Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Right to Keep and Bear Recording Devices

Throughout history, there have been technologies that are so fundamental to power relationships within a society that their possession and use has been an inevitable bone of contention. The most well-known example of that is firearms. Being in many ways the ultimate personal weapon, a great equalizer that nullifies any advantages of physical size or strength, gun rights are argued endlessly. Some feel that the possession of guns by private individuals is too dangerous, as it raises the lethality of interpersonal conflict, and thus argue for gun use to be restricted to the police and the military; others argue that widespread firearms ownership is the best protection against criminal behaviour and state oppression. In some countries, with weak central governments (or none, as in Somalia), everyone is allowed to possess a weapon more or less by default. In contrast, some countries with strong central governments (Japan, England), have banned them outright. The US has a right to keep and bear arms written into it's constitution (though that right has been steadily eroded, as the central government became more powerful.)

This is not a new battle; pre-gunpowder societies saw similar argument and diversity regarding the use and ownership of all manner of weapons. In some places, everyone was allowed to walk about openly armed; in others, the possession of a weapon was strictly limited to professional warrior castes and nobility. And once again, in general, the strength of central government was a good predictor of the degree to which weapons were restricted.

In terms of the effects of personal combat systems on society, firearms have likely come about as far as they ever will. Great improvements in accuracy might well be made (smart rounds, for instance); completely different propulsion systems used which increase muzzle velocity (say, electromagnetically instead of chemically); but the overall principle of a handheld weapon that makes one human more or less equal to another in combat potential, regardless of physical size or strength, is unlikely to change.

Personal recording devices, on the other hand, are just beginning to make their presence really felt. From their first appearance in the 20th century - expensive, delicate, their use restricted more or less to professionals and hobbyists - they have no proliferated to the point where practically everyone has a digital camera, often built into their phone. Technologies such as the eyeFi are allowing pictures to be instantly uploaded to the web, viewable by anyone. We are entering the age of the participatory panopticon, where everyone is watched by everyone.

Some see this as a dangerous attack on liberty, as they believe the constant surveillance will be exploited by states and corporations in order to build a perfect tyranny where everything - and everybody - is watched, tracked, tagged and thus controlled. They are not wrong to fear this; it is almost a certainty that such surveillance systems are being prepared right now. In some parts of the world, tyranny will be a very real possibility ... especially if the citizenry are not in possession of their own recording devices.

The reasoning is simple. If the people are watching, recording, and sharing information as much or more than the government, it becomes very difficult for the government to engage in criminal behaviour (which surely any attempt to tyrannize, anywhere, should rightly be considered.) Just as a citizen breaking a law will be instantly caught, so an official violating someone's human rights will be instantly known. Tyrannies can't survive such openness, relying as they do on the complicit ignorance of their victim populations.

The conflict over use of personal recording devices has already began. If you doubt this, just try walking around and airport taking lots of pictures. I have no doubt that it will intensify greatly, as more and larger areas become designated 'no-photography' zones. Watch for the signs to proliferate over the next few years, like no-smoking signs did through the 80s and 90s.

(You know, sometimes I wonder if an empty no sign might not be the most apt symbol for the corporate fascism that seems to be the prevailing form of governance at the outset of the 21st century. Someone should make an internet map of number of no-X signs per city block. I'll bet you could correlate that to fascism pretty nicely.)

Conversely, areas where freedom prevails will be those in which sousevailling citizens vigilantly watch their masters from below, immediately punishing even the slightest infraction against human rights, and thus maintaining a healthy balance between rule of law and protection of rights and freedoms. Just as America preserved its famous freedom through two hundred years by enshrining the right to keep and bear arms in its constitution, an inalienable right to record and disseminate whatever one pleases will be an invaluable protection in the future. Freedom of speech, yes, but also freedom of sight.

The dichotomy between freedom and tyranny is closely bound to secrecy and transparency, which are respectively anathema to the one and a necessity to the other. If you want to keep freedom alive in the twentieth century, you're going to have to fight for your right to point a camera at the ones who want to take it away.

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Monday, December 10, 2007


I've thought a lot about how democracy can be improved by utilizing the internet, and one of the main ideas that's always guided me is that in a modern, educated society, citizens should vote, not for people, but for ideas. In other words, citizens should decide the law directly, rather than delegating representatives to do it for them ... those representatives, being human (and moreover, that particular type of human who is attracted to power like a moth towards a flame) will inevitably represent their own interests rather than those of their constituents.

So when I saw this article, the light bulb floating above my head starting blinking like mad:

When the New Zealand police force said they were open to suggestions about how to rewrite national policing laws, they meant it. In September, they posted the 1958 Police Act online and invited Kiwis and non-Kiwis alike to visit the site and type in their own revisions to the law — extending the concept of “Wiki”-style collaborative writing from encyclopedias to democracy.

This is a brilliant idea, and I'm convinced it could be taken much further than simply culling an advisory document, as the Kiwis used it. A wiki is the ultimate democratic forum: not only can you say whatever you want, you can edit what other people say, expunging their contributions entirely. Now, this is very similar to how bills are created inside legislatures: elected representatives and their staffs add and remove clauses and subclauses until a workable compromise is found, at which point it's put to a vote. The wiki platform could allow this process to be expanded to include the entirety of the citizenry, and in so doing, lead to much better laws. As the saying goes, with enough eyes all bugs are shallow; were the creation of laws to be open-sourced, the final products would be more acceptable to the people who will have to live with them.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Downloading and Resistance

The corporatocracy relies on its propaganda organs to fight this part of the counterinsurgency operation, but the web of lies they attempt to weave in their subjects' heads wither with just a single exposure to truth. That is so elementary a principle that it almost qualifies as a natural law: truth cancels lies, but lies cannot cancel truth. Still, once you've woken up, and realized with growing horror the depth of the deception in which you've been buried, there's the question of, "Well, what the hell should I actually do, now that I know all of this?"

In truth, all sorts of things: spreading the word to friends and family is a start, as is going out in public and distributing flyers, leaflets, handbills, DVDs. You can start a blog, get a youtube channel, start podcasting or do whatever you can to get in on the production end of the infowar. Anything is good, because the infowar - the process by which people are woken up to the fact that the free world has been occupied by stealth by a consortium of banks and corporations - is half the battle.

But only half. It wasn't long before those under Soviet domination ceased to believe a damn thing their authorities told them, but by the time they woke up it hardly mattered, so total was the control matrix that had been built around them.

Well, then, what to do? Political activism is a possibility, but in the end marches and protests don't accomplish much: the media ignores them, so the public ignores them, which means the corporations can ignore them, and thus nothing changes. The only exception being if there's a riot, in which case they're all over it like flies on corpses: it make the protesters look bad, the violence obscuring whatever point the protesters were trying to make, and it lets the media show images of imperial stormtroopers restoring order with tear gas and rubber bullets, which reminds the populace of who's in charge.

Armed insurgency is an attractive option for some, but it's a futile path, even worse than rioting. Inevitably branded as terrorism, it only serves to drive the public further into the arms of the state, justifying greater revocation of liberty and centralization of power. This, combined with the fact that there's basically no way in hell a ragtag band of insurgents can best the perfection of technology and technique of the military-industrial complex, makes any attempt to resort to violence utterly wrongheaded.

Kevin at Cryptogon has a fascinating essay where he takes up just this subject, and suggests a meaningful way in which war can be waged against the corporatocracy: militant IP piracy.

Who know that downloading music, movies, and software without actually paying for it could be a revolutionary act? Obvious in retrospect, really, but still. I'm going to enjoy expanding my media library even more from here on.

Kevin applies the idea primarily to media and software piracy, but I think it can be taken much further than that. The primary basis of corporacratic power is economic: by controlling the money supply, the control almost everything. To fight against the corporate state, it's economic basis must be undermined. Nothing else can possibly work.

Now here, there are all sorts of angles of attack. Currency is the one: if underground currencies could be spread (for instance, plastic tokens with flakes of gold embedded in them, so that they had actual value in and of themselves), the power of banks would be undercut. A similar angle is to use peer-to-peer banking systems like Prosper for lending and borrowing money, cutting banks out of the transactions entirely and thus helping to starve them. I can well imagine a synergy between peer-to-peer banking and private currencies contributing greatly to undermining the power of banks.

