Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Thu 6 Jan 00 13:03
Who are all these people with the punctuation after their email addresses? Any Cardinal-Generals out there?
John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Thu 6 Jan 00 14:09
Come come Bruce, I wasn't talking about the reading of novels, back there. I was talking about mindless visual media saturation to the point where people live increasingly through surrogates -- to which I cheerfully contribute whenever I get a chance, because I don't know how else to make a living. But never mind. Bruce--sorry if I missed this, if you already ranted on this but: What do you think of the "simplicity movement"? YOu're aware of it I'm sure. Not much of a movement yet. Some coffeetable books and self improvement pundits and the like--still what if it becomes much bigger (as I think it will). Operating on the theory that people are getting fried by overmuch input, by overcomplexity in modern life, losing touch with essential values and with time for personal growth and family. It's becoming a major "thing" in San Francisco in some circles. People basically stop acquiring, step out of the consumer stream as much as possible, strip down to minimal credit cards, minimal online interaction, get rid of cars if they can, sure as hell get rid of TV. If they have a choice of joining a club, getting a new home entertainment tech, etc, they choose not to. They keep sorting things out according to essentials and distractions. CHoosing essentials. I think it'll be a big but never dominant thing in 21st century. But I do understand it. (Me I'll hit a middle ground.) And it could have positive environmental impact. "Kill your god...kill you god...KILL YOUR TV!" --Marilyn Manson
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 6 Jan 00 19:18
The simplicity movement isn't a new thang... check out topic 67 in the future conference (g future). That was 1991, and the simplicity movement already had factions. *8-) Bruce may say otherwise, but I don't think simple living is 'Viridian' unless it's wearing a bikini....
Thomas Armagost (silly) Sat 8 Jan 00 14:34
<scribbled by silly Mon 9 Jul 12 16:10>
John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Sat 8 Jan 00 16:49
Simplicity Movement doesn't have to be new exactly--it may be already factioned but the general idea is gathering strength. It didn't go away. it'll answer a need in the 21st century. It won't be a dominant paradigm except in little cells. Sometimes I think the dominant paradigm of the 21st Century will be about finding ways for the particular to interact with the general; people gathering around their own tribal totems, withdrawing into cells that are defined by ethnicity, religion (I'm really beginning to fear a real confrontation between Muslim and Christian Fundamentalists...throw in, say, Hindus, or Mormons, and we can have the theological equivalent of the Three Stooges fighting, idiocy times three, but with real blood), lifestyle ideology, and so forth, and searching for ways to interface with other cells without conflict. But actually what I came here to ask Bruce about -- he probably is off being busy for a while -- is what he thinks of the article in Scientific American, if he saw it, about negative energy and spacetime warping and Faster than Light travel. Here's this once-stodgy magazine representing the views of the science establishment now saying we're going to other stars like Star Trek. "Dilithium not necessary" says one of the section heads. Galaxy Magazine SF comes true?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 00 17:22
"Nothing is true, everything is permitted."
