01/03/09 07:16 - 21ºF - ID#47267
The Stray Commentaries: Number One
Underemployment: Humanity Chomping at the bit
As technology advances, people with certain skills formerly in prominence find themselves unemployed, made unfortunate and obsolete by the march of machines. But, few ever consider the unfortunate problem of those whose talents have yet to find a niche at all. What would Mozart have done before the invention of the piano? What would Van Gogh have painted before the invention of vibrantly colored paints? What sort of empire would Napoleon have had without gunpowder? The world is awash in an epidemic of underemployment, talented people without a socially acceptable outlet. All over the world humans are engaged in strange practices that could one day manifest as the single edge required to reach a new historical plateau. For better or worse, humanity is chomping at the bit of its true potential for tyranny and liberty. Old Man Burroughs warned us in an essay entitled, "The Coming of The Purple Better One" that "The aggressive southern ape will block your way to space." A symbol for the conservative warmongers, the aggressive southern ape aims to use all technology as a club and block any progressive potential.
The technology currently being researched by the government of the aggressive southern ape will ensure a more complete tyranny for the future, and reduce the time required to conquer small countries to mere hours. Soldiers riding in armored, robotic exoskeletons will run at vehicle speed and be impervious to small arms fire. Linked to a centralized command that will be able to correlate their sensory inputs to adjust combat strategy in real-time, no fleshy insurgency will stand a gooey oozing bloody chance. Semi-autonomous, all-terrain robots will provide logistical support without need for roads or direct supervision. Semi-autonomous flight drones will run constant surveillance, and provide cover fire for their semi-autonomous machine gun carrying brothers. No longer suffering the weakness of human frailty, these robots will bind together the future military into a metallic force to be feared. What underemployed talent pool, you ask, lies at the heart of these robotic storm troopers of our vast future empire? The caffeine-twitchy, obese children, mashing buttons on their video game controllers are the genocide reaping soldiers of the future. Their button clicking pudgy fingers are wearing jackboots; I can hear them coming now.
No tyranny is to be without its own underground resistance force. Indeed, the future resistance will require a human capable of pursuing supply vehicles across impossible terrain. A human willing and capable to personally plant improvised explosives on the back of an armored exoskeleton, and then dodge away from the hail storm of fifty caliber rounds spewed forth from the cyborgs ammo-hopper when it explodes. The resistance will need humans able to perform feats of daring acrobatics in urban environments to avoid surveillance drones. Who, you ask, what force of underemployed supermen can perform such feats? The impressive, fit practitioners of free running will not stand for the limits placed on them by the southern ape agenda. These future soldiers of the underground will fight off the robot hordes that are the military pipe dream of the aggressive southern ape, and help to clear our way to space.
Every time a man tosses himself from the top of a building with a parachute just to enjoy the fall, the world should think, there goes another desperate spaceman looking for employment. Any business person with an office above the fiftieth floor should not be calling the police to have these thrill seekers imprisoned by the ape administration. No! Instead they should be helping to clear a way to space. The future space laborer lives in the heart and strong stomach of the BASE jumper. In the soul of the human willing to take risks for the joy of freefall lays the space faring potential of our species. We here on space station earth need to foster their semi-suicidal risk taking for the benefit of us all. But, no, says the aggressive southern ape, the unrestrained class of climber-jumpers must be understood for the real threat they pose. People seeking to upset the ape agenda with boundary pushing practices must be stopped. In the post-911 world, these insurgent threats must be shipped off, preferably to some far away Prison Island to preserve civilian calm and bring balance and mediocrity to the population.
Sarcos: Robot Exoskeleton Manufacturers
Robotic Exoskeleton Story By Ed Yeates of KSL
FutureWeapons Coverage of The Crusher Robot Vehicle
Wikipedia: Free Running
BASE jumpers who have died for the feeling of free fall
Location: Buffalo, NY
Category: explore buffalo
12/30/08 10:28 - ID#47223
One Way The Wrong Way
I am sure that I don't know any of you personally, and as such I cannot determine at what point in my life I have managed to wrong you. But, as you have made it abundantly clear to me (no less than four times) that you wish to see me flattened like a bug under the tires of your car on South Division Street in down town Buffalo, I am forced to speculate: why?