But the economic structure of the corporatocracy is not merely financial; it is also industrial. The means of production now involve massive global supply chains, with a dozen countries involved in the manufacture of virtually every product. On the one hand, this system harnesses division of labor to drive prices lower than ever before in history. On the other hand only huge corporations (guarded by massive navies) can efficiently manage these supply chains. And on the gripping hand*, differences in currency valuations can be used to artificially concentrate industry in one district whilst denuding another entirely.

The tactic Ghandi used to help free India from the British Empire are instructive here: stop buying clothing from the British, sit down at a loom, and make your own. When that practice was widely adopted, one of the principle instruments of economic control over the subcontinent was broken. It wasn't long at all before India was its own country again.

Similarly, rapid prototyping technology is ever-improving. The Fab Lab at MIT is exploring the best ways to learn and interact with a technology that can build anything; the reprap project is concentrating on a rapid prototyper that can print out a copy of itself. It won't be long, no more than a few years and maybe less, before fabbing technology begins to take off, and once it does the industrial wherewithal to rapidly make anything one wants (so long as one has the designs for it) will be available to anyone who wants it.

It's hard to imagine the corporatocracy being able to survive conditions in which they are utterly deprived of the lions share of media, fiscal, and ultimately manufacturing revenues. If you're searching for a reason for why things are accelerating politically like never before, look no further: the technocratic elite that entrenched itself over the past few years is comprised of smart people, and they can see what's coming as well as, hell better than, anyone else. They know that if they don't act soon to lock down the entire planet, they're prospects even ten years from now are grim indeed.

So the next time you want to watch a TV show, listen to an album, go to a movie, or use some software, do freedom a favor and download it. Starve the beast just a little bit, and keep the networks alive and strong for the day when you can download a car instead of Gran Turisumo.

*Kudos to anyone who got that obscure sci-fi reference.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Last week Alex Jones' new movie Endgame came out. I suggest you go watch it right now. It may be the most important movie you ever see.

What's it about? Look at the tags attached to this post. Need to know more? Well, here's some reviews: one at the the Daily Llama, one at Smoker's Corner (that's one snazzy background he's got, gotta get me one of those....), and a final pair of reviews by a pair of (formerly) 'good' Bush-voting Republicans. Read those first if you want. Then watch the goddamn movie.

If you don't walk away from this movie without at the very least a cold, paralyzing dread clenching in the pit of your stomach, well, there's probably no hope for you. Preferably, you should finish it filled with a deep and abiding anger, an outrage that burns like an emotional Chernobyl, and a righteous passion to do everything you can to stop the crime against all of humanity whose final stages are being laid right fucking now. You need to see this movie because you need to wake the fuck up, because this really is one of the last warning's you'll get.

Why the hell are you still reading this? Whatever you're doing, or whatever you think you should be doing, it is almost impossible that it is more important than seeing this movie. I don't care if you're getting ready for a job interview or sitting in your cubicle, if you're studying for an exam or about to leave for one, whatever it is, drop it, and go watch the movie.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stop-Loss and Regime Change

You know, even in Vietnam the troops only had to do one six-month tour. That on its own was enough to fuck a lot of them up pretty badly.

Stop-loss means a lot of soldiers stay quite a bit longer than six months. Not surprisingly, the surge has led to an increase in soldiers detained in Iraq. Some of these guys are going to end up spending years in the middle of a warzone, and when they get back they're going to have trouble adjusting.

Well, there's always Blackwater, if civilian life just doesn't work out for them. Or organized crime (assuming there's any difference). Historically, the lineage of organized crime groups always has it's roots in the end of a large war. The longer the war, the worse the banditry afterwards (and let's not forget, the corporatocracy is promising us a hundred year war.)

And let's not forget, Caeser kept his legions in Gaul for 10 years ... and when he came back, he used them to conquer Rome.

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If you look at the bottom of this (and every other) post you'll see that I just installed the Sphere widget. On the off chance you haven't heard of Sphere, it's a search engine that specializes in drawing connections between blogs. If something I write should tickle your fancy, just click on the Sphere link and you'll see posts by other bloggers writing (at least tangentially) related posts.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Drills Within Drills

Via Truth News, the massive terrorist exercise in Oregon this week (which I wrote about in my previous post), apparently turned - almost - into a real drill when drug-sniffing dogs detected explosive residue:

Portland police cordoned off several blocks around the Lloyd Center, marking off the area with thousands of feet of yellow tape blowing in the afternoon wind. They also shut down MAX trains through the area, and alerted people inside the hotel and surrounding buildings. Some in those buildings chose to evacuate, while others remained in place.

This almost looks like some kind of meta-drill. In the middle of a drill (which everyone knows is just a drill), throw in a situation that abruptly makes it look as though the real thing might actually be happening. The origin of the false alarm is, in this view, not very surprising:

Authorities initially focused on one vehicle, which turned out to be owned by a participant in the Topoff exercise. The car’s owner was quickly located and cooperated, and police later expanded the search to other vehicles on the first floor of the garage. It was windy, Schmautz said, so it’s possible the dogs picked up smells from any of several vehicles in the area.

Do something like this often enough, and eventually your emergency services - and your citizenry - are never sure if something is a drill, a false alarm, or the real thing. In any given situation, they'll either under-react (thinking, in the case of the real thing, that it's just a drill), or over-react (mistaking drills and false alarms for the real thing and throwing their all into it.) Just like confused immune-systems going into overdrive in response to pollen, the societal effects of confused emergency services can be likened to a kind of autoimmune disease.

The bomb scare might have been a false alarm, but it was not an accident.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Drilling for Martial Law

There's a massive terror drill going on in Portland this week, with 6000 responders and 9000 volunteer 'victims'.

From BBC Channel 4 News:

Three fictional "dirty bombs" are to be the trigger for the biggest terror drill in US history.

More than 15,000 people will take part in the 25 million dollar TopOff 4 exercise which will simulate a series of terror attacks across America.

The Department of Homeland Security said the aim was to "address policy and strategic issues that mobilise prevention and response systems".

An article at Katu goes into a little more detail:

PORTLAND, Ore. - It's the largest terror drill in U.S. history, and the nation will have its eyes on Portland.

This week, the city becomes ground zero as a fake dirty bomb goes off on a set resembling the Steel Bridge, covering the city in "make believe" radiation.

Beyond a terror attack, it's also a test for any catastrophic disaster - to prevent the fatal mistakes the nation witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

System-wide failures left thousands in jeopardy as emergency officials at all levels misjudged, mis-communicated and underestimated the storm.

In Portland, new communication plans, equipment and people will be put to the test.

"I'd rather much see if there are things we need to do to improve through this exercise than waiting till a real-life event came," Mayor Tom Potter said.

The mayor will be among 6,000 responders and volunteer victims working on the drill at Portland International Raceway and at local hospitals, where triage stations are ready to evaluate the wounded.

The drill scenario goes like this: terrorists who have been planning attacks in Oregon, Arizona and the U.S. Territory of Guam are able to bring radioactive material into the U.S. The first of three coordinated attacks occurs in Guam with the detonation of a dirty bomb and widespread contamination in a populous area near a power plant. Similar attacks then occur in Portland and Phoenix.

Despite the size of the drill, don't expect to see any real-life disruptions on the roads, highways, bridges or hospitals. Most of the action will be behind the fence at Portland International Raceway and out of sight. The only thing you might see is emergency vehicles racing around town.

If you notice anything unusual and wonder if it is a part of the training exercise, you can call 211. The phone number will be activated on Tuesday.

So they managed to find 9,000 volunteer victims, to be serviced by 6,000 responders (military, police, medical, fire, and environmental.) I'm not sure if that's a realistic ratio of responders to victims in the event of a real actual terrorist strike, but putting that aside, I can't help but wonder if this isn't really drilling for martial law. It wouldn't be the first time. Remember 7/7? From "A fictional "scenario" of multiple bomb attacks on London's underground took place at exactly the same time as the bomb attack on July 7, 2005 ... The fictional scenario was based on simultaneous bombs going off at exactly the same time at the underground stations where the real attacks were occurring." The article includes the transcript of a radio interview with Peter Power, Managing Director of a consulting firm that was contracting with the London Metropolitan Police:

POWER: At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.

