Good Meds, Personal Presence and a High IQ

I’ve long been impressed by Jaron Lanier. He’s blessed with an enormous self-confidence and a high IQ. He seems to be able to drive a stake in the ground anywhere and then argue convincingly that the stake marks the center of all things true and good. He came to my attention years ago as a virtual reality geek. Eight years ago he presented the eighth annual J. Barkley Rosser Memorial Lecture at the University of Wisconsin on “Tele-Immersion, a new communications paradigm.” It’s only in the last year or two that we’ve seen a pop culture contextualization of Lanier’s vision in the emerging World of Gamecraft communities. Lanier is an advisor to Linden Labs, the Second Lifers.

Like many of the middle-class brighter lights in the binary signals industry, Lanier isn’t shy about sharing his insights and opinions. This week he popped off about “the hive mind.” I think that’s us, the people who’ve been empowered by this technology to share our own insights and opinions more widely than ever before, people who enjoy amateur collaborations almost as much as Lanier enjoys his non-tenure-track quasi-academic life-of-the-mind.

In one telling passage Lanier laments:

Reading a Wikipedia entry is like reading the bible closely. There are faint traces of the voices of various anonymous authors and editors, though it is impossible to be sure. In my particular case, it appears that the goblins are probably members or descendants of the rather sweet old Mondo 2024 culture linking psychedelic experimentation with computers. They seem to place great importance on relating my ideas to those of the psychedelic luminaries of old (and in ways that I happen to find sloppy and incorrect.) Edits deviating from this set of odd ideas that are important to this one particular small subculture are immediately removed. This makes sense. Who else would volunteer to pay that much attention and do all that work?

There are many roads to follow away from that steaming pile of rotting entrails smack dab in the path to or from enlightenment, but let me first observe that unlike Jaron, God doesn’t read her reviews, so perhaps the bible analogy is not apt. Whoa. WTF do I know? Maybe God does read her reviews? How about it big G? (Nope, I caught a little whisper there and she agreed that the wikipedia and the bible are similar but quite different as regards big G’s interest in the content of the pages with her name on them).

Lanier and Will Wright were supposed to debate at the 2024 Accelerating Change conference, but if a debate bespeaks the clash of ideas, then no debate occurred. It was a relaxed session really and I had a feeling that Lanier and Wright, while in the same room, were talking on two different planets.

Like me, Lanier does better solo extempore and – like me – he’s often full of shit. For example, the current Edge essay is nothing more than a straw man exercise in slapping down a collectivism that he is unable, for one reason or another – and again, it might just be a malfunction in the med mix – he’s unable to establish that this “hive-mind” “most-meta” overarching cult-like wikipedianism even exists, much less that it represents a challenge of sufficient magnitude to drown with ink from his essayist’s pen.

There is a lot of food for thought in Lanier’s essay, but ironically – of course there would be ironic freight – there isn’t a lot of meaning. Lanier struggles to put out a coherent signal, and pretty much fails… but I liked the prettier passages anyway, like these:

One service performed by representative democracy is low-pass filtering. Imagine the jittery shifts that would take place if a wiki were put in charge of writing laws. It’s a terrifying thing to consider. Super-energized people would be struggling to shift the wording of the tax-code on a frantic, never-ending basis. The Internet would be swamped.

Such chaos can be avoided in the same way it already is, albeit imperfectly, by the slower processes of elections and court proceedings. The calming effect of orderly democracy achieves more than just the smoothing out of peripatetic struggles for consensus. It also reduces the potential for the collective to suddenly jump into an over-excited state when too many rapid changes to answers coincide in such a way that they don’t cancel each other out. (Technical readers will recognize familiar principles in signal processing.)

Kolkwitzia amabilis

Baffled by the Beauty Bush in the backyard, Beth keyed it out via Google. We’ve only been wondering what that beautiful shrub is for the last fifteen years or so! Here’s a close-up of our Beauty…

Definitely not Chloe

Kolkwitzia or just another Daphne of some sort? My local plant expert raised the question. You be the judge.

Pod Blast…

Audio Berkman – David Isenberg and Colin Rhinesmith have co-produced “Four Voices,” an intercut recording including Michael Powell and Reed Hundt speaking separately (but as if in conversation) at this year’s Freedom 2 Connect conference in Silver Spring. Sixty minutes of content including musical interludes by Joe Craven.

