Oct 14

Eat Your Bar Codes! Children in North Africa Wish They Had bar Codes to Eat

Will GMO vegetables and fruit eventually be tinkered so that bar codes grow right on each celery, tomato, ear of corn, pear, and so on?

From a future Monsanto FAQ list: “We’re often asked if the bar codes that are appear on produce,thanks to genetic engineering, are edible. Yes they are! They are part of the skin of each vegetable and fruit, and can be consumed with enjoyment, since each one has a tang designed for the specific fruit or vegetable they appear on. Bar codes grown on our GMO tomatoes have a mild salty taste, since many people enjoy salt on tomatoes. Bar codes on potatoes are mildly buttery. Each bar code is infused with extra vitamins. So enjoy your bar codes–they’re the imprint of good taste, good health, and good engineering!”

Oct 14

To the Greedy who Brazenly Blare About the Bible and Demean the Poor

There are many who frantically wave the Bible and claim to reverence it who have scarcely read it; most of them formed their impressions of it from misheard preachers, or heard those who despoiled the riches of the Bible, or who focused on the Bible’s Old Testament barbarities–naturally it is barbarous as the Bible is a product of human beings. (But perhaps a few were inspired human beings.)

Those who blare of the so-called “Prosperity Gospel”, exhorting the hoarding of wealth; sneering at the poor, calling them indolent–certainly these buffoons have never studied the New Testament’s Epistle of James, which comes between Hebrews and 1 Peter. Opinions vary, but it was likely, in large part, dictated to a scribe by James, the brother of Jesus of Nazareth.

Here are relevant selections: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world…”

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire…Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”

Oct 14

Child Abuse on the Set of The Walking Dead? Quite Possibly So.

Saw the season premier of The Walking Dead which was well directed, edited, well made– and played out exactly as I assumed it would. It was a pretty disturbing episode but what disturbed me most was not the fiction but the real life bit: there’s a baby in the show, right? They showed a bad guy grabbing the baby, threatening to kill it unless someone disarms. Right. Okay but this was *a real baby* and the real baby was genuinely frightened by the actor. Really frightened. Really small baby. Parents? Off camera, watching. Hey, a paycheck is a paycheck. Baby harmed? Perhaps not. But was it right to *actually* terrify an *actual* baby for your entertainment?

It was not. I’ve often seen really small children on various shows, and you can see they’re unhappy and pressured. They are looking out of shot at their parents…

But this is the worst I’ve seen. That baby was terrified by that actor and what he was doing.

I think they should be called on this.

That baby was terrified and *terrified is hurt*.

Oct 14

A Glimmer of Light

I keep having to remind myself…

When I look around at humanity, at human behavior, and I see the innate selfishness of people, the likelihood of otherwise decent human beings becoming icy-hearted monsters overnight should their food and territory be threatened…I have to remind myself that it’s amazing that society, such as it is, works at all.

It’s inspires hope to see mundane, day to day accord; to see people stopping at traffic lights, signalling when they change lanes; to see at least some people picking up their trash as they leave a beach; to see people recycling; to see (some) cops actually trying to help people; to see almost all planes landing safely; to see most people on freeways reaching their destination safely; to see the great majority of people behave civilly in a restaurant or mall; to see people simply checking out books in libraries, and returning them; to see kids at least showing up for school; to see a city fix a water main; to see a functioning, well maintained sewage treatment plant; to see people show up at the voting booth…We take those things for granted. But we shouldn’t.

We’ve forgotten how abundantly possible it is to have social chaos to the point where those simple things are not routine. The fact that they’re possible at all, given human nature, strikes me the way a distant light glimmering from a town would if I were lost in a dark, cold, night-shrouded forest. A distant gleam–yet that glimmer is all around us, in ordinary life.

And look a little further–you can see lawyers working pro bono to get the wrongly convicted freed; to see a corporation with a large program to help children living in foster homes; to see people organizing, with no profit motive, to save elephants from extinction or to provide clean water to sickly children in a far away land…

I keep having to remind myself…

Oct 14

The rainbow animation

Watering plants in the sun we see rainbows in the stream. It seems to me that the rainbow is an animation, a sort of cartoon. The rainbow looks quite consistent; true, it wavers in an out of view with the irregularity of the waterflow but it’s usually intact for several seconds. Each individual drop is a prism, very briefly refracting the sun. But each drop is also moving; is on its way from hose to plants. I’m seeing an area of refraction repeated by passing drops, each one offering its individual animation cell for a split second as it passes; it then flies beyond the ideal viewing angle, with respect to my eyes, but a following drop does its own refraction as it too passes.

The overall rainbow is complete with the usual range of colors, vivid primary colors and purple shading to violet, orange to red. The whole image is one finished rainbow, rippling like a banner in the wind. This is remarkable in itself: the animation not just drop by drop at the ideal angle, but laterally expressed into a curving rainbow band. The precision of randomness again seems innately contradictory but it’s simply a beautifully written-out equation; it’s written in air, sunlight, water, gravitation, momentum, velocity, and other insignia, over and over again…

Sep 14

REPORT ON the third planet from the sun in system 3991919511

‘To summarize our report 789797 on the civilization occupying the third planet from the sun in system 3991919511 in galaxy 171090891, it is enough to say that this bipedal species succumbed to classic “screen neurological fixation” syndrome. Our team’s final extended observations confirmed that the majority of the species spent most of its time staring into rectangular screens of various sizes, caught up in imagery attuned to their nervous systems, their neuronal firing, and, most of all, stimulation of hormones by symbolic scenarios designed to replicate ancient instinctual responses to visual cues relating to mating, acquisition of resources and protection of territory.

