When I was five I thought I could see through my hand

Orwell Diaries 2/24/39

Easy there, George:

Pretty heavy rain last night & this morning.

Found sprays of fennel, which evidently grows here. Saw very large slow-moving black & white birds, evidently of hawk tribe. Forgot to mention curious property of human shadows, noticed at Taddert. Sometimes one stands on a crag whose shadow is cast hundreds of feet below. If one stands on the edge of it, naturally one’s shadow is cast beyond that of the crag. But I notice that whereas the shadow of the rock is black & solid, that of the human body, or anything over about 50 feet, is faint & indistinct, like the shadow of a bush. At short distances this is not noticeable, but at long distances, say 200 feet & over, one seems to have almost no shadow at all. At certain distances the body as a whole has a sort of shadow, but, eg., the arm by itself none. I do not know whether this is because, relative to the rock, the human body is not opaque, or whether it is merely a question of size.

[Emphasis mine.]


Some Album by the Moody Blues?

An interesting article on the 100th anniversary of Futurism: from the interesting (yet to me at least, still quite foreign) Neojaponisme.

An excerpt:

"Marinetti had no aims on Nostradamus, but instead, aspired to be a kamikaze pilot nosediving towards stale convention, walking the walk, dreaming of poetic suicide — and yes, counting the days until “younger and stronger men” would throw him “in the waste paper basket like useless manuscripts!” So what would Marinetti think of our rotting shell of a pop culture, still looking to its 1960s Old Masters, judging all success against the unrepeatable case studies of Lennon/McCartney, Zimmerman/Dylan, Keroauc, slouching against the canonical ideas of 20th century art under the legitimizing banner of post-modernist sampling and pastiche. Marinetti’s call for constant artistic progress still inspires! But alas, the irony: when we waste “the best part of our strength in a useless admiration of the past,” this time Marinetti is part of the problem. To love Marinetti is to bury him. You cannot just kill your idols, but you must also burn your “Kill Your Idols” T-shirt."

The Pop-hiss...

Sometimes when you express unpopular opinions to people who prefer popular opinions, you get a little tired of constantly being told to go to hell.

But then again, sometimes a little bit of info makes you feel better about being "that guy".

So, about ten years ago, I worked at a summer camp. A very enthusiastic girl (who actually was a very nice person) started a contest among the kids. Collect the most pull-tabs from soda cans to give to charity, and you win a trip to McDonalds.

Naturally, children responded pretty well to this syrupy bit of group-think, and were chugging Coca-Cola products and dreaming of McRib sandwiches (or whatever).

I, being the one anarchist-minded soul at the YMCA camp, protested the contest, saying it was idiotic to get the kids full of sugar on dream of fast food for the tiny scrap of aluminum. I may have suggested a regular recycling drive instead.

I, being the one anarchist-minded soul at the YMCA camp, was told to shut it, because "we were teaching children the reward of doing good for others". At the expense their nutrition, and in drastic support of multi-national corporations, for a pittance in aluminum scrap, I responded. I think I even got in a pretty big fight about it with the very nice girl, who I'm sure has since used the event on resumes, and the like. Which I have since felt bad about. The fight, that is, not her potential resumes.

Anyway: I was right. The pull tabs are worthless--and while some charities do collect them by way of appreciating the effort, the idea that these are valuable is a complete rumor, the persistence of which causes us to speculate at the magpie-like unconsciousess of the soda-drinking liberal consumer.

Unfortunately, just like Mountain Dew Code Red, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I appreciate that yes, my teenage, pessimistic-but-realist logic was correct, but still, all of these people have deluded themselves into thinking they were doing charity when they were only buying soda.

It's a strange, carbonated world.

Myrna Loy--Oh, and my writing too

Hey hey hey it's Monday.

I posted late Friday about my new article in The Brutalitarian--but I know most of you are weekday blog reader sort of folks (how do I know that? Well, why don't you think about it tonight while you're tossing and turning, trying to get to sleep...) so there it is again.

But ALSO: I have a new short story up, on Brute Press Live. It's SF--cyberpunk, time-travel, aktion, the works. If you're at all into that sort of thing, you should read it, and let me know what you think. I'd be interested. It's a fun story too, you might even like it.

I don't know why my only two SF stories have been the only ones to end up on BPL, but that's just it. I think another one will be going up soon, however, which will NOT be SF. So, yeah. Look out for that.

In case you haven't put it all together, Brute Press is my web publishing imprint. Not constrained to only my own writing by rule, but as of now it is only my own writing, just because nobody else is really interested. So this is why you might hear about it here, intermittently.

Anyway, cheers; and let's try and not have as braindead a week as my weekend was, okay? I mean, that's more to myself than it is to you.... but, still.

And LASTLY (but not leastly): Here is the lovely Myrna Loy--just because.

Thanks, Myrna! For all that you do!


A Visual Aid, but of what....

Because number of Twitter followers OBVIOUSLY correlates to SOMETHING meaningful, here is a comparison of followers totals between some Twitter-saavy stalwarts of literature (click on the graph for a larger size if for some crazy reason you actually want to read the figures):

Ha! Take that, Pynchon! The Gravity's Rainbow ain't such a snappy parabola when you're on the short side of the regression!

Lesson learned: I am a web 2.0 GENIUS in comparison with a reclusive writer some 50+ years my senior.

Also: I am truly a strange person, enjoying spending 45+ minutes making pointless graphs on a Saturday morning.


All Hail the Vectors of International Productive Chaos

New article up on The Brutalitarian. I know few know or are interested in what that is, but that's okay, because I'm going to sum up the article here. Just because I thought you should know:

Adrian Bowyer (and many others across the Internet in conjunction) is/are building the RepRap—a replicating rapid prototyper. It is an exploration of rapid prototype technology, with the purpose of building a prototyper capable of building the same prototyper: in other words, capable of building replications of itself. Poor fellow cited Marx in one of his essays about the philosophy of the project, so I was already bent to reply, if the concept wasn't awesome enough.

Here are pieces of the article, in the general flow of ideas. Obviously it sounds much more witty and philosophical in its entirety.

...Bowyer takes his inspiration from this logic project, converting it into a technological proposal: what would be necessary to make a machine capable of building itself? The difficulty, he says, is the “need for it to be able to self-assemble as well as self-replicate.” He therefore takes the biological model of symbiosis as his solution, suggesting it might be more feasible and simpler for humans and the machine to work together for the benefit of each other: “to make a universal constructor that could manufacture its component parts, but that left assembly to people.” This is an important and under-utilized fact of the “biomimetic” model which has been a part of design throughout history—no organism is a unit, unto itself. The very name “organism” lends itself to discussion of systematic approaches, schematic models, and functional compartmentability, but its real existence is much more dynamic...

...But if these economies of biology are so all-encompassing, isn’t it a bit redundant to speak of “biomimetics”? How could a cuckoo, in pushing another bird’s eggs out the nest and replacing them with its own, be said to be mimicking or perverting nature? Isn’t that nature itself? What about a human using an oar—is it more like a flipper, or our own human hand? We now know we are hardly the only species to use tools—so if we take our inspiration for our tools from nature, are we “aping” nature, according to the archaic term, or simply being humans at our most natural?...

...What would ERR look like on the thousandth iteration of a thinking, fabricating robot, making other thousands of robots with that ERR included, expanding and increasing the ERR as more robots are created?...

...This is not a reason against experimenting with iterative, self-replicating production. It is simply one possible stumbling point to think about as we suggest making our production more “natural”. After all, nature creates hurricanes, plagues, cancer, and the destructive potential of humanity. If you could turn back the clock and keep humanity from ever leaving the trees, or inventing guns, or the A-bomb, would you? This is not an important philosophical question, merely a game. But if we begin to automate the “decision” of producing, by making machines capable of doing so at will, we will be in the position of asking our descendants’ version of this hypothetical question ourselves, when we are in the position to do something about it...

