welcome to the grim meathook present

Posted by on July 27th, 2014

The Red Alert: Israel platform (for iOS and Android) “has turned into a way for people throughout Israel and around the world to show their empathy for Israel,” Sprung told The Times of Israel. “People who have relatives and friends in the affected areas who want real-time updates on what is happening have been downloading the app, as have many people around the world. Our servers have been overloaded with download requests over the past several days.”

The app sounds a distinct alarm, like an emergency siren, when a Red Color alert is set off anywhere in Israel, listing the location and time of the projected strike. The app sends out its warning at the same time the military’s Homefront Command issues an order to activate the warning system, said Sprung. The app gets its information from the IDF and the Homefront Command, he added, but declined to discuss the process by which the data gets into the app. “It’s classified,” Sprung half-joked. The app also features a chat area, where residents — or anyone else — can comment on their experiences, thoughts, and feelings.

 

Since 2012 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (known as Isis) has issued annual reports, outlining in numerical and geographical detail its operations – the number of bombings, assassinations, checkpoints, suicide missions, cities taken over and even “apostates” converted to the Isis cause.

In 2013 alone, the group’s report claimed nearly 10,000 operations in Iraq: 1,000 assassinations, 4,000 improvised explosive devices planted and hundreds of radical prisoners freed. In the same year it claimed hundreds of “apostates” had been turned.

Called al-Naba – the News – the reports for 2012 and 2013 (a year in which 8,000 civilians died in Iraq) have been analysed by the US-based Institute for the Study of War, which corroborates much of the information they contain. Isis’s aim appears to be to demonstrate its record to potential donors.
 

“It is clear that Eastern Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo have been contaminated with radiation.”

Dr. Mita compares radioactive contamination of the soil (measured in becquerels per kilogram, Bq/kg) in various parts of Tokyo with that observed in various portions of Europe following the Chernobyl disaster.

Prior to 2011, Shinjuku (the region of Tokyo that houses the municipal government) tested at only 0.5-1.5 Bq/kg. Today, levels at nearby Kodaira are at 200-300 Bq/kg.

“Within the 23 districts of Metropolitan Tokyo, contamination in the east part is 1000-4000 Bq/kg and the west part is 300-1000 Bq/kg,” Dr. Mita wrote.

For comparison, Kiev (capital of the Ukraine) has soil tested at 500 Bq/kg (Cs-137 only). Following the Chernobyl accident, West Germany and Italy reported levels of 90-100 Bq/kg, and both experienced measurable health effects on their populations.

Dr. Mita notes that the radiation situation in Tokyo is getting worse, not better, due to urban practices of concentrating solid waste in small areas such as municipal dumps and sewage plants. That is why, he says, radiation levels in Tokyo riverbeds have actually been increasing over the prior two years.

“Tokyo should no longer be inhabited, and… those who insist on living in Tokyo must take regular breaks in safer areas,” Dr. Mita writes. “Issues such as depopulation and state decline continue to burden the lives of second and third generation Ukrainians and Belarusians today, and I fear that this may be the future of Eastern Japan.”

 

Nigerian officials said Saturday that they are screening passengers arriving from foreign countries for symptoms of Ebola, following the death of an infected traveler from Liberia who died after collapsing at the airport in Lagos, Africa’s largest city with a population of 21 million.

Nearly 50 other passengers on the flight are being monitored for signs of Ebola but are not being kept in isolation, said an employee at Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
 

Joshua Ellis was good enough to revisit his idea of the Grim Meathook Future on a post here mid 2012. As Eva suggests, that future indeed seems to have passed into the present.

Bruce Sterling once said something like: “the future is on a sliderbar between the grim meathook future and the bright green spime world“. Well it’s clear now that those are two options on the one Möbius strip; two sides of the one dystopic, bad penny. Any hope for a bright internet-of-things that isn’t just another tool of surveillance seems a naive dream in the Snowden Effected world we all share.

The true horror of the real isn’t the ghoulishness of reporters walking through the wreckage of a passenger plane shot down for no reason on breakfast television. It’s that for all the politicians making speeches over the bodies of dead children, there is no empathic energy to be channelled into tv or approval ratings as the West Antarctic Ice Shelf falls into the ocean and the Arctic bubbles with ever more methane. Efforts like to visualize this on a local level completely fail to resonate. Yet these are exactly the things that will cause more regional conflicts around the Earth; more water wars, more heavy weather events, more refugees. More bad news to obsessively dissect on 24hr news channels; experts for every facet, infinite opinions. No action. More dead children.

Our global civilisation: seemingly ever more doomed, completely intent on wallowing in its death throes, turning its spasms into some macabre dance to be celebrated. Are we to be only numbed spectators, or can find our way through this and locate the seeds of the next thing, to plant in the ashes of the world we knew and loved and helplessly watched die? Can we plan now how to re-purpose the very tools causing its destruction and pull this culture out of its nosedive? Please.


the near earth asteroid defense system #thinkglobalactsolar

Posted by on October 23rd, 2013

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Lu began by noting that deflecting lethal asteroids is the easy part. We know how to do it and already have the needed technology. Years before a threatening asteroid converges with Earth, we can ram it from behind with a rocket with the precise amount of energy needed to speed it up just enough to miss our planet and keep on missing us in the future.

Funding such a mission will be straightforward. Once you know when (and even where) a catastrophic impact will occur, there will be abundant motivation to pay for heading it off. With good sky reconnaissance, we’ll have years of warning. But that reconnaissance doesn’t exist yet.

