A Conversation with Tha Spyryt – A Raw Thought DJ Performing January 11 at the DNA Lounge

By Lisa Rein

Tha Spyryt is a member of Aaron Swartz Day’s Raw Thought Crew that performed for the first time together on November 9, 2018.

If “Raw Thought” sounds familiar, it should. It was the name of Aaron’s prolific blog – and one of the main goals of these events – besides providing a great place to meet people and dance – is to continue to spread Aaron’s knowledge and ideas to a larger audience.

Tha Spyryt will be performing at 11:30 pm, at the next RAW THOUGHT at the DNA Lounge (A Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room) on January 11, 2019 at the DNA Lounge – 10pm – 2am. Also performing: Mochipet, Ozlo Glowing and Cain MacWitish.

Tha Spyryt has just released “Noble Noise”

Check out Tha Spyryt’s set from the premier “Raw Thought” opening night party, November 9, 2018.

We spoke to Tha Spyryt briefly, in between flights…

LR: So how long have you been creating music?

Tha Spyryt: Creating music? Music is more of a translation or interpretation of creation.

Four years off and on learning production seriously, my friend Moda Graphik taught me Ableton in 15 minutes which got me into it, however stopped for awhile and now refocused on it as a means to harness all mediums of art I work on, or “create” / translate. Before that spent many years in the underground, club, and festival scene performing live visuals with major headliners, participating in tour life, or creating new media content and being immersed in music production/event culture.

I have always been surrounded by music growing up since kindergarten in school, or private lessons, and made some beats on Fruity Loops or GarageBand (PC) (Mac) around high school but nothing really of interest.

From Tha Spyryt’s “My head” music video.

 

 

Watch the music video for: Tha Spyryt’s My head

LR: Are you from San Francisco? How long have you been here?

TS: Tha Spyryt is from San Francisco, or rather outer space. It is a city that welcomes fresh sounds. Bay Area born, and raised, though it has been about 10 years in SF, or a touching transit connect away.

LR: What’s your favorite new piece of equipment?

TS: My friends :). Making noise with people seems to be one of the best parts about performing or playing instruments music what have you. Lately I have been learning to understand that we are all the best machines we will ever need.

Technology is just an extension, but implementing our strengths can be a place that new possibilities arise. + Along with new friends is new studios, new instruments, and new spaces to travel to. Experience, vision, & inspiration: equipment that is intangible yet crucial to the construction of any piece. Bliss random answers always serve hot meals, though a miracle is often the luck of decisive reaction.

LR: Describe your music with words…

TS: Hazey, Muddy, and Weird. #notnormal

Our definitions of genre only seem to be a current understanding of what is possible and not its true potential. To describe what you are creating would be to write history. We are our own makers; only the reflections resonate the halls of heroes. With the music the intention is to bring some type of healing vibes and heavy bass where one can dance furiously into the oblivion of the moment.

LR: You’ve been in the studio recently, right? Is your new stuff taking on any new sounds you weren’t expecting?

TS: Insanely profound. Revelations FOR SURE. Going further than I understand and learning on the go. Scaring the experienced and welcoming the new babes. Every moment we set out on our next task it seems to become the best work ever because it is the one that has always been there; our constant learning… and remembering who we are.

Tha Spyryt spinning at the DNA Lounge.

Check out Tha Spyryt’s set from our premier show at the DNA Lounge on November 9, 2018.

Come to our next “Raw Thought” – a Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room, on Friday night January 11, 2019, from 10pm-2am at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco. DJs include: Mochipet, Tha Spyryt, Ozlo Glowing and Cain MacWitish.

TICKETS

(From Left to Right) Madison, Tha Spyryt, Projekt Seahorse. Taken at the Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event at the Internet Archive, November 10, 2018.

Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time

by R.U. Sirius

Tripulations 1968 – 1969

A Brief Return to Berkeley During “The Revolution”

Tim’s first impulse, upon being released from the Millbrook hive, was to take Rosemary and Susan (Jack had already left a year earlier, joining the great migration to the streets of the Haight Ashbury) back to his old stomping ground of Berkeley, California where he still owned the family home. By now, Berkeley was a buzzing center of the international counterculture. But Tim was not attuned to Berkeley’s late ‘60s culture of protests, riots and apocalyptic revolutionary rhetoric so his stay in Berkeley would be brief.   

The Brotherhood of Eternal Love

At the invitation of a group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the small Leary family unit made its way south, to the sunny climes of Orange County, just outside of LA.  