HOST: To get this quite straight, you were running an exercise to see how you would cope with this and it happened while you were running the exercise?

POWER: Precisely, and it was about half past nine this morning, we planned this for a company and for obvious reasons I don't want to reveal their name but they're listening and they'll know it. And we had a room full of crisis managers for the first time they'd met and so within five minutes we made a pretty rapid decision that this is the real one and so we went through the correct drills of activating crisis management procedures to jump from slow time to quick time thinking and so on.

This is what the enemy does. They carry out terrorist attacks themselves, in order to frighten the population and enact even stricter control. In order to cover the preparations for the strike massive exercises are staged, during which the terrorists, if discovered, can be explained away as part of the drill. Then, when the drill becomes real, the emergency services are already on their toes, ready to respond and limit the damage. Everyone involved promptly forgets that they were just drilling for the exact thing that happened, and fails to take a moment to examine the odds against that happening ... especially when it happens over and over again. If you have a couple of hours to kill, here, go watch Terrorstorm (after you finish reading this, of course.)

Will something very bad happen in Oregon, Phoenix, and Guam this week? Who knows? Not me. Just like most terrorist attacks are real, so are most drills. Then again, history is full of examples of nations using the excuse of military drills to launch an attack on their enemies. Or at the very least, intimidate them. The modern practice of concealing real terrorist attacks on one's own citizenry within fake-but-real drills is simply the latest and most perverse twist in the history of this venerable tactic.

There's a presidential election coming up. Whether the game plan is to temporarily suspend that election in favor of an extended period of martial law, or merely to scare the populace into the Ice Queen's waiting arms - and who knows? Perhaps both outcomes are on the table, in a plan A/Plan B, heads I win tails you lose kind of way - I have no doubt that another scripted terror attack will strike the US sometime between now and a year this November. Even if the terror drill scheduled for this week remains nothing more than a drill, there will be something similar before long.

You know, that terror attack will be scheduled for right around the time that the US dollar inflates away to airy nothing, and it's economy with it. It might even be intended as the final nudge that pushes it over the abyss into national bankruptcy. People are going to be sitting in the middle of massive heaps of stuff, most of it owned by someone else, repossesed by the banks in the wake of an epidemic of unpayable credit-card debt (expect Congress, assuming it still operates, to rule all debt invalid, but only when everyone but the rich is utterly bankrupt) ... all that stuff, and unable to get together enough money for food.

I present to you my vision of a future America:

Some cities, contaminated by radiation or infection (or, hey, why not both?), get evacuated, and it's citizens put in refugee camps ... no doubt soon to become labor camps, as Halliburton comes along and offers to 'pay' them to rebuild, well, whatever it decides should be rebuilt. Even in cities (yet) unassaulted by terror, the security apparatus has everything locked up tight as a prison, and defending freedom from terror has become a sick joke. With the economy on the skids, jobs scarce, and wealth massively concentrated in the hands of a small elite, crime has spiked due to sheer desperation (in the sense of true crime, such as theft or violence, rather than violations of the myriad of inane regulations that the criminal code has become); those caught, and not simply killed, are charged with terrorism and added to the labor camps. At some point simple vagrancy might become an offense punishable by conscription. And expect lots of black people to fill the camps in the beginning. After all, they're already the poorest demographic, and the most prone to crime. So it'll look a lot like slavery, though everyone will be too polite to call it that. And hey, this time around it'll be slightly more colorblind: there will be whites in the camps, and latinos, and asians. Slavery might not manage to be morally correct, but politically correct? No problem.

Then there's the possibility of an already ongoing multi-front war in the Middle East having expanded to include against Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan, so that it's now requiring millions of soldiers in order to fight (hello, conscription!) instead of the mere hundreds of thousands it currently involves. The conflict might even proceed well for while, at least if the Chinese come in and throw their industrial weight (idle for lack of rich Americans to sell to) behind their manpower (playing America's role from the last two world wars during the current one: building stuff for the combatants for a while, letting them wear each other down, and then picking a side and going in for the kill.) America's toast if that happens. Then again, China might well continue to support America, as part of a mutual agreement to carve up the world. If that happens, the Empire might well totter on for decades after the final death of the Republic.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Solar Power Satellite Gets a Good Second Look

Here's the executive summary of the National Space Society report on space-based solar power (SBSP.)

I've been in favor for a long time: SBSP would be environmentally friendly (or at any rate, friendlier than burning fossil fuels), and it would provide such a vast amount of power that raising the entire world to western standards of living would be enormously easier.

But sadly, it's a sign of the times that the penultimate paragraph also plays to the usefulness it would have for empire-building:

For the DoD specifically, beamed energy from space in quantities greater than 5 MWe has the potential to be a disruptive game changer on the battlefield. SBSP and its enabling wireless power transmission technology could facilitate extremely flexible “energy on demand” for combat units and installations across an entire theater, while significantly reducing dependence on vulnerable over-land fuel deliveries. SBSP could also enable entirely new force structures and capabilities such as ultra long-endurance airborne or terrestrial surveillance or combat systems to include the individual soldier himself. More routinely, SBSP could provide the ability to deliver rapid and sustainable humanitarian energy to a disaster area or to a local population undergoing nation-building activities. SBSP could also facilitate base “islanding” such that each installation has the ability to operate independent of vulnerable ground-based energy delivery infrastructures. In addition to helping American and allied defense establishments remain relevant over the entire 21st Century through more secure supply lines, perhaps the greatest military benefit of SBSP is to lessen the chances of conflict due to energy scarcity by providing access to a strategically secure energy supply.

One thing the report doesn't mention - and something I hadn't given much thought to until recently - was that beamed power offers a great method of control, one that is in fact very similar to the water economies of ancient kingdoms. Basically, in a heavily irrigated agricultural system, where there is little rainfall and most water comes from a single source, he who controls that source is the absolute ruler of all. If there's a rebellion in province A, but provinces B and C are loyal, guess who gets cut off when there's a 'drought'? Regions with such a geographic curse inevitably turned into mass dictatorships, with small elites lording it over hordes of ant-like subjects who were little better than slaves. In contrast, areas with rainfall, where farmers could make their living more or less where they pleased and not have to worry about water, slave-states had a harder time getting a foothold. Political evolution was slower, but when it came it was forced to accommodate more local and personal autonomy, and in the end that led to more effective societies.

For all of the other flows on which our lives depend - those of money, information, food, and water - the flow of energy is the most crucial. Cut it off, and every other flow is interrupted; before long life becomes impossible. It's our civilization's equivalent to the water of the ancient world.
Now, if the main source of energy for most of the planet is a giant swarm of SBSP satellites beaming power down to the world, whoever controls that power controls the world. Like the kings of old, people or cities or countries could be shut off at will. On top of that, there's the weapons systems this will make possible (orbiting fortresses that can project force anywhere on the Earth in a matter of seconds, and of course, never need to come down). It's easy to see how an empire would rapidly build itself around control of an SBSP.

An empire isn't a foregone conclusion. For one, actually building an SBSP is likely to be a multidecade project (with a large part of the progress being towards the end, perhaps in the midst of a stock-market bomb and the consequent spike in infrastructure construction.) The number of participating organizations, at least initially, is likely to consist of a large number of small private companies. So long as ownership of the swarm does not at some point devolve into the hands of a monopoly, the possibility of an empire is much reduced. Unfortunately, current economic practices tend to produce monopolies - or cooperating oligopolies - across a wide range of corporate endeavor, with market share and capitalization tending to concentrate as an industry matures.

