Porn Presidency

Posted: October 17, 2016 in Randomness

Hillary Clinton truly loves to go after Trump for being a misogynist. But let’s take a look at Clinton family politics with a little bit of, lets say, what’s good for the goose is good for the Bill. Back when we had a Clinton as President he bragged about his economic growth policies that left us with a budget surplus rather than the nearly 20 Trillion dollar deficit we now have.

“Information technology only includes 8 percent of our employment, but now it counts for a third of our economic growth — along with jobs that pay, by the way, about 80 percent above the private sector average.” Bill Clinton, 2000 State of the Union Address

What Bill failed to mention in his little braggadocio moment of economic growth and prosperity was something we now know as not only a cultural phenomenon but it’s emblazoned into the historical origins of the Internet it’self; The Internet is for Porn. Even today, over 12% of all websites are still pornographic. 42.7% of internet users view porn consuming 35% of all internet bandwidth by over 70 million people per month.

In the late 90’s, very little commerce existed on the Internet except for porn. In the adult industry there were fewer than 2500 adult film titles produced every year. Now there are over 20,000 yearly.  It was a bubble in the billions. US Census bureau records from those years show that the industry generated over $2.5b billion in new revenue year after year according to Forms and accounted for 80% of the growth of the Internet itself. Now that industry is over 4.5 billion in the US alone and quickly approaching $100 billion globally with every single media company having cached in on the impossible to resist market, including Disney. In the past decade, 80% of porn consumption has become free with technology companies transitioning to selling data in order to capitalize on the low/free cost of porn and it now drives 89% of US data consumption.

In other words, Clinton credited the success of his presidency, the prosperity of our country on the rapid, global expansion of porn. Together with the “Father of the Internet”, Clinton’s V.P., Al Gore, the Clinton presidency really should be known as the Porn Presidency. It was the key milestone of the economic success of the country, his presidency and ultimately our entire current economy.

Now what was it that Hillary had to say about what she has done for women?

I find it personally laughable that anyone by the name of Clinton would criticize anyone for how they treat women and simultaneously attack the spouse of a political opponent for having worked in the milder side of adult entertainment (artistic nude modeling). After all, it’s all thanks to her husband and her efforts during his presidency.

So thank you Clinton for porn! At least we have something for free to entertain those who don’t have jobs thanks to to NAFTA; if they can pay their cell phone bills.

When I first started playing Starcraft, a long time ago, in a version far, far away, there was a very distinct division between Arcade games, PC games and home systems. One of those distinctions was that most PC games were not multi-player. Real-time strategy games were often slow, clumsy and lacked even the most remote sense of game balance. PC games had a lot of competition with actual arcades for play time by their users and multi-player games were few and far between. Consoles dominated the multi-player space and when your friends came over, you played the console.

Then came Starcraft with it’s peer-to-peer (cough) modem connections and it’s LAN mode which let you connect up to eight players at once. What made it, in my opinion, deserving of the popularity it received was it’s Spawning Mode which allowed players to install the full game on any number of computers and play with up to eight people on a local network. The sheer number of LAN parties that this game created was astounding. The most ingenious rigs were devised to house, transport and connect eight bulky desktops and the room heaters we used to call monitors. Needless to say Spawning mode was what made sharing this unique little game with your friends as easy as it could have been in those days.

When Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty came on the scene, I was excited to play it and like before, to share it with friends. Because as we all know, there’s no greater gamer pleasure than actually being able to see the look on your friends face after mass zerging them or dodging the flying corn-dogs across the room because of your cannon rush cheese. Ultimately however, I was extremely disappointed to find out that this all important feature of one of the most successful games in PC history had been left in the past like the Cathode Ray Tube monitors we used to play them on. No spawning, no free game, no LAN party. I logged in, played online, told my friends on Battle.net that they should try it out, played with the few that bothered getting the game and sulked in a silent satisfaction for my enjoyment of this game.

Blizzard however had it’s own expansion in mind and eventually, as if to honor the loving memory fans had of this former feature, they launched Spawning Mode. Yes, you could give a Starcraft II: Starter Edition to your friends but it wasn’t like it was before. It was an extremely limited edition of the game with access to only one race, maps and ultimately the user experience just seemed to be stopped just short of victory like a Zealot thwarted by a Supply Depot.

