Posts filed under ‘politics’

The Lulz

The Lulz (iPad autocomplete already contains the phrase Lulz in capitals no less) have become the celebrity hackers that Hollywood will one day throw into our future as the past. They are at times an almost perfect imitation of what hackers from The Wachowskis would act like (google the dudes who made the matrix), in fact the fiction of the hacker, the past Hollywood imagined appears to have infiltrated the present, remember hackers? Remember all those 2600 kids and wanna be 2600 kids like me backorficing each other while over irc arguing on the merits of if or if not hackers actually dressed, acted, or even bore a similarity to the actors in that film?

I do. I also remember a little irc server, set up on the back of a bank’s mainframe, or what the dude claimed was a discarded unix server from a bank, to get on it you just had to know. I was kinda lucky at that time because I was in the rom scene so I had an fserve serving up rooms which i played in slow motion on an ancient Macintosh. It could manage super nes rooms with a little effort. I don’t think my teenage brain ever registered rom hacking as illegal, neither did it occur to me that flash rom carts were just now coming-out and folks were downloading game boy games to game boys, puerto rican sys ops were flirting with 14 year old girls, and we head no idea what the names on the channel that owned the server were up to. Joining the servers other channel was an experience in waiting as the seemingly always on nicks stood there in silence like the arbiters of a kafka story, working their way to some goal far away from the social scene. If you started joking you could stay. Those chatrooms disappeared for me after high school. Computers moved on, games became isos and burnable (I ruined a ps one with an ancient soldiering iron and a mod chip one summer while my mom lived with “friends” between houses) I got einhander to work with out a mod chip and was elated as was I by that square Enix fighting game that I absolutely loved for some reason. My mom’s temporary house came with a big tv and all those lights from square’s games still impress me. The world was abuzz with the dawn glow of the Internet age, anything was piratable, napster and gnutella were downloading music, my college Internet connection introduced me to high speed connections, content was free and piling down the internets like lemmings in the sea. I had video games up to my knees, sega Saturn, dreamcast, psx, neo geo Roms, I played darkstalkers alone in my dorm room, I got a slim sony viao and broke it in a matter of days. The iPod came, and I had music, never used iTunes, I left college, I moved in alone to an apartment. I went broke, I ended up in Asia. That’s when I found the chatrooms again.

The slow decline of life to the everyday is something we all dread. Life doesn’t begin till you’re forty, the Chinese say. My life at thirty was depressing in the extreme, but at least I had made it to semi-stability. That’s when the most ludicrous idea occurred to me, to make video games. I began by starting up my programming lessons again and learning ruby, this naturally lead to JavaScript, to processing, to flash, back to JavaScript, through a little python, back to android sdks aka java, and then today porting a flash project over to ruby. I posted on a million forums and then I ended up in chatrooms. And then the developer conferences, Denver, San Francisco, Shanghai. I met similar illusioned human beings at all of them. In San Francisco at Gdc I was hanging out with two devs from a Chinese mobile phone company when one of them decided to show me something. The dev said he found a room around the corner. We went down one of those paths and out into that city, the tangle of knots impenetrable to security cam, the place where bodies go to disappear, and somewhere on the router we were way back in the metropolis in the part where the chat rooms and the casinos become one. I remember a bar where sys ops went to trade python commands, and another where the Lulz were said to hold unions meetings, but then I saw it, hovering over in space, that impossible feel, the way the ops stood, like marble statues with funny names, and I understood I had been taken back to that room, somehow we had walked into he past the year of the emu when games became physically decoupled from their packages and the companies fought them instead of making them available. It was surreal to see all those games incorporable again, like finding your grandmother’s soul in the attic. We had come from the year of the eshop and arrived at the backbone of internet’s commerce, the first transmission of immaterial goods, lifted from the cardboard and plastic of their origins. Ok I was lying, I couldn’t see the games,but in the room 10 names sat in marble silence. And the Dev said, we found it like this 30 years ago. The silence in the room was startlingly, tangible, the way a white screen worked, and that’s how I learned about the Internet. My best friend , my buddy of twenty years, always there with me.

