Friday, April 30, 2004

For the past 48 hours or so, my body has been valiantly fending off a nasty cold virus. I've been acutely aware of its stages; first, the itch in the throat; then the sneezing; then the nasal leakage (arguably the worst part, especially when you're trying to edit manuscript galleys). Finally, the disturbing impression that my sinuses and brain have been packed with industrial epoxy.
Some Dare Call It Treason: Wake Up America!

"I feel an affinity for the troops over there in Iraq. They are my comrades in arms. I admire their sense of honor and sacrifice. I understand why some of them believe they should be there. They have neither the experience nor the wisdom to see past the lies they have been told. The truth is, they are not over there protecting our freedoms. Our freedoms are not under attack from Saddam Hussein or the remnants of his Baathist party. Our freedoms are under attack by John Ashcroft. They are threatened by John Poindexter. They are trampled by Donald Rumsfeld. They are disdained by Dick Cheney. And they are not even understood by George W. Bush."

Nothing exactly new here. But I agree with every word of it.

Meanwhile . . .

Majority Still Believe in Iraq's WMD, al-Qaeda Ties

"U.S. public perceptions about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al-Qaeda and stocks of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continues to lag far behind the testimony of experts, boosting chances that President George W Bush will be re-elected, according to a survey and analysis released Thursday."

"Re-elected?" Come again? I don't recall W. ever getting elected. I remember him being installed by the Supreme Court under extremely dubious circumstances. It's ironic that an article on the public's defective memory manages to "forget" the 2000 election debacle.
Lust In Space

"To stop [sex in space from] happening they are trying to develop a drug that will temporarily reduce sex drive but not leave the crew permanently impotent."

What do you want to bet the International Space Station is really a love nest?

What complete lack of vision. The key to dealing with sex in space is to shelve the Puritan antics and realize that humans are going to remain sexual beings regardless what planet they're on. Instead of spending untold thousands of dollars turning astronauts into high-tech eunuchs, we should just give them condoms. They could even put the NASA logo on each pack. But why stop there? NASA could take out ad space for contraceptives right on the sides of Mars-bound rockets . . .

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Speaking of Iranian UFOs -- I should have mentioned this classic case yesterday.
Sometimes I wax nostalgic for really good books. I recall bits of character and setting and they ramble about in my head like thought-viruses. Lately I've been thinking about China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station." Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" -- which I'm about to finish -- strikes me as a distant cousin to Mieville's novel; both share some of the same dingy "steampunk" trappings and fascination with ruinous architecture.

John Brunner's "Quicksand" is another I can't shake. It's a little-remarked book about a psychiatrist who falls in love with a mysterious patient . . . intensely interesting and utterly haunting. As actual storytelling, it's probably better than his breakthrough novels ("The Shockwave Rider," "Stand on Zanzibar," "The Sheep Look Up").

I make a point never to reread books. But if I did, I have a half-realized list of titles I'd revisit: William Gibson's "Neuromancer," Jack Womack's "Elvissey" and a few others. Possibly "The Difference Engine," which I read in high-school and would probably appreciate a lot more now having immersed myself in cyberpunk. And Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars" -- if for no other reason than I could move on to the sequel, "Green Mars," without feeling quite so amnesiac.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I like John Shirley's blog because I always find myself in adamant agreement with it. Of course, agreeing with something isn't an automatic reason to necessarily like it; if you only read what you like -- what makes you feel good and presents only minimal intellectual strain -- then you wind up like so many of the functionally brain-dead among us, poring over the latest "Left Behind" installment and glazing over as "American Idol" materializes on the screen.

Happily, I enjoy disturbing things. Things that give epistemologists headaches and send "skeptics" running for the nearest cognitive fallout shelter. Franz Kafka, for example, saw no point in books that failed to disturb; to Kafka, a book should be "an ax to break the frozen sea within us." The same applies to memes in general. I take special pains to purge my brain of the ordinary. It's like wringing some noxious liquid from a sponge . . .

Having said that, I really like John's latest. I spend extended periods in the clinical mind-frame depicted in John's vignette about the prostitute; sometimes it's difficult to see people (myself included) as anything but fleshy anthropoid machines, governed by the hermetic interplay of genes, synapses and endorphins.

UFO fever grips Iran

"More colorful unidentified flying objects have been spotted beaming out green, red, blue and purple rays over the northern cities of Tabriz and Ardebil and in the Caspian Sea province of Golestan, the official IRNA news agency reported."

The X-Conference

"It's not about lights in the sky," said Bassett. "It's about lies on the ground."
Our Hidden WMD Program

"The budget is busted; American soldiers need more armor; they're running out of supplies. Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year, and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for next year and a total of $30 billion over the following four years. This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads."

I don't see why this is particularly news-worthy or otherwise surprising. Bush feels it is his duty to induce Armageddon. Undoubtedly, he finds those "Left Behind" books addictive and is eager to do his part to make sure they come true. What better way than cutting-edge nuclear bombs? There's something so wonderfully satisfying about a big, cherry-red mushroom cloud, don't you think?