Another factor is that, just because there's a massive SBSP swarm beaming down cheap power, it doesn't mean other sources of power generation disappear. Much of the infrastructure might: all the old coal-fired and nuclear plants would likely be phased out. But nothing would prevent people from setting up their own, ground-based renewable energy systems (rolling out a tarp of solar collectors, deploying a wind turbine kite), or storing energy up against the possibility of the beamed power being interrupted. Still, the limits on the growth of beamed power are pretty forgiving (see: Dyson Sphere) so relying on whatever one can gather on Earth's surface will, over the long run, be an emergency measure upon which economies cannot

Of course, geosynchronous orbit or a Lagrange point - and the Earth's surface - aren't the only place to collect solar power. You can start building collectors on the moon, for instance. Or, if you were really ambitious, Mercury, where there's a nice big, low-gravity source of great building material, and a solar energy flux of 9.13 kW/m^2, which compares nicely to Earth's 1.37 kW/m^2 (and that's in orbit, not the piddling .68 on surface, during the day, when it isn't raining.) If we ever get into space, I guarantee a war will be fought over Mercury ... though that will be a war fought by machines, the beings that will ultimately colonize the world. It's utterly unfit for human habitation (I'm not so pessimistic about the rest of the solar system. My main beef with Mercury is it's complete lack of the volatiles needed to sustain complex organic chemistry.) At any rate, a rush to colonize Mercury - and the rest of the solar system - would be an effective counteragent against empire ... assuming, of course, it were allowed to happen. Earth would become a single state, but it would be just one of many.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

You know, given that the best time to carry out false-flag operations is during exercises specifically resembling the situation that actually happens, I really and sincerely hope that Exercise Vigilant Shield '08 doesn't, you know, happen to coincide with anything ... real.

“North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command along with U.S. Pacific Command, the Department of Homeland Security as well as local, state and other federal responders will exercise their response abilities against a variety of potential threats during Exercise Vigilant Shield ‘08, a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-designated, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM)-sponsored, and U.S. Joint Forces Command[JFCOM]-supported Department of Defense exercise for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities missions.

Cooperation from NORAD on down to local authorities?

That's sounds a lot like martial law.

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Money as Stock

It's interesting to play with the idea of money. An idea, after all, is primarily what it is: no matter what it's form, whether it's gold or paper or ones and zeroes, money primarily represents a bargain between buyer and seller that it can be exchanged later, with another human being, for something of value. It used to be that this was accomplished by using things that were naturally rare - precious metals, for instance - not because they were of much intrinsic use, but because they were, well, pretty to look at, hard to get lots of, and thus valued as a status symbol. Kings wore what their subjects spent.

Now, we've moved off the gold standard, for the first time in, well, not in history - as some claim - but at least, in the last few thousand years. Instead we use paper tokens. A lot of people call this a fiat currency, though it isn't quite: ultimately, the value of the dollar is linked to oil (the US having made a deal with the Saudis to that effect shortly after Nixon abandoned Bretton-Woods.) Every other currency around the world, equally unsupported by any hard resource, balances off the dollar in an elaborate currency trading system.

It might not be exactly the same thing as a pure fiat system, but it still shares some of the same vulnerabilities, the main one being that the value is subject to fluctuation. Central banks can still print so much money that the value is completely undermined, essentially destroying the currency and, in the process, wrecking the country that used it.

Well, that's money as it currently stands. I've talked before about different kinds of money - having money represent a share of the established public infrastructure, rather than debt - and I'd like to give another one: why not combine money, wages, and shares into the same thing?

Essentially, every time someone receives a dollar (or some number of dollars) from a corporation in wages, they are simultaneously issued one share, which can be used for voting and collecting dividends. The longer someone worked for a company, the more voting power they would accumulate, and the greater their independent financial clout. Of course, if the company were to go bankrupt the stock is worth nothing, so it would behoove said employee to do what he could to ensure the company prospered.

The same principle could also be applied in reverse: every time a company is paid a dollar (or some number of dollars) by a customer, the customer is granted a voting, dividend-paying share. Regular customers would thus gain a say in how businesses are run, and be rewarded for loyal business by reduced prices (their equivalent of dividends.)

I'm not sure how I feel about this idea, to be honest. On the one hand, it would go a long way towards making corporations more democratic, in effect making stakeholder capitalism the economy's default mode of operation. On the other, it could easily lead to a culture where power and wealth accrues to those who with the fiercest loyalty to their corporations, lifetime employees who respend as much of their money as they can in the corporations that employ them, thus doubling their stock.

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Bringing Democracy to the Corporatocracy

Watching John Perkins - author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman - giving a speech from about a year ago, he starts talking about changing corporations to make them open, transparent, and democratic. The reason for this is simple: modern governments around the world and especially in the United States are little more than puppets of large corporations, a form of government he calls the corporatocracy. This corporatocracy serves as the true government of the planet, and so long as corporations remain organizationally identical to, say, the Roman Army or feudal Europe, real freedom and democracy are impossible.

Democratic corporations. That's an interesting idea. I remember coming across it for the first time in Bruce Sterling's 1998 cybperpunk novel Islands in the Net, a volume I read many times as a teenager. The main character is a member of just such a democratic corporation, as are most people around the world - except for a few small rogue zones, the islands referred to in the title. Corporations in the novel did not specialize. Each was basically a massive economic cooperative, in which members assigned executive power during open elections, had rights as well as responsibilities, and the freedom to choose what kind of work they would do for the company rather than simply a set of assigned tasks. Of course, they weren't guaranteed to get what they asked for; a large part of the management's job was to review proposals made by those lower in the hierarchy, and decide whether or not to grant them. The longer and better one's record, the more resources one could muster for a given task. It wasn't a perfect deal, but it was a lot better for the people involved than what they'd had before.

The management class and their pet economists will claim that corporate democracy would be a business liability (which it will, to a degree: the rich will not be quite so rich). The reasons for why it's bad will vary. One claim might be that management talent will be lured away from any company that adopts the principles (then again, employees would probably be attracted to such companies, and employee talent can be far more important than management.) Some might claim that it would lead to bad decision making (but, why they should expect closed management hierarchies to be immune to the problems that plague closed societies?) My own feeling is that a truly democratic corporation would be a much leaner, much more efficient economic machine than anything built on the current model, generating far more wealth for far more people, and distributing that wealth with a much more even hand.

Initiatives like this are what give me hope for the future. A global revolution in favor of corporate democracy would be a wonderful thing.

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More Truther Bullshit

There's a lot of really rotten labels out there. Think of the genres minted in the nineties. Alternative? What they hell sort of information does that give you about what the music's going to sound like? And 'emo'? Huh? Ah, so the music should be ... er ... emotional? Like, you know, all music is?All indy tells you is that it's music made by people who aren't signed to labels (which would be, er, most musicians, at least when they're smalll.) And hip-hop ... what does that even mean? (yes, I more or less know what hip-hop sounds like, what I'm saying is, the label tells you nothing.)

Labels with no real meaning are a curse; whatever is labeled by them exists in a sort of void, and the end result is a sort of nullity. But labels that do have meanings can in themselves have an effect on the movement they describe. Take 'bolshevik', which meant 'majority' in Russian, even though they weren't remotely a majority the communist party when the formed ... though they soon became one. Meaningul labels are good labels, labels with power. A label is an idea, after all; every time it's used, it associates itself with certain others inside the brain. Choose your own label, and choose it well, and every time your opponents use it they implicitly agree to a piece of your own meta-context, see the world - however briefly - from something like the opposing view.

I'd say 'truther' is one of those really great labels. The movement's most vociferous opponents, after all (self-identified neo-cons, and there's a nicely tautological label that perfectly cancels itself out, setting the movement up for the doublethink on which it thrives), are reduced to spitting the word 'truth' with an unthinking contempt, an act whose psychological effects almost can't help but be toxic. Either one undermines one's own disbelief in the truthers' claims (by consistently associating 'truth' with 'belief that the US government perpetrated 9/11'), and eventually converts; or one's ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is progressively hampered by constant psychological denigration of the very concept of 'truth'.

The effect on the general, undecided public - those who don't really pay too much attention to the debate - will be just as dramatic. With the term 'truther' being constantly hurled as an epithet by one side and happily used by the other, the idea almost inevitably settles in the mass consciousness that 9/11 was an inside job.

