ali g interviewing noam chomsky

Streaming video here.

Facing change (peak oil)

THE PARADIGM IS THE ENEMY: The State of the Peak Oil Movement at the Cusp of Collapse

Michael Ruppert possesses one of the more encyclopedic knowledge’s of what’s going on in the world politically economically and strategically regarding oil, and this speech from yesterday is well worth a read for his take on where we are and where we’re going.

In it he links to Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century, a fascinating article by a Russian guy about what we can learn from having watched the USSR’s collapse.

In that article he diagnoses denial of the basic situation as a significant component of the problem, ending with:

But these are all details; the point I really want to make is that proposing resource wars, even as a worst-case scenario, is still a form of denial. The implicit assumption is this: if all else fails, we will go to war; we will win; the oil will flow again, and we will be back to business as usual in no time. Again, I would suggest against waiting around for the success of a global police action to redirect the lion’s share of the dwindling world oil supplies toward the United States.

This is a point I’ve been making repeatedly: the real stopping block is in our heads – call it denial if you want – stuck in habits of thought and action. These need to change before our actions change – at least, in order to avoid circumstance forcing a much less desirable change upon us.

We are facing change. Change means change. Change means thinking about things continuing on as they are is stupid and limited.

What tends to collapse rather suddenly is the economy. Economies, too, are known to collapse, and do so with far greater regularity than civilizations. An economy does not collapse into a black hole from which no light can escape. Instead, something else happens: society begins to spontaneously reconfigure itself, establish new relationships, and evolve new rules, in order to find a point of equilibrium at a lower rate of resource expenditure.

He goes on to note this process tends to kill a lot of people, who lack any useful survival skills. (Incidentally, the latest song Idle Faction has written is called Survival Skills. This stuff’s on my mind.)

i smoked crack with the baby jesus

Neil Young’s new album will apparently feature a song called Let’s Impeach The President.
Here are the lyrics:

Let’s impeach the president for lying
And leading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

He’s the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
And bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war

Let’s impeach the president for spying
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
By tapping our computers and telephones

What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?

Let’s impeach the president
For hijacking our religion and using it to get elected
Dividing our country into colors
And still leaving black people neglected

Thank god he’s cracking down on steroids
Since he sold his old baseball team
There’s lot of people looking at big trouble
But of course the president is clean

Thank God

Will a song change anything? Bob Dylan never thought his songs would change the world. Maybe it just gives us something to blog about.

Meanwhile, the projected cost of war in Iraq will soon reach 320 billion, with another estimated 371 billion to come to cover a pull out.

The UN reckons 0.7% of the industrialised nations GNP would cover achieving the Millenium Development Goals – you know, halve poverty, stop spread of AIDS, primary education for everyone, that sort of thing. By my quick calculations, based on these figures from 2000, that is about 198 billion dollars – and that was only using the top 15 nations.

Again, it is eminently possible, within current resources, to make the world pretty cool for everyone. We can do things differently, as a species. We just need to stop doing really stupid things for the wrong reasons. 🙂

Who are these kids?

Over the past few months on my sadly infrequent forays through my city I had noticed a new energy around and wondered as to its nature and portent. Recently something crystallised in awareness. The realisation?

A new generation is here.

These beautiful kids with their empty shining eyes and amazing haircuts and foreign styles. Who are they? What are their myths? Who are their heroes? Where are they going and what do they want? These questions, assuming they could answer them themselves, reveal my own ignorance. Somewhere along the years I switched off from the mainstream culture and got on with what I was doing. Which is fine. But this has gone on long enough that a whole pop culture cohort – a more accurate term than generation, really – has arisen. The kids who grew up in the last seven years, raised by the strange avatars and unknown idols of modern media space.

I grew up with the weird innocence of the 80’s, so clean and stylisedly outrageous. A lot has changed since then.

What has been done to these kids? And, more importantly, what are they going to do? I noticed the energy before the faces. There’s potential here. Potential for change to accelerate when they apply themselves – and damn the tools are more available than ever.