As I do several times each year since they first began, I’ve been catching up the Long Now Seminar’s on Long Term Thinking. Much as love hearing visions of Starship programs and DeExtinction projects, it was former astronaut Ed Lu’s talk (above) that really leapt out. Because it is both fantastic and realistic, and immediate. And necessary.

Lu spoke about the consequences of the Overview Effect:

http://www.vimeo.com/55073825

We have to start acting as one species, with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don’t do that.

Coming back to Earth a changed man, and wanting to do something real. Long story, short (you can hear it all above, after all), he’s founded the B612 Foundation. Their self-assigned mission, to build and launch Sentinel:

The Sentinel Mission will provide a unique opportunity for the public to take ownership in a historic space mission that will protect Earth, while providing the necessary roadmap for future exploration.
Sentinel is a space-based infrared (IR) survey mission to discover and catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the solar system. The mission should also discover a significant number of smaller asteroids down to a diameter of 30 meters. Sentinel will be launched into a Venus-like orbit around the sun, which significantly improves the efficiency of asteroid discovery during its 6.5 year mission.

 

They’re aiming to share resources with NASA, and funding it via philanthropy and donations from the public. And whilst I view philanthropy as the benevolence of those that have accrued wealth through various forms of economic and legal force, it’s better that those funds get directed toward doing something other purely cosmetic, vanity projects. We simply don’t have time to linearly fix all world’s problems. The pragmatist in me maintains that the rescue mission must accomplished by whatever means are available.

Which brings us to the newly created, half jesting, semi-fictional, deadly serious Overview Effect Enforcement Agency. The product of a conversation between some creatively titled futurist folks on Twitter, it exists, if only as a rescue-lutionary theory object, to encourage the sending of the world’s leaders into low-earth orbit for a cognitive readjustment. A tactic deployed by Picard in an episode of Star Trek: TNG, to correct his own elevation to godhood. As recent political theater events of extreme dramatis demonstrate, it’s sorely needed. And as I suggested: if they learn something, they can come back too.

Because there are more threats to the world than just the ego’s of political leaders and billionaires. Like Lazarus Comets:

“We found a graveyard of comets,” said Ferrín. “Imagine all these asteroids going around the Sun for aeons, with no hint of activity. We have found that some of these are not dead rocks after all, but are dormant comets that may yet come back to life if the energy that they receive from the Sun increases by a few per cent.”

Resurrected space rocks don’t discriminate on imaginary human divisions of map, religion or creed. We can learn something from them. We can be bigger, grow up, build out into the solar system, and beyond. It’s just an idea. But what else has ever changed the world than that?


The Many Posthuman Aspects of PacificRim

Posted by on October 22nd, 2013

Or: the candy-coated man/machine rescue mission.

Pacific Rim is many things. Many shiny, spectacular, immersive, self-aware, monster genre mashing, robot smashing, crowd pleasing, city destroying, heroic dancing things. But apart from its surface appeal, it’s also the delivery system for some incredibly out there, subversive, challenging ideas. This may just be my reading of it, and that’s fine. But I suspect Guillermo Del Toro is guilty of being a clever, clever human and knew exactly what he was doing with this blockbuster movie.

Allow me to explain my thinking here. This is not a review. It’s a “User Guide for Humans”, from barely opened, posthuman eyes. This is an analog mind-meld, I mean drift; an English language sequence as slow-boot brain update. Are you ready to accept Singularity?

Want some Candy?

Taken at face value, Pacific Rim is… completely absurd. And if that wasn’t immediately apparent from its premise, it’s clear by halfway through the film that’s it’s winking hard at you. And shouting at you with Idris Elba’s mandatory “the apocalypse is cancelled” speech at the climax, that amazing actor barely containing the joy on his face in getting to deliver an epic line like this. Pure man-child bliss… just the kind you might expect to find in a mech suit vs kaiju fightfest.

Now those of the Otaku-bent might want to do a detailed analysis of the origins and influences and details of Pacific Rim, and that’s exactly what this post on Medum.com has done, if you want it.

I’m not anti-Otaku. Hell, I raced home as a kid to watch Robotech, and collected what Transformers I could afford. When I toured Japan in ’09 I stumbled onto the Mobile Suit Gundam arcade game and played it every day I was there. I clutched my pilot card when I walked into the preview screening of Pacific Rim, and wore the pirate Neon Genesis Evangelion tee I picked up in a store in Akihabara.

I have been absolutely psyched for this film, and its complement Elysium, all damn year.

What I am saying is there’s a lot more going on below the surface of Pacific Rim. Just don’t expect it to cohere into a logical whole.

Go Borg or Stay Human

First we have the “dance-dance pilot systems”. With its shiny video game aesthetics, and drama engine device, it is first and foremost pro-Borg; celebrating the union of more than one human conscious into a greater whole. There’s been a lot of Borg-hate going on since Google Glass dropped into the world, and I’m looking mostly at Stop the Cyborgs.

Mind you, I walked into this movie with my head having been resident inside in Ramez Naam’s Nexus’verse for a good month. One of the elements of that future world is human hate of anything group-mind (not unlike the linear future world of the Star Trek-verse’s Federation), following various terrorist attacks and cult fiascoes.  So to immediately recognise that there were Borg heroes, front and centre in this film was yet another joyful moment.

Then we have the Robo/Borgsexuality.