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty has a fantastic campaign mode and a great expansion (Heart of the Swarm) and it’s definitely worth paying for. It even comes with an arcade of thousands of mod games developed by the community that didn’t exist in the original Starcraft. Problem was, that stupid Supply Depot block that kept players at bay, helplessly running in circles looking for something to attack but being unable to actually get beyond that wall. All those great features that nobody knows about because unlike the early days, there’s a lot more competition in the market and a lot more easier places to get your game on for free.

That’s all about to change because Blizzard finally had the sense to go all-in on the free multi-player aspects of the game like they did before. So that Supply Depot gets lowered and Blizzard announces not only are they opening the Starcraft II: Starter Edition to include all three races for multi-player games for free, they opened the arcade for free as well. It seems somebody at Blizzard missed the spawning mode like I did, so much so that they have even re-released the infamous Big Game Hunters money map along with a whole new set of modding tools to make modding maps, custom arcade games so powerful that it’s potential as a game architecture itself is, well, like a maxed out army running across the map for a base race.

So if you, like me, used to play Starcraft and you have stayed away, try checking out the latest fast, free expansion, Starcraft II: Starter Edition, invite your friends over for an old-school LAN party and warm up those corn-dogs because somebody’s gonna get rushed. For more info on the recent changes, all the new free features and the actually amazing release of the Art Tools (more on that later) for game developers check out http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/ or watch the video below.

Once upon a time, in a land without the Internet, there was a publisher and editor who worked with an artist to convey an idea not with words but with pictures. The impact of this social commentary was so powerful and important that it became interwoven into the very fabric of our national discussion on a daily basis in the form of the editorial cartoon. These cartoonists, while not necessarily achieving rock-star like fame with the public, played an equally important role to the journalists who put word to paper and informed us about the world around us. These artists gave us context, perspective and impact along with a kind of social rallying cry, that words no matter how eloquently or impactful, simply couldn’t accomplish.

Then along came the spider. As the web grew, like most everyone else, editorial cartoonists were slow to jump on the digital publishing bandwagon. They likely didn’t join MySpace, were reluctant to start using Facebook and still most don’t use Twitter or other social media networks. The fact is, this is partially due to their undying love of print media. After all, it has served them so well for so long and they owe their careers to the medium. Why abandon it now?

That little web spider got bigger and eventually gobbled up most of the Internet and as a result, we have Google and Facebook, which by all accounts, make up the vast majority of the way people find their news now. The print industry is shrinking and the digital media world is a maelstrom of chaotic information with no real editorial guidance. Yes, newspapers have gone digital and some with great popularity. Yet by and large, the cartoonists who once played an equally important role alongside their journalists counterparts have been absent in their own role to engage themselves in the digital conversation. Meanwhile another new highly enigmatic medium of expression has popped up in that void and taken hold of the new generations attention. Possibly with the result of drowning out the once prolific social status of the editorial cartoonist.

Let’s take the current events in Syria for example. As events have unfolded over the past month cartoonist began to weigh in on the issue. However, it might be that their opinions were already shaped by the greater social commentary and discussion already being had in the memeverse. Thankfully Google Trends gives some great insight into this issue. Comparing “syria cartoon” to “syria meme” over the past month, it’s becomes explicitly clear that the general audience is no longer looking for the views of editorial cartoonists as a key visual commentary on the issue but rather to the memetically inclined. Knowing this can be frustrating for those of us who not only enjoy editorial cartoons but depend on them for a living because it’s our industry. Even more frustrating is the fact that, I would guess, most cartoonists don’t even realize the window of opportunity to recapture the audience is closing rapidly.

Internally, cartoonists squabble about the journalistic ethics of re-purposing even their own work, creative laziness in repeating their own ideas or taking each other’s’ ideas, the ethical implications of copyright infringements, the declining staff cartoonist positions at newspapers and a variety of other issues that matter only to those stuck in an era bordered by black ink and grey paper. Meanwhile, in the void of their participation in the digital discussion that has drowned out national interests, propelled revolutions both in the real world and the virtual worlds, the meme generators of today have usurped the once powerful voice the cartoonists had themselves and are quickly, chaotically running roughshod over their future.

Even still, memes aren’t the only competition editorial cartoonists face. If a meme and a chart had a child it would be an infographic. The proliferation of interest into infographics rivals that of even it’s predecessors and they are getting easier to make all the while diluting both the visibility and impact that editorial cartoons have on our national political dialogue.