When social change happened in the last century, it was generally carried on the energy of teenagers. If a new current is coming through now, we need to jump on it, guide it, ride it. How long till the next wave? And, look around, how long have we got?

stuff i watched lately

Been feeling a little ill. Can’t be arsed thinking too hard. These are films I saw all or part of lately, cruelly reviewed. Smarter content will resume shortly: meanwhile, get your fill of mindless pop culture comments 😉

Hellboy

If you’re a fan of the comic, this is pretty fun, because everything looks right (even the occult Nazis), and Ron Perlman’s delivery of lines like “Ouch” and “This is gonna hurt in the morning” is perfect. Fun but maybe a bit lacking in substance. (Trivia: Idle Faction’s bassist made Hellboy’s gun.)

Constantine

Not quite what Hellblazer fans would have wanted – I don’t recall JC shooting demons with a converted cross shotgun, or using a gun ever, for that matter – but on its own terms as a movie it’s interesting and entertaining and less stupid than others of its ilk. But pretty solid, and otherwise fine.

Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

Original, silly, off kilter comedy. Consistently does the unexpected. Bill Murray gets better at deadpan as he ages. Sneaking suspicion Cate Blanchett may prove to be a really good actress enhanced. Jeff Goldblum makes a fantastic prick.

Air Force One

Amazing that V for Vendetta gets squeals of protest when a somehow mainstream movie like this can put ultra rabid right wing speeches in the mouth of President Harrison Ford and generally wallow orgasmicly in might makes right hero worship and presidential idolatory with nary an eyebrow raised. Berserk piece of shit. Was flicking mindlessly between this and

Half Past Dead

Steven Seagal ensemble(?) action movie. He goes undercover at Alcatraz as a bunch of heavily armed dudes in black invade to rescue a guy about to be executed who knows where kabillions in gold is hidden. Nia Peeples has great eye makeup and wears leather. Kind of ludicrous and shallow but entertaining. (See? This is how flat I’ve been.)

McLibel

Fun little doco about the pair of British environmental activists who were sued by McDonalds for libel, and eventually won out in the “biggest corporate PR disaster in history”. Nice to get the sense of ordinary people sticking it to the faceless monster machine. Eric Schlosser came over really well in his interview segments.

What the bleep do we know?

Definitely worth a look. An inventive information-dense sashay through quantum physics, neurophysiology, consciousness and spirituality, generally looking at what the hell is it all about, wrapped around Marlee Matlin wandering around looking thoughtful and realising she can make herself happy as well as miserable. The wedding sequence is inspired.

However, easily the most interesting thing I’ve watched recently was Grant Morrison’s speech from Disinfo.Con on Disc Two of the Disinformation DVD. His analysis of embracing magic as a means of resisting the corporate magic turning the world into itself was wicked. Generally head-melting hilarity rendered in glorious Scots accent. Motto: It works!

96% of the universe undefined and not understood

Articles of interest from our science department:

Another surprising twist came with the conclusion that the universe is comprised of approximately 4 percent ‘real’ matter and 23 percent dark matter, while the remaining 73 percent is composed of dark energy. The real mystery lies in the fact that dark matter and dark energy have yet to be understood and defined.

This comes as part of data which may support one variant of the big bang theory, that of “inflation”, which suggests that different parts of the universe expanded at different rates, and this may help account for the creation of stars etc.

But really, I’m just liking the acknowledgement that 96% of whatever the hell we can tell exists (so far) is totally beyond our understanding, and the sheer potential represented therein. (As opposed to the wayyy too much we think we “know” about the other 4% :))

Psychiatric experts found to have financial links to drugmakers

Following on from the comments about the implications of a self-medicating society, here is an
interesting article about financial ties between pharmaceutical companies who provide drugs for mental conditions and those who define what the conditions are and what drugs they require.

Every psychiatric expert involved in writing the standard diagnostic criteria for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia has had financial ties to drug companies that sell medications for those illnesses, a new analysis has found.

Of the 170 experts who contributed to the manual that defines disorders ranging from personality problems to drug addiction, more than half had such ties, including 100 percent of the experts who served on work groups on mood disorders such as depression and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. The analysis did not reveal the extent of their relationships with industry ties or whether they preceded or followed their work on the manual.

