MonthMarch 2013

Performative Group Horror Fiction: TEDxSummerisle

It started like any other TEDx…

TEDxSummerisle

Then things started getting scary:

tedxsummerisle

Full archive on Storify

Statement from TEDxSummerisle:

Thank you everyone who volunteered their time and labour to create this strange event, the worst TEDx in history. To be clear: this was a piece of experimental horror fiction. No TED attendees were harmed in the making of this event and we aren’t associated with either TED or either of the Wicker Man films.

Counterterrorism Agency: Urban Exploration Helps Terrorism

Some Places Know All the Right Things to Say

Spencer Ackerman writes:

Some people are into spelunking through the urban ruins and crevasses of unfamiliar cities. The National Counterterrorism Center has a term for these sorts of people: terrorist dupes.

“Urban Explorers (UE) — hobbyists who seek illicit access to transportation and industrial facilities in urban areas — frequently post photographs, video footage, and diagrams on line [sic] that could be used by terrorists to remotely identify and surveil potential targets,” warns the nation’s premiere all-source center for counterterrorism analysis. […]

Urban exploration is not typically the reconnaissance mission of al-Qaida. While it’s not crazy to think that terrorists might be interested in studying an urban landscape, the vanishingly few cases of domestic terrorism in the post-9/11 era typically involved shooting up places like Fort Hood or leaving a would-be car bomb in Times Square, rather than recon from the top of a bridge or the depths of a subway tunnel. Such tips aren’t even a part of the DIY terrorism advice column in al-Qaida’s English-language webzine.

Full Story: Wired Danger Room: Urban Exploration Helps Terrorism, Counterterrorism Agency Warns

Previously:

Crack the Surface: Free Documentary Series on Urban Exploration

Government Proposes to Forbid London Urban Explorers From Speaking To Each Other for 10 Years

Photo: Nick Fisher / CC

3 Must Read Articles On Steubenville

I Am The Blogger Who Allegedly “Complicated” The Steubenville Gang Rape Case — And I Wouldn't Change a Thing

CNN Reports On The ‘Promising Future’ of the Steubenville Rapists, Who Are ‘Very Good Students’

Steubenville: this is rape culture’s Abu Ghraib moment

I don’t have anything to add. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about juvenile justice and trying minors as adults or not, but have nothing to say about it right now.

The Food Free Diet

Rob Rhinehart

Rob Rhinehart claims that for the past two months he’s eaten very little food. Many days he didn’t eat food at all. No, he’s not a breatharian. He’s invented a concoction that he claims has all the nutrients necessary to sustain him. He calls it “Soylent.” Yes, that sounds disgusting, but he claims it’s delicious.

This past month 92% of my meals were soylent. I haven’t given up food entirely, and I don’t want to. I found if I wake up early I sometimes crave a nice breakfast, I’ve gone to lunch meetings, and on the weekends of course I love eating out with friends. Eating conventional food is a fun leisure activity, but come Monday I usually have a strong craving for a tall glass of Soylent.

Full Story: Rob Rhinehart: Two Months of Soylent

How I Stopped Eating Food

Vice interview

Rhinehart claims to be doing “trials” people. But if you want your hands on this stuff now, a blog post listing the nutritional content makes it sound not unlike a typical meal replacement shake or the mass gainers used by body builders.

This could be a hoax. Rhinehart hasn’t posted the recipe for the drink. He has posted some blood work, but he that could, of course be faked.

RIP Shannon Larratt


Larratt getting his eye tattooed.

Shannon Larratt, founder of BMEzine and a pioneer of extreme body modification, is dead. Based on a posthumous blog post, it sounds like suicide. Larratt had suffered for years from an unspecified degenerative disease he described as genetic, and had been detailing his struggles with chronic pain on his blog in recent months.

His death follows the passing last year of two other body modification legends: ManWoman and StalkingCat

From Larratt’s farewell letter:

Thank you to everyone who made my life wonderful. I love you all. I wish there had been more of it, and I wish I had more to give. I’m sorry there is so much unfinished, so much left to do, but I am glad to know many wonderful people who will complete it. Last minute reflections and bits of advice… seize every opportunity that’s in front of you and live life to the fullest. Even with everything I’ve done, there is so much more I wish I’d squeezed in. Don’t let a single day (well, maybe a single day) be idle. Have every adventure you can, and explore every street — although treat the one-way streets with caution. Don’t fritter you life away into television, random browsing, and pointless substance abuse (I have at times been guilty of all of these) — although remember there are valid uses for them, both for growth and entertainment. Have passion about the future, and in the present. Especially if you’re young, push your education and your skills to their limits on every level. Don’t just graduate highschool, get a degree, get a doctorate if you can. I know these things aren’t for everyone, they they are for most, and they also open doors to some of the most special adventures. Even if you can’t afford proper schooling there are many, many ways to learn, free courses to volunteering, and so on. Value your health, and the health of our planet, and strive beyond its borders. We have such a glorious future, but never forget that your part in that future could end at any moment, so live a life that you can be pround of. And of course love and treat each other well.

