Monthly Archives: December 2003

I can't remember their names but I fake them all the time…

Tattoo collectors in the NYC area interested in getting tattooed by Katzen while she's there (until January 13th) should drop her a line either via her page or via Bowery Tattoo.

I'm continuing to slowly build up the encyclopedia project with more new entries as well as revisions of the older ones. I'd say we're at about the 25% mark, when it comes to English anyway. I did a bit more work on the crosslinking analysis (still infantile), and I also put up a really basic stats page which includes links that let you browse with different entry types hilited. That said, until the population of the database is higher this is of trivial interest only.

I've also made it so all bad searches get logged. The purpose of this is to allow me and the other writers to be able get an idea of what people are looking for, and perhaps to identify some of the more common misspellings as well.

While I'm promoting various projects, drummers and musicians in NYC should check out Keith's page (more)… I mention this in a rather self-serving way, because I'm hoping to bribe him to do some work on the movie soundtrack. Perhaps you can help?

Advice for succeeding in 2053.

The news is not a nice thing. Deaths mount on both sides on Christmas Day in Iraq screams the Independent, Reuters reports on more US troops dying (more), and even FOX News's usually pro-war headline reads, Sad Holidays for U.S. War Widows. Coupled with the Pope dedicating Christmas Mass to decrying this mass murder (more) and continued escalating terror alerts making one seriously question whether US security has decreased over the past two years (more), things just aren't looking too good.

Or are they?

You might think from reading the news entries that I post that I'm a cynic, that I think the apocalypse is right around the corner. Not true at all! I think this is an awesome time to be alive; the 21st century is going to be very exciting, for two core reasons:

1. Nuclear Fusion and other “Free” Power

Admittedly the US is doing its damndest to block the progress of fusion reactors (more, more) as well as smaller power generation platforms (ie. home power generation), but ultimately reducing the cost of power to close to zero is going to change the world. Think about it — if you have unlimited electricity, you can generate unlimited hydrogen fuel. You can grow an unlimited amount of food in your basement using automated hydroponics. You can manufacture anything. You can recycle anything. And so on.

Power is the key to everything — when power is free, everything is free… And that moves us to a leisure-based society, finally, after a hundred and fifty years of science fiction promising it to us.

Of course… it also gives us unlimited power to kill.

2. Cheap Space Travel

Rutan is well on his way to proving that we can get into space for minimal cost using readily accessible technology. Couple that with unlimited electricity, and we have laid the foundation for humans finally fully colonizing space and the rest of our solar system, and one day more. I think it's very reasonable to assume that we'll see civilian human settlements this century on other worlds.

So… Maybe you're asking yourself: How can I prosper in this new world? How can I be a success? I believe there are four things you can do, but you should do them now to prepare yourself for the world of the future… coming in ten years?

A. Obtain and protect real estate

When items don't have value any more, and income becomes roughly equalized across all people, only real estate has physical value… when coupled with the ability to control that real estate. I believe we may face a series of “microwars” as wealthy land owners seek to control their assets. The question I suppose is how much respect do the lower and middle classes have for the inherited “finders-keepers” attidude of the current wealthy landholders?

My advice is that you get your hands on good (scenic, isolated, whatever you want) land and be able to defend it. This has to be done soon, and should be done in exotic locales in my opinion. As the ability to travel rises, “normal people” will realize that there's nothing stopping them from buying that house in the Carribbean… And it's really a matter of first come, first serve, and once we hit the threshhold, the game basically ends, short of bartering for other properties.

But… with unlimited power, what's stopping us from settling the ocean?

B. Develop artistic skills

At least inside a 50-year window, it's unlikely that robots will dramatically surpass humans in the artistic sense — I'm talking about writers, musicians, poets, and so on… If items lose value, then “ideas” and the entertainment that comes from them takes that value. The human desire for wealth is like energy — you can't destroy the lust, you can just shift it from one concept to another.

C. Develop scientific/academic skills

You can become a part of progress… So maybe that academic degree that's valueless now, that leaves the bearer as a bitter guy that insults those without degrees as a coping mechanism, will actually find itself in demand in the future?