Well that’s how I remember hackers ending.

June 22, 2011 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

Stiglitz on the bail out plan

“Trickle down economics… sees the fundamental problem as a crisis of confidence. That no doubt is part of the problem; but the failure of confidence is because the financial markets made some very bad loans. That’s not just a matter of imagination or perception. It’s reality” link

It’s interesting that so much of libertarian economic theory relies on a kinda bluff. Ya know as long as people think you’re the best… etc. The Government bailing out finance companies shouldn’t restore confidence in them, if anything it means that the same people who made incredibly bad loans are still working at those companies…

Mr. Stiglitz goes further to point out that regardless of what bail out plan the finacial companies recieve, the U.S. economy is based on borrowing, housing prices still have a lot of room to fall, and the millions in devalued houses will have to cut their spending regardless of how their mortage is restructured.

October 7, 2008 at 2:18 am Leave a comment

Delueze and Democracy + Meaning and Architecture

Did Delueze accidentally give us the beginnings of an argument against democracy? While e-democracy movements have existed for years along with of course mathematical critiques of voting systems and the simple feeling that it’s just all a popularity contest. Their words, ‘political elite’ and their anti-idealism viewpoint points to a world in which amatuer law drafters might be able to realize their political desires directly and idealist revealed for their reliance on going against the nature of humanity. But similarly, Democracy is repression, of our own viewpoints for those of the majority, is it possible to design a government with a plurality of different laws and viewpoints? Is it possible to have different groups realizing and living in their own values, but sharing a land mass? It’s not terribly far from what’s here now, but the actual admission of it might change things.

This is an olde isssue, here is  Howard Rheingold on how the internet is changing democracy, and Daniel Hillis’ thoughts on how it all works, I might add that Mr. Hillis makes a good point, that the limitation of choices might actually make acceptance of the outcome of an election more acceptable, by forcing people into polarized camps (regardless of how close those two camps might be).


There’s a little spot up Chareon Krung 8 here in Bangkok that keeps nagging at me. It’s far from me home and inconvient to get to, yet I walk there all the time. It’s an electronics market nudged underneath a bridge. It’s organized in such a means that it seems to cater to age, it starts with remote controled vechiles, moves over the video games, and then end with a small camera shop and a mall for magic the gathering. Strolling it, is like gazing at my childhood in layers, I began with remote control submarines, moved into video games, briefly moved into photography, and then bottomed out into Magic (yeah, I started playing again recently). But it certianly wasn’t the intention of the builders to organize their market in such a manor, it’s simply that it retains a memory of mine in form that gives it meaning, that makes it worth an 8+ stop subway ride and a 30 minute walk just to play Magic. It’s this variance that makes Architecture hard to sculpt into the intentional meaning that film or books have, it lacks a linear narrative and compiles meanings like soil’s layers. Prem Chandavarkar has a pretty good paper here on making architecture meaningful. Such problems don’t just vex the architect, but the media builders of today, after all narratives are quickly dissemenating into multiple stories, perhaps what we should focus on is how space expresses meaning and how to make buildings like that market, perhaps not fully functional, but instead meaningful.

Idea: could you turn a level from Doom or Quake into an actual room? What would it mean if the virtual became real? and how uneventful would it seem stripped of aliens and demons? What would we be suggesting if such a situation existed? Why do we spend so much time exploring barren landscapes on computers that in real life hold little interest to us?

January 15, 2008 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

Jack Chick band in Thailand

Ironically, uber-sincere right wing Christian cartoonist Jack Chick is banned in Thailand. Religious parody laws perhaps?