I mean, what's Armageddon without nukes? It's like a charity auction without refreshments, or an office building without "motivational" posters.

"After the Martian Apocalypse takes a skeptical and open look at many of the surface anomalies on Mars. I found in it a good balance of healthy speculations and objective critiques of many of the lines of research these anomalies have inspired. It is neither a comprehensive scientific analysis nor synthesis of the technical lines of planetary SETI research. Rather it is written from the point of a reporter who has taken a great deal of effort to learn about what has been done by a growing number of researchers over more than a quarter of a century and the implications or their work. Much of the concentration of the book, and rightly so, is on the Face and the Cydonia complex. This book also discusses in some detail various aspects of the human dimension of planetary SETI from the 'true believers' to the 'pseudoskeptics.' The author does not shy away from criticism when he believes it is warranted. The main strength of the book is the variety of different angles from which the author examines the topic of planetary SETI. [...] I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mac Tonnies' book and highly recommend it."

--Dr. Horace Crater, President, Society for Planetary SETI Research

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

"War President" -- take a good, long look.

This is the latest from Mondolithic Studios. A weekly pilgrimage to this site is more or less mandatory.
Typorganism: "Interactive kinetic typography."

Postmodern alert! Is text an intelligent lifeform?

Evolving Towards Telepathy

"The next progressive step as far as techlepathy goes, says Pasarro, is to tap into the brain's language centers, specifically the part of the motor cortex responsible for output for the region of the throat and mouth. With such a system in place muscular movement wouldn't be required at all to generate a neural signal. Instead, sheer thought alone will produce the desired language output."
What am I doing?

What sort of blog is this, anyway? Blogs are, after all, subject to genre. There are personal blogs. War blogs. Political blogs. Industry-specific blogs and blogs devoted to emerging technologies. I know of a bellydancing blog that's quite good.

So where does Posthuman Blues fit in the topical spectrum? What the hell is this? My psyche eviscerated? An extended confession for never-committed crimes? An elitist soapbox? A simple plea for attention?

Monday, April 26, 2004

I chanced upon a solution to the "not enough troops" problem. You see these goddamned "Hummers" everywhere, right? I figure the only reason anyone would purchase one of these aesthetic monstrosities is out of a sublimated desire to be in the armed forces. So Hum-Vee dealers and Army recruitment offices should join forces.

Want to be a bad-ass soldier? Want to drive a Hum-Vee? Then get your fat urbanite ass over to Iraq and start weathering sandstorms and rocket-propelled grenades like a real patriot so desperate kids who can't accord to buy their own custom military assault vehicles don't have to. Get back alive -- exact date subject to change -- and we'll give you a Hummer. And maybe a free pack of G.I. Joe action figures to boot.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Here's the cover art for "After the Martian Apocalypse," recently posted on Why not order a copy?

Order from here and I get a sales referral from Amazon as well as a royalty. It almost sounds illegal, doesn't it?

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Friday, April 23, 2004

Have ya heard? There Is No War, There Are No Dead Americans!

Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power

"In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its 'biblical lands' (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth."

I like this George Monbiot guy . . .
Here's an "ism" that I can live with.
I find myself confused by and disgusted with teenagers. I don't understand them. It's not enough to say they simply inhabit a liminal realm between childhood and adulthood -- it's weirder than that. It's like they're only peripherally alive, human only in a basic anatomical sense. What's really unnerving is the knowledge that I was one once. I feel obscurely ashamed of the fact; I'm trying to keep it secret. Heaven forbid if word of this closeted skeleton gets out.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I'm groping for words virulent enough to express my disgust with the United States, with its phony president, media-soaked voters, morbid religiosity, and utter disregard for truth. Many long-forgotten societies mused that they were living in the "end times," but I have the horrible sense that this time it might be for real. The future looks unnervingly bleak; if we're lucky, in fifteen years we'll be living in a world that's a particularly stomach-wrenching rendition of John Brunner's "The Sheep Look Up."

It's no accident that religious "fundamentalism" is looking so bright. It promises the ultimate easy escape. Dreams of the "Rapture" -- the premise behind the "Left Behind" phenomenon -- are the intellectual equivalent to an all-expenses-paid trip to DisneyWorld, where nothing is as it seems but everything is imminently agreeable. Why care about the oceans dying if you know that you'll be whisked to safety when disaster strikes? Why give a fuck about anything?

One way or another, the milieu that's been developing since 9-11-01 will end. But we're past the point of controlling how it will end with any degree of accuracy. We've tossed our rationality onto the bonfire like so much kindling.

We wait like passengers on some vertiginous malfunctioning ride. The unseen technicians in the control room know the ride's doomed; they can see the widening hole in the tracks. But they've weathered disasters before and see no purpose in heeding their senses when previous debacles have been so successfully marginalized and erased from public conscience.

