Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Singularity is Dear

This is getting tiresome, this Stack book. There are grand big ideas which I got in the previews, and I agree with the dude about what's wrong with TED, but in the end he feels like one of those pricks who knows how to throw around words like ontology, phenomenology, epistemology. Words that I can never keep a handle on.

Sitting in lectures with world-famous erudites, I'm always astounded at the chutzpah of young students confident enough of their grasp of the discourse actually to ask questions out loud and in public. Or last night at the Game Studio show, young designers of computer games talking like they're already on the indie inside of the industry, and I do wish them well, I really do. 

But there is something frightfully masculinist about how Ben Bratton writes. He feels an obligation to impose his astonishing cleverness on the world. After a while that cleverness smells like fear; a way to hedge against risk of bold statements, documenting every detour, establishing the absolute soundness of what he has to say.

To his credit, I don't really think he is the sort to throw around those words I doth protest to hate. I Googled Ontology of Accident before venturing to say it out loud here, and sure enough there's a book on it. It's what I want to see Bratton write about. He has nothing near to that, so far, and so I am left hanging, about whether he's just another one of those who think that human cleverness is what it's all about. 

I am compelled into side-excursions, like reading Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, wherein I learn that to "hang out" was already around before Clemens died, and train conductors already sounded the way they did when I was little. Perhaps he coined it.

Looking up post-humanism, only to find - duh! - that its meaning which might have started in eco-consciousness to unsettle the "us" from some supposed pinnacle of evolution, with dreams of becoming one with nature again somehow; its meaning has been expropriated.

Now it seems that users of the term mostly talk about how technological elaborations on our being are what engenders the "post" to humanism. That it will only be our betters to put us in our place. Subject to the machine, and this is better how? Sounds post life to me.

This is all as ironic as the evident fact that Evangelical Christians are the most ardently humanist people on the planet, right? They're the ones who champion dominion over nature by manly man. As though it were automatically the case that God the Father is the most clever of beings. And not the most loving. The most angy. And not the most indulgent.

These highly technical usages for terms which ought to be common are what feel like sin to me. Humanism can't mean something special in regard to disbelievers in God at the same time it means those who don't believe. Dominion over nature with a vengeance. Angry God as though the New Testament were never written. Am I a subject or am I an object, or has all language lost its sense?

So yes along my way I discovered that it was Vernor Vinge coined the term Singularity, which Kurzweil only borrowed. It's always the narrative adepts and not the scientists. Writers of creative fiction, and not the earnest thinkers. Apotheosis of cleverness, and machine thinking will crowd out all else. 

Doubt it. Irony be my God.

Whatever we collectively decide its definition might be, consciousness implies bodily continuity with the cosmos. Of the simultaneity sort. Felt, not perceived and language abandons me again, for were not feeling that which moves from outside in? And must it not start with perception? My love is a rose by any other name.

That thing which binary realities deny, by definition. My ontology of accident is trivially simple, and not some clever way to account for the tragedy of accidental brain trauma or disfigurement, although I can only imagine love in that usage, as and and it was a woman who wrote it.

It was only our good fortune that we were the result of prior mass extinctions if and as we think of these as accidents. Accidents are phenomena (there I go!) cut off from our ability by means of cleverness to attribute their sources. We think we might eradicate these from existence and thereby or in the very process become omniscient, which would be God. But these accidents are our very all, and at their point of eradication we become as unconscious as I soon will be, who never did have a good ability to name and to attribute, and it's getting worse on a minute-by-minute basis. Let me tell you.

It were love that predicted us, and it had nothing to do with perceptual anything that could be instrumentally detected and measured and whose reality thereby ascribed. It was a feeling, and the accident of it is only a matter of point of view. We only can look forward, which is a limitation of our consciousness so far. Looking backward is a faculty being eradicated faster than I am dying, and it is techno lust the evil-doer. 

As I may have said, I live in Burlington Vermont which has to be one of the more expensive real-estate markets on the planet. There are no fools who do not charge the market rate for rent, and that just makes fools of the rest of us. There are no beautiful women who intentionally disfigure themselves, no matter their affinity for downscale rags. The brands are meant to enhance the brand. This is no kind of love that I want. It can only be a threat to my very being. When I insist on getting my best price, I am by definition cruel to my fellow man. I hold this truth self-evident. 

My dick shrivels and I don't have to worry about it anymore. There is far more pleasure in scalding my itchy skin than ever there was in orgasm whose discharge won't even wash out anymore. I have grown toxic even to myself. 

Still, I do await the borning of humanity on the planet and I find it just around my corner, hopefully not after the self-eradication of these beastly self-absorbed and narcissistic homo-sapiens all about me of which I am one. All or nothing, so says I, all or nothing at all as it were in the beginning, world without end, amen.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Either/Or Future

I somehow missed the Go Science marches in downtown Burlington yesterday. I'd been there for the "show me your taxes" march, off to the side. This time I arrived as folks were heading home. Cool signage.

Last time I was downtown to have coffee about a business venture. The parking cost me something like nine bucks for a couple of hours, while the coffee was free, thanks my interlocutor's student honoring her. Nothing about our economy makes sense to me anymore.

Yesterday I was there to complete my new arrangement to put my little sailboat on the roof of my little car, since the trailer space has been taken up by my new and mobile home. Downtown has all the outdoor sporting at Outdoor Gear Exchange, locally owned since forever. Viz Panera Bread, if you want to be outdoors it will set you back stupid amounts of money. Haven't they got wind of the made-in-China global discount?? I guess that's only for the kind of tools that White Trump Voters use, not for motor-free outdoor adventure.