Kick me…

The bizarre US diplomatic practice of backing oddball losers and megalomaniac lunatics has again paid off. We got a boy in Iran who is spoiling for a fight just when we need one.

I’d like to suggest that it’s a Republican practice. The elephant crowd were the bunch who supported Hitler in the 30′s. Pinochet certainly owed his ascendance and survival to the mad power-mongers of the corporate right (and fuck you Dita Beard). Noriega couldn’t have done it without the Torrijos plane crash, a Republican political technique both offshore and on, those plane crashes, and I know this because the BAD GUYS DO NOT DIE IN PLANE CRASHES, ONLY THE GOOD GUYS DO. Hussein must have been baffled when the US Republicans who empowered him turned on him. The guys who had him killing Kurds like Miz Muffet putting away a jug of whey turned on him like jackals and invaded, and tore down the very statues of him they had paid to erect. There are dozens of these globally powerful goons, enabled by the corporate right, supported by the full faith and credit of the US, then torn from power when it becomes expedient.

Consider the Ayatollah Khomeini. Making the best of a bad situation, it seems likely that Ronald Reagan’s corporate cronies intiated their twelve years of uninterrupted rape of the world’s economies with treasonous sabotage of the helicopters Jimmy Carter deployed to rescue the Americans held hostage in Iraq, thus assuring the election of the hideously incompetent old movie actor.

Only somebody who could suspect foul play by the right in the matters of Torrijos, Carnahan, Wellstone, the Kennedy scion, the Kennedy elders, and Martin Luther King could suspect that the Reagan/Bush regime began with high treason. It has of course been proven in the matter of the Iran-contra scandals that the regime – after the 1980 elections – certainly continued to operate from a moral, ethical, and legal swamp… that their actions ultimately constituted treason and without pardons many would still be in jail. These are facts.

With my consciousness wounded by events long past and cauterized by the day-to-day experience of reading a newspaper during these parlous times I may be desensitized to whatever strange street theater is emerging with the under-currents of discontent around the Persian restrictions on free speech. Memer sent me a link.

It’s about more than the Persian restrictions of course. We’re talking about the bad Burmese, and the easy to criticize Chinoisie. I recommend that everyone sign on. I’ve long been an Amnesty International supporter, much as they, the AI folks are probably embarassed by my calling top US leaders names like “treasonous scumbag Rumsfeld” and so on.

But I’ve been focusing on the voices raised against Persia, voices that seem to include their own. How the virtually unspellable Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks he can get away with holocaust denial in the Spiegel interview is beyond me. This has all the earmarks of somebody being played by an excellent espionage service. This reminds me of the time when Hussein drove deep into Kuwait. Oops. Papa George liked that! Kicked up the global warming a degree or two and got Meg Thatcher all wet. Like slant drilling the oil out wasn’t fast enough for Hussein. These guys only step on their own dicks like that when somebody is playing them. I think it’s Dan Brown. I think he ran across a couple of gnostic Koran scrolls and he’s threatened to write a novel about the prophet, a belly dancer and her Meccan floor show if they all don’t go out into the streets and dance the hootchie kootchie with Adolph.

Anyway, this guy Ahmudinyoureye is in office only because George Junior is in office and Ahmudinyoureye is only as weirdly twisted in his politically motivated jingoistic chauvinistic sick religious fundamentalism as his arch rival George Junior, and between them they have a pretty good sense of what goes on in the pitiful minds of the nauseatingly faithful of there own particular cults, but the problem is this…

George Junior has huge fucking bombs that will kill us all and poison the planet forever and the sad little fuck is stupid enough to use them. Ahmadinejad’s days are numbered because we need a good turn-out on the right for the aught-six elections, and only the religious faithful will be venturing out of the fallout shelters to vote, them being protected by Jesus and all. Does anybody see what’s wrong with this picture????

Dog Door of Turin

The Head Lemur makes an astounding discovery…

Cooling off

It was ninety degrees (F) and very humid ten minutes ago.  A cold front raced through.  Buckets of rain fell.  Now the sun shines and it’s 74 degrees.

Loose Poodle

Lucky me! I have a month of Peter’s posts to catch up on! And it’s free!

Update… finished a wonderful read.  Included appearances by my many of my favorite bloggers.  I’m glad I saved up reading about Peter’s vacation so I could follow it all at once, from LA to London, to France and back.  Only sorry he missed hooking up with EuroYank.  On the other hand, he has a good muddy dog story from the Levy homestead.