Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Internet history tour

It took three months but I no longer have to go to the library parking lot to upload anything to the internet. Every connection was password protected at the house until now. etc.
so I'm browsing the internet like a normal junkie and am amazed and slightly horrified by what I see.

How can I describe the circuitous route that I took? Man, it's information overload. Plain and simple.

It started out so simple...I wanted to hear the lyric version of Glenn Miller's In The Mood by The Andrews Sisters. Ah, '40s swing. Nothing perverse about that. Right? I've got this Jazz songbook and it's got lyrics to this tune. Never heard a version with lyrics. I didn't even know it had lyrics. So off I went. It made me want to join the army and kill them dirty Japs!



That led to Vera Lynn and Petula Clark...then I couldn't resist Christina Aguilera and Shakira (for the musical content)
Then I checked out William T. Vollmann giving some book readings...Nat King Cole...Joe Pass...Bobby MCFerrin...Charlie Parker...
Then I checked on used motorcycles in the area because my plan is to rebuild bikes in a barn in Nottingham.
then I checked the updates on the blogs I follow...boooooring!

then I spent way too long seeing what youtube users think of Confederacy of Dunces but was amused by some submissions. Or more accurately, I was amused by the idea of some of the submissions. It's like someone had a good idea (Let's reenact a scene from Confederacy of Dunces, even though we are two girls in junior high school, and film it and edit it.) That's a damn ambitious idea and they finished it and got the character basically in the ballpark.

I...man, I was all over the place...I watched footage of an Arctic wolf pair killing a musk ox. I thought, yes, this is the cycle of nature. This is how it must be. Wolves are not vegetarians. But do I need to point out that the musk ox is not in danger of becoming extinct because of the ten remaining wild wolves? No. I don't think I need to point that out.

Then I watched a brown bear way up north in Prudhoe Bay Alaska attack some other musk ox herd and it ended up choosing two or three baby musk oxes. Yup. The other adults fled and the bear picked up one baby musk ox and carried it in his mouth while it chased the other babies. This was life or death for everyone involved.
I see this and feel some sympathy for the small musk oxes (It's never easy watching youth murdered) but if a man jumped out of his truck and shot the bear I would object...for the sake of the bear, not the Ox he was saving. Why? (The good part starts at about 50 seconds...)



As an existentialist I believe we must construct our own ethics. The bear has his own ethics that do conflict with the ox's ethics. This is irreconcilable. The ethical part of it. See? You can save that one ox from the bear but you haven't actually changed the bear's ethics. You've only foiled the bear's attack. There's a difference. And I firmly believe that the bear can not be trained to ignore the ox, to renounce ox flesh. If I told the bear to eat something else the bear would reject my suggestion and probably try to eat me. I would not fault the bear. How could I? I've seen bears in Alaska. They live by old laws of nature...ethics are not part of their domain. That's how I define their motives... I've seen bears in the wild and it's much different than in a zoo. A bear in a zoo is captured. A bear in the wild makes YOU feel captured.
I think this is what makes me not crazy...I think that the bear is following a program that works...that is sustainable...that involves premeditated murder, but has its own justice and rewards. I find the bear's actions faultless. If I could be a mangy starving bear rather than a rich man I would choose the bear's life. I don't think bears ponder the actions of other bears. I think they are all on the same page even when fighting. Maybe that's because a bear fights his own fights. (I've tried to live the bear's life and it was banned by Santa Cruz.)

Now, humans...this is where it gets messy. We program ourselves...or so it seems. And what happens if you start to check into the program code is what has happened to me. I don't see a neat set of rules and justice and cycle of anything. We aren't even in the same book, let alone the same page. What I have found over the last 20 years is indescribably messy. We have completely conflicting program commands from, to name a few, God, God's messengers, God's enemies, God's neighbors, God impersonators, God's son, philosophers, yoga teachers, cooks, surfers, parents, siblings, friends, parents of friends, newspaper editors, writers, musicians, operators, bumper stickers, teachers, lunch ladies, policemen, drunks, cult leaders, every dead person who wrote something down, and prophets. The list goes on and on and the opinions can be as different as "Love thy neighbor" and "Kill your neighbor" I'm pretty sure this is no way to run a species.

So, religion is a program...and from what I see it's got some pros and cons. The evangelical family in Canada was so independent I can't believe it. They were like old school Amish chopping meat and canning strawberries...and offering absolutely no opinion on anything outside of the bible and the immediate land that surrounded their wood mill. I doubt they voted. The programming for that family was as close to perfect as I've ever seen...and yes it involved trying to convert an odd hippy wandering their country. Like the bear would kill an ox it sees. It's perfect. That's why I didn't resist. This was a noble attack on my atheism. I defended myself (the baby ox at one point futilely tries to attack the bear) but their programming was perfectly written. The maxim that religion causes war and death is simply not valid after knowing this family because this was a perfectly religious family. There was no picture of the pope in their house. They obeyed only Moses and Mark and Paul and Jesus. They did not need an intermediary between them and God. "God gives all things to industry." is the quote I keep thinking of when I think of the Gislaine family. That was their program and it was very close to bear-like. But it did not involve computers or store bought strawberries. Mister Gislane's interpretation of the bible forbid such things.