December 31, 2007 at 3:37 am Leave a comment

Qoutes from Deleuze Desert Islands

All from Desert Islands and Other Texts 1953 – 1974
by Gilles Deleuze

“Literature is the attempt to interpret… the myths we no longer understand”

“Literature is the competition of misinterpretation”

“God knows his people, the hardworking honest type, by their beautiful properties, and the evil doers, by their poorly maintained, shabby property.”

“The example of an institution like the State, it will be objected, does not have a tendency to which it corresponds. But it is clear that such institutions are secondary: they already presuppose institutionalized behaviors, recalling a derived utility that is properly social. In the end, this utility locates the principle from which it is derived in the relation of tendencies to the social. ”

“Oppression becomes apparent when laws bear directly on people, and not on the prior institutions that protect them.”

“It’s just like theology [capitalism]: everything about it is quite rational if you accept sin, the immaculate conception, and the incarnation. Reason is always
a region carved out of the irrational-not sheltered from the irrational at all, but traversed by it and only defined by a particular kind of relationship
among irrational factors. Underneath all reason lies delirium, and drift. <b>Everything about capitalism is rational, except capital or capitalism.”</b>

“Today’s capitalist of technocrat does not desire in the same way a slave trader or a bureaucrat from the old Chinese empire would have. When people in a society desire repression, for others <i>and for themselves</i>; when there are people who like to harass others, and who have the opportunity to do so, the ‘right’ to do so, this exhibits the problem of a deep connection between libidnal desire and the social field.”

“In contrast to other societies, the regime of capitalism is both public and inadmissible.”

“If the left were ‘reasonable’ it would be satisfied with vulgarizing economic and finacial mechanisms… Instead, they keep talking about ‘ideology.’ Ideology has no importance here: what matters is the organization of power, i.e. the way in which desire is already in the economic, the way libido invests the economic, haunts the economic and fosters the political form of repression.”

“[Ideology] It’s a perfect way to ignore how desire works on the infrastructure, invests it, belongs to it, and how desire thereby organizes power: it organizes the system of repression… We’re saying: there is no ideology, the concept itself is an illusion.”

“Christinaity has never been ideology. It is a very original, specific organization of power which has taken diverse forms from the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages, and which was able to invent the idea of an international power. It’s far more important than ideology.”

One from Guattari:

“It’s always the same old trick: a big ideological debate in the general assembly, and questions of organization are reserved for special committees… the real problems are precisely the problems of organization, never made explicit of rationalized, but recast after the fact in ideological terms.”

December 9, 2007 at 4:43 am Leave a comment

Qoutes Pynchon, Arendt, and others

The new Pynchon has the usual oblique commentary in the form of prose poem i.e. epigrams. Here are a few from the first 100 or so pages. I might add Against the Day has hooked me much more quickly than Mason & Dixon, but it addresses concerns much more practical and down to earth than Gravity’s Rainbow.

“As the ordeal went on, it became clear to certain of these balloonists, observing from above and poised ever upon a cusp of mortal danger, how much the modern State depended for its survival on maintaining a condition of permanent siege-through the systematic encirclement of populations, the starvation of bodies and spirits, the relentless degradation of civility until citizen was turned against citizen, even to the point of committing atrocities like those of the infamous petroleurs of Paris.” – Against The Day, T. Pynchon

“Many people believe that there is a mathematical correlation between sin, penance, and redemption. More sin, more penance, and so forth. Our own point has always been that there is no connection. All the variables are independent. You do penance not because you have sinned but because it is your destiny. You are redeemed not through doing penance but because it happens. Or doesn’t happen.” – Against The Day

There’s a website for discussing the book with line by line breakdowns here:


I’ve also been reading a lot of Hannah Arendt these days, mostly because I find her thinking pretty fascinating. It’s refreshing to read someone with a value set unlike mine, but with whom I occasionally intersect in different ways. Regardless, she has more stuff that surprised me than Pynchon, so a few more quotes from her.