I only needed longer bars for my now ancient and obsolete Yakima rooftop carrier. My sailboat, while not much heavier, is wider than a canoe. Ninety freaking bucks for a couple of lousy steel tubes. Are you kidding me??!!

And to add icing on the top of my payment horror, they didn't even come with end caps, which added another twenty something for little bits of plastic whose two cents to make is inflated across a logistical chain stretching from here to eternity. Smiles all around though, since we're all in on the facts, ma'am, the facts (although it took a while for the very nice clerk to ascertain that indeed absence of end-caps is part of the bargain - she was commiserating with me, of all things, the customer!).

Anyhow, out the door and there go all these smug science marchers. I shouldn't say smug, but they sure did look self-satisfied. I wish I coulda been there.

The thing about science is that it provides zero help to judge the tough stuff. Like, is that guy being honest? Mostly science is a linguistic arrangement, encouraging agreement about some fundamental matters so that we can argue about the important stuff and not get sidetracked by whether holy ghosts are real or no. We are worried that the folks in charge are fantasists, science deniers, true believers in some kind of either/or as never happens in real life.

So to my eyes, spawn of Adolf Coors Neil Gorsuch is a Nazi. My meaning is simple. He's driven by a prior decision to make all decisions according to some simple principle so as not to have to be bothered by actual judging. He's a kind of linguistic scientist that way. But to me, he's as amoral as a Secret Agent  who'd long since sworn loyalty to a flag rendered meaningless by subsequent betrayals; but who goes ahead to kill on order anyhow. And through life-long learning the hard way, knows how to keep personal grace and honor, no matter who offends him. Gorsuch wears his uniform smile very well indeed.

I don't really think scientific judging is much different than any other sort. You assess the background of the person presenting the findings, and you check in with peers to see if the finder is generally reliable. Absent powerful pecuniary motives, you assume the findings to be true (in their realm) and well-represented.

The trouble being, of course, that even the best scientists are fooled when paradigm shifts come along to pull the rug out from everything they've done heretofore, and with confidence.

Case in point, those Frenchies who are so much more reasonable than we are most ways, might be on the verge of electing their own sort of psychopath. They are reasonable about their treatment of workers, about socialized medicine, and they even impose limits on campaign spending. But along comes viral marketing through social media and campaign spending takes on a different meaning.

My horse in the race, so far as I can tell - Mélenchon - the Robin Hood alt-leftie, has introduced something entirely new to politics. He can colocate by virtue of holographic live-stream. Who knew??!!

OK, so now what if lots of people can experience him virtually live on stage who otherwise couldn't? Is that a good thing? Think Donald Trump simulcast to everywhere blacks or Islamic immigrants can be excluded. I know I've got something inside out and backwards here, but viral marketing is not automatically a good thing. Gone is the peer-review, gone is the vetting, gone is the careful fact-checking.

Still, we are certainly in the midst of a paradigm shift. The ones we thought we trusted are actually apologists for the existing world order. The existing world-order has been well-exposed as favoring the wealthy while making life miserable for everybody else. Even if that means taking them out by drone when they (we?) complain. Even second-generation Trudeau up in Canada doesn't dare oppose the oil industry. We make our bargains with devils big and little, just to keep the local peace.

So here's my dilemma: Part of me wants to wander with sailboat on rooftop. I want to go to those wild places which are still not despoiled, and repose in relative calm and silence, merrily merrily merrily, life being but a dream.

But the other part of me wants in to Trumplandia so that I can see how life feels from the other side. How does it feel to not feel welcome at Panera Bread, or at Trader Joe's even, for crying out loud. It's not the cost which is exclusive. It's the comfort factor.

I'm just not sure I'm warrior enough. I guess I'll find out along my way. I won't be using any scientific method, that's for sure. Random dictates most of life, and so that's where I'll be. Surfing the random, while you all put your faith in the Science Guy. Who if you must know is a Bill O'Reilly grade womanizer. I don't trust the lot of 'em. My trust is mostly local, and even there exposing motive is hard work.

If it's all me me me, my trust is down the drain. I don't think that distinguishes me from very many people, and truth be told, I find a lot of hope in that.

Panera Bread

Wouldn't  it be funny if I drink and others take opioids for good reason, and it's not a social or individual illness but is instead a proper response to something very wrong all around us?

It is so jarring to me when I head out of town to see so many cheerful people prosecuting their days. The highly presentable folks who work Verizon, who still can't either explain or probably understand themselves how their various plans work. They go from various pieces of bedrock to point their compass. But banter among themselves establishes some disagreement and none of it conforms to the fine print on the Verizon website.

A young nice-looking fellow with costly hair (I wonder if they get a uniform subsidy in that way?) tried to disarm me right up front by suggesting that like all companies, Verizon is purposefully vague, since they want to get you in the door to upsell. How would I ever establish mis-representation?

There was too much of a waiting line to ask my questions earlier, and so I'd made an appointment, and while I tried my best to be docile and serene, just simply my line of questioning must have left the guy on edge. We left on good terms, but now I was hungry, having spent the morning rounding up still more supplies to calibrate my little a-frame caravan for vagabonding.

I have fond enough feelings for Panera Bread. It doesn't seem to overfill me, and I can split a salad with a sandwich. Mainly their dark roast coffee is killer. I did an academic conference in St. Louis where I discovered  that some little place with a different name was the original Panera Bread. I'd ridden into downtown on a very nice light rail from the airport, where I was pretty much the only white person. I wandered the neighborhood of the hotel, near the River, and while it wasn't exactly pedestrian friendly, the city had a nice overall vibe, at least to Buffalo born me.

Now I guess I know that the home office store has the same special vibe which Sam Walton's five and dime did when I visited that by motorcycle, bizarrely innocent of what Walmart meant since at that time, it hadn't made it to Buffalo yet. Although Big Box churches already had.

