The World in Many States

For the past twenty years Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have held a talk over at The Well in which they discuss the current state of the world and what that might mean for future states of the world. The talks are wide-ranging and erudite, funny and snarky and depressing and hopeful and all points in between.

This is a list of all of the talks currently available on The Well. This is as much for my own convenience as for spreading the word. If nothing else the talks are excellent sources of ideas for stories.

I Think I Figured It Out

Back in February I posted a quote from Neal Stephenson’s book Interface, wherein he suggests we have, politics-wise, come through the ages of ideas, character, and charisma, and were now in the age of scrutiny. When Mr. Stephenson was at his local book signing earlier this autumn, I asked him what he thought the next “age” might be. He declined to give a specific answer, although he pointed out that people seem to be more attracted to simple-or simplified-answers as the world grows more complex.

I have been giving this issue a lot of thought, and I think I have an answer for what the new age is: Perception.

The age of scrutiny came about before the explosion of the internet, and blogging, and YouTube, and the instant transmission of information from the insect-eyed crowds at every public gathering. The age of scrutiny has become buried under an influx of signals so vast it is indistinguishable from random noise. Now we are caught in the flux between conflicting viewpoints, and trying to tease un-distorted images from a kaleidoscope as big as the world. An event barely has a chance to occur before ten thousand sources provide spin and commentary, and soon the most pressing question is “Did anything actually happen in the first place?” If there is something verifiable, should it be thought of as good or bad? Patriotic or traitorous? Profitable or unprofitable? The uncountable eyes in the hive of perception each provide a unique view, but in aggregate that which is most seen becomes a form of consensual reality.

We have always lived in an age of perception to some degree, but during the age of scrutiny people – briefly – were able to use technology to sift through any available information coming in. But now our ability to produce information has so far outstripped our ability to make sense of it that we are back where we were in the late 1960s. And we will probably stay here until the next paradigm shift in pattern recognition.

Election 2004: A 5000 Word Essay

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fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

Obligatory Political Post II

Today I voted against George Bush. To do so effectively, I was forced to vote for John Kerry. I am deeply and profoundly disappointed that Kerry was the best that the Democrats could come up with. Now Howard Dean, there was a candidate!

I voted against Bush because he is utterly incompetent as a politician, and quite stupid to boot. I care nothing about his platform, or Kerry’s for that matter. By the time a politician makes it into the White House s/he is so whored out and used up politically that to believe the attendant campaign promises would be laughably naive.

The only President that I can think of who did more damage to this country than George W Bush was probably Jefferson Davis.

In a less important election I would have voted Libertarian, pretty much a straight ticket; not with any hope of my candidate winning, but with the hope that eventually, sometime in my lifetime, there might be a strong third party. We are long overdue.

God Damn You, George W Bush, for having aspirations so far above your abilities. And God Damn You, John Kerry, for being the only other viable choice.

Politics and Poly-Ticks

Seeing as this is an election year, I feel that now is the time to air one of my pet peeves: Re-election campaigns.

The year is still young, and I don’t pay that much attention to the current administration, but I do know that Bush is interested in a second term, and I know that he has quite a good chance of being re-elected. If that is what the Majority wants, then that is what the Majority gets.

It is not that I don’t think incumbents should run for a second term; rather I feel they shouldn’t be allowed to campaign for a second term. The work they do while in office should be more than enough exposure.

Particularly right now, what with the state of the country and the world.

But eventually Bush will start to Ride the Rails and Press the Flesh in his bid for re-election. He will take time off from doing his job in order to convince us that we should give him another 4 years. He will stop doing the job for which he was elected in order to get the chance to do it again.

I am not the most politically astute of citizens, but I know irresponsibility when I see it.

Lest I be accused of partisanship and Bush-bashing, I felt the same way when Clinton hit the campaign trail back in 1996. Democrats and Republicans are equally full of shit.

So, for the rest of the year I would like to see this: Bush just doing his goddamn job. No campaigning, no political rallies, no supporting of persons a or b or c. Just run the country. If he does well, he will be re-elected. If he chooses to skip out for an afternoon to hold a fundraiser, then he demonstrates that he doesn’t take his job seriously and doesn’t deserve to keep it.

Yer Big Fat Yaps

I am finalizing the comments functionality for this thing. Sometime in the next day or two the Likes Of You will be able to post comments in response to the pearls of wisdom I drop before you on a semi-regular basis.

And in case you were wondering, I still hate Internet Explorer 5. But right now my hate is divided, for the semen-speckled, kneepad-wearing crack-monkey that is the RIAA has brought itself to my attention, and I have for you a new link:

This is an analysis of a lawsuit the RIAA brought against a Princeton student, to the tune of many hundreds of billions of dollars; enough money, in fact, to buy every human being on the planet 3 or 4 music CDs. In this analysis the author brings to light many of the tactics the RIAA uses to enforce its views, including perjury, slander, outright lying, intimidation, hiding of evidence, eating babies, misdirection, and a simple failure to acknowledge that it has no hard evidence that file sharing has cost the music industry a single dime. If you have the time, this paper is very well worth the read.

So soon, my flock. Soon, you will have the ability to voice your awe at the genius that is eccesignum.org. Be patient, as I am patient.

Current Events

On NPR this morning were sound-bite interviews with several man-on-the-street types regarding the current war in Iraq. The opinions fell distinctly into two categories: America Love It Or Leave It, and Down With the American Hegemony. The opinions of the country currently seem to run the entire spectrum between these two extremes.

I propose some lateral thinking. I say that it is not “America” that is involved in the war; rather it is “The Administration”. It is often overlooked that the country and the people running it are very seldom one and the same. Think about it: America has been around as a country for just shy of 227 years. The Bush administration has been around for just over two. In three more years, America will still be here and Bush will be back to jerking off on the electric chair.

I love my country a great deal; I can’t imagine that living anywhere else would be an improvement. This is why it pisses me off so much that my employee George W Bush is trying so hard to fuck it up for so many people. He is on track to rile up the rest of the world, get them pissed at us, then when he inevitably loses the next election, the next president will be caught in a shitstorm not of his own making.

I did a little reading about Saddam. The guy is as bad as Stalin ever was, and the world will be better off without him. That is not why we are at war. I have stated it before and will continue to state it until Bush Who I Regret I Pay With My Taxes admits as much: this is exactly and only about oil rights. It is a power grab by The Administration which labors under the ludicrous assumption that the USA belongs to them. The members of the administration only have as much power as we give them, and I get the feeling we have given them too much. There are too many appointees and too few elected officials. The gap between man-on-the-street and bureaucrat has widened to an unacceptable degree.

If any of you are involved in protests I say this: don’t turn your anger on the people who are involved in the actual fighting. They have a terribly hard job to do, and they need all the support they can get. They are Americans to be proud of. The despicable ones are the decision makers who brought this war about in the first place. The ones who tell other people to go out and die, without doing it themselves.

And we should leave off the French-bashing. They showed a lot of balls by not toeing the line with the US. French-bashing may be fun and amusing for the inbred rednecks which make up so much of America, but it distracts us from issues like the blatant over-ruling of so much of the constitution and bill of rights in the name of “security” and “patriotism”.

Peace out.