering both how far low-cost consumer
technology has come and how much farther it needs to go.

"Like the HD video cameras now included in the livestreamers’
cellphones, aerial surveillance drones have progressed from
ultra-expensive professional gear to impulse-buy items. What was once
in the Pentagon budget is now at Toys “R” Us – in a simple form, at
least."
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #163 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 14 Jan 12 06:35
    
*This travel writer circled the earth in the clothes he was standing
up in, just to make a point for a vest manufacturer.

http://www.rtwblog.com/2011/01/best-of-the-no-baggage-challenge/

*The real point is about the power of just-in-time global
telecommunications; he just arranges things so that his crew is in
place wherever he goes.  That way he got to maximize the Internet
publicity.

*This year, when I mentioned my favorite pants on my blog, the pants
manufacturer started sending me free paramilitary pants for review. And
I duly wore them.  And reviewed them. 

*But that's not even the punchline; next March, they're supposed to
ship me a demolition crowbar.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #164 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 14 Jan 12 06:39
    
Imagine roaming the world with nothing but credit-cards, a ScottEVest,
police cargo pants, *and a re-purposed pet police drone.*  Maybe with
a lethal covert-strike capacity!

Man, you'd be hell on wheels. Angle it right, and you wouldn't even
need the wheels.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #165 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 14 Jan 12 06:49
    
Of course, if you're REALLY geeked-out circa 2012, you've got your own
Chaos Computer Club hacker satellite overhead instead of a mere covert
drone.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16367042
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #166 of 240: From George Mokray via email (jonl) Sat 14 Jan 12 16:17
    
"People don't go into Occupy camps so as to live in tents; they go
there to annoy and harass one-percenters.  Pursuing a tent-based
lifestyle is not some brand-new design problem."

People didn't go into Occupy camps to build libraries either but they
did and such libraries became important foci of their communities.  So
much so, that they are continuing at least in NYC and Boston.

Small scale, personal scale solar is an affordable and off-the-shelf
available way to get just a little bit free from the dominant power. 
It is interesting to me as a practitioner of such solar for over 30
years that writers like James Howard Kunstler, Paulo Bacigalupi (in
Wind-Up Girl) and Will McIntosh (in Soft Apocalypse) have little or no
real idea of how these technologies are already in use.

If the Occupations could supply their own power renewably, feed
themselves and others, take care of ALL their waste issues without
relying on the dominant power,
that would be quite a statement and a real alternative to the dominant
power.

My backpack has solar LED lights on it to power my bike lights and
recharge a cell phone.  My rented bedroom in the center of Cambridge is
essentially off-grid with solar LED lights and a solar/dynamo radio I
had modified to charge AA batteries (the most widely used battery in
the world, from what I've read).  Both of these have been working fine
for over six years and cost, altogether, less than $300 dollars. 
Occupiers could do the same thing, at home or in their tents downtown. 
It would make it more pleasant for them and provide an example for
those who have the eyes to see.  Furthermore, it is continuing
something Occupiers have already begun.

Just one more option to play with.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #167 of 240: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sat 14 Jan 12 19:29
    
Hmm, or perhaps the occupiers could get some of this gear comped if
they promise to wear it while some of those TV-wielding drones are
watching.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #168 of 240: From Toby Scales (captward) Sun 15 Jan 12 00:51
    
Toby Scales, via e-mail:


Bruce/Jon,

I notice no one's asked about the alarming escalation in Iran the past
week-- what's the (real) story there? Is it just more chicken or will
the US actually be drawn into it and forced to act? 

If that's too near a timeframe for comfortable speculation, where do
you see this Arab Spring business in 10 years, vis-a-vis the
Ahmadinejad in the room?
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #169 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 15 Jan 12 08:15
    
*Well, here's one interesting PART of the "real story" in Iran.  Dead
Iranians, killed by offshore Iranians, bribed by Israeli Mossad, posing
as CIA.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/13/false_flag

If American nuclear engineers were being bombed inside the USA because
somebody didn't like Three Mile Island (or whatever), that would
obviously be called "state-sponsored terrorism." So, this is what that
is, only nobody bluntly says that because it's not in anyone's
interests to dwell on the abyss of hypocrisy in the Westphalian system.

The "alarming escalation in Iran" is a 1950s-style nuclear weapons
development program, that's being countered by some good-old-fashioned
1970s-style Middle East terrorist cell activity.  

Because it's 2012 now, and major military powers have learned how to
use the guerrilla tactics of non-state actors.  These are the guys that
organized armies have to fight all the time now: Taliban, Al Qaeda,
Hezbollah... Zetas in Mexico, even... how could they NOT know how
terror strikes work?  They know it's vile and ungentlemanly, but it's
not like modern organized armies fight each other.