Now, I can't say that about many people.

I'd like to talk about the Luddites now because I think it's possible to draw a comparison of my attack on Steve Jobs to the Luddite movement of 1812. The Luddite's cause was drawn from the loss of hand loom jobs to the automated looms found in places like the Belknap Mill. Well, the workers did lose their jobs. They were obsolete. Fuck 'em. But, philosophically, they did not object to the machines, only the fact they were losing jobs. That's a fine distinction but important. And this is in 1812 when environmental impact wasn't even a gleam in Thoreau's eye. The machines were an actual threat to the hand weavers' livelihood so they revolted against them. We see how well that went. haha.

Am I a Luddite? No. Machines don't threaten my livelihood at all. Philosophically, I even admire many inventions. The internal combustion engine and the artificial heart, and the turbine powered airplane, the automatic machine gun, the condom, the pillow top mattress, the guitar, the microchip, the food processor. Yes, my admiration keeps me reading Atlas Shrugged even though Galt's main accomplishment is a device that turns static energy into kinetic energy which presciently solves pollution problems but is, nonetheless, science fiction. The arctic is going to be ice free in like 5 years and we're still trying to get a electric car battery to last more than 40 miles. We had 200 years of unfettered technological development (ignore the Luddites and myself) and the pollution problems are now too long to list. Heck, there's trash on the moon! Instead of Galt's objectivist utopia we are closer to the dystopia of either Blade Runner or Wall-E.

The wolf, as I've said before, is incompatible with the iPod. They are mutually exclusive. One will cancel the other out.
With an unlimited amount of space and natural resources I would be maxing out all my credit cards for guitars and toys. I'm no purist. But if it's a question of me getting one iPad and all the wolves dying then I've got to be sympathetic. It's a sacrifice but really, I don't want a new portable computer. You're telling me the wolf survives from prehistory and in 100 years ends up living only in zoos? I asked myself why and the answers always point to Steve Jobs. I'm trying to write a book with this conclusion in a dramatic form, but I'll try to explain why now...

After 20 years of observing the world, of meeting people, working in the coal country of Kentucky, the natural gas fields of the Gulf of Mexico, from the surf coast of Florida to the oil pipeline in Alaska I'm now shouting as loud as I can that the programming has gone completely haywire. Except for a few exceptions like Miles Davis and the Evangelical family in Quebec our species is not acting in its best interests. Why? Because Steve Jobs is becoming more powerful with more influence than God. He is programming people to need and demand his products. He's programming dependence on his products. That's just simple marketing, like Coke or KFC. They want you to be dependent. It worked great for Cigarettes. Now iPods are the new cigarette and Apple is the new Marlboro. But while tobacco was farmed locally and killed only the user and those nearby, the production of computers is global. No one location can produce a computer and no one wants to dispose of a computer in their neighborhood. I don't think I'm an extremist because I object to industrial pollution. I don't think there is a wolf or lake or person who should become collateral damage in our war against slow internet. The argument against this is that technology saves lives. And that's true. Today, technology saves lives today. But the algebra is complicated because the lives being saved are Americans and the rain forest being burned is in Brazil. So is an American life worth a Brazilian tree? And if the loss of that Brazilian tree means two Americans will die later from air pollution...then...what exactly are we gaining?
I've recommended this book before...High Tech Trash.

Fact: Nearly every large high-tech electronics and semiconductor manufacturer that began operations in the 1970s or earlier has a Superfund site in its history. That's about 1600 toxic waste dumps...in AMERICA ALONE. China's records on such matters are sealed. That's why all the tech companies moved there! But the few leaked reports suggest the conditions are atrocious. I would only be disappointed if China were located on Mars. Unfortunately, they are on the same planet as me and I don't need too much convincing to know a problem in China is also my problem. And if the problem comes from a factory manufacturing Apple computers then...well, you probably see where I'm going with this...The red dots are current, the green dots are deleted/cleaned up, the blue dots are proposed. One of every two Americans lives within ten miles of a superfund site. Thanks Hewlett Packard!

Superfund is the common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), a United States federal law designed to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites.
Here's what a superfund site looks like when it's easy to deal with. (This location in Kentucky was sealed with cement) We all know how indestructible that is!

When it's hard to deal with, like in San Jose, CA, the only thing they can do is measure the levels of toxicity and close water wells...for the next 20,000 years. Down syndrome kids are the responsibility of the parent's of course.

Do I need to go find pictures of dying wolves? I don't need to appeal to your emotions like that, especially if you've already seen one Musk ox die. Besides, that will be part of my expedition in the spring or summer...to see some wolves in Newfoundland and determine what is happening to them because of high tech waste. Volunteers are needed! Cameraman, translator, biologist, masseuse. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is another chilling book. Pesticides were the topic then as Dow Chemical's marketing team briefly held power. The Apple team has a much better spin starting with a better name but it's the same old propaganda. DDT was hailed as a life saver too.

