Category: IDEAS

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TO THE POLICE OF AMERICA

Do not be like this. Spraying chemical agents into the faces of harmless people is the act of a sociopath. That way lies madness! Police Officers: all of you walking the beat in American cities from Galveston to Toledo, from Miami to Portland, I believe that the vast majority of you are working to protect your fellow citizens. But we have reached a moment of crisis in our society. The wealth of our nation has been robbed, the banks looted, the government bought by corporations, and our future sold down the river. Police of America, you have to ask yourselves, when you are told to violently attack unarmed protesters and to arrest those expressing their constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech: who is it you serve? Who is in danger and who is being protected? In fact, the majority of Americans have seen their real incomes shrink, or their jobs vanish, or their homes foreclosed, or their children impoverished. It is the majority of Americans, the 99%, who are in danger. Isn’t that obvious? And yet your orders are coming from the 1%, that is to say the rich and super-rich, who have reaped gigantic profits from the horrible suffering they have created. Their financial schemes, such as hedge funds and bundled real estate securities, are the ROOT CAUSE of the economic crisis we are now facing, and yet they are being protected? Protected from what? They are criminals.

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OccupyMeme

As Occupy Wall Street has grown from a demonstration to a social movement, it is inspiring to see many good things emerging. Perhaps the most basic triumph of the Occupy movement has been to wrench

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Readercon 22 - Goodspeak From the Jewel Hinged Jaw

Yet another great time at Readercon this year! The panel topics had their usual sweep of the field, from Mark Twain, to Mark Clifton, and most places interstitial…yet the mood of the conference was clearly influenced by the passing of two major figures in SF’s new wave: Joanna Russ and Tom Disch. In memorializing Disch, can you imagine a more appropriate set of panelists than Charles Platt, John Crowley, John Clute, Chip Delany, and Gregory Feeley? It is always interesting to be part of a living literary tradition — sf fandom — that celebrates itself, its heroes and villains, its friendships and bitter feuds, by directly mixing the authors, editors, fans and miscellaneous hangers on in a single venue.

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Synchronicity of misremembered skulls

The fascinating novel _Rings of Saturn_ by W.G. Sebald captured my interest at the outset when he described the journey of Thomas Browne’s skull. The intrepid adventures of Browne’s skull, included an interlude beneath a glass bell jar at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital Museum, as well as two burials. This gives Sebald ironic license to remark on passages from Browne’s book Urn Burial — in which Browne “offers the most fitting commentary on the subsequent odyssey of his own skull when he writes that to be gnaw’d out of our graves is a tragical abomination. But, he adds, who is to know the fate of his bones, or how often he is to be buried?”

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The Situationist International redux

Here is a short documentary on the Situationists movement (in three parts) related to a show: “On the passage of a few people through a brief moment in time. The Situationist International (1957-1972

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Comité de salut public: Monsieur, it's time to go!

Portrait of Marat While reading the remarkable book by R.R. Palmer, _Twelve Who Ruled, the Year of Terror in the French Revolution_, I began to wonder what sort of monstrous evils can be unleashed in the name of “protecting the people,” or in the French example, both liberating them from a corrupt aristocracy while at the same time plunging them into other forms of tyranny.   One can only wonder:  whose security is being protected, the security of the people?  Dont la sécurité et qui est sans danger? The security of the committee itself?  And who will make sure that these precious tribunals will not turn into paranoid and despotic cages of lunatics?  En effet, personne ne regarde, car personne ne se soucie… And then, of course we have our own contemporary examples, with a war on terror, and with invasive full-body scanners stripping the populace to their short hairs.  No, you will not find any of the people whose security is really being protected going through those scanners, but they will beat down the rest of us with the idea that we must submit to all of their demands, to keep us on the defensive, because naturally all of us, even the most patriotic citizens who believe in freedom, equality, and justice are suspect!   If we are not sniveling with our heads bowed, obviously we must be under suspicion.   Is there no end to the preposterous bullshit that the ruling class will come up with to keep us in line?  hmmph, as Proudhon said, “The great are only great because we are on our knees. Let us rise!“   And so we might pause to consider these portraits of the twelve who ruled that committee for public safety, along with some other grands hommes et femmes from the French Revolution.  Remember, they did not achieve their goal of establishing a fair government and democracy…since chopping off heads - apparently - is not enough to eradicate the predatory ruling class.   Should we, yes mere mortals here, seek to remove the “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity“ (to borrow the apt metaphor from Matt Taibbi), we must follow the money and deprive them of their access to it.  It’s blood simple.   Get the bastards away from the money.

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Telepathic Bird Brains and Ornithopters

From the editorial “Communication Between Minds” by Fred Pohl [Worlds of Tomorrow, Nov 1965] “Reading Vitus Droscher‘s fascinating The Mysterious Senses of Animals (Dutton), when it occurred to us that an experiment Droscher had described could be construed as a proof of telepathy. The experiments in question were performed by von Holst and Jechorek at the Max Planck Institute. The subjects were two chickens, connected by a wire and an amplifier that carried a current from the brain of one chicken to the brain of the other, via stereotaxically implanted electrodes. When the first chicken was exposed to the sight of a dog, the second chicken — completely out of sight and hearing, in another room — fluttered up the wall, squawking in alarm. Not telepathy?”

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Absolute Elsewhere by R. T. Gault Lives On!

As the new year arrives, I found that the fascinating annotated bibliography for truth-seekers, compiled by the late R. T. Gault has vanished from the web. Therefore, as both tribute to compiler an

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Readercon 2009 - Egocentrism and Creativity

This panel, moderated (with immoderate gusto) by James Patrick Kelly, featured Scott Edelman, Eileen Gunn, Gene Wolfe, and Catherynne Valente. John Shirley was scheduled to participate, but got stuck in San Francisco, where I can picture him flailing savagely around in the airport trying to get on any flight to anywhere! The premise of the panel was based on Michael Swanwick‘s contention that “modesty and a reasonable awareness of one’s limitations have no place in a writing career.” Yes, that’s the same Swanwick who declared at Readercon one: “With the possible exception of Gene Wolfe, I’m the best writer here today.” Thus egocentrism…

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DOWN with art as a means to ESCAPE A LIFE that isn't worth living!

It is hard for me to imagine, but I am more than forty years old, indeed very close to fifty years! I know, dear reader, you will be startled to hear such a thing, since all you encounter on my blog are absurdities, and many seemingly juvenile links to old comic books and science fiction artists. But there is reason encoded behind the screen of disconnected trivia that you find here. In fact, I am arranging these posts into a secret code; nor would it especially please me to know that you have figured it out…the news is not pretty! These are clues, do with them what you will. But mind you, time and decades are flashing past like lightning! Like a cinder snapping out of a burning log in the fireplace, ride this moment like a rocket…