So here’s my own personal challenge to you great stalwarts of editorial cartooning; make a meme, put out an infographic, stretch your medium, your art, your creativity and engage in the digital conversation as if there were no such thing as a daily newspaper. If you want the art form to survive the digital tidalwave, you need to figure out how to attract the attention of my 12 year old son, who is taking a Jr. High level publishing class and being taught by a 30 something digital media junkie who has a meme poster from Philosoraptor plastered on the wall behind his desk. The new generation barely even knows how to get or buy a newspaper but they learn to use Google pretty fast.

I was reading over Daryl Cagle’s blog post today on the Lemmings and thinking about the recent controversy over in the editorial cartoon industry with the concept of cartoonists repurposing old cartoons and ideas, e.g. self-plagiarism. I noticed a large correlation between this journalistic conundrum of professionalism and the ability of cartoonists to stay relevant with one of the biggest competitive challenges cartoonists face in the industry; meme’s.

For decades long, cartoonists have enjoyed a rather non-competitive space as free thinking journalists who, for all their seemingly unique perspective, frequently come across the same metaphor when covering a story. Daryl Cagle, owner of the Cagle Cartoons, Inc. content syndicate refers to this as the “Yahtzee” of cartooning. Some examples of this are the now ubiquitous Steve Jobs memorial cartoons with his silhouette cut out of the Apple logo. Daryl’s recent blog highlights his own reuse of the “lemmings” running off a cliff, when the metaphor seems appropriate. It’s not all that uncommon that humorists and critics come to the same metaphorical conclusion when looking for the obvious. In political cartooning, it is that very aspect that has sparked the debate about whether or not that’s professional editorial journalism or simply a shortcut taken to save time and pump out more work.

While that debate seems to rage on among the very small group of professional cartoonists that are able to hang on to their ever shrinking staff jobs in an effort to avoid being cast back into the world of independent publishing and illustration, there is another force silently encroaching upon the debate that seemingly has gone unnoticed or at least unchallenged by these artistic elites; the Internet Meme.

For those of you who don’t know what a “Meme” is, the term was first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 in an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads. It is, in essence, an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. In a sense, it’s the metaphorical metaphor of a flu. To get a better idea of what a meme really is, think of some of the big ones, “Where’s the beef”, “This is your brain on drugs” were some popular meme’s around the world back before things became truly viral on the Internet. Now, thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, meme’s can become nearly pandemic in their ability to spread through the blogsphere and Internet.

This gave rise to the “Internet Meme” which, possibly, the most notable of which is simply “lol”, meaning “Laughing out loud” and with it, new words began to enter our language, much to the chagrin of our college English professors. In it’s simplicity, however, these little meme’s began to change our cultural landscape, our language and our art. As this form of speech has began to increase, it was inevitable that it was picked up by the youthful rebels of the blogsphere, a memeverse among itself, with a volcanic like explosion of meme’s pouring from it’s basement keyboards from sites like cheezeburger.com and reddit.com daily with no end in site.

So what does this all have to do with political cartoonists? If you were on Facebook or Twitter any time in the past year, you probably noticed a political cartoon or two, maybe three pass by your timeline. It’s more likely that your friends however have been sharing the unending stream of image based meme’s such as the Demotivational Posters, Lol Cats, Fail Blog, Victorian Greeting Cards or, well, the list seems nearly infinite. One of the simple problems that meme’s present is that technology has now elevated those previously without a pair of dice in the Yahtzee game to not only having the dice but being able to roll them more often.

Why do I say more often? As I said when I first started, some editorial cartoonists can and do, use common metaphors when the situation arises. It’s a time saver and it’s good for appealing to a large audience without making too sophisticated an argument for the average newsprint readers. That doesn’t mean however, that they aren’t keeping up on the issues and aren’t providing some honest journalistic insight. They do tend to be a news junkie type crowd. Along with that, they actually create, draw and produce art. This is a concept that, in this argument, is beginning to get lost because in an effort to put out good cartoons, they are now competing with the Jr. High School student with access to his free online meme generator tool.

As the old saying goes, (I wonder if this is a meme?) if you have enough monkeys all typing, eventually they would type out the works of Shakespeare. While that may actually be more of a myth than reality, the reality is, if you have enough college students, eventually they are going to come up with the same basic caption. While they may not be artists, they have tools like Google Images to find an image that accompanies their idea enough to get the point across.

As political cartoonists are challenged from within to maintain journalistic standards, their audience is both continually distracted and entertained by the lowest form of political journalism, the digital street meeme, with it’s often abrasive but effective capability to not only reach an audience but to convey the same principle messages as are found in some of the best political cartoons, one has to start asking the question; are political cartoonists losing their relevance and is that part of their own journalistic standards?