In 1966, a notorious working class gang of tough marijuana dealers from Orange County invaded and ripped off a Hollywood party over a pot deal gone bad. Among the items they grabbed was a bunch of LSD.  They didn’t even know what it was — except that it was obviously a drug.  One day, the gang leader, John Griggs tried it. “This is it!” he told his followers. “A religious experience.” He threw his gun into the ocean. In nearly an instant, the Street Sweepers gang became a religious psychedelic commune. And the skills they’d learned smuggling marijuana from Mexico… well, that still fit the profile. They added acid and hashish to their sales repertoire and became such a successful underground operation that they would eventually get dubbed “the hippie mafia.”

Timothy Leary’s Psychedelic Prayers from the Tao te Ching became a sort of holy book for the Brothers and Leary a guru.  Being at loose ends anyway, the Leary family unit was happy to head to Laguna Beach and be glorified and feted by their high-flying friends.   

The Brothers were the ultimate ecstatic warriors of the psychedelic revolution.  They were following the logic (such as it was) of  ‘60s psychedelia — this was the idea or vibe that the more people consumed psychedelic substances, the closer we would get to an advanced enlightened society… even if there was some freaking out, fucking up and weirdness along the way.  What do you think? 

The legend of the Brotherhood and the Laguna Beach scene is the subject of numerous books and articles, the best one being Orange Sunshine by Nicholas Schau.

High Priest & Politics of Ecstasy

1968 saw the release of Timothy Leary’s first semi-autobiographical book, High PriestThis book bravely, poignantly, poetically and hilariously tells the stories of fifteen psychedelic trips taken during the Harvard years (plus the nervous breakdown/breakthrough in Spain in 1959)— the trips that turned Timothy Leary into the legend of a mind. Many of the adventures I’ve already described are included. If you’re going to read one Leary book about the psychedelic experience — with the emphasis on actual experience and not on the insights inspired by them — this is the one for you.

Later, 1968 saw the release of a collection of Leary essays under the title, The Politics of Ecstasy. Much more a product of its time than High Priest, Politics of Ecstasy crackles with its effervescent, confident and whip smart explication of how psychedelic experience intersected with generational politics and a demented war mongering repressive sociopolitical structure to create the mad countercultural explosion that was, in fact, peaking heavily that very year.  Read more “Tripulations 1968 – 1969: Excerpt from Timothy Leary’s Trip Thru Time”

The Story of the Famous “Keith Case” That Curtailed President Nixon’s Warrantless Wiretapping: An Excerpt from Cyrus Farivar’s “Habeas Data”

The below is an excerpt from Cyrus Farivar’s new book, Habeas Data.

Richard Nixon was voted into office in November 1968 by just half a million votes, just months after both Senator Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated. When he entered the White House in January 1969, President Nixon was met by a nation that was bitterly divided and viscerally hurting. By that point, the Vietnam War had been raging for nearly four years, with no end in sight. America had been paying the price in both treasure and blood: nearly 30,000 American lives had been lost from 1967 to 1968.

Cyrus Farivar

The dawn of the Nixon administration marked one of the high-water marks of mass surveillance in America. Even before Nixon, intelligence services were carrying out domestic surveillance operations dating back to the mid-1950s as a way to monitor and mitigate potential influence of communism or communist sympathizers. The intelligence community actively disrupted various civil rights groups through the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Other snooping efforts with more colorful names, like Project Shamrock, were designed to indiscriminately capture postal mail and telegram traffic. Others, like Project Minaret, intercepted the electronic communications of thousands of Americans—initially it was limited to antiwar activists, but by the time Nixon entered the White House, the list had grown to include senators, journalists, and even Muhammad Ali.

Those lists—and the programs themselves—would expand tremendously under Nixon. On April 30, 1970, Nixon announced the Cambodian Campaign, a military effort to strengthen the position of the South Vietnamese and capture Viet Cong matériel. The following day, students began striking in protest of this new policy to ramp up the Vietnam War. On May 4, four students were killed by members of the Ohio National Guard while protesting at Kent State University. Suddenly, Nixon’s interest in what the various surveillance programs of the intelligence agencies were—and how they could be expanded for his use—became all the more urgent.

Not three months later, in July 1970, Nixon signed off on the Huston Plan, which formalized and legalized covert mail opening and increased electronic surveillance, among other tactics. The president quickly rescinded his approval, but that didn’t stop the intelligence agencies from continuing what they had already been doing.

President Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, who just loved to illegally wiretap those dissidents ^_^

One surveillance case that preceded Nixon, but was ultimately championed by his attorney general, involved the wiretapping of dissidents. In September 1968, just over three months after the Omnibus act was signed, a small bomb went off in the CIA recruitment office at 450 Main Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Overnight, someone had placed a few sticks of dynamite nearby, which blew a sizeable hole in the sidewalk and damaged furniture, but did little else. No one was injured. Eventually, three men affiliated with the White Panthers leftist group were arrested and prosecuted for the crime.

