ebogjonson.com's next levelish archive

documenting various, largely technological instances of "the next"

March 22, 2007

gems from the collection


The G-Bomb, originally uploaded by Gems from the Collection.

this cat (flickr user gems from the collection) has a pretty amazing flickr photostream, mostly of pulp novel and magazine covers from the 50s. h/t: boing-boing

50s and 60s futurist aesthetics have a way of always seeming fresh. Is that the Jetson's fault?

Posted by ebogjonson at 12:26 PM | Permalink

March 17, 2007

thanks for asking!

I will take care of you

I just wanted to thank everyone who wrote in ask how my nana was doing. ("Called in" for those of you I trust with my cell number.) The shorthand answer that I've been relying on is "as best can be expected," and, despite its aspects as autopilot, I guess that's as true as anything I could say. Diabetes, three heart attacks (well, one heart attack and two "cardiac episodes"), a non-functioning artery in her gut, a month in the hospital, 89 years working at thankless, largely manual labor on the bottom social rungs on ye olde Planet of the Earths: I should be grateful Saint Anne is just plain alive, in no pain and (relatively) mobile, that she is able to rouse to varied levels of excitement whenever the one-minute-to-the-hour teaser for her favorite re-run comes on. (Monk and any Law & Order show, basically.)

As best as can be expected, like I said.

Me, I'm doing as best as can be expected as well (thanks for asking!) which is to say I'm not exactly sure how I'm doing. First there has been the problem of recovering from the specific, unsettling horror of having spent all of Black History Month 2007 in Kendall, Miami. I mean, I can't really begin to describe how much energy it took for me just to get up to the humid Kendall morning, this given the choking, ground-hugging miasma of family BS and social pollution that hangs the place like a malevolent, soul-stealing fog. H.P Lovecraft's tombstone sez "I AM PROVIDENCE;" and effective description of the terror that is being stuck in Kendall could only be approached by a writer with contemporary Lovecraftian instincts and illnesses, someone who could legibly claim "I AM KENDALL" as his or hers. Calling Kendall a locus of ancient, corporate, mall-ish, suburban, unthinking, bourgie, non-black Hispanic, post-Cuban horror just scratches the surface.

(There is also a whole post to be written in the aftermath of my time in Kendall about the maddening judgment/mis-identification hijinks that occured whenever I encountered certain types of older, conservative Cuban folks, racist Cuban folks in a word, who thought I was some kind of bedredlocked rebel from their lifelong campaign to escape various forms of darkness. This post ain't it, however.)

Part of my problem is that thinking about all this provokes random, largely inexplicable fits of anger in me. The classic feelings of helplessness, as described in the relevant literature. For example, I literally wanted to write above: "AS BEST AS CAN BE EXPECTED, I said. Are you fucking deaf?" I wrote the line in and then deleted it, completely baffled by myself. Grief, no grief; sadness, no sadness; stress, no stress, helpless or helpful: I'm not so much confused by the fact that my head is fucked up (as worst as can be expected?) but by the specific contours the fucked-uppedness takes, as in the above almost-outburst about people not listening. Who could I possibly be yelling at in that highly specific way? Who isn't listening? Who strikes me as akin to deaf? Everyone has been pretty much grand, and those who haven't, well, they acted just as I expected them to, so really: no skin off my nose. So why the rage? I can't get mad at inaction from a god I don't believe in.

Like most everybody I have a hard enough time processing abrupt familial deaths, but the process of taking a slow stroll up to one involves its own series of wild, conflicting confrontations. Last time I posted I was grateful to have made it to Miami in time. Now my unique damage (maybe; incorrectly claiming uniqueness is a bad look for spring) is that I am, well, outraged that she's dying, this because it strikes me as an injustice even with the 89 years and counting. I'm not dwelling on all this in full-on rage, not letting existential anger distort my day-to-day living, but my adolescent science-fictional (luciferian?) impulses remain strong enough that my default thinking about the whole, er, death thing is that it's fundamentally unnecessary.