Perhaps my running theory that the people of Buffalo are in fact pseudo-Canadians has upset some secret cabal. The evidence is clear to anyone who wants to think about it. Most of us drink Canadian Beer, and of course there is our obsession with Hockey, and I have to admit that while flipping the channels on my television I, like many of you, have stopped for an hour to watch Curling for no explainable reason. Yet, somehow, proffering a secret cabal as the central source of the four attempts on my life seems too far fetched.
Perhaps it's that girl I met on New Years four years ago. We hit it off fairly nice for two heavy drinkers. But then, sometime later, I just decided to never call her again. I couldn't afford a relationship that required a fifth of rum and a fifth of whiskey on every date. To this day, when she sees me walking down the street she will roll down her window and just scream at me - no words - just a blood chilling banshee scream of an addict that lost their free source of junk. It seems almost conceivable that she could escalate to attempting to run me down with her car, and her friends were crazy too...
Yet, no - that is not the reason I was nearly run over by four cars today.
The real reason is you, crazy car driver. You know who you are! You Sabres jersey wearing lunatic! You only come downtown when there is a game, so you're completely fucking lost down there in a rat maze of streets. Now you never bothered to invest in seasonal parking to go along with your season tickets, no you just drive around looking for something on the street - maybe, you think, the genie of cheap parking will materialize in front of me and grant my wish for something close to the dome. But there is no genie, and then you're running late, the game is about to start, and that incredible amount of money you spent on season tickets starts to itch at your conscience.
You and several hundred other cars are all trying to make their way to the dome down Washington Street, bumper to bumper, and you spot it. An open street, you could go around this Bull Shit. Why didn't anyone else see such an obvious short cut? So you slam on the accelerator and before you can sing LETS GO SABRES! you're heading west down South Division Street and nearly collide with a pedestrian.
Yes, crazy car driver, that was me in the gray wool coat with the tan scarf screaming, "WHAT THE FUCK!?" as you nearly ran me over. You see, South Division is what we metropolitan people like to call a one way street. And you, are what I like to call an Asshat. You and the other three idiots who followed right after you. Up South Division to a wall of confused traffic waiting at the Main Street and Church Street light. No doubt you were shitting bricks when you were almost side swiped by the train.
We look forward to having you all back in the metropolitan area soon!
P.S. Buy a tom-tom.
Location: Buffalo, NY
Category: explore buffalo
12/26/08 12:07 - 27ºF - ID#47188
The Bus Drivers
The Number fourteen is ruled from six until midnight by an insane time czar. The universe could not be as accurate as his arrival and departure schedules. A curb popping despot with terrifying accelerations and brakes, I have heard him screaming holy hell out his slide window at any car driving heretic in the way of his accurateness. "Come on you cocksucker! FUCK YOU!" I've seen him leave flag waving old women standing at the stop for being a minute behind. Once I swear I felt him bump a car in front of us out of the way, but none of us said anything and the car didn't chase us.
In the afternoon and late morning somewhere on The Number Twenty you may find yourself in the domain of Time Thief. A robber baron of a bus driver, who has learned to fold time out of his schedules to further his own ends. Driving from the bus station at North Division he floors the accelerator, only choosing to pick up those stops that have large crowds. Goodbye single business woman on Delaware and Huron, see you later chic marketing man, catch the next one in ten minutes - The Time Thief has just stolen your minutes. Rocketing up the street he eventually comes to the stop at Elmwood and Forrest, pulling to the side he turns off the bus, and as we watch in confusion he closes the doors and goes into the Mobil Quick Mart on stolen time. A piss and a coffee purchase later, we're back on the road and still on schedule.
What does it really mean to be "On Time"? It's open to interpretation, whose time really matters most in the monarchy of the bus driver? I will warn you this way: woe to those who argue with the keeper of the doors, for they will kick your ass back out onto the sidewalk even after you've deposited your fare.