Editorial cartoons have to compete for the same audience. In order for the industry to stay alive, they have to be capable of connecting with people and in today’s world, that’s a large audience to connect with. Over the past year, the term “political cartoon” was overtaken in Google’s search by “political meme” along with the rise of the Infographics as a new player in the space of visual political journalism.

Few cartoonists have ventured into even beginning to use the common structures of political Internet Meme’s and even fewer probably understand them from the artistic or production level because they simply dismiss them. However, it’s almost like the dinosaur dismissing the humanoid for being small and insignificant. One of them survived, the other went extinct. I don’t recall having seen anyone with any scales or claws lately and I have to ask myself, if my son didn’t have a father that worked with editorial cartoons every day, would he even know what they were by the time he got into high school in just three short years?

The reality of that question is that he probably wouldn’t and that over the next few years, political meme’s are going to not only grow in prominance on the Internet, that means, eventually, it’s own idioms and style will influence the editors of print papers to a large degree as they begin to recognize that the audience they are trying to reach is looking for something different than what political cartoonists are offering.

So while cartoonists debate about whether or not it’s a professional or not to repurpose your own work or whether or not reusing the same basic cartoon, redrawing the same idea is the work of a hack or just part of the job, I think they should be asking themselves the following; am I going to be replace by a kid with an image search and a website? After all…

Meme

The Straw Man Strike

Posted: September 11, 2012 in Body Politic

As teachers go on strike in Chicago much of the public struggles to understand exactly why they are striking. After months of negotiations and large concessions made by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) over wages that would grant them potentially 16% pay raises over four years the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) seems to be holding strong into their second day of strikes over teacher evaluation policies.

Most of the press characterizes  this as a conflict between CTU wanting schools to have more local control over both how teachers are evaluated and what teachers can be hired as new positions open up by granting preference to previously laid off teachers regardless of their past performance.

No matter which side of the argument you are on, there is something far more critical at stake in this battle over benefits. According to the CTU’s report entitled, “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve: Research-based Proposals To Strengthen Elementary and Secondary Education In The Chicago Public Schools)”, a primary conclusion of the report hinges on the argument that, “Corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes”, “Taking public tax-money back from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programs and into the service of school children must be a top priority.”, and “By implementing taxes on the wealthy, we can reign in reckless speculation, encourage long-term productive investment, and decrease income inequality while bringing needed revenue to services for children and working families.”

Ultimately, they propose nearly $750,000,000 in new expenditures at a time when the current budget faces a $1,000,000,000 shortfall in 2014. How do they propose to not only cover the existing shortfall and fund the massive increase in not only one time expenditures but drastic increases in long-term commitments?

Easy, just tax the wealthy, “aggressively”.

The CTU’s entire “report” is an argument for increasing taxes on the “wealthy”, through direct redistribution of wealth, aggressive progressive taxation at a tax rate of 90% for the upper 5%, an end to corporate subsidies, implementation of a capitol gains tax, implementation of a Financial Transaction Tax on Wall Street reallocation of prison system funds to education. Those are their words, not mine.

While it’s hard to argue that students don’t deserve the educational resources, facilities and support that the CTU proposes, it’s also dishonest for teachers to strike when their very own union is not negotiating in the public trust with an honest message. It is undeniably clear that the CTU does not just believe this is a local Chicago issue as their own website states, “It’s Not Just Chicago” with a “Global Solidarity” blog designed to gain support for the very Democrat party line liberal political objectives.

Given that this is an election year and a highly contentious one at that, it’s difficult not to ask the question of whether Rahm Emanuel, who is President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, is truly negotiating in the interest of public trust or working as an insider to help inflame an issue using a false flag political tactic. All with the result of giving media attention to an issue that lends credence to liberal political arguments as well as President Obama’s reelection campaign, which is only echoed by the CTU’s positions.

Rahm Emanuel makes the perfect “straw man” in this little tale of teachers and taxes with the unique ability to elevate what seems at first to be a local issue to a national debate over progressive taxation, income inequality, social justice, race relations and class warfare. After all, how better could Obama draw both Romney and Ryan into a clear, emotional driven debate over social justice issues than to allow Rahm to put the children on the chopping block.

Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, “See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.” ~ Harry Brown,

I find it hard to believe that Rahm will find himself on the opposite end of this issue from Obama for very long and that in the end it will be very clear that they were never on the opposite side of this argument. In 2004 Bush was accused of “wagging the dog”, it looks like 2012 will be the Straw Man Strike.