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 8 Jan 00 18:21
The subject of parenthood is a very big one. On due consideration, I consider it a life change second only to puberty. It certainly gives one a sense of being rooted in historical process. The human experience of time is very ductile. The difference between thirty and thirty-four is not that big a a deal, but the human span between age one and age four is absolutely colossal. One strongly positive thing I can say about fatherhood: I never ask myself, "where did my youth go?" Because I see it every day. That's my youth, asking all those persistent questions and then spilling the cereal bowl; that's my youth, destroying the curtains and setting fire to the cat. My own youth is very much around. It's just that I don't have it now. It's been instantiated in somebody else. As an author, I think one gains huge amounts of psychological insight from hanging out with small children. You're literally hands-on as a human personality is constructed from the raw gears and tinkertoys. Just one instance: until you have children, it's hard to understand why small kids get more frantic and frenetic as they get weary. When an adult's tired, after all, he just slows down. But when a small kid gets tired, the sinews of his self-control snap. You can see him lose years of hard-won experience in sudden near-catastrophic collapse, primal energies spewing out the rents in his young psyche like steam through a broken boiler. Then suddenly, the last gasp; his head lolls over; he's asleep.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 8 Jan 00 18:29
I haven't read that Scientific American piece, but I'll believe in "negative energy" when somebody sells me a few kilowatts of it. I know that Arthur Clarke takes zero-point energy with lethal seriousness. He's put down some of his own money to finance experiments. Sir Arthur's not a crank, so there must be some kind of plausibility to it; but the laws of thermodynamics are about as durable as physical laws get. A claim that extraordinary demands a truly extraordinary level of proof. As for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN as a publication, it bores the heck out of me. I always thought the prose was sorry, and worse yet, the illustrations were stodgy. You wanna read a good pop-science magazine, I highly recommend IEEE Spectrum. It's for electrical and electronic engineers, so its scope is a little narrow, but within that scope it can't be beat; it really gets you hands-on and almost uncomfortably immediate with stuff like fiber-optic switching stations.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 9 Jan 00 00:52
That was lovely, thanks. I experienced that a bit, when I was a step-parent - I kept thinking that the purpose of having kids was to complete your own experience of things - the one you had yourself and the one you watch the kid have - giving you the newly stereo vision of your own child and adult perspectives. Creating, aha, depth. Only you said it much better. What you said about Scientific American led me to wonder what magazines and other periodicals you subscribe to, what mailing lists are you on, that kind of thing - what kinds of input do you seek out as opposed to what you avoid?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 00 07:17
Yes, and perhaps more generally how you use online resources in your work?
John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Sun 9 Jan 00 13:12
Viridian environmentalism: isn't it too lightweight to matter? Depressing article in the San Francisco Examiner today about high levels of toxins--heavy metals and chemicals, like pesticide run off, dioxins, PCBs, good old won't-go-away DDT--found in whales and dolphins to such an extent that Harvard U analysis eating just three ounces of dolphin meat "would cause significant health problems". A seven year study of children in the Faroe Islands has found that those whose mothers had eaten contaminated whale meat during pregnancy were much more likely to suffer brain damage and heart damage...As a result of all this, whale meat consumption is likely to go down in Japan (the Japanese have been eating it via some loophole in international laws)...But the whales will die anyway: the toxicity causes damage to the immune system, sterility and "gender bender" hormone disruptions in whales as well as people... I'll tell you what really disturbs me. It's not the whales per se. It's the depth, so to speak, of the pollution here; it's how deeply it's embedded in the food chain, eco system...And all major American groundwater systems are polluted by pesticides. This is the beginning of something that could lead to the famines in the "industrialized nations" I've predicted in my stories. The bad guys have already won.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 9 Jan 00 16:31
(Remember, if you are not a WELL member, you are reading this on the Web and you have a question for Bruce Sterling, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will post it for you so Bruce can respond.)
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 9 Jan 00 17:21
I tend to instinctively throw in my lot with the "bad guys" in these matters, actually. I think perhaps it's my Southwestern upbringing; besides shooting Indians and hanging Mexicans, the great formative experience of Texan culture was losing our gruelling war to own black people. Being part of a defeated culture makes one at ease with being the bad guys. Besides, our worst crises are not rooted in malignant intent. When irrigated farming turned the soil saline in the Fertile Crescent, great civilizations had their roots cut and failed with all hands. But there was never any moment where some guy with a hoe and a canal lock was chuckling to himself, "Ha, Nebuchadrezzar, you and all you know will become as the dust thanks to my wicked sabotage." Most likely he was just muttering about his taxes and hoping his kids would grow up. I would concur that as an environmentalist my lone efforts don't rank with Greenpeace, but I don't want to become a professional myrmidon of some potent NGO. It's like objecting that a science fiction novel is a pretty pipsqueak effort compared to the full-scale George Lucas Industrial Light & Magic treatment. To which my answer is a hearty "yes-but." In my opinion, counsels of despair are a worse sin than mere profit-motivated despoliation. You should have seen North America before they wiped out the mammoths. It was impossibly cool. If you despair, you are denying the validity of the experience of the people who will bury you. You had the real life of sublime defeat; all they are to have the shadow life of living in the consequences of your failure. I think this is ego speaking, basically. It sounds better as "apres moi la deluge."