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/24/08 04:57 - 46ºF - ID#47174
Anathem and The Long Now Foundation
I will not waste time giving you a plot summary, which you can find here on wikipedia, or by looking it up on Amazon. What interests me more about this book is the connection it has with The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. I have been following the doings of this foundation for some time, because they have a wonderful monthly podcast where scientists and leading thinkers of our day are free to speculate about the next 10,000 years.
The book itself budded out of the continuation of Stephenson's involvements with the foundation on their most ambitious project of creating The Clock of the Long Now, or the 10,000 year clock - a sort of every lasting sign of human ingenuity and a inspiration for thinkers to think not towards short term horizons, but toward long term horizons measured in near geological timescales.
The chimes for the clock itself were developed by Brian Eno using algorithms to ensure that each time it chimes it will be different than the last.
Proceeds from the sale of books, and a number of other items related to the world of Anathem through the Long Now Foundation's website go towards the 10,000 year clock fund.
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/23/08 09:53 - 27ºF - ID#47161
The Internets & Me
Hard to tell where the bottom of the whole thing was, or is, but I have moved to south buffalo, ditched my car in favor of the bus system, and stopped drinking. The cherry on top of this cascade came when I was rushed to the Emergency Room back in November with heavy heart palpitations, numbness in my fingers, and pain shooting down my arm and up my neck. Thinking I was having a heart attack they took me in for monitoring and later took me out of work for two weeks.
So, out of work for two weeks killed me in the money department. No one is getting a gift from me this year, not even me. But the heart thing came to a relatively happy ending that could make a person laugh, or at least made me laugh after all of this. The chest pains, my cardiologist advised, were caused by elevated stress levels - Relax, he said, you're only Twenty-Five.
(My internet connection died in August, and I just got it back today.)
Location: Buffalo, NY
Category: nonfiction prose
08/29/07 05:24 - 88ºF - ID#40810
Snippit from - Notes from the Sprawl
Notes from the sprawl
Let me know what you think about the writing
My friends all want to be spooks. They're all digging deep into the criminal justice departments, playing their cards right, and planning the complex river stone jumps needed to reach spook country. It's like the only way to become a spook is to fist be enough of a spook to get in. Jogging the social networks, uncovering dirt to blackmail your representative for a letter of recommendation, and applying your face to enough ass and genitals to be noticed.
"It's big business" I say to him across our table at Starbucks, "these days the call for spooks is way up in both government and private companies. Do you know about Blackwater?"
"No, I'll look'em up"
"If you have a conscience don't bother, can't trust a company that makes it's business fighting to win peace. Their incentive is to win the battles, and prolong the war. Basic game theory there, that's how'd they make the most money."
"I've just always been interested in these sorts of things. The forces behind things pulling the strings, like in cyberpunk stories. Thought it would make a good career."
Like a lot of my friends he's addicted to cybergnosis, a sort of combination concept between Foucault's power-knowledge and the Japanese Otaku. The obscure knowledge about the world that any normal person would never want to know. A normal person suffering from either a complete lack of imagination or an overwhelming sense of their own powerlessness.
I'm an addict too, by the way. Though I am not so crazy as to start thinking spook country is a land I want to visit. Perhaps this is the real truth of my generation: All the past generations, the bohemians with their absinthe, the beats with their everything they could find, and the hippies with their pot; all of them looking for mystical visions and cosmic vibrations in the substances.
Our truth, our drug, is the media.
No, no, not Fox News. The media, like saying the info, we're all infohipsters, media addicts, and news junkies. Stealing away the rare and obscure knowledge and media that grants us social clout, and gnostic power. Fuck the supernatural, this is the information age. Enlightenment is the digital autodidacticism facilitated by the proliferation of the network.
Don't get me wrong you still need to wring the truth out of the world and data-stores with strong arms and mind, but anyone still trying to stare into astral space deserves to be the vegetable that they've become. They need to replace yoga and meditation with solid database building skills.