So yeah, keep on using 'truther'. Use it with a sneer on your face, or with a smile, or a shrug. But use it, because every time you do, the truth comes a little closer to winning.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Hijacking the Singularity

Death is an engineering problem, and some time over the next few decades it's one we're going to lick. This is something I've believed for a long time - since I was a teenager, I'd say - and I haven't seen anything to dissuade me. If anything, medical technology's progress has been even better than I expected.

Ah, but what of our would-be masters in the New World Order? They're smart people, after all. They wouldn't be where they are if they weren't. They know what the future is bringing as well as I do, as well as anyone does. And there can be no doubt at all that they'll be right at the front of the line to receive the new immortality treatments (well, maybe they'll wait until they've been taken for a test-drive on the bodies of African clinical testing subjects.)

Now, one of the primary drives of any dictator or oligarch is to extend and hold onto their power. They know how they acquired it - by climbing over the backs of the less ambitious, stabbing them in the back when required, making temporary alliances when they had to - and they know how to keep it (stamping on the toes of anyone trying to climb the same ladder they did.) But in ages past, the most any of them could really hope for, long term, was to pass on power to an heir, because do what they might they would eventually be enfeebled, then killed, by the aging process. The argument could be made that this has been a great leveling influence in human history. Dynasties rarely last more than a few generations: being born into wealth and power tends to lead to degenerates on the throne, while at the same time the natural instinct of the nobility to spread their DNA far and wide by screwing every barmaid, servant girl, and prostitute they come close to means that there's a large pool of tough, ambitious people with royal blood coursing through their commoner veins.

Immortality changes that equation, and does so drastically. Suddenly the guys at the top have the prospect of staying at the top, not for a few decades, but for a few millenia. That's got to be one powerful motivator, and I think it goes a long way towards explaining why the new world order's plans seem to have been kicking into high gear these past couple of decades, especially so since the turn of the millenium.

You see, immortality offers the elite the chance to be the elite forever, but only if they can suppress the normal turmoil that ensures a turning over of the social order once every generation or three. The prospect of living forever on top is a pretty sweet one, but the prospect of being the lord of creation one century, only to find oneself just one of the masses the next, must be a frightening one. In a world of eight billion immortals, all wealthy as Midas by our standards (thanks to robots, AI, and nanotech), and all wise as Socrates (thanks to intelligence augmentation and the internet), staying at the top of the heap forever would be pretty much impossible.

There's only one way around that: get rid of the other people. Step one is to substitute mechanical labor for human labor, automating everything with AIs and robots. Once you've pulled that trick - one that we're only a few decades away from - ordinary working folk are pretty well superfluous. Now, we might naturally expect that this would allow the species to cast off the shackles of labor and live in a golden age post-scarcity economy. Those of us within the transhumanist movement have been singing that chorus ever since the 90s.

The elites don't see it that way. They already have all the wealth they could possibly want; they already lead lives unmarred by labor. Robotics, AI, and nanotech have very little to offer them along those lines ... but they could be deeply dangerous to their place at the top of the period. So, once the technology exists to fully automate the economy, they will try and wipe us out. I'm guessing it'll be through some kind of supervirus, or possibly a succession of them. Neutron bombs might see use too. Anything that will remove the human components of the economy without damaging the physical infrastructure.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as much in favor of technology as I've always been. It has the potential to turn our world into a paradise, a heavenly kingdom on earth where mankind lives free of disease, poverty, war, ignorance, famine, and even death ... where every day is the best day of your life, and stretching ahead of you are as many of those days as you want. But living in our midst, controlling our governments and our banks and our churches and damn near every other institution of any real power or influence, are psychopaths whose selfishness has reached an intensity never before seen in human history, men and women who see everything I see ... and want to keep it all for themselves. They plan to hijack the Singularity, and right now, everything is going according to their plan.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

More on the ADS

If you scroll down on this page, there's embedded video of the pain ray in action. The article's worth reading, too ... seems that if they ray's being used, it's advisable to take off contact lenses or glasses (to avoid eye damage), and remove any metal objects from your pockets (to keep hot spots from being created). That could mean that my idea for using a space-blanket could actually be, well, quite dangerous. It also appears that the less-than-lethal 'non-damaging' weapon has higher power settings which can make it, well, damaging.

Oh, how the riot cops are going to love this.

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Countermeasures: RFID

RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags are certain to be a central component of the security state apparatus. If you haven't heard of this technology yet, they are, briefly, very small chips consisting of a capacitor, an antennae, and an integrated circuit. They can be embedded more or less invisibly in almost anything, and once there provide the ability to track the location of the object more or less at will. While this could be incredibly useful (you'll never lose anything ever again), it can also be quite dangerous (everything you have becomes a tracking device.)

Googling 'disabling RFID tags' found me this page, the results of a German Chaos Computer Club workshop, where a bunch of techies got together and figured out how to turn a single-use camera into an RFID zapper. Here's another tutorial page from the same project, this one with pictures. Basically, the device acts as a miniature EMP, frying the RFID's capacitor but without damaging the article the object is embedded in (you can get a similar effect by nuking it in the microwave, but this is likely to start a fire which will damage the tagged object.)

Of course, the RFID zapper can't be used on electronics without frying them, which actually renders it pretty much useless for surveillance countermeasures, unless you're willing to leave home without your cellphone, PDA, laptop, camera, iPod, and other sundry electronic accompaniments of modern life. And you can be damn sure that electronics will be tagged with RFIDs along with everything else.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of three ways around the system, but none of them are perfect. One is to simply take the device apart, extract the RFID tag, and dispose of it. The main drawback is that unless you have an exhaustive knowledge of electronics and maybe access to the device's blueprints, identifying which chip is the RFID is likely to be quite difficult. Maybe even impossible, if the tag is built directly into the device's integrated circuitry. Another possibility is to ignore the RFID tag and hack into the tracking network's database, deleting the relevant serial numbers, switching the objects they refer to, or otherwise rendering the database unreliable. This is probably even more difficult than taking apart the device and looking for the RFID tag. The last solution is to keep your electronics inside a faraday cage (basically, a metal box), which will block the radio signals that trigger the RFID tag, thus hiding it from the surveillance network. This has the great virtue of being the easiest of the three, but it has the serious drawbacks that a) it stops working as soon as you want to actually use the tagged object, and b) it makes a cellphone pretty much useless as in addition to blocking the radio waves that trigger the RFID tag, it blocks the cell's reception (of course, cell phones are a tracking device - and a listening device - unto themselves, but that's an entirely separate problem.)

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Did you know you can use a cloth soaked in lemon juice to neutralize the effects of tear gas? That, some decent goggles, and lots of padding make you immune to the current crowd-control arsenal (ie, tear gas and rubber bullets.)

Crowd control's going to get a lot more hightech, though. The ADS - Active Denial System - uses microwaves to boil the water directly underneath the skin, giving the device it's moniker, the 'pain ray'. Basically, if you get hit by it, your one and only instinct is to get away as fast as you physically can.

There's lots of other devices coming down the pike, ranging from the darkly humorous (super-slippery 'black ice' that make movement impossible, focused infrasonic beams that make you shit your pants) to the creepy (all sorts of nasty psychotropics that, awesome as they might be in a club environment, would probably suck and suck hard if you're trying to protest against, oh, say, a criminal regime that's usurped power in what used to be a free country.)

And then there's the current favorite, the taser, great against college students asking difficult questions or unarmed women who don't ask 'how high?' when the police say 'jump'.

Now, the justification for the development of virtually all of these devices is to help out with peacekeeping efforts in benighted foreign countries, but basically, these are all riot control weapons. And they're going to make rioting - hell, peaceful protesting - a whole hell of a lot hairier.

Not impossible, though. Countermeasures can always be developed. Take the ADS, the crown jewel in the new crop of crowd control technology. All you'd have to do to block the microwaves is carry a metal shield of some sort (say, a trash can lid); wear thick clothing; or wrap yourself in a foil emergency blanket. If you felt like getting really fancy, you could sew the emergency blanket into your clothing as an additional layer. The tinfoil hat brigade could take on a whole new meaning.