There's one way to tell 'em apart, though: states build neat expensive
 magnet-bombs that don't waste nearby civilians, while nonstates send
out some fanatic wearing a nail-vest who kills everyone nearby.  

It's an "enantiodromia" thing, maybe.  Back in the Reagan era, some
Texan congressman discovered that Afghanistan was the Soviet VietNam.
Afghan mujihadeen were capitalist VietCong guerrillas. You win the Cold
War by turning the silk-hatted one-percenters into the grass-roots
subversives.  In hindsight, we can all recall how splendidly that
worked out.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #170 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 15 Jan 12 08:27
    
When I read that Foreign Policy article, about Mossad guys posing as
Americans -- they probably ARE former Americans, or at least they spent
a lot of time there -- I immediately wondered how far we are from
"false flag drone strikes."

Imagine this headline: "So-and-so was hit from the air with an
apparent Predator missile.  No state-sponsored covert-action operation
has claimed responsibility."

Iran captured an American "RQ-170 Sentinel" a while ago, and was keen
to show that off to the Chinese copycats. The Iranians must be aware
that this would accelerate the spread of drone technology, but
presumably the Iranians want some drones themselves.  A great way to
close the Strait of Hormuz, drones.

If the Israelis were really getting wily, they'd buy fake-product
Chinese drones and use those themselves.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #171 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 15 Jan 12 08:51
    
Following this logic, I'd guess that the ten-year-future of "Arab
Spring" will be "state-sponsored Arab Springs."

Here's an interesting example: female rent-a-mobs in Central Asia who
pursue state opponents in the streets.  They're like phoney, micro Arab
Springs run by local godfathers and moguls.

http://iwpr.net/report-news/rent-mob-protests-central-asia

Hezbollah is a terrorist group and a religious faction in virulent
permanent opposition to a nation-state, so it's really not fashionable
to praise Hezbollah's political arrangements.  However, if you look at
the way Hezbollah actually runs daily affairs on their Lebanese turf,
Hezbollah's rather deft at it.  Everyday people under their aegis like
and admire Hezbollah.   

So if you're a big romantic about nongovernmental, network-y,
flat-heirarchy, Arab popular movements, then Hezbollah is a kind of
existence-proof for what an Arab-Spring-in-Power might be.

I don't expect good news, myself.  Because every popular Arab
rebellion since who-knows-when has eventually reprised the last reel of
"Lawrence of Arabia."  You know, that scene where the brave,
self-sacrificing, devoutly pious tribes in the Army of Mecca howl
murder at each other in a blacked-out parliament as the infrastructure
of Damascus collapses.  And the sympathetic British white guy with all
the high-tech?  He's haplessly yelling good sense at them as they go on
being themselves.

It's no good saying that because Arabs have cellphones now, they're
not that people any more.   The Americans haven't changed all that much
since 1914 either; the Americans are still way into
global-wars-to-end-wars.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #172 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 15 Jan 12 17:21
    
Iran's fantasy of the world may well collide with the world's fantasy
of Iran; I'd personally like to hang out with those folks, experience
their culture, forget the madness of power and celebrate the lives of
ordinary human beings. Check this out:
http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/01/a-view-inside-iran/100219/
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #173 of 240: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 15 Jan 12 17:56
    
Re the Arab Spring: it's not hard to believe that your social media
conversations and your ability to instigate flash mobs the grow and
become somewhat organized and persistent is meaningful, relevant, and
somehow related to a concept called "democracy." Democracy may mean a
governance that's more participatory or a broader distribution of
power, both of which have seemed to emerge in the U.S. and other
developed nations. Real democracy is unlikely, I don't think we've ever
seen it. The Arab Spring could be squashed, and it could be
"successful" but create only more of the same, with different players.
I suppose it could produce something "better," but I'm not clear how
that improvement is defined. When there's a realization that resources
and power are scarce, those who have power move forcefully to take
whatever they can. Whether they can be challenged successfully by
crowds, even smart crowds, is debatable. (You can substitute "mobs" for
"crowds" if you'd like).
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #174 of 240: Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 15 Jan 12 21:52
    
http://www.coalitionagainstgeoengineering.org/links

The "Coalition Against GeoEngineering" and their chemtrail pals.  A
nice harbinger of tomorrow's "afraid of the sky" contingent.

If carbon dioxide was a visible gas, these guys would be out of their
minds with panic already.  There must be somebody in the nexus of
irrationality who thinks that DRONES are spreading chemtrails.  Covert
drones plus chemtrails are a marriage made in  paranoia heaven.
  
inkwell.vue.430 : Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2012
permalink #175 of 240: From George Mokray (captward) Mon 16 Jan 12 02:06
    
George Mokray via e-mail:

"Hezbollah is a terrorist group and a religious faction in virulent
permanent opposition to a nation-state..."

Hezbollah has built a telecom network, which they are trying to expand
- by force if necessary.  Does that make them a business as well?
  

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