amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beyond "Choice": Enough With the Serially Failed Post-Roe Shilly-Shallying

Women's health advocates must stop conceding a "yuck factor" to forced pregnancy zealots -- you can respect those for whom abortion is a difficult decision without demanding everybody go on and on and on about how personally devastating it absolutely obviously must be for every single women to have an abortion procedure. Imagine what would result from a comparable moralizing freighting of root canal procedures. Whither mouth health? Obviously there is no woman on earth who engages in "recreational abortions" (I'm reasonably up to speed on kinks on offer) but somebody needs to stand on the principle of the thing and shut these disgusting woman-hating child-hating "pro-life" death-cult shits up for good: Sure, it would be better if commonplace constitutionally protected healthcare were provided in, you know, hospitals, but if it's gotta be abortion malls, let it be abortion malls! Hell, I say bring on the goddamn abortion mall!

Also, women's healthcare advocates must start outing affluent and hypocritical abortion closetcases who deny healthcare access to poor and precarious people that are effortlessly available to themselves and for recourse to which they receive the instant forgiveness of God's Love when "God's Love" otherwise takes the form of horrifying public harassment, legally required medical misinformation, humiliating lecturing of intelligent women by misogynist yahoos, legally mandated vaginal probe assault, organized crime and murder on the part of anti-abortion activists celebrated as free speech, and so on.

Face it, almost every single asshole who says abortion is murder is lying through their teeth on the subject. Yes, lying. Not to put too fine a point on the thing, all too many "pro-lifers" are also advocates of the "pro-life" execution of criminals (including, inevitably, at least some who are innocent), and coo over "pro-life" death dealing private military-grade weapons arsenals, and froth at the prospects of "pro-life" wars on brown civilians over there by armies filled with brown cannon fodder from over here, and declare that the undeserving poor should starve and freeze to death in a "pro life" sort of way and keep your gu'ment hands off my Medicare! But quite apart from these arrant absurdities it is truly rare for an abortion-is-murder forced-pregnancy zealot to really declare they think a daughter, colleague, neighbor securing a conventional early term abortion of a fetal-gumwad should truly be executed for doing so, even if they believe in capital punishment for murder otherwise. This is because it is pretty much only timid respectful pro-choice activists who take these belligerent blowhards at their word, when the truth is that they are all just patriarchal dickcheeses venting their hostility over the fact that there are independent women in the world who are not under their thumbs and that some people have sex lives that are not about self-loathing and subordination.

You know, I'm a big queer who has never been particularly thrilled with an lgbtq politics reduced to fighting for gay marriage (a vestige of human trafficking partaking in bogus bourgeois fantasies of romantic completion in coupling, on all of which I call bullshit even after thirteen rewarding years in a happy romantic relationship with Eric) and gay adoption of awful squalling infants, or the right to kill brown civilians who happen to stand in the way of natural resources our corporations want to exploit profitably as an openly gay gun-slinger -- AND YET, one really has to concede that the lgbtq refusal to accept the straight insistence on queer ickyness and the lgbtq outing of elite hypocritical closetcases yielded pretty much the only successes of note in a long generation of civil rights stasis and backpedaling in this country.

We must not return to the pointless suffering, death, and dread of the pre-Roe utopia of the forced-pregnancy zealots. We must stop playing nicey nice with these ignorant evil lying fucks. We must learn something from the successes of lgbtq politics. I will add, that a true queer politics actually already demands the ramification of prosthetically/multiculturally articulated lifeways anyway, very much including wanted contraception, abortion, ARTs, bodily re-making -- for loveways and for lifeways against sexism, against heterosexism, against cissexism, against racist wars on drugs, against censorship of creative and critical expressivity, against exploitation, against extraction, against war. If consumer capitalism has taught us anything, it is that "choice" is an evacuated husk when it is Freedom that is at stake. 

Robot Cultist Giulio Prisco Has Belated Transcendence Sadz... from The Future!