There are a lot of people I like who view my kind of wants - long life, going to Mars - as irresponsibity akin driving a Hummer, another set who thinks you can't be a card carrying member of the African diaspora without a firm belief in highly specific forms of hoodoo. And that's fine, really: you all can stay behind if you want to. Our conceptual tribe shares a lot of opinions, but self-consciously "responsible," non-science-fictional progressives often tend towards a zero-sum worldview that I reject, a guilt-driven mythology where the good are poor, denied and martyred, while only vampires, racists and thief capitalists live well and long, this at the cost of innocent human lives. Whatever. The way I see it it's always possible to live well and honestly and decently all at the time. Our choice isn't between, say, war for oil and a reduced, but "sustainable" standard of living; it's between making oil companies rich and doing the hard, largely scientific and technical, work of figuring out how to get exactly what you want without killing people or wrecking the environment. So why not try to live forever? Those stem cells aren't people like some claim they are; forever only requires drinking blood in the movies; I promise to remember you if you insist on dying like you were told to.

And despite all that random techno-optimism l am still angry. I guess the thing is that in addition to thinking it'd be great to live forever, I also genuinely don't see any reason not to assume future generations won't get what I want, on average having impressively longer life-spans than we do and making the accident of me riding on the historical-living shortbus akin to being cheated by history. Being one of those people who has always identified with Paradise Lost's Lucifer, I tend chafe whenever I feel forced to make peace with anything that strikes me as random, structural or circumstantial. I want to spit at anyone (especially anyone looking forward to a good 40 more years) who tries to tell me a "mature" reaction to Saint Anne's involuntary, pre-ordained decrepitude involves bending the knee to something as dumb as a number. (89 in this case.) I want to shout at people who think there is something greedy about wanting to live. I'm not really interested in the number unless it adds up for me, which is why I tend to want fourth, fifth and sixth opinions, why I think NYC beats LA because the last call is later/bigger. I'm perfectly willing to keep rolling the dice, keep seeing the doctors, keep refactoring the parameters until something gets fixed or something runs out - money, time, life. I wouldn' t want to bankrupt my kids or my neighbors to pay for my medical care, but if I already have a wad why not peel some off and toss it at the doctors? (Which is another way of saying: we haven't come within a mile of being financially burdened by Saint Anne's care. All we've risked so far is our comfort, and yet everyone is making peace with the idea that her fate is sealed. She's 89, you know. She's doing as well as can be expected.)

And don't get me wrong: I'm also completely down for accepting/defying the death sentence by throwing a party. There is a blog meme out that has involved asking the classic "what would you do if you had six months to live" question, and me, I would go sit on a beach (Lamu?) and read, get high, surf the web, play videogames, eat shellfish, do some writing and (Sweet Lord Jesus willing!) get laid pretty and plenty. You can join me or you can collect my corpse when it's time if you feel so inclined, or you can let it float out to sea, not my problem, I'm dying so I'm kind of focused on myself these days, sorry.

(Although, if you were able to collect my head, I would greatly appreciate it, as I'd like to have my brain frozen on the off chance that it can be reanimated at a later date. Thanks!)

I asked Saint Anne what she most desperately wanted to do when she got home and when she said "change into my own clothes," I have to shamefacedly admit I was disappointed in her, angry even. When it became obvious during Black History Month that she was going to survive, part of me fantasized that she'd jump up from her hospital bed and take up roller-skating or something, that having hit a kind of rock bottom she would now bounce, that some long unresolved, lifelong desire would come into focus and that she'd get her GED, see the pyramids (I'll push the wheelchair), do yoga, learn how to make the perfect soufflé - who can say for sure but her? Just something. Instead, she walked through and out of the shadow of the valley of death in order to watch re-runs and sleep in Kendall (aforementioned hell-on-earth Kendall!), every day receding just a bit more from us, her body and mind failing in tiny stages.