Posthuman Gender & Robosexuality

It’s fair to say there are fans going into this already fetishising being inside giant robots…

…which brings us to the giant confusion of posthuman gender. Because what does that even look like from a human perspective? Maybe it’s two buff guys in shiny suits merging through a shared childhood to form a union with a rocket punching, sock’em bot? Maybe it’s also some weird, ritualised staff fighting sequence that isn’t a romantic, courtship sequence… because that would make the two brothers incestuous and homoerotic and is anyone else getting uncomfortable thinking deeply about this?

Let’s cut to the heroic scientist “drifting” with a random chunk of giant alien brain… why on Earth would a Kaiju fanboy ever be turned on by humongous glial cells of extra-dimensional origin?

Chief prosecutor for the homoerotic subtext of jockeying flightsuits argument, thinly fictionalized Quentin Tarantino, explains:

YouTube Preview Image

you want subversion on a massive level…

 

Those of us raised on Robotech also obsessively watched Top Gun as teens. Hell, my gaming nick was Maverick for much of my youth. So the reconciliation scene at the end of Pacific Rim, the begrudging acceptance of the owner of worst Aussie accent ever and our hero… totally recapitulates Top Gun.

And if you’re still not convinced, you haven’t been watching True Blood; same actor, explicitly homoerotic mind-meld:

YouTube Preview Image

Message received collective unconscious!

Make what you will of the fact that I really hope we get to see the bulldog don a mech suit and borg it up with friendly, genetically engineered Kaiju in a sequel. Plot that on your human linear Kinsey scale!

Move over Seven of Nine, the new borg sexiness is definitely here.

Posthuman Battlesuits

Once you’ve accepted that, the “city as a battlesuit [Matt Jones guest post on io9]” is a not a stretch of the brain meats at all. The mech suit as embodiment of the merger of humanity and its infrastructure; the champion of the Anthropocene. Especially visible when you’ve got ships being used as baseball bats and “Gipsy Danger [using] shipping containers like brass knuckles”.

Each Jaegar is built to defend a city, but really, it’s manifesting its surrounds, even merging with them.

As Matt Jones quotes from a British architecture journal:

While Batman’s Gotham City and Superman’s Metropolis largely reflect the character of the superheroes who inhabit them (Gotham is grim, Metropolis shines)

And as he compares to a hero of The Authority:

“Hawksmoor defeats the giant, monstrous sentient city by wrapping himself in Tokyo to form a massive concrete battlesuit.”

Posthuman defense systems with local characteristics.

And while we’re stretching that long bow of your mind, let’s add that you can argue that its also a recapitulation of one Earth’s oldest tales: Marduk the City God vs the Serpent. The Jaegar as the city turned God-like, and if the Kaiju aren’t the contemporary incarnation of the “monster of primeval chaos”, than what is?

“It’s not Posthuman without going Post-State”

It’s not a posthuman tale without things going post-state. The foolish, political human types gripped by their illusions of control decide that building a giant wall trends much better in the polls, and it’s within that construction effort that we find our hero lurking at the film’s commencement. Kaijus walk right through megastructures dramatis (or thinly disguised metaphors at the political penchant for building barriers to keep out unwanted arrivals). Anyway… our pragmatic, military leader, Idris Elba (TV’s Luther), unencumbered by the requisite trope of giant wall of video-screened suits ordering him turns to… “extra-legal funding sources”, continuing the rescue mission by any means necessary.

In this case, dealing with a bizarre caricature of a bad guy with great shoes; the hybrid Spy Kids enemy / Bond Villain. (Ranking the film just above Contact on someone’s “Top 10: Projects funded by an absolute Bond Villain?” list)

But let’s not miss the metaphor of the real villains; the Kaiju themselves. Thomas Hobbes described the State as a Leviathan. And what better way to portray the entities that have really destroyed the climate of this planet for their own ends, what more apt depiction of rogue geoengineers than as giant monsters?! It’s definitely how the various manifestations of corporate-democratic empire looks to the rest of the world.

And this is the most subversive element of all snuck into the subconscious of the audience for a gigantic popcorn flick by a Mexican director. Perhaps no surprise then that the film did terribly in the US, but made serious bank globally.

 

Maybe it’ll take the US a decade or so to appreciate it, as critics are just now accepting Southland Tales, but when you’re watching Elysium wondering why augmented super soldiers are battling with swords and chainsaws over the rights of a breakaway civilisation to exist, remember that Ron Perlman probably said it best in the post-credits scene:

where is my other shoe? -^

When will it drop?

Disproving its antecedent film on things that lurk in the cracks of the earth, beneath the waves, The Abyss: “They want us to grow up a bit, and put away childish things. Of course, it’s just a suggestion.

With Del Toro it’s posthuman man-children dancing off to the rescue, and that’s just super by me.


sustainability IS gardening

Posted by on May 20th, 2013

A short follow-up to my recent post, Conservation ain’t what it used to be (WE NEED TO BE BIGGER)

 

YouTube Preview Image

Conservation ain’t what it used to be (WE NEED TO BE BIGGER)

Posted by on April 21st, 2013

Avengers #3 (2013)

Attention Conservation Notice: long quotes designed to break open your Green mind

Developers can build on nature reserves – if they ‘offset’ the damage elsewhere, says Government review:

A “priority recommendation” from the Government’s Ecosystems Markets Task Force is for a new “biodiversity offset system” to let large developers would be given a right to build on one nature reserve or protected area, if they build one somewhere else.

The taskforce’s Government report said this was not “a license to trash nature” – although campaigners have warned that that is exactly what it is.