From a blog post in December in which he described his condition:

In “real me” world, I had a big doctor’s appointment earlier in the week, the sort where I got to wear one of those barebacked robes that shows off my butt while a couple doctors prodded and examined me in various ways. It was good because it escalated me further up the various “expert” or “specialist” ladders — exactly the sort of people I need to be talking to in the hope that someone will come up with some long-shot therapy or treatment that helps treat the myopathy, or at least reduces the pain. Didn’t go that way though, which I’m used to as it never does. Every doctor that gets added to the mix simply confirms the diagnosis, agrees that it can’t be treated (but that they’ll “think about it” and consider who else we can discuss it with), and often throws another problem into the mix as well. This week it we first confirmed the progression of the nerve damage from my “tumor” (a benign bone growth the size of a tangerine, not cancerous so tumor isn’t really the right word I think) biopsy and removal, as that neuropathy came back after changing pain treatments a month or two ago, and that I have abnormal reflex response in my legs. None of that is particularly surprising to me, but I was surprised to find out that my spinal cord is degenerating, which is causing additional problems in mobility and generally being able to control my body in addition to the muscle decay itself. I am guessing that this nerve degeneration is part of what’s causing complications with my heart and breathing.

Also:

A post last month about atheism and spirituality.

Shannon Larratt Interview On The DIY Transhumanist/Grinder/Biohacker Movement

An Old Favorite Web Comic: Exterminus

Are we going to say anything else?

10

Full Comic: Exterminus by Kieron Gillen and Charity Larrison.

In Manifesto, Mexican Eco-Terrorists Declare War on Nanotechnology

anarchy

From Danger Room:

The group, which goes by the name Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje (ITS), posted its manifesto to anarchist blog Liberacion Total last month. The manifesto takes credit for a failed bombing attempt that month against a researcher at the Biotechnology Institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. And the group promises more.

“We have said it before, we act without any compassion in the feral defense of Wild Nature,” the manifesto states. “Did those who modify and destroy the Earth think their actions wouldn’t have repercussions? That they wouldn’t pay a price? If they thought so, they are mistaken.” The group threatens more bombings against Mexican scientists because “they must pay for what they are doing to the Earth.”

A violent fringe group with anarcho-primitivist views — its name roughly translates to “Individuals Tending to Savagery,” although “Tending to the Wild” might be more exact — ITS sees technology and civilization as essentially doomed and leading humanity to an ecological catastrophe. Technology should be destroyed; humans should revert to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle; and all of this, ITS says, is for our own good. Nanotechnology is a particular scourge: Self-replicating nanobots will one day escape from laboratories to consume the Earth; and weaponization of nanotech is inevitable.

Full Story: Wired Danger Room: In Manifesto, Mexican Eco-Terrorists Declare War on Nanotechnology

See also: Terror tactics: Science in the anarchists’ cross hairs

Photo: cosmopolita / CC

The Post-Colonial Space Opera Of Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard

I might be misunderstand the term, well, actually both terms, but I think Aliette de Bodard‘s work is “post-colonial space opera.” de Bodard has written three stories published in Clarkesworld set in, apparently, the same universe, each using science fiction to explore the effects of colonialism.

“Immersion,” which was nominated for a Nebula this year, is my favorite. It uses augmented reality as a lens to examine cultural imperialism:

“It’s their weapon, too.” Tam pushed at the entertainment unit. “Just like their books and their holos and their live games. It’s fine for them—they put the immersers on tourist settings, they get just what they need to navigate a foreign environment from whatever idiot’s written the Rong script for that thing. But we—we worship them. We wear the immersers on Galactic all the time. We make ourselves like them, because they push, and because we’re naive enough to give in.”

“And you think you can make this better?” Quy couldn’t help it. It wasn’t that she needed to be convinced: on Prime, she’d never seen immersers. They were tourist stuff, and even while travelling from one city to another, the citizens just assumed they’d know enough to get by. But the stations, their ex-colonies, were flooded with immersers.

Tam’s eyes glinted, as savage as those of the rebels in the history holos. “If I can take them apart, I can rebuild them and disconnect the logical circuits. I can give us the language and the tools to deal with them without being swallowed by them.”

Full Story: Clarkesworld: Immersion (You can also download an audio version)

The most recent was “The Weight of a Blessing,” and the original was “Scattered Along the River of Heaven.”

She’s written many more stories, and novels, that I haven’t read yet.

The State Of Leak Sites

From Ars Technica:

WikiLeaks remains under a near financial blockade, its founder under effective house arrest after having been granted asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The group has yet to release anything as substantial as last year’s “Detainee Policies”—Balkanleaks remains one of the few “leaking sites” still going strong. Its recent insurance-key move comes precisely out of the WikiLeaks playbook.

More than two years ago, a flurry of new WikiLeaks clones sprung up around the world inspired by the world’s most famous transparency-driven organization. They had all kinds of names: QuebecLeaks, BaltiLeaks, EnviroLeaks, and more. PirateLeaks (based in the Czech Republic), BrusselsLeaks (Belgium) and RuLeaks (Russia) all did not respond to Ars’ requests for comments. […]

So how does Balkanleaks thrive where others haven’t?