Though it makes some sense for the experts in the fields to be working with the drug companies, the article also acknowledges definition can be a substantially political process.

The thing about hierarchical power systems is it doesn’t take collusion (or corruption) between very many people to have huge effects throughout the rest of the system.

Having studied psychology, and repeated been disgusted with the “medicate it if it moves” approach to “mental illness”, I am very happy to be exploring alternate models of consciousness and periods of psychological and spiritual crisis.

The thing is, if these types of events in consciousness are natural and organic processes of mind which can be incredibly useful to personal growth and development when confronted and the causes found, rather than aberrations which need to be drugged to maintain some illusory state of normality, then the drug approach to suppress the symptoms is entirely counter-productive; except from the point of view of social control, since the only common criteria of mental illness in the DSM is that whatever is “wrong” it is preventing you from functioning in society – effectively, “can you hold down your job? if not, we’ll drug you until you can.”

Which, to this moose, seems a fundamentally poor goal, and one substantially unrelated to human needs.

i-pod as mind controller

Okay. So there’s a korean patent explaining how a portable audio device can be turned into a mind control device:

A mind controller is disclosed. The mind controller can induce a user’s brain waves into an alpha wave state or a theta wave state by sensing and analyzing human brain waves and then transmitting a mind control audio message suitable for the analyzed human brain waves to the user, so that the user can improve mental concentration power or memory for himself/herself. The mind controller for activating brain waves generated from the user’s brain, includes: an EEG(Electroencephalogram) sensor for sensing frequency band corresponding to alpha waves and theta waves from the brain waves generated from the user’s brain; an MCU(Memory Control Unit) for analyzing whether the brain waves sensed by the EEG sensor are alpha waves or theta waves through a built-in program of a brain wave analysis program pack and controlling output of a message, which corresponds to the alpha waves or the theta waves, out of mind control audio messages of an MP3 pack; an audio decoder for demodulating signal converted into data in the MP3 pack by control signal output from the MCU; a D/A converter for receiving signal provided from the audio decoder and converting the signal into analog audio signal; and audio output means for converting and providing the analog audio signal into sound.

Which is kind of weird.

A couple of days ago, El Bush commented that the research that created the i-pod was funded and run by the government – (i.e.) DARPA.

Paranoia ensues.

The other day I read a story by Cyril Kornbluth called The Marching Morons, dealing with a creative solution for the problem of a grossly overpopulated world of morons. There’s a real parallel with the logic in it, whereby, if you were trying to run the world, wouldn’t it be cool if you could convince people to want and pay for their mind control device, instead of implanting it against their will?

Anyway.

(via technoccult)

if you go down to the woods today

If you happen to be wandering around the town belt at dawn in the next little while and find any of thesemushroom!, please do collect them. And feel free to give them to me 🙂

Our favourite guitar monkey electronics genius has a handy pictorial.

Dear Ethel, or What is to be Done? (Part Five)

Dear Ethel, or What is to be Done? (Part Five)

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.)

Recap

We have seen what we can do is constrained by what we are willing to do, which in turn is constrained by what we believe about the world; the way we formulate the problem determines the solution. We have seen that we lack a coherent world-view that would enable us to formulate the problem usefully. We have further seen that we face massive imminent change such that present institutions may well fail to survive, thus we are entitled to seek creative solutions which do not include them; and further, a coherent world-view of the near future may differ in significant ways from today’s incoherent world-view.

So we need a coherent world-view, one capable of adapting to the coming changes, to guide our sense of the problem, and solutions, and hence determine what we are willing to do, and finally what we can do.

Which brings us to “we”. Humans. In particular, the psychology of belief, and consciousness.

Belief

Our view of ourselves is part of our world-view. But, I suggest, our understanding of ourselves is poor.

About all humans can definitively claim we have proved is that we can believe almost anything whatsoever about the world. Each human seems to possess a unique system of thoughts and beliefs about the world filtered through their individual nervous system and experiences. Robert Anton Wilson calls this a “reality tunnel”.

Korzybski famously stated that “The Map is Not the Territory.” David Bohm puts it even more clearly:
“Every idea is a representation – an abstraction which leaves out most of reality.”

