January 2010


Here you go with some trends to look for in the upcoming decade!

Technology
Optic Upgrades: These may be limited to glasses this decade, but look soon for implantable devices that will reside in/on the eye. These upgrades will give you a number of options for visible information, flipping from thermal to night vision and back to ‘standard’ easily. There will be market wars on these as competing entertainment companies release compatibilities with different 3D technologies also.

With these Optic Upgrade glasses, expect a much more information dense range of vision as Enhanced Reality becomes the standard way of viewing the world. Popular iPhone and Android applications are available and widespread already http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEsso-v7VqI&feature=related.

Enhanced Reality will create a new way of seeing and being in the world. Expect in this decade ER social networking applications that will give you personal data ‘tags’ appearing over participating users. That way, as you stroll down the street, you may see someone who is also logged in and above them will be such ‘tweets’ as: “Going out for drinks!” 

So called E-Book Readers will be exposed as being a fluke and will disappear quickly as the iTablet is released. The instantaneous access, flexibility and interactivity of the internet in a ‘reader’ format will aid in the weaning off of paper culture. Expect iTablet reading apps with notation enabled to allow you to write in the margins. 

iTablets will become mainstream in college campuses as all of a student’s semester’s readings will now be accessible through downloads or internet. This will drastically cut costs, aid in student brainstorming.
Of course, on campuses group projects will become much more easy to schedule as video conferencing will also be available. 

Implatable devices in us will announce our location to approved network users. Parents will no longer have to question where their children have been. These devices will also carry medical and debit card
information.

Watch for phone server providers to begin placing cameras in many popular congregating public spaces so that parents, friends, and network users can not only locate you, but watch you either live or later in recorded databases. This service will be called into evidence not only in normal crime situations, but most importantly by citizens made victims of police misconduct.

Reverse engineering of the human brain and cloning technologies  coupled with artificial intelligence/sentience research will create grey-matter computers. These will utilize the strengths of bio-computers (brains) and three dimensional circuits. Soon these circuits will be “four dimensional” as they will self-organize and change over time as the sentient machine sees fit.

Culture
Most important in this decade of cultural paradigm shifts will be the slow but marked demise of the American Car Culture. The American Car Culture is characterized by a personally owned/leased vehicle, roads, highways, parking lots, fast food culture, and the support industries of repair/maintenence, tires, and fuel. Though this is just a sketch of what is involved in American Car Culture, it will become more and more clear to Americans and the world that this model is wastefully ineffecient, environmentally damaging, unfulfilling, and the tool of class warfare. While the switch to solar charged electric vehicles and ‘city runner’ golf cart type cars such as the Segway Puma http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcS8stGOGCo will be successful, this decade will show even greater changes. 

As car culture dies, city planners will have two new reasons to innovate more livable cities: the road/block structure will be unnecessary, and residential/work districts will become more synthesized. 

America’s culture of excessive consumption will begin to be overcome in part through trends in religion and the ending of the American colonial empire.

Slow food movements and eating locally produced foods will increase and watch for hipsters to soon take over the Block Party model to begin hosting weekly potlucks on your newly car-vacated streets. 

Houses will continue to unattractive to most Americans as many will move to urban clusters, dissolving suburbia. Apartments as well as large houses now taken over by multiple/extended families will become popular as well as organized community lots (think ‘compound’ without the creepy sect feel).

Flash Mobs will increase and begin to become more complex and ornamented as they begin taking on mainstream ritual functions.

Religion
An era of religious renewal will sweep America as its Empire is diminished. An age of humility, humanistic ideals, service, and interfaith dialogue and labor will ensue.

Mainstream churches will continue to lead the way in civil and human rights causes and expect Evangelicals to get behind full celebration of LGBTQ folks also.

Catholic Bishops will increasingly speak without fear opposing the Vatican on condom use.

Liberal Islam will again be seen as the metropolitan faith in much of Europe. 

Ecology and environment concerns will lead many places of worship to become carbon neutral before commercial buildings.

Non-theistic Christianity will continue to succeed under differing expressions emphasizing Non-Literal, A/theistic, Humanistic, and Pluralistic tendencies.  

Entertainment
TV will become really just the internet streamed over high quality screens. TV  networks and cable will become obsolete as all viewed content will be hosted on highly niche websites.

Ease of quality movie making, interest in user loaded content, and ‘reality TV’ genre will create ‘non-professional’ channels on the internet. This will result in a cultural revolution as heretofore under-represented communities will be afforded wide dissemination and control of content.

The largest entertainment sector will continually be increasingly what we know as ‘gaming’. World of Warcraft and Second Life type platforms will be synthesized and soon even integrated into Enhanced Reality applications. This will allow ‘Second Life’ locations to begin sprouting up in real geography but existing in Artificial Reality. 

Politics
Within the decade, marriage will be available to all adult age Americans. Soon the marriage debate will move to legalizing plural marriages.

Voter protection acts will increase which will benefit people of color and the poor who have in recent years have been exploited by voter fraud, uncounted ballots, and misinformation. This process will benefit the Democratic party. 

The Green Party will be reimagined and become a stronger force in politics starting at the local level and state levels.

Marijuana will be legalized and substance abuse will be de-criminalized, greatly decreasing urban violence.

Laws against war profiteering will become more stringent and internationally enforced.

International Labor Unions will become popularized. Fair and equitable wages, housing with dignity as well as health care will be afforded these international workers directly through the Union if not through their native countries.  

American Empire
This will be the decade that history will reveal being the great ending of the American Militarized and Colonizing Empire.

This will be characterized by a number of events:
The withdrawl and closing of military bases around the world.
A diversion of military funding to humanitarian relief, making the US the world’s most effective provider of disaster response. This will effectively be a Peace Corps that will have billions of dollars and the world’s best equiptment at its disposal.
The US will withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US will commit to decommission its nuclear warheads and will lead the world in its nuclear dearmament. 

Looks like its going to be a good decade! 
What predictions do you have for it?
What will you be working towards?
What are your hopes, visions, and plans for your future?

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After Pat Robertson made his comments on Haiti ‘being cursed’ this past week, I wrote the 700 Club an email in
disgust, as many others also have.

This is the (form) response email I got from 700 Club:

Thank you for contacting CBN. We appreciate this opportunity to serve you.http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/archive/club/700club011310_ws

On January 13th The 700 Club during a segment about the devastation, suffering, and humanitarian effort that is needed in Haiti, Dr. Robertson also spoke about Haiti’s history (see an actual transcript below). His comments were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Boukman Dutty at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed. Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster. They have sent a shipment of millions of dollars worth of medications that is now in Haiti, and their disaster team leaders will immediately begin operations to ease the suffering.

To view the Wednesday, January 13th edition of The 700 Club, click on the link below:

Actual transcript from January 13th segment..”

“And you know Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, uh, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story, and so the Devil said OK it’s a deal. And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they’ve been cursed by one thing after the other desperately poor. That island is Hispanola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On one side is Haiti on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. Uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them a great turning to God and out of this tragedy. I’m optimistic something good may come but right now we’re helping the suffering people and the suffering is unimaginable.”

If we can serve you in any other way, please do not hesitate to let us know. Thank you and God bless you

Is that clear as mud? Or just dark and unfeeling?
What is so great about it is that it does not backpedal from Pat Robertson’s statements at all.
In fact, it cites “countless scholars [reputable I’m sure] and religious figures [a group of which Pat counts himself a member?]” as sharing in the idea that a nation could be cursed for a fabled pact with the devil undertaken by some individuals.

What interests me also is Pat Robertson’s theology (as far as I can tell from his long list of hurtful and cold hearted things he says) seems to only cast blame and assume none.
Let me lay out what I mean:
1. There is no ‘nature’ per se. Only God acting on people like a kid shaking an ant farm.
2. People are free to make decisions for themselves such as rebelling against God as independent agents.
3. Some people who had nothing to do with these evil decisions can also be caught up in God’s resulting wrath.
4. People who are on God’s–or more importantly– Pat Robertson’s side have no culpability for any harm that could befall God’s accursed.

So: Katrina destroys a city because they deserved God’s wrath. It wasn’t the case that New Orleans was basically screwed by the government engineers who made a crappy levee and a government that basically left poor people to die and government subsidized Blackwater agents shooting black people capriciously.

So: Haiti suffers under brutal debt to IMF, World Bank, IDB and others. Does this have to do with greedy individuals from wealthy nations? No. Just a curse. Haiti suffers under corrupt leadership (Duvalier) and this is not about greed, its payback for the curse thing? America and its policies stand by and largely let Haiti suffer while amazingly giving Colonial oversight and billions of dollars from the Imperial coffers to other oil saturated nations and this is not about greed its about the curse thing? I see.

I also love how Christians like Pat Robertson will always be damning and pointing fingers at people and in the same breath say: “I love you, I’m praying for you.”

I’ve been told that CBN is sending aid to Haiti and for that, I commend them.
If only CBN could also now muster the great strength to muzzle their crotchety old numbskull televangelist.

Hollywood is coming home to Duluth!
Check out what the Duluth News Tribune wrote about the new movie being filmed there.
http://www.areavoices.com/fun/?blog=58702

Interested in being a part of a thrilling horror comedy that will bring Northern Minnesota the best time its had since last weekend ice fishing with Cousin Karl?
email:

sasquatchsbigllc@gmail.com

I have been a ghost denier most my life.
But now I’m going to have to rethink everything I thought I knew.

These paranormal investigators are the real thing. I’ve seen a lot of real fakey “ghost hunting” shows but none reaches the bar set by the Westside Apparition & Paranormal Society for scientific rigor and journalistic excellence.

This show will be gaining wide circulation soon and I can’t wait to see more from WAPS.

As for myself, with the newfound knowledge I have, I’m going to have to do some hard soul searching to figure out if I’m going to have to change my religion.

Here is a statement lifted directly from ProtectMarriage.com:
http://protectmarriage.com/why-marriage-matters

Traditional marriage is the foundation of society and has served our state well for centuries. California’s constitutional marriage amendment exists to strengthen society, encourage monogamous and loving marriages and to provide the optimal environment to ensure the well being of children. Thirty-one other states, including California have voted on this issue and every single one decided against legalizing same-sex marriage and instead upheld traditional marriage. California has voted on the issue twice and the people’s voice has been resounding: marriage is between one man and one woman.

I want to break down that paragraph but before I do, I ask that you notice that in no way does it argue from to Justice, the Constitution or basic precepts of our founding fathers, compassion, or the virtues of a secure, harmonious society. It does not, nor can it, be supported by the progress of expanding freedom and equality which marks our nation’s history nor does it appeal to the core of our great historical faiths.

Please allow me to break it down a bit.
“Traditional marriage…”
Whose tradition? Even if humans revealed to have a universal and consistent behavior or cultural expression, American ideals and virtues of law have never and could not successfully uphold it. Suppose that all people around the world from the dawn of recorded history said that marriage could only be recognized as one man and woman at a time (which is not so) that could not compel our laws to enshrine it.
But marriage isn’t a social construct that is consistent from people to people, religion to religion, or over time. When someone says “traditional marriage” a person of good conscience and thoughtful disposition may counter with “whose tradition? Are you operating from an imagined and mythic model? And are you further supposing that that one figment of your redacted and reductionist ‘history’ shall apply to all people in California despite their ‘traditions’?”

“is the foundation of society…”
Slavery was the foundation of America’s society, culture, and economy for over a hundred years and segregation for many more. What ‘foundations’ of our society are inherently worth keeping? Is religion a foundation of our society? Many might argue ‘yes’. Should religious feelings or expressions be mandated?
Some might say that compassion, equity, law, and neighborly love are foundations of not only ‘society’ but a ‘healthy civil society’. To those that would say that, America’s history bears out that you are correct and that is the due course of our nation’s promises.

