Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Years Ago: A WTO Memoir Part 2 (Tuesday, N30)

I had to teach a couple of math classes in the early afternoon north of Seattle.  After returning to central Seattle about 3:00 PM (there was no disruption of traffic), I turned on the TV. Massive street protests were surrounding the Convention Center.  There were reports of a confrontation where police were actually thrown back at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Union Street.  I left the house and walked down Yesler Way to 6th avenue near I-5.

If I recall correctly, there was no vehicular traffic past the Seneca ramp, but it might have been Madison.  There were a large number of State Troopers present, but their mission seemed limited to keeping I-5 open.  Of all the police (not counting the National Guard who saw the whole thing as a joke), WSP maintained the highest level of professionalism I witnessed by far.  If only the others had followed their lead...

Anyway, as expected, I encountered my first group of protesters blocking the intersection of 6th and Union.  They did not really impress me.  They were a bunch of sad, stupid looking old hippies who seemed to think it was O.K. to scream at everyone who wasn't white to "Go home!" and anyone wearing office attire a "whore."  A couple of tiny Asian women actually hid behind me.  Some action appeared to be taking place at Pike Street, but there was no way to get there.  After I'd had enough of their bullshit, I decided to walk a few blocks to the Rainer Square building at 4th Avenue, where I had arranged to meet friends.

The demonstrators blocking the intersection of 4th and Union were pacifist college kids having some sort of teach-in.  Judging by the relaxed manner of the police present, there had not been the same sort of confrontation that had occurred elsewhere.  However, at this location is where I recall smelling the tear gas for the first time.

Eventually, Travis B. (who sometimes writes for this blog), my former brother-in-law and his friend arrived and we went to eat dinner as the sun began to set (which is around 5:00 PM this time of year).  For some reason, Travis B. and I, split from the other two, and went to eat at the Olympic Broiler at 2nd and Pike.  Before it closed several years later, it was always my favorite diner in the area because the food was good and cheap.  It had had some colorful clientele.  I recall offering to kick someone's ass if he did not shut the fuck up and quit calling me a tourist.  He politely declined and apologized.  It was here, over the T.V., that I first heard the Mayor's declaration of that part of the City as a "No-Protest Zone."  They may have said something about outlawing gas masks, but that might have been later.  In any event, as soon as I stepped out the door, the need for a gas mask was plainly evident.

The police, according to a few people I spoke with, were driving everyone up the hill (towards Capital Hill) and out of downtown with tear gas.  The justification was the disorder and looting that had occurred.  Basically, regardless of whether people were actually involved, they declared war on the populace with chemical warfare.

We made our way up Pike Street where a number of demonstrators were beginning to make a stand.  Knowing from personal experience that police are less likely to mess with big people, I scoped a group of large men, mostly Teamsters Local 7 members, and attached myself to their group.  However, the police used so much tear gas that we were all driven up the hill with everyone else.  I remember someone in one of the big condo towers had dragged their stereo onto their deck and was blasting "The Star Spangled Banner" by Jimi Hendrix.  After crossing Boren, the police seemed satisfied to hold the line, and I went home.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

10 Years Ago: A WTO Memoir Part 1 (Monday N29)

Ten years ago tonight, living in Seattle, I was curious about the WTO Ministerial Meeting.  I can't say I new much about it at the time.  I had read in some anarchist rag about plans to disrupt the ministerial, and wanted to check out the security.  My sister's ex- was staying with me.  He had plans to attend the Tibet rally.  Two others came along.  We walked down the hill and headed over to the Convention Center vicinity.  As we strode through the streets there was an obvious covert police presence, but little else.  We walked back up the hill.  I had to teach class in the early afternoon, so I went to bed at my usual late time.
Experiences may be both relative and irrelevant.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ideal outcomes only exist in stories.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On Singularities #5

Technology is an application of technique.  As such, it is subject to the constraints of the science upon which it is based.  By its nature, the most efficient techniques are incorporated into its design.  Technology is therefore limited by physical constraints.  Energy must therefore be expended to maintain a steadily increasing state.  Absent this impetus, environmental forces ensure that things will fall downward.  In addition, spending resources in limited directions will enable decay and disorder in those systems thus neglected.  Civilization is many intertwining systems.  Who knows which threads will cause everything to unravel or constrict?

On the other hand, absent nuclear apocalypse, no Fall need be complete.  Some strands may even be strengthened.  Some may inevitably realize what is important and what is not.  Little is total.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On Singularities #4

Commonly, there are two broad categories of scenarios that will result in singularities.  The first, which can be represented by the science fiction of Vernor Vinge, is the result of a hyper-technological society.  Basically some revolutionary technological advance will result in spontaneous evolution of humanity to the next level (whatever that might be).  The second category of scenarios ranges from the extreme of nuclear holocausts to economically and/or environmentally caused crashes of civilization.  In other words, depending on the writer, humanity will either become something more or less.

But what of neither?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On Singularities #3

Singularities may not be singular.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

For a believer, facts are not always truth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"I returned to the Holiday Inn — where they have a swimming pool and air-conditioned rooms — to consider the paradox of a nation that has given so much to those who preach the glories of rugged individualism from the security of countless corporate sinecures, and so little to that diminishing band of yesterday's refugees who still practice it, day by day, in a tough, rootless and sometimes witless style that most of us have long since been weaned away from."

- Hunter S. Thompson (1937 – 2005).  Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On Singularities #2

i. Society and culture are discarded as impediments for the furtherance of a technological society.  Who needs them?

ii. No one would actually sacrifice their lives for a technological society.  Who cares that much?

iii. A singularity may approach when one has no choice other than drowning amongst the wreckage.  Who made that choice?

iv. We did it to ourselves.  Who you calling "we?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

A technological society can only be destroyed from without, whereas it may only be undermined from within.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Truth, told through lies, undermines itself.

Propaganda Technique: Example

See Here for my discussion of the a propaganda technique that attempts to equate two unlike thing.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On Singularities #1

A singularity, to use a physics metaphor, is basically a future event or existence that is impossible to predict as this time.  The best one can hope for is to identify trends which point toward its potential existence.  As any web search will confirm, there many different ideas as to what is to be found beyond the "event horizon."  There are two main schools of thought. The first is that this singularity represents some momentous scientific and/or technical breakthrough (creation), or that is basically the decline and fall of civilization (destruction) as we currently know it.  There is also the possibility that the singularity will contain elements of both creation and destruction.  I would tend to see the latter as more likely.  It is almost always easier to destroy than to build.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

When it comes to living standards, absolute comparisons carry little weight.  Who cares if one lives better than one's ancestors?