The same certainly seems to apply to beliefs.

We have seen we choose to believe in things which don’t exist, but we forget they don’t exist and come to think they are real. Products of our thought seem like real, independent features of reality. For instance, David Bohm observes that

“Lines between countries don’t exist either. They’ve been imagined by people. A fence or wall may eventually be put up, but it was put up by people who thought there was a line there. Thus there is a correspondence between one abstraction and another, which guides you. But it’s a correspondence of form, certain abstract forms, but not to reality – the reality itself escapes you.”

So why do we believe what we believe?

We have a sense of our identity – we believe we are our idea of ourselves – and we act to maintain this, becoming very uncomfortable when it is challenged. Our ideas about who we are are tied up in relation to our beliefs about society and the world. To challenge one is to challenge the other. So we resist changes to our beliefs because they challenge our sense of identity and reality; as a corollary, we resist changes to society and the world to the extent that they also challenge our sense of identity.

Most of what we believe is told to us by authority figures as we grow up. (Again, in RAW’s terms, we are imprinted with the local reality tunnel.) We can later test this against our own experiences, and to the extent that they seem useful and accurate, we keep them. One of the features of the modern age is the extent to which we are experiencing other models of reality as we encounter information from far flung corners of the world – the local reality tunnel comes under threat.

Remember, all ideas about the world are approximations and representations. They leave out most of what is there.

If our present world-view is inadequate – if our world is changing to the extent that our world-view is lacking – we can change our world-view to suit the actual circumstance we are in.

If our beliefs are inadequate, we can change them to something which is adequate.


How Do People Change Their Beliefs?

Lakoff concludes that people generally seem to ignore information which contradicts what they already believe to be true (which is quite similar to confirmation bias), which would indicate changing beliefs is not easy. However, we believe different things at different stages of our life, so obviously change can occur within us.

How does this work? People have deeply ingrained habits, of thought and behaviour, which are tough to change. One way of considering this is as habits being embedded in our neurochemistry, instantiated in physical patterns of chemical activity in our brains; pathways in the brain which grow larger the more they are used.

Anyone who has observed themselves honestly and made efforts to change themselves will be aware that we are not in control of ourselves and our behaviour the way we would like to believe. The view we have of ourselves is an intrinsic and vital part of our inadequate world-view. Our view of ourselves needs to change no less than our model of the external world before we have an adequate world-view.

The process of consciously challenging our beliefs and transforming ourselves is difficult. It takes time and effort but is possible. We first need to understand what our beliefs are, how we actually work, and then work out what is going on accurately and change our beliefs to more useful / better adapted ones. This process differs for each individual in that they are each in their own unique reality tunnel. While the overall pattern of the process is the same the details are different and no one else can do it for you. This, however, is what you can do.

If you want to make effective change in the world, sorting out your own shit is a vital part of the process. Human systems are the outcomes of human actions.

As our self-understanding grows, our world-view becomes more accurate, and our useful understanding of what we can do also grows.

Earlier I recommended everyone see V for Vendetta. This is because the process of transformation Evie undergoes in the movie (though not necessarily the specific means ;)) makes a conveniently timed and pretty good analog in a mass culture form for what we need to do: break down our ego and attachments, and wake up to our true nature, humanity and potential. This isn’t necessarily easy; however, the more of us who do it make it easier for others to walk the trail we blaze.

Writings on magic, consciousness change, mysticism and spirituality, and some philosophers contain most of the world’s accumulated wisdom on how to go about this process of transformation. (They also give a lot of practical advice on becoming more aware, accepting, flexible, effective, compassionate, strong, peaceful, happy, etc. These seem to be something we lost when we lost religion as a guiding component of our world-view, but they will be very useful in the times ahead, and we can bring them back into our lives on our own terms.)

So, this may go some way to explaining my response to the question “what can I do?”, which is that it is not my place to tell you the “answers”. I can only try, to whatever limited extent I am able, to help you discover the answers for yourselves; and, more importantly, to help you discover the questions which will lead to those answers, and enable you to be the change you want in the world. Hopefully some of those questions have been raised in these posts, and information given which will suggest useful questions.

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