Anyhow, Panera is a magnet for the well-coiffed educated set, tending toward the feminine side. A nice black fellow with dreadlocks waited on me and while he toted me up I was reminded of the last time I'd ever visit a Goodyear tire store. The nickels and dimes add up to real money, of the sort you might spend for a night out at a good restaurant. I had to check my cheap genes just to avoid the embarrassment of bolting out the door..

I suppose it's like roadside motels; you pay for the class of people you wish to associate with and if you've got it it's worth it. Next to me while I munched my $.99 cent "bakery item" waiting for my table-specific geolocator to deliver my "pick-two," was an incredibly nice and intelligent young fellow - looking rather better educated, a bit older, and certainly better heeled than the Verizon folks - He was explaining to a somewhat dowdy looking woman of my age how he would advise her to steward her retirement funds. He was earnest, thorough, and seemed to be quite honest. I wanted to butt in and ask for his card since he was so much more thorough than my guy, but I couldn't quite muster the courage to admit to my eavesdropping.

So, you know, I imagine Panera wants to do well by its peeps. After I Apple-paid, the nice clerk said that there would be one more thing for me to do after touch id to pay. I laughed. It was a tip request, and while I somewhat question the propriety of tip jars where there isn't any service of the type I mean when I use the term, I happily complied. Price of all the smiles.

I don't really know, and I'm not sure I really care why being good to your inside peeps has to mean screwing your clients, but I guess the main point is to keep things just shy of that false smile on everyone's face. Even at Verizon where the screwing almost pops out of the pants, they seem quite expert at keeping it happy. Even the appointment part. (Are you kidding me?) We saw what happened to United. Maybe we'll slap Volkswagen-scale punitive damages on them all someday.

So this morning yet another Eagle Scout type from the right wing had had enough with delays to execution and summarily offed a guy who seemed to have a pretty good claim to innocence. There are so very many ways that I can't understand this stuff. I witnessed my own daughter, who is also on the Innocence Project, try to argue parole for this guy who had clearly invented an entire new and decent identity across over 35 years of incarceration. I felt I was watching Greek drama, as he spoke and as the parole board returned a denial. He had witnesses from the community, promises of work, endorsements from his jailers. My daughter tells me that all the parole board wanted was admission of guilt for a murder he was complicit with. He fully admitted guilt, but maintained a story at vague odds with the one the board seemed to want to hear. He was not the one who inflicted the blows, and maintained he was not in the sanctuary - scene of the crime - at the time.

So what I don't get is why it is we make all these fine distinctions. Were I in prison, I'm pretty sure that life under unmonitored and uncensored and unrestricted administrative control would be far worse than to die by choice. The only thing that I can understand is that they are able to keep that edge of decency because virtually all of the people incarcerated have never known anything better. So naturally, they want to live, since life on the inside isn't that much worse than life on the outside. I'm sure there's terror, but overall there's predictability.

I suppose that this might even explain why there is a school to prison railroad for black folks. Not so much a racialist conspiracy as a self-magnifying process of accommodation to life as it's actually experienced. There is never any incentive to comply with authority if it starts off bad from every beginning.

I also don't get why chemical weapons are any more reprehensible than the collateral damage we cause by our not-quite-smart-enough drone weaponry. Of course I agree that chemical weapons should be "outlawed" but at some point the maker of the law is always exempting himself. As though there were a maker of world order, right? In my nightmares, or in any number of High Castle type serialized reels.

So what blows my mind, really, is the happiness bordering on joy of  those on the winning side of life's lotteries. Don't they know the ship is sinking? Aren't they aware that a psychopath is in charge and that those privileged enough to spend quality time in the White House ought to be staying at the Motel 6 like I do? I suppose there's no accounting for taste, but I mean really!!? Kid Rock, Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin get the insider's full attention tour??

It does seem as though the world is splitting between those who can afford to be oblivious since the world doesn't impinge much on them (or is it us?). Laughing children, smiling friends, nice clothes, nice cars, calm enough to wait for pedestrians, although even in a luxury car, the traffic gets annoying.

The rest are on sufferance and know it, held at bay by high-tech surveillance and SWAT which could swoop in at any moment, should the need arise. Do I long for the days when young fellows from the city would dare to swipe my bicycle from my suburban garage? Perhaps. It meant that they could still arrive unnoticed, and depart the same way. Or who knows, it could have been my neighbors, and I was buying a story that I'd been told.

Anyhow, no more Panera Bread for me. The price isn't worth the cost in purchased fantasy. Sad descent from fine origins, overtaken by Wall Street grade aggrandizement. Let us now enjoy our daily Ritz.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Accidents Will Happen

It might be that the main thing attracting me to The Stack was that it called attention to the fact that each elaboration for technological so-called "progress," sets a new stage for accident, and that these will be accidents of a new sort. I think deaths on the highways, or in the airways, or ghoulishly live on social or asocial media. Accidental juxtapositions and collisions newly founded.

One useful definition for technology of any sort is that it extends both our reach and grasp on the world around us. The motive, mostly, is to keep the fates at bay. To prevent accidental death and loss, by building shelter, by agriculture, by better methods for hunting and for fighting off ones natural or cultural foes.

One looks for safety and calm in repose, and only curated excitement in the daytime. Our repose also is attracted to what feels like home. Familiar, atavistically with hearth, but surrounded by loved ones -offspring and progenitors. Painted high-tech now with olive camo.

We are scattered now, and our hearths are artificial and largely hidden. We reconnect by means like Facebook, FaceTime, familiarity on the flatscreen. Some of us feel emotionally connected to the wilds still, the natural beauty, the random-seeming leavings of ephochs-long evolutionary processes. This is the stage for accident which we so frantically push away, now almost to oblivion, while we might still dream of other worlds to which we might escape in fantasy.

These epochs were marked by accidental mass extinction of species, by virtue or flaw of meteor collisions, methane inversions stimulated somehow by spew of nickel, say, or blockage of sun from ash in the atmosphere, and we even still dream of pushing even these accidents back toward oblivion, so clever might we become with our technologies.

These epochal collisions are our goldilocks accidents, the extinctions which made us possible, and which might be unlikely enough to make us special in the known cosmos. We never look for the architecture of accident. We leave that to the religious crazies.

It does seem to me so strange that those who remain at home in the wilds - knife in teeth as Whitehouse guest Ted Nugent was described, or Alaska wilds maven Sarah Palen, his hosted host - those who hunt and fish and carve the wilderness with noisy motorized off-road wheels which don't belong there, are also busy fanning the flames for our collective meltdown.

But those of us nursing sweet nostalgia for the wilds, as for our absent hearths, almost never go there except perhaps as a player of some high-tech adventure game, with gore-texted rain flys and outerwear, fine tolerance lines and carabiners, shoes which make us Spider-Man for just a day. Our presence in the wilderness is our imposition of the eternal me, as though God and fates anointed us. Special as a Snowflake.

I find it hard to feel attraction forward or backward to worlds which I don't share with relatives distant or near - fellow travelers on this latest accidental post-apocalyptic planet. The deserts of Mars or the moon or the earth after we destroy it. It would feel as lonely as heaven might, though I were provided every comfort.

There are not yet humans on the planet. We are animals still, now taken over by our technologies, and so I must set out to discover that I am wrong. Blessed are the meek for they are invisible to digital media, in ways both obscure and bizarre. I will try to send back smoke signals.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Radical Inversions

This really is difficult, reading The Stack. And suddenly it does descend on me like that Mother of All Bombs, the proverbial ton of bricks, that this is an entirely masculine book, and I don't entirely know why. Not long ago, I read Virginia Heffernan's The Internet as Art, which was as clearly feminine. I feel the need to get beneath this surface.

It is very frustrating for me, this decision to take notes, to write as I read, because I must take time out from making sense of the incoming. I still hope the exercise will have value somehow. My problem is that - very unlike Benjamin H. Bratton - I have no mind for cataloging, remembering, placing in their academic context so very very many items read, viewed, talked about, assimilated, digested and remembered.

I was clever once. I could make connections among disparate matters, and articulate these in ways to convince teachers and test scorers that I have a fine brain. But I never had good memory, and so come exam time I had to reconstruct from first principles, which ultimately wears a person out as how I find myself just now.  No worries. It would have happened anyhow and anyways.

There is a kind of panic behind such cleverness, surely related to survival. Now as I tinker on my little travel trailer, getting ready to live in a packet as our grid-space goes through its sudden inversion, I hold puzzles in my head. How to mount the flatscreen so that it won't either stress the skin or rattle itself to death on the road. How to moderate and monitor the flow of electrons among batteries and solar panels and electronics. Keep heat on through the night, while still able to type. How to master the arcane art of cellular roaming against constant Windows updates and still dispersed free Wifi, which is often only free if you have a home-based Internet account. The world is hardly ready for this inversion. I life in a state of suspended terror, but at least I have a chance not to find myself stuck in the wrong place among the wrong people at the wrong time. I do not do this for myself. For myself I would be gone tomorrow. I must bide.

Mostly what has been happening is that I have to shut my mind off, and just let the connections appear to me and they do. Thinking too hard I remain blind to them, these juxtapositions across different foci for my attention. So I nearly miss the fact that hanging items on walls without piercing skin by screws is a solved problem in my day job with duct-tape putty. And I almost drilled the holes! I am almost always either holding two related things in my mind and failing to make the connection between them, or so focused on the particular that I fail to raise my head and see the answer all around me.

This is surely feminine knowledge, the kind that come when you turn your mind off and let the cosmos propose solutions. Acts of fate. Appearance of interesting and perhaps beautiful forms, and you might even have the chutzpah to turn them into something you might call your own. A very different approach to art from that of men who would impose their clever architectonic reconstructions on the raw stuff of our experience. Yes fuck you big time Ayn, though you do now seem so suddenly in charge again. You were only ever a half-wit.

As a fanboy, I might like to see Heffernan and Bratton couple. What sparks might fly? But this only works if there is something real about distinctions masculine to feminine, and maybe there really aren't. And I must still confess that women working digital feels like an abomination which will get me into nothing but a clusterfuck of trouble if I say such things out loud. Fuck STEM, and it won't help to call it STEAM, it's just another way to make the feminine feel inferior.

Here's what I think the difference is, where it inheres, miles below the skin-level where even MOAB cannot penetrate nevermind hard dicks: What digital defines is difference which cannot contaminate its other. It can only be in relation. This is what is meant by zeros and ones. No matter how far you push it, it can never break out from that machine-space. Flesh and blood are, on the other hand, always intertwining, making meaning in the blending in and bleeding over.

My mind is not distinct from body, and it is the entire Gaia of Earth which connects me to that life-force which is ever so immediate that its touch is as reliable as hand on wrench for instant connection to what is happening when force applies. Knife to flesh perhaps. Digital cuts are intention without feedback. A gap. Reversion to thought/transmission/reception. It can ever only imitate the Real.

Not Gaia the antenna, channeling a life-force which propagates, but eternal matrix never separate in the first place, which is why we clever men must work so hard to destroy her. Because She will not release our Fate to force of our puny intention. Our machines but make us seem God and but for a day. Gaia is always immediate, which has already broken every physical law knowable to Man-kind, where simultaneity must remain creative fiction.

It is easier to read Chinese now, since at least the words have a kind of archaeological stability back to the beginnings of our abstraction as humans by virtue of the written word. Current authors are cut off by cultural revulsions and therefore almost as trivial to read as Lao Zi. A computer could compose these words. But to read a mensch like Bratton is to do mortal battle against every bit of received wisdom in your cosmos. All of it shifting under the magic wand of his written prowess. Let me tell you, it ain't the vocabulary honey. It's the fucking cleverness on display and it is meant to cow you into submission. I wonder if he's gay? Whatever.

OK, back to reading. I may remain too sick to go to work again today, though my fever has subsided and my guts feel settled. There is pain in my daily grind, though the coffee tastes good again and thank the gods for that.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Engendered Power Relations

Here I am, back again to a topic and approach which can only turn me into someone repulsive. Can't help it. Feminism should be about power, and not about gender-role assignments. Women lately have learned to deploy their power by physical attractiveness, which does, I still believe, grant most of the power back to the men who admire the female form. Women in positions of power in the world now constituted are playing men's roles and that's the end of it.

We will never get beyond racist sexist society unless and until we have some form of democracy which is not premised on winners and losers. As far as I can tell, that's bedrock. Winners have power, money, beauty, talent or any combination of those if they are deployed for power. Fate has better uses.

I learned two important new things today; that freedom fighters among the Kurds in Syria follow a man called Öcalan who followed a man called Murray Bookchin who lived in the woods of Vermont back in the day. I also learned that there is a famous twentieth century artist named Eric Gill who engaged in incest both with his sister and with his own daughters. Oh my the things that these Internets might bring one's way. I also learned about this thing called bangbus, pornography with amateurs picked up on the road, or that's the meme anyhow. All this by a quick troll across the morning news feeds.

I can't be disgusted by incest if I'm not also disgusted by sex with women had basically because they're hot. I know it's a sport now, and fully sanctioned and written about and that women empower themselves by being open about it, I'm just saying that I'm disgusted by it in pretty much the same way that I'm disgusted by incest, child porn, power sex and all the rest. Naturally, that makes me disgusted with myself much of the time, but there you go!

So, what to do about it, huh? For one thing, I seem to be headed toward a future which isn't being visualized anywhere that I can find. I think I have a partner in Ursula LeGuin, maybe, or Margaret Attwood, but my future is not the dark kind.

Just now the very word future, as it always has, invokes a clichéd and utterly normalized extrapolation of our present. Gadgets cooler, rocketing to Mars, self-driving cars. The lack of imagination is staggering. The only alternative we can imagine is utter meltdown, bloviated against by the likes of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton in whom we should and perhaps even must trust.

I know these truths to be self-evident: That there has never been a conflict resolution technique so fine as the scientific method. The trouble is that we mistake that method as a way toward Truth with a capital T. There is so much that the scientific method leaves out. Emotion for a start, which is at the root of most conflict. Anything that can't be measured.

Conveniently left out from our discussions about the scientific method are examinations of its starting point; that there is order to the cosmos and that it is and has been the same at every point in time and space.

Behind such an assumption is the dogma of natural law, opposite to the kind we might impose as humans. Natural law is discoverable structure which, once delineated, can only be controverted by the uncovering of a still deeper structure.

Collectively, we hardly ever consider our minuscule understanding against the vastness of the cosmos, which we hold vaguely in our collective minds to be as featureless as an endless lifeless desert and somehow more rich and more complicated than the biosphere we frantically destroy in our collective rage against the fates.

We fret the outcome of the so-called anthropocene, where man has become the most notable feature of Earth's environment, and all else will evolve to suit us or disappear.

Or more likely humankind will disappear and the Earth will start up all over again, across millions of years of toxic redress against our now imagined futures.

It is true that I am mildly buoyed to know that however minuscule my own understanding, in the cosmic scheme of things it is not smaller than that of those we now adore, admire, grant power to. Given the global political inversion, mine also has become a common posture. The question is only what to do about it. We are so clever, those of us educated but out of power.

Perhaps we should start with the easy stuff, the what not to do. First might be not to fuck around just because it's momentarily gratifying to do so. Stop eating meat. Celebrate diversity, especially the kind that's against the natural law. Except that the easy stuff is really the hardest just simply because it can pause the panic. Kick the opioids and welcome the pain, kind of thing. It's no mistake that Matrix chose a pill.

Our senses demand our indulgences, the physically real at rage against our better angels. I hope for another science fiction flik as transformative as The Matrix. I hear that nowadays those who claim to have chomped the Red Pill are all apologists for status quo. Harsh reality, so claim your steak and enjoy it while you can. The irony in that posture screams too loudly for me to bother to rehearse it.

It is, of course, troglodyte and anti-intellectual to just believe and trust in God. And well it should be, since God is right up there with natural law as only a presumption about what is eternally real. We make God in our image in pretty much the same way that we make our futures. And we hand both of these mostly over to men, who seem to need the earthly power.

A feminist future than might transcend both God and natural law to encourage a kind of spiritual presence in the cosmos which is the opposite of the one imposed by Mama Grizzly. Not save your own against the world of others, but radical empathy deployed by our deeper minds which are the parts not replicable by machine.

These are the connected parts, the harmonics with the deep structure of the cosmos in ways that shrug off the insights of quantum physics still seeking for that substrate of mysterious parts within the brain.

This is not my body that I inhabit, this is I and while my brain recedes my body will persist a short while longer and I would dispose that entirety of me in a way to give comfort while I am still able. First, of course and naturally, to those most close to me which are my daughters. They too will grow out of their natural beauty. I would comfort them in any way that I can.

So, I'm setting off in discourse with humanity, that's all. I don't write so good, but that might be for the same reason that I am no longer competent at work. I have no faith in the system, and one must have at least that if one is to be competent. I suppose I have that much in common with Steve Bannon. He is competent in a different world. It's just that his is mean and small and lonely. I don't have the means to live at such remove from reality.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

UX Design - The Irony

*sigh*

The College where I work is conducting a search for the position I hold on an interim basis. I am involved only to be invited to teaching demonstrations, and as a member of the team of program directors which holds a separate interview. The prompt for all candidates is Semiotics and Metaphor; the Human-Machine interface (something like that, I haven't been taking great notes). This is core to the design of the Master's program that I am acting as custodian for, and a topic in general of great interest.

There were to have been four finalist candidates, two female and two male, but one of the women dropped out. That was extremely disappointing to me, since we'd interviewed her previously to teach in Shanghai for which I thought she was supremely well-qualified. But for the program's dissolution, she would have been hired. I knew that she could be a brilliant director for this suffocated program.

So this round the two men took somewhat strikingly similar approaches, while the female candidate took a somewhat surprising somewhat refreshing turn in the direction of designed-in gender bias in human/machine interactions. Tracing some history, and highlighting some irony. Her talk stimulated more discussion and more animation than the others had.

Naturally, I had to examine my own bias, as it is hard for me to see this woman - who came through the program herself - able to move the program forward. It needs better definition and focus, and somewhat critically needs to move away from competition against larger better-funded programs which might cover similar territory. We need to distinguish ourselves in ways realistic in relation to the students we can attract and the funding available. She has seemed too much inside it; too rambling in her delivery and too eager to please the students.

Some of the presentation dwelled on the roles of women, who were themselves called "computers" when they did the clerical work of punch-card program upload. The cute anthropomorphism of Google's self-driving car, as opposed to the sexy object-power of what has driven automobile manufacture heretofore. Control, speed, even danger. It seems that user testing has demonstrated that riders in a self-driving car are calmed by a female voice interaction. Ditto Siri. Push buttons and command interfaces just excite that old implication with one's tools. Distance - calm breathing - is the mandate for artificial intelligence. Even moving a mouse and clicking requires too much alertness. So much can go wrong with a slip.

So here's my fugue. I've written exhaustively on the masculine relation to tools. A strong sceptic about the positives for digital so-called tools, I remark that with hand tools in particular, there can be something which approaches love, tenderness even, toward tools which feel good in hand and make a satisfying engagement with the material one is shaping.

Only when they fail might you curse and throw them to the ground. But, perhaps reluctantly, you might also realize that it was you who had failed the tool; overpowering it or failing to keep it sharp.

Computers early on were famous for enraging their users who could not make sense of them. We wanted to do some defenestration (that funny word that is almost mainstream now, perhaps because of Microsoft). Our catharsis was channeled by way of films like Office Space. We men loved our tools, we loved our cars, we loved to drive, and we loved speed. Computers could castrate us. Nerds are on the spectrum, feminized, ugly and smelly in an unathletic fashion.

In my many years supporting PC users, I have only ever seen women express a love for their machine. These machine-loving women were mostly in clerical positions. They might even name name their 'puters, often caress them, and back in the day load up their screens with cute things which I would have to caution were commonly vectors for the bad stuff. It may even have been my own reluctance to be that stern guy which took me away from that sort of work. Mostly, it was because the cloud made it impossible to be responsible.

Apple's success, its attraction to the granola creatives despite the fascism of its corporate structure, was that it mitigates rage against the machine by a friendly user interface. I do suppose that Steve Jobs and the Donald have this thing in common. An idiot savant insight to the user experience, and nothing much to do with technical expertise; in the case of the Donald, even in the realm of business.

Along with many others, I naturally pay more attention to Fox news now than I ever have before. Previously their talking heads could only outrage me, in the direction of my feelings toward televangelists. My threshold for that kind of patent destruction of the human purpose was pretty near my surface.

Now, I only want to observe that the user interface for Fox broadcast - the receptive pathway - is brilliantly engineered. Male rhetoric is direct and obvious with zero fancy intellect required to find its point. When some intellect is required, the rhetorical style is reassuring, precise, rational sounding by way of the National Review. Lessons from Ronald Reagan.

The women are engineered beauty, massively intelligent in rhetorical presence but breasty almost airbrushed beautiful foils for the men. But when were newscasters, politicians, talking heads ever human? These are highly engineered creatures, likely almost entirely different were you to meet them in person. If people that rich even have any person left, right?

I am in that strange minority of people more outraged by the Mac than by the PC. They take away my control in the same way that a self-driving car would, and make plumbing the internals way more arcane than necessary. Sometimes Apple designers even remove the power-button in the arrogance that it won't be necessary. Non-intuitive keystroke combos impossible to remember. Patent bespoke screws and ways in to do repair. Apples are the ones I want to defenestrate, since I can easily get under the hood of Windows and tinker.

But it is true that for the most part I don't pay attention to my iPhone, though for the most part I also never talk to "her." I want my tools to respond in the same direct unthinking fashion that I flip a light switch or turn a wrench. Drive-by-wire would always make me nervous. I still don't quite trust power tools, only because they might turn on you, destroy the medium, chop off your hand. Though truly, just as with self-driving cars, I've only really ever injured myself with well-sharpened will maintained and well wielded hand tools. Go figure.

So I do confess that as I update my iOS post-Trump, I'm nervous that this will be the NSA-intercept update, which transfers my control over to the Man. I marvel that post-update my available memory markedly expands. What garbage was I or it harboring down in there among all the bits and bytes? Still, I happily move along in lockstep with so many others. We are legion!