As the case moved ahead in 1969 and 1970, prosecutors disclosed during a hearing that a phone conversation involving one of the defendants and a California-based Black Panther had been captured over a warrantless wiretap. As a trial date approached, defense attorneys pushed the government to disclose any electronic surveillance that was used against their clients. In an affidavit, Attorney General John Mitchell (one of Nixon’s most trusted colleagues) wrote that one of the suspects, Robert “Pun” Plamondon, was overheard on a wiretap that was “employed to gather intelligence information deemed necessary to protect the nation from attempts of domestic organizations to attack and subvert the existing structure of government.”

In other words, while under normal circumstances law enforcement would have to present a super-warrant application for a judge to sign off on the wiretap, the attorney general claimed a power, under the presumed mandate of national security, to be able to wiretap anyone unilaterally based on the power that stemmed from the Title III law. Put another way, under this logic, if Charles Katz had been perceived as a threat to national security, the FBI could have wiretapped the phone booth’s line directly rather than going through all the gymnastics of rigging up a microphone atop the phone booth.

The Ann Arbor case ran right into a buzz saw, which came in the form of then US District Judge Damon Keith. By the time he had been randomly assigned the case, Judge Keith had been a judge for only a few years. In fact, when he was tapped for a judgeship by President Lyndon Johnson, he was just one of a handful of federal African-American judges nationwide. In January 1971, Judge Keith came out strongly against the government and Mitchell’s entire legal theory.

“The Fourth Amendment protects a defendant from the evil of the uninvited ear.” – US District Judge Damon Keith

“An idea which seems to permeate much of the Government’s argument is that a dissident domestic organization is akin to an unfriendly foreign power that must be dealt with in the same fashion,” Judge Keith wrote in his decision. “There is a great danger in an argument of this nature, for it strikes at the very constitutional privileges and immunities that are inherent in United States citizenship.”

Reminding everyone of the language of the Katz decision, the judge recalled that “the Fourth Amendment protects a defendant from the evil of the uninvited ear.”

The Department of Justice appealed the case to the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Judge Keith’s ruling. The appeals court famously found, in what came to be known as the Keith case (rather than its official and cumbersome name: United States v. United States District Court), that there was not “one written phrase” in the Constitution or statutes to support the Justice Department’s view. The government appealed up to the Supreme Court, which again, denied the government’s efforts.

“The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power,” Justice Lewis Powell wrote in the unanimous 8–0 opinion. One would think that would have closed the book on such wiretapping. But as we’ll see, the government continued to find innovative ways to circumvent the courts.

Learn more about Judge Damon Keith’s life story in a new, award winning documentary – Walk With Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith, Directed and Produced by Jesse Nesser.

(Photo taken in 1965, Courtesy of WSU Press.) From Left: Michigan Supreme Court Justice Otis M. Smith, Damon J. Keith (who was a lawyer in private practice at the time of this photo, and did not become a District Court Judge until 1967), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Michigan Secretary of State Richard Austin.

DJ Spooky Looks Deeper Into the Films of Cinema Pioneer Oscar Micheaux

DJ Spooky will be speaking and performing at the Aaron Swartz Day International Hackathon Evening Event, November 10, 2018, at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. TICKETS

The Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day and International Hackathon is going on all over the world, November 10-11, 2018.

DJ Spooky at SF MOMA, July 12, 2018.

 

 

In this weird Trump Dystopian Bizarre Feverish Lunatic Dream of White Supremacy that we’re kind of trying to deprogram out of, these kinds of films, and these kinds of gatherings, are where people from different perspectives, races, classes, come together and think: “How does cinema change our vision of things?”

 

Don’t forget, most people in the Trump administration were involved with film. Whether it be Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin or the Mootch guy (Anthony Scaramucci).

 

Steve Bannon was also a producer, and of course Trump comes out of reality TV. So, we can easily see how they try to apply cinematic narrative to this nightmarish shitstorm of an administration. And you can see we can use film to deprogram and decolonize people’s perspective.”

 

– DJ Spooky, during his introduction for “Body and Soul,” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 12, 2018.

By Lisa Rein

I went to see Body and Soul at MOMA last July, as I was excited about DJ Spooky’s new score for this silent 1925 Paul Robeson movie directed by Oscar Micheaux. It is said to be Robeson’s first film.

Watching it was quite an experience. I have never had such a riveting time watching a silent film before. Not only was the acting was incredible, but DJ Spooky’s soundtrack was moving and suspenseful.

Even though “Body and Soul” was released in 1925, the subject matter is as timely as ever. 

Here’s a video clip.

 

This film is just one of many on the The Pioneers of African-American Cinema DVD box set. These landmarks of early African-American film have been remastered in HD from archive elements and digitally restored, and are available as a box set or for streaming on Netflix.

Here’s a complete listing of the films included in the collection

 

DJ Spooky spoke to the audience a bit before the MOMA showing. Below is a complete transcription.