The RepRap is not digital production, but it establishes ability for scaling production in similar magnitude to the near infinite power of digital reproduction. As said before, if one RepRap can make one additional RepRap a day, in a month one might have half a trillion of them. Clearly there is little market in selling items capable of producing themselves. The limit of our productive power, (and what’s more, the worker’s productive power) is now reduced to the resources necessary, and Bowyer and his team have many good ideas in this category: bio-synthesizable plastics, fully recyclable materials, and an open-source design philosophy. The idea is a good one—by putting the means of production directly into the hands of the producer (interestingly enough via a physically tautological, though not logically tautological production process) production relations can be re-formed from the ground up on the digital model....

Revolution, it seems, is precisely what Bowyer is after despite his opposition to violence, and rightly so. His project would revolutionize manufacturing, and what’s more, revolutionize our understanding of production by evolving our productive relations: in fact, our entire humanity as producing beings. Violence is a potential outcome. Economic and environmental destruction are also real risks. But these always have been possibilities; we just like to forget about them, abstracting them in our minds to simple errors from “the way things are supposed to work.” They would need to be considered in the vanguard if we are going to shake up our relations with production....

And so forth. His project is amazingly interesting: both in its philosophical scope, and also simply by the fact it is so simple, yet so ambitious. Refuting the faulty concept of intellectual property is only the beginning--I see what other's might call "the singularity" looming in such a machine. Of course, I believe the singularity is ridiculous (a subject for another post), most simply because it will happen through billions of machines working independently--a productive chaos rather than a productive unity. Here, my friends, in the RepRap, is that productive chaos. Bring it on.


What's a Tautology?

Oliveslav posted this, and while I will also redirect you, the picture is so apt I had to simply re-publish:


Totally such thing as a free feed...

I re-did my links, partially to update, and mostly because Blogger finally implemented the last complaint from my Google Universe post: they added a function to insert your Reader subscriptions into your blog roll. So now there's a crazy updating feed center thing with everyone I thought would benefit from the link or from who's link you'd benefit. (what?)

You have to hand it to Google--every complaint I had was fixed in about six months. Are they listening to me? Or just constantly innovating?

I have been thinking about experimenting with WordPress though... Google Sites is alright, but how can it compete with open source, complete with plugins AND skinned interfaces? But don't worry, Welcome to the Interdome will be staying here for the immediate future. Any WordPress will be unrelated.

Oh, and if you were linked, and now are not, and your web site is functioning (or you have a new one) you should let me know, because it was an oversight: you didn't get kicked off the island. Unless you are XKCD, or a similar large site, and definitely don't need my link for people to know where you at. Not that you would then contact me if you were... but... what was I saying...?

ps. Hit 10,000 visits today, thanks in part to BURNLAB, no doubt. I can't figure out why SiteCounter and Google Analytics differ so much. Maybe SC is counting double hits for page views or something. Oh well, I'll take my 10Gs. Thanks y'all.

Figments of the 80s Imagination

Until the age of five, I lived in Florida, only about an hour from Disney World. Back then we had some sort of off-season Florida-resident family pass, combining all the savings of time shares, economy packs, and in-state college tuition into one laminated, photo ID'd badge. I'm certain nothing like this exists anymore. In those days ('82-'87) there were no theme hotels except for the Riverboat one, and everyone was looking forward to the NEW MGM Studios park. Pretty much we went went to the Magic Kingdom, and then spend one afternoon over at Epcot.

I loved Epcot. And not just because I think the only thing more fun than amusement park rides is science, and multicultural theme restaurants. Epcot was my favorite because it was the home of Figment, to whom I imagined I was partially related.

"Who the fuck?" you say? Why, this guy:

No? Perhaps more recognizable in cartoon form?

Hmm. Well, there he is. He was the mascot of the "Imagination Pavilion", so I gather, though I knew it only as the Figment ride. 'Figment of your imagination..." get it...?

I had a stuffed Figment, which was "my" stuffed animal among all the others (you understand), and I carried him everywhere. I wish I could find a picture of him to show you, but all the plush Figment's on the Internet are NOT the right one. I remember he had hard plastic eyes, felted horns (on head and tail) and a yellow shirt with a velcro strip down the back so it could come off and on. I'm not sure why--perhaps there were other costumes. However, it no doubt gave me my first unconscious Othering experience with nakedness, allowing me castration transference as I dressed and undressed this horned purple dragon. But, we'll leave that exactly where it is.

I didn't watch TV much as a kid. Just Electric Company, Seasame Street, Mr. Rodgers and other such educational and PBS staples. I certainly knew of other shows, from friends houses, sick days, and etc. Transformers, Smurfs, Care Bears, ThunderCats, and all are definitely in the back of my clogged brain, probably still rubbing stardust and plastic missiles into my aesthetic zones as we speak. Like the other millions of children growing up in front of an 80s TV set (I loved the way those RCA buttons clicked), in my adult life I am still hobbled by a need to spend good, hard-earned money on animation and its characters, toys with folding spring-loaded parts, and video games which allow you to pretend that you in fact are any of these things.

Have we all been brainwashed? Yes. But I wonder how--it strikes me there is a very definite aesthetic in these sorts of characters and programs, that we don't see in material targeted for a similar age group today. Will children of the 90s remember Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with the same fondness? Harry Potter? The books perhaps: but what about the slew of plastic shit slung along with it? Will the Harry Potter toys captivate these child-zombies' cultural pre-conscious? Will people line up at college parties to play the Power Rangers' video game? Normally I always pick three examples with these sorts of rhetorical comparisons, but I can't even think of a third thing from the 90s perhaps affecting a similar age range. Do they exist, and I am just of a decade earlier?

I think there is something about the pixelated, LiteBrite, stardusted 80s cartoon world that speaks outside of its own consumer catagory. There's something about the absolute ridiculousness of creatures mining starbits, of a village populated by little blue men and only one blue woman, of a war fought with weapons that ARE toys, and in which no one ever dies, ever. It's just so zany, so obviously fake, it takes the uncanny valley and flips it inside out, dragging it back around to cover over reality, painting it all yellow, red, and blue and covered in stars, making horrible things like the Reagan years, and the Bush years (when all of this stuff miraculous became hip again) disappear and seem as unreal as cheaply-animated children.

But that sort of cultural analysis is all after the fact, of course. A five year-old doesn't know anything except what's on the playroom floor. So there is something else, something aesthetic, something even a child can understand because, it seems, only children (or adults who act like children) understand it.

Look at Figment's shirt. What the hell is up with the yellow sweater? (My stuffed animal's shirt did not have his name on it, I don't think.) A purple dragon isn't too far out of whack--not so far from the horrid purple dinosaur of the next decade. (There's my third example!) But dressed in a yellow sweater with red piping... hmm. Why dress him at all? He wore other costumes in the Disney attraction, yet he still maintains the "I may be an anthropomorphic magical being, but I'm not naked, and don't you dare mention my lack of pants."

Let's see what other cartoons were sporting in the 80s.

The Care Bears are a good place to start. The rainbow colors, the symbols, the cute and cuddly animals bearing (ha) almost no resemblance to real animals are all of note. In the show, they would often use a lot of bogus gadgets, like "crystals of caring", and speciously designed robots. The bizarre, greeting-card simple world-view goes along with the rainbow colors; everything equally represented along a arbitrary color wheel of a plot, thought very cute.

Rainbow Brite is very similar to the Care Bears in its use of Rainbow Colors, appropriate, color-specific characterizations, and also the greeting-card plot, not insignificantly because both Rainbow Brite and Care Bears were originally conceived by greeting card companies (American Greetings and Hallmark respectively) before they became toys, shows, and all the rest. Rainbow Brite is perhaps more interesting because of its tendency towards a very colorful "lolita"-esque sexual fetish, especially in latter day interpretations. Of course, the "furry" sub-culture (whether sexual or not) could be said to have strong roots around the Care Bears as well. What is it about these simple characters, over-emphasizing a simplistic, ecumenical Good such as "caring and feelings" or "bright colors and friendship" that drives the mind towards sex? Is it a childhood spent exploring a new body on the floor of the playroom in front of the TV, or is it the fantastical innocence? A play world of bright colors, no AIDS epidemic, consistently cute and cuddly personalities, and overflowing and unrejectable friendship sounds like a pretty awesome sexuality to inhabit, come to think of it. I would be in favor of such characters teaching sex ed to teens, even graphically. Who wouldn't listen to a Care Bear telling you that while you can't get pregnant from oral sex, you can still get herpes? If Rainbow Brite told me to wear a condom, you bet I'd wrap it up. Is that twisted? Maybe. But sexual role models as good and caring as Care Bears and Rainbow Brite don't come along every day, or... ever.