I know it's not her fault. She's just too tired to take up roller-skating, too beaten down by the facts and the numbers. (Let's not even get into a month on your back in a hospital in Kendall.) When Saint Anne was 88 she walked, talked and carried herself like a 65 year-old, but one year later time has finally caught up with her. Now she seems like what I imagine 89 should seem like: her movements are tentative, she uses a walker. She sleeps half the day and even though her lassitude alarms me, the second and third medical opinions (my mother is of a mind that fourth and fifth opinions are selfish and extravagant) view her decline as natural. It's not as a form of theft, I'm told, it's the inevitable end to a sort of bonus ++ period of sprightly-ness, Saint Anne's strength up to now an overtime that the universe had gifted her with and that had now expired. Turn that frown upside-down, little one, is what they are saying. To every season, turn turn, etc.

My sense that she has suddenly, abruptly declined hinges on the fact that I only knew and believed what I could see about her health. Saint Anne only seemed like a 65 year old when she was 88, she only looked that way to a me stuck there observing with mere human eyes, an amateur's mind assessing the situation without the aid of a medical degree or advanced diagnostic equipment. All these years that I've been smiling at her with such smug paternalism, marveling at how black really didn't crack, at how fresh and young she persisted in being while I (me!) was getting disturbingly older, there beneath the surface something was slowly unraveling, failing, running out, waiting for 89 to blow up in our faces.

Maybe if I'd had eyes capable of seeing beneath surfaces, see down to the unraveling in real time, she'd still be looking like a 65 year old. When I was in Miami I was in her hospital room late one night when a technician came in with a fancy sonogram machine to check for blood clots in her legs. (This was early on when no one knew what the fuck was happening.) I stared over his shoulder as the machine peered into her and for the first time in my life I desperately wished I'd become a doctor the way my parents had wanted me to, because if I had I'd be able to read the sonogram and maybe help save her life.

(That said, I don't think a hypothetical "Dr. Me" would have been able to save my father's life, Dad being the Thomasian sort who only trusted the results of his own experiments. He got himself killed when he ignored his doctor's orders and started tinkering with his heart medication dosage, this because of some advice he'd picked up on Google. Not likely he would have taken my medical advice or aid, but there are timeline paradoxes aplenty there: he wouldn't have taken my advice, but Dr. Me's? Dr. Son He Alway Wanted? Hmm...)

When I asked the sonogram tech what the results where he told me that a doctor would have to read it, which really made me want to weep with frustration. Like my father I have a hard time trusting in anyone's competence, starting with god and my parents and going right down the list. It's complete hubris, I know, a real pain if you have to work with me, but my core belief has always been that if I want something done right I really need to do it myself, forget prayer or parents or co-workers or Saint Anne's doctors or any of it. Forget even myself as currently constructed, by which I mean screw getting that medical degree I mentioned earlier. What I really need is the as-yet-unmade ebog of the future. The post-singularity, more-better one with X-rays eyes and six robot arms, each limb a surgical tool, or a drug factory, or a medical tricorder, maybe a mechanism for the delivery of healing nanomachines. That guy even has a seventh arm with a spike at the end that (this is going to pinch a little!) goes in at the base of the spine and allows for full sensorium, networked VR, the better for him and Saint Anne to spend all day at the beach in Lamu, for him to help her with her GED homework, to make that perfect soufflé. He would hold her gently in those robot arms and she'd live forever, which would make him feel useful and proud. He'd think: it really is just the least I can for the woman who raised me, who wiped my bottom. They would not live in Kendall.

But I don't have the time or the resources to be that guy, so instead I guess I'll have bend the knee afterall, say thanks and goodbye, Saint Anne, make soothing, cooing sounds at her like a good little mammal, like the word-less, animal sound was some kind of appropriate exit music. It really makes me want to scream.

Posted by ebogjonson at 11:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

May 9, 2006

every day we're hustling

Spent a large portion of last weekend back-reading Emeka Okafor's The Timbuktu Chronicles, a technology and entrepreneurship blog focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. (Someone turned me on to Okafor a while ago, but I've forgotten who; apologies to you if you know who you are.) In between lots of optimistic blog-and-tell (apparently the African swimwear manufacturing sector is heating up), Okafor does some neatly programmatic prognosticating about a possible, tech-driven African renaissance, wondering, for example, whether the West's (or at least the Bay Area's) reignited "need to grapple with the tangible tactile 3rd dimension" has application in Africa:

The now almost retro cyber-age had emphasized the importance of all things digital at the expense of those objects we can grasp. The merging of the bit the biological and non-biological atom in the developed world is on track courtesy of robotics and nanotechnology, while in areas south of the Sahara the 'made' atom has barely gotten of the starting block. The uptake of technology in Africa has been symbolized almost completely by cellphones, computers and information -ICT as it commonly labeled. As a result the nerves are beginning to sputter into life, but the equally important muscles and sinews have not even begun to coalesce.