Sure, sure, we use substances too. Though lets be straight here, my caffeine addiction is just something I have to maintain my insomnia so I can take in more information, my love of whiskey is merely to loosen me up well enough to process my inputs.
I ask him what it is about cyberpunk stories he's lacking in his reality, because mine seems chalk full of it.
"It's just not as apparent as it is in the stories. The situation is blatant in the story. You know the world is messed. There is still room for doubt here."
"bah! That's just the isolation. Here in the decadent opulent center of the sprawl there only 'appears' to be room for doubt. You're not taking in enough of what's really going on out there." I took a deep breath as my mind gathered the ammo for a good cathartic rant. "We're already living in a cyberpunk dystopia, man. The question is not are we there, but what the hell does it mean to be there at all.
"You need to think about it this way: With maybe the exception of full emersion virtual reality, everything in cyberpunk novels already exists in our reality. Corporations with larger budgets than countries, government powers fairly impotent to act against them, people with cybernetic limbs, complex webs of information available online, dangerous hacker criminals, and more; these already exist.
"The doubt that you feel is part of this new problem I am noticing with people. It's sort of summed up in the statement "that only happens in the movies." Science and Technology are advancing so fast that they are out stripping the collective imagination of society. It creates a reality warp where world situations and objects that are in fact real are still considered impossible figments of science fiction entertainment. Hell, even science fiction authors are playing catch-up these days.
"The first cyborg had his nervous system hooked up to a computer on March 22, 2002, but if you asked anyone on the street about it they'd probably tell you that cyborgs are as real as Santa Claus."
He was somewhat dissatisfied. Was I implying that corporations have political autonomy, and are part of some conspiracy to control the worlds governments? Did I know that the Starbucks shift manager was staring at us?
They like to give you side long glances at this one. Especially after you've been sitting for a few hours without buying anything else.
"No," wrinkling my forehead, focusing, "conspiracy theory is an out dated method of geo-political analysis. Like a futurist using tarot cards to write his projections. Corporations will never totally exist as independent pseudo-governments as they appear in cyberpunk novels, because it is too impractical.
"There is a lot to be said for the importance of lobbyists in corporate power, it allows corporations to take turns dressing up and dancing around in Uncle Sam's skin suit. The accepted legitimacy of established governmental sovereignty would be too hard for any single corporation to establish for itself.
"The branding power of the established governments is just too strong for corporations to effectively compete with, so they just pay the governments to release the product they're selling under their brand line. Like The United Fruit Company getting the government of Guatemala toppled in 1954 by the CIA to stop the Arbenz administration from redistributing uncultivated land to the natives. Get me?"
We sat there quietly for a few minutes. I took a drag off my triple shot cinnamon latte, and crammed a piece of marble loaf into my mouth. This trip to Starbucks has cost me nearly eight dollars. I am suddenly aware of how much I need to cut back on the caffeine intake; the more I drink, the more I need, the more it costs. Luck for me I am in the caffeine pushing business, and have a key to a warehouse full of it.
"But that's not what you were talking about," The conversation had gone adrift, and I wanted to get back to his crisis of conscience.
Our vision of the world has come to be dominated by the monolithic figures of the north and south towers of the world trade center blasting fireballs, pluming smoke, and piled as rubble in lower-Manhattan. These moments, witnessed by most of us through the media, have greatly effected the life choices of many of my would-be spook friends.
They were unceremoniously made aware of the harsh realities of geo-political threats, or rather the threats made themselves painfully present in their otherwise comfortably isolated lives. Now in early adulthood their mind is full of a single question replicating itself over and over again: What the hell are you going to do about it?
"I'm looking for a way to do something interesting, and productive without..."
"Standing on the backs of the innocent?"
"Me too." It's true. I'd been going to business school for years, for my undergraduate degree, before I finally opened my eyes to the fact that the school is designed to produce responsive corporate soldiers, not free thinking business people with consciences.
"What are you doing about it?"
"Slamming hard on the brakes until I can figure out what the hell I am doing. Last thing I want is a grey suited job in a grey cubical waiting for a gold watch retirement. I'm afraid of getting space monkey syndrome." As defined by Chuck Palahniuk in Fightclub: The space monkey pushes buttons, pulls levers, never understands a thing about the purpose of his life, and then dies. "Those prospects scare the shit out of me."
