Inside Job (How they stole your future)

Posted by on May 26th, 2011

Inside Job is an award winning documentary about the origins and actors in the ongoing Global Financial Crisis. If I had paid attention to the Oscars this year I might have heard of it sooner, it won the award for Best Documentary Feature. Instead, it was by lurking on #spanishrevolution that I found out about this, and you’ll note this video has Spanish subtitles. But the film is in English; narrated by Matt Damon, even.

This is the story of financial deregulation and the eventual resultant crisis. Begun by Reagan, but it’s important to note, allowed to become ‘too big to fail’ under the Clinton administration. And in no way reformed by the Obama administration.

How the new Global Elite‘s ranks have become swollen with the wealthy executives of Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros and so on. This film, unsurprisingly, reveals these people to be morally bankrupt, completely divorced from reality. Having no care for society, while the western governments, purely for ideological reasons, abandoned their duty to watch over the interests of their citizens.

Preserving the status quo has come at the expense of employment.. especially for the world’s youth. This is why ‘First World’ infrastructure is in such poor repair. The same ideology adopted by politicians instructing them to pay for only bare minimum maintenance; a culture of short-term gain, ignorant of long-term consequence.

This is how one of the systems of the world was broken and a better future stolen. Observe these people and the faults in, and the corruption of, governance that allowed this to occur, that we might never have (another) a repeat of it. Dare to dream that one day soon they might all be called to account for it too.

LIFT 11: Radical transparency and opaque algorithms

Posted by on February 8th, 2011

The LIFT 11 conference just concluded in Geneva, Switzerland. I’ve picked the two most interesting talks to post here, but there’s many others of course, and please feel free to post your favourites in the comments.

Hasan Elahi: Giving away your privacy to escape the US terrorist watch list

Hasan will tell us his incredible story: he was suspected of terrorism by the FBI by mistake, and ended up living totally in public to protect himself from surveillance. His talk will show how forfeiting your privacy can in fact become a new form of protection of your identity.

liftconference on Broadcast Live Free

Hasan concludes his talk by saying that if we all did what he does the intelligence community would be overwhelmed with information. Wrong; the NSA and others like it already do this. How? Algorithms running on incredibly powerful computer systems. Arguably a new lifeform, perhaps evolving to become the dominant one, if we believe the Singularitarians. Or is that already the case and we just haven’t realised it yet?

Kevin Slavin: Those algorithms that govern our lives

Digital technologies and on-line platforms are essential to the way we work and live. Interestingly, they are defined by algorithms which are not neutral. Kevin will discuss how they define new social norms and how our culture is affected by the possibilities embedded in the software we use.

liftconference on Broadcast Live Free

The Future of Money (infographic)

Posted by on December 27th, 2010

future of money infoviz

(Click through for high resolution)

From Emergence Collective.

Your Jetpack (Cannibal Futures)

Posted by on April 7th, 2010

So on our “Ask us anything” account, someone asked the inevitable question: “Where’s my fucking jetpack?”

So where is your fucking Jetpack, anyway?

HERE’S YOUR FUCKING JETPACK.  There, boom, a commercially available Jetpack.  You strap it on, it flies and you don’t even need a license in most countries.  All you need is a little bit of disposable income and wham:  Jetpack.  What?  You can’t afford it?   Well what did you expect; that when jetpacks came around that they’d be free?  I live in a country where free flu shots are considered a government conspiracy and you expect someone to strap a communist subsidized rocket up your ass and tell you to go to town?  I don’t fucking think so.

What are you looking for in a jetpack, anyway?  I mean, sure they’re cool and all – who didn’t hide in their rooms and gently bring themselves off while watching the Rocketeer?  But what do your really want – flight?  Well there are other ways to fly then strapping a giant engine to your back.

Oh yeah, speaking of flight, here’s your flying car, too:

It’s called a “helicopter”.  Yes, you need a special license and metric shit-tonnes of money to own and operate one making it prohibitively expensive and unrealistic for many reasons – but hey, don’t feel bad - NINETY-ODD PERCENT OF THE HUMAN SPECIES feels the same way about cars.   To break that down into more manageable numbers, if the world was a colony of 1000 people, by some accounts only 70 lucky bastards would own cars.  Everyone else?  Hoofing it, biking it, using public transportation or being stuck in a geographic area the size of a postage stamp by environmental factors.

So does the fact you can’t afford a flying car make you sad?  Congratulations!  Now you’ve woken up on the same side of the bed as the rest of the human race.

Okay.  Fair enough, you don’t mean flying car in a loose sort of way that could include a helicopter.  You want an honest-to-God Nick Fury agent of S.H.I.E.L.D “where we’re going we don’t need roads” Delorian with rockets strapped to its ass.

What is it with you people wanting to strap rockets to everything’s ass, anyway?  Remind me never to look at your porn collection.    (Well, I mean… if it has tastefully done ass-rockets, send it on.)