So, perhaps the Voltron Force is not the best place for kids to learn about sex and gender roles. Sure, the princess can drive the Blue Lion, but she is also eye candy for the rest of the team. I'm pretty sure the translations are not accurate--I'd swear Hunk makes a poorly-translated masturbation joke at her expense at one point. And I don't even want to take on the subject of Nanny. But we do see the color theme represented again (I never could figure out why their uniforms don't match the colors of their Lions).
But what I think is really interesting is the Force's street clothes. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture, but they seem to wear anything they want, even though the rest of the planet wears archaic garments, and other planets wear downright historical garb. Its a very casual feeling, whether you think about it or not. One of them is wearing a race car uniform, another a cowboy suit! It is Japanese, so perhaps there is something I'm not picking up on. But regardless, they wear loose fitting, not uniform, casual looking clothes when their not forming Voltron. This is a new thing for children's TV; clothes rarely look so natural on their wearers, instead they look as if picked to be normal, not natural.

Teddy Ruxpin--the cyborg toy culture forgot. I've spoken about his analog-robomorphic weirdness elsewhere, so instead let's focus on the oddity that is this friendly bear's tunic. It seems the cartoon was designed to look like the toy, which came equipped with a velcro shirt, as easily removable as my Figment toy. Before we start asking questions about why any child would want to force-strip a bear reading him/her a bedtime story, let's set that line of inquiry aside; it was NECESSARY to access the toy's battery and cassette compartments. But the clothing does usher in a similar feeling of casualness. In imaginary worlds populated by anthropomorphic animals, nakedness is really not a big deal. Naturally, one must be clothed or have fur--but this clothing is more representative of one's characteristic color or of a general casual nature, rather than any standards of society. Tunics: why not? If we're going to be building a giant airship, we might as well be comfortable. What are you wearing there, little child, while you watch? Pants? A skirt? That's cool, I guess. But why bother? A simple band of cloth with arm holes and convenient velcro closure is all you really need in this world. If it's not bright colors, it might as well be comfortable.

Link has the tunic thing down, and Zelda is... merely instructing him on how a belt maintains the tunic's stasis in the "down" position? ...showing him who wears the pants in the kingdom, despite who has the sword? ...simply making everyone, including Link, uncomfortable?
This picture might be a fan construction, I don't really know. Actually, the only thing I know about this show is that Link keeps trying to earn a kiss as a reward for saving the princess, and never gets it, though receiving many cold buckets of water on the head, and other such sobering dismissals. Like, a belt tightening. I guess.
Okay, what is really interesting here is that a game with a pixelated, 8-bit character spawns a animated series, which in turn makes kids want to wear tights and tunics for their Halloween costume. Of course, they were probably much more interested in the sword, but they would still suffer tights for the chance to smash ghosts with light beams in real life.

And after all, isn't that what children's programming is really about? The educational programming has its own agenda, but these sorts of sugar-cereal Saturday specials were focused on initiating play--that is, buying the toys associated with the show. Lots of shows do this, but now they are focused on things like action, or kid-centric humor, or other crap. Watch an episode of My Little Ponies, and you'll see what I mean. There is NOTHING there, no content at all. Each episode is twenty minutes of your favorite toys moving, talking, and looking beautiful on top of waterfalls and galloping down rainbows. It is meant to occur in the background, while you're playing with the toy. Perhaps it is the first shot at "interactive" programming, putting thoughts in your head while toys are in your hand. I guess Howdy Doody did the same thing in its day, but this is a whole new level of interactivity.

My rambling through the bizzare world of 80s children's programming has sort of lost its direction, and necessarily so. The post itself is getting a bit disoriented, so lets sum it up. From what we've seen, 80s cartoons bring the following to the table:

A) A disorienting, utter-fantastical world.

B) Bright, rainbow colors, increasing deorientation, and creating dazziling light patterns on the screen.

C) A wholy casual world-view, based upon abstract costumes, plot, and characterizations, doing little else than to wrap the view in a warm blanket of obliviousness.

D) Perhaps an undercurrent of prepubescent eroticism.

E) A play experience, involving a simulated feedback interaction with an actual toy object, enveloping the child into the world of play with both the toy and the media on the screen simultaneously.

All of this is very heady stuff. The toy companies probably only saw an opportunity to brand their toys, and this is why the 80s cartoon aesthetic dropped off: they just kept selling toys, without thinking why it was working. But a generation of children found their daily play opening a new dimension within their minds--a dimension of fantastical, disorientating (from the "real" world) pure play, where their imagination was reflected in their eyes and their hands simultaneously.

This imaginative, hand-eye coordination is ridiculously important. I won't go into the depths of the somatic unconscious, and I will spare you all the Freud. But let's just say this: the children lifting up Rainbow Brite's skirt and putting Raffi tapes in the Teddy Ruxpin? Ten years later, they would discover the Internet. Think it's unrelated? Think there isn't a Voltron porn out there on the Internet, somewhere?

I don't know if all of that is inherent in Figment's shirt. I actually never watched the TV show based on the character, though I did love the ride at the park, but mostly because I liked the stuffed dragon. But the shirt is bright, bright yellow. Why?

I can say this: during the same time period, I had an imaginary friend who was a dragon. I invented this imaginary friend's death, including staging a funeral for him. I also used to play while watching TV. A lot. Now I listen to music, blog, and read the news and philosophize all at the same time.

Go ahead, watch a few episodes of Rainbow Brite. Better yet, do something else while its on. See how it feels.


A Econo-Chorus Line

Just in case you thought I was talking out of my ass, here are some others who think the same thing (republished from the illustrious FT Alphaville, because I gather most of my readers don't frequent the econ blog circuit--though why I do, is anybody's guess):

ps. I especially appreciated the Naked Capitalism post, because she seems just as irritated as I am.


The Geithner plan — what the pundits say

It’s not pretty out there, if you’re a newly appointed US Treasury secretary:

Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard professor and former IMF chief economist [via Bloomberg]: The risk is that the market reaction sabotages the plan before it gets under way, forcing Geithner to change his approach in response — a position that his predecessor, Henry Paulson, frequently found himself in. That may mean the plan “may just end being an interim step” .

Paul Krugman blog, NYT: The plan deserves praise for what isn’t in it, at least as far as I can tell. There doesn’t seem to be provision for mass purchases of toxic waste at premium prices; there also doesn’t seem to be a massive “ring-fencing” guarantee against private losses on bad assets. In that sense the plan is better than what the last few weeks of leaks led us to expect.

Justin Fox, The Curious Capitalist: The main message that Geithner seemed to be trying to get across was that, while he had no big plan to solve the financial crisis in one fell swoop, he intended to proceed with more clarity and transparency than his predecessor. Which shouldn’t be too hard. [Geither] reportedly fought off efforts by others in the Administration to come up with something more crowd-pleasing today. A long slog it is, then.

Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism: I cannot recall a major US policy initiative being met with as much immediate revulsion as the so-called Geithner plan. Even the horrific TARP, which showed utter contempt for Congress and the American public was in some ways less troubling. High-handedness was the hallmark of the Bush Administration; it was only the scale and audacity of the TARP that was the stunner… As we, and increasingly others, have said, the Obama economic team is every bit as captive to Wall Street’s interests as the Bushies were. The differences increasingly look stylistic, not substantive. Treasury Secretary Geithner presented today what in essence was a plan to come up with a plan.

Kevin Logan, senior US economist at Kleinwort Benson (HT to Yves Smith): They have a plan for a plan but they don’t really have a plan. The whole proposal is so vague as to create new uncertainty, and maybe the problem is really so bad that they haven’t worked out how to solve it.