“and has served our state well for centuries…”
You mean California? A state where violence against people based on their identity still is pervasive?
Jessica Hansen-Weaver writes:
…Avy Skolnik, a coordinator with the New York-based National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, noted, ‘Anytime there is an anti-LGBT initiative, we tend to see spikes both in the numbers and the severity of attacks. People feel this extra entitlement to act out their prejudice.’….
http://socialistworker.org/2009/01/19/anti-gay-hate-crimes

Can California not improve? Could it not be possible that when a state upholds law, the Constitution, and moves towards the equal treatment and non-discrimination of any people civil goodness will surely follow?
Anytime a person says “Things are going pretty well. Let’s not change anything!” A person disposed towards justice will ask: “What unfair privileges of race, class, religion, gender, or hetero-normativity do you enjoy? What are you protecting? Justice or your privilege?”

“California’s constitutional marriage amendment exists to strengthen society, encourage monogamous and loving marriages and to provide the optimal environment to ensure the well being of children…”
Note that it only notes the stated intention of the amendment. It cannot truly and honesty state that it is effective towards these ends. I challenge anyone to demonstrate how Prop 8 has in any way ‘strengthened society’ since its inception. I dare someone to (with a straight face) argue that monogamous and loving marriages are encouraged. Let’s call Charlie Sheen and ask him how his marriage has benefited so far. Let’s ask the thousands upon thousands of couples that file for divorce or sneak around hiding their infidelity. Let’s ask the children of LGBTQ folk who cannot get married how well they are because their parents can’t marry. This statement above challenges hardens the heart and sears the conscience.

“Thirty-one other states, including California have voted on this issue and every single one decided against legalizing same-sex marriage and instead upheld traditional marriage. California has voted on the issue twice and the people’s voice has been resounding: marriage is between one man and one woman.”
What they don’t mention are the instances of states and nations that have afforded full protection of all people without discrimination.
Are these examples against the law? Criminal?
How are Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden revealing the negative results of equality? Iowa? Has the media turned a blind eye to the social destruction that has occurred in Vermont?

What this statement affirms is that while there are no negatives to equality before the law, there are still people who wish to discriminate in some places of the world. The good news is that in California, the slim margin of those who wanted discrimination barely won and their numbers are melting away each day.

The largest affront to American ideas, ethics, justice and the conscience is the insinuation here that “majority rules”. This is not the American way. Even if a vote were held today in America where the resulting action took away women’s right to vote, would that make it Constitutional? Just? Ethical?
America has and always will have the promise of protecting the minority from the majority. Might does not make right.

Thankfully we live in a country where, albeit slowly and hard fought, justice expands.
I live in California and I want all people here to have equal treatment before the law. I want the courts to be a safe haven where reason, fairness, and good conscience rule the day. I want to be able to look at my friends and loved ones from LGBTQ communities and not be ashamed of my state protected privileges over them.
I am a proud Catholic and I will not stand idly by and watch my neighbor come under the oppression and marginalization of a uncompassionate law. Rather, I am determined to love my neighbor as myself and seek greater justice by strengthening the bonds made of human dignity and profound faithful love.

Contact ProtectMarriage.com today:
http://protectmarriage.com/contact

And let them know you stand on the side of love:
http://www.standingonthesideoflove.org/

I love thinking about technology, and until my recent breakup with coffee had many tooth staining mornings doing just that. I just finished reading Edward Tenner’s “Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity” and found it a fun (albeit sometimes repetitive) friendly read. Tenner is right on the money as far as I’m concerned in revealing technology as an expression of humanity’s ‘grip’ unto the world. The web of tools at humanity’s ever creative disposal is more the force of gravity that holds societies and human self-understanding together or the fingernails letting us ‘hold onto’ meaning and existence.

Tenner brings it all home by exploring the sometimes easy to forget technologies that we take for granted because they’re liable to not have a product placement shot in your favorite Bourne movie. With the intention of initating a reflection upon how each individual, society, and the course of human history is intimately bound to technology Tenner has thoroughly researched shoes, chairs, glasses, helmets, and baby bottles.