In a Timbuktu Chronicles post "Fundamental, Unsexy and Absent" the non-existence of an industrial mechanical base was highlighted and its pivotal nature emphasized. The boring 'old' industries of Metalworking and various types of Manufacturing and Chemical Engineering have had to bow off the stage in the developed west while the young upstarts of the information age, biotechnology et al bask in the spotlight. This could rightly be considered progress in the industrialized and developed/ing countries, but not where industrialization has experienced a still birth and these industries do not even exist. The ability to communicate effectively does not confer the title of 'developed' on its wearer's head, ICT is to a large degree an enabler and facilitator.

Okafor is bullish on the idea that the post-hobbyist instrumentalities and practices popular among our local DIY types will open up transformative zones of people/entrepreneur driven growth and industrialization. It's a compelling, current, optimistic scenario, and if I have a nano-sized nit to pick it's that "reignited" interest in the atom in the West or no, places like Haiti or portions of sub-Saharan Africa have always already being zones of intense "maker" activity. The atom hacking and hustling required just to keep head above water in some places means that people are constantly surrounded by a nimbus of modification. It's like a literal poor man's version of Madeline Gins and Arakawa's architectural surround, an enveloping "architecture" that exists not to support Gins and Arakawa's (art)project of life-extension but plain old life-continuance, maintenance, life-not-dying-enance and so on.

(This is a random aside, but I had a chance to hear Madeline Gins speak/read last year in LA. She was fascinating but scattered, and when the audience started tiring just a bit of her shtick she disdainfully saluted the crowd and spat "Goodnight, plants!!!" at us before storming off the stage. Completely amazing.)

Okafor name-checks MAKE Magazine and the transit from there to there (and potentially back) could fill the pages of several well-designed magazine special issues. How long, for example until we see a "MAKE: THIRD WORLD" issue? ("MAKE VISITS THE GARAGE LABS OF SUPER TINKERERS FROM TURKMENISTAN TO NIGERIA TO PARAGUAY!!!") How about a February MAKE exclusive: "BLACK MAN HACKS TRAFFIC LIGHT!! USING XBOX SCRAPS!!!" As much as MAKE contemporizes Popular Mechanics and Heathkit (there's also a hint of "In Search of..." thrown in there somewhere, but that could also just be the taste of nutmeg) it also indulges in stealth deployments of "Budweiser Presents A Black History Month Special: Great Black Inventors," MAKE's central "genius in you" storyline implicitly suggesting the existence of "genius in them" angles, "look what I made!" being less than six degrees of separation from "didja know what they made?"

Or is that "didja know what we made?" The communitarian storyline might be the spécialité de maison of middlebrow, corporate-sponsored, African American media but MAKE still a kind of freedom that when applied to US blacks (pun not intended, but noted) takes on science fictional overtones. Even correcting for the distorted ways people talk about Africa it seems a universal black affliction, infecting even Okafor's straightforwardly earnest postings. His hopes for a coming maker golden age seem the stuff of a hacked Cyptonomicon, but then that's likely why he put "The Timbuktu Chronicles" on the header and not "Sub-Saharan African Technology Today."

Posted by ebogjonson at 9:02 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2006

does the CBC hate net neutrality?

A Democrat-sponsored bill protecting net neutrality was rejected in committee today by a 34-22 vote. Said House committee has a Republican majority, so the amendment by Ed Markey (MA-D) was unlikely to make it out alive, but five Democrats - including Congressional Black Caucus members Edolphus Towns, Albert Wynn, and Bobby Rush still felt the need to cross the aisle and vote with the Republicans. Throw in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Charlie Gonzales and four out of five of the ATT Five are members of the Hill's civil right's caucuses. What gives?