Roger Ehrenberg, Information Arbitrage: The equity market certainly bought the rumor of the bailout plan (hereafter referred to as the “Geithner Plan”), rallying like crazy over the past week on nothing but bad news across the globe. But on the day when the big news was finally expected to hit, Treasury Secretary Geithner’s release of his “comprehensive plan,” he said absolutely nothing… I had hoped for so much more coming out of a stirring victory, broad-based enthusiasm and words filled with promise and action. Instead, we’ve gotten a plan and an ideology that appears frighteningly similar to that which preceeded it, which failed miserably by any accounting. No real accountability. No real acknowledgement of the magnitude of the problem. Deeply concerned with stock market reaction today instead of where it might be in three years, five years, 10 years. This is why I’m scared out of my mind.

Felix Salmon, Portfolio: I like the symmetry here. On November 21, when Barack Obama announced that he was nominating Tim Geithner to be his Treasury secretary, the Dow rose 494 points and broke through the 8,000 barrier. On February 10, when Geithner gave his first major speech as Treasury secretary, the Dow fell 273 points and broke through the 8,000 barrier… Geithner promises unprecedented levels of transparency for the new plan. So far, all we have is talk. The markets will wait to actually see the details — and, of course, will wait for Congressional approval of all this — before they start believing.

Joe Weisenthal, ClusterStock (on Geithner’s CNBC appearance after presenting his plan):
Dear Tim (and Obama): Simply saying over and over again, words like honest and clear aren’t actually the same about being honest and clear. Has it occurred to you that it’s this kind of obfuscation — during a time when we supposedly need exceptional clarity — is contributing to the problem?

WSJ — Opinion Journal: Judging by the hissing in financial markets, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s opening act as Rescuer in Chief yesterday was a bomb. What everyone saw was Geithner at the Improv, a routine with a few good lines but a lot of material that needs more, well, practice… If the goal was to reduce uncertainty, it didn’t work. One problem is that Mr. Geithner’s proposal puts a higher priority on adding more public capital first as a source of financial stability. More public capital also comes with the risk of more public interference or control, especially with Congress looking for heads. .. This is a deterrent to more private investment, to put it mildly. But there is a great deal of private capital ready to take risks again if the Obama Treasury lays out transparent, consistent rules — and if it makes clear that its goal is to restore at the earliest possible date a healthy, privately run banking system.

So that was it? See you in eight....

It took three weeks. My limited confidence in the Obama administration is dead.

I will be the first to admit I didn't begin with much confidence. I'm highly critical of the executive branch as a constitutional entity, and also critical of federal government on a lot of points. And what's more, I'm argumentatively dismissive (putting it mildly) of liberal idealism.

So to put it right out there, I was dismayed at the way Obama ran his campaign, because while it was deeply inspiring to millions of people, and he seems like a generally intelligent fellow who will certainly be a better president than his direct Republican competition, it did not detail any sort of plans for the next four years outside of general principles.

This put me in the unfortunate historical perspective of waiting for him to fail. And not without a certain schadenfreude, either. Since from the presidential race of 2004 I have been bashing my head into the liberal wall of Bush-hate, which I of course do not disagree with, but yet I am constantly frustrated by its hopeless belief in a Democratic messiah. This is the real problem--Obama himself can't be blamed for the failure of the political populace of which he has found himself the head. If the people ever really demanded actual change, we would get it. Instead, we get posturing, because that is exactly what the people demand. If it is so important to replace Bush, than wouldn't we want someone with a clear plan emphasizing the changes, rather than a nebulous plan based on a categorical emphasis of "Change" itself? The most frustrating part was the zeal of the liberals who would claim that any left-leaning or progressive cause one might suggest is of course included in the Obama platform, because if you are interested in any particular change, Obama must be your candidate. Naturally. It became impossible to argue with these sorts of liberals, because like any messiah-followers, they attributed miracles to their leader not based on refutable facts, but on Belief itself, (a key component of the ideology of Change and Hope, by the way). So, I thought: Obama will be elected, he'll fail to change much, and then all the liberals will finally wake up from their Bush-induced fever dream, and we can get down to actual political business in this country in 2016.

This isn't to say I didn't "hope" myself. Obama's language was quite relieving and stimulating, especially after eight years of bureaucratic bullshit. Hearing him across the debate podium from McCain almost made him sound like a college professor. I could like a techno-president. And the first African-American president is probably a history-book milestone long overdue. Furthermore, I feel anyone willing to step up and try and promote progressive change deserves a chance. After all, I'm not about to run for president. Okay, Mr. Obama, let's see what you can do. Here are the keys.

This hopeful attitude ended yesterday, when simultaneously the new Democrat Senate approved the stimulus plan, and when Geithner announced the financial rescue plan. All hopes for a new day are dashed, and it will be business as usual in America for the next eight years. Which, as you might be aware, is not very good at the moment.

First--the financial plan has no real change. It is the same things the Fed has already been doing, only more of it. Yes, the credit markets are easing, so it appears it is working. But the credit markets were always the effect, not the cause. We'll see what the "stress-tests" of banks reveal, and what is done about them, but when the banking system is only surviving with massive quantitative easing and still not lending money (in other words, everyone knows it is broken) what will a stress-test show? Why would they admit the banks are insolvent now, when they have not yet? It certainly isn't as if they have a plan for insolvent banks.

Second--the reason they don't have a plan for the banks is the biggest sign that Obama is just like every other president we've ever had. They will not nationalize, until it is a complete disaster. The well publicized interview of Obama by Terry Morgan says all: we will not nationalize. Why? For two reasons: one, because the amount of money in the banks needing nationalization is too large; and two, because the American of "private capital" will not allow it.

Do you see what he is saying here? American business is BIGGER than its government. The big banks are too large, too powerful, too culturally pervasive to be nationalized. Obama has capitulated--the capitalists are running the country. It's only because the banks are so publicly unpopular right now they can force them to do anything at all--the people's hate for the banks is even greater than their hate for the government.

This is the opposite of change--this is reinforcing the power and economic system of America simply because it is big and powerful. If Obama's commitment to do what needs to be done in the name of Change was anything other than a talking point, all the banks' books would be on his desk right now. He could nationalize them. Real people--us, out here in America, are pissed about getting ripped off by the banks everyday. What do we care? Serves those investors right, who are still profiting on our losses. But he doesn't. At who's word? Who would suffer if banks were nationalized? Bankers and investors. Who would gain? Us. Business as usual, we get the shaft.

Third--tax cuts?!?!? Are you kidding? All the economists with any statistics under their belt at all are saying massive spending is the only way out. And so the Democrats are adding tax cuts and cutting spending from the bills, in order to gain Republican support that isn't showing up when the votes are counted. What part of progressive change is bargining with the opponents of change? Especially in such a crucial piece of legislation, the failure of which could cause the failure of the world economy, why would anyone seek to water down the measures with appeals to the people who caused the problem? Tax cuts from the last eight years contributed to the bubble economy, and now they are the fix? This attempt at moderation is going to drive the whole thing into the ground.

It really is disappointing, but not as much as it is depressing. From a historical perspective, twenty years down the road, it will be disappointing. But when you see the end of the world coming, and people doing nothing to stop it, everything looks pretty grim. It's going to continue this way, too. The reason I say "in eight years" is because he will obviously be re-elected. Why? "Give him more time," they'll plead. Like a true messiah, he'll be allowed to re-predict the rapture as many times as he likes. Meanwhile: what will be the next thing to be compromised? Climate change? Maybe sea levels will only come up ten feet in Manhattan. Technology initiatives? Maybe the RIAA will only be able to read half of people's emails. The enivironment? Well, I hear pandas are mating pretty regularly in captivity now, so maybe we can do the same with all the polar bears who are getting tired of swimming. Think I'm pessimistic? You're goddamn right. Call me when you see the upside.


Hey There Fair Share-Friends!

Hey, FeedBurner tells me a few of you subscribe with Google Reader.

Do you use your Shared page in Reader? Let's be Share-Friends!

If you don't use Reader, my share page is in the white box on the left margin. I guess my Share page has its own RSS feed too maybe. If you use another reader with some sort of share page thing, let's be Share-Friends too!

I like the Share page. Sometimes an article doesn't need a full blog response, sometimes just a one-liner or a hyperlink will do.

email me your contact info:

adam.rothstein (at) gmail (dot) com

From the Ashes Rise...