Residents of Anaheim, CA are familiar with the slight smell of smoke in the air from the nightly fireworks show put on by Disneyland, famous for it’s moniker as “The happiest place on earth!” Last night however, residents were not just hearing the pop and crackle of the fireworks they were used to. It was the popcorn spattering of police gunfire in the downtown community as riot police took to the streets to disperse protesters outraged about a string of lethal police shootings in the city.

The first thing I heard was the unusually large number of helicopters. Living near the freeway on the border of Anaheim and Fullerton, I generally ignore them. I was spending time in the evening with my son and girlfriend when I started to get multiple texts from local friends asking if I was okay, which I was. I was aware of the shootings but not what had happened yesterday and over the weekend. I looked for news on local channels but as usual that’s not a very reliable source. So social media filled in the gaps very quickly.

Thanks to a friend over at Inside Fullerton it wasn’t long before I was watching the live video feed of TimCast, an amateur journalist on uStream. While KCAL9 and Telemundo reporters were on scene, they were watching from a relatively safe distance among their own personal security. Tim Pool, however, was not so timid in his reporting as he followed the protesters without the safety of being behind the police line. Ultimately, he and another social media journalist were shot at with less than lethal weapons by police, continuing to take fire after attempting to flee (adhering to the dispersal) and at one point being pinned down by gunfire unable to flee without risking injury. The story told by Tim Pool’s cast is a bit different than what you will see out of the manstream media or press.

I learned today that according to Anaheim police, over 1000 people ultimately gathered outside and inside city hall. When they were told to disperse, the crowd pushed back but gave ground. For a few hours the protest was allowed to continue but was eventually declared an unlawful assembly and ordered to disburse. The situation quickly devolved into what was immediately declared a violent protest and a riot. Angry residents who felt they had not been given a voice or opportunity to be heard by the city council were pushed out into the streets by police. Yes, they set trash cans on fire, blocked a few intersections and then there was that all too familiar sound of gunfire as police began to fire less than lethal rounds into the crowd.

While one might want to think this was a normal police action, it gives a person pause when they understand what happened just a few days prior that is conveniently excluded from most news stories on the events just following the fatal shooting of Manuel Diaz. Local residents, angry at the brutality of the shooting, expressed their outrage at the police who quickly lost control of the situation when residents began throwing water bottles. The police response to a public outcry against police brutality was itself, inexplicably brutal. Imagine police, firing indiscriminately into a crowd of men, women and children, including infants. Imagine letting a K9 loose into the crowd. This was not an orderly dispersal of an unruly crowd. It’s not something you have to imagine because it was caught on tape.

According to witnesses, a five year old girl was shot in the eye with a less than lethal round. Another young girl came forward to say that she was shot in the leg. Take that in for a moment. Are these “rioters” or are these actually children? Ask yourself what kind of mentality it takes to follow an order to fire rounds into a crowd that includes children in large numbers; in their neighborhood. This just makes no sense but it happened.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my personal and vehement outrage at the idea, much less the reality, of police opening fire into a crowd that included children much less letting a K9 loose whether it was an intentional order or not. I don’t much care if the K9 units involvement was unintentional as the police seem to have claimed or how quickly the K9 unit was restrained. You don’t use dogs on children. You don’t point guns at children.

Unless I’m mistaken, we as a society, haven’t tolerated the shooting of an unarmed man in the back, ever. Even in the 1800’s, the days of the wild west, it wasn’t legal for an officer of the law to shoot a man in the back. Those that did became outlaws themselves and often met their end at the gallows. Today, in the 21st Century, we give them paid administrative leave and far too often look the other way.

Police, yet again, attempting to disperse the crowd outside city hall on Tuesday, failed to do so without ultimately again using gunfire and it’s no surprise the protesters turned into rioters. All in all, the actual physical damage caused by the rioters was minimal with the bulk of damage to “persons and property” being done by the Police themselves. A Starbucks and a few other local businesses windows were smashed in, a few very small fires were started and a few people received minor injuries aside from those shot by the police. The Anaheim police reported that they had arrested over 24 people in relation to the riot. Some of those arrests include a few skater youth detained without much cause at the VONS late in the evening as can be seen on the TimCast archive.

While the mother of Manuel Diaz, the man shot in the back and the head by police officers, has filed a 50 million dollar lawsuit in federal court she also made statements to encourage the community to end the violence on both sides.

