Wild Green Yonder
Thursday, July 24, 2003
 
Fear and Loathing and the Bush Administration
Hunter S. Thompson has risen, and is staggering around, ranting prophetic:

When I went into the clinic last April 30, George Bush was about 50 points ahead of his closest Democratic opponent in next year's Presidential Election. When I finally escaped from the horrible place, less than three weeks late, Bush's job-approval ratings had been cut in half -- and even down into single digits, in some states -- and the Republican Party was panicked and on the run. It was a staggering reversal in a very short time, even shorter than it took for his equally crooked father to drop from 93 percent approval, down to as low as 43 percent and even 41 percent in the last doomed days of the first doomed Bush Administration. After that, he was Bill Clinton's punching bag.

Richard Nixon could tell us a lot about peaking too early. He was a master of it, because it beat him every time. He never learned and neither did Bush the Elder.

But wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer of '03. By the summer of 2004, he might not even be living in the White House. Gone, gone, like the snows of yesteryear.

The Rumsfield-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgiveable sin in America.

Beyond that, we have lost the respect of the world and lost two disastrous wars in three years. Afghanistan is lost, Iraq is a permanent war Zone, our national Economy is crashing all around us, the Pentagon's "war strategy" has failed miserably, nobody has any money to spend, and our once-mighty U.S. America is paralyzed by Mutinies in Iraq and even Fort Bragg.

The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse. I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it. Our highway system is crumbling, our police are dishonest, our children are poor, our vaunted Social Security, once the envy of the world, has been looted and neglected and destroyed by the same gang of ignorant greed-crazed bastards who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, the disastrous Gaza Strip and ignominious defeat all over the world.

The Stock Market will never come back, our Armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will drink filthy water for the rest of our lives.

The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it.


(Thanks Jamais!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2003
 
Aula's Third Place for the 21st Century
I know the Aula co-op is kind of old news for those wired into the Smart Mobs idea, but I just saw the design prospectus and photos they've posted online.

The place is a co-op for members, a semi-private third place where you can go to sit together with others at the long coffee table, crash on the futons to read a book, use the meeting room and copy shop to do business, wirelessly cruise the Net, or hear music and see art in the evenings. The whole thing is held together electronically, too: the same membership card that unlocks the door also lets people on your buddy-list see that you're there in case they want to pop by to join you, etc. It's also great urban design - a vital hang-out on the busiest pedestrian intersection in Helsinki, sure, but an urban refuge as well - the kind of space that makes urban life livable.

As someone who works for himself, usually at home, I would give a kidney to have a place like this in my orbit. The next time I'm in Helsinki, I'm definitely dropping by.


Tuesday, July 08, 2003
 
Back from Humboldt. Too many projects, potential projects and biz details to post much, but here are some tasty bits:

Clay Shirky is on a roll. Clay thinks about social software networks, how they grow, what they mean, how they act. Cory Doctorow took notes at his latest talk at the Supernova conference. Clay's point? That American telecommunication corporations have become for us what Minitel was for the French.

Gregory Frost's story Madonna of the Maquiladora is further proof to my mind that some of the best journalism being done these days is being published as SF:

The shack she takes you to is barely outside the fire line. The frame is held together by nails driven through bottle caps. The walls are cut up shipping cartons for Three Musketeers candy bars. No floor, only dirt. There’s an old, rust-stained mattress and a couple of beat-up suitcases. She comes up with a bottle of tequila from God knows where, apologizes for the lack of ice and glasses. Then she takes a long swig from the mouth of the bottle. Her eyes are watering as she passes it to you. You smell her then, the odor of a woman mixed in with the smoke smell, sweat and flesh and dirt. You almost want to ask her why she does this, lives this way, but you haven’t any right. ...

"It’s not north against south anymore, rich whites against poor Mexicans. That’s only a thing, a speck. It’s the whole world, Deputy. The maquiladora is the whole world now. Japan is here, Korea is here, anyone who wants to make things without being watched, without having to answer to anyone, without having to pay fairly. They’re here and everywhere else, too. Ya, basta! You understand? Enough! It’s not about NAFTA, about whose treaty promises what. Whoever’s treaty, it will be just the same. Here right now in Mexico the drug dealers are investing. They buy factories, take their money and grind their own people to make more money, clean money. This is clean, what they’re doing. And it’s no different here than anywhere else, it’s even better here than some places. It’s a new century and the countries they bleed together, and the only borders, the only fences, are made of bodies. All the pictures you’ve seen, but if you don’t see this thing in all of them, then you’re seeing nothing!"...

It’s on the dusty cowpath of a road, on foot, that they grab you. Three of them. They know who they’re looking for, and everyone else knows to stay out of it. These guys are las pandillas, the kind who’d kill someone for standing too close to them. A dozen people are all moving away, down the road, and the backward glances they give you are looks of farewell. Adios, amigo. Won’t be seeing you again. They know it and so do you. You’ve seen the photos. The thousand merciless ways people don’t come home, and you’re about to become one


More National Security idiocy: a geography student uses mapping software to create a map of America's industrial sectors and their key infrastructure (not, frankly, all that hard to do), suggesting that it can be used to help the citizenry keep pressure on the government to improve security. Now corporations and intelligence agencies want to see it classified.

"He should turn it in to his professor, get his grade -- and then they both should burn it," said Richard Clarke, who until recently was the White House cyberterrorism chief. "The fiber-optic network is our country's nervous system."

This, of course, is stark idiocy. If an average grad student can find this information and make this map, so can lots and lots of other people. Classifying this information won't keep it out of the hands of terrorists; it'll only keep it from the eyes of the public. This is THE key coming debate on national security: not, as the Post would like to believe, the conflict between freedom and security in the flows of information, but the conflict between centralized and brittle security on the one hand, and networked and robust distributed security on the other. And, in my opinion, the longer we let folks like the NSA and CIA run the show, the more endangered we as a nation become.

(from Boing Boing)
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
 
My friend Caroline said the other day, quoting someone, that the bigger the island on knowledge becomes, the faster the shoreline of wonder grows.

This forty-foot long sea blob, a previously unknown species just stretched out my shoreline of wonder like saltwater

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