We haven't heard from terminally idiotic Robot Cultist Guilio Prisco for a while, but he sends his warm regards in a "timely" review of the must-miss feel-bored film of the summer, the feeble flop Transcendence.

For Prisco, Transcendence is substantially transhumanoid singularitarian agitprop capable of "persuad[ing]" some lucky moviegoers that "mind uploading and superAI are not only possible, but desirable and perhaps inevitable." Prisco expresses surprise at the film's many negative reviews and declares it "solid, thoughtful, and entertaining, much better than the average science-fiction film," no doubt because he believes palpably batshit crazy things such as that "mind uploading and superAI are not only possible, but desirable and perhaps inevitable."

I cannot express surprise at Prisco's expression of surprise, which can be best explained by pointing out that in a world that agreed with Prisco that the film was solid, thoughtful, and entertaining, Prisco would be regarded as solid, thoughtful, and entertaining as well. In this world, the real world, however, Prisco is merely entertaining, and not in a good way. I especially enjoyed his insistence that were Transcendence expanded into a dozen episodes it would become, unaccountably, good instead of bad. No doubt True Believing Randroidal Objectivists keep thinking much the same thing as each execrable installment of Atlas Shrugged is deposited for its worldchanging run in theaters.

Of the negative reviews that have disappointed Prisco, it seems that I myself have provided the one he regards as "really stupid." Turnabout is fair play, so fair enough, I say. After all, in my piece io9 Has the Transcendence Sadz I pretty much declared the movie really stupid and, by implication, Prisco really stupid in advance for liking it. "[T]his is an epic story of ideas," Prisco wails at one especially piquant point in his review, proving it.

Prisco goes on to describe my critique as part of a "currently fashionable fake-liberal PC War on Imagination." Newcomers to the blog unaware of Giulio Prisco may find all this quite odd (scroll down to his entry in The Superlative Summary for hours of reading pleasure). After all, laughable trumped up Faux News-esque crusades against a "War on Imagination" and charges of "PC"-ness are not exactly reliable signals of the True Liberalism, generally speaking. And I fear that even my friends are little likely to attribute "fashionableness" to me or to my views.

All of this is silliness of course, Prisco is not a serious person. But his views in their bald credulity provide an illuminating window onto Robot Cult futurology (which is also mostly silliness, but provides in turn an illuminating window onto more prevailing futurological discourses playing out in the deceptive, hyperbolic advertizing norms and forms of technofetishistic consumer culture as well as in the eugenic/technocratic rationales for global corporate-militarist incumbent elite exploitation and rule offered by neoliberal/neoconservative think tanks, for all of which the techno-transcendental assumptions and aspirations of the Robot Cult are a clarifyingly bonkers extremity and, usually, execrescence).

Given this, I will say quickly what I have said at excruciating length elsewhere: First, people who talk about "superintelligence" should be able to talk about intelligence first, and though no one can do so adequately yet, we can be sure that those who speak about intelligence in ways that denigrate or disavow the facts that intelligence as it actually exists in the world so far has always been incarnated in bodies and in social practices are almost certainly on a catastrophically wrong track (which helps account for the reason that AI dead-enders who often talk just this way are serial failures who never seem less confident in their expectations despite always being only wrong about everything). Second, you are not a picture of you, even if the picture is a really good picture or a "scan" of you; further, computers and software and networks tend to be crufty, brittle, bloated, and shorter-lived than the people who use them, and so it is hard to see why even a picture of you that could be you (though it cannot) would be "immortalized" by being "migrated" "transferred" "translated" or "uploaded" (all of which, by the way, are metaphors rather than scientific theories) onto realizable, rather than idealized, computers, software, or networks. If calling bullshit on conceptually incoherent pseudo-scientific poppycock is "PC," let me add that my PC crusade includes criticisms of homeopathy, antivax and chemtrail conspiracists, and anthropogenic climate change denialism. I also feel fairly confident that one can distinguish science from pseudo-science, science practice and policy from science fiction, and consensus science from for-profit paid-expert spin-doctoring (from fundamentalist zealots peddling bogus "creation science" to corporate criminals peddling "safe cigarettes") and still have a wonderful and fruitful imagination, nefarious anti-imagination warriors of the world notwithstanding.