Sadly, this is not the beginning of this story nor is this the first time the residents of Anaheim cried out for justice against police brutality. This is the second police shooting in a week and the fifth so far this year along with a string of suicides and strange deaths occurring in Orange County jails. Anyone who has lived in Anaheim or nearby knows that racial tensions between the police and the Latino community have never been good but now they are on the verge of a complete breakdown as tensions mount over the shootings. I’ve lived in this town for over a decade and the Latino community is strong here but it is far from the happiest place on earth. Protests against police brutality in Anaheim goes far back as the 1978 Little People’s Park Riot which bares striking similarities to the incident that occurred this past Saturday when police shot into the crowd of women and children. Following the 1978 riot many changes took place in department policy but it’s fairly evident that over the years those policies have not kept in stride with the community nor helped to alleviate the racial tensions between the now dominant Lantino community of Anaheim and the Police department that is sworn to protect and serve them.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the police department to protect and serve the public; their public. Even more importantly, to protect the innocent and the law abiding residents of Anaheim and at an absolute minimum, the children within this community. What strikes me as most appalling about this entire story is that which is best said by the very children who were involved. These are, after all, the next generation of this community. No matter what happens, they deserve a strong, peaceful community and it’s up to us to make sure that they get it.

It’s difficult to say whether or not this incident and the outrage of local residents will have any impact on policy or local government here in Anaheim. However residents have their neighbors in Fullerton to draw inspiration from. After the horrifically brutal, deadly beating of Kelly Thomas, a local homeless and mentally ill man, by Fullerton police officers, Fullertonians united and took to the streets in peaceful protest forming what has now been dubbed as “Kelly’s Army”. In the end, that peaceful but outraged movement ousted the Fullerton police and city council members who failed to serve the community and sought justice for Kelly’s family. I would hope that the residents of Anaheim can draw from the example of Fullerton and rather than take their rage to the streets that they take their city back, ballot by ballot rather than block by block.

Then someday, maybe the children who live here can call it the happiest place on earth.

In 1981 William Gibson wrote his seminal short story, “Johnny Mnemonic” which was later included in his book “Burning Chrome” and adapted to the big screen in 1995 featuring none other than Keanu Reeves of The Matrix in an unsurprisingly similar role. Gibson has since been crowned the father of CyberPunk; a postmodern genre of science fiction characterized by “high tech and low life” social extremes. One of the things that made Gibson’s work so amazing was his ability to think into the seemingly not so distant and possible future of technology and geopolitical fallout with a somewhat idealistic and slightly dark perspective.

Gibson had no idea we would soon delve into a World Wide Web of digital and virtual life interconnecting each of us through information technology advances and simple, sublime but powerful tools and massively revolutionary ideas like Facebook, Twitter and the iPhone. In his story Johnny Mnemonic, the main character, stores secret information on a hard drive implanted in his brain in order to smuggle the data from one place to another as a courier because the information itself was too sensitive to be transmitted over the “Net”; Gibson’s forward thinking, virtual reality equivalent of what we now see as the Internet and an inspiration for the aforementioned, Wachowski brothers, The Matrix.

The idea that, in the real world, you could interface a human brain with a computer has often been the outer reach of science fiction writers and Gibson’s work was once the pinnacle of that idea. The evolution of that idea inspired the Wachowski brothers to create what Gibson himself said “[The matrix] is arguably the ultimate cyberpunk artifact”, as they expanded upon Gibson’s idea of not only interfacing technology with the brain but extending it to the mind by culminating their epic trilogy with the main character Neo achieving mind-over-computer abilities in his “real world”.

Even a decade ago it all seemed so very science fiction and fantasy. A decade from now, it may be more common than we ever thought possible.

Over the past few years, some advances in technology have been made that are no less than amazing as universities all over the world have tackled the “Brain Computer Interface” challenges. The results have been rapid, revolutionary, thought provoking and even in some cases a bit scary.

Scientists at the Honda Research Institute announced in 2009 that they had created a helmet to control their robot, Asimo, using EEG (electroencephalogram) technology. Though this technology wasn’t ready for commercial application at the time and had it’s problems, finding solutions to those problems was only a matter of time.

In 2011 a company called NeuroSky began selling a device to the general public$100 that uses EEG technology allowing users to control software and hardware with nothing but their mind. NeuroSky’s vision is one that is truly revolutionary thinking as they say, “We will see a day in the near future where heart attacks will be mitigated, seizures avoided, machines operated, movies edited, games controlled, REM prolonged, bullseyes scored, and lessons learned using only the power of biosensors”. So far, they’ve already started putting their ideas to work in some increasingly creative ways and one example is Necomimi, their personally controlled cat ears.