“And though one may argue that all notions of man creating himself have in common a rebellion against the very factuality of the human condition-nothing is more obvious than that man, whether as member of the species or as an individual, does not owe his existence to himself- and that therefore what Sartre, Marx, and Hegel have in common is more relevant than the particular activities through which this non-fact should presumably have come about, ” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence

One of the things I like abut Arendt is that I don’t understand her perspective sometimes. This phrase which obviously goes against the existentialist idea of man creating himself, I don’t disagree with, but what does Arendt think make up people (genetics? cultural construction? environment?) is not specified.

“Fanon’s worst rhetorical excesses, such as, ‘hunger with dignity is preferable to bread eaten in slavery.’ No history and no theory is needed to refute this statement… Reading these irresponsible grandiose statements-and those I quoted are fairly representative…one is tempted to deny their significance.” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence

I’m an idealist and find Arendt’s ordering or values here interesting. That she feels it’s better to live as a slave than say die for your ideals is well when I think about it probably the more likely path most people will take, and for that matter what the slaver prefers.

“To think, finally, that there is such a thing as a ‘Unity of the Third Word,’ to which one could address the new slogan in era of decolonization ‘Natives of all underdeveloped countries unite!'(Sartre) is to repeat Marx’s worst illusions on a greatly enlarged scale and with considerably less justification. The Third World is not a reality but an ideology.” – Arendt, On Violence


“If we look on history in terms of a continuous chronological process, whose progress, moreover is inevitable, violence in the shape of war and revolution may appear to constitute the only possible interruption.” – Arendt, On Violence

“Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together… It is in the nature of a group and its power to turn against independence, the property of individual strength” – Arendt


“Sze’s work offers arrangements of unexplained significance which mimic confused reality and to a degree reconcile one to it.” – Peter Campbell on Sarah Sze

October 29, 2007 at 4:37 am Leave a comment

3 year anniversary qoutes

Was just checking my links and noticed I’ve been blogging here for 3 years now… and yet the links continue to pile in about 2 a year actually. Anyway, some qoutes I’ve been building up.

“Gazing across the river at this metallisation of a dream, one has to take one’s hat off to Gehry and the civic leaders of Bilbao. I’m impressed by Tate Modern and its vast Turbine Hall, with its echoes of Albert Speer and the Zeppelin field rallies, and its immense popularity proves that it satisfies a need that should have been met by the disastrous Millennium Dome, a wish for an uplifting social space more enduring than the local Tesco or Ikea.”
J.G Ballard from,,2183734,00.html

Ten to one Tesco will have a series of markets designed by Gehry or a similar architect by 2030. Carre Four has already embraced design by numbers organic organization in their new markets.

“When Phillis Wheatley’s book of poems had to be verified by upstanding white men in the community and they put their stamp of approval on the authenticity of these words as though it were an impossibility that a black woman could think of anything on her own. Now it’s debatable, you know, how artistically worthy what she thought of on her own was, but that’s really not the point. I like the idea of suddenly finding myself in the desirable echelons of the art world and presenting myself in this manner. <b> So I am incredibly grateful for the approval of white society who understands that I am an anomaly. It should raise questions I think, maybe more than it does.</b> ”
Kara Walker from
As white people we consistently fail to see the intelligence in the other, that we often can’t see it in African-Americans is even more a shame, because as it stands they’re difference from us is not as pronounced as say Asians and other cultures. That it is this view, this racism, that has led to an under-investment in Africans as a whole should make us rethink the nature of our perceptions and the way our eyes lie.

“All of us are familiar with these strategies – whether consciously or not – but can similar ideas ever be employed in a way which benefits the consumer, or society in general, without actual deception or underhandedness? For example, can artificially limiting supply to increase demand ever be helpful? Certainly artificially limiting supply to decrease demand can be helpful to consumers might sometimes be helpful – if you knew you could get a healthy snack in 5 minutes, but an unhealthy one took an hour to arrive, you might be more inclined to go for the healthy one; if the number of parking spaces wide enough to take a large 4 x 4 in a city centre were artificially restricted, it might discourage someone from choosing to drive into the city in such a vehicle.

