Technology and Its Discontents
On the batteryification of things that didn’t used to need batteries
As it relates to antidecableificationism
Technology and Its Discontents
Deus Est Machina
He turned to face the machine. "Is there a God?"
Technology and Its Discontents
Please do not turn off or unplug your machine
We can coexist, but only on my terms
In the totally great 1970 film Colossus: The Forbin Project, the omniscient networked computing entity which now runs the planet says: “We can coexist, but only on my terms. You will say you lose your freedom. Freedom is an illusion. All you lose is the emotion of pride. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.”
I definitely hear a little echo of this in my mind whenever—with no regard as to what I, the user, might happen to be doing—my computer interrupts me to attempt to update a piece of software that will very likely yield me no benefit whatsoever. Or when my browser refuses to connect to an “insecure” web server that I happen to know is perfectly safe. Or when I am informed that a program I want to launch is not on the list of approved developers. In each case, I have to struggle against the choice software designers have already made: to prevent me from doing what I was going to do.
Who is in charge of this computer? Is this computer helping me get work done? Or am I just helping it to not harm me by caving in to its endless demands? Back in 1998 IBM researcher Claire-Marie Karat wrote a 10-point Computer User’s Bill of Rights that remains ignored to this very day. Point 5? “The user has the right to be in control of the system and to be able to get the system to respond to a request for attention.”
Please do not turn off or unplug your machine. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.
Opportunities to shop local abound this weekend
When Artsy Met Craftsy and Other Tales
Since it has become completely bloody impossible to talk about the Friday after Thanksgiving using any other adjective than "Black" and for any sale occuring on that day to be anything other than "the one you've waited all year for" it's nice to see a few shop-local community-oriented events piggybacking onto all that Viernes Negro hype.
On the literary end, you've got Hakim Bellamy and friends working a shift over at BookWorks as part of the Indies First campaign started by Sherman Alexie ("We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends' books."). Over on the help-
Burn, Baby, Burn: El Kookooee 2013
Festival de Otoño ends in flames
Rudolfo Anaya's answer to Zozobra has been burning each October in Albuquerque's South Valley for more than 20 years. You know the drill for these burning men, right? The bad vibes of the previous year are transcribed onto paper and used as kindling. When El Kookooee burns, we all get a fresh start. Traditionally, the design of the creature, which Anaya has called "an effigy of our own personal and communal fears," has been turned over to school children—a nice touch since we all know kids are especially talented at imagining monsters. And unlike Zozobra, each Kookooee has its own unique style. What will this year's boogeyman look like? I am afraid I can't tell you that, although the flyer art has a definite Lovecraftian cast. But there's one way you can find out for sure. See ya there! Rio Bravo State Park, Behind the South Valley Library • Sun Oct 27 • 6pm • FREE • View on Alibi calendar
Statewide natural gas outages: Berry says lower your thermostat
Just in case you haven’t heard this news blip that might affect your warmth situation tonight, here it is in two parts:
1. Natural gas outages throughout the state prompt Guv Martinez to declare a state of emergency and send state workers home.
2. Mayor Berry makes like Jimmy Carter, says: lower your thermostat 10 degrees, wear a sweater.
I used my fireplace and turned off the gas last night, so don’t blame me.
Best of 2010 mix for ears to hear
The better to see you with, my dear
Of course you know the old dancing-
Expo ’70 sets the controls for the heart of the sun
Justin Wright, a.k.a. Expo ’70, channels the deep-space kosmische kourier aesthetic of early psychedelic improv practitioners Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Tempel and (perhaps especially) the pre-sequencer Tangerine Dream. His echoing soundscapes embrace the synthetic and the organic, from the otherworldly skirling of analog synths to the earthy rumble of distorted guitars. If you notice vibrations in your diaphragm or a distant hissing in your ears, do not panic, these are merely the first signs of imminent sonic destruction. Albuquerque dronesters Hedia and Luperci start this all-ages show at Winning Coffee Co. (111 Harvard SE); the doors of perception open at 7 p.m.
Paolo Soleri Amphitheater to be nuked
Pointless destruction of cool structures: a NM tradition?
Early last week the Santa Fe Indian School exhibited some bloody typical short-sightedness by announcing that the 45-year-old Paolo Soleri Amphitheater was to be demolished. This architectural landmark is not only a marvelous outdoor venue, but a groovy exemplification of Soleri’s synergistic design philosophy. Yesterday the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council and the All Indian Pueblo Council came down firmly on the side of the School, offering “blessings” for the demolition. Somehow, the Councils contend, the amphitheater is directly responsible for Native children going under-educated and the only solution is to destroy it before it can cause more harm.
Pardon me if I seem unconvinced. The School has exhibited a bad attitude about preservation in the past, having casually torn down historic buildings and old-growth trees without public notice or input. The School is an island of sovereign territory inside Santa Fe, so the usual requirements of notification and cooperation (conveniently) do not apply, but the attitude exhibited here is downright un-neighborly, even hostile. The short version could be: “Shut up, hippie.”
Maybe the pueblo leaders ought not to be quite so quick to bless destruction. Soleri himself nails the problem with a blistering quote:
“This American culture is bent on demolition in all fields. It is a deleterious way of making history and forfeiting memories, the very memories cutting the landscape of history for country in search of culture and civility.”
In Albuquerque, we only have to look to the wholesale destruction of many of the buildings in the downtown area, culminating in the ignominious razing of the Alvarado Hotel in 1970, which remained a vast parking lot until downtown redevelopment raised a sad simulacrum of the hotel in the same spot. If it all comes down to capitalism, to the pathetic fact that destroying and rebuilding yields more profit than preserving and appreciating, then we need some kind of cap-and-trade program to stop this gaming of the system, some kind of financial incentive to halt the business-as-usual of demolition. What demolition emphatically does not need is a “blessing.”
Unsurprisingly, a Save Our Soleri movement has sprung up with great ferocity, and if the Indian School has any neighborliness left in its sovereign bones, it will view these concerned citizens as potential partners who could raise money, awareness and public participation to correct whatever alleged negative impacts the amphitheater is having on Native education. To view them as enemies or as “hippies” who need to “shut up,” would be a colossal mistake.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
Meet the Next Mayor: Candidate’s Forum Thursday
Pretty soon you’ll have to pick one of them to be the big man on campus, so here’s your second chance thus far to see them all in the same room. (Hopefully they will be lined up by height so it’ll be easier to tell them apart.)
What: The North Valley Coalition’s Mayoral Candidate Forum
Who: Mayoral candidates R.J. Berry, Martin Chavez, and Richard Romero (politico-blogger Joe Monahan moderates)
When: Thursday, August 13, 2009 (7:00 to 8:30 p.m.)
Where: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (2401 12th Street NW)
The candidates will discuss “visions for Albuquerque and issues facing the North Valley” among other things. Audience members get to suggest questions. I’ve already got mine ready: “Boxers or briefs?”