So maybe thought controlled robotic cat ears aren’t exactly the next revolutionary step in telepathic computer operation. Neurosky however, isn’t the only company making leaps and bounds in human computer interfaces using the mind. In April of 2012, professor Jose Millan of the Federal Polytechnic School in Lausanne, Switzerland demonstrated the ability to enable a paraplegic man to control a robot 60 kilometers away using EEG technology. His goals are to develop wheel chair controls, electric skin sensors for amputees with cybernetic limbs, and spinal chord implants that would allow paraplegics to walk again; possibly starting clinical trials within the next year.

With technology like this developing not only in research but in the commercial world, one has to recognize the similarity between it’s evolution and the evolution of the MP3 music format and the entrance they made to the commercial market prior to the resulting and indefinably revolutionary iPod by Apple. Technology is exploding at an astounding rate. In less than a decade, the wave of new advances in communication with smart phones and now tablets as well as social networking has changed the very landscape of not only our lives but of our politics. Through the expansion of the Internet into the Twitterverse and beyond, we see a wealth of new ideas exploding into culture best described as the memeverse where meme’s are “units of cultural information”. No one can deny the seemingly accurate and ubiquitous “There’s an app for that” which propelled Apple’s iPhone to unprecedented popularity and success, making Apple one of the largest companies in the world.

While we allow our inner child to bask in the amazement and fantasy of mind controlled robots and computers you control by thinking, actually being reality rather than fiction, there is a slightly darker side to this story that our giddy enthusiasm might tend, as a society, to overlook. We live in troubled times, both economically and politically. While our society attempts to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of technology, so does our government and many of those in government up until a few years ago didn’t understand the difference between email and text messaging let alone Twitter, Facebook or human brain computer interfaces. We can’t exactly call our elected officials Internet savvy; or can we?

In 2012 on the heals of the NDAA, which many claim is a power grab by the Executive Branch to empower the President with the ability to indefinitely detain enemies of the state without trial or their constitutionally protected right of due process, Congress presented the American people, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) which failed due to it’s obvious overreach and unpopularity followed by none other than the mother of all Orwellian cyber spy plans, CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act). CISPA proposes the sharing of Internet traffic and other digital information between the government and technology and manufacturing companies under the auspice of enabling the government to investigate cyber threats and ensure against both internal and external cyber attacks. While CISPA is threatened with a Presidential veto over the failure of the bill to adequately protect civil liberties and safeguard constitutionally protected rights, it is clearly the first round in what will likely be a long and heated debate over our real world virtual reality.

Much of the debate over CISPA focuses on aspects of people’s use of the Internet through technologies like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Facebook and even iPhone Apps. The U.S. Government is now building a $2 Billion facility that covers a mind boggling 1 million square feet with four 25,000 sq. ft. server farms as part of the “Utah Data Center” for the National Security Agency as reported by Wired Magazine. Even Orwell wasn’t this Orwellian. The simple fact that the government is trying to build a facility designed to store more information than we have a mathematical name to describe should be disturbing to say the least.

Now consider that it is practically a foregone conclusion that the EEG technology enabling computers to read your mind and thus enabling us to subsequently manipulate computers and machines is going to advance at a rapid pace. It will get smaller, faster and cheaper. It will likely even be as common as your “smart phone”, after all, what’s smarter than a phone that you can talk to? A phone that knows what you are thinking.

If you’re web enabled phone knows what you are thinking however, so will the government if the NSA has anything to say about it. Because to them, that’s just information on the Internet. It begs the question of whether or not George Orwell made the same mistake in his opus “1984” that William Gibson made in regards to underestimating the evolution of fiction to reality. After all, in his distopian world controlled by an all-powerful oligarchy, even the infamous Ministry of Truth didn’t have the ability to read your mind but the NSA in the not so far foreseeable future very well could.

Who knows, maybe Tin Foil Hats might come into fashion after all.

The Holopresence Election

Posted: April 28, 2012 in Tek

Every once in a while our society undergoes a truly revolutionary event. Most often, these revolutions go unnoticed by the majority of people until the tipping point where society experiences a subsequent event that changes life for everyone, every day. Rarely do these social events impact politics in a drastic way. Facebook, Twitter and Social Networking for example went largely ignored by the political machine until it had already become adopted by the masses of tech savvy youth marching forward like an unstoppable army sweeping over the economic landscape and changing the very facet of how people communicate. People in government rushed to understand, adopt and implement the technology before they became lost in the sea of digital information.