 

Begin Transcription:

“Thanks to MOMA for putting together such a wonderful and hyper eclectic group of films.

It’s a roster that really goes all over the spectrum of African-American cinema, showing the last century as it sort of evolves into the 21st.

First, a little background. After reconstruction in the south, there was a tremendous amount of effort, systematically, to disenfranchise African-Americans. So, one of the more intriguing situations that ended up happening is that there was a huge migration. As a matter of fact, I’m working on another project, with Henry Louis Gates, of Harvard, based on this idea of the genetics of Reconstruction. I’m scoring that this summer, it’s called “Reconstruction.” It will be out soon. Read more “DJ Spooky Looks Deeper Into the Films of Cinema Pioneer Oscar Micheaux”

Changes, Postmodernism, Counterculture, Ego

Wilder Gonzales Agreda & R.U. Sirius

In 2015, Wilder Gonzales Agreda interviewed me for http://peruavantgarde.blogspot.com. I’m fond enough of the results to present some of the musings here with some updated annotations. Annotations in caps and blue

Why do you think people in general (not elite) tend to avoid changes even if they finally are going to benefit everyone? Why is to so hard to change mentalities? They seem to get frightened always.

Our minds are SEEM TO BE geared, evolutionarily, towards the recognition of patterns and its predictive mechanisms are most naturally geared towards the immediate near situation…  hunting food, avoiding things that might harm you immediately, maybe some gathering, getting shelter and so forth. It’s kind of amazing that we even got to consciously planned agriculture. Now we’re in societies and cultures of astounding complexity, but many of us are still geared towards our immediate comforts and securities. The simplest – or simple-mindedest way to attain those things is to go along with what everyone else is doing and find your place within it. You get a kind of security of the hive, the pack, the tribe. That security is challenged situationally from time to time but the pack basically likes to shoot the messenger. In apocalyptic situations, this tendency may only get worse.

Academics use to say that in current postmodernism people lose faith on ideals, and they live just for the moment, the ego and pleasure. How do you see this situation regarding counterculture ideals and utopias? Or you see we are living a new era?

I’ve never really thought about postmodernism in terms of faith, but I’m sure it would point to and also provoke a lack of it. And I don’t know that postmodernism is particularly a critique of hedonism or spontaneity IF THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE IMPLYING

Academic postmodernism, which has become TO A GENERALIST APPEARS mostly indistinguishable from poststructuralism, culture theory, critical theory, what have you… really, seems to be a dense thicket of illuminating perceptions, fecund horseshit and lots of tangled up nonsense. This is because academics have to produce a lot of words, and because academic postmodernism came out of the demise of the radical left of the 1960s and it’s splintering into oppressed identity formations. Academic pomo — from it’s roots in questioning the highly defined enlightenment paradigm of Western capitalism and it’s Leninist cousin — seems to have constructed some kind of a linguistic/memetic umbrella under which these various strains of obsession with gender, race and colonialism could still be interrelated. Unfortunately, these relations are constructed DESCRIBED through a peculiar elite specialized language that’s only accessible to other members of the academic tribe. Students get infected by it but usually drop it once they start dealing with the actuality of the world and their not-politically-correct sexual desires. IT SEEMS NOW TO BE CONTINUOUSLY UBIQUITOUS IN CERTAIN CIRCLES, ALBEIT IN A SIMPLE FORM OF TOTALISMS AND CERTAINTIES, SOME OF THEM MORE OR LESS ON TARGET. PROBABLY A REACTION TO THE REACTION AND SOMETHING TO DO WITH SOME KIND OF STASIS (ECONOMIC?) PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING POST-COLLEGE THAT KEEPS THEM IN THE SAME CONTEXT

If I could pick out two fundamental ideas from postmodernism that have meaning and appeal for me:

One: it would be the idea that the singular romanticized consistent western classical liberal individual is a limiting construct and not an actual thing. There are no “stand up guys.” Humans are a fluid changeable process and there are multiplicities of selves, particularly amongst people not enslaved by lives of full time labor –- who generally are the only ones that are privileged to have a self or a multiplicity of selves in the first place.