Now the ride is nearing its end. And if you pay careful attention to the faces of the passengers in those last cataclysmic moments of rending metal and oily smoke, you'll notice that almost all of them will still be smiling.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Pick your price: Your blood or your soul

"Being in a military situation means everything is different. Innocent civilians always get killed accidentally when the military's involved. Some are accidental, some are deliberate, but mostly we never get to know the difference. Bodies get thrown in holes and are forgotten, except by some of the living who years later wake up screaming in the middle of the night."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

God, Ghosts, and Magnets

"Is religious experience merely an electronic impulse? 'God, Ghosts, and Magnets' asks this question. Some of the world's top neuroscientists have found a link between a specific part of the brain and moments of religious experience. If their theory about the brain is correct, faith and religious experience may simply be an electromagnetic field in the brain."

This piece expounds on "visionary" religious experiences such as the one experienced by Philip K. Dick, who might have been a temporal lobe epileptic. Philip Klass and others have accused alien abductee Whitley Strieber of having TLE, although an EEG test failed to find any evidence of it.

Whitley Strieber

I've wondered if TLE is really a "disease" in the normal sense of the word. It seems to me that people with the ability to enter nonconventional states of reality are the engine that drives the collective unconscious. Obviously, communing with the "imaginal realm" can be accomplished through other means, such as psychedelics, but I suspect that those with an organic predisposition are uniquely equipped. And not necessarily for the world's betterment.

Darwinian neurotheologists maintain that religion helps ensure group survival by encouraging social cohesion. Of course, the bloody irony is that religion is one of the leading causes of death among humans (as George Carlin is fond of pointing out). Carlin's sentiment is pretty easily qualified: George Bush believes he has been personally appointed to "liberate" Iraq by an omniscient supernatural being; Palestinian suicide-bombers believe that blowing up large numbers of Jews is extremely godly.

I can't help but think that we've outgrown religion -- we just haven't realized it yet. Religion begs replacement. But what, exactly, will plug that gnawing existential hole in our psyche is a question of overarching importance. If communion with the "mystical" is a necessary component of our humanity, can we thrive in a world that's been effectively sterilized, wiped clean, demystified?

Or is there indeed something very much like the "mystical" that we should take studious pains to preserve and cultivate? By destroying the strange fervor that ignites endless bouts of ethnic cleansing do we also purge the world of the "sense of wonder" sought by secular humanists and theologians alike?

Blogger just asked me if I wanted to give Gmail, Google's new email service, a try. A very sunny invitation, too: "We've been busy testing and improving Gmail. Now, we're eager for more users to try it out and let us know what they think. As a long time Blogger user, we thought you'd be adventurous enough to really dive in and give Gmail a thorough test."

Flattered, I decided to take the plunge. And I get: "Our software suggests that you're using a browser incompatible with Gmail."

So no Gmail address for me, folks. Barring Gmail upgrades, I'm still exclusively macbot* Besides, as I mentioned to Sauceruney, I'm obscurely proud of myself for having made the commitment to a single email address for the last ~6 years. I'm an email monogamist. It suppose it's in my genes.

Besides, how could I break the news to Yahoo?
Ethics of Boosting Brainpower Debated by Researchers

"In addition to drugs, Illes said that modern brain imaging techniques may reveal aspects of personality such as a tendency to lie or be aggressive. As the technology improves doctors must decide who should have access to this information and whether they should treat a neural tendency rather than an actual behavior."

Francis Fukuyama, author of the well-intentioned but cowardly "Our Posthuman Future," is mentioned here. Click here to read my review of his book.

Monday, April 19, 2004

First-Ever Hurricane Forms in South Atlantic

"The first hurricane ever reported in the south Atlantic swirled off the coast of Brazil on Friday, and forecasters said it could make landfall in the South American country during the weekend."

Same as it ever was . . . Same as it ever was . . .

Damnit. I can't get Morrissey's "Irish Blood, English Heart" out of my head.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Product of the day . . .

Today I had the pleasure of using the XLERATOR, the most amazing hand-dryer I've ever encountered. Featuring stylish ergonomic design and infra-red activation, the XLERATOR issues a sustained blast of warm air that visibly dimples the flesh on your hands, drying with such industrious force that it's actually startling. I suspect Lockheed had something to do with designing this thing. Wow.
This is great. Get your ass over to

Saturday, April 17, 2004

What I'm reading: "Flesh and Machines" by Rodney Brooks. Thesis: The barrier between the organic and the inanimate is going to start blurring awfully quickly. Tell me something I didn't know.

What I'm listening to: "More Songs About Buildings and Food" by Talking Heads. This record didn't exactly do anything for me the first couple times I listened to it. Now it's stuck in my brain. David Byrne's voice is narcotic.

Today is a bright, sunny day, so of course the Street Preacher was outside Pottery Barn yelling his head off. His (?) children have been trained to hand out gospel tracts, so you have to thread your way carefully while in his presence. It really struck me today what a lame street preacher this guy is. I paused and actually listened to him for a few moments while waiting for a walk light; he seemed particular unsure about what he was railing about. I heard him yell: "You can be Born Again twice! [pause] Three times!" Like it's an amusement park ride . . . which I suppose isn't a completely bad analogy.

If I ever start audioblogging, you can bet I'll webcast this idiot.

I'm wrestling with the prospect of taking out an Internet personal ad. If there's one thing I've learned about romance, it's that drinking coffee and reading is terrible way to find it. I've actually tried online personals before but with disappointing results. But perhaps the biggest reason I don't like them is because they're far too time-consuming than they have any right to be. I hate wading through all those "scientific" match-maker filters, trying to locate my "type." My "type"? I have a type? Come again?

It's fair to say that all I really want when I'm browsing personal ads is to be drinking coffee and reading . . .
Hands Off! That Fact Is Mine

"Ostensibly, the Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act (HR3261) makes it a crime for anyone to copy and redistribute a substantial portion of data collected by commercial database companies and list publishers. But critics say the bill would give the companies ownership of facts -- stock quotes, historical health data, sports scores and voter lists. The bill would restrict the kinds of free exchange and shared resources that are essential to an informed citizenry, opponents say."

I hate to use the much-overused "O"-word, but this is nothing if not thoroughly Orwellian.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I suspect that if there's such thing as "God" -- or, rather, something godlike -- it will ultimately turn out to be epiphenomenal. Effect followed by cause. More accurately, cause and effect fused into a single indivisible oneness: the "implicate order" glimpsed by Bohm. Imagine a neural net conceived by M.C. Escher.
Rich Nations Gobbling Resources at an Unsustainable Rate

"Excessive consumption by the world's richest nations is making life even more difficult for the world's least fortunate, according to a new report by Redefining Progress. The U.S. based research group says the wealthiest nations are depleting global resources at an unprecedented rate -- with the United States leading the way -- and are mortgaging the future at the expense of today's children, the poor and the long term health of the planet."

It's as if we subconsciously intuit that there is no future; thus, this grotesque ecological "spending spree." There's a conspiracy theory that holds that the environment-destroying elite simply can't be this dumb and short-sighted, and that the incredibly wealthy will migrate to space colonies when Earth finally becomes unliveable.

I don't buy it. I think we really are that dumb.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

That's the spirit!

Children under two 'should not watch any TV'

"Those who watched for about three hours a day were 30 per cent more likely to have attention difficulties than those watching no television."

That's the entire point of television: to reduce us to compliant drones incapable of harnessing the mind-power to form an independent thought -- and it's working awfully well. Wal-Mart! Home Depot! Budweiser! Sprint long-distance! Get out there and consume! We've got product to move! Buy, buy, buy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"After the Martian Apocalypse" taking advance orders!

Pre-order my new book from All of the cool people will be reading it. Will you be one of them?
Getting rid of the meat. Jettisoning obsolete human baggage. When to say "when"? Is there a critical threshold where the route to transhuman ascendancy takes an abrupt downward fork?

It's conceivable humans will eventually have the technology to edit their own memories, rearranging their mental furniture as casually as dragging icons across a computer desktop. Can we trust ourselves with such ability? What will we decide to delete?

Click and drag . . . Click and drag . . .

Are you sure you want to delete the contents of the Recycle Bin?

Assuming you click "yes," the you that ponders the outcome is a new and different you. Maybe not a substantially different you -- but then again, how will you ever know?

Some hobbyist technophiles buy ancient computers so they can pore over the contents of their hard drives, upon which all sorts of esoteric (and sometimes useful) data can be found languishing. I can imagine neuro-hackers 50 years from now lopping the heads off fresh corpses and purging their brains of recoverable memories. Recycling them. Sifting through the sensory debris of subjective centuries. Blood from a stone.

Maybe this has already happened. Maybe I'm already dead and someone is simply rummaging through the contents of my brain. Looking for something, perhaps. Or maybe simply for the vicarious hacker thrill: What did this guy think about? Talk about voyeurism; it doesn't get any more intimate than that.

More disturbing is the prospect that probing a nonliving mind can actually trick the dead person's synapses into a spurious sense of autonomy -- the tragic misconception that this is real when in fact reality bears no resemblance to the images and sensations triggered by the scanning process. And what is consciousness, really, but a sensation?

Dead frogs can be made to jump by jolts of electricity applied to the right muscles in the proper sequence. In a strictly biomechanical sense, the frog is tugged back in time, restored to a clumsy semblance of functionality. A dormant human brain may not be as sacrosanct as we assume. "Dead" brains may even be a valuable commodity for a near-future information economy.

So what do we call this technologically assisted parody of thought? Can the brain being hacked be made to experience new stimuli or is it read-only-memory? Perhaps more pertinently, is there a qualitative difference between the thoughts of a living brain and the synaptic acrobatics of a dead brain commanded to believe it's actually alive?