A fellow named 'Fuzheado' has a good Flickr stream of the destroyed CCTV building, the one burning in my post from yesterday. I would give you a taste, but its Flickr, so I can't copy a picture. Just go take a look.

It intrigued me that in this stream (and most photos currently circulating), the shots are almost entirely of the smaller structure, because of course, it is the one that burned, and the one which people want to look at. However, yesterday when I was searching for the "before" pictures of the CCTV complex in my post, the one I used was the only one I could find showing the smaller structure even a little bit, and its barely in the shot! That's because the giant loop is much more interesting and stunning in a photo--at least, until yesterday.

So isn't that interesting? In destruction, the lesser tower suddenly becomes the bigger building, at least in the networked image-verse. And since it was never used, its informational content is all that it is!--its functionality is in its ideational consumption!

BLDGBLOG would probably say something like: "The super-structural, conflagurative destruction in architectural space serves as a foundational, symbolic reconstruction in architectural time!" Except he would probably say something correct, rather than just being a jerk like me :)

As Thin as a Sheet of Paper

There was a few posts going around a couple of months ago, describing the "magic yellow dots" many printers superimpose over a printed document as sort of a digital fingerprint for the printer.

Many people got upset, feeling Big Brother was tracking them through this technology. I thought this was a little silly, because from most printed mechanisms someone can easily do forensics to determine what sort of machine was used to print it, whether it be through the ink, substrate, type, or a thousand other things. The yellow dots is actually meant to prevent counterfeiting, and there are other technologies even more active to prevent that. For example, many photocopiers with a data link will phone the US Treasury if you try to scan a bill. Really.

But the larger problem is the public conception of paper as an inert technology--that is, a piece of a paper is a blank slate not only in terms of literal printing, but metaphysically. It is somehow split off from the world of science and physiology, in which items have physical properties linking them to the rest of the world. It is therefore "impossible" to forensically track a piece of paper unless there are "Big Brother dots" embedded on it. Your thoughts have a purity of anonymity before Xerox ensnares you with their printer panopticon. But this is a ridiculous world-view, not accepting paper for what it is: a technology. One might as well assume an email to be completely anonymous because it "is electronic and therefore doesn't exist". Typically, the lack of materiality of an e-thing gave it an elusive and ethereal sense in popular metaphysics, but now this purity is reaching back to materials themselves, now supposed to be completely pure.

It could also have something to do with the ubiquity of print--getting ink on paper cheaply and in good quality requires skilled technique. But the way printed material is thrown around (and thrown away) it seems as if it grows on the tree already in a post-card, ad circular, or junk mail piece. If it so common, it couldn't be high tech, could it?

Well, in case you were still confused, and though paper (just regular, plain old paper) wasn't a technology, here are some highlights on the forefront of paper technology from Xerox R&D:

FX’ ePaper technology uses a different technology from the “standard” electrophotoretic displays. They are Photo-Addressable and should enable color - which means it could, at least in theory, be imaged on “standard” imaging devices, and not require the circuitry which make many current e-Readers so cumbersome. Although it requires electric power during the writing process, that image then remains available and the sheet of paper can be used over 10,000 times.

Security Paper is traditional paper with embedded amorphous magnetic wires around 40 microns in diameter, which work as standard paper for printing in any office device. However, special sensors can detect these coils with low-intensity oscillating magnetic fields up to 1m, thus making it possible to create “detectors” for these secure documents - either at the exit of secure buildings (similar to retail shops) or on scanners / copiers, to prevent the unauthorized duplication of such documents.

Finally, paper fingerprinting uses the pattern of the wood pulp fibers contained in standard paper sheets to store and retrieve a unique fingerprint for each paper document. This fingerprint can be used later on to detect any counterfeit or unauthorized copies, or to trace a document back to its origin.

Especially dig that security paper.


Manifesto by Josiah Warren

Manifesto Exhibition Series (8)


This piece,
Manifesto, by Josiah Warren, is a 'typical' anarchist manifesto.* Now, when I say, "typical anarchist manifesto", no doubt certain things come to mind. For starters, it seems as if "anarchist" is tied to "manifesto" in much the same way that it is still linked to "bomb-thrower" in the cultural consciousness. This linkage is a dismissive gesture, one that ignores the content by way of the form by labeling the entire thing as irrational or crazy. An "Anarchist", by cultural definition, is an angry young man with far-out political notions that are no doubt due to the same mental unbalances that give him a predilection for violence and terror. Of course, this is really not the case. Most absurdly violent persons (to the point of which they might be called "a terror") are of any political persuasion, and most likely the one that most conveniently justifies the absurd violence itself. Anarchists, on the other hand, are often factory workers, farmers, or just separatists who wish to "live and let live". On occasion they are actively political, but when so, more often than not it is in a heady, transcendental form, more akin to Thoreau than Ted Kaczynski.

It is in this vein that I call this document a typical anarchist manifesto. It is sensible, well-written and thought-out, and as such, it seems that it was largely ignored. There are a few aspects of its writing to which I wish to draw attention.

The piece is decidedly in the first person. There is a voice of individual authority in the document, which is a feature that would stand as a symbol of the "irrational" to most engaged in the firm tradition of "reasoning", in which thoughts are supposed to be objective, and therefore decidedly impersonal.

In addition to the power that this voice gives to the argument, the particular specifics of which I won't touch at this time, the first person gives a more direct element to the argument by placing it in the context not only of a political tradition, but also in the immediate context of the author, being himself a human being, not just words on a page. Written in 1841, the essay has been given the sub-title, "A Rare and Interesting Document". This sets the tone almost immediately, because a political manifesto in this time is hardly a rare document, and to call it such is a bit of subtle irony that also highlights the "interesting" nature of the piece. In the first line, Warren presents this document as a personal refutation of what others might think of him. Is a personal apologia really a rare and interesting document, in any time or place? But in the same sense that he is inscribing just one more, "typical anarchist manifesto", Warren is also writing his heart onto the page, for he is an anarchist, and places the values and personal mind of the Individual most highly, in fact, above any other system of rule or reasoning. In the same way that we have a profusion of very "personal" blogs in this day and age, to the point where the number diminishes the raw power of that first person voice by burying the individual in the horde, perhaps Warren felt the same, a publisher of political tracts gaining no traction for himself whatsoever. But this does not stop the bloggers, nor did it stop Warren. Perhaps it is this irony of authoring a personal document in the face of impersonal mass of political representations or other narratives that gives such a form its distinct, immediate presence. If Warren's manifesto was not decidedly common and indistiguishiable, perhaps it would not be so rare and interesting.

His arugment is rational, cool, and measured. In good anarchist fashion, he says at the close: "
I decline all noisy, wordy, confused, and personal controversies. This subject is presented for calm study and honest enquiry; and, after having placed it (as I intend to do) fairly before the public, shall leave it to be estimated by each individual according to the particular measure of understanding, and shall offer no violence to his individuality by any attempt to restrain, or to urge him beyond it." But the personal element of his first person authorship in carried into the argument, not only by the aspect that the Individual plays in his theory, but in the literal production of the manifesto. This is not just the concept of "Equitible Commerce" that Warren expounds, leading one to the rising theories of Marx during the time period on the subject of the abstraction of the individual via production. It is far simpler than that.

At the end of this reproduction of his manifesto, there is a note saying that the original was published on Warren's own press, and furthermore, one that he built himself. And then there is this:

"Public influence is the real government of the world. Printing makes this governing power; therefore, among the preparations for the general introduction of these subjects are a simplification of printing and printing apparatus which brings this mighty power to the fireside and within the capacities of almost any one of either sex who may choose to use it; thus is this and every other subject of real reformation rendered independent of the common press whose conductors are generally too much absorbed or too much interested in things as they are, too much under public influence or too superficial in their habits of thinking to do this subject justice in its commencement."