Two: The other appealing aspect of PoMo is the idea that truth is radically contingent. UNFORTUNATELY PICKED UP BY VARIOUS RIGHT WING THINKERS AS A WAY TO SEW CONFUSION IN DOMAINS WHERE FACTS — EVEN APPROXIMATE FACTS — MATTER TO MUCH TO TREAT AS CONTINGENT. That would not necessarily be hard physical truth (if I threatened an academic pomo with a baseball bat, he or she would recognize it’s absoluteness) but philosophical truth, political truth and even scientific truth (the latter is too long an explantion for this discussion). And with the possible exception of scientific proofs, this seems to be palpably (contingently) true. That is sort of the way things are, whether we like it or not. Read more “Changes, Postmodernism, Counterculture, Ego”

On The Road To Chaos In East Berlin (published MONDO 2000 1991)

by Morgan Russell

 

In honor of former MONDO editor and co-publisher Morgan Russell’s ashes finding their way back from Austria to his home state of Wisconsin, we present this marvelous unfinished piece he sent us about a Chaos Computer Club gathering in what was once East Berlin. The piece ended suddenly when Morgan didn’t send us the ending, but the fun is more in getting to the conference and getting in the conference than in the conference itself… or at least that’s what one would imagine.

 

“Chaos. It’s more than just a name. It’s our way of doing business!”

Germany’s Chaos Computer Club is known in the US primarily for its incursions into U.S. military and NASA computers (see Clifford Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg). Then there was the well-publicized information-for-money deal with the KGB that got busted. The latter was perpetrated by persons who, while not official club members, are at least within the Chaos Computer Club’s ambit. Little more is known about the Chaos group outside Germany.

Chaos members who might enlighten the rest of the world as to the nature of their organization seem to be nonexportable. One of their better-known members, Steffen Wernery, was arrested on charges of computer vandalism on his arrival in Paris where he had a speaking engagement. He was imprisoned for months. Other well-known members are understandably loathe to leave Germany.

Contact between the Chaos Computer Club and the East Berlin Computer Club was established at the CCC’s Christmastime ’89 Kongress in Hamburg. When I received calls from Hamburg and Amsterdam alerting me that the next CCC Kongress was imminent and to be held in the “East Zone,” as the West German computer security journal Daterschutz-Berate quaintly termed it, I immediately left for Europe.

Arriving in Amsterdam, I learned that I was a full month early. I suspect my informant was a bit hazy on the exact dates simply because he wanted an Amerikan around to talk to. No matter. I purposefully occupied my time doing preliminary fieldwork in Amsterdam, checking out its hacker underground, squatters’ movement, pirate radio and TV, and the newly identified Anti- Media Movement

 

“Destroy Media!”

Battle-cry of the Anti-Media Movement

I got my first glimmer of the Anti-Media Movement talking to a member of a group known as ADILKNO (The Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge). ADILKNO publishes manifestoes in a hyperintellectual art and media journal, Mediamatic. A magazine for the well-read polyglot, its matter is well-nigh impenetrable without a thorough knowledge of Baudrillard, Virilio, Bataille, and Eco, for starters. Its motto is, “We watch media like others watch TV.”

ADILKNO first proposed its attack on media in a Squatters’ Movement document: “By isolating the media, we will reach many more people! Within the movement, many feel we must give our opinions to the press.

The time in which we can reach our goals through public opinion has long been over!”

ADILKNO believes a “massive defection to reality” is occurring now that everything seems to be covered by the media. “The increasing need to make history in a hobby or tourist atmosphere, away from work, is consciously placing the media in the shadow of the event. For the moment, people have no more time for the media. . . Beyond the media traps, people clear the way tor themselves to do the right thing elsewhere. In Western museum cities, an avant-garde has formed the anti-media movement, which puts an end to all connections under the slogan, ‘Let’s pull down another media!’ With disappearing acts, it creates temporary and local media-free spaces. . . It is a pre-eminently secret movement because it carefully keeps itself out of the press and makes its existence known only through jamming and sabotage. All events that don’t appear in the media are claimed as a victory by the movement. . . The survival strategy of the media is to remain more interesting than reality.” Like that.

In the newly published Movement Teachings:Squatting Beyond the Media (as yet available only in Dutch), Geert Lovink and Arjen Mulder describe the “outer-medial experience” as “making history on the streets through ‘immediate’ (i.e. ‘media-free’) contact.”

The Anti-Media Movement is contentless. It can only be discerned, in Lovink and Mulder’s formulation, as “curious cuts in the data stream.” It is a question of “how we should read the gaps. Is it an accident or the Anti-Media Movement?” One needs “an eye for it.”

Hoping to catch traces of the meaningful gaps of the “AMM” at the CCC Kongress, I mobilize Special Forces: DFM Radio-Televisie.

Read more “On The Road To Chaos In East Berlin (published MONDO 2000 1991)”

The Subsequent State

by M. Christian

A short story from Hard Drive: The Best Sci-Fi Erotica by M. Christian

….

He remembered praying, though he was unsure if he spoke the words out loud or if they’d just been thundering through his mind: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done…

“The human intellect passes from its original state, in which it does not think, to a subsequent state, in which it does”

–Aristotle

I don’t know how to start this, so I guess I just have to. I hope you’ll understand that is something I have to do … even though I know it’s wrong. 