What gives is that these four made the cynical and depressing calculation that black and Latino folks don't care about or follow telecom/internet regulation issues, giving them a free vote to toss the telecom lobby's way. Besides being gutless, this vote puts Towns, Wynn and Rush's constituencies at greater risk for higher internet bills and poorer service. Lots of folks have explained net neutrality better than I will be able to, but suffice to say that if telecoms are allowed to pin premium pricing schemes to the delivery of services they currently treat "neutrally" (delivering you this blog page vs. a video download vs. an e-commerce site vs...) black consumers will be among the first to get fucked.

That prediction isn't idle conjecture on my part, but a projection of current patterns in how telecom, cell, cable and information services are marketed to black audiences. After decades of being redlined and underserved, the African American market has become highly attractive on the thesis that we tend to spend heavily, first and freely on premium telecommunication services, and that where we go youngish, crossover audiences tend to follow. (Where you at, indeed.)

Advertisers and providers have all kinds of shiny jargon and sociology to account for these behaviors: we are "luxury conscious." African Americans "enjoy feature rich environments." We're "trendsetters." Black folks like and understand bling. What all this boils down to practically is that the media, advertising and telecom bizzes expect black folks to enthusiastically pay for any old "extra" shit that comes packaged as a premium, style or luxury add-on. In my experience, study after focus group after sales presentation has enshrined this counter-intuitive fact as ethnic marketing 101, and any rep worth their pillar of salt can toss off related factoids like how, compared to the average white cell phone customer, a demo-comparable (age, sex income level and so on) black cell customer will tend to sign up for more initial minutes or text messages or photo uploads. (Sure, they may dial it back after a few bills, but the initial deviation still makes for pretty spreadsheets.) The same goes for black new car buyers choosing between stereo systems, cable subscribers picking standard, bronze or gold plans, and, of course, no one needs me to rehash the long history of hijinks associated with high end sneakers, a story whose only silver lining is the near ubiquity of cheap knockoffs.

This counter-intuitive spending pattern (in so much as black people are simultaneously imagined as having less) is the dirty little secret of all black consumer media and no business plan proposing a black magazine, website, telecom, MVNO, cable channel or radio station is complete without it.

Which brings us to net neutrality. Do you imagine that in a post-net neutral world AOL or Time Warner Cable, for example, is going to deliver AOL Black Voices the same way they currently deliver competitor BlackPlanet.com? Or taken from another angle, imagine the epic buffets of pointless feature-sets, packaging hustles, and junk "premiums" that will be hawked by SBC in a post-net neutral world, the byzantine universe of hidden deals and associations. For-pay BET branded chat for the teens? Creflo Dollar paying to slow down TD Jake's sermon streams? Conglomerate A paying to stream crap music at superspeed while everyone else's beats crawl along or queue up at the entrance to the thin, slow pipes? These are precisely the kinds of scenarios that should inform the thinking of representatives like Towns, Wynn and Rush, but I guess that telephone money was just too good to pass up.

Posted by ebogjonson at 5:27 PM | Permalink

April 21, 2006

hand and eye of the father

right hand - Over the past year I've been having powerful urges to make stuff, as in with my hands make stuff. As luck would have it, there's an awful lot of easy to follow, maker-related media out there these days, meaning I'm either particularly attuned to changes in the aether or just another trend victim jocking today's iteration of the next.

I'm going to start my solid-state, open source kick small, with a homemade electric cat drinking fountain templated on nicrosin's hack pictured above. (Hat tip to the make blog.) I've actually owned two store-bought electric cat waterers. (Or did my cat own them?) The motor on the first one died and the second broke in transit from MA to LA. Complete ripoffs at 49 or so bucks twice, and me with no receipts. :(

I'll post photos when the thing gets a bit beyond the ideation stage.