‘In addition, the ubiquitous rectangular screen imagery was thought to be charged with cultural significance, “art”, religious iconography, and “the joy of living in the free marketplace”; these superstitions were persistent, and served to reinforce the glamor of the imagery in all its manifestations. “Social media” provided highly addictive stimuli to personal recognition centers of the brain, and entertainment media provided further stimuli, by proxy, to areas associated with sexual congress and violent self assertion. Reinforcement of familiar “memes” stimulated release of other neurological chemicals associated with maternal reassurance.

‘These hypnotic pattern fixations prevented a wider awareness of existential risk, hence the majority of the species was increasingly unlikely to act on indications of risk and were unable to counter certain more goal-driven segments of the population who were adding exponentially to environmental damage. The species reached mass terminus after about 259 thousand years of expansion…’

Sep 14


SILICON EMBRACE… Now back in ebook. Just as bizarre, just as apocalyptic. New updated re-edited revised just-plain-better edition.

“A near-future where technology and ancient spiritual secrets merge into something very strange… something as strange as a silicon embrace.”

“John Shirley has written the best novel of his career. Mature yet youthfully indignant, spiritually insightful yet carnally streetwise, his new book is aboil with ideas and action, full of keen-eyed speculations for the future and daring revisions of history.”—Asimov’s

“Silicon Embrace is at once sly, sad eloquent, gonzo, mystic, surreal, and all-American, mixing the pulpiest Sci-Fi with true literary sophistication. A new gem from John Shirley.—Locus


Sep 14

Bombing the Scumbags is Sometimes killing the Innocent Too

Yes ISIS (ISIL) threatens to overwhelm our allies, to set up a terrorist caliphate; yes they have butchered thousands of innocent people, have taken a large number of women prisoner, have raped and tortured them, taken children to SELL–and yes we have to stop that. What worries me about our effort at stopping these people is that we are currently using bombing attacks to deal with them, and there are civilians in the way–and I’m amazed at how the media hasn’t even mentioned this possibility.

ISIS is known for taking lots of prisoners for various uses; if they’re hiding out in Syria, they’re hiding behind Syrians. And they are exactly the sort of scum to hide behind civilians. President Obama had to do something. I get that he (and most of America) doesn’t want a new US troop force sent into another war. But someone has to bring troops in. The coalition has to do it. It’s the only hope of getting at these mass murderers without killing lots of civilians by accident.

Chances are we won’t know for a long time how many innocents are killed in our bombings. It’s disturbing to consider. The President is between a rock and a hard place.

Sep 14

The Machines Are Screaming

At Best Buy yesterday, the products screamed. Some of them did.

They were smartphones and other devices cabled to tables that would suddenly siren at ear-splitting volume. When people tugged at them with a fractional excess of energy, they began to shriek with alarms. I was there about forty minutes and this happened five times. (No, I didn’t trigger one.) Can you imagine the stress of working there with that happening all day? Each alarm gave out a different repetitive, squalling, nerve wracking sound–it’s own proud, distinct variation. Sometimes it went on for four or five minutes. A Best Buy employee had to come and turn off the things manually each time they squalled.

And in no case did it really appear that anyone was trying to steal them. They were triggered by clumsy adults and impulsive children tugging at them a little.

This alarm–high pitched, piercing, and LOUD–when someone touches a sample item, one they’re being enticed to touch, seems to be a recent innovation at Best Buy and it’s a hamfisted one. It’s as if the store is hysterical, half-mad with fear of shoplifting.

On and on it went. After awhile, I started to understand what the sirens were saying, “HELLLLP! SOMEONE IS STEALING ME! THEY’RE PULLING MY CABLE TOO HARD! OH GOD! I CAN’T BEAR IT! I HAVE TO WEEEP WEEEP WEEEP WEEEP SHRIIIIIIIEEEEK! Please God! If you steal me Best Buy loses several hundred dollars! PLEASE NOOOOOOO! I HAVE TO SCREEEEEEAAAAAAAAM!”

Someone shoot that smart phone and put it out of its misery.

And you know what happened when I went into the parking lot? Right. A car alarm went off. The machines won’t stop screaming.

Sep 14

Hillary and Barack Meant Well. But I Think They’ll Find Out They Were Conned On Fracking

I believe–I have no documentation at hand however–that this is how it came about that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton promoted fracking: At the time, natural gas was thought to be a good compromise with the fuel industry–and in itself it *was* good. Natural gas was still the fuel biz’s product, making them happy when it was sold, and when it burns, it burns very cleanly. So a win/win.

Then the fuel companies said, in effect, “We will run short of natural gas that is easily reached. But if we do more of this *harmless* process, fracking, we can have natural gas more and using natural gas will reduce pollution.”

It was explained how fracking was “safe”. And she and Obama fell for this. They made the mistake of believing industry “science”.

So they got behind it. Neither one knew that fracking would cause pollution of groundwater and, possibly, earthquakes. They’re probably still both in denial or dragging their feet on it because a world leader hates to reverse course.

But I think they will have to reverse course on this. The evidence is piling up. A consensus is building. People who are part of the Republican base, as well as Democratic, are being hurt by fracking.

As for why Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State “sold it to the world”, as the UK Guardian described it, the administration figured that encouraging more natural gas use globally in place of other more polluting fuels reduces the worst kind of carbon footprint and, importantly, helps stimulate America’s economy by helping American businesses that worked overseas. “We’ll be able to do more investment in America, Barack and Bill, if you push this!”

I’m afraid they were suckered. I hope they realize it soon.