February 2011


This past week an event largely expected to have a semblance of class and shared enjoyment was turned into a one-woman ego explosion as Anne Hathaway chewed the scenery at a twelve year old’s birthday party.

Justin Uris’ parents had asked Hathaway to emcee his birthday with the best intentions but watched in horror as Hathaway stole the party from under the pimply visage of their son.

Said Justin, “She came out to the patio with her hands on her cheeks in this ‘Home Alone’ pose or something and right away I knew my party would never be as cool as Sheldon’s party when he got a Wii.”

Reports from Justin’s tween-aged peers suggest that Hathaway came across as either “a phony ass”, “a punk”, or “an ass kissing phony ass punk.”

Video of the party from several iPhones show Hathaway breaking into a bizarre ballad to Hugh Jackman, who is also seen to be weakly smiling through his horror.

“I wanted a birthday party,” Said a teary eyed Justin “but instead I got Anne Hathaway’s imitation of a vacuous grinning idiot zombie’s debutante ball. I hate Anne Hathaway.”

“So do I.” Chimed in a barely conscious James Franco.

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Erica “Ricky” Sherover-Marcuse (1938-88) was a powerful activist for labor rights, feminism, and is perhaps most well known for her work in racial justice work. Sherover-Marcuse created and facilitated workshops and curricula called “Unlearning Racism” and was a brilliant Doctor of Philosophy whose lifework centered around the structures of social oppressions. Sherover-Marcuse wrote a greatly helpful piece called “Working Assumptions for White Activists on Eliminating Racism: Guidelines for Recruiting Other Whites as Allies” and I share it with you below: 

 

  1. Assume that all human beings desire warm, close relationships with each other. This is also true of you and of all other white people. 

  2. Assume that you are a regular white person (not an exceptional white person) and that all whites are good people, caring, intelligent, compassionate, and hard-working. 

  3. Recognize that we have much to celebrate about our histories and our diversities; we have rich traditions of music and dance, and proud histories of struggle. 

  4. Assume that all white people have undergone some variety of systematic conditioning or ‘training’ to take on the ‘oppressor role’ in relation to people of color. Sometimes this training has been to participate in acts of violence, or to join in racial slurs or jokes; sometimes this training has been to keep silent in the face of injustice. Sometimes this training has been to be ‘extra nice’ towards people of color … 

  5. Assume that no human being would have ever agreed to take on any aspect of an oppressor role if they had not first been mistreated or oppressed themselves- originally as young people, and in a variety of other ways. 

  6. Assume that no white person ever chose to acquire any of the conditioning or training and that every one of us attempted to resist taking on any aspect of the oppressor role. 

  7. Assume that the history of our own acts of resistance has been obscured and hidden from us and that many of us feel no pride in our own heritages and traditions. 

  8. Recognize that most whites in the United States and Canada have a history of immigrant oppression in which their own ethnic group has been the target of mistreatment at the hands of other white ethnic groups who were in a position of relative social power. 

  9. Recognize that all people need the acknowledgement that their liberation issues are legitimate. 

  10. Assume that in spite of the material rewards and preferential treatment that our society gives to white people, these ‘advantages’ do not offset the real costs of racism to us as human beings. 

  11. Assume that the conditioning which white people have undergone has been hurtful to us as human beings: it has betrayed our sense of ourselves, robbed us of close and trusting relationships with our families, given us a false picture of reality, isolated us from the majority of the world’s peoples, blunted our imagination, limited our vision, enforced a sense of powerlessness, hampered our ability to love. 

  12. Assume that at some level, all white people know this. Accordingly the task of the white activist is not to persuade or convince other whites of this truth, but to make their own buried awareness accessible to them. 

  13. Assume that the elimination of racism is in the real self-interest of all people. 

  14. Assume that all white people are eager to join in the project of eliminating racism and that appearances to the contrary are the result of feelings of despair and powerlessness caused by the individual’s own experiences of oppression and mistreatment. 

  15. Recognize how the temptation to classify other whites into ‘good whites’ and ‘bad whites’ is often a mechanism for perpetuating other forms of oppression such as classism and regional oppression. 

  16. Recognize that engaging in anti-racist activity commits us to the building of real connections with all people and functioning as allies for them. 

  17. Assume that white people (like all other human beings) will change their minds and let go of deeply ingrained attitudes and behavior patterns when1) they feel acknowledged and appreciated as individuals;

    2) they are listened to with complete respect on their own grievances and liberation concerns;

    3) they trust the person presenting the new perspective;

    4) the new perspective makes sense to them;

    5) they are not blamed for their prior conditioning or behavior.

  18. Recognize that recruiting other whites to join us is also an opportunity to learn from them, and that they have much to teach us.

 

Read More of Ricky Sherover-Marcuse’s Writings Here:
http://unlearningracism.org/writings.htm

As I was watching the ‘Twilight’ trilogy recently in a back-to-back marathon, I was struck by something
Ella said about vampires never aging…always appearing the same…

And it came to me that the actress Kristen Stewart could be describing herself on film.
Stewart’s Bella Swan is immortal. She will not age or change.

So I was wondering what ageless or death defying monster might best summarize the medium of cinema.

Is it ‘zombie’…? No, I think video games are zombie. Eating our brains, turning us onto their agenda of complete focus….


Or is cinema in fact vampire?…Alluring, sexy, enticing, beautiful. Staying in the ‘dark places’ of theatres?

Well, this post’s title may be a red herring because I think cinema is Frankenstein.
Cut and pasted, derived from past ideas and ‘bodies’ of work, cinema comes alive and can become the target of the mob’s projected fears.

More on the ‘cut and paste’ hodgepodge film medium at this great site:
http://www.EverythingIsARemix.info

Here’s a lovely duo of videos depicting some visions of possible future technologies:

What I love in the above video from Corning that I missed the first time viewing it was the photovoltaic glass.
This alone can be a ‘game changer’ for cities’ energy consumption. Gathering the natural energy of the sun is of course a no-brainer but developmental technologies will need to show sustained gathering power over time without degradation, cost effeciency, and environmentally sound means of production. The photovoltaic feature is only further benefitted by the capacity of the glass to transition to various degrees of shading. This ‘shading’ feature could conceivably be computer controlled throughout large buildings to control temperature maintenence costs. Love it.

We have to wonder: will photovoltaic glass be able to be installed on electric cars?

I also like the depiction of up-to-the-minute commute information on the highway signs and the interactive onboard computer in the woman’s car. So, the fact that the woman is 1) travelling alone in a car rather than ride sharing, 2) driving a car that appears to be private-owned rather than car-shared, is not so energy friendly but maybe we can at least assume the car is fully non-fossil fueled.

I feel that transportation will become more and more a key talking point in issues of effeciency, energy, and quality of living.
Think of how painful it is to wait for a slow computer to load a website or play a video. The anxiety and frustration that it causes for a 20 second wait is understandable in the transportation of information, but we can somehow accept hours upon hours each week of transporting ourselves? As driving attention is taken over by autonomous smart cars and public transit becomes more popular, these issues of wasted time and energy will (thankfully) fade away.

I love the instant language translation and the use of telepresence in the classroom setting here.
I can imagine all kinds of uses with that type of technology especially as voice recognition technology advances.

I feel that there are a couple of applications not shown here that may be expected: more augmented reality, more use of robotics, the capacity for our tools to anticipate and predict our wants, and data rich clothing.

In the Microsoft video, we see ‘floating tags’ in the airport. I believe that these type of tags will become popularized with many people using augmented reality to see Twitter feeds appearing above people. Of course, these tags may announce their name, mood, ‘status’, as well as any social gaming with which they may be participating.  

As an addendum of trends to watch for:
Nanoassemblers, the next generation of the already revolutionary 3D printers. High density, extremely effecient urban hubs. Rented microhousing and a ‘rent/share/gift economy.’

Aside from Grossman’s title, this article leaves little with which to disagree (but believe me, I found something!).

That owes to Grossman’s milquetoast article (in true Time fashion) giving only the most cursory account of the issues Kurzweil addresses.

While Grossman does a passable job ‘introducing’ the subject, I did find a few notes I would like to add (though I’m not sure how long mainstream media outlets will have to keep introducing an idea that is in fact been around literally for decades and Kurzweil who has been popularized through many venues…).

Beginning with his or his editors’ choice of title. Firstly, ‘Man’ as a designator for humanity has got to go. College freshman writing courses will tell you that so drop it. Topics of science and technology often privilege male gender enough so let’s try not to slather our cover pages with basic no-no’s okay?

Secondly, just as humanity now does not have indoor plumbing, so will “humanity in 2045” not become immortal. Technology and the access to it does not appear equally distributed across the world and it does no one any good to disguise that fact with poor use of language. More appropriately, the article could say: “some people who are quite wealthy and are located near urban centers and have access to the most up-to-date medical care will be able to potentially slow or reverse the effects of aging.” Important to note is that just as now there are many without access to even rudimentary medical care–so will the future not necessarily bring instant health care justice.

The unequal distribution and access to medicine is and will (most likely) be a major issue for justice minded folk.