###

left hand - This is likely a common chain of association, but the maker meme reminds me of my father.

gerard dauphin in uniform

Although he was born and raised in Haiti, Dad was a fairly typical American/home-ownerish type who believed in the powers of his own ingenuity and hammer. If something could be made from scratch, in his book it must be made from scratch. In his day he replaced car engines with salvage, hacked boilers, cobbled together roofs; he built carports, sheds and bathrooms. I was less than appreciative of his ways (I thought he could be unnecessarily frugal) but I went to the well gladly whenever I needed to, medalling in science fairs, for example, throughout junior high on the strength of his contraptions. My ambitions to, say, make bendable models of "spacetime" in the 7th grade (?!) found their perfect expression in an insight he had had (likely years before) about the properties of solder and thick copper wire, in his habit of buying odd things like magnets and lenses just in case he might need them later, for lord knows what.

His entire life, literally until the day he died, was one long, sisyphean work of home and auto improvement, our house and cars perpetual works in progress. Dad even managed to die with his tool-belt on: The stroke that killed him set in as a mild buzzing in the ears while he was picking up some obscure power tool at the home of a friend. The two discussed my father's worsening headache at some length in dude's garage, but instead of going to the emergency room (or, more plausibly just to bed, given his various anti-clerical temperments) Dad went to the hardware store, likely imagining that the fix for what ailed him might be found there. He bought a drill bit or some such, stopped for chinese, drove home and then promptly dropped dead in the driveway after perfectly parking his ancient, jury-rigged ride in his rigorously chosen, preferred spot.

(The location had something to do with a tree. It grew out of our sidewalk at on odd angle, and for thirty years my father had daily premonitions that it would fall.)

His orderly, suggestive exit aside, my dad's drive to make things was explicitly political. He was not much concerned with the environment as he was American hubris. As an involuntary immigrant he had ambivalent feelings about life in the land of plenty, saw connections between the grinding poverty in Haiti and the blithe excess here. He was a bit disconcerted by his hand in expanding evil in the world (like most Haitian men, he viewed his wife and children as extensions of himself, and my mother, sister and me are all inveterate consumers) and he took great pleasure in short-circuiting what he viewed as an top down directives to consume by making and reshaping existing products to his various needs. He had an analogue of the intuition part of the post-internet generation has come to, gassed as it is on its power to code lots of something out of literal nothing: even a world full of trash can be made anew. Shit, endless supplies of cheap trash might actually be a new-making pre-req.

Whenever my mother or I insisted on the freshly minted or new Dad would sneer that we were "making America beautiful," and it was in that crack that I found my own voice in opposition to him. I've clearly resconsidered my quarrel with my father on the question of making v. buying certain things (you wouldn't be reading this otherwise), but on the crucial question of aesthetics we will likely remain at loggerheads. My dear old dad, you see, did not much believe in beauty. For example, to my great chagrin he made my first bicyle out of a pile of parts he had collected at the no-joke, actual junkyard. The thing worked fine but was a mess to look at - seat, frame, spokes and handle-bars a mish-mash of styles and eras, states of disrepair and decay. I had to force him to put a new seat on (he was going to throw this crazy, gold-speckled banana seat he had found back in the junkpile), and it was another ordeal getting him to paint the thing a single color. I think he could have turned me on to the pleasures of symetrical ownership and sourcing sooner (i.e., pre-posthumously) if he had been less engineer and more artist, but therein lies the tale, right?

All of which is why you can bet that when I post my pics of my cat waterer there won't be tape on the walls like in the hack above. (Will that even stay on?) Part of the reason is that I don't want to mar my pretty walls and part of the reason is that all that tape seems unsafe. Dad would likely have also disapproved of nicrosin's design owing to some insistent disquiet about all that looping wire - just the thing a cat might pull down and chew and electrocute himself in a bowl of water. (Doh!) Now that I think about it, it seems that of the million things my father knew about jury-rigging and hacking and re-purposing, the only techniques he was at any particular pain to pass on concerned the right and wrong way to do potentially dangerous stuff - change a light switch, for example, or how to properly move cars on and off cinderblocks.

I always found his care on these topics somewhat insulting, like I struck him as some sort of moron or incompetent. The lessons took, though, and, if there's anything bitter at all at the bottom of this it's that while he had the eye that looked at left-over fish tank pumps and saw cat waterers, me, I got stuck with the vision that looks at a cat waterer and sees a kitty death trap. Which is to say, I got the evil, deconstructing eye, putting me somewhat at odds with the spirit of the age, after all.