D. Prostitution and other services

When items and electricity become inexpensive to the point of being free, one thing always grows in value and perhaps even becomes the new currency: people. As we move to a permissive leisure society, those adept at — or adept at controlling — prostition and other carnal service industries that can't be effectively done by machines will be in high demand. We are already seeing this shift happen with the “personalization” of online pornography a la Suicide Girls and other “journal-based” porn — you're not just buying sex — you're buying intimacy (temporary — or permanent — ownership of someone else's soul, rather than temporary possession of their genitals).

Along the lines of the last one, don't be surprised if (pseudo-voluntary) slavery re-emerges as an acceptable concept in the 21st or 22nd centry.

Five HOs… best bang for your buck

“Christmas sale” over at BMEshop. For the next 48 hours, if you enter “HO-HO-HO-HO-HO” as a coupon at checkout, you'll get 15% knocked off your order. Maybe it'll help balance out all the stupid Christmas virus emails floating around this week.

I wanted to real briefly mention two news stories. First, in “Dispatches from Iraq” this week is the story of a 16-year old Iraqi student's interaction with US soldiers trying to stem the pro-Saddam movement in Iraq by beating up children.

[The US soldiers] were looking for boys who had been at a pro-Saddam demonstration the day before. "It's against the law," explained Lt. Col. Leopoldo Quintas.

"It's subversive," added his public affairs officer.

Ibrahim and several other detained boys were put in the back of a truck. The truck broke down and had to be towed by a tank. "We were laughing," he said, all tough and unconcerned, wearing his bandaged wrist like a trophy and using a single crutch to support the leg he said was kicked and beaten with a stick. "We knew we hadn't done anything. One of the Americans said in Arabic, 'Incheb!' Shut up!" Ibrahim was full of himself, laughing at the Americans to their faces, getting beaten for his defiance, and then asking for more. "The more I laughed, the more he hit me. It shows what kind of a weak man he was to hit a boy," he sneered.

"They had no right, no right to come!" Mr. Hamza, the Arabic teacher, was indignant. "Is this American democracy?"

Anyway, the story is interesting, not just because of the commentary on the forced application of “democracy” (because democracy is having a neo-con dictatorship, not power-to-the-people or voting after all), but because of the commentary on how similar youth is all over the world.

The other story I wanted to mention was “Uncle Sam Wants You, Eh?” about US military recruiters sneaking across the Canadian border to try and trick impoverished Inuit and other First Nations citizens to join the US army (since under a 1794 treaty they were granted dual status). I know, you're saying to yourself right now, “at least it's better than the draft!”

“Blessed are those who are solitary and superior, for you will find the kingdom; for since you came from it you shall return to it.”

Thanks a lot, violent videogames. This is all your fault, isn't it?

First, the good news. As a point of pure trivia, I've put together a page with all the cover images that didn't make it onto BME. The way covers get chosen is that while I'm doing an update, any time I come across something interesting, I copy it into my “potential covers” folder. Then at the end, I pick one — it's always hard because there are lots more cover pictures than there are updates.

If you click on any of those pictures it'll take you to the page of “almost famous” covers. Please note that the BME/extreme and BME/HARD covers are included in this set; if you don't want to see those or are not allowed to see those please do not click the link!

I have written earlier this year (3/29 and 4/12 for example) about the continued escalation in nuclear arms between the US and Russia. To make a long story short, both countries continue to spend enormous amounts of money developing and deploying weaponry with one goal alone: the total thermonuclear destruction of life in the other nation. It's not as if these are multi-purpose weapons. These are quite literally weapons that can only be used for one apocalyptic strike. They're no good in the “war on terror” or even on smaller nations. They serve one purpose: destruction of superpower nations.

Anyway, on Sunday Russia deployed six more Topol-M's, their top-of-the-line “American killer” (more). It has a range of 6,000 miles and is designed to evade current and future anti-missile systems through its speed and maneuverability. It has nuke-proof launch silos, and next year will be available in an off-road version that can be launched from anywhere. The new versions of the missiles are designed to deploy up to six separately targeted nuclear warheads into the heart of US cities, leaving nothing but corpses in their wake.

In addition, Russia is dusting off it's old R-36 series (known in the US usually as the SS-19 or “Satan” designation; more) with a rance of up to 25,000 miles in its orbital version which can deliver a five megaton nuke to anywhere in the world. Other versions of the R-36 can deliver multiple nukes as well. To be clear on what these are, they are space rockets — they fly up into space, orbit around the planet until they're hundreds of miles over their target, and then they strike… red dust. Variations on both of these missiles can also be submarine launched.