Actually, the emergency blanket technique might well work against tasers, too. Emergency blankets consist of a layer a plastic sandwiched between two very thin sheets of aluminum; the taser's leads would certainly come into contact with the aluminum upon breaking the through the clothing, at which point I'd expect that they'd short out, leaving one very confused cop holding in his hand one very useless little plastic box. Well, he'd probably just commence to beat the shit out of you with his maglite but hey, at least it's something.

The police state being built by the new world order is going to rely on the highest of technologies. That's an arena that the people can't compete in, largely because it's just too expensive. But if you can't do cutting edge, then you go the other way, and fight high tech with low. Bandannas soaked with lemon juice; swimming goggles; and clothing lined with space blankets. There are always countermeasures.

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Today in the News

Well, it looks like the iFly is moving along just about right on schedule, albeit in a somewhat creepier way than expected: Robobugs spotted at anti-war protests in Washington. Personally I can think of much better ways to use this technology, but then again, I'm not a modern-day stasi.

The Turks are claiming NATO's been helping the PKK launch terror attacks. Anything to keep people afraid. The Turks aren't taking it lying down though: Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, has announced plans to launch raids into Iraqi Kurdistan. That's bound to piss of the Americans.

Vicente Fox openly claims that the long-range plan is for the creation of an 'Amero', an Americas-wide currency union. This is pretty obvious when you think about it; after all, the EU evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community to an entity one step short of an actual nation in just under fifty years. Still, there's a big difference between integrating European countries which, however different the cultures might be, at least share common values on human rights and such ... and jamming together the US and Canada (open societies that place a high value on the rule of law and individual freedom) with Mexico (one of the world's worst slave states.)

On the political front, Ron Paul - the only non-plastic candidate in the current presidential race - is warning that the US dollar could well collapse essentially to zero, a scenario that's hold-your-forehead-and-groan it's so bloody obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge of economics (which is almost no one.)

This could well be nothing but signaling (as Tom Barnett would no doubt argue), or it could be very ominous (which is what the Taiwanese would say): China promotes military officers experienced in Taiwan affairs. By affairs, of course, the headline means "planning for war with Taiwan."

Vaccine-linked polio hits Nigeria. That's happening a lot these days. The natives are learning to run when white men show up with the meds. Think maybe they know something we don't?

Rice to meet Russian human rights activists. Helps to get to know the enemy, no?

Private security convoys strike fear in Baghdad. You know it's bad when they're more scared of Blackwater than they are of either al Qaeda or the marines.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Conservative Wakes Up to 9/11 Lies

This guy comes from a completely different background from me. Him: conservative, pro-life, anti-gay, gun-loving family man. Me: libertarian transhumanist, pro-life-but-not-in-the-way-he-means-it, gay-anything-apathetic, gun-loving (okay, I don't own any, but I'll just say this: you've never lived 'til you've shot a 50 cal.) bachelor.

You know what?

We reacted exactly the same way when we found out what's really going on.

You know what else? He's exactly fucking right. It doesn't matter what your pet political issues are. We as a civilization are in the fight of our goddamn lives against an organized crime group that is playing for keeps. It is time to put aside differences that just don't matter, stand shoulder to shoulder and fight.

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Return of the Roman Legions

Or should that be the Caesarian Legions? As after all, the Legions - originally a professional army loyal to Rome - were perverted by Caeser into what amounted to a mercenary army beholden only to him ... or any other Emperor (or would-be Emperor) that came after.

(As a side-note, most people consider the days of the Roman Empire to start around 25 BC, when Caeser crossed the Rubicon and put the Republic to the sword. Well, yeah, the Empire started then. But Roman civilization had been around for centuries before, and had amassed most of its power, and conquered most of its territory, during the republican period. The beginning of the imperial system marked the decline and fall of Rome, not its greatest height.)

Anyhow, in his most recent post in his ongoing series laying out the Bush regimes crimes against the US military (link to Part 1), David Brin points out the similarities between what happened to the Roman legions, and what's happening to the American military right now, with the professional army being undermined while Blackwater, the largest mercenary force in the world, is steadily built up. Scary shit.

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Today in the News

Thought I'd try something a bit different today and round up some headlines that caught me eye. In no particular order, here they are:

Anti-war protesters entered in criminal database, prevented from crossing the US/Canada border. Because dissent is treason, and treason is a crime.

Britain 'on-board' for US strikes on Iran. Gordon Brown shows he really is no different from Tony Blair (as though there were any doubt. Democracy has been very effectively short-circuited.) They're not even bothering to keep up the pretense of taking out the nuclear facilities anymore - Iran being ten years away from a nuke - so the justification now is (what else?) terrorism.

Supporters fear Ed Brown is being tortured. In case you don't know (I'm guessing you don't) Ed Brown is a guy who refused to pay income tax, fortified himself in his house, and spent six months taunting the Feds and sounding off about how the income tax is an unconstitutional tool of oppression. Which it is. So the Feds lied their way into his house, pretending to be supporters (there were a lot of supporters), arrested him and his wife, and they haven't been heard from since. That was a few days ago. They should be in the hands of prison authorities by now, but for some reason, they're not. There's precedent for this, by the way. Ever heard of Congressman Hansen? Nasty buggers, those IRS guys.

In related news, a blogger who'd been covering the Ed Brown case had the Feds pay him a visit, on the pretense that he'd been advocating violence against a judge involved in the case. Only problem? He never did. Which they could have told by reading his blog. Unless of course dealing with threats was just a pretext to make a few of their own....

Keeping on the theme of torture, a freelance reporter in Afghanistan claims to have been tortured by US forces. That's the danger of criticizing while Muslim, I suppose....

It looks like the Democrats are - and here's a surprise - going to roll over on wiretapping like they have on everything else. Not that the Bush regime gives a flying fuck about congressional approval of it's unconstitutional actions, but still, this should serve as a reminder that both parties are corrupt to the very core. There is no succor to be found in Washington.

Not that the Russians have it much better. Gary Kasparov has decided that as computers have caught up with and surpassed human abilities in chess, he'll compete in politics instead. He was on 60 minutes recently, talking about his plans to take on ex-KGB overlord Vladimir Putin.

A Sheriff's Deputy in Milwaukee goes off the deep end when his girlfriend, and others, call him a 'worthless pig'. Since he had an assault rifle, six people died in the resulting argument (the seventh and final person at the ill-fated party is still in the hospital.)

A German citizen gets a CIA sponsored tour of black interrogation sites, and now that he wants some of his own back the Supreme Court is telling him to take a hike. Guess they figure he should be grateful they didn't accidentally kill him, and just leave it at that.

The Iraqi government wants US$136 million in blood money from Blackwater, US$8 million for each Iraqi citizen shot by its thugs, er, security guards. That's a lot of money for an Iraqi life, but hey, we're talking a company with hundreds of billions in no-bid contracts.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Death in Afghanistan

This made the top page on Digg today: Soldier Once Warned Family: Investigate if I Die. Basically, a finance officer in Afghanistan found something she shouldn't have and ended up with a bullet in the head. This has special relevance to me: my mom was a finance officer in the Canadian reserve infantry.

What did she find? Who knows? Whatever it was, it was bad, and she paid the price because she said something. Foolish, that. She shouldn't have said shit on base. She should have published it on the 'net. She'd still have gotten murdered, but at least she would have gotten the word out.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Red Pill's Bitter Aftertaste

Back in June, I flew for the first time, back to Canada. Made a transfer in Atlanta, where I was greeted, as soon as I got off the plane, with a giant banner saying 'Welcome to America, Land of Freedom!' or some shit like that, all in gold letters with a photo-quality American flag fluttering in the background. Later, while I was waiting to take off my shoes and have my bag pawed through by a surly, ill-educated trailer-park spawn, I couldn't help but think of this website (while, admittedly, listening to the album it's associated with, but then again, Year Zero was appropriate. Regarding the website, you might have to wait a bit for it to load. Once it does, just click and move your mouse around. You'll see.) At one point I made eye contact with a random traveller from the Middle East, inevitably getting far more thorough treatment than the petty humiliations of security theatre I and every other traveller was forced to endure. Nevertheless I felt an instant empathy with the plight of this man; a part of my brain that hadn't really sparked in years sputtered for life, however pathetically and briefly.