Imagine if you will, a world where people were not required to physically be in the presence of one another in order to have fully interactive experiences. Imagine if you will, a world where politicians could gather without traveling, where world leaders could meet in person without leaving their respective countries. A world where the United Nations could congregate without necessitating the facilities that are so costly to maintain. Imagine a presidential candidate going on tour without the cost of a bus, plane, personal security, travel accommodations and the costly staff that accompanies them.

Recently I ran across an emerging technology by CISCO that takes us one step closer to the fantastic vision of the “Holo Deck” from Star Trek and, as any great technological innovation, moves us one step further than we ever really imagined. Sometimes truth is truly stranger than fiction. This technology is the Cisco TelePresence Live Holographic Video Conferencing. In short, it enables individuals to conduct meetings using interactive holographic projections of themselves with much more continuity and realism than provided by George Lucas’s visions in Star Wars delivered by the always lovable R2D2.

As society is currently caught up in the debate of whether or not the United Media Supreme Court decision has enabled unfettered campaign contributions to corrupt our electoral and political system another breed of technology savvy political strategists are no doubt trying to figure out how they can use money smarter. Just imagine the potential for a campaign trail not centered on kissing babies and shaking hands but town hall meetings, back to back in major metropolitan centers or even simulcast in multiple places at once. The possibilities are endless and to say that they are revolutionary is almost an understatement.

It’s been a long time since the campaign trail was marked by dominance of the railroad and the caboose speeches. It’s possible that the next generation will have a completely new experience in political interaction. Only time will tell.

Posted: April 13, 2012 in Randomness

“Down & Pretty Close To Out In Grand Cayman” column on Romney went viral, check it out: http://ping.fm/0uy0Z

Recently I have started to truly evaluate what our current nationalist model truly is from an objective viewpoint rather than my own personal belief of what I was raised to believe our countries national identity is and has been. In vivid discussion with some close, personal friends whom I respect well, the issue of whether or not President Obama is a socialist inevitably comes up.

From everything I understand, Obama doesn’t believe in capitalist principles and clearly favors controlled social economic policies in contrast to free-market economic principles. He adopts a highly socialist view but at the same time retains a nationalist appeal. He has an almost cult-like leadership quality as well as a following that is devoid of an inherent understanding of facts with a very propagandized view of current events. I think there are three principle supporting arguments that not only is Obama a socialist, but that the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties are both in fact fascist socialist.

1. At a very minimum, Obama believes in mixed market economics and supports more regulation which is a form of mixed to controlled economies which by definition is socialism on an economic level. The principle belief of socialism is the belief in collective salvation, which he spoke extensively on during his campaign and first year in office. He was forced to dial back his rhetoric on this topic to avoid being alienated as a fringe Liberation Theologist. (reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0crhth_g9E
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberation_theology)

2. The illusion that he is a capitalist is because he is pro-buisiness. Now, this is where I will deviate from the typical analysis of him being a Marxist and point out that fascism is characterized by a combination of controlled (or mixed) market economics and private industry rather than a communist style (planned economy) government controlled means of production in the economy. (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_economy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism_and_ideology#Capitalis)

3. He’s also a nationalist, meaning he places his agenda on a national level rather than a globalists worldwide agenda (though some debate this and think he’s a globalist; I see no real support of this that’s credible). (reference: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/12/07/president-obama%E2%80%99s-new-model-teddy-roosevelt%E2%80%99s-new-nationalism-speech/)

Conclusion: Given those positions, that makes him a nationalist, a socialist and a fascist. That is by defacto a “national socialist”. Socialism (and fascism) has many forms and fascism is one of them. I should note, I believe he’s absolutely no different than Bush or even Romney in this respect. Now, google National Socialism and you’ll have your answer to what Obama really is, keeping in mind that specific “parties” with these idiologies have bigoted principles at their core due to “ethnic nationalism”. Being that we are an ethnically diverse nation, our brand of national socialism is likely to be xenophobic (e.g. least common minorities); hence our Red Fascism (neoconservatism) and Blue Socialism (liberalism) coalesce into National Socialism; e.g. Progressivism.
(reference: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/maguire/120402)

Progressives today are like the Nationalist Socialist Party of the 1930’s. Left unchecked, they try to rule the world through propoganda, war, tyranny and opression.