September, 2014

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.

Sep 14

Is An Apocalypse of Violence Coming?

Just a soothing thought to help you sleep…I am very much afraid that by 2035, the social pressures from populace displacement in the wake of rising seas and droughts and other famine-inducing climate problems, along with ever proliferating weaponry, confrontational cultures, xenophobic anxiety, and simple survival fears, will be magnified by crisis level population growth. Population density, past 8 billion, will amplify all those stresses, more crowding increasing tension and competition for scarce resources…leading to a peak of volatility. In short–the chances of violence will be vastly increased.

Violence, en masse and small scale, will reach a dramatic historic peak, a tsunami of bloodletting, a paroxysm of catharsis.

Just waves of violence rolling around the world…and then the population will be much reduced. What a miserable way to do it.

Some glibly cite reports that population is diminishing but in fact it’s only the *rate of increase* that is starting to diminish. According to reports from the UN and other groups, overall population will continue to increase across the globe until around 2050. Meanwhile, we’ll get up to 9 billion people halfway through the century.

If you want to do something about the risk of increased violence from all these factors, work to reduce carbon pollution and thus slow climate change. Education, too, can work against violence so support education and outreach where you can…

Conservation and education, taken together, comprise the best hope for our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Sep 14

“Piper at the Gates of Hell: An Interview with Cyberpunk Legend John Shirley” — at Vice Magazine’s Motherboard

From the intro: “Dweller of dark Thisworld and Otherworlds, chronicler of “street” and assembler of mechanisms to go beyond, John Shirley breathes forth a smoggy twilight that is the end of the American Dream. A novelist at 18, tutored by Dune’s Frank Herbert, Ursula LeGuin, and Harlan Ellison, Shirley is the closest known phenomenon to being our Edgar Allen Poe.”

To read the whole thing, article and interview with lots of photos, click on the link: