MonthMarch 2012

Technoccult TV: Hacktivists Peter Fein and The Doctor

In this video I speak with Peter Fein and The Doctor of the digital activist group Telecomix, which worked to keep the Internet available in the middle east during the Arab Spring by providing dial-up Internet access and even using fax machines to send information into Libya. The Doctor also works on the wireless mesh darknet project Project Byzantium. In this interview we talk about what Telecomix does and why it matters.

This interview has been a long time coming. It was conducted at Contact Summit in October, 2011. It was recorded at the end of a long day and we were all pretty tired. Please excuse the background noise, this was the quietest place we could find.

See also:

Forbes article on Telecomix

Ars Technica’s article on darknets

An idea for solving the distance problem in wireless darknets from acrylicist

My lists of “government-less Internets”: Part 1 and Part 2

Technoccult posts on decentralizing the Web and/or Internet

R.U. Sirius Interviews Too Much to Dream Author Peter Bebergal

Too Much to Dream cover

R.U Sirius interviews Peter Bebergal, author of the memoir and cautionary tale Too Much To Dream: . This interview is a few months old, but I’ve only just seen it:

RU: It strikes me that psychedelics are both an enhancer and distorter of
pattern recognition. It’s like once the mind becomes too conscious and too obsessive about pattern recognition, it becomes delusional.

PB: This is probably the most succinct way of putting it I have heard. It’s essentially what we see happen with Phillip K. Dick. It’s part of the reason why no matter how non-addicting psychedelics might be from a chemical point-of-view, the capacity for the human mind to compulsively search for the same connection/insight over and over again is boundless. This same phenomena can be seen with a certain kind of occultism. Hermeticism can become an exercise in endless connection making and it’s amazing how even the most thoughtful occultists can become conspiracy theorists overnight. Psychedelics, and other forms of non-ordinary consciousness, can readily show that there is more to the human mind, and possibly the universe, than we can perceive normally, but when we lose the ability to critically distance ourselves from these experiences, the danger for delusion is great.

[…]

RU: You remain interested in the psychedelic movement even though you feel you can’t risk taking them yourself. What do you hope for people today who take psychedelic drugs in a way that is conscious of set and setting and so forth?

PB: I have come to believe in the absolute necessity of ritual and community, whether it’s the Native American Church or your local OTO lodge. However you can find it, try to access a group of people that share your spiritual/psychological sensibilities and that hopefully have a few seasoned elders and teachers. This is not to say there aren’t those that can handle the solitary journey, but I still think however one can position oneself into a larger context with its own myths and symbols can only be a good thing.

But more importantly I hope that those who use these drugs will see them not as a path but as doorway towards a spiritual/conscious way of life. As Alan Watts is often quoted as saying, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.”

Acceler8or: The Seeker: A Psychedelic Suburban Youth Doesn’t Find It Tripping. An Interview with Peter Bebergal

Video: “Live Action Animation” with Electroluminescent Wire Outfits

(Thanks Dad!)

Were the “Snakes” Cast Out by Saint Patrick Really Pagans?

saint patrick

Nope. The Wild Hunt quotes scholar and Celtic Reconstructionist pagan P. Sufenas Virius Lupus:

“Unfortunately, this isn’t true, and the hagiographies of St. Patrick did not include this particular “miracle” until quite late, relatively speaking (his earliest hagiographies are from the 7th century, whereas this incident doesn’t turn up in any of them until the 11th century). St. Patrick’s reputation as the one who Christianized Ireland is seriously over-rated and overstated, as there were others that came before him (and after him), and the process seemed to be well on its way at least a century before the “traditional” date given as his arrival, 432 CE, because Irish colonists (yes, you read that right!) in southern Wales, Cornwall, and elsewhere in Roman and sub-Roman Britain had already come into contact with Christians and carried the religion back with them when visiting home.”

The Wild Hunt: Saint Patrick, Druids, Snakes, and Popular Myths

See also: Bring the Snakes Back to Ireland.

Video: Alan Moore Reads from His Forthcoming Book Jerusalem

Also, there’s a long new interview out with Alan Moore by Kurt Amacker.

(via Leah Moore)

For much more on Moore, check out our Alan Moore Dossier

Instruments for Operating on Mutant Women

The Criterion collection has a bunch of David Cronenberg memorabilia on display, including a photo gallery of these props from Dead Ringers: the so called “Instruments for Operating on Mutant Women.”

Also check out this feedback card from a test screening for Videodrome.

(via Justin)

See also: David Cronenberg on Gender

Covers From Ah ! Nana, the All Female Creator Version of Heavy Metal

Cover of Ah ! Nana # 1

From the Women in Comics Wiki:

Ah ! Nana was a French comics magazine published from October 1976 to September 1978, running nine issues. It was published by Humanoïdes Associés, best known as the publishers of Métal Hurlant, or Heavy Metal. It was the first French publication featuring work entirely by women (though each issue invited one man to contribute) at a time when comics were still almost exclusively male environments. It included work by such French cartoonists as Chantal Montellier, Florence Cestac, and Nicole Claveloux, as well as Americans such as Trina Robbins. It sold 15,000 copies on a print run of 30,000, before the ban on sales to minors proved fatal, due to its frequent taboo and controversial material.

Women in Comics: Ah ! Nana has covers and a history of the publication.

(via Popjellyfish)

Previously: Leah Moore on Women in Comics

Leah Moore on Women in Comics

Great rant from Leah Moore, co-author of comics such as Raise The Dead Hardcover and The Thrill Electric (and, yes, Alan Moore’s daughter):

Everyone knows fangirls rule the world, they pay for most of it. Drifts of Twilight cushions and Harry Potter scarves, Legolas action figures, obscure game character cosplay outfits, nyancat lunchboxes and kitten mittens. The world is literally awash with Things Girls Like. We are surely never further than 2m from a Hello Kitty.

So what is it about comics that’s different? What makes comics suddenly this great thrusting phallus of masculinity? […]

If comics is to survive the financial turmoil we are all suffering under, it doesn’t matter if it’s paper comics or digital, trade paperbacks or floppies, it’s about “ARE THE COMICS ANY FUCKING GOOD?” and “ARE WE SELLING THEM TO AS BROAD A MARKET AS POSSIBLE OR ONLY 50% OF IT?” If we continue to try and sell crappy comics to half the population based purely on what they keep in their underpants and nothing else then we are totally doomed.

What is required is an all hands to the pumps mentality. Action stations! Let’s find some new blood, let’s find some new ideas, new characters, and most importantly new readers kind of plan.

I honestly think that anyone who doesn’t see women as a rich untapped potential source of ideas, or labour, or cold hard revenue must be delusional. Why should comics sit in a sweaty locker room of ignominy when novels and films and games skip about hand in hand with wealthy teenage girls? Doesn’t that make comics feel a bit sad?

Leah Moore: Thank Heaven for Little Girls

As I’ve mentioned before I don’t even think the current comics model is addressing 50% of the addressable market for comics. There are a lot of men who don’t give a flip about objectification of women in media, but still find the idea of being caught with a pile of garish floppy books full of bizarre female anatomy quite embarrassing. And more importantly, how many parents want their kids buying that stuff, or even going into comic stores? The youth market, both male and female, is getting pushed out as well.

I have no problems with sex or nudity in comics, or even flat out pornographic comics. The trouble, as many have pointed out, is a lack of variety, or at least a scenario where much of the variety gets swept under the rug while publishers and retailed double down on a dwindling demographic. Comic stores have been man caves for far too long, and even the men are getting embarrassed about it.

Maybe it’s all for the best and the collapse of the big two and the current retail model has to happen (the big two are supposedly quite toxic environments for women. That sort of crash would put a lot of people out on the streets though.

Anyway, like Moore says trying to run a comic company that’s run comics “for girls” is probably not a viable option at this point, but comics that appeal to a broader audience, I think, is.

Previously:

Escher Girls: Redrawing Embarrassing Comic Book Women

If Male Superheroes Were Drawn Like Female Superheroes

Cyberculture History: Electronic Music Pioneer/Soviet Spy Leon Theremin

leon theremin

Theremin saw little of the $100,000 he was paid, Glinsky says, which most likely went straight into Soviet coffers. But he stayed in the US for a while working on other projects, and engaging in industrial espionage.

“His very reason for being sent over was his espionage mission,” says Glinsky. Demonstrating the theremin instrument was just a distraction, a Trojan Horse, as it were.

“He had special access to firms like RCA, GE, Westinghouse, aviation companies and so on, and shared his latest technical know how with representatives from these companies to get them to open up to him about their latest discoveries. […]

Later that year he returned suddenly to the Soviet Union, leaving his wife behind. Some people suggested he’d been kidnapped by Soviet officials, but Glinsky says a combination of debt and homesickness led to Theremin returning voluntarily.

He returned to a Soviet Union in the grip of Stalin’s purges. He was arrested and falsely accused of being a counter-revolutionary, for which he received an eight year sentence in 1939.

BBC: Leon Theremin: The man and the music machine

DARPA Director Taking Job at Google

Wired reports:

Darpa director Regina Dugan will soon be stepping down from her position atop the Pentagon’s premiere research shop to take a job with Google. Dugan, whose controversial tenure at the agency lasted just under three years, was “offered and accepted at senior executive position” with the internet giant, according to Darpa spokesman Eric Mazzacone. She felt she couldn’t say no to such an “innovative company,” he adds. […]

The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is also actively investigating hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of contracts that Darpa gave out to RedX Defense — a bomb-detection firm that Dugan co-founded, and still partially owns. A separate audit is examining a sample of the 2,000 other research contracts Darpa has signed during Dugan’s tenure, to “determine the adequacy of Darpa’s selection, award, and administration of contracts and grants,” according to a military memorandum.

Results of the inspector general’s work haven’t been released. And the work had “no impact” on Dugan’s decision, according to her spokesman, Mazzacone. “The only reason” she decided to leave the Pentagon was the allure of working at Google.

Danger Room: Darpa Director Bolts Pentagon for Google

Update: She’s been cleared of charges of wrongdoing.

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