"Public Happiness"

I sometimes tell my students that one indispensable quality of Hannah Arendt's political thinking is that while philosophers have tended to talk about politics as though it was marriage, Arendt talks about politics as though it was sex.

In so much of Arendt's writing, freedom is not a matter of moralizing mortals making contracts, it is a matter of enriching experiences of self-expressivity and self-creation which only the education, agitation, organization, campaigning, legislating of politics afford. A conspicuous -- but not the only -- place in which Arendt engages in this sort of richly erotic phenomenology of lived political freedom is her description of the "public happiness" of the anti-colonial American Founders and of the French Resistance to Nazi occupation in World War II  (and which she lamentably failed to grasp in the anti-colonial struggles delineated by Fanon).

For students trained to be subcultural signalers through conspicuous consumption and occasionally alienated voting, the indispensability and even the rudimentary sense of the reality of human experiences like public happiness can be hard to illustrate. I talk about the electricity of marches and rallies, I talk about movies like Norma Rae and Erin Brockovich in which private heroines attest to the unexpected life-changing pleasure of becoming visible and being taken seriously by colleagues in public, I talk about the fraught dynamics of the classroom in which efforts and resistances to new ideas play out, and so on.

It is always a pleasant surprise to stumble upon new testaments to public happiness, and see how surprised such testaments always seem to be about stumbling onto this public happiness, even in otherwise very politically aware people. From a Salon interview published today with Zephyr Teachout:
So you’re out on the campaign trail talking to people about all of this …
And I love it.
Did you know you’d love it?
You know, politics is way undersold. It’s so much fun. Our crowds are growing. First we were going to other people’s events, now we’re holding our own. People come with these questions about how their lives can be better, their families could be better, their businesses, how the state could be better. The job of politics is to take them from that question to action. And it’s very moving.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rachel Haywire: Look At Me! Look At Me! Even If There's Nothing To See!

Alex Knapp directed my attention to this piece in which "Extreme Futurist" Rachel Haywire bids farewell to the so-called neoreactionary movement with which she has been lately identified.

Rachel Haywire's rather spastic bids for attention -- of which that piece is painfully one -- once got her fired for publishing one of my own more popular anti-transhumanoid rants in the transhumanoid propaganda vehicle humanity+ (for folks who aren't all humanity-minus like you and me), and so I do follow her shenanigans in a desultory fashion. In her latest missive, Haywire explains how she was once a sooper-radical leftist kinda sorta Robot Cultist but, like, Occupy is for Silicon Valley sell-outs (presumably Haywire has decided Justine Tunney is more representative of Occupy than Alexis Goldstein or something), and then she was a sooper-reactionary right-wing Robot Cultist but, like, they were all racist and sexist and stuff (racist and sexist reactionaries, the hell you say!) but no, like, you don't understand, they were like being racist and sexist and stuff at HER, so she had to "break up" with them.

That choice of phrase is all the more plangent when we realize that Haywire's stirring intellectual (or whatever) saga also included a break up with also now-neoreactionary Robot Cultist Michael Anissimov --allegedly! Oh, the post-humanity! Anissimov, once a regular and voluble critic of my anti-futurological critique here, was a brainwashed bottle-washer for various Robot Cult outfits from his early adolescence who, when he found himself stranded without legible accomplishments or credentials in that robocultic cul-de-sac, and in a future that didn't seem to be panning out particularly in the techno-transcendental department, decided to make a bid for muckety-muck status in his own sooper-reactionary auxiliary sub-basement sub-annex of the already, let's face it, auxiliary sub-basement sub-annex of the Singularitarian sub-sect of the transhumanoid Robot Cult archipelago. There's probably still quite a lot of attention and even cash to be had in the online futurological pseudo-science pseudo-philosophy pseudo-policy mega-church scam, after all, gross infantile spectacle and serial predictive failures aside. Like late-nite herbal boner pill infomercial circus barkers Robot Cultists are selling big dreams not, you know, reliable results or anything!