It said: “We need a system in which unavoidable net impacts on biodiversity of new development are more than compensated by restored and created habitats elsewhere through an efficient market.”

It is about better regulation, developing a well-defined market which delivers ‘net gain’ for nature which the current planning system has generally failed to do.”

In April 2012, six two year pilot projects were launched in Devon, Doncaster, Essex, Norwich, Nottinghamshire, and Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull.

The review said that it would “revolutionise conservation in England by delivering restoration, creation and long-term management of in excess of 300,000 hectares of habitat over 20 years” and “incentivise location of development at sites of lower nature value”.

Environment secretary Owen Paterson suggested that he would decide on whether to expand the scheme when the trials’ results come back next year.

He said: “We shouldn’t to choose between either improving the environment or growing the economy. We should aim to have both which is why I’m keen to see the results of these trials.”

But Neil Sinden, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said offsetting failed “to recognise the complex way in which wildlife systems are sustained and thrive”.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “You can’t wipe out wildlife habitats and expect to be able to create on that can achieve the richness and diversity of wildlife sites that have evolved over decades and centuries.

Now, our well-cultivated, knee-jerk Green reaction is to immediately cry “NATURE IS NOT A SUBSET OF ECONOMICS”.

The thing is, it’s actually far, far worse than that, as we forcibly free ourselves from the gravity of the Green Mythology.

In his looooong read Quarterly Essay Tim Flannery takes aim at the failings of “conservation”…:

Such is the depth of public ignorance about Australia’s extinction crisis that most people are unaware that is is occurring, while those who do know of it commonly believe that our national parks and reserves are safe places for threatened species. In fact the second extinction wave is now in full swing, and it’s emptying our national parks and wildlife reserves as ruthlessly as other landscapes. This is disturbing: national parks exist explicitly to conserve biodiversity, and their failure to do so is a failure both of government policy and of our collective will to protect our natural heritage. Paradoxically, biodiversity is sometimes flourishing more vibrantly on private land than in national parks, despite hundreds of millions of dollars being spent annually by our governments on reserved lands.

The problem lies not with the parks’ staff, who are often dedicated and skilled at their work. Nor does it lie solely with budgets, although more funding rather than more cuts would always be welcome. Instead, the difficulties are at least threefold. First and foremost, the problem stems from the delusion that the simple act of proclaiming a national park or nature reserve will result in the protection of biodiversity. Parks must be proclaimed and effectively managed if biodiversity is to be protected. Secondly, the various government agencies responsible for biodiversity protection have allowed their scientific capacity to erode to the point where it’s hard to be sure how many individuals of most endangered species survive; and thirdly, the attempt to save endangered species involves risks that bureaucracies are increasingly unwilling to take. The first duty of the bureaucrat these days seems to be to protect their minister from criticism: thus it often seems preferable to let a species die out quietly, seemingly a victim of natural change, than to institute a recovery program that carries a risk of failure, however small.

 

I’m increasingly resistant to the notion of Sustainability… because what are we sustaining but the slow motion death of the life on Earth that has supported us? WE NEED TO ACCELERATE FORWARDS INTO THE FUTURE, DRAGGING ALL OF HISTORY AND ITS LESSONS WITH US.

Okay, that’s a tad hyperbolic… but there are a lot of legacy civilizational myths that need to be exploded. For starters, the crux of the Environmental Mythology, that the Amazon is some untouched Gaian Paradise, when the evidence points to it being a pre-Columbian garden that’s since ReWilded:

Unlike Europeans, who planted mainly annual crops, the Indians, he says, centered their agriculture on the Amazon’s unbelievably diverse assortment of trees: fruits, nuts, and palms. “It’s tremendously difficult to clear fields with stone tools,” Clement says. “If you can plant trees, you get twenty years of productivity out of your work instead of two or three.”

Planting their orchards, the first Amazonians transformed large swaths of the river basin into something more pleasing to human beings. In a widely cited article from 1989, William Balée, the Tulane anthropologist, cautiously estimated that about 12 percent of the nonflooded Amazon forest was of anthropogenic origin—directly or indirectly created by human beings. In some circles this is now seen as a conservative position. “I basically think it’s all human-created,” Clement told me in Brazil. He argues that Indians changed the assortment and density of species throughout the region. So does Clark Erickson, the University of Pennsylvania archaeologist, who told me in Bolivia that the lowland tropical forests of South America are among the finest works of art on the planet. “Some of my colleagues would say that’s pretty radical,” he said, smiling mischievously. According to Peter Stahl, an anthropologist at the State University of New York at Binghamton, “lots” of botanists believe that “what the eco-imagery would like to picture as a pristine, untouched Urwelt [primeval world] in fact has been managed by people for millennia.” The phrase “built environment,” Erickson says, “applies to most, if not all, Neotropical landscapes.”

“Landscape” in this case is meant exactly—Amazonian Indians literally created the ground beneath their feet. According to William I. Woods, a soil geographer at Southern Illinois University, ecologists’ claims about terrible Amazonian land were based on very little data. In the late 1990s Woods and others began careful measurements in the lower Amazon. They indeed found lots of inhospitable terrain. But they also discovered swaths of terra preta—rich, fertile “black earth” that anthropologists increasingly believe was created by human beings.