If not, then the definition of "alive" begs redefinition. As proponents of cryonic suspension are justly fond of pointing out, it certainly wouldn't be the first time in medical history that we've been forced to revise our criteria for death.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Americans Slaughtering Civilians in Fallujah

"As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried them in."

Well, military service does involve some, ah, moral compromises . . . But hey -- it helps pay for your college education!
Today's "Zippy" is the perfect complement to my conflicted outlook, epitomized by that reference to futility and psychological anesthesia.

Bill Griffith says it much better than I did, by the way.
I just got the following strange email . . .

I am Bill Godsey in Memphis. I have a full audio video text documentary graphic back to 1895 family photo and a fifty year plus movie 1947 thru present and last phase digital video 2003- 2009. I have 11111 plus songs and ability to be one man sound man and band with live playing and singing , where I cover 1877 edison mary had a little lamb and then take the audience thru recorded forms up to now, followed by expanding primitive to spaceplex in perspective.I am in Memphis an am 44 this summer, having recorded wth the likes of RIngo Starr for 4 weeks as production assistant. There is a big show possible in Millington with 350, 000 to celebrate 50 years of independent record companies cutting a chart hit, that's allright mama I can elaborate more with your contacting me.

This message is so out-of-the-blue and unnecessarily cryptic that it almost reads like some sort of secret code. Am I supposed to believe that this guy's memorized/written 11,1111 songs and, moreover, counted them? "That's allright mama"? WTF?
Today was . . . pleasant. New furniture in my apartment lobby after months of tedious remodeling. The chatter of Starbucks patrons. A not altogether unpleasant day at work.

And yet -- that persistent feeling that I'm wading through a clever hologram . . . that all is a solipsistic delusion that could come crashing to pieces at any moment, like a film committed to brittle Celluloid.

I will myself numb so that I can't feel the blade cleaving my brain into pieces.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Steven Bassett is running in a mock election. If he gets enough support he gets to appear on Showtime or something. Check out his stand on the "issues." I voted. Did you?
George Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism

"Ominous signs are all around us concerning the accrual of power into the hands of the Presidency. If Mr. Bush stays in office I think our future will continue to witness shrinking political rights, financial collapse and endless war. Part of the power and seduction of this administration emerges from its diabolical manipulation of Christian rhetoric."

Specifically, Bush is in dire need of an Armageddon fix to vindicate his morbidly simplistic view of reality. And his cronies have the power to deliver on command.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

A few minutes ago I noticed that my cats were staring oddly at nothing in particular, or perhaps at each other in preparation for one of their frequent good-natured duels. As I waited for one of them to make the first move (my money was on Spook, the oldest), I noticed that they had become enraptured by a longish, many-legged something that had somehow managed to penetrate my ninth-floor apartment.

Suddenly this insectile phantasm started skittering my way; I mustered the courage to stomp it before it could disappear beneath any furniture. I examined the thing's flaccid corpse (antennae still flexing listlessly) before I disposed of it. It was roughly an inch long, with about six legs on either side of its disturbingly meaty body.

The perverse thing is that my cats spent several minutes in a state of denial. They missed the horrid thing. They staked out the area where it had made its last stand and scraped pitifully at the carpet in a futile attempt at feline necromancy.

Other than the bug incident, this was an uneventful Easter. I slept late, started Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" and managed the singular task of microwaving a jumbo bean-and-cheese burrito without the ends messily exploding.
Media Coverage of Iraq Called "Shameful" By Peers

"In the ongoing Iraq conflict, there is a growing realization among mainstream newsmen that they have failed the American public, but the U.S. military is happy with the way it controlled information through its program of embedding journalists with soldiers."
This would make a pretty good T-shirt:

"Memes are for pussies; real men use propaganda!"

And no, I didn't make that up.

But I did post two new book reviews on my website for your enjoyment. Click here to read my take on Vintage's newly issued "Lies, Inc." (Philip K. Dick) and here to find out if Robert Silverberg's "The Alien Years" is for you.

I'm considering a late-night dash to Fred P. Ott's for salted peanuts and imported beer.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

I'm an unrepentant Morrissey fan, encumbered with all of the self-deprecating, alienated trappings than come with the territory. So I'm looking forward to reading "St. Morrissey," brilliantly reviewed here. (Thanks to Sauceruney for the tip.)

"Detractors say Morrissey appeals to 'the teenager' because both he and they are contrary and self-pitying. This is of course true. But there are better qualities also at a premium in the best of the uppity adolescent and the everyday work of the Moz. A breathtakingly arrogant precociousness, a visceral impatience with the banal, the solipsistic knowing you're not like anyone else, and the vicious world-weary wit of the damned."

Friday, April 09, 2004

Q&A Sending humans to Mars

"Robots just can't answer all the questions. They can do amazing things as we've seen with Spirit and Opportunity. But humans have the ability to respond and react to information in ways that robots don't."