Tenner’s work is very useful in the distinction he makes between technology, “modifications to the environment”, and technique, “how technology is used in performance”. From this he follows Marcel Mauss in explicating the concept of ‘body techniques’ which are the direct bodily impacts of interfacing with the technology permeated environment. Even this last sentence gives strength to the false premise that the environment is other than human and their tools. 

You’ll hear some people complain that “Computers are creating a situation where they are a crutch. No one is thinking anymore.” And I would answer, in a way that I feel Tenner would support, “To say that something is a crutch is to assume there is a correct, natural, or normal way for humanity to be expressed. That is simply not so. Humanity as comtemporary theories go was literally born out of the control of fire technologies. There is only change and transformation as organic and nonorganic elements converge.” If one is wont to charge technology of being a crutch, Tenner would lead them to confront the everyday technologies of shoes and chairs. Both are technologies that our bodies were not and are not designed for. Though we hear about advanced “ergonomic” shoes and chairs they will continue to cause inordinate strain and body adaptation. They are as Tenner says, machines whose primary if unintended effect is to produce more dependence on them. They are, like most perennial technologies like Cracker Jack’s: “The More You Eat The More You Want”. Shoes and chairs create modifications to the actual structure and function of one’s body. You need not get a penis splice to enter into ‘body modification’ (bod mod) clubs.

So what about my title? How is a body a ‘learned artifact’? Well, the body is an interpreted and socially constructed material. It is used to produce, entertain, reproduce, consume, eliminate. And yet very little we ‘do’ with our bodies is involuntary or unlearned. The ways our bodies interact with surroundings particularly the technologies are our body techniques. These techniques are as defined to the time, context, and culture as any Hopi blanket.

What was especially interesting to me was the way that our body techniques can continue to flourish while operating under less than maximum performance results. I came up with three categories that Tenner does not use but came to me while reading “Our Own Devices”: 1) ‘successful bad ideas, 2) delayed effective techniques, 3) non-ideal conventions.

First, successful bad ideas are those things which for whatever reason seemed to have their reign even though bodies were reporting (even unto death) their ineffectiveness. In this category we could include the use of oils and various powders for household minor burns even though we know that the body responds best to simply cool water. The American Red Cross will now advocate running a minor burn under tap water, but even when I was young my mother who is a nurse had me put corn starch on a burn received while being stupidly patriotic (redundancy?) with a firecracker. Vaseline, as Tenner points out, was classicly sold as a burn relief in its incipient years. Speaking of the Red Cross, one can have a grand time looking at some of their archival pictures of lifeguard training for proto-CPR. Pushing on the back, rolling over a barrel, pumping legs, etc. all were used at one time. Even within the last few decades there have been changes to the Red Cross guidelines and famously they differ from American Heart Association. Of course we know that new EMT and hospital information and statistics come in each year and new techniques can be tweaked and explored, but what do we make of the historical procedures which seem to encourage a speedy death? I see some people doing a common iteration of this idea when they blow into the eye of someone who has dust or an eyelash in their eye. I saw a mother recently hold her young crying son’s eye open and blow heartily into it. “There. Now rub it.” She said. What?! Hot air filled with more dust and possibly Doritos in an eye and then rubbing it? How did this ever catch on?

Secondly, Tenner does a great job pointing out events in sports which revolutionized them. The Fosbury Flop, and the Front Crawl introduced to Europeans by Flying Gull and Tobacco are just two examples of Delayed Effective Techniques. These are body techniques which seemed to lag behind (at least for some) what was certainly possible but perhaps never imagined. The Jump Shot and Slam Dunk are other examples from sport. My father told me how when he was in High School Terry Kunze wowed the whole conference and could bring a gymnasium to its feet just by dribbling behind his back.

Lastly there are Non-Ideal Conventions of body techniques including birthing (laying on back with feet restrained in stirrups or more humanely of late within the hands of loved ones) or bottle feeding rather than breast feeding. There is also the convention of how many brush their teeth. No matter how many times our dentist tells us: “Brush softly and in small circles” we are determined to brush our teeth like we’re trying to buff out a scratch on our Honda. And I am sure there are many who could add to this list popular sexual ‘moves’ whose existence is mysterious if not troubling. How these conventions arise and how they are encouraged is yet to be explained to me.