Terra preta, Woods guesses, covers at least 10 percent of Amazonia, an area the size of France. It has amazing properties, he says. Tropical rain doesn’t leach nutrients from terra preta fields; instead the soil, so to speak, fights back. Not far from Painted Rock Cave is a 300-acre area with a two-foot layer of terra preta quarried by locals for potting soil. The bottom third of the layer is never removed, workers there explain, because over time it will re-create the original soil layer in its initial thickness. The reason, scientists suspect, is that terra preta is generated by a special suite of microorganisms that resists depletion. “Apparently,” Woods and the Wisconsin geographer Joseph M. McCann argued in a presentation last summer, “at some threshold level … dark earth attains the capacity to perpetuate—even regenerate itself—thus behaving more like a living ‘super’-organism than an inert material.”

In as yet unpublished research the archaeologists Eduardo Neves, of the University of São Paulo; Michael Heckenberger, of the University of Florida; and their colleagues examined terra preta in the upper Xingu, a huge southern tributary of the Amazon. Not all Xingu cultures left behind this living earth, they discovered. But the ones that did generated it rapidly—suggesting to Woods that terra preta was created deliberately. In a process reminiscent of dropping microorganism-rich starter into plain dough to create sourdough bread, Amazonian peoples, he believes, inoculated bad soil with a transforming bacterial charge. Not every group of Indians there did this, but quite a few did, and over an extended period of time.

When Woods told me this, I was so amazed that I almost dropped the phone. I ceased to be articulate for a moment and said things like “wow” and “gosh.” Woods chuckled at my reaction, probably because he understood what was passing through my mind. Faced with an ecological problem, I was thinking, the Indians fixed it. They were in the process of terraforming the Amazon when Columbus showed up and ruined everything.

A clue lies inside Bruce Sterling’s book Distraction:

“We could integrate the natural world right into the substance of our cities. If we knew how to use our power properly, we could guide herds of American bison right through our own streets. We could live in an Eden at peace with packs of wolves. All it would take is enough sense and vision to know who we are, and what we want.” “That sounds wonderful, Senator. Why don’t you do it?” “Because we’re a pack of thieves! We went straight from wilder-ness to decadence, without ever creating an authentic American civilization.”

 

This shit is complicated and hard, and an app isn’t going to solve it, let alone any other form of Solutionism by itself.

Instead, we need to grow the fuck up. WE NEED TO BE BIGGER. To acknowledge what is broken, take stock and rebuild… towards rebirth.

Hands up who wants to construct a reality worth being near-immortal in?

– Comments intentionally disabled, trackbacks will work. Give unto the blogosphere your considered thoughts.


WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

Posted by on November 22nd, 2012

In 1978 William S. Burroughs opened the Nova Convention (a truly Weird Nodal Point) with these words:

All this has happened before. Like in Maya:

The ancient Maya in this hilly and riverless region confronted long-term climatic aridification, experienced decadal to century-level or longer droughts amplified by the landscape changes that they made, including large-scale deforestation indicated in the paleoecological record.

Previous to the collapse, the Maya occupied the area for more than 2,000 years, noted researchers, “a time in which they developed a sophisticated understanding of their environment, built and sustained intensive production [and water] systems, and withstood at least two long-term episodes of aridity.”

The researchers noted that the Maya case lends insights for the use of paleo- and historical analogs to inform contemporary global environment change and sustainability.

They described the Classic Period of the Lowland Maya (CE 300-800) as a “highly complex civilization organized into networks of city-states,” in their perspective article published in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Just not on this scale; worldwide Collapse. Thankfully, it’s not like there isn’t some new “Cold War”, Arctic oil grab a-coming:

Major powers like the the US, China and Russia are still waiting for the Arctic ice to hurry up and melt away. And that process is moving along at a pace that makes the average environmentalist want to sign yet another petition during Nat Geo Channel commercial breaks and bong hits. The Arctic is said to have up to 25% of the world’s oil and gas sitting like Inca gold under all that pesky ice and, with current global oil production maxed out and prices rising fast, the North Pole sure has the potential to be proxy resource war central in the increasingly tense 21st century

They won’t be waiting long…

The Arctic ice cap is on course for a record-breaking melt session following a summer of unstable conditions, says the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The center, based at the University of Colorado, has been comparing the data against 2007 sea ice levels, when the Arctic cap shrank to a record low of 4.25 million square kilometres. That rapid decrease was expected and explainable because of enduring patterns of high pressure over the central Arctic Ocean combined with low pressure over the northern Eurasian coast. Throughout 2012, however, conditions have not been consistent — from the end of June the rate of loss was recorded as being 100,000 square kilometers per day, but this figure dramatically doubled for several days in August when a cyclone brought warm winds to the region, with the expanse of open water in the Atlantic continually contributing to the loss. Over the course of just a few days, 200,000 square kilometers of ice disappeared in the East Siberian Sea alone.

While predictions of a total melt during the summer months and its potentially devastating effects on the planet has many worried (Serreze says the rapid melting may have contributed to severe storms in the US in recent years), commercial enterprises are busily jumping at the opportunity to open shop in the Northern Passage. China sent its first vessel along the Arctic route in August, trimming its usual route length by 40 percent, while Germany and Russia are already established players.

And that was in August! Then there’s these thoughts, within David Brin’s (author of the highly relevant EARTH) longread, How Will the World End?

What about those “collapses?” Failure modes that would not wipe out humanity, but might kill millions, even billions? Even with survivors scratching out a bare existence, would there forever after be harsh limits to the range of human hopes?