I don't want to extrapolate too much about what was in a man's mind over one-hundred and forty years ago. However, I think we can see a clear motivation here to practice what one preaches by publishing what and how one preaches. To include both these items in a "rare and interesting" manifesto seems to say that what is rare and interesting about it is not that it is a manifesto, or that it argues for a particular political point. It is that the individuality that leads Warren to Anarchism is the same that leads him to composing and publishing his manifesto--and this is rare and interesting. In a situation of Equitible Commerce, perhaps it would not be so rare. But for Warren and for us, the interesting part is that the fiery passion of his manifesto is not in the language and its ideas, but in the very will to write and publish despite the fact that he might have no readers or nothing new to say.

This, as I see it, is the fundamental characteristic of manifestos. Apart from what is said, when, or by whom, someone felt the need to write and publish it. Today we are in a new day of publishing, in which the productive power necessary to put one's thoughts out to a readership is almost nil. Despite the anonymity that digital publishing may necessarily include, there is no shortage of manifestos being written and published every day. We still have many rare and interesting things to say, and this is more important than who might read them.

*It is perhaps in some ways inaccurate to label it as a typical manifesto, because Josiah Warren was one of the first anarchists, and as such, there are no manifestos preceding his by which his would be labeled as proceeding according to the type. However, it is prototypical and archetypal in its argument, which now is a most defined type. So, other than its primacy, its status as first in a long line of anarchist statements does not really distinguish its form, in and of itself.

Manifesto [A Rare And Interesting Document]

An impression has gone abroad that I am engaged in forming societies. This is a very great mistake, which I feel bound to correct.

Those who have heard or read anything from me on the subject, know that one of the principal points insisted on is, the forming of societies or any other artificial combinations IS the first, greatest, and most fatal mistake ever committed by legislators and by reformers. That all these combinations require the surrender of the natural sovereignty of the INDIVIDUAL over her or his person, time, property and responsibilities, to the government of the combination. That this tends to prostrate the individual-To reduce him to a mere piece of a machine; involving others in responsibility for his acts, and being involved in responsibilities for the acts and sentiments of his associates; he lives & acts, without proper control over his own affairs, without certainty as to the results of his actions, and almost without brains that he dares to use on his own account; and consequently never realizes the great objects for which society is professedly formed.

Some portion, at least, of those who have attended the public meetings, know that EQUITABLE COMMERCE is founded on a principle exactly opposite to combination; this principle may be called that of Individuality. It leaves every one in undisturbed possession of his or her natural and proper sovereignty over its own person, time, property and responsibilities; & no one is acquired or expected to surrender any "portion" of his natural liberty by joining any society whatever; nor to become in any way responsible for the acts or sentiments of any one but himself; nor is there any arrangement by which even the whole body can exercise any government over the person, time property or responsibility of a single individual.

Combinations and all the institutions built upon them are the inventions of Man; and consequently, partake of more or less of man's shortsightedness and other imperfections; while EQUITABLE COMMERCE is a simple development of principles, which, although new to the public, are as old as the creation, and will be as durable.

This understanding is very natural; because, all attempts at radical reformation known to have been founded on combinations; the failure of all these has destroyed confidence, and the public, not being aware of any other principle, conclude that this is another proposal of the same kind and must fail like the rest. I respect their judgment and believe with them, that every attempt to improve their social condition by the formation of societies or any artificial combination (however ingeniously devised, however purely intended or honestly conducted,) must and will defeat their own objects and disappoint all who are engaged in them.

The failure of the experiments on the community system in New Harmony during the two years trial from 1825 to 1827, sufficiently proved this to my mind, & led to the conviction that the process of combination is not capable of working out the great objects of society; but, the opposite principle, that of Individuality and the process of DISCONNECTION,* after much close and severe investigation *The great principle of human elevation was perceived to be the SOVEREIGNTY OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL over his or her Person and Time and Property and Responsibilities. That this was impracticable where these were connected. DISCONNECTION, or Individualisation of these, therefore, appeared to be the process required. A habitual respect to this Individual Sovereignty, it was perceived, would constitute EQUITABLE moral commerce. The question then arose, how could this complete sovereignty of the individual over its own time and property be preserved through the process of exchanging them in the pecuniary commerce of society? This great point was settled by the idea of time for time, or Labor were found to possess or to lead to all the redeeming and regenerating powers necessary for the complete solution of the great social problem.-Indeed they appeared to promise too much to believe, too much hope; so much, that the discoverer (if we must so call him) dare not communicate his thoughts to his intimate acquaintances for fear of being accounted insane. His only course, therefore, was to prove everything in PRACTICE previously to bringing it before the public.

A whole new course of investigations and experiments were then commenced; the first of which was the "Time Store" in Cincinnati which was opened in May, 1827. This was conducted three years, when it was wound up for the purpose of carrying the principles into all the commerce of life; and the interval between that time and the present has been employed (as far as private circumstances would permit) either in further developments or in preparation for them.
for Labor-DISCONNECTING all natural wealth from labor each pricing his own by what it Costs him; but not overstepping the natural bounds of his individuality by setting a price on the Value of his article or labor to the receiver of it. The DISCONNECTION of Cost from Value laid the foundation of Equitable pecuniary Commerce. This new commerce required a circulating medium DISCONNECTED from money of all kinds, and representing Labor only; and thus the laborer becomes EMANCIPATED from money and tyranny.

The principles have been applied to the management and education of children, which go to show the radical mistake and the great cause of defeat on this important subject.

The principles have also been applied to the purchase and sale of land & almost all other kinds of property, and to the interchange of almost all kinds of labor including that of merchants, lawyers, physicians, teachers, the conductor of a boarding house, etc., through every step of which, the sovereignty of the individual was strictly preserved and invariably respected. No legislation of any description assumed control over the individual in any case whatsoever; and such was the complete individuality of action that hundreds dealt at the Time Store without understanding much of its principles or its objects; but they perceived that it was their interest to do so, thus demonstrating that the business of the community can be brought into this condition by a natural and irresistible process; without combination, without organisation, without laws, without government, without the surrender of any "portion" of the natural liberty of the individual; demonstrating also that reformation need not wait till the world becomes learned: but the practical operation constitutes a process of re-education which no one can estimate without experience, and which the learned are most backward in acquiring.

Such, too has been the complete individuality of action throughout all the experiments that although hundreds have taken some part in them, they are in no way distinguished as a sect, a party or a society; the public in general do not and will not know them; excepting so far as each individual chooses to identify himself or herself with these principles.

Public influence is the real government of the world. Printing makes this governing power; therefore, among the preparations for the general introduction of these subjects are a simplification of printing and printing apparatus which brings this mighty power to the fireside and within the capacities of almost any one of either sex who may choose to use it; thus is this and every other subject of real reformation rendered independent of the common press whose conductors are generally too much absorbed or too much interested in things as they are, too much under public influence or too superficial in their habits of thinking to do this subject justice in its commencement.

The experiments and preparations are now concluded, and the results are on record or in the possession of living witnesses, and are now becoming the groundwork of practical operations in this neighborhood. Those who wish to become acquainted with the subject can obtain the particulars at the public meetings or by reading THE EQUITABLE COMMERCE GAZETTE which is to be published for this purpose; but the following are some of the most prominent features of EQUITABLE COMMERCE.

It goes to establish a just and permanent principle of trade which puts an end to all serious fluctuations in prices and consequently, to all the insecurity and ruin which these fluctuations produce; and to build up those who are already ruined.

It tends to put a stop to all kinds of speculation.

It has a sound and rational circulating medium, a real and definite representative of wealth. It is based exclusively on labor as the only legitimate capital. This circulating medium has a natural tendency to lessen by degrees the value and the use of money, and finally to render it powerless; and consequently to sweep away all the crushing masses of fraud, iniquity, cruelty, corruption and imposition that are built upon it.

The circulating medium being issued only by those who labor, they would suddenly become invested with all the wealth and all the power; and those who did not labor, be they ever so rich now, would as suddenly become poor and powerless.

It opens the way to employment for those who want it, by simple arrangement which has a natural tendency to keep the supply in rational proportion to the demand.

It solves the great and difficult problem of machinery against labor. On this principle, in proportion as machinery throws workmen out of employment, it works for them; and the way is always open to a new employment, as equitable commerce abolishes profit on mystery, disregards the customary apprenticeships and brings all kinds of knowledge within the reach of those who want it.

