Archive | April 17, 2013

Is it Time to Call “Capitalism” an Existential Threat?

Picture: Lepo Rello (CC)

Picture: Lepo Rello (CC)

Khannea Suntzu writes:

A few years ago I argued that rampant disparity in terms of affluence and poverty (or opportunity versus marginalization) in the world might be interpreted as an existential risk. In other words, a very large number of human beings might literally be pushed in to premature death by the combination of (a) disparity and (b) accelerating technologies. My point in 2007 was that technology is increasingly something that more rich people “purchase” (or invest in), and reap benefits from. So in effect I argued that at some point in the none too distant future technology might create products only for people who have money; lots of people would be without jobs and effectively unable to generate any meaningful income, and be displaced from the basic range of essential goods and services to literally survive.

This point was in some other form made by Jeremy Rifkin, Marshall Brain, Thomas Frey, Frederico Pistono and several others, and each placed the emphasis a little differently.

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Glitch Art Goes Big

bitmap glitch skull by Flickr user letloosethelambs (CC)

I love outsider art and creative détournement, and so when something as innovative and unsettling as ‘data-moshing‘ and ‘glitch art‘ grew, I took notice. It may have been the inevitable combination of remix culture, hacking/programming, and the new aesthetic, but it definitely makes for some some interestingly (and intentionally) bad art.

Not every artistic endeavor gets recuperated by the mainstream (it sometimes feels as though they are randomly selected), but rather than kvetch about it when they do, it’s interesting to see in what way they are utilized. Glitch art is so jarring, often painful to watch and surely more challenging to create, that I am genuinely surprised that anyone would actually want glitches in their corporate Matrix.

But two pop-culture franchises have utilized it within the last few weeks. The first was the brilliant episode of Adventure Time, “A Glitch is a Glitch“, in which the villainous and buffoonish Ice King shortsightedly releases a virus to corrupt and destroy the entire Land of Ooo.… Read the rest

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The Orwellian Warfare State of Carnage and Doublethink

George OrwellAfter the bombings that killed and maimed so horribly at the Boston Marathon, our country’s politics and mass media are awash in heartfelt compassion — and reflexive “doublethink,” which George Orwell described as willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”

In sync with media outlets across the country, the New York Times put a chilling headline on Wednesday’s front page: “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim, Officials Say.” The story reported that nails and ball bearings were stuffed into pressure cookers, “rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast.”

Much less crude and weighing in at 1,000 pounds, CBU-87/B warheads were in the category of “combined effects munitions” when put to use 14 years ago by a bomber named Uncle Sam. The U.S. media coverage was brief and fleeting.

One Friday, at noontime, U.S.-led NATO forces dropped cluster bombs on the city of Nis, in the vicinity of a vegetable market.… Read the rest

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Mars One To Begin Application Process For One-Way Tickets To Mars

mars oneThe Mars One website lists necessary traits to be eligible, including mid-range height, blood pressure below 140/90, and a curious, resilient personality. The New York Daily News explains:

Mars One, the private company that hopes to land a person on the surface of the red planet by 2023, will begin accepting videos made by prospective astronauts along with a $25 application fee that will go toward funding the ambitious colonization project.

“We expect a million applications with 1-minute videos,” said Bas Lansdorp, Mars One co-founder. So far, 45,000 people have registered on the company’s mailing list, and 10,000 aspiring astronauts have expressed a desire to apply.

The 24 astronauts will be selected to establish a permanent Martian colony, as there are no current plans for a return journey from Mars. At a New York news conference scheduled for April 22, Mars One will further detail how those who are ready to abandon Earth can proceed.

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Cocaine Was Never Very Cool and Neither Were the F**king Strokes

The-StrokesGetting older can be trippy and awesome when you get to see certain lame ass cultural trends just wear themselves into obsolescence like you vociferously hoped they would back in the day. There’s always a long way to go and it can certainly seem bleak as fuck at times, but there are small victories in life. There really are. I’ll be honest, in my mind the early ‘aughts were about as dark a time in popular music culture as I can remember. It’s not like there wasn’t a bunch of cool underground stuff going down, there always is, but we were right on the heels of the nu metal wave of crap like Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Kid Rock blowing up the charts. The top hard rock bands in the world were shit like Creed and Linkin Park. No really, that happened. Then the supposed art scene became a burgeoning crapfest of twee indie rock, which was hailed as the hot trend for the next decade at least.… Read the rest

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The National Disgrace Of Marijuana Possession Arrests

marijuana arrestsThe New Inquiry, sociologist Harry Levine explains the terrible mechanics propelling apartheid-style law enforcement in America:

Police arrest mostly young and low-income men for marijuana possession, disproportionately blacks and Latinos. In the last 15 years, police and sheriff ’s departments in every major U.S. city and county have made over 10 million of these possession arrests. Most people arrested were not smoking. They were carrying tiny amounts.

Police make so many because they are relatively safe and easy arrests. All police have arrest quotas and often they can earn overtime pay by making a marijuana arrest toward the end of a shift. The arrests show productivity. Making many low-level arrests of all kinds is very good for training rookie police who gain experience doing many stops and searches of teenagers.

There is also a push nationally, to states, counties, and city police departments, to get as many new people as possible into the criminal databases.

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Kalifornian Exile, Dark Yogi and Dreaded Anomaly

goagildecorIn recent years ‘Darkpsy’ has proliferated through psychedelic trance like Yersinia pestis, with a clear goal in mind; the destruction of everything you think you are. Graham St John from the University of Queensland sensitively delivers his observations of the phenomenon, and the role of Goa Gil during it’s ichorous ascension to pandemic status, on Dancecult.net. While Gil’s methods and motives have been met with considerable criticism, he remains a potent and influential figure throughout the scene.

Angel’s Camp, near Santa Cruz, California, 11–12 October 2006.

It’s well past midnight, as psychedelic savants and nouveau freaks amass under redwoods. Overhead, the cosmos is vast and the stars are blinking back on those gathered in the clearing, soon to be buried under an avalanche of “killah” bass-patterns. Goa Gil is wreaking his usual havoc on those who’ve arrived to celebrate his 55th birthday. The “Godfather of trance” performs within a makeshift shrine, pushing darkpsy from a pair of Sony TCD-D8 DAT Walkmans,1 under Tibetan flags, over a statue of Ganesh with a Buddha decorated in plastic lotus flowers seated nearby.

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Animals Self-Medicate Far More Than Previously Realized

animals self medicateScience Daily on animal pharmacology as part of the ecosystem:

It’s been known for decades that animals such as chimpanzees seek out medicinal herbs to treat their diseases. But it now appears that the practice of animal self-medication is a lot more widespread than previously thought, according to University of Michigan ecologist Mark Hunter and his colleagues.

Animals use medications to treat various ailments through both learned and innate behaviors. The fact that moths, ants and fruit flies are now known to self-medicate has profound implications for ecology and evolution.

Wood ants incorporate an antimicrobial resin from conifer trees into their nests, preventing microbial growth in the colony. Parasite-infected monarch butterflies protect their offspring against high levels of parasite growth by laying their eggs on anti-parasitic milkweed. Lacking many of the immune-system genes of other insects, honeybees incorporate antimicrobial resins into their nests.

“Perhaps the biggest surprise for us was that animals like fruit flies and butterflies can choose food for their offspring that minimizes the impacts of disease in the next generation,” Hunter said.

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