I am starting to understand by the look on his face that it scares the shit out of him too, and I can't blame him. Space monkey syndrome is even more frightening when used in the context of the intelligence industry. You might flip a switch or push a button that lands the whole country in another Vietnam or Iraq.
This is the dissonance between the power mechanics of the world and the information age. The mechanics of the world doesn't work with our drug of choice. Governments, Corporations, and the rest of the power structures require the space monkeys to move forward. The info-hipster addiction to cybergnostics has placed us in a situation where we have to choose between our professional survival, and what we know to be true. All of this before we get the first job in our field of choice.
Location: Buffalo, NY
01/16/07 11:32 - 14ºF - ID#37733
Take this blog post, from a little over a year ago, that I put on the myspace blog that I had.
Alone - November 20, 2005
Recently I have been struck by how alone I feel. Now to clarify, I do not feel sad - I feel alone. If I were the lone guard in an outpost on the furthest reach of the Great Wall of China, I do not believe I would feel much different. Though I am hardly the first person to feel as I do; I am still alone in my location and have never experienced what it is like to relax in the presence of complete understanding.
Sometimes what I long for most in life is to not require every statement I make to require explanation. I wish to learn to play Go from a person who can discuss its complex nature in the context of the Art of War by Sun Tzu. I wish to walk through the city streets with someone and ask what they see here and be enriched by their perception of now.
Though the Internet allows me to connect to people of similar minds to my own it is not the same as actual human contact, it is little more than a faster correspondence to my lone outpost. The best this correspondence can offer me is when I write something that another understands. They do not feel the need to write at length to elaborate on what I have written because what I have said was all that was required. It is then that I am comforted by the fact that on this Great Wall there are others like myself.
Yet I am still alone, here.
Similarly the emotional need to write about my life has arisen once again. This time I am writing to say that for perhaps the first time in my life I no longer feel as alone as I felt when I wrote the above post. I just spent the last week with a girl who did not require me to explain everything I was talking about; she could hold up her end of the conversation very well. She is perhaps the most delectable girl I have ever been with, and my heart pounds for her (among other things that require blood to pound). Though she had to get back to where she lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada - some 3000 miles away - I have many reasons to hope that with some work this will turn into a great relationship.
Thats all, this was mostly for me, but if you have something to say - go for it.
Location: Buffalo, NY
01/09/07 04:46 - 31ºF - ID#37601
Buffalo and Global Warming
In previous conversations with people they expressed concern about Buffalo's survivability because of our close proximity to the lakes. I attempted to point out to them that the lake we sit on dumps its water over a cliff we like to call Niagara Falls, but they seemed quite sure we would all be underwater regardless.
So I have looked into the issue, as part of my long term planning thoughts for how Buffalo fits in my life. So some facts:
1.) Buffalo is situated at its lowest point (down by the coast guard station) some 177 meters above sea level (thats 580 feet for the SI disinclined).
2.) In the worst of the worst case scenarios that I could find about rising sea levels, the sea only rises about 100 meters. For an idea of what that would look like please go here.
In that pic you can see that though every major city on the east coast becomes Atlantis, we are high, dry, and still a long way from beach front property.
3.) For a more dynamic and less dramatic look at what is considered a more likely rise in sea level you can go here and play around with the maps. Still again the rise is only about 14 meters max, leaving about 163 meters to go before we start to think about rolling our trousers in the lowest part of our area.
4.) This is really just a joke on my part. I do not think that anyone should consider investing in the city just because they are looking for good post-warming property. However, if you are looking for another reason to see Buffalo as a stable place in the long term environment projections, this is one more reason.
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/31/06 04:11 - 31ºF - ID#37473
Opportunity Costs and God
The liberal states of the north are quite burdensome in their taxation and tendency towards socialist practices. To any business person thinking of building himself in those places, keeping a hold of the money you make is becoming increasingly harder with each passing year.