This category is where we’d assign most punishments for mismanaging the world. For carelessly cutting down forests and spilling garbage in the sea. For poisoning aquifers and ruining habitats. For changing the very air we breathe. For causing temperatures to soar, glaciers to melt, seas to rise and deserts to spread. For letting the planet’s web of life get winnowed down, through biodiversity loss, till it’s a fragile lattice, torn by any breeze.

Most animals have the sense not to foul their own nests.

In his prescient novel “The Cool War,” Frederik Pohl showed a chillingly plausible failure mode in which our nations and factions do not dare wage open conflict, and so they settle for tit-for-tat patterns of reciprocal sabotage, each attempting to ruin the other’s infrastructure and economy. Naturally, this sends civilization on a slow death-spiral of degrading hopes.

Sound depressing? It makes one wonder — what fraction of the “accidents” that we see have nothing to do with luck?

Oh sure, there are always conspiracy theories. Super-efficient engines that were kept off the market by greedy energy companies. Disease cures, suppressed by profit-hungry pharmaceutical giants. Knaves, monopolists and fat-cats who use intellectual property to repress knowledge growth instead of spurring it.

But those dark rumors don’t hold a candle to this one — that we’re sliding toward despair because all the efforts of good, skilled men and women are for naught. Their labors are deliberately spiked, because some ruling elites see themselves engaged in a secret struggle on our behalf. And this tit-for-tat, negative-sum game is all about the most dismal human pastime.

War.

If that’s not bleak enough, imagine a world without coffee!

Rising global temperatures and subtle changes in seasonal conditions could make 99.7 per cent of Arabica-growing areas unsuitable for the plant by 2080, according to a new study by researchers from Kew Gardens.

Although commercial growers could still grow their own crops by watering and artificially cooling them, the wild type has much greater genetic diversity which is essential to help plantations overcome threats like pests and disease.

Identifying new sites where arabica could be grown away from its natural home in the mountains of Ethiopia and South Sudan could be the only way of preventing the demise of the species, researchers said.

Justin Moat, one of the report’s authors, said: “The worst case scenario, as drawn from our analyses, is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080. This should alert decision makers to the fragility of the species.”

Arabica is one of only two species of bean used to make coffee and is by far the most popular, accounting for 70 per cent of the global market

We can do better. And I don’t mean polluting the Earth better:

Carbon dioxide levels rose to 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, a 40% increase on levels in 1750. Other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide also reached record levels. Michel Jarrud, secretary-general of the WMO warned that billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide would remain in the atmosphere for centuries: “…causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth.”

“We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs. There are many additional interactions between greenhouse gases, Earth’s biosphere and oceans, and we need to boost our monitoring capability and scientific knowledge in order to better understand these,” says Jarraud.

Understanding the role of carbon sinks is key to understanding how increasing levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere will contribute to rising global temperatures.

It’s not like our oceans are filled with wonder and unknown species and…

The first official register of what lives in the oceans has revealed that the marine environment may be home to as many as a million species of animals and plants, but only about a quarter of them have actually been formally described.

Previous estimates of the number of species living in the oceans have ranged wildly from a few hundred thousand of several million, but the latest estimate is based on the first proper attempt to draw up an accurate inventory of marine life.

Although more ocean species have been discovered in the past decade than in any previous 10-year period – and about 65,000 newly “discovered” species are still waiting to be given formal scientific names – scientists believe that at least a third of all the marine life forms may be completely unknown to science.

Fuck it, let ‘em soak up the carbon instead…

More than 1,000 coal-fired power plants are being planned worldwide, new research has revealed.

Coal plants are the most polluting of all power stations and the World Resources Institute (WRI) identified 1,200 coal plants in planning across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India. The capacity of the new plants add up to 1,400GW to global greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of adding another China – the world’s biggest emitter. India is planning 455 new plants compared to 363 in China, which is seeing a slowdown in its coal investments after a vast building programme in the past decade.

This is what hope looks like, people actually admitting there’s a problem:

According to a new Rasmussen poll conducted a day before the election and released this morning, 68 percent of American voters said that global warming is either a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem. This represents a major increase over the last few years. In 2009, Rasmussen reported that only 46 percent of Americans believed that global warming is a problem. (Interestingly, while more people say they are concerned about the problem, there was a drop in the number of people who say it’s human caused).

And that brings us back to Ontological Warfare and the Nova Conspiracy.


neoteny and neo humans

Posted by on October 2nd, 2012

Live from linear time, here’s another series of ways to look at our mid-Singularity situation.

  1. an edited excerpt from 1978′s Nova Convention, featuring William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary and a heckler:
  2. a key part of Grant Morrison’s Supergods:

    And, as if to confirm that ours was not the only universe, it was explained to me that what I was seeing was a nursery of some kind. In order to grow their “offspring,” the chrome angels had to “make” time, because, as they pointed out reasonably, only in time were things able to grow as I understood it. Time was a kind of incubator, and all life on Earth was one thing, a single weird anemone-like mega-Hydra with its single-celled immortal root in the Precambrian tides and its billions of sensory branches, from ferns to people, with every single detail having its own part to play in the life cycle of a slowly complexifying, increasingly self-aware superorganism. It was as if I had been shown an infant god, attached to a placental support system called Earth, where it could grow bigger, more elaborate, more connected, and more intelligent. Growing at its tips were machine parts; cyborg tools made from the planet s mineral resources. It kerned to be constructing around itself a part-mechanical shell, like armor or a spacesuit. “It” was us, all life seen as one from the perspective of a higher dimension. I was told to return and take up my duties as a “midwife” to this gargantuan raw nervous system. It was important to ensure the proper growth and development of the larva and to make certain it didn’t panic or struggle too much when it woke up to its true nature as a singular life form. Incidentally, what we experienced as “evil” was simply the effects of inoculation against some cosmic disease, so I wasn’t to worry much.