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 00 18:34
What great tragedies dramatize, I think, is our inability to control our destinies. That's what this is about, no? Aren't traditional environmentalists assuming that human volition is at the heart of the offense, and can become its cure. But is that true, in either case? Isn't aikido more effective that brute force? And isn't the Viridian movement 'light' in the sense that aikido is light?
Thomas Armagost (silly) Sun 9 Jan 00 19:37
<scribbled by silly Mon 9 Jul 12 16:10>
Andrew Brown (andrewb) Tue 11 Jan 00 08:58
but the whole point about Y2K was that it never progressed from immanence to imminence
John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Tue 11 Jan 00 12:29
Well of course when I say I feel the bad guys have won, or give off a vibe of despair, I don't mean that I think people should stop trying, or that there's no hope; I was only expressing a feeling. Sometimes such dire declarations presage a moment of slowing down and looking--Paul Erlich's population book, while doomsaying to excess, did help induce people to stop and look and think over the issue. It started some balls rolling. I think we have a useful instinct to raise alarums; and people who 'predict the worst' are valuable to society. If there hadn't been dire predictions re Y2k there's at least a good chance that dire events wouldve unfolded. They were obviated by the doomsayers--arguably, anyhow. I don the black rags and wail out of that sort of instinct. And I could be right too. The damage we're doing and have done to the ecology is vast, pervasive, deeply embedded. You know, Bruce, not all the damage done is by people who are analogous to that fertile crescent farmer, and don't have a clue. The big corporations have been shown, historically, to know better, and to cover up what they know. They just don't mind if people are dying, or will die, as long as they're making profits. People who work in the corporate environment (even those who are sometimes only consultants, say) may unconsciously veer from recognition of culpability on the part of those who write their checks. I think it was Upton Sinclair who said that you cannot persuade a man of the truth if it threatens his means of making a living.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 11 Jan 00 15:45
But John, I work for Bertelsmann Publications, a German multinational in a Japanese skyscraper in New York City. Just got the poisoned whale thing from another Viridian subscriber. I gotta admit, this thing is beyond the beyond. Poison saves hunted whales London Independent By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Correspondent 9 January 2000 The whale may finally be saved from hunters through being poisoned. Contamination from the pollution of the world's seas appears to be succeeding where environmentalists had failed. The people of Japan, the world's main whaling nation, are at last questioning the hunting of the leviathans after a major food scare. After high levels of dangerous heavy metals and chemicals were found in whalemeat, Japanese scientists advised against eating it, so sales slumped. Now, Japanese retailers including one 300-branch supermarket chain have started removing all whalemeat from their shelves after the scientists recommended an "immediate ban on the sale of all contaminated products". Research has shown that toxic chemicals can build up in whales and dolphins to 70,000 times the levels found in the waters in which they swim and feed, and can cause serious human health problems, including damage to the immune system, sterility, and "gender-bender" hormone disruptions. The development has is an extraordinary twist to one of the oldest and most bitter environmental battles. Conservationists have been campaigning to stop whaling for more than 30 years, after unrestrained hunting brought many species, such as blue fin and humpback, to the verge of extinction. Nearly 20 years ago, the environmentalists succeeded in one of their first great international victories in persuading the body that regulates world whaling, the International Whaling Commission, to impose an indefinite moratorium. But, ever since, Japan has exploited a loophole, which allows whaling for "scientific purposes", to enable it to continue its annual hunt and provide whalemeat for its people. Meanwhile, it has been gradually winning the argument for a resumption of commercial whaling as the species it hunts the minke whale is abundant and would be in no danger of being seriously depleted. It has also used financial aid to persuade developing countries to join the whaling commission and support it. The discovery of the contamination of whalemeat, however, threatens to undermine its campaign. Last year, two Japanese toxicologists and two geneticists from Harvard University analysed more than 100 samples of the meat bought in restaurants, shops and markets across Japanin a study co-ordinated by the British-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the Swiss Coalition for the Protection of Whales. They were astonished at the results. About half of all the samples proved to be contaminated with heavy metals or dangerous