Anyway, Haywire has found herself in the aftermath of her futurological explorations of anarchotechtonic extremities clicking her ruby red slippers together and returning to her homely "punk rock girl" roots. That "punk rock girl" is a fairly densely multivalent conceptual site with its own real left, phony left, racist right, trustafarian ramifications leads to me wonder if she ever really went anywhere or if she ever has been anywhere particularly -- especially given the fact that Haywire never provides much in the way of a sense of the actual beliefs she had along her ideological travels or any arguments offered up to her or by her at any point in the itinerary.

I mention all this not least because Rachel Haywire has been given a spotlight from time to time, from various robotcultic eminences grises, to indicate the youthful vitality or radical energies still presumably invigorating futurological sub(cult)ures since the passing of the glory days of 90s dot.bomb long boom virtual reality cyberspace home of mind no death! no taxes! cypherpunk manifesto manifold irrational exuberance in which Extropians and Singularitarians were the most irrational exuberants frothing the fraudulent libertechian cauldron. The vapid narcissistic nonsense of Haywire's actually resulting travelogue isn't exactly a surprise, but it is another data point for dead-enders who need one, I guess.

But Not the Last

ThinkProgress:
[T]he capital of Choiseul Province in the Solomon Islands -- is planning to relocate its entire population in response to climate change, Reuters reports. It’s the first time that a provincial capital in the Pacific Islands will have done so.

Advertizing --> Think Tank --> Robot Cult

Futurology is what happens to thinking when marketing happens to commonsense.

More Futurological Brickbats here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

MHP: The Ferguson Curfew and the History of White Racist "Sundown Towns"

Electronic Frontier

Perhaps the President could declare the internet a National Park or Wilderness Area and fund it by making advertisers pay through the nose for trying to pollute the place.

Criminalization of Politics

GOP whining about the "criminalization of politics" sound predictably like criminals who don't understand politics.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

MHP: From Dred Scott to Michael Brown

Pay to Peer Twitterant

Way back in the early days of the blog I posted an abstract to a talk I delivered in the summer of 2005 at the Fourth Congress of the United States Basic Income Guarantee Network called Pay to Peer (do read the comments). I published another, more elaborated piece on the topic years later for The World Future Society, in the spring of 2013, p2p is EITHER Pay-to-Peer OR it is Peers-to-Precarity. It's a notion I cannot quite seem to shake, as witness:

They Still Have T-Paw

It's fairly hilarious how all these GOP Golden Boy governors, from McDonnell to Christie to Perry to Walker were crowing about the White House and now may be going to the jailhouse. Of course, the Republican "Deep Bench" was always a Village hallucination. To find it benched as we head into yet another clown college primary is simply a re-awakening into the reality that the GOP is now shaped far more by the demands of Hate Radio rather than government and hence that the horse race narratives preferred by Village hacks are simply not going to be plausible for some time to come. At least, I suppose, Villagers will still have pundit Paris of "both sides do it" and the fluffing of the genius of doll-eyed dolt Randroid Ryan and the civil libertarianism of neo-confederate racist Randroid Paul and the resolute foreign policy chops of Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran Grampy McAncient to console them as the party of evil AND stoopid commits suicide while trying to commit genocide before our eyes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Time to Line Up the CEOs

Apparently, police are now declaring the murder of property crime suspects justified and necessary.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Solar Canopy Offers Car Culture A Greener Tent

ClimateProgress:
Ford is planning to build a solar canopy covering 360 parking spaces at their world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan near Detroit... Thirty of the spaces covered by the solar canopy will include charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles... It will be the second-largest solar carport in the Midwest, after a 1.1-megawatt facility at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio. It will reduce the amount of electricity Ford pulls from the grid to run its offices, offsetting an estimated 794 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Of course, I am a notorious car culture hater, but I still think this is neat.