The necessity of every one paying in his own labor for what he consumes, affords the only legitimate and effectual check to excessive luxury, which has so often ruined individuals, states and empires; and which has now brought almost universal bankruptcy upon us.

Equitable commerce furnishes no offices to be filled by the ambitious and aspiring, no possible chance for the elevation of some over the persons or property of others; there is, therefore, no temptation here for such persons; and they will not be found among the first to adopt EQUITABLE COMMERCE. It appeals, first, to the most oppressed, the humble, the down-trodden, & will first be adopted by them and by those who have no wish to live upon others, and by those whether among the rich or poor whose superior moral or intellectual qualities enable them to appreciate some of the unspeakable blessings that would result from such a state of human existence.

These are some of the most prominent features of EQUITABLE COMMERCE; and will be perceived that they are precisely the features which a great, redeeming revolution ought to possess: but they are so extraordinary, so out of the common course and current of things that they will be denounced by some as visionary and impracticable. I am prepared for all this, and I am also prepared to prove that all the most important applications of the principles HAVE BEEN made; and have proved themselves sound beyond all successful contradictions; and to show that upon these principles, it is perfectly practicable for almost any person to begin at once to enjoy some of the advantages herein set forth; and by degrees to emancipate himself or herself from the crushing iniquity and suffering of (what is called) civilized society; and this without joining any society or in any other way surrendering any "portion" of his or her natural and "inalienable" sovereignty over their person, time or property, and without becoming in any way responsible for the act or sentiments of others who may be transacting business on these principles. JOSIAH WARREN New Harmony, Nov. 27, 1841.

It has now become a very common sentiment, that there is some deep and radical wrong somewhere, and that legislators have proved themselves incapable of discovering, or, of remedying it.

With all due deference to other judgments, I have undertaken to point out what seems to constitute this wrong and its natural, legitimate and efficient remedies; and shall continue to do so wherever and whenever the subject receives that attention and respect to which its unspeakable importance appears to entitle it; and it is hoped that some, who are capable of correct reasoning will undertake to investigate, and, (if, they can find a motive,) to oppose EQUITABLE COMMERCE; and thereby discover and expose the utter imbecility-the surprising weakness of any opposition that can be brought against it. Opposition, in order to be noticed must be confined to this subject, and its natural tendencies: DISCONNECTED with all others, and all merely personal considerations.

I decline all noisy, wordy, confused, and personal controversies. This subject is presented for calm study and honest enquiry; and, after having placed it (as I intend to do) fairly before the public, shall leave it to be estimated by each individual according to the particular measure of understanding, and shall offer no violence to his individuality by any attempt to restrain, or to urge him beyond it.


Here on Welcome to the Interdome, we're trying something new: a curated blog exhibition. There are many blogs that treat themselves as an ongoing exhibition of any number of topics. Welcome to the Interdome largely follows the interests of its author, wherever that may lead. But, for the next series of twenty-or-so posts (in hopefully quick succession) we're going to showcase some various manifestos found around the Internet. They are not comprehensive, not even representative of the full-breath of material that exists. But, they each represent something interesting about the form, and will be accompanied by curated comments. None of the manifestos posted are posted with explicit permission. They are all found published on the web, free for any to read, and links will be provided to the original location. I am showing them out of the original context here, to first analyze the content. Then, one may proceed to the original site to look at other interesting things like host site, format, font, pictures, and other available materials. We invite you to read, and to comment if you like. If you want to or have written your own manifesto, send it along! If it's interesting/funny/different we'll through it up there. If at any time you want to see the full exhibit, click the tag "Manifestos Exhibition", below. That should take you to all the relevant exhibits, that all have the same tag. The preamble to the exhibition can be found here. Enjoy!

Manifestos: Nuts and Bolts

The Manifesto Exhibition Series (Part Two, over a period of time)

The Manifesto series has been on hold. Actually, I had these two posts written, and was waiting to finish the others, but they are looking slow in coming, because this is how a blog works. So rather than hold them back, here they are. The rest to follow as they will.

In the first half of the Manifesto Exhibition, we looked at a variety of manifestos, but mostly from a wholistic angle. That is to say: with my choices and my comments, I sought to direct attention towards how the overall document might be perceived in relation to its motivations, its author(s), and any goals it may have.

For the second half I'm picking a different set of manifestos, which on the whole are not very different in form. There are many manifestos: angry, theoretical, semi-serious, or completely ironic (or not?) With each selection I wish to highlight one of the more literary aspects of the example. Not a quintessential trait of manifestos precisely, but something specific that gives the piece its particular character within the genre of manifestos. What works in one does not work in another, necessarily, and what strikes a tone in a certain essay may be used for opposite effect by others.

We'll get into the specifics as we progress, of course. But, the main point I want to draw as I round out our series is that is authorship, thesis, and intent are not the only important features in a manifesto. Each one is a piece of literature in its own place, and therefore there are literary elements and idiosyncrasies that carry it through. One might appreciate these pieces of writing not only by way of the author(s) and his/her/their ideas, but also in the way they proceeded when embarking on the road that drove them to put pen to paper (as it may or may not be), and what caused them to head towards that monolith: manifesto.

Crazy looking buildings die every day...

Then: (the future)

Now: (the past)

It's the stubby part burning, not the arch, btw.

The Horror of Genres (late 80s edition)

Some of those in the know like to refer to severely conceptual architecture as "architectural fiction". So, file this under, "Fictious-Arcitectural-Fiction":

"These drawings were made—in Hollywood and Pinewood Studios, England—for a movie that was never made. The movie called Alien3 that was made and seen around the world was conceived and directed by David Fincher, and is notable for it’s unremarkable sets and its unrelenting grimness. The movie I made designs for was directed by Vincent Ward, but ended in its early stages, when he left the project.

The story of the Ward movie was radically different, though it deployed the same basic characters, in that the setting was a religious colony that had escaped the earth and inhabited an abandoned commercial facility deep in space. They had adopted a Medieval way of life, without electricity or modern technology. The Ripley-Alien drama was to be played out inside this crumbling, artificial world. Under Ward’s direction, this would have become something highly original, a movie in which the architecture would have had a central part."

The original Alien, in my conception, spawns a new genre of SF called, "SF Horror", (carrying on by such films as Event Horizon, for example) in an aesthetic (while we are genre-fying like nobody's business) I would title "techni-organo-gothic" (you can just shoot me now).

Obviously, if this potential third movie had been made, techni-organo-gothic would not be my categorical fantasy, but an actual term, and there would be discussion lists, blog-rings, and fetish porn for "Toggers" who dreamed of going into space, colonizing other worlds, and becoming infected with apocalyptic parasites.

So, like, too bad and stuff.


Amazing People Die Every Day

Skinny Jeans are for poseurs.

Photo by Ann Summa, used completely and utterly without permission. More of her great pictures of punk are at her website.


Embedded Linx

I came across this game on some of the architectural blogs: pairing up architecture with representative music. (See list at the bottom for the other players).

Now, I know next to nothing about architecture, but the game of pairing music with things is too good not to play. So instead of picking examples of various architecture movements, which would be silly for me to even attempt, I chose places in New York City. This is something I do know something about, and place is certainly representative of the aesthetics of space in a big way, if a bit more of a milieu, rather than positive design.

Anyway, here we go! Welcome to New York! (more esoteric bullshit will certainly follow in later posts.)



Tribe Called Quest (Watch at the same time if you can.)


Times Square


Coltrane (I wrote an essay about this once.)




Velvet Underground (if you want to talk about architecture, listen to the song with headphones. Take one headphone off. Put it back on. Take the other one off. Put it back on. Repeat.)


Canal Street, Manhattan Bridge


Eric B. and Rakim (its cliche to talk about hip-hop and 'the streets', but New York streets, the actual physical streets, are something else. If you listen to hip-hop and pound the pavement, you totally know what I mean.)


The Bowery

The Ramones (what's a bigger cultural force? Punk or hip-hop? Both born in NYC.)



Modern Romance (what's old is new. What's lame is hip again. Damn it, brooklyn.)