So to the article:

1. Grossman focuses on AI, which is understandable given the traction that IBM’s ‘Watson’ has made lately in the news. Understandable. But I believe that what Kurzweil does well is illuminate the convergence of cognitive sciences, nanotechnologies, biomedical advances, AI, robotics, and computing power. It isn’t necessarily just advances in AI, but the way AI will be integrated into robotics. Or the way nanotechnology will be implemented in medicine. All of these separate areas of technoscience are amazing indeed but it is the way they inform and bootstrap each other that will be truly surprising.

2. Who or what is a “Singulartarian”? Grossman uses this term as well as “Kurzweilian” and I though I understand that Grossman may just be using a shorthand for “people that believe that the event called ‘singularity’ will occur” and “people that largely agree with Kurzweil’s appraisal of the timing and effects of the singularity,” I feel that his language acts to depict a diverse and unorganized group of folks as an organized secular sect.
You can use any inappropriate handle for any assorted ‘group’ to make them sound wacky (like I feel Singulartarian does). 

“You know those people who believe in transforming animals? You know–Evolutarians? Yeah. Some of them are Darwinites.”

Uh. Does anyone who believes in evolution call themself a Evolutarian? I don’t know. Probably as many as those who identify as Singularitarian.

3. There’s another way to make an idea sound wacky. Compare it to something ‘wacky’ even though it may have nothing in common. Grossman uses this trick when he writes: “Of course, a lot of people think the Singularity is nonsense–a fantasy, wishful thinking, a Silicon Valley version of the Evangelical story of the Rapture…” 
Waitaminute. 
“A lot” of people think this? Who?
There are a number of great thinkers out there who have posed interesting critiques of the main ideas surrounding the Singularity but why not name them?
In my reading, very few people question the events commonly associated with the Singularity. Even those experts in technoscience who don’t look forward to its occurrance and believe that it will bring dire consequences to much of humanity, still concede to Kurzweil’s main points and even his projected timing of events.

And none of those astute folks that I’ve read (among them Bill Joy and Jaron Lanier) have said that the Singularity is like a secular ‘rapture.’ 

Any close reading of Kurzweil does not allow for that interpretation. He speaks of the opposite of what Rapture is. He speaks of radical closeness, integration, loving connection, and having to steer the present (and thus future) with our highest values of compassion and intimacy. That’s not flight from the world, that’s responsible embracing. 

But, to some people ‘ethics, justice, compassion, and intimacy’ might sound ‘spiritual’ and if some people hear it that way, so be it. 

In the end, whatever “the future brings” will be the fruit of our moral behavior today. 

See The Original Article:  
Grossman, Lev. “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal” Time February 21, 2011
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2048138,00.html

Some of these movies may be a stretch, but I feel that if you like movies that probe the ‘interior life’ you may
get a kick out of viewing (or revisiting) these flicks.

1. Jacob’s Ladder
2. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
3. Dark City
4. Identity
5. Citizen Kane
6. Deconstructing Harry
7. The Wizard of Oz
8. Wild Strawberries
9. A Beautiful Mind
10. The Cell
11. Syndechoche New York
12. What Dreams May Come
13. A Nightmare of Elm Street
14. Fight Club
15. The Audition
16. Spellbound
17. Gothika

Also, a helpful article by Annalee Newitz:
http://io9.com/#!5765657/rise-of-the-neurothriller

Get ready to rock and roll for some Awesome Packer/Steeler Action and host the party that will be talked about non-stop as soon as the hangovers clear up!

Follow these easy steps to weasel your way up the social ladder, impress your co-workers, find a new and better spouse, reach your life goals, and establish yourself as your neighborhood’s Silverback!

1. GET BIT BY A SPIDER

What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger. By the time your fever-insanity wears off, you’ll be ready to do a touch down dance! And with any luck, the spider will be irradiated–giving you more power (awesome!) and responsibility (boo!).

2. PROVIDE FOOD
Fill up on some wine and bread before you crack out your expensive ceremonial peyote!

3. GIVE LOTS AND LOTS OF HUGS

Football games get people’s dander up. It riles the blood and spoils the spleen! Football is dangerous, violent, and exactly what the Donner Party would look like if it was interrupted by advertisements every two minutes.
That’s why the best Super Bowl Parties start with lots of hugs and end with passing around a bowl filled with car keys. Love is the antidote to testosterone. Remember to hug firmly (but not squeezing) and don’t do that “pat pat” thing–it feels condescending.

4. GIVE YOUR GUESTS TATTOOS


After the BBQ accident, you’ll want as many distinguishing marks as possible to identify the bodies.

IN CONCLUSION:
Your party will be known as “the day everything changed” and it will have a movie made of it where your complaining neighbor will be played by Matthew Modine and a number of creative liberties will be taken to make your lifestyle fit a PG-13 rating.

Good luck (and remember a little cilantro goes a long way)!

Ryan McGivern

http://sbtwitter.nfl.com/

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