I think that was the moment, for me, when the shell that had been built up around my brain finally began to crack. It didn't spread very quickly, not at first. This was back in June, after all, and I can't honestly claim to have woken up any earlier than, well, last week. But then that is the way of crumbling dams: at first a small crack, which spreads, slowly ... until all at once, the flood.

Watch this. Over a million other people have. It was the cold shower that woke my ass up, and maybe it'll do the same for you.

Waking up is a funny thing. I was walking through Shinjuku station on my way to work, and all at once I felt tears in my eyes, because for the first time in years it really hit me that this time it was my people - the Anglo culture of which I am deeply proud, the culture that has given so much of freedom and science and technology and wealth to the world, that has taken civilization to the greatest heights it has yet achieved - this time, it was my people who housed the evil. That we were the bad guys, and that the Muslims, bless their bewildered, confused, hateful little hearts, were right to fight against us with every ounce of their strength.

I remember when 9/11 first happened (well, yeah, we all do.) At the time I'd never really considered that the government could be behind it, but still, a few days later, after the networks had been full of nothing but collapsing towers and broken five-sided geometry, I had enough savvy to tell my girlfriend at the time "Whatever happens, don't let me fall for the propaganda. Don't let me do anything stupid." Well, I didn't join the army or become a weapons scientist, so I have my ex to thank for that much at least (hell, if I hadn't dated her I'd've still been in the militia when the towers went down), but I still bought the propaganda, drinking deep of the kool-aid, letting the fever take over my brain. Then again, we broke up a couple of years after that, and it wasn't until later that I really started to buy into it, to really believe the lies and the halftruths and the misdirections and the perverted logic that's been shoveled so liberally into our mouths over the past several years. Hell, I remember getting into an argument with David Brin on his blog, where the guy tried his best to convince me with logical argument that the current pack of criminals was far worse than the muslims or the crazier elements of the left ... I couldn't defeat the logic, so I just left. Still, the propaganda kept it's hold on my brain.

It's not that I'm stupid. I am, if not a genius, certainly well above the herd. But intelligence can be as great a curse as stupidity when it comes to well-crafted webs of lies, because once the lies start to settle in and make themselves at home as part of one's self-image, an intelligent mind is much more adept at the doublethink required to keep it all in place.

I'll give this to the evil shits responsible for this nightmare: they are masters of memetic engineering, on a par with Mohammed and Marx. They know just how to get past all the mental defenses, how to manipulate human psychology with inter-related (and contradictory) complexes of memes. Hell, they've been setting memeplexes up against each other. 'Left' and 'Right' are just arbitrary camps full of manufactured ideas designed to be mutually antagonistic (thus keeping the politically motivated parts of the population at daggers drawn) while being supportive of the overall engenda (tax, control, and eventually, enslave.)

Basically, it works like this. The Left believes Bush and his court of grand viziers and sycophants are a bunch of evil fucks, and their war a complete sham. They think the real threat is environmental degradation generally, and global warming specifically. The Right, on the other hand, thinks global warming is a crock of steaming bullshit, and that terrorism generally, and the rise of an Islamic caliphate specifically, is the most dire threat facing Western civilization. Thus the Left is led to believe that those on the Right are criminals against the environment and duped supporters of an evil war, while those on the Right see the Left as either blind or traitorous when it comes to the war, along with being brainwashed victims of the new Gaianist religion with it's apocalyptic fairy tales of climate change.

Let me set you straight, in case you hadn't already figured it out. Terrorism is bullshit. So is global warming. Both are there to keep you scared (The terrorists might nuke us! The ice caps might melt!). Not only does this make it easier to control you - hysterical people instinctively look to authority figures - it also makes it easier to bleed you dry of resources. Carbon taxes limiting how big your house can be, how much electricity you can use, how big and fast a car you can have and how far you can go in it, how much you're allowed to fly ... all of these come directly out of global warming. It keeps you immobile, keeps you poor, and lets the government soak you like never before (income tax might be a tax on your label, but carbon tax? That's a tax on your existence. Because your very existence is a threat to the entire biosphere, awful, filthy human creature that you are.)

Terrorism keeps you scared of other people around the world, and keeps those people scared of you, which if you're trying to build a global empire is a very useful trick as it acts as a firewall against the formation of a global resistance. It justifies wars, and - more to the point - serves as an excuse for a steady ratcheting increase in 'security' regulations at home (security, not to protect us from terrorists, but to protect our would-be masters from us.)

For the last several years I came down on the right: global warming bullshit, Islamic terrorism dangerous! That's embarrassing, a little. But no more shameful than falling for the global warming line. Left and Right are more psychological predispositions than well-thought-out political positions, and the twin lies that have been endlessly repeated by the media are designed to appeal to one or the other (environmental catastrophe for the caring nurturer type, shadowy foreign threat for the watchful protector type.) Damn near everyone fell for one or the other and sometimes even both; few have been those who fell for neither, but then wisdom is precious because it is rare.

The wannabe emperors that are settling into power now, in this the time when the culmination of their scheme approaches, forgot to take one thing into account. Fear can be used to control us, yes, but only for a while. At first we look to our leaders; that is our instinct, as social animals evolved for life in a complex hierarchy. But alone among the social mammals, we have the ability to think; we look for leadership not just to our governments but to our thinkers, not just to the powerful but to the wise. And as time goes on, it is the wise that have the greatest influence, for even the most foolish of men - so long as he retains a soul - knows the truth when it is properly explained to him, and the finding and teaching of truth are the great strengths of the wise.

The nearer their plan comes to fruition, the more obvious it will be, and the more the truth will start to take hold. Those on the Right will realize that terrorism is a sick practical joke of awesome proportions, perpetrated by their own government against them; those on the Left will come to see that global warming is nothing more than a willful misrepresentation of science. They'll get to talking together, and together, they'll tear down the edifice of lies like the Berlin Wall.

Make no mistake, we are not out of the woods yet. Things are going to get much, much worse before they get better. I'm talking biowarfare (my guess: smallpox, say in Oregon.) Martial law. Maybe a nuclear exchange or two (not a planet-buster, just turning a country or two into wasteland.) Disappearances, concentration camps, secret police, conscription, the whole nine yards of the classic militarized fascist police state, updated for the 21st century, scarier than anything that's come before, like something out of the Book of Revelations. This particular generation of homo demonicus is playing for all the marbles this time, and as always they mean to win.

Hell, I'm not sure if I'm going to survive this. I'm not sure if you will. I'm deeply frightened for the future of my family, and my friends. I look at the faces of the children in my kids' classes, and I wonder.

One thing I am sure about. The people will wake up, and when they do there will be a revolution. Much blood will be spilled leading up to it, and rivers will flow by the end. But when the dust settles, it will be the heads of the would-be neo-aristocracy that are impaled on pikes and set on display as an eternal monument to the greatest depths of evil yet plumbed by the human soul, as an eternal reminder to any who might plot to follow their path into darkness, and seduce others into following them down it.

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Old Stuff

As in back to November 2005.

I've added links in the sidebar to all of my previous blogs. strangerAttractor was my first effort at blogging, and while there's a lot of stuff in there I'm ashamed to have written, I won't apologize for any of it, but will simply say: I was young and stupid, and my eyes are open now.

I took a break from blogging for a few months after that, principally because I didn't have regular internet access (the stranegAttractor period was while I was working as a low level data entry minion, and had an average of four hours a day to surf the net). This was because I'd moved to Japan, my apartment didn't have internet (the guy who lived there had no computer, and I, speaking not a word of Japanese beyond ninja, did not have the wherewithal to get it installed.) When finally I began blogging again, it was 1 + White = 100, in which I chronicle a good part of my first year in Japan.

Eventually, Japan ceased being so alien that it was interesting to blog about all the time, and I started writing at Cracks in the Sanitarium. Not everything I wrote here was complete bullshit (I stand by everything about Extinctionism), but a lot of it reflects the fact that this was the period during which the fever of the infowar's propaganda was raging at its worst inside my head.

So anyhow, in case you want to read anything else I've written ... here it all is. Enjoy (or not, your call.)