Original posters, and originators of the game:

"Nasty, Brutalist and Short": this
"Fantastic Journal": one, two, and three
"Mockitecture": aay, bee, and see


I've been reading a lot of publishing blogs lately, and the blogs of writers interested in publishing, and web 2.0 sites about do-it-yourself publishing, and angry blog comments about publishers and publishing.

And I work for a printer. And I write.

Because of these factors, I have been thinking about the future of printing and publishing to an fairly intense degree of late. So please excuse if the following essay makes the issues seem perhaps more dire than they might be the average person. I am, you might say, in the cognitive "thick" of it right now.

But, if you are in any way engaged with any of those categories listed above, then you might want to listen, because I think this is important for all of us.

The POD (print-on-demand) model is fucked. IT IS A REALLY BAD THING. I am saying this because it is one of the models towards which the printers, publishers, and writers are now drunkenly stumbling towards, hand in hand in hand.

I KNOW: it sounds great for many reasons. The writers can avoid the brutal publishing hierarchy, which is looking more and more like a reality show. The printers can utilize new digital printing technology to make money off short-run jobs, gaining a brand new customer base. And publishers can pick up books that have already been test marketed, more or less getting their prototyping for free.

It seems like everybody wins. But everybody is losing.

HERE'S WHY: the only thing this model is doing in putting words into print. I know, I know: 'but isn't that the point?'

NO: the point is distributing literature.

Distributing literature certainly encompasses many of the features of the POD model. For literature to be distributed, books must be actually made. Right? Well, at least in the old days.

Makin' books is less than half the battle. Let's sum up the steps to Distributing Literature:

1. Author, over a period of time, somehow produces a manuscript.
2. The manuscript must be edited. Must be edited.
3. From all the manuscripts which exist, some should be destroyed. A few should eventually be published.
4. The manuscript must be transformed into a print-ready document.
5. The document must be printed on paper (or on "e-"), and bound into a volume.
6. The volume must now be given, sold, lent, or forced upon a reader.

In the old days, the author took care of #1, the publisher handled #2-4, the printer did #5, and the distributor did #6. Under the POD model, the author is now responsible for #1-3 or 4, the printer/publisher combine for #4 and 5, and the baton is handed back to the author for #6, with the combine taking a cut (usually). Or a publisher can step in afterward, picking up #6 or starting the whole process over if they wish.

The most obvious problem is authors are, by themselves, not capable of anything other than #1. Perhaps they can use the Internet to work on #6, but #2 and 3, forget it.

But perhaps more seriously, the printer/publisher combine is certainly not interested in #2 and #3 in the slightest. The model works on the fact that the more authors they have lining up, the more profit they stand to make. What they've done is figured out a way to pimp short-runs together into a money-making harem, able to make up the quantity they are unable to sell through old-school published books via a dearth of authors, simply falling over themselves to pay to get into print.

And this is hardly the only problem. What do authors know about #5? Book quality? I'm not saying that POD is necessarily garbage. But how many POD authors choose hard-backing? Acid-free paper? A good binding? These customers want "book in print". The rest is details.

But then comes the real bomb. #6.

I'm not saying publishers have brilliant marketing strategies. Clearly, times have shown this requires as much work as anything. But what, if anything, can one learn about a book from a blog? From Twitter? These are free, and pretty brilliant free products at that. But it is only so much free junk mail, piling up with the rest of the folks trying to hype themselves in the big Internet hype pool. Yes, particularly buoyant books have floated to the top. But look at the detrius, sinking to the ocean floor!

And where do these darlings of POD end up?


The fucking Walmart of books. This is the part that really gets me. POD is being hyped as DIY, but all of these folks so stoked about "making my own book" are then turning around and giving most of the profit to the internet behemoth killing off your local book store. You sell your book from your blog, you use Pay Pal. You sell it with iUniverse or one of the others, and you use Amazon. Maybe you print off fifty extra copies and take them to consign at your local shop. Maybe they take you, maybe they don't. Maybe you sell a few, maybe you don't. But you know most of your sales are going to come online, where you're doing your real hype. And the reason is, your local bookshop still cares about literature. They stock the books they like (and maybe a few vampire ones) because they think they're still distributing literature. Maybe soon they will realize they need to jump on board the hype machine and move product, so they will listen to the Amazon reviews and comb the blogs, and maybe even start a web site of their own. But under the POD model, the local booksellers are the only ones still thinking of books as literature, and not crap to be pushed out to whomever will take them. And they're the ones who are going to catch it in the face when the distribution network for actual literature dries up.

I'm not a proponent of the old days. I'm not going to tell you a book is the doorway to the immaculate soul, and ask you to burn your e-reader and tattoo your library card number on your forehead (but really, please do this). I'm also not attempting to morally sway people. I know folks will still do POD because they want to see their work in print, and love ordering things online. But if the art of distributing literature is to be saved at all, we cannot rely on POD. We, the authors, as the base of pillar, have to stand up and reform this industry.

Here are some things I would stand behind:

Actual DIY
: If you want to see your work in print, and want to push it through yourself, do it yourself. Find out the production in each step--typesetting, printing, cutting, and binding. I work for a small print shop, and I can tell you if you priced out the job right you could do it as cheap yourself as any POD plant. Or hand bind it! It's not that hard. I did my novella. Only thing I paid for was paper, toner, and cutting (which I actually did myself, but at work). By jumping into the product that is POD, you are the customer, not the seller. And making "getting into print" a commodity does not benefit us.

More than paperback: The POD model seems set up almost universally around the the 4-5" x 6-7" soft cover, perfect-bound book (although I understand there are companies who specialize in typical comic formats as well, and of course, photography books). This is because it is formulaic, easy to run and reproduce, and in the mind of the customer, the authors, it "looks like a real book". This is because it also worked well for big publishers in the "run and reproduce" category, it is sells as a trade paperback. But if the means of production are going to evolve for literature, its finally form will probably change as well. There are many cheaper alternatives, which are just as readable, and just as nice. They also have the potential to distinguish your book from the rest. Chap-books, fold-outs, unconventional sizes, hand-made cloth bindings, tape bindings or other sorts of bindings might work well for your piece, and are often cheaper or easily done yourself with a little bit of hand work. It's time to think about our books creatively, not just trying squeeze our book into the mold the POD crowd is looking to sell. Writing a cookbook? Think about a coil binding. Poetry, or unconventional novel? Try getting your sheets cut to size, then add your own pull out pages and invest in a heavy stapler for the binding (you can even get colored staples these days). Put the craft back in bookmaking. It could be what makes your book loved. (Or think about what a "hand-bound by the author" copy of your first novel will go for on eBay once you've won a Pulitzer... that's what I do. :)

New Publishing: The thing that we have to figure out as authors, is how to take care of steps #2, 3, and 6. Without these, we are flooding a struggling marketplace with crap, and that is a sure way to destroy demand completely. My idea is simple: don't go it alone! POD is dividing and destroying us. We were already set against each other by the competition of the publishing market. And now we are a mob, lining up at the edge of the Internet to throw our books (and our money) into the murky depths. Join the Syndicate! If you're an author, you know other authors! Get together, and edit and proof each others work. Then, split print costs among yourselves. Or do the POD, but make sure you handle steps #2, 3 and 6 yourself, with due diligence! BE BRUTAL with steps 2 and 3. Hurt your friends feelings--save literature. It's the only thing that will save us as authors. Print on your own demand. Then, work the marketing strategies together. Form your own imprint. Some of the greatest publishing entities in history were formed by authors and literature critics themselves, and the costs necessary have never been lower. Don't whore yourself to POD and Amazon any longer. Join us! (Or don't join me, make your own damn imprint!)

The Internet
: The Internet is great. The best part about it is it can be run by the users. Why be part of the POD/swill combine? Why join the Amazon mob? Why give your work to another company that will only do what you could have done yourself? Experiment with new marketing strategies, don't just flood Twitter and the message boards (see above). Produce your own audio books. Make your own e-books, in non-DRM format. Produce your own video game! It's the Internet, man!

The good thing about authors is there are tons of us, and we care. If we only wanted to be famous, we would be buying turntables, or guitars, something else. We care about literature. And luckily, we are the ones who control the production. Now we just need to push that care from the bottom on up.