Libertopian Indifference to Actual Tyranny

Atrios calls them out:
[M]ost self-identified libertarians [are] completely full of shit. At best, they're in the "I've got mine screw you" and "freedom for me but not for thee" crowds, at worst they're complete sociopaths. But leaving behind the degree of fullofshitness, there is a liberal view of abuse of state power which self-described libertarians often mention but rarely get that passionate about... Unwarranted mass incarceration, unaccountable police brutality, authorizing the state to kill its own citizens, absurd civil forfeiture procedures... these are all clear abuses of state power! Much of the rest of it is just a debate over what should be appropriate policies, not whether they're abuses (though glibertarians tend to call anything they don't like an abuse of state power). There are people such as Radley Balko who take this stuff on! Good for them! Liberals would like libertarians more if they spent more time on the militarization of the police and the approved abuse of (especially) minority populations rather than, say, seatbelt laws and top marginal tax rates.
Of course, I suspect the fact that American Libertarianism Is Racist Through and Through is part of what is afoot here. Whiny white guys with money or (possibly deluded) expectations of getting big money someday whining about having to pay for the civilization they depend on with taxes. Sure, as Atrios says, there are exceptions (Rand Paul is making noises), but the history and the thrust are quite clear.

Johnson Introducing "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act"

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, is trying to rally support on Capitol Hill to curtail the distribution of military surplus to local cops, amid images from Ferguson, Mo., of armored divisions of police quelling protests. Johnson plans to introduce the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in light of the response to the shooting death of a black Ferguson teenager in an altercation with police. Johnson told colleagues in a letter that the bill will do two things: It will limit the type of equipment that can be transferred; It will require that states certify that they can account for all equipment. Johnson notes that local departments are getting free Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAPs) from the Pentagon with what he says is not enough accountability: “Before another small town’s police force gets a $700,000 gift from the Defense Department that it can’t maintain or manage, it behooves us to reign in the Pentagon’s 1033 program and revisit the merits of a militarized America. I hope we can work together on this important issue.”
Police militarization and for-profit prison privatization in the context of the racist War on (some) Drugs and racist open-carry private arsenal movements are of a piece, and a prevailing anti-democratizing threat. Representative Johnson's proposal, together with ongoing changes in drug sentencing guidelines and ongoing efforts for commonsense gun safety regulation are indispensable democratizing movements as well as resistance to reactionary white racism in America.

Ferguson Decepticon Infiltration Theory?


Alcor Techno-Immortalists Freezing Out Critics?

James M. Wicks, from the New York Case Compenium, Commercial Division (h/t JimF):
In a May 1, 2014 decision by Justice Sherwood, the Commercial Division granted defendants’ motions for summary judgment, and dismissed the third amended complaint in a case brought by Alcor Life Extension Foundation (“Alcor”), a non-profit organization engaged in the practice of cryonics, against the authors and publisher of a book entitled, “Frozen: A True Story, My Journey Into the World of Cryonics, Deception, and Death”. . One of the defendant authors, Larry Johnson, was employed for 8 months by plaintiff Alcor, and subject to a confidentiality agreement contained in his employment contract.  Alcor had previously sued Johnson in Arizona, claiming breaches of the confidentiality agreement... The court first considered the defamation claim against [the publisher] Vanguard.  Concluding that Vanguard demonstrated that it occupied a “public figure” status, the burden then shifted to Alcor to show by “clear and convincing” evidence that defendants acted with “actual malice.”  Reviewing the totality of evidence submitted, the court concluded that Alcor could not meet this burden... The court then summarily rejected Alcor’s claim that Vanguard somehow “aided and abetted” the fiduciary duty breach by Johnson, noting that claims for publication of defamatory material by a publisher are subject to First Amendment analysis.
I have had that book on a shelf for a couple of years but still haven't gotten around to reading it. It is interesting that Alcor tried but failed to prove in court that criticism of Alcor amounted to "malice" -- the all too familiar robocultic charge from my perspective that critique amounts to "hate-speech." That was His Holy Cosmic Engineer Pontifex Guilio Prisco's usual inane non-response to my anti-futurological critiques, for example. Given the Scientology precedent I did find the out of court settlement a few years back unfortunate, and am happy that the suit was eventually dismissed. Litigious cults shouldn't be given tools to squash dissent and dissenters in freethinking societies. I must say that confidentiality (like proprietary) clauses seem to provide all too familiar black boxes for SillyCon tech CEOs to hide their hype and frauds in. And so I can't say that I am particularly surprised to find Alcor playing that game, too: If techno-immortalist outfits like Alcor hyperbolize common or garden variety anti-aging skin kreme con artistry into full blown techno-transcendental faith-based initiatives, it isn't exactly a leap to find cosmetic company confidentiality agreements hyperbolized in robocults into a Holy of Holies.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Collateral Citizenry

