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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The dark side of the virtual...

This spring various U.S. military personnel with combat experience in the Iraqi war will become the first soldiers to try out an elaborate, detailed piece of computer software called Earth. Drawn from terrain data-bases, it is, in the words of one spokesperson from the company that designed it, "a massive, multi-user persistent environment" that will correlate as closely as possible with with real-world physical laws. In fact, there are plans to model the entire planet to proper scale, so that participants could walk across the surface of any nation on the planet if they so desired. Clearly then, although the software is being designed by the gaming company There, this is no game. The pupose behind all this high-tech razzle-dazzle is to help prepare U.S. ground-troops for combat anywhere in the world by familiarizing them with the potential hazards and vagaries of the terrain in advance.

So, obviously, despite protests to the contrary by most vested interests in the U.S. and their cronies in the mass media, this impressive technological display is clearly linked with their agenda of Empire-building and neo-colonialism. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the noose of U.S. global dominance is growing tighter as the planning and strategy behind its military operations becomes increasingly geared toward perfecting its global-strike capabilities. That is to say, the current U.S. military administration wants to be able to deploy manximum martial might quickly and efficiently anywhere in the world. And, they want those on-the-ground-forces to become as proficient as possible at fighting on any terrain imaginable on the planet.

Why, you may ask? To protect the interests of the U.S. and it's allies around the globe, naturally. That's the reason why Bush and his merry gang of killers are using the tenuous pretext of national security concerns to increase military spending to its highest level in years. It's all going to fund an out-of-control military machine bent on enforcing the hegemony of the U.S. capitalist class upon the rest of the world. Dominance, not defence, is the name of the game. Just be careful about levying any charges of Empire-building or neo-colonialism. Who--us? Naaaaahhh...

Consider that in conjunction with...

In a relatively recent anthology of ruminations upon cyber-culture called Digital Delirium (eds. Arthur and Marie-Louise Kroker), theorist Paul Virilio expressed concern that modern computer technology was becoming capable of creating a virtual reality complex and detaled enough to rival what we currently think of as reality. What really fascinated him was the idea that as more and more of us spend more and more time in this computer-generated world, it could eventually challenge what we now call reality for dominance. In other words, computers are a form of media technology that contain within themselves the potential to generate an entire new level of ontology.

And, some people are beginning to lay down roots there...

The Sims, a wildly popular computer game has given birth to an offshoot called the Sims Online. This is an online virtual world composed of cities such as Alphaville, its largest metropolis. It was designed to be a virtual utopia; a place where every citizen has a place to live, is free to pursue the career of their dreams, as well as to be freed from the myriad economic and social contraints that restrict their lives in the real world. In this online realm there are places to work, socialize and hangout; shops, services, and even virtual pets to care for.

Sadly, like most things that sound too good to be true, life in Alphaville has proven to be something of a disappointment for its many residents. Most of the neighbourhoods are controlled by organized crime cartels. Child prostitution is rampant. And, the economy is perpetually on the verge of collapse. Not surprisingly, this generalized social dissolution has led to the rise of various shadowy, self-declared governments/protection-rackets that obviously have learned a thing or two from people like Joseph Stalin and Ho Chi Minh. One former resident, a professor of philosophy named Peter Ludlow, who attempted to alert the game's developers to what was going on in the Alphaville Herald (a separate website), found himself summarily ejected from the city, and his accounts were closed down.

It isn't the fact that an online utopian experiment failed as the the collective dark-side of the digital multitude was given free expression that is so disturbing. It is the idea that an entirely separate ontological sphere is rapidly developing in which a burgeoning number of people are immersing themselves. Taken alongside the fact that virtual technology is increasingly being placed in the service of elite interests in their quest for domination and control of an already desecrated and beaten-down human community, one has to wonder if anyone will even notice what is happening anymore in the so-called real world? Because we aren't very likely to read all about it in the Alphaville Herald.

The stories I'm referring to are here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3507531.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3334923.stm

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Took in an absolutely CRUSHING show on Sunday at NASA (609 Queen St. W), featuring an entire evening of tweaked-beat heaviness from the likes of Knifehand Chop, C-64, and Proteus. It was an evening of ragga-jungle-breakcore-hiphop-triphop and, of course, bionic armchair soma. I was in heaven for most of the night, with standout sets by C-64 and Proteus (best hiphop/triphop set i've heard in ages). If this sounds like your thing, check out the following url and join the community forum by clicking in the appropriate places:

http://alteredbeats.com
"Communist revolution can only succeed as a fight not just against the misery imposed by capitalism, but also against the riches it offers...Only by getting sick of the riches that are now proposed or promised to a minority of human beings shall we put an end to the all-too-real abject poverty that is the fate of the majority."

That's an excerpt from the latest essay from the always intriguing French ultra-leftist site Troploin, which also features many amazing tracts by people such as Gilles dauve and JF Martin. The latest is by K. Nesik, and it's called, "The Call of the Void." It's another masterpiece, so be sure to check it out here:

http://troploin0.free.fr/biblio/callvoid/

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Note to self...nice anti-racist resource here:

http://www.utoronto.ca/acc/events/peggy1.htm

Thursday, February 26, 2004

There are a few upcoming events here in gravi-capital's northern stronghold of Toronto that promise the possibility of lines of escape being traced and lift-off being achieved.

The first is set to go down this Friday, February 27th at the Labrynth Lounge. It's Frankie Gunns' birthday, and he's going to have a bunch of special guests at his party, including Medicine Muffin, Recoil, Toxic, and the mighty C-64. And, word has it that Medicine Muffin has dragged out a few crates of old-skook jungle, circa 1993, just for this event. It should be a thumping night! It's set to start at 10 pm, and admission is only 5 dollars before midnight. So, get there early and be sure to share your rocket-fuel, cosmonauts

The next digital hardcore extravaganza is set to go the very next night at the Oasis West. Hardcore V6.66 features such noisy luminaries as Dead of Winter, Crushkill, and Detroit's very own Adjust. It should be an eye-lid melting, brain-scraping fuck-of-a-show, and admission is only 5 dollars or pay-what-you-can. You don't have much of an excuse to miss this one, so drag your gas-huffin' asses out from under the blankets because spring is in the air, and the digital hardcore locals are rarin' to stomp your brains into mush. It'll hurt them a lot more than you. Promise.

http://www.smerk.org
http://www.lowres.com
http://www.theeq.com
http://www.famefame.com
http://www.dow.phantasmagory.com
http://www.crushkill.com


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Potent Quotables
"When theory is not adequate in science, the only realistic approach is experimental. Experiment is the touchstone of science on which the theories are formed. It is the court of last resort. What is clearly needed are experimental societies!"

"We should be encouraging social, economic, and political experimentation on a massive scale in all countries."

"Ecology has been called the subversive science because every time a serious effort to preserve a feature of the environment is made, it runs into enormous numbers of social or economic vested interests."
-Carl Sagan in The Cosmic Connection

"The absence of intellectual mechanisms for questioning our own actions becomes clear when the expression of any unstructured doubt...is automatically categorized as naive or idealistic or bad for the economy or simply bad for jobs...Our society contains no method of serious self-criticism for the simple reason that it is now a self-justifying system which generates its own logic."
-John Ralston Saul

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Remember that little mini-essay I wrote fawning over Oliver's Citta Violenta blog? Well, he also does another one called A Time for Fear that features a lot of his writings on geo-politics. That's where I got the url to this handy news source I thought was worth sharing with anyone who may stumble in here. Asia Times Online:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page.html

A Time for Fear:

http://www.atimeforfear.blogspot.com/

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