I will conclude with just a thought of applying our body operations failures and limitations to how we think of gender and sex. Looking back at how bodies have and are now continued works in progress without ‘natural’ perameters of ability or a ‘given’ scope of performance how can we expect the social construct of gender and sex binaries to change in the near future? Maybe we will be able to identify across mainstream contemporary American communities that gender/sex binaries have been a ‘Successful’ Bad Idea, and a Non-Ideal Convention. Perhaps also we will look to current Trans and GenderFuck individuals and communities as bringing a long-awaited paradigm shifting prophetic voice to allow bodies to learn a more full and more honest mode of being in the world.

Tenner, Edward “Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity” (New York: Vintage Books. 2004)

“Up In The Air” is a lemon merange pie that your neighbor who drinks too much and has open sores around their mouth made. It was made to please and has all the seemingly right ingredients but something’s amiss and it smells like Red Stripe.
And that may sound good to some people, so to those who enjoy rancid saccharin–go for it.
Otherwise, stay away from this Oscar-begging, chock full airsickness bag.

I know that it must be hard translating a novel about most people’s least favorite ‘locations’: hotels, airplanes, dismal corporate offices, and Wisconsin. Reitman had his work cut out for him and I think he failed. How can I say this? Isn’t this supposed to be “Oscar Buzz” stuff?

Well, that’s exactly part of the problem. It seems determined to please the Oscar Usual Suspects: old white douchbags. It parades like its ‘timely’ because it discusses the global economic collapse but that’s just a backdrop to frame its gimmick: The lead character’s job is to fire people. That’s compelling right? That kind of thing got “Sunshine Cleaning” made!

The movie gets confused on the point of how it wants to deal with this issue also. Is this a character study about Clooney or is it a statement to our beatdown nation where many have been laid-off and only more are just waiting for the axe? The first seems the natural answer, but there isn’t much character to study here. The one scene of transition comes wrapped up in a cliche: “I’m here to tell you about my old philosophy…but wait….my new philosophy might just make me act on it right now and I’ll have to run away to the airport to do something really romantic!” It also muddies the water by spending as much time as it does on the characters being laid off and then for some unknown reason….(actually the reason to appear populist and to appeal to jerkoff Oscar voters who actually got suckered in for the ‘Crash’ schmaltz)…the film includes a number of “real life” confessionals of people who had lost their jobs. Why? Who are they talking to? How do they in any way fit into the movie? Don’t ask. Just gape and say “how timely! How true to real life!”

What Oscar could this be in the running for? Not script (cliched sentiments, bad jokes and phony dialogue) or directing. Certainly not acting for who’d get a nod? The either lifeless or high school drama class acting of Anna Kendrick? (her crying scene is laughable in the way of: ‘did the director tell her to mimick Lucille Ball?) Or is it the nothingness of Vera Farminga (whose character is as empty as Clooney’s apartment)? Or is it Clooney doing…..Clooney? (And what else would he do? He shows up on set, flings the charm and goes home. Which is not a bad thing per se. I’m just saying charisma does not good acting make. Notable exceptions include Jack and Tom.)

Somebody said that this is one of the most depressing movies of the year. I wish I could give it that compliment. If it really dwelled in hard places and took a tough stance or any stance at all, that could be true. But its just boring and unmoving and uninspired. Insipid? Maybe. A waste of time? Yes.

Of note: The movie was exacting laughter from the theatre–only the laughter came exclusively from the middle aged set. The younger people I saw in the audience were absolutely listless. Is this the mid-life white folk who love “According To Jim” and Jay Leno? Most likely. And that means this movie will garner some Oscars.

Final Word: A paint by numbers movie unsure of what its doing with unlikeable characters who make no changes with a ‘climax’ consisting of a “Grey’s Anatomy” bad episode scene and hokey jokes. Oh and George Clooney is sexy.

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