But I also know that I can’t live with myself until what happened to you will never happen to anyone – ever again. Knowing that they are out there and will come again and possibly take more that they have already taken – I have to do something.

I love you – and until I knew you, I never understood what that word meant, so I can say it in a way I could never say it before to a person who has given me so much.

Josh

* * * *

The world – looking out at it through the night vision goggles – was green: the tall, wild grasses where he crouched, and slowly crawled through, was green; the trees on the distant hills, which swayed in a low wind he couldn’t feel, being so close to the ground, were green. The stars in the sky were too bright – a wince there – pinholes of green stuck through a paler green canvas.

And there, between the hills, just below him, were the rolling geometries of what he’d been told they called environs: hexagonal panels joined together into organically rolling blisters. Through the plastic, fragmented by the interference of the structure, were the vividly dancing green of what he guessed were fires – and, moving much more slowly, carefully, purposefully were the green illuminations of people.

No, he corrected himself, squeezing the polycarbonate grip of his father’s gun, feeling the grid pattern even though the material of his gloves. Not people. 

There were cameras, which was why he was so low in the tall grass, but he’d learned that there weren’t that many of them – and the ones they did have more than likely wouldn’t be able to pick him up. 

So arrogant, he thought, relaxing his grip on the gun. A breath then, to steady himself. With the inhale and subsequent exhale, he momentarily closed his eyes against the green. There were sensors, microphones, and more, but they, too, shouldn’t be able to pick him up, especially against the rustle of the trees, so he allowed himself to move his lips, though he didn’t speak, he prayed: Should we perish in the struggle, may God embrace us and find for us a place in His Kingdom.

The hill he was on rolled down to an access road: an unpaved narrow ribbon that undulated around the edge of the structures. When he reached where the grass ended and it began, he turned and lowered himself down, taking the final inch between his boots and the dirt path cautiously slow. Both feet down, he dropped and lowered himself all the way, scanning left, then right, then left again, looking for any sign he’d been spotted – but all he saw was the road vanishing around one bend and then the other. 

In front of him, between the hexagon-paneled roof of the environ and the ground, was a low wall of coarse-surfaced bricks. The wall, the plastic immensity of the structure, the dirt at his feet – everything he could see was still an artificially brilliant green. 

When he turned the goggles off, then flipped them away from his eyes, the world was absolutely dark… but only before his eyes adjusted: gradually his memory of the environ – its geometric panels, its organic bulge that now filled half the sky, blocking the intensity of the truly white stars, the bare coarseness of the road, the almost-as-course bricks – was replaced by his actual vision.

A few yards away, he could see a break in the wall: a man-height indentation. Getting closer, he saw the handle.

There’d be an alarm the moment he turned it: five, maybe ten, minutes maximum, before a patrol arrived and gunned him down. His best chance would be to get in and then move as far away from the door as he could – if he was lucky, buying himself an extra few minutes.

Breath in, breath out, right hand on the gun, left hand hovering an inch above the handle. Brave warriors, should fate find us in battle,may our cause be just. May our leaders have clear vision. May our courage not falter –

He closed his eyes, and when he did, he saw again their bodies: the blood, thick and brown on the carpet; their arms and legs turned and twisted clumsily where they fell. The smell of hot copper in the air.

On the wall – painted with the blood of his daughter or his wife – was the Greek letter for alpha, the symbol of the Noos.

Five or ten minutes. Not much time. Turning the handle, pushing the door inwards, he prayed to Jesus Christ that he had enough time to kill at least that many of them. 

* * * *

From the door, he found himself on a narrow path, floored by planks: some kind of access way between the rest of the environ and the wall. The wood muffled his steps: a small miracle.

Earthly fertilizer, freshly cut wood, perfumed smoke, sickly-sweet flowers: an arboretum tickled his nose. Vision further adjusting, he saw the wall to his left, and the intertwined branches of trees on his right – bright and raw, where someone had clipped them to keep the path free. Leaves swiped at his eyes, brushed against his uniform, but otherwise he trotted, hand on the butt of his gun, almost silently.

Silently: no alarm, no sirens. They had to know; they had to be on the way. Five minutes, maybe ten … hopefully more. 

Then the path turned sharply and vanished. Still being led by it, he was spilled out onto the edge of a small, plowed field. When his boots kicked at one of the furrows, the scent of nature bloomed up his nose. In the distance were the golden glows of the fires that had been the green dancers in his goggles. Flickering in and out of darkness beyond them were more and more trees, but also the further distant forms of what looked like a four-tall step of square windows.

“Hello.”

Down the sights of the gun, she was rosy … almost golden … intermittently lit, sporadically revealed by the distant bonfires. 