Tell me about it.

Area 51 Microbiologist Ready to Talk

"He is presently working on the Lotus project at Area 51 north of Las Vegas, in a secret extra-budget operation under the umbrella direction of a non-elected shadow international governing body that has covert ties to the U.S. government and with extra-terrestrials."

This looks suspiciously like a new installment in the "Silent Invasion" mythos to me.

Spaced Out on the Interplanetary Internet

"Interplanetary telecommunication needs an upgrade. That's the aim of the Interplanetary Internet, an effort to extend the capabilities of cyberspace to outer space. And while a '.mars' address is quite a few years off, the latest InterPlaNet research may have a dramatic impact on Earth-based connectivity as well."

"Dot-mars." Cool.
I've been invited to write something for New World Disorder. Anything I want, if I understood correctly. I've got this idea for an alien invasion story -- a potentially unique alien invasion story -- that might work . . .

Fun fact: You can actually make out my apartment in this picture.

The idea occurred to me while sitting next to the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain this afternoon. The fountain just came on a day or so ago. While I was sitting there drinking coffee and watching it, the water abruptly shut off; apparently the pipes were being tested. But since I was one of maybe four or five people present I felt a distant, completely irrational sense of responsibility -- as if my very presence had caused the tireless columns of water to vanish.

I get a similar feeling when I walk under a light that happens to flicker out the moment I'm beneath it. The other night, for instance, a streetlight winked out while I crossed the street, as if acknowledging my existence by offing itself. A ritual sacrifice; the inanimate humbling itself in the august presence of the stridently organic . . .

Tell me I'm the anchor of my own ascension.
Tell me I'm a tourist in the 4th dimension?

--R.E.M., "Animal"

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The Universe as a hologram

"Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn't matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart. Somehow each particle always seems to know what the other is doing. The problem with this feat is that it violates Einstein's long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light. Since traveling faster than the speed of light is tantamount to breaking the time barrier, this daunting prospect has caused some physicists to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect's findings. But it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations."

I was first really turned onto the universe-as-hologram concept by Michael Talbot's highly engaging "The Holographic Universe," a book I consider must-reading for anyone who gives a damn about what reality actually is -- or isn't.

At the end of Gregory Benford's "In the Ocean of Night," the astronaut hero experiences an epiphany (via an alien computer discovered buried on the Moon) that dissolves his sense of separateness from the Cosmos; he suddenly experiences everything as a unified Now, observed and observer forged into a single entity.

I wonder if we can achieve this without ET intervention. Really achieve it, in a way that makes us recoil in visceral horror at the way we routinely abuse ourselves and our environment. A person wholly aware of his quantum-entanglement with the universe (a universe that just happens to encapsulate his mind and body) would certainly be an improvement on the current breed.

Visionary physicist David Bohm proposed a new syntax designed to eliminate the illusion of duality. I don't foresee it becoming popular, but he was thinking in the right direction. Bohm's experimental language reminds me of William Burroughs' tireless attempts to "rub out the word." Words, after all, are artifacts, pale substitutes for reality . . .

Or are they? As a writer, or at least as someone who writes, I have a certain affinity for them. Reading a choice passage from a William Gibson novel has the ability to heighten sensory experience by juxtaposition; good writing rewires your brain, gently forces you to see the world anew, if only for a moment.

Burroughs considered Egyptian hieroglyphics a superior alternative to the written word. But even a graphical language fails to capture the quantum unity that Bohm sought. I suspect that beyond "deep structure" there is an existential lingua franca; instead of representing something else, it simply is, resolute and abiding, antedating attempts to share experience via words and images. It's the Cosmos' own source code, the white light of creation, mistakenly anthropomorphosized and deified.
Sites of the day . . .

Exit Mundi. A near-endless fount of global disaster scenarios. My kind of thing!

Paul Anderson's The Meridiani Journal. Another Mars blog! How did I miss this?

Genomixer. DNA-based music.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Computers to be 'oxygen of the future'

"By the year 2010, scientists predict we will be immersed in a sea of miniature computers."

See, this is where it starts. (See post on substrate-hopping electronic viruses.)
By now, supporters of my bid for the presidency are probably wondering: "But where can I purchase official Mac Tonnies for President merchandise?"

I've got your answer right here. (Thanks to Katmak.)

Some of you may also be asking: "Does he have a running mate yet?"

In fact, I do. And a capable one, at that -- Chapel Perilous' own Bsti. I might break the mold and recruit additional, back-up running mates. Inquire within.
The automated Google ads at the top of this blog do a remarkable job of capturing the Posthuman Blues milieu. I just checked and found the following:

Natural Anti-Anxiety
Herbal Remedy For Anxiety
twilight zone
nuclear bomb

Yeah, that's PB in a nutshell . . .