Actually, it really does sting, all of it: the lost patrimony, the uninherited impulses, the need at this late stage for me to bend my knee north towards all those happy, shiny, optimistic, enterprising kids and websites, most of them in San Francisco, most of them very quite nice, just like James Murphy said. But you do what you have to, right? If you don't make your fresh lemonade out of the freely available lemons, you're just another consumer making America beautiful, just like dad said.

Posted by ebogjonson at 12:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

December 20, 2005

hot spook on spook action

Some Jack Bauer-ish ex-spies are speaking out about the wiretapping scandal. (Hat tip atrios)

All of the sigint specialists emphasized repeatedly that keeping tabs on Americans is way beyond the bounds of what they ordinarily do -- no matter what the conspiracy crowd may think.

"It's drilled into you from minute one that you should not ever, ever, ever, under any fucking circumstances turn this massive apparatus on an American citizen," one source says. "You do a lot of weird shit. But at least you don't fuck with your own people." [full story]

Although it's heartwarming to hear that previous generations of spies were better lovers of the Constitution than the current lot, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that all intelligence agencies engaged in active pursuit of "hostiles" (declared and undeclared) break the law at some point. The difference these days is that the lawbreaking has become endemic; instead of the standard conservative sin of hypocrisy, these folks are boastful and aggressive about their misdeeds and seek an Orwellian re-definition of any term that might impeach them, their motives and means. ("Torture," for example.) The arrogance of this administration, its messianic self-righteousness as it defines constitutional deviancy downward is mindboggling. Every single one of them - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Condi, Colin - belongs in jail.

Dreams of the big house for George et al aside, the above spooky quote came from DefenseTech.org, a nifty site that's a fucking goldmine for the very conspiracy crowd it disavows. On pretty much any given day editor Noah Shachtman is serving up some super-weird, borderline science-fictional newsbit, as in this tasty news item:

Pain Ray Headed to Iraq?

It's been talked about for years. But the Pentagon's microwave-like pain ray may finally be headed to Iraq, Inside the Army reports.

DefenseTech's comments on the Tapgate go for the long ball, suggesting that there's a new technology at play in the wiretaps, and also catching the Total Information Awareness (TIA) reference in Senator Jay Rockerfeller's handwritten note (!) to Cheney. To those of you not in the conspiracy or defense tech crowds, TIA was DARPA's proposed plan to index, like, everything electronic, in hopes of finding the needle of terrorist communication in the haystack of the billion or so bits that have been produced and exchanged about Jessica Simpson's divorce.

Posted by ebogjonson at 1:42 PM | Permalink

December 17, 2005

the yacubian doctrine

From the Boston Globe:

Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin

Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

Hat-tip Kwaku Gardiner. In an email on a related topic he writes: that Bakos ain't nuthin' but a mutant. True indeed. True indeed!

(Brother Kwaku has also been doing some excellent blogging on the fracaso between Eagles QB Donovan McNabb and the head of the Philly NAACP.)

The discovery by credible scientists (read: white scientists) that ofayism is the result a genetic misstep should have members of the NOI and Five Percent Nation buzzing. As I understand it, the Nation of Islam's genesis myth posits a black-ruled, high-tech pre-diluvial eden that got ruined by the machinations of Dr. Yacub, an albino biologist who created white people in order to pave his own deformity over with the bio-industrial steamroller of mass paleface replication.

As Mother Tynetta Muhammad recalls the Elijah Muhammad putting it:

The more we know about the White man's studies in these fields of knowledge, the more advanced we will be in the Hereafter. His words along with the subsequent discoveries he is making in every field of science, caused me to reflect upon Yakub's history and the scientific studies that he engaged in while studying in the laboratories and schools of his day. Though Yakub had a strong premonition of the work he would do as a child, while playing with two pieces of steel - one with magnetic in it attracting the piece that didn't have magnetic in it - he ultimately discovered while looking through a microscope, the secret of two people lying dormant in the life-germ itself. It was through the study of the life germ that he altered the genetic material lying dormant in the Original Man and people. Thus through a special method of birth control, practiced in a specially chosen environment, he gave birth to every race and people that has come to populate our planet today. This experiment began with the Original Black Man and People, and it is our responsibility and challenge to perfect the evolution of our species for the whole of humanity. There is a saying that Truth is Stranger than Fiction!