She was older than he was by five years or maybe even ten. Her hair was so red the fire made the curls and tumbles of it look like she was as much alight as the flames. Her face was lined, but each seam and wrinkle looked like the end, or the beginning, of a happy grin. Her eyes were bright, either orange from the far-off flames, or that color under any light. Around her neck was a leather thong, tugged down between her breasts by what looked like stone charms and tiny brass bells. She was plump: a healthy weight in arms and legs that spoke of her nature, a comfort in that what she was … she was.

“There’s no reason to be afraid.”

She was naked: not bare, not stripped, not exposed. She stood, still at the end of his pistol’s sight, rich earth squished up between the toes on her feet; her heavy breasts, dark-nippled and tanned, were also … what she was. Between her heavy thighs was a triangular curl of also-red hair – as wild and unkempt as the curls that flowed and spilled down her back and arms. There was no clumsy dance of seduction, no loud arousal in her: the earth between her toes; the dark, tanned richness of her skin; the freedom of her hair; the naturalness of her body – all of it was simple, honest, and earthy―

And she, or her people, had killed his wife and daughter: slipping in at night and slitting their throats. Brave warriors, should fate find us in battle, may our cause be just. May our leaders have clear vision. May our courage not falter. Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior―

“No one is going to hurt you.”

She spread her arms. Down his sights, he saw her smile: a sign of calm, of peace, of welcome.

The shot was thunder, a crack of nightmare loud that matched and then beat the drumming of his heart. In his hands, the pistol bucked, wrenching his wrist and arm. 

It fell from his hand, so heavy he felt its impact through the soil even through the soles of his boots. He followed it down, his knees plunging into the thick, soft darkness of the field. Read more “The Subsequent State”

Happy Labor Day (Imagine)

Imagine you live in a small town of 10,000. One guy owns half of everything. A few other people own the rest of it. About 1,000 people are starving or almost starving. 3,000 more are in the streets or overcrowded in ramshackle homes. A large group of people, most of them with dark skin, are locked in cages. About half of the rest of the population live very close to the edge of homelessness or the like. Almost all of the rest of the people sell there time for tickets that allow them to have enough food, a roof overhead and maybe some medical help… and have some enjoyments amidst worries of depression or economic collapse, extreme weather disasters, war, fascism and tribalistic hostilities.  

Happy Labor Day!

 

What’s Eating Jaron Lanier (written about 5 years ago)

R.U. Sirius

So I came across this thing I never published and I like it quite a bit even though I should probably update it but I have a toothache.

So let me just protest that I love Jaron and really loved his recent quasi-autobiographical book Dawn of the New Everything: A Journey Through Virtual Reality 

Anyway, here is something from several years ago in the raw…

……………………..

Every few years, one of my friends from the early days of digital enthusiasm turns up on the media’s radar as a “defector.”

Huzzah! The former advocate or progenitor of the Next New Thing has turned into a flaming critic.  Perhaps he or she has even issued a Jeremiad against the former Great Hope of All Humanity.  It’s a turnkey, media-ready narrative, easy to convey and easy for a reading public that pays little attention to the more complicated discourses taking place around the impacts of radical technology to digest.  He was for it. Now he’s agin’ it.  You can tweet that and have enough characters left over for a haiku.    

Jaron Lanier, who emerged into the media spotlight in the early ’90s as the chief spokesperson for Virtual Reality, seems to be having a longer — and more vocal — run at this sort of thing than most. His 2000 piece — “One Half A Manifesto” — published in Wired, struck out against what he saw as a cybernetic totalism wherein some techno enthusiasts were laboring to create our nonbiological replacement species.  With his  2011 book, You Are Not  A Gadget, he went a bit further into “fighting the future,” finding aspects of the Web 2.0 culture depersonalizing and economically unfair to creatives.  In a recent and much-ballyhooed portrait in The Smithsonian magazine titled “What Turned Jaron Lanier Against The Web,” Ron Rosenbaum portrays Jaron as being like a “spy who came in from the cold.”  

The whole Manichean set-up is a bit much, but the actual content of Jaron’s complaints, I think, are not particularly obscure and touch a disquieted nerve in many of us — particularly those of us who have experienced life before the ubiquity of the social web.

The bummer, according to Lanier — at least as expressed in the aforementioned article — are as follows:

1: We are falling into a “hive mind.” Being webbed together — living in public and thinking collectively leads to a sort of insectoid de-individualization and a devaluation of excellence.  Some time back, Lanier called Wikipedia “digital Maoism” and questioned the au courant deference to “the wisdom of the crowd.”

2:  That whole “Information wants to be free” thing — what some call “free culture” — is not economically kind to artists, musicians, writers and creative folks in general.  Aside from being economically devalued, skilled creative types are demeaned as we’re pushed down into the shit end of the Long Tail along with the vast, relatively unskilled hordes who are happy to provide their own content, thank you very much, and to grab up our stuff for free.  The creative middle class is being disintermediated.