Tchobanov, the site’s co-founder, boils it down to one word: Tor. It’s the open-source online anonymizing tool that’s become the de facto gold standard for hiding one’s tracks online. Balkanleaks provides instructions in Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian, and English, and the submission website is only available on its Tor-enabled server.

Full Story: Ars Technica Whither whistleblowing: Where have all the leaking sites gone?

The article goes on to detail the state of some other projects, including OpenLeaks and GlobalLeaks.

Dystopia Now

Mark Fisher on the dystopian cinema of 2012:

Ultimately, the Capitol’s domination of the Districts is perhaps most obviously read in terms of colonial domination. In the hunger games, the colonised are forced to celebrate their own defeat and to acknowledge the unassailability of their colonisers’ power. But whether we read the film in generational, colonial, geographical, historical, or class terms – or, as seems best, as a combination or condensation of all these modes – it is clear that Panem is world in which there is Empire but no Multitude – or, rather, we see the Multitude flicker into existence only fitfully, in the uprisings which play only a small part in The Hunger Games but which take on a greater significance as Collins’ trilogy develops.

“Suicide is the decisive political act of our times”, claimed Franco Berardi in Precarious Rhapsody: Semiocapitalism and the Pathologies of the Post-alpha Generation. (London: Minor Compositions, 2009, p55). In a world where domination is total, where power has unquestioned dominion over life and death, then the only recourse for the oppressed is to die on their own terms, to use their deaths as – symbolic as well as literal – weapons. Thus, in The Hunger Games, it is Katniss and Peta’s threat of suicide which checkmates the Capitol. In choosing to die, they not only deny the Capitol the captured life of a victor, they also deny it their deaths. Death in the arena ceases to be a reconfirmation of the Capitol’s power, and becomes instead an act of refusal. Up until this climactic moment, The Hunger Games is striking for the fatalism of its lead characters, something that is all the more remarkable given the personal courage and self-sacrifice that they show. They think like slaves, taking it for granted that the Capitol’s power cannot be broken. Katniss and Peeta have at this stage no ambitions to head a revolution against the Capitol (although this becomes their fate in the later novels). Katniss acquiesces because she believes that confronting the Capitol is hopeless; any challenge to the Capitol’s power could only result in her family being tortured and killed. Poignantly, the only alternative to servitude she can imagine at the start of the film is escape into the woods. (It could be argued that the fantasy of escape into the woods is by no means confined to Katniss Everdeen; so much contemporary anti-capitalism, with its vision of a return to the organic and the local, to a space beyond outside the purview of Empire, amounts to little more than a version of this same hope.)

Full Story: Mark Fisher: Dystopia Now

Also, from his re-appraisal of Cronenberg’s eXistenZ:

To appreciate eXistenZ’s contemporary resonance it is necessary to connect the manifest theme of artificial and controlled consciousness connects with the latent theme of work. For what do the scenes in which characters are locked in fugues or involuntary behaviour loops resemble if not the call-center world of twenty-first century labour in which quasi-automatism is required of workers, as if the undeclared requirement for employment were to surrender subjectivity and become nothing more than a bio-linguistic appendage tasked with repeating set phrases that make a mockery of anything resembling conversation? The difference between “interacting” with a ROM-construct and being a ROM-construct neatly maps onto the difference between telephoning a call center and working in one. […]

Autonomist theorists have referred to a turn away from factory work towards what they call “cognitive labour”. Yet work can be affective and linguistic without being cognitive – like a waiter, the call center worker can perform attentiveness without having to think. For this noncognitive worker, indeed, thought is a privilege to which they are not entitled. Writing in The Guardian recently, Aditya Chakrabortty (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/31/why-our-jobs-getting-worse) referred to a study of two of Britain’s biggest supermarkets by the sociologist Irena Grugulis. “A trained butcher revealed that most meats were now sliced and packaged before they arrived in store; bakers in smaller shops now just reheated frozen loaves. In their paper, published this summer, Grugulis and her colleagues note that ‘almost every aspect of work for every kind of employee, from shopfloor worker … to the general store manager, was set out, standardised and occasionally scripted by the experts at head office’. Or, as one senior manager put it: ‘Every little thing is monitored so there is no place to hide.’” According to the labour theorist Phil Brown “permission to think” will be “restricted to a relatively small group of knowledge workers” in countries such as the UK and US. Most work will be routinised and outsourced to places where labour is cheap. Brown calls this “digital Taylorism” – suggesting that, far from being engaged in cognitive work, digital workers will increasingly find their labour as crushingly repetitive as factory workers on a production line. eXistenZ’s muted tones anticipates this digital banality, and it is the banal quality of life in an digitally automated environment – human-sounding voices that announce arrivals and departures at a railway station, voice-recognition software which fails to recognise our voices, call center employees drilled into mechanically repeating a set script – that eXistenZ captures so well.

Previously: The Quantified Man and The Rise Of Workplace Surveillance

© 2017 Technoccult

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