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I'd like to take this opportunity to announce my "write-in" candidacy for President of the United States. I haven't decided on a running mate yet. I might just do without one. Seriously: Who cares? "Politics" is simply a convenient label for the process by which stark realities are assigned numbers and filed away for the benefit of speech-writers.

By now you're probably telling yourself, "I bet Mac would make an ideal President -- but where does he stand on the issues?" I think that's a fair question. But before I start in on a bunch of nebulous political concerns (of which I honestly know quite little), I think it's fair to examine these vague, frequently abstruse, self-perpetuating phenomena we call "issues."

What, exactly, constitutes an "issue"? And why do we keep hearing about the same "issues" every four years? Granted, I have no former experience in the political arena, but it seems to me that the defining nature of an "issue" is its subsequent resolution. The fact that the so-called "issues" that dominate presidential elections are never satisfactorily resolved strikes me as extremely curious. If I didn't know any better, I'd even consider the possibility that there's an implicit vested interest in perpetuating various problematic "issues" so that voters can be more easily manipulated.

I also hear a great deal about "values." You're probably wondering right now where I stand on the issue of values. (And yes, as far as I can discern, the very prospect of "values" constitutes an "issue" of its own; conversely, "issues" can take the form of a pressing "value." I think. It's all quite complicated. And again -- it often seems as if this state of near-terminal abstraction is willfully perpetuated, like a gear in a machine that's lovingly oiled lest the entire mechanism come screaming to a disastrous halt.)

Forgive me for sounding cavalier, but my stand on the "issues" is that there are no issues, at least as popularly conceived. I think issues are flimsy thought-viruses, mere gears in the electoral machine. Deeming something an "issue" is a way of distancing oneself from it.

As President, I'll do away with "issues." Completely.
New Evidence Bush Pushed Iraq War Right After 9/11

"The White House continues to deny that the president immediately began planning an invasion of Iraq in the days after 9/11, calling such charges 'revisionist history' and claiming Iraq was 'to the side' immediately after the attacks. But new revelations by a former top British official confirm that, immediately after 9/11, President Bush started planning to use the terrorist attacks as a justification for war in Iraq, despite having no proof that Iraq had any connection to Al Qaeda or 9/11."

Russian "Flying Saucers" to Grace American Skies

"You might not have to go to New Mexico to see a UFO -- flying saucers are coming to your home skies, thanks to Russian aircraft designers. The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command has signed an agreement with Russia's EKIP Aviation concern to cooperate in the production of unique flying saucer-shaped aircraft developed in Russia, perfect for putting out forest fires and monitoring oil pipelines."

Putting out fires and monitoring pipelines. Right. It's an invasion!

Environment 'stunts young brains'

"The brains of children in many parts of Europe are suffering greater damage from environmental risks than previously recognised, scientists say."

Maybe, from an economic-industrial perspective, "stunting young brains" is actually a fortuitous by-product. Stunt enough young brains with toxins and maybe those kids won't ask questions or file class-action lawsuits when they're dying of cancer thirty years from now.
Today I bought "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman in mass-market paperback. Why? Because I see his blurbs for other authors everywhere. From China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station" to William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition," Gaiman has the genre covered. And from the various blurbs I've read about Gaiman's own work, I'm convinced he must be good. I remember someone (probably in a coffeeshop) telling me how good "American Gods" was; if "Neverwhere" lives up to its reviews, I'll eventually have to read that, too.

You know the old "Twilight Zone" (or was it "The Outer Limits"?) where the guy seals himself in a bomb-proof safe and weathers a nuclear holocaust so he can spend the rest of his days reading . . . and then breaks his glasses? I feel for that guy. I relate.

That's why I have shatterproof lenses.

Monday, April 05, 2004

It's hard to believe it's been nine years since the "alien autopsy" footage debuted on television. That's longer than the interval between Morrissey albums. Still no answers.

Have you seen me?

Even though the footage is ancient by contemporary standards, we still don't know who filmed it, or what, exactly, it depicts. An actual dissection of a nonhuman entity? A bit of psy-ops esoterica? Human experimentation?

There's credible reason to believe the footage has existed since the 1960s. I personally doubt it has anything to do with 1947's "Roswell Incident" -- but that doesn't mean that it's not "real." But "real" in what sense?

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Bush attacks environment 'scare stories'

"The Observer has obtained a remarkable email sent to the press secretaries of all Republican congressmen advising them what to say when questioned on the environment in the run-up to November's election. The advice: tell them everything's rosy."

This means war.
I just coined a new term . . . Spangst: the state induced by wading through unacceptable quantities of unsolicited email. (The techno-intelligentsia will be saying it in no time!)

Saturday, April 03, 2004

While most debilitating viruses are crafted, Frankenstein-like, by conniving hackers, the Internet is aswarm with the hardy remnants of a silicon ecology that -- so far -- only occasionally manages to precipitate dire alerts in the pages of non-specialty newspapers.