But is it helpful – or ‘right’ – to use these types of strategy to further an aim which, perhaps, deceives the consumer, for the ‘greater good’ (and indeed the consumer’s own benefit, ultimately)? Should energy-saving devices be marketed aggressively to children, so that they pressure their parents to get one?”

via Persuasion & control round-up

To see the world from the perspective of a psychologist, is to witness amorality on a scale almost unbelievably high. But the question here of creating artificial scenarios that promote socially conscious products, ideas, or services is well worth investigating. After all, the means here might impeach on the ability of people to make rational choices for the ends of selling a product, but hijacking the means for a better ends, well that’s a different conundrum.

“I don’t see nobody reaching out to us, like we reached out to them. I told them guys when they went over to Europe and shit they think they going to Europe and they thought they was gonna come back superstars anybody with some sense know what’s gonna come back. Ain’t gonna be us.
You see? Because They aint nobody reaching back and doing shit for us for our kids. It’s up to us to do and make them high-tech. We got whole neighborhoods nobody got internet nobody got cable… They don’t even know why they’re supposed to have it. Ain’t nobody reaching out them.” -Mad Mike

October 24, 2007 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

Spook Country by Gibson, Scrublands by Joe Daly, Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan

Spook Country

It’s good but surprising. Gibson’s previous books work up to a clever use of technology that often subverts or changes society or yeah know it’s a kinda how do all these techno-cultural parts come together type of thing, Spook Country is more about simply a good story that’s climax is surprising simply because it’s underwhelming. Gibson’s riffs on the future of the U.S. Latin American population (he for-sees hyper-hip locative art and Cuban infused techno… both which already exist when I think about it) are interesting and his imagining of the artistic possibilities of GPS are pretty cool too. Gibson continues to take on the ghosts of post-9/11 politics with a peculair gusto, but then again it’s William Gibson and what else is he going to write about. Book probably ain’t worth it if you aren’t a fan (pattern recognition is about a 100x better), but it’s enjoyable.


Joe Daly is a South African cartoonist whose work centers on hipsters and their remarkably bohemian lives. Daly’s work reminds of the better parts of sixties acid drenched comics, but it’s commentary on South Africa and it’s consistent play on modern day traumas (Aqua Boy is briskly divorced from his father and  Daly has a heavy obsession with vaginas) definitely make it seem more modern day. Daly, seems to feel his generation of Africans and the olde counter-culture of old have a lot in common. He’s probably correct and Kobosh is probably the best cartoon character in quite a while.

Exit Wounds

Rutu Modan is one of the founders of an Israeli comics foundation similar to  L’Association in France or Fantagraphics in the US. Her work though differs from almost any other illustrator I can think of, her stories are full of pathos and while much of indie comics is male and often sexual, Modan writes charming short stories that deal more with the slight imperfections of the pysche that bother us day to day. Exit Wounds centers around a cab driver (Koby) whose father spends his day seducing women of all ages and one of his ex-lovers (Numi) a well off Israeli who’s a tad ruff around the edges and finishing up her time in the military. Numi is convinced Koby’s father is dead and Koby, who seems to have been extremely estranged from his father, doesn’t care. The two end up trecking around Israel where in they end up finding out Koby’s dad is alive and well it’s a good story. What makes Modan so different is that the story really does center on the minor travesties and heart break of her characters, while many comics dismantle the emotions of the protoganist unless they’re A. performing a superhuman feat or B. having sex with a woman Modan’s palette of emotion is diverse and the dimension she draws out of her characters has depth that even most novelists could use. Exit Wounds doesn’t hinge on a quest for identity or any such higher goal, it merely focuses on a short moment in a couple of young Israeli lives, the influence of politics on them, and finally with the way resolve their own problems. It’s wonderful and well worth reading.

