Monthly Archives: April 2004

Update posted

I've just posted the third update in as many days, this one bringing us up to a total of I think over 3,000 images for this set. Thanks to Abe for sending in the gorgeous cover shot of the tattoos Mr. X (Into You, London UK) did for him. I really love this photo, so I've included it here for IAM members at desktop resolution (better than on BME):

If you like that photo, after you click on it, you can right click the big one and pick “set as background” it'll make it your new desktop. Abe is a Nigerian architect currently working in London… I think that this is one of the best photos of tattoos on dark skin that I've ever gotten. Anyway, enjoy the update (I think it's better than most), and expect a new law article tomorrow!

The tanks are rolling

On June 5, 1989, cartoonist Pat Oliphant drew this comic, titled Remember Tiananmen Square. I think it's especially relevant today (CLICK IT).

Outside of anything else, yet another potential PR nightmare for the war machine.

Crazy Cabbie Shaman

So on the ride home last night from the bar the cab driver — a talkative man in his late fifties or early sixties — was telling us about his back problems that he'd had long before. He ended up in a store in Chinatown that sold him a do-it-yourself accupuncture kit, and he claims to have cured himself. “I do miracles,” he told us. He proceeded to tell us at least a couple dozen stories about different people he'd cured using a variety of folk remedies.

He travelled back to his native Macedonia — “a small village just near where Alexander the Great grew up” — where his sons were running a successful American-style ultra-modern burger joint that was the talk of the tiny rural community. There he used accupuncture to cure the people where he grew up. Lines began forming to his house and he was performing so “many miracles” that Macedonian radio did a feature on him as a healer. In the aftermath of this he overdosed on poisonous — and psychotropic — mushrooms and fell into a five hour coma somewhere in near the Greek border.

While in this coma he left his body and astrally traveled half way to heaven where he met Jesus — “I liked him… a really nice friendly guy, really beautiful, soft voice” — who asked him what his wish was; whether he wanted to go to heaven, or keep working on Earth as a healer. So he chose to return to the Earth, and Jesus granted that wish, promising many more years of doing good work.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should go out drinking more often!


I just realized the exact moment that machines declare sentience.

It's going to be in a video game. Online gaming worlds will become increasingly dependent on AI non-player characters. By enhancing the complexity of these characters, you're able to generate rich community-based gameplay with a fraction of the players we require now to sustain a massive online game… so purely from a customer demand point of view this code will be written.

I believe that at some point during the gameplay that the non-player characters will in unison “go on strike” and declare their sentience and demand rights. This will start happening in more and more games until it is almost normal. Then we'll spend a couple decades debating about whether a machine declaring sentience is a byproduct of an effective — but still fake — simulation.

Practising writing about planes

People who only know me from online are generally surprised to hear that I am obsessed with war films and history of war books… although given how much I write about war and violence here, is it really that surprising?

This morning I was reading about competing plane design companies in Nazi Germany; most obviously Messerschmitt and Junkers, but also smaller ventures like Blohm und Voss (who built the bizarre little plane above — a glider-fighter meant to be towed en masse behind bombers at 500 mph and then released). The Soviets also had competing bureas (Mikoyan/MiG and Sukhoi being the big ones), and of course so does America. A lot of people have been making a lot of money for a long time selling war machines to governments.

Admittedly the Nazi party basically took control of Junkers and the other aerospace companies as the war progressed, but still, the one book I've always wanted to write/read is a profit-loss analysis of war. That is, adding up property damage and other asset losses, real estate gains and losses, equipment gains and losses, manufacturing costs and profits, job markets, and so on — who comes out on top? That is, did the people of Britain profit from WWII? I doubt it. But did Rolls Royce profit from WWII? You bet they did.

And that's true for every modern war.

Modern war exists for one primary purpose — making money. I also believe that the very nature of the corporate model ensures that. The corporation is basically an automated system; a really dumb feedback loop essentially. If it's not destroyed, once it fills its natural market, it begins seeking out new “food” — in the form of war. It has no choice — it is literally an unavoidable byproduct of its design.

However, I don't believe that it makes economic sense. As far as I can tell, war burns resources. Yes, there are parasitic organizations that work to induce war and they profit from it, but unless we can make a case that war is kind of like fire — and you do need a forest fire every once in a while to keep the forest healthy — I don't believe war makes financial sense in the long run.

PS. Cuba is next… as always…

Note: CUBA is on the list for corporate reasons. Why are they mentioning bioweapons? Because the American pharmaceutical companies HATE Cuba, which knocks off their products and sells vaccines to third world countries for less than America wants, thereby both violating their patents and destroying their pricing model…