I remember rather vividly the front page of the Final Call going all gaga over the release of Independence Day, given the mother wheel depicted therein. As Louis Farrakhan memorably put it:

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Motherplane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Ezekial, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day but a pillar of fire by night. The Hon. Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the original scientists. It took 15 billion dollars in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this mother wheel which is a half mile by a half mile. This Mother Wheel is like a small human built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said these planes were used to set up mountains on the earth. The Qur'an says it like this: We have raised mountains on the earth lest it convulse with you. How do you raise a mountain, and what is the purpose of a mountain? Have you ever tried to balance a tire? You use weights to keep the tire balanced. That's how the earth is balanced, with mountain ranges. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that we have a type of bomb that, when it strikes the earth a drill on it is timed to go into the earth and explode at the height that you wish the mountain to be. If you wish to take the mountain up a mile, you time the drill to go a mile in and then explode. The bombs these planes have are timed to go one mile down and bring up a mountain one mile high, but it will destroy everything within a 50 square mile radius. The white man writes in his above top secret memos o the UFOs. He sees them around his military installation like they are spying.

That Mother Wheel is a dreadful looking thing. White folks are making movies now to make these planes look like fiction, but it is based on something real. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Mother Plane is so powerful that with sound reverberating in he atmosphere, just with a sound, she can crumble buildings. And the final act of destruction will be that Allah will make a wall out of the atmosphere over and around North America. You will see it, but you won't be able to penetrate it. He said Allah (God) will cut a shortage in gravity and a fire will start from 13-layers up and burn down, burning the atmosphere. When it gets to the earth, it will burn everything. It will burn for 310 years and take 690 years to cool off.


Posted by ebogjonson at 6:12 PM | Permalink

September 2, 2005

new new NO

forwarded from the good folks at the afrofututism group:

VISIONS OF NEW NEW ORLEANS and GULF 2.0

you are hereby invited to participate in a grassrootsdigital,
dirtyfast, hip-hop gutbucket distributed project in afrofuturist JES'
GREW.

new orleans has been abandoned.

the coastline is destroyed.

hundreds of thousands are now refugees, and if we measure Reality in
terms of the images presented to us on the news, most of them are
Black. even if we don't, most of them are Black.

what will they return to?

let us imagine the possibilities.

"... elevated for sure... but would it be naked pre-cast concrete? or
would it be decorated? what would the interiors be like? would the
structures be solar powered? would they have some of those new
condensers that can produce drinkable water from the surrounding air?
would there be individual units? village formations? would they have
hydroponics facilities?" -- David Goldberg (08/31/05)

"...a Baptism of the City? A Yemeyah/Oshun reclamation ritual?
Egyptian celestial boats? Shoplifting barges? A pattern/shape made up
of floating hurricane
lamps?" -- Charles H. Nelson (08/31/05)

"...being constructed of a much more angry/violent cityscape that
will be an amalgam of some well intended 'artful' ideas and straight
nigger-rigging of existing stuff that people are unwilling to rid
themselves of for emotional reasons..." -- Amanda Williams (08/31/05)

this is just the beginning.

take some time to imagine an alternate future for the gulf coast's
cities. make use of but do not let your self be limited by
propaganda, materials science, architecture, sociology or history.

please digitize and send your thoughts, fleeting, fragmented or
fully-developed, be they words (rants, shards of fiction, poems,
rhymes, manifestoes, dreams, prayers,) back-of-the-envelope
architectural sketches, inspired CAD renderings, photoshop hacks,
paintings, images of maquettes, etc. to david@smashtv.com.

the goal is for them to be collected on a website and hopefully
printed in a portable booklet that will find its way into the flow of
materials on its way into the hands of gulf coast refugees.

Work fast, as every CLOSURE is an OPENING for only so long.

thank you for your attention.

Posted by ebogjonson at 2:26 PM | Permalink