On the other hand the conservative states of the south are becoming quite burdensome in their religious fervor and tendency towards fundamentalist ideals. To any atheist person thinking of living his life generally free of an oppressive regime of people who believe in a white bearded man in the sky, keeping a hold of ones sanity in those places is becoming increasingly harder with each passing year.
For me, an atheist business person, this is just a great chance to apply a bit of socio-economic theory. It seems that once I manage to answer the the question of where I want to live for the rest of my life, I will have inadvertently also answered the questions
How much of my money am I willing to pay to keep my sanity? And How much sanity am I willing to pay to keep my money?
Location: Buffalo, NY
12/29/06 07:30 - 31ºF - ID#22053
Human beings have a funny way of drawing lines in the sand. We do it all the time; all over the place in fact. It is so ubiquitous that we have come to accept some of these lines as metaphysical facts, because we never even think to question them, we do not realize the ways in which they imped our ability to envision places to draw newer, better lines.
Now, perhaps my view of lines is slightly skewed. I have lived my whole life being made very aware of the lines I lived near, on, and between. Take the basic boarder between Buffalo, and Cheektowaga for example. It is common practice for insurance agencies to keep track of information, and people locations by zip codes. I live in zip code 14211, if you run that on almost any insurance agency computer the answer you arrive at is that that is a City of Buffalo zip code. However, if you look on a map you will see that a portion of Cheektowaga is also included in that zip code. As such it has been very hard to get some insurance agencies to realize that we are not technically the city.
In this case when political lines are combined with zip code lines, it turns a small chunk of land from a suburb into a lost zone. I run into the same problem with the Department of Motor Vehicles and almost every other zip code based computer system a government or other such entity owns. Growing up on this odd piece of land starting me wondering about other lines we have around here that might not make any sense, and others that do.
Political boarders are very important, they determine what police and fire departments are assigned to your house, they determine who you pay your taxes to, they determine what public schools you can attend, and they determine where you vote and who you can vote for; but when you get right down to it thats about as far as it goes. The municipal and state political boarders do not determine where you shop, or where you can go to have a good time, or what friends you are allowed to make. International boarders do have restrictions on shopping, but not on where you can have a good time, or who you can be friends with.
The reason that I bring this up is that here in Buffalo we often don't think outside the municipal lines. Most of the town, village, city, and hamlet entities are very introspective in their views of our area. Each area concerned only about its personal well being instead of seeing how they fit into the whole economic ecology. This municipal level view translates to a county level view that ignores most surrounding counties.
Just a though experiment, but lets presume that major economic activity causes development. That development means buildings, roads, homes, and street lights. Then you might say that you could map major economic activity and common interests with satellite maps of our area at night. If you look below you see that we would have overlooked our very close neighbors to the north otherwise.
I assure you that they come here very often to shop in our malls, drink in our bars, enjoy our jazz and arts, and then go back home across the river. Remember most people in Buffalo live closer to a Canadian than they do to people in Rochester.
These lines that we create in the sand are only good so far as they are useful to us in defining and understanding our world better. However, when they begin to become arbitrary reasons to ignore each other, then they become a problem and a burden.
One such bothersome line that I have noticed in the Greater Buffalo area cannot be found on any map. It is rather a slight cultural line between the urban area and suburban areas. This divide is often exacerbated when partisan politics rages in our county. More conservative suburbanites look down at new urbanite liberals, and new urbanite liberals look down at conservative suburbanites. I have seen this spark all sorts of crazy exchanges, one such exchange was over which was a more aesthetically pleasing alternative, A strip plaza or the elmwood strip. Without going into it much, the new urbanite liberal had said that the development around the galleria mall was horrible looking, and the conservative suburbanite said that he didn't care so long as he could find a place to park his car.
It is my proposition that the above divides are of little use to our community at large. Be it, continued political fictionalization of our area, urbanite "greater than thou" elitism, or simply a failure to see that common economic interest is a good reason to talk to one another; We need to create greater social bonds between these areas.
How? I'll get back to you on that.
Location: Buffalo, NY
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