For the moment, trust is still engendered by engineered smoothness of the sort up on Fox News, designed in by Apple and manufactured in China. We like a little masculine roughness in our commanders in chief. Reagan might look too fake today, just like Xi looks a little too much his part. Maybe even a little feminine for his makeup. Hillary was a trainwreck already notable from a million miles away.

So, as ever I focus on the -archy part of matriarchy/patriarchy same-thing. My particular brand of feminism trusts more in gender fluidity, so long as that doesn't engage the man-machine interface in seductive ways. So far, the matriarchs of tech still scare me more than the patriarchs they serve. Just sayin'.

There are so few of them. Is that fact designed in, or is it only natural?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Here, then, are the Parameters (prelude)

I started watching the Oscar-winning O.J. story, feeling a connection to it by way of Buffalo. I heard Sarah Koenig of Serial podcast fame on that stupid NPR Sunday chuckle-fest Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me, and she was asked when she does the next one and answers "when I feel like it," and then the next day or the one after that I become aware of S-town. Which is today, and I'm put in mind of those suck-you-in medical quackery videos strewn around the 'net. Who, really, has time for narrative long-form? No matter how well produced it is. Well, me, really, once I'm on the road again. Something to look forward to.

Yesterday at The College, I enjoyed the treat of listening to beautiful, articulate and celebrated Moxie Maven Alexia Vernon, and I did walk away just as confused as I was the moment I fell asleep trying to stick with the O.J. story. I mean he had made it into white society by virtue of stardom, and the Moxie Maven had to slog through lots of hard shit on her way to improbable entrepreneurial success, which winning a beauty contest by rights should have nixed. She married this silver haired stud, and who knows who's richer, but I'm just confused.

I heard Sarah Koenig after learning about Vince Staples, I think, same ride maybe, and I don't know about you, but I am really really bothered by the women's voices on NPR, because they just sound all yogacized and edumacated and like you'd want to do sex with them, except that they all sound, like, maybe fifteen with that vocal fry which no fifteen year old should have yet, since they shouldn't have had a hangover yet.

I don't do recreational sex, OK? I mean that I just don't get that level of intimacy with someone you might not like very much since you just don't know them no matter how pretty they look and since I haven't had much luck with serial intimacy I just simply don't do sex, which puts me in the most unspeakable category of all, maybe, not a-gender, but actually asexual.

So we all know our economy is denominated in oil or should be, to bring in all the externalities, which Bratton demarcates according to a new and compelling geography - which he clarifies as writing on the world - and I work at a College which includes "world-building" in its curriculum and now wants to include - by student petition! - game narrative among its professional writing offerings, and the faculty is quite enthusiastic.

Of course my gig at the College will end shortly, since they don't really do intercourse with China any more, and the person who brought me here feels concerned about the search for the person to replace me which she is leading, in that how can we ethically invite someone to the College to leave a position somewhere else to take on something so precarious here.

And so I come in yesterday ready to let her know why people move away from her since she claims all their work as her own and they want to claim their own work, thank you very much, and she asks me nicely if the College has offered me a job, and I say 'no' and I'm fine with that, and she says "this has never happened to me before," meaning apparently hiring someone who can't stay and who left a job behind, which just simply shut down my entire line of discourse with her and she had a meeting to attend. To. I guess her ethics would be violated if someone didn't trust her. It's confusing to me.

It wasn't until afterword that I thought fuck you this isn't happening to you, it's happening to me and don't fucking take that away from me too! Don't patronize me. I didn't come here to be a part of your matriarchy which is just patriarchy in drag. I mean I know patriarchy when I see it, which is taking credit for the work of someone subservient to your empire. Slaves, robots, intellectual property, it's all part of the same structure, and I don't want anything to do with it.

So what denominations are there apart from oil? Well, there's Roman Catholic and Protestant and you know Islam, but not really Buddhism or Taoism, which don't dominate anything apparently, because they aren't organized which means that they aren't quite so patriarchal as the rest of them.

But still, if you're Just Kidding Rowling, you can get rich on narrative, and if you once were O.J. your name can fly across all the day-long binge fests, and then it dawns on me the day that I and probably you learned that Bernie Sanders TV is breaking all the cable-news stats for watchers, that we need an economy denominated in God again, just not the personal white-male variety.

Right? I mean can't we all agree that Greed is the problem, and that all our tech-accelerated economics just accelerates that? It's our micro-greed pushing price to the bottom which renders advantage-taking upward and who do you trust, now that cost is never factored in. Profit margins rise exponentially as price moves toward zero. That's what loss of privacy means, fer chissakes. Not to mention dongles and packaging which is otherwise free.

Well, that's what I'm setting out to discover in my own serialized fashion, the denomination of godism, which is not about to get me rich since I apparently can't be bothered to take a great deal of care with what I write. But I will be straight with you, and I won't try to suck you in to some interminable cliff-hanger. I'll be talking real-time, and try to let you know what I encounter each day, and I'm not going to do it up on Youtube, since I don't really like to be watched all that much, and really do doubt that I'll ever be Moxie enough to do stand-up comedy, which I think I would probably be really good at, but neither of us will ever know, and I'm OK with that.

So, I'm not about to steal the Word from someone else and attribute it to God because that gives me power. That's my only ground rule. I mean if you send it through "turnitin.com" you might discover that I'm lying to myself, but I highly doubt it. I know my own signature when I see it.

I mean what the fuck do those of us who can't even think about buying a house else have to do with ourselves? Else. Hit the road, Jack, and see what happens because it has to be a lot more interesting than the alternative, which is to follow the China Dream or the American Dream which are all just in our rear-view anymore. I'm looking forward (although I do have a rear view camera to get past the obstruction I'm dragging along with me)!