But the problem is escalating. I read somewhere that email as we know it may fall out of favor due to memory-eating deluges of spam. I like to think that's so much wringing of slightly neophobic hands. In any case, what can replace email? And spam, for all of its ugly excess, is for the most part consciously perpetuated by humans -- members of a species whose caprices we can at least begin to identify and comprehend.

If the Internet is ultimately incapacitated, I predict digital "wildlife" will be responsible. As computers and Internet connections become more varied and versatile, new viruses will emerge, the binary equivalent of SARS and BSE. Aspiring viruses will engage in incredibly selective Darwinian competition, breeding fierce new strains that may well prove uncrackable and worryingly alien.

Computation will continue to thrive alongside efforts to link the nervous system directly to the Net. Which means that we may be faced with a crop of particularly savvy viruses capable of jumping the "substrate barrier" -- existing as smatterings of machine code in one instant and manifesting as flesh-and-blood symptoms the next.

The transition from chip to meat isn't likely to have a high success rate -- at first. But as viruses learn from experience, a dire and unwanted compatibility may emerge. The battle will have migrated from the abstract realm of "cyberspace" to the trauma wards of hospitals.

The first "transgenic" viruses will probably be hobbyist variations of DARPA-inspired electronic warfare programs, good for little more than brute-force nerve damage. As we augment our organs with ever-more flexible, user-friendly electronics, we bore a tunnel from the organic world to the intricate havens of machine-life, redefining cherished philosophical notions and making ourselves newly vulnerable.

As technology improves, so do the stakes. Transgenic viruses will be no more content to cause random, superficial damage than human hackers content to merely cripple a mainframe when they have the capacity to enter it and seek the informational gems within. Enter the age of "neurophreaking" and identity wars, viruses that incubate in the snarl of meat and silicon behind your forehead in order to profile your habits and consumer preferences.

Most "smart" transgenic viruses will have roots in today's Internet spyware. Others will seek to actively take over their victim's nervous system, if only for brief periods. In theory, strangers could be selected and stealthily programmed to act as terrorists. Or commanded to sympathize with a given cultural or political agenda. The motives behind the viral siege will be thoroughly familiar to anyone who's screened pop-up ads or been forced to install expensive firewalls.

But how to firewall a human being, granted that a human being can be identified by the arsenal of synapses and circuits lurking in his or her central nervous system? And what happens once the digital ecology threatens to slip beyond our control, just as spam now threatens the viability of online communication?

Substrate-hopping viruses will arguably make a bid for dominant species-hood in the next couple hundred years. What plans might they have for humanity?

Friday, April 02, 2004

Posthuman Blues now has an RSS feed

"This is an Atom formatted XML site feed. It is intended to be viewed in a Newsreader or syndicated to another site. Please visit the Blogger Knowledge Base for more info."

Man, I feel hip.

Breaking Mars news! Spirit rover destroyed in Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) mishap.

(QuickTime required.)
Yohimbe Tree Bark Could Revolutionize Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

"Anxiety disorders affect about 19 million Americans per year, consuming about one-third of total U.S. mental health costs of $148 billion in 1990. They include obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias. Although these diseases are generally not deadly, they take an enormous toll in morbidity."

Prozac. Zoloft. Xanax. Is "happiness" becoming a neuropharmacological commodity . . . ?
I know it may seem trite for the subject of a blog entry, but today was remarkably pleasant. Great weather, so I spent the afternoon strolling the Plaza, circumnavigating the giant bipedal rabbits and pausing to take a group photo for tourists who entrusted me with their camera. The world seemed anomalously shiny and happy.

Of course, I know damned well it's not. The biosphere is faltering. The Bush administration is lying its way to another election "victory." A new study reveals that humans are inundated with industrial neurotoxins deemed "acceptable" despite unknown long-term effects. Our "best and brightest" are committed to designing grotesque new ways to kill or disable large numbers of people while relatively small-budget projects such as the Hubble Space Telescope are abandoned due to a presumed lack of funds. I don't have a girlfriend. The bodies of American civilians are being dragged behind cars in Iraq. And to top it all off, the new "Left Behind" book just came out.

Armageddon is in the details.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Mysterious 'fairy circles' defy explanations

"The three main theories to explain the origins of the mysterious 'fairy circles' of Namibia have just been dismissed, following an in-depth study by South African researchers."

Could these African "fairy circles" have something to do with the formation of crop circles, assuming any crop circles are anything other than hoaxes?
I should have seen this coming -- assuming I'm not the victim of a particularly subversive April Fool's joke.

Even if you find the subject matter repugnant, you've got to admire the concept; I could write a wordy essay on ubiquitous electronic monitoring devices and postmodern Warholian superstardom, but I'll refrain.

The weird thing is that I feel like I'm eavesdropping. Did the subject know her corpse was going to be webcast? I'd like to think so.

And yes, I found this at Chapel Perilous (where else?).
My computer has been suffering a rash of "fatal errors." I'm a little worried.