Flying cars are neat, too.  But let me direct your attention to this window.  Look out there… now assuming you’re in a part of the world where car ownership is the norm, then you’re looking at a place where there need to be laws in place to stop people from doing stupid shit while operating several tonnes of dangerous machinery at high speeds.  It is somehow not common sense to not down a beer, smoke a joint, text your boyfriend, pierce your nipples and skullfuck a Peruvian trout when driving a two-ton death machine.

But people who weren’t gifted with a basic survival instinct aren’t the only downer about motor vehicles.   You see, the people making cars are under no pressure to make safe cars.  Do you really want the same companies that have to be sued, threatened and cajoled by private citizens and governments to not make cars that blow up when hit by a stiff breeze to be the ones responsible for shooting you and your car into the sky?   That bit from Fight Club, about auto companies weighing the liability for death vs defects in their vehicles?  That’s a true story.

So where is your flying car?  Perhaps it is waiting somewhere behind the car that is not responsible for approximately 2% of all the death in the world, annually?  (For ex.  1.4 million worldwide in 2004.)   How in the hell is anyone supposed to level up to super awesome flying cars when we can’t even get cars-that-don’t-kill-people-all-the-fucking-time down?

Okay, that’s enough yelling; the shouty old man routine gets old – fast.

But that said, the “where’s my fucking jetpack” meme pisses me the fuck off.

First of all, why the obsession over a future made in the 1910-1930′s?  Flying cars and jetpacks were the fantasy fetish objects of a different time.  Not a simpler time, because the phrase “simpler time” is like “military intelligence” – it’s a contradiction – we only think times were simpler thanks to temporal and cultural distancing.   Still, is that your future?  Really?  Or is your grandparents’ future?  The Jetpack future is a future born of the past.  It is a future created by people who lived in a world that had never seen the artificial suns rise over Japan, had not seen the realities of our space program, and probably couldn’t conceive of a black man in the White House or Celebrity Big Brother.

If you’re really serious about wanting the Jetpack future – and I know some of you are…

Hell, you’re listening to a man who once blew up a poster of Thomas Edison with homemade explosives while screaming “Nikola Tesla thou art revenged” at the top of his lungs and running naked through the woods.  Which is to say… I have my own hang ups about stolen futures.

If you’re serious about the Jetpack future, then don’t stop at “this is not my future” – make it your future.  Claim that vision of now that circumstances and small minds have denied you and find other like minded people and build it.

When Steampunk came back, you had people who looked at the future-of-a-different-past in some works of fiction and then started to make it real.  Not just with cute costumes and at conventions, but with building their own machines, starting real community and carving out a niche where that future made of cogs and springs and the rushing of superheated air has weight and takes up space and becomes real.  Now you’ve got people getting into D.I.Y. and sustainability and reclaiming urban spaces thanks to a subculture that in the beginning, just really liked some sci-fi books and had an unhealthy fixation with top hats.

Here’s the thing; if you stop at “this is not my future” and go no further, then someone else will make their version of the future and I can almost guarantee you’re not going to like it.   I can guarantee this because you already don’t like it.  We’re living in the future of men who saw people as commodities and human lives as disposable sources of income.  It’s not some grand conspiracy, it’s just people who have a vision of the future where the top 2% get richer and the rest of the world… well… you want to be in that 2%, right?  And the only way that is going to happen is if you buy into their future and not into the steam-sustainability-and-goggles future, the Ayahuasca-and-shamanism future, the Russian-feminist-ninja future or the Japanese-post-gender-newtype future.

We don’t have nice things because we let other people take them away from us.  We have these futures that seem alien to us because we let them happen.  I’m including you, me and 99% of all the humans and mutants I have ever met in that “we”, too.    We are the reason there are no jetpacks or flying cars or universal distribution of water and food.  ”We have met the enemy,” as a great man once said, “and he is us”. We contribute to a future that has no place for us in so many ways:  inaction, being convinced that we don’t have voices that count, being convinced that the only choices we have are the choices we can buy, despair, alienation… the list goes on and on.   We let the beautiful, amazing, weird, fucked-up futures we hold next to our hearts die stillborn in the face of futures so alien to most of us that they might as well be dread Cthulhu sleeping beneath the waves.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though.  If you want the jetpack future?  Find the other people who want it and make it.   If you see the people around you stand mute while the dreams of human accomplishment are ground into the dirt and they instead run over each other to embrace steaming mediocrity and you don’t think that’s a fair trade? Say something.  Contrary to slick movie quotes, the Devil never even bothered to pretend he didn’t exist – instead he made so many of us believe the lie that our voices and actions don’t matter.

Fuck the Devil.  Put on your tophat and latex gimp suit or Rocketeer jacket and carve out that future – Jetpacks and all if that’s what floats your boat – and don’t let me or anyone else get in your way.

At least we do have the alien dancing girls.

Branded Pigs

Posted by on July 9th, 2009

Created by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, his tattooed pigs can grace your home! The pigs are treated humanly and given sedatives before being tattooed with their intended design. A person can pick and choose which pig or skin to purchase by visiting his website.

Link and photos via


Posted by on March 7th, 2009

Ideas and photos by Justin Melnick, link via