So, it isn't the high tech product that I care about. I mean, give me some credit. Murderers aren't put in jail simply because they made a dead body, which are pretty plentiful. It's because they are fundamentally flawed and incompatible with a healthy society.
So, it is the manufacturing and disposal that I object to. The crazy thing is that Apple and Microsoft and Chevron and Dupont all did their absolute best to export the really horrible waste to other countries like India and Mexico and China, but it's so serious that we still have all these hazardous sites. I mean, they aren't dumb. They tried to hide it, but it got out of control! Even Steven Seagal had a movie about it! He wouldn't lie!

So, that is why I'm truly appalled when I see a slick Steve Jobs stand up like kitchen gadget/snake oil salesman to introduce something like the iPad. I know, and he knows exactly what it costs to make a few million of those devices that will be obsolete in 1 year. But all he wants to do is tell you what it does. Look at what you can do! Pictures! Phone! Email! Look how cheap it is! Please fund our next prototype!
He can't plead ignorance. I know he's too smart. So how can he do this? How can he be so one minded, so anti-wolf? Because his programming is absolutely fucked. Evil is too trite a way to describe him. He's diabolical. He's selling something we know creates unacceptable pollution at both ends of it's life. I'll bet he would explain that the iPad will help with the clean up effort. Ha. That's like a pitchman telling you their paper towel will help clean up paper towel mess. He's got an answer for everything! But he's not part of the solution...he's part of the problem. And he's also a huge part of the programming. Ask a school kid what their opinion of Steve Jobs is and I'll bet it's positive. Hell, there are Apple computers in many schools! He's a role model. How? Why? He's rich and smart and white, like about .0001% of humanity. He is programming kids to be pro Apple. He's a slick pitchman but he's not selling a multi-carrot peeler, he's selling something that is leaving trails of waste around the planet! Connect the dots for yourself. Look at the clues...Steve Jobs killed the wolf in the library with an iPhone.

Like I said, I am not threatened by Apple (I'm a PC man), so it isn't the idea of technology that is the problem (Although I am physically repulsed by the existence of Hannah Montana dish soap). It is the practical concerns of production and disposal. Free market capitalism worked up the point when a senile madman named Ronald Reagan started saying "If you've seen one tree, you've seen them all." and deregulated all environmental protection guidelines. "Let the companies police themselves!" Guess who the governor of California was during the golden era ('67-'75) of mercury and lead poisoning, the birth of the California super fund site? They ought to have a special wing in the developmental disabilities hospital of San Jose named after Reagan and Steve Jobs. "You've seen one retarded kid, you've seen them all." Thanks fellas! These are villains, not heroes.

Ayn Rand's handling of Socialism was always three pronged:

1. the hero who ignores Socialism and studies engineering and is eventually tortured.
2. the love interest who "admires" the idea of socialism but thinks it is impractical.
3. the fanatic who seeks to assimilate everyone to socialism by crushing individual accomplishments.
"From everyone according to ability, to everyone according to need."


I see a similar three pronged handling of capitalism:

1. the average Joe who loves capitalism while basically being a socialist.
2. the environmentalist who admires capitalism but concludes it is incompatible with life.
3. the capitalist who sees a product market and stops at nothing to meet and increase the demand.

We're all in there somewhere.

As Bill Gates said, "We basically built things we wanted to use ourselves." 1600 superfund sites later I'm yelling, "You fucking assholes! Why didn't you just stop at two iPods?? I was happy with tapes!" But free market prevailed in the same way steroids worked out for Mark McGwire.

I guess Steve Jobs sees himself as a pioneer, or maybe as a messiah. He's leading everyone to the promised land! As Ayn Rand would say, "$499 only pays for the device...he's giving you the intellect behind the device for free!" Well, good for fucking him! Are the superfund sites part of the bonus too? Huh, Ayn? Do I get to swim in toxic lakes for free? Or is our planet part of the prototype expenses for your utopia?? As one environmental lawyer put it, "When does my right to view an undeveloped landscape override your right to develop?" I'm saying that time is today.

As soon as industry became global our responsibility increased exponentially. Maybe you don't have to ask the wolf what he wants but the Africans who (this makes me so sick) are receiving gigantic shipping containers FULL OF CRAPPY BROKEN APPLE COMPUTERS probably don't think the intellect behind the devices is worth two nickles. They are probably thinking, "What the fuck? Do we not have enough problems without huge piles of useless computers?" I happen to see their point. Sorry, Steve. You're an asshole.

It's the programming that I'm most afraid of. I already know the programming code is flawed so when I see one of the main flawed architects with so much control I feel compelled to throw some screwy html into the mix. I'm not a great html writer anyway, always forgetting to close my end brackets and I keep getting a meta parse error when I paste text from word perfect. So I might not be able to program a better lifestyle but I know bad code when I see it so consider this my hack.

If you've made it this far then you deserve some reward. Here's Nat King Cole singing a beautiful song I'm trying to figure out on the guitar. Don't pay any attention to my ranting. Just listen to Nat. His programming is damn fine. He's my role model.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.