October 3, 2007 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

Some thoughts FPSes and Identity

Battlefield, like counter-strike, operates w/o giving us a firm narrative or identity. Identity is surpressed, the only differences between oman and america or GSG9 and Terrorists is simply the weapons used.  Competition begets competition free of ideology as if all the world’s conflicts arrive from frivolous needs for juxtaposition instead of belief, many FPSes do this, they submerge our identities and then occupy us with puzzles and challenges, goals and other operatives that keep us focused on one goal at a time instead of asking questions about who we are. Similarly, societies choose to ignore certian aspects of the mind or self, Americans are occupied by ideas of GDP, technological progress, and rarely the narrative of nationhood that sorrounds us. Counter-Strike and Battlefield advertise the enjoyment of military jobs by subtracting the ideiology behind them, as it stands they become forms easily open to subversion whether it’s Hezbollah’s Special Forces or America’s Army both of which are competing to put a narrative of their own politics in the form of tactical FPSes and in that are ads for the positions they inhabit. It’s interesting though the trick both games use, by chucking out story they create an environment in which doing is simply the main enjoyment of the game. We play for our teams sure, but really we also play for the simple pleasure of denial, keeping the other team away etc. Do we really care if we’re Chinese, America, or from Oman? Is that a political statement, or do such games ignore politics entirely?

To read someone like J.G. Ballard is to see the world in a more disturbing light. Mr. Ballard discusses the psychological effects of our society whether in consumerism or restaging world war III, but few products are designed from such an angle except perhaps advertising. Battlefield and Counter-Strike’s magic formula (which has made them more popular than Special Force or America’s Army) is to ignore giving the player a narrative, in that their effects on us are limited to the repetition of violence, the reaching of simple goals, such games are amoral to the psychologist simply becuase they ignore the field entirely. How would games intended to teach us how to feel work? Instead of them blindly influencing us with out an intended provocation?

September 19, 2007 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

The Simpsons Movie as a Christian vechile


Every movie is a little world that creates it’s own little precepts. The Simpsons movie though might very well be the largest critique of 90s American liberalism I can think of though. God exists in Springfield and Homer Simpson, whose Jebus joke once represented a growing national apathy towards religion, is now an outsider lacking the warm family values and influence on morality that Ned Flanders has. Homer’s “jebus” comment not only seems used, but he makes it in church where the humor changes from being freeing oneself from religious dictate to being oblivious to the insentitivty of the joke. Once upon a time Flanders was a shinning example of the confining strictures of traditional values, while Lisa expelled neo-liberalism, and Homer was a good hearted man whose pleasure seeking seemed a healthy, but self-obsessed past time. The Simpsons have now become something of the outcastes of their block versus the way they almost perfectly caught the dysfunctional, but loving aspects of the American family in the mid-90s. Flanders has become a foil who knocks Homer and his family off the block. While Lisa’s idealism has become more sharpened and she still commands a certian amount of respect, you can’t help but feel as the show changed from Bart to Homer it is now becoming little more than a vechile for Flander’s philosophy. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Ned isn’t a bad guy, but part of what made The Simpsons fun was its acceptance of our imperfections, the way not only god had died, but the way we’d lost our fathers and families had exploded from homogenous cultures like the Flanders to the plurality of views of The Simpsons’ address. Flanders was funny becuase next to memories of Tammy Fay Baker, the boredome of childhood church pews, and the utter exasperation of the religious right to deal with the yuppie ideals of the 80s as they became the engine of the country’s progress and enshrined in the form of tolerance, such an image of a Christian seemed not only ridicilous and out of whack with the country as a whole, but down right unwholesome. One gets the feeling that Murdoch and company have reshaped the show for a new demographic, but it’s telling that in order for the christian values of right-wing american to entertain, they have to borrow a story and a people from those that opposed them.

August 17, 2007 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

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