  3. the Neo Human rant from 2001′s Waking Life:
    http://www.vimeo.com/50643386
    transcript:

    (A very intense man is talking in front of a fish tank, gesturing wildly – Eamonn Healy, Chemistry professor at University of Texas at Austin)

    If we’re looking at the highlights of human development, you have to look at the evolution of the organism and then at the development of its interaction with the environment. Evolution of the organism will begin with the evolution of life perceived through the hominid coming to the evolution of mankind. Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man. Now, interestingly, what you’re looking at here are three strings: biological, anthropological — development of the cities — and cultural, which is human expression.

    Now, what you’ve seen here is the evolution of populations, not so much the evolution of individuals. And in addition, if you look at the time scales that are involved here — two billion years for life, six million years for the hominid, 100,000 years for mankind as we know it — you’re beginning to see the telescoping nature of the evolutionary paradigm. And then when you get to agricultural, when you get to scientific revolution and industrial revolution, you’re looking at 10,000 years, 400 years, 150 years. You’re seeing a further telescoping of this evolutionary time. What that means is that as we go through the new evolution, it’s gonna telescope to the point we should be able to see it manifest itself within our lifetime, within this generation.

    The new evolution stems from information, and it stems from two types of information: digital and analog. The digital is artificial intelligence. The analog results from molecular biology, the cloning of the organism. And you knit the two together with neurobiology. Before on the old evolutionary paradigm, one would die and the other would grow and dominate. But under the new paradigm, they would exist as a mutually supportive, noncompetitive grouping. Okay, independent from the external.

    And what is interesting here is that evolution now becomes an individually centered process, emanating from the needs and desires of the individual, and not an external process, a passive process where the individual is just at the whim of the collective. So, you produce a neo-human, okay, with a new individuality and a new consciousness. But that’s only the beginning of the evolutionary cycle because as the next cycle proceeds, the input is now this new intelligence. As intelligence piles on intelligence, as ability piles on ability, the speed changes. Until what? Until we reach a crescendo in a way could be imagined as an enormous instantaneous fulfilment of human? human and neo-human potential. It could be something totally different. It could be the amplification of the individual, the multiplication of individual existences. Parallel existences now with the individual no longer restricted by time and space.

    And the manifestations of this neo-human-type evolution, manifestations could be dramatically counter-intuitive. That’s the interesting part. The old evolution is cold. It’s sterile. It’s efficient, okay? And its manifestations of those social adaptations. We’re talking about parasitism, dominance, morality, okay? Uh, war, predation, these would be subject to de-emphasis. These will be subject to de-evolution. The new evolutionary paradigm will give us the human traits of truth, of loyalty, of justice, of freedom. These will be the manifestations of the new evolution. And that is what we would hope to see from this. That would be nice.

The True Revelation is where we see things as they truly were/are/shall be.


‘Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, surrounded by thousands of white butterflies.’ [PIC]

Posted by on September 29th, 2012

RUSSIA. Altai Territory. 2000. Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, surrounded by thousands of white butterflies. Environmentalists fear for the region’s future…

photo by Jonas Bendiksen, via @robinsloan


The Onion: Preemptive Memorial Honors Future Victims Of Imminent Dam Disaster

Posted by on July 2nd, 2012

Just in case you don’t “get it”, this is about teh Climate Change.


The Revolution Has Begun (Love or Fear? The choice is yours.) #anon

Posted by on April 23rd, 2012

I fully endorse this message:

YouTube Preview Image

UPDATE: On reflection, it seems there’s a bit of THRIVE snuck into that vid. To balance that out, watch Guy Ritchie’s excellent #blankbadge movie REVOLVER.


NeonMice™

Posted by on February 14th, 2012

Just because things can never get weirder, here’s a science-fictional future still waiting for FDA approval: NeonMice™

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6329316714275451018 http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1864803711361905964

Here’s some pertinent quotes from the FAQ:

The mice are produced in a laboratory by inserting fluorescent genes into the mice.  The genes were originally extracted from jellyfish and reef coral, which naturally glow.  The mice are genetically modified so they will glow for their entire lifespan, however their fur is the only part of their body that does not glow.  Thus, we have hairless varieties of NeonMice™ as well.

All of the NeonMice™ available commercially are both male and sterile. This ensures the Fluorescent genes are not passed on outside of our breeding facility.

The most common commercially available GM pet are Glofish™, which are found throughout the U.S. in fish stores. Since the inception of GloFish™ over 7 years ago, they have become one of the best selling fish in the industry. As with Glofish™, the breeding of NeonMice™ by individuals or pet shops is strictly prohibited.

NeonMice™ are viewed best with a blue light during the day; however fluorescent, incandescent, and LED light work extremely well for daytime viewing. At night we recommend using a black light or actinic light for best results. As with all mice we suggest a 12 hour of light and 12 hour of darkness to give your NeonMice™ an adequate resting photoperiod.

NeonMice™ are 100% safe to ingest by any animal since they have the same nutritional value as a normal mouse.  The fluorescent protein in their skin is broken down as it is digested, just as with normal tissue.  If your animal eats a GloMouse™ it will NOT glow, nor will it give your pet special powers.  It will however waste a neutered, expensive, and beautiful mouse that would make a much nicer pet than food.  NeonMice™ are NOT to be ingested or in any way consumed by HUMANS!