Russia, just like America, also has a new set of scorched earth toys in the works. Their new system, scheduled for release in 2009, can carry ten separate nuclear warheads — up to four and a half tons of weaponry (per missile) can be dropped anywhere in the US at the touch of a button and there wouldn't be a damn thing anyone could do to stop it. I suppose we should be “happy” that the Soviets stopped development on projects like R-56 which could deliver 46 TONS of payload to American soil (ie. enough to pepper dozens of multi-megaton nukes across the US).

Anyway, Phil started this project when him and Johnny visited, but I've got to go out now and continue digging our back yard bomb shelter. Or something like that.

America: Naqoyqatsi

Welcome to security level orange again (more).

As Christmas and the other holidays roll up, the world really looks like a pretty messed up place. You know all about the hellhole that's in Iraq thanks to US aggression and profiteering, but there's giant messes all over the world. Russians are losing as many as ten soldiers a day to Islamic rebels in Chechnya (more), and Islamic forces continue to kill and be killed in Kashmir as also (more).

Pakistan (an “ally” in the war on terror, and currently at war with another nuclear nation) turns out to have been supplying nuclear weapons technology to Iran and North Korea (more, more, more), making it ever more likely that more nukes fall into the hands of those who'd gladly level NYC — although fellow nuke-nation Israel says they can destroy Iran's nuke program with air strikes that “won't have casualties” (more). Libya as well turns out to have an advanced nuclear program (more). North Korea, in direct response to US promises to do the same, promises to continue expanding its nuclear arsenal (more) — and thanks to Cheney, peace talks with North Korea have fallen apart again (more) and high-end US weaponry is being moved to the border (more).

So what does Donald Rumsfeld, have to say about that?
“We may need a bigger army.” (more)

Ah, the 21st century. The century of the drafted corpse.

Fuck it. Let's attack Syria too (more)!

One of the things I don't understand about US neo-con strategy is the abuse of military families. My feeling is that if you're going to run a corporate-military state, you have to be “good” to two groups — consumers, and soldiers. Both are being abused. For example, say a soldier gets his legs blown off — you'd think the army would have a moral (or at least legal) obligation to take care of him, right? Nope… $8,000 disability and notice of dismissal is what you get (more).

As far as Saddam goes, US intel is accepting that he had little to nothing to do with the insurgency (more) — if anything, him not being around increases it. They're also saying that it's going to take at least five years, if at all, to get a verdict (more), and because the trial may contain provisions regarding international human rights and so on — which the US strongly opposes treaties on — it's quite possible that Saddam will be dead long before a mutually agreed-upon court even appears (more). After all, Saddam has already been beaten up while in custody (more) and currently appears to be extremely ill and heavily drugged (more)… and who knows, maybe Lil' Kim is having her way with him in most unpleasant ways (more)? Of course, maybe the Kurds will play finders-keepers and demand him back — after all, they found him (more). What, you thought it was a US operation? That's what they told you on FOX?

Maybe you're asking yourselves, why is none of this on the US mainstream news? The answer of course revolves around media greed, but fear has a lot to do with it to. Foreign media are being arrested, detained, and exiled when they enter the US (more) — not just “anti-war” reporters, but even just entertainment journalists (more). I've written here in the past about how the US military simply outright kills journalists in sensitive areas. Why does the US desperately want to be known as a country with no free speech rights and no free press (more)?

Continuing in Iraq, the rebels keep blowing up the oil pipelines (more) because they know that's what the US is there for. Halliburton is withholding its records from the Pentagon to hide its crimes (more)… but why bother? The US is continuing to restructure its legal system allowing corporations to legally murder its employees if the cost-benefit ratio falls on the side of benefit (more). Look at the legal definition of a public corporation and the duty of its board of directors (“maximize profit”) to understand why.

But why should a corporation behave better than the government? How screwed up is it that in a democracy that the government is the enemy of the people? Bush is moving more and more of government into “secret” designations, making it impossible for the public to know what they're paying to have done to them (more), and the Republicans push bill after bill through without voting or debate, including dirty tricks like threatening Democrats' children if they vote against Republican bills (more). The Justice Departments “fakes” court records to lie to the public about terrorist prosecutions (more), the military “loses” all of its records of atrocities they committed in Vietnam (more), and the police are committing regular felonies against the public (more).

I don't see how it could get more messed up without bringing back slavery. Oh wait… (more).