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Dilemma

What is divided must unite; what is united, must divide

Chinese proverb
(I think)

My homeland is slouching towards fascism, and there's nothing I can do about it except write these words on a blog nobody reads.

Oh sure, you can quibble that I'm a Canadian if you want, and everyone knows it's really America that's getting buggered by history. But while Canada might be America's kinder, gentler and slightly dull kid brother, the sad fact is that we also follow the American lead in more or less all things. Legislation that gets tried out in the states is introduced in Canada within a decade. The sad fact is that the only reason Canada's been a free country throughout the 20th century, is that America has too. If America loses it's freedom, Canada will too. You can take that to the bank.

I'm not going to belabor the North American descent into tyranny. Naomi Wolfe does it much better here, in Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps, and Carolyn Baker does an excellent job as well in her article Speaking Truth to Power. Go there, read those articles, and if they - and the events of the last several years, which sadly I'm only just now really waking up to - don't scare your bowels empty you're not paying attention. Or you're working for the fascists, and the various incidents they detail make you all warm and tight down in your unmentionable areas (if you are, and you're reading this post, I'll just say this to you: you and the cockroaches you work with might just succeed in hollowing out the greatest nation on the planet. Good for you! But you know, eventually, we'll hang you from a lamp-post.)

I'm seriously conflicted. You see, right now I live in Japan, making my humble living teaching the fine people here how to speak my language. It's undemanding and reasonably well-compensated, one of the better compensations being that I get to live in Tokyo. But it's been a few years, and I'm getting the itch to return home, to rejoin my kith and kin, and start something approaching a real career.

But is that so wise? North America's on the brink of a precipice, and the only thing keeping the entire continent from a rapid fall into tyranny is just one more big terrorist attack ... and if 9/11 really was a false flag operation (I'm not %100 certain on that, but the doubt is there, and the doubt is enough), that terrorist attack could come at whatever time is convenient to the state. Like, say, shortly before a presidential election.

Going back right before that would be a really bad move. I'm a very loud person, with a tendency to sound off if someone's annoying me. At the very least, any career I started would be very short-lived; at the worst, I might be 'detained', or simply executed.

At the same time, this is my homeland these execrable fucks are ruining. Not fighting the bastards smacks of cowardice, but fighting them is basically suicide.

So that's the question I'm looking at. Stay in Japan - or at any rate Asia - and continue plying a trade I fell into more or less accidentally. Or return home, very likely jumping down the rabbit hole with the rest of my country, deep into Orwell's darkest nightmares, and hope to God it all blows over quickly.

Although I know it won't. If America loses itself, it'll be a century before it's people wake up and remember who they used to be. If I go back, I'm not just fucking myself ... I'm risking any kids I might have, too.

History's a bitch, isn't it?

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Progress towards the iFly continues apace. Meet the German microdrone.

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English Needs the Chinese Alphabet

Ohhh, my poor synapses. It's at times like this I'm reminded why I swore off certain psychoactive amphetamine derivatives years and years ago. Six hours of awesome fun, six days of sub-par mental performance. Still, expensive as it all was, a rave up in the Japanese Alps is an experience I won't soon forget (though the memories might be a little fuzzy at times :-p )

Anyhow. The preceding is not the point of the post, but merely a weak excuse for the recent lack of posting (as I've spent myself into poverty until the next paycheck, I expect I'll be posting quite a bit more frequently in the future.)

You think you know a country. You've been there a few years, can speak the language, and have talked to enough people and had enough strange experiences that you get to thinking that there's nothing more that can really surprise you. And then out of nowhere something pops out that smacks you right upside the head and forcefully reminds you of how alien a place you're in.

Japanese people can read a novel in three hours. That's average. A fast reader can do it in under an hour; a slow reader takes maybe eight or nine. Now, I'm a fairly fast reader. I've been literate since about the age of three or four (thanks, Mom!), and I've spent an excessive fraction of my life with my nose stuck in a book. If I'm really going, not pausing to digest what I'm reading but just flying through it as fast as possible, I can get finish a three hundred page, hundred-thousand word novel in maybe eight hours. At that rate I read maybe two books a week (lately significantly less than that, as I've been immersing myself in Japanese media the last few months as part of an effort to master the language in time for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December, which I'll probably fail anyway.)

I've dreamed about being able to read faster for years. Most of those dreams involve some sort of cyborg prosthesis that reduces cover-to-cover elapsed time to a matter of seconds. So you can understand why, when I found out that the average Japanese reading speed is over twice as fast as that of a Westerner, I felt just a twinge (well, maybe more of a stab) of jealousy, heightened by the knowledge that it's far too late for me to ever be able to read Japanese at native-level speeds (maybe if I'd started at three or four....)

Westerners are often baffled by the Chinese alphabet (the Japanese use a modified version of the Chinese alphabet, which is why from here on I'm going to talk about Chinese rather than Japanese characters.) It seems ridiculous to us - at least it certainly did to me - that their alphabet is isomorphic to their dictionary, with thousands of characters that have to be laboriously memorized. The roman alphabet seems intuitively more practical: fifty-two characters, combined with some fairly simple phonetic rules, are perfectly sufficient for recording all the words of our or any other language.

Then again, so is binary.

Think about what happens when you read. In order to understand a printed word, your eyes have to scan it from beginning to end, picking out the letters, putting them into syllables, and eventually forming it all into a coherent word. This is an entirely different process from that involved in reading Chinese characters. The characters contain no clues as to how to pronounce them (although in Japanese - which actually has three alphabets, two of them phonetic - have a way around that, by writing tiny furigana above the kanji. This is a Japanese thing, though; the Chinese do quite well without it.) Reading Chinese characters is all about pattern recognition: your eyes settle on the character and it's meaning flashes instantly into your brain (assuming you know the character, that is; if you don't, it's just a disturbing blank spot.) You still have to scan in order to get the high level grammatical structures, of course, but the individual words are much more quickly available.

I first noticed this a while ago, actually, maybe a month or two after I started studying Japanese. As I mentioned above, Japanese has three alphabets: kanji (Chinese characters), hiragana (phonetic characters), and katakana (phonetic characters used in a roughly analogous way to italics, ie for emphasis or rendering foreign words.) TV shows over here often have subtitles (not just western shows; the Japanese ones too. Not sure why), so when watching TV I'd also try and read the subtitles. I noticed that any kanji I happened to know I would recognize instantly, but for the kana I'd have to stop and sound them out, a much more laborious process.

It wasn't until a week or so back, though, that I really put two and two together, and started asking my students how long it takes them to read a book. Three hours, ladies and gentlemen, was the resounding answer. And this is for a language that, truth be told, uses phonetic alphabets very extensively. I can only imagine how much faster the Chinese must be, with a written language that dispenses entirely with phonics.

Hence the title of this post. English would be, I think, enormously improved if it started adopting Chinese characters. There's a tradeoff, of course. Mastering the Chinese alphabet is no small task; Asians generally aren't fully literate until they graduate high school (though considering the number of semi-literate college grads back home, this isn't such a big difference ... and indeed, I have to wonder what the hell their excuse is. It's not like the roman alphabet is hard to learn. But I digress....) That investment in time, however, pays off later with the ability to take in information at over twice the speed possible with a phonetic alphabet.

I'm not suggesting a complete abandonment of the roman alphabet, here, but more of a marriage. The Japanese example is instructive: they do their nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs with kanji, but put most of the grammatical structures together with kana. Here's an example of what this hybrid written language might look like:

I went to the store and bought some running shoes.
I 行t to the 店 and 買t some 走靴.

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution banning arms sales to Venezuela.
The 国連安全保障理事会 判決d a 決意 禁止ing 兵器 販売s to Venezuela.

Those are just examples, in which I just substituted the Japanese compound kanji directly. A fully anglicized Chinese alphabet could well be even more compact.

It sounds crazy, I know, but English has become the language of the world, and that world includes well over a billion people who use kanji as a matter of course. It wouldn't be at all unheard of for some kind of hybrid language to emerge, and I for one am all for it. Both styles of writing have their advantages, and putting them together could well create the ultimate written language.

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