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." ====================================================================
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 crowds 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 Beijings east side Sanlitun district."
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.
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.
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/
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 13 Jan 12 15:12
<scribbled by jonl Fri 13 Jan 12 15:13>
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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
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. Arcteryx Miura 30 backpack 2. NAU shirt 3. Mammut rain jacket 4. Arcteryx 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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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/
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).
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.
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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