Train and arm police as soldiers and citizens will inevitably be treated as enemies.

Advice

Troops are advisers now. I'll bet they keep advising people to die.

Pissing on the Anarchist Name

Upgraded and Adapted from the Moot, "Elias Altvall" wrote:
It is kinda sad that your only interaction is with the assholes who piss on the anarchist name. All anarchist since the first one to self described him as that (Pierre Joseph Proudhon) have been socialist. "The two principles referred to are Authority and Liberty, and the names of the two schools of Socialistic thought which fully and unreservedly represent one or the other of them are, respectively, State Socialism and Anarchism." This is a quote from Benjamin Tucker a free market anarchist in the 19th century.
I converse with self-identified anarchists all the time, some of them friends and political allies. I think the best left anarchists would do better to describe as democratization what they think is anarchism, and I think they are more vulnerable to wasting their energy than they think they are (they probably think the same of me), but philosophical differences are rarely what matters most in an actual protest or in the midst of a well articulated activist campaign, or in appreciating the beauty of radical art.

I am well aware of the history of anarchism, and the Propaganda of the Deed isn't something you can wish away my friend. As for free market anarchists -- there is no such thing as "the free market," markets are constituted and maintained by laws, norms, and infrastructural affordances, and the denial of this serves the reactionary status quo. Neither are there "spontaneous orders," although I'm sure insulated and privileged people live a life conducive to such fancies. "Liberty" and "Authority" (As Such) are particularly slippery sites of institutional and conceptual contestation, usually at a fairly abstract level for boys.

I believe in education, agitation, and organization -- both within actually-constituted legal and organizational frameworks and also pushing from their left with intellectual imagination and nonviolent resistance -- in the service of ever greater equity-in-diversity, a practical progressive usually reformist struggle that is almost certainly interminable. I don't want to smash states but to democratize them. For more on what I take to be the connections between democratization, nonviolence, equity-in-diversity, consent, consensus science, taxation, and such do read the pieces archived under the heading Against Anarchy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

White Libertechbrotarians Really Do Ruin Atheism for the Rest of Us

In their market fundamentalist zealotry the white libertechbrotarian atheists match the crude uncritical faiths they deride, in their sublime self-regard they invest an objectionable taste -- usually in both clothes and conversation -- with the force of objectivity, while in their application of facile facticity to normative precincts to which it is unsuited they derange the very science they pretend to champion.

The Libertarian Moment

If you are an insulated ignoramus who fancies that public laws and infrastructure grow on trees and yet that privileges are personal accomplishments then "the libertarian moment" is always arriving.

So Negative

Negativity is other people's opinions.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Today's Random Wilde

Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

GOTV 2014

The GOP has louder louts, but that doesn't mean it has more voters. GOTV 2014 is a tale that remains to be told, and it will be the one that matters.

Do Nothing, Meet Do Something

The President isn't acting like a King, the GOP is acting like an anarchy.

Trading An Original Sin for the Originary Gift

Prisoned for life by debt we forget we are indebted for life to our planet.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Gender Poets Revisited

Talk of the teledildonic con earlier today lead me to revisit and slightly revise a post from half a dozen years back "Post-Gender" or Gender Poets?