Sunday, April 2, 2017

What Really Went Wrong

Like a lot of people, I caught the trailer to Al Gore's new film, a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. I gotta say, and maybe this is like a lot of other folks out there - probably most of the folks who voted for Trump - I really wanted the rich fat fuck to shut up. I wanna say he's just more of the same what went wrong.

So today, you know, I went for a drive because it's sunny and I'm finished with the tinkering on my escape-buggy, ready to roll, and nothing else much to do. I drove past the rich parts of Burlington's exurbs, and oh my are they nice. The lily white state.

Good ol' NPR, which fuels Vermont's self-righteous sense that it really is the vanguard of right thinking people everywhere, brought Vince Staples to my attention, and Oh my Fucking God this guy is what we need. I don't so much give a shit about his rapping, as I do think that he's the one who should be president. Or maybe nobody should be president, but I want a team of what he's talking.

The failing is not Hilary's, or either of the political parties. There is not a one among them who has the forward looking sense to know what's going on on the planet, and so naturally all this tech and media which still shuffles money around in all the good old ways to the good old boys just basically accelerates what we already had, which is Trump as culmination, coda, triumph of a system which has run that way for its entire life long, which isn't very much. 250 odd years maybe. Not a long time.

So China's bid to take our place as global leader makes a lot of sense since by many accounts they haven't really tried much that's new across the millennia. They accelerate just as we do, but structurally they never did have the structure to put an idiot in charge. What I'm saying is that the damage Trump can do is nil, approximately, up against the good which might happen as a result of calling the question. And maybe that's even what he did set out to do.

But I'm not going to give him Al Gore's rightful allotment of malice aforethought, dazzling us with powerful rhetorical structures which cannot - they are science! - be denied. The Donald is just surfing the rhetoric of the great unwashed and uneducated masses, but they aren't really doing much worse than those of us who thought we should be in charge have been doing up to now. What, really, is the difference between white articulation acceptable to Yale and street jive if the sum total of clarity up against what we don't know is precisely equal.

Yes, this is the import of The Stack to me still at this point, although my pace for reading is a bit on the slow side of reading Chinese classics; both paces a result of depression, feeling at the end of my game, not having any more portfolio to practice. Why bother, kind of thing.

It's time for people who do get it to come forward and take charge. Angry white men don't have anything worth saying, but angry black men sure do. It sounded marginal and revolutionary until this fellow Vince Staples came along and that nigga's got a bead on what's going on in the world.

I hope he has the sense to let the sistas take charge though. They will understand more immediately how the global computational sphere - the cloud layer - can only amplify propensity for accident on a global scale. We can't meter ourselves back into rhythm with the life force. We have to get our souls into the game, and break away from the mindset engineered into us by the dazzle of technologies which overtake our entire focus and attention.

Or in other words, the conflict minerals are cultivating raw animal forces which might yet articulate something human. Once the lie that the coloreds might partake in the winnings of the bloviating class is told for what it is.

Yes, I know, we need more women in STEM, or throw them a bone, STEAM, but what if they just simply said fuck that, why would I try to play a white man in drag. You don't see that patriarchy is baked in at the level of the silly con, man?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool

I wonder how many times I've used this caption. I generally am an April Fool, not noticing that someone is pranking me. Today it's snowing, and that's for real. But I'm getting ready to go rogue, and why not? Verizon has unlimited cellular and good coverage, and it looks as though I can do blogger now from a low-powered long battery iOS device, which is news to me. I think that there will be lots of room to overnight my RV in Trump country, and I look forward to that.

I suppose I should get some help about how to monetize myself, right? I need to syndicate my travelogue, but I never do have the patience to sort that stuff out. Still, it should be interesting. I have no sense that the Trumpsters are all wrong, and I'm doing the mental gymnasitcs to rid myself of the little hidden prejudices of an habitual cosmopolitan and coastal population centers denizen. I want to open my mind about why people feel so strongly.

Trump, frankly, is doing a beautiful job of calling nearly all the questions. His moves on climate change, making government appointments, sweeping away rules which inhibit concentrations of money toward the inchoate ideology of wealth begets wealth will have to clarify the discourse. It's not a test I've wanted, but it's a test that had to happen. And most of us in the cosmopolitan centers would also admit that the two party Frick and Frack political structure really isn't working to render community-building civic infrastructure anymore.

There are too many stark divides, and we don't know how to talk with one another. And I do have to confess to a kind of terror about gun-toters and small town law, but I can deal with it. The alternative is to lose my mind staying in place.

And I think I have a good approach. Mine is anti-AI, anti-Virtual make it real cosmology. While the coastal elites are dazzled by their own SAT genius to cleverly manipulate logic channels on silicon wafers and whatever better substrate is yet to come, these relative children have no way to know how retrograde and frankly ignorant their thinking is. It would seem that they actually do believe that we can engineer the world faster than it will engineer us right back; that they are more engineered already by their own creations than they will ever be able to tell, because they have dulled their own humanity thereby.

My cosmos has room for a-physical a-temporal instant action at a distance forces by the Name of emotion. It's a kind of God is Love formulation, but it does actually work to describe why humanity - which has yet to appear on the planet so far as I can tell - will ultimately prevail.

I mean really, if Jesus were to return we'd all be looking for the spaceship he rode in on, no matter what we profess on Sunday or to the voters we want to sweep. No sane person believes in the literal Jesus, although the man may have been the first human on the planet.

This is not such a big stretch, and it might help to move folks beyond the starkness of their fear toward opposition to the "other." I know I'm not nearly so intelligent or educated as most of those who have license to write. And that's a good start.

We'll see!

Stay tuned . . . . .