3:  Digitized music sucks

4:  The same technology that privileges file sharing also privileges the plutocratic finance economy.  Digital networked capital is unfair and largely disconnected from actual productivity. 

5:  The Singularitarians are fanatical quasi-religious nuts

6:  Most anonymous people  assholes.  There’s a virtual tsunami of ugliness and hate that seems to be gathering force. Read more “What’s Eating Jaron Lanier (written about 5 years ago)”

Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 2: Danielle Robinson From the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society

Danielle Robinson will be presenting at the Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day & International Hackathon in San Francisco,  on Saturday November 10, 2018) and also that night, during our Saturday Evening Event, where she and Karissa McKelvey will explain why the distributed web is so important.

    Saturday Schedule & Evening Event   Projects To Hack On

 Tickets 

Above: Danielle Robinson from the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society@daniellecrobins

By Lisa Rein

Danielle Robinson is the Co-Executive Director of Code for Science & Society, supporting and advising folks desiring to create open source technologies in the public interest. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University, while studying the role of phosphoinositide signaling in myelination for her dissertation project.

As a Mozilla Fellow for Science, she ran “Working Open Workshops“, explored decentralized approaches to data sharing and preservation, and advocated for policies that facilitate open access to research.

I originally contacted Danielle strictly on her professional reputation, after I asked Tracey Jaquith at the Internet Archive who would be a good person to explain why the distributed web is so important and in the public’s best interest.

During our email exchange, Danielle shared with me how much she had been influenced by Aaron and his work. It was all quite interesting, so I asked Danielle if she would share her story here.

Lisa Rein: Danielle, thank you so much for talking openly about this. I know these stories can be very personal. You mentioned that Aaron and his work meant a lot to you?

Danielle: Yes, I was a second year PhD student when he died. I was already disillusioned with academia and just beginning to see how I could put that energy to use. Aaron’s work had a big impact on my life and I would not be doing what I do today without his influence.

LR: Really? How did he influence you?

DR: Well, although I did not know Aaron Swartz personally, on a fundamental level, Aaron’s work on open access issues set the stage to grow the movement. I became a part of that movement and it changed my life. Aaron’s work impacted me and many of my colleagues at Dat (https://datproject.org/) the broader Code for Science & Society community, and in the open access movement.

Along with my colleague Joe Hand, I run Code for Science & Society, a nonprofit that supports public interest technology. We work with projects like Dat to build capacity, develop partnerships, and build software centered in the public’s interest.

Note that our next Code for Science & Society Community Call will be on Friday Sept 7 9am PST. Interested folks can join our mailing list or follow @codeforsociety on Twitter for more details about tuning in. These meetings are always super fun and newcomers are welcome to attend.

More on this last “Community Call” (photo below) here in the Recap.

Names top to bottom, L to R Chris Ritzo and Georgia Bullen from Measurement Lab
Hugh Isaacs II, Nokome Bentley from Stencila, Naomi Penfold from eLife, Danielle Robinson,
Yoshua Wuyts, Rik Smith-Una, Mathias Buus Madsen.

DR: Aaron’s story had a huge impact on me on a technical level as well. The Dat Project began as a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing tool for moving around large scientific datasets. As the Dat community has developed, use cases have grown to include the Beaker Browser – a P2P browser, ScienceFair – a P2P publication sharing application, and Mapeo – offline friendly mapping software developed to help protect indigenous land rights. There’s even a Dat-based decentralized data sharing pilot project with Internet Archive, California Digital Library, and San Diego Supercomputer Center.

I’m a believer in the potential of P2P technologies and the decentralized web to change the way knowledge is disseminated. I consider open science/scholarship to include equity, justice, and opening the profession of scholarship to historically marginalized communities. Building offline-friendly tools, baking in free access, and creating decentralized communities can help open the profession of research and scholarship. A personal goal is to build systems that provide free access to knowledge.

Working with the open access movement via OpenCon, the Code for Science & Society community, and projects like Dat, ScienceFair, and the decentralized data sharing project – I am privileged to wake up everyday and work towards that goal.

LR: You mentioned that Aaron’s death happened at a time when you were becoming “disillusioned with academia.” Would you mind expanding on what you meant exactly?

DR: I started a PhD program in 2011, after working for about three years as a technician I thought I understood the system and rather naively imagined my PhD as a time of intellectual freedom. I am sure it is for some folks.

But the reality of my PhD was quite different, I was working on the grants of my advisor and didn’t have a lot of freedom. Rather than being empowered to pursue knowledge and share information, there was a competitive and secretive culture which extended from lab meetings (opportunities for intellectual take-downs) to keeping our work under wraps for fear of getting scooped.

Read more “Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 2: Danielle Robinson From the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society”