chemicals including mercury, dioxins, DDT and PCBs above the maximum levels allowed for human consumption under Japanese and international standards. They also found that a quarter of the samples were sold under false pretences, in fact containing meat from other species such as dolphins and porpoises and, in one case in 20, from fully protected species such as humpback and sperm whales. More than three-quarters of these mis-advertised products proved to be for human consumption. Japan's Fisheries Agency insisted then that whalemeat sold to consumers was not seriously contaminated. But in November, a separate study by the country's official Environment Agency confirmed that whales and dolphins were highly polluted. Further research suggested, in the words of one scientist, that eating just three ounces of dolphin meat or one ounce of liver "would cause significant health problems". Meanwhile, a seven-year study of children in the Faroe Islands has found that those whose mothers had eaten contaminated whalemeat during pregnancy were much more likely to suffer brain and heart damage. A coalition of citizens' groups was formed last month to press the Japanese government to take immediate action. The fishing industry is deeply worried that the outrage will cause more cancellations of orders and drive down the price of meat from the whales caught by "scientific" whaling, dealing a devastating blow to the industry.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 11 Jan 00 16:20
Thomas Armagost (silly) Tue 11 Jan 00 16:32
<scribbled by silly Tue 11 Jan 00 16:33>
Thomas Armagost (silly) Tue 11 Jan 00 16:34
<scribbled by silly Mon 9 Jul 12 16:10>
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 12 Jan 00 08:56
Environmentalism, tree-hugging save the whales stop global warming stuff, is anthropocentrism at its smug worst. It's not the environment or the planet, it's the livability of the still mostly congenial human ecosphere that environmentalists are concerned about first and foremost. Perhaps the more toxic the environment is to human life, the more likely "the planet" will be saved, perhaps inhabited by the few remaining sturdy weeds and hive-mind insectoids. Considering this, the Viridian movement should possibly be replaced by a thanatropic movement the goal of which is to carry human access to its suicidal absurd, so that we'll drown in our own muck and make room for the Next Big Thing.
John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Wed 12 Jan 00 12:27
Yes Jon the old "the planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas" or whatever. George Carlin? But in fact environmentalists are at least as much concerned about animals--look at the consequences of DDT (which have not ended though it's not being manufactured anymore) on birds. It nearly wiped out numerous species. Not people, birds. Whales and dolphins and seals have been turning up dying on beaches for unknown reasons in large numbers--the probability is toxicity destroying their immune systems leaving them vulnerable to parasites which destroy their nervous systems. Just one example. That's damage to animals, not people. But suppose it were only people...hey, they're only PEOPLE, right? Often, poor black people. Near New Orleans there's a notorious cancer corridor "sponsored" by Shell oil--they *know* they're killng people, mostly poor blacks who can't afford to move, and they don't care. Are we supposed to be indifferent to the birth defects and cancer that we continue to induce in people? Fuck em, right? Meanwhile, here's a Viridianesque oddity: CORN BECOMES PLASTIC AT HUGE NEW NEBRASKA FACTORY NEW YORK, New York, January 11, 2000 (ENS) - The kernel of a new industry for America's heartland is a first of its kind factory that will make the raw material of plastic cups, packaging and fabric from corn, not petroleum.
John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Wed 12 Jan 00 12:38
But then, re-reading Jon's post, I suppose he was not very serious. Well, it's an emotional subject. The astounding, wanking indifference to it gets me hot under the collar sometimes. But I don't mean you. I posted part of a Sierra Club press release at a well conf "Biology and the Media" about how environmentalists are being jailed, beaten, tortured and murdered in the Third World by govt thugs accommodating, for example, Shell oil, and I was badgered bysome people about it, though it was a topic about biologyand the *media*, and I said I thought it was important because, after all, people are dying, and they are scientists, sometimes biologists, and there's not enough in the media about it, and some guy (who works for Details magazine...the magazine of wanking contemplation of stupid cultural ephemera) posted "'but people are dying! People are dying!'" I said that ridicule is safe; being an environmentalist in the third world isn't. The point is, it's getting to be an increasingly emotional issue, because of the deaths, in past and to come. So I'm sorry if I'm touchy when youre kidding around.
John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Wed 12 Jan 00 12:39
And enough of me, back to Bruce.
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