As of 11/20/2009 NeonMice™ are still not commercially available, as we are patiently waiting our FDA approval process.

thanks bookhling!


Time travellin’ with Werner Herzog

Posted by on February 7th, 2012

In a forbidden recess of the cave there is the footprint of an eight year-old boy next to the footprint of a wolf. Did a hungry wolf stalk the boy, or did they walk together as friends? Or were their tracks made thousands of years apart?

There’s a rule futurists use: go back twice as far as you wish to predict forwards. I have a new theory though, that’s hinted at by the popularity of Atemporality: the further we progress with our technology, the more all of time itself can (effectively) exist at the same time.

Pleistocene Rewilding, for instance, is one of the better strategies I’ve seen to help ‘fix’ climate change (by preventing the release of methane in the arctic tundra). And as the Chairman himself noted in the Art+Enviroment conference keynote, this Anthropocenic period increasingly resembles the Pleistocene.

YouTube Preview Image

Which is why Werner Herzog’s documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams is near mandatory viewing. The above quote is one of the more mind-boggling parts. As is the evidence that two adjoining cave paintings were made FIVE THOUSAND YEARS apart. Just hold that thought in your mind, instead of wondering what’s in the next iPhone.

For a glimpse, here’s the experimental archeologist Wulf Hein playing a flute carved from the arm of a vulture (wearing the skins of reindeers, thought to be the ‘fashion’ at the time). This is the music of 30K B.C.:

YouTube Preview Image

We can’t honestly consider the future of humanity, without looking honestly back at its beginning and assessing how we got this far to begin with.

BONUS CONTENT:

Joseph Campbell on the Origins of Man and Myth:

http://www.vimeo.com/27168211

BONUS LULZ:

  • a very on-topic SMBC

The Fall of Man and the Anthropocene Era

Posted by on January 22nd, 2012

Here’s the current title holder of the Comedian’s Comedian, Mr Louis CK explaining the mess that is Civilisation and what The Fall of Man amounts to:

http://www.vimeo.com/36542350

Note: NSFW

During the Enlightenment the state of the human being was critically re-examined, and compared to its imagined origin, in a ’natural state’ (ie. pre The Fall). Of particular note here is Rousseau and his Theory of the Natural Human; consider these words from its entry in the GreatWiki (emphasis mine):

Society corrupts men only insofar as the Social Contract has not de facto succeeded, as we see in contemporary society as described in the Discourse on Inequality (1754).

In this essay, which elaborates on the ideas introduced in the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, Rousseau traces man’s social evolution from a primitive state of nature to modern society. The earliest solitary humans possessed a basic drive for self preservation and a natural disposition to compassion or pity. They differed from animals, however, in their capacity for free will and their potential perfectibility. As they began to live in groups and form clans they also began to experience family love, which Rousseau saw as the source of the greatest happiness known to humanity. As long as differences in wealth and status among families were minimal, the first coming together in groups was accompanied by a fleeting golden age of human flourishing. The development of agriculture, metallurgy, private property, and the division of labour and resulting dependency on one another, however, led to economic inequality and conflict. As population pressures forced them to associate more and more closely, they underwent a psychological transformation: They began to see themselves through the eyes of others and came to value the good opinion of others as essential to their self esteem. Rousseau posits that the original, deeply flawed Social Contract (i.e., that of Hobbes), which led to the modern state, was made at the suggestion of the rich and powerful, who tricked the general population into surrendering their liberties to them and instituted inequality as a fundamental feature of human society. Rousseau’s own conception of the Social Contract can be understood as an alternative to this fraudulent form of association. At the end of the Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau explains how the desire to have value in the eyes of others comes to undermine personal integrity and authenticity in a society marked by interdependence, and hierarchy. In the last chapter of the Social Contract, Rousseau would ask “What is to be done?” He answers that now all men can do is to cultivate virtue in themselves and submit to their lawful rulers. To his readers, however, the inescapable conclusion was that a new and more equitable Social Contract was needed.

 

Where Nietzsche speaks of his transcendant Übermensch being Beyond Good & Evil, as a counterpoint we have Rousseau’s “Natural Human” being Before Good & Evil. This is what Terence McKenna speaks of as the Fall into History.

But the situation in this new Anthropocene Era leaves us with no ‘natural state’ left to return to. This is the subject of Bruce Sterling’s Art+Enviroment conference keynote, finally extending upon the seed of an idea he left dangling in DISTRACTION (aka “the book that predicts Occupy Wall Street”):

YouTube Preview Image
via THINKPROGRESS, which has some handy bonus quotes.

Which leads us where?

  • Next Nature as an internet of animals.
  • Bioengineered RFID-tagged stags roam Roundup Ready forests in search of their neural-networked doe harems.” ~ @claytoncubitt
  • PROPHET

See also:


TEDTalk: The Anthropocene

Posted by on April 23rd, 2011

Executive Director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, Professor Will Steffen, takes us on a journey through the science measuring humanity’s effect on the planet. Using tangible, real measures, Will shows us the profound change in the planet since the Industrial Revolution and argues that now, more than at any other time, humanity is the single most influential factor in global changes; so much so that we should recognise that now is the age of mankind – The Anthropocene.

YouTube Preview Image

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to sway a climate-change denialist, but regardless, it’s an excellent overview of this important theory.