Monday, 30 May 2011

AWOBMOLG: Perhaps not doomed, but probably pointless, liveblog 2

Since last week's liveblog worked OK, I'm going to give it another go tonight. I'm quite looking forward to a critique of the idea of an ecosystem, personally.

21:03 Interesting start - mainly for the wonderful archival footage Curtis always finds.

21:03 Will this lead on to a criticism of the ideas of neural networking?

21:05 Ecosystems are definitely not my area of expertise, but it is interesting to compare the idea of equilibrium to Darwin's understanding of a war for survival, constantly being waged and with huge, geometrical, losses for each species.

21:07 It seems that Forrester is attempting to capture the very dynamics that Curtis is concerned with illuminating.

21:07 Ah, except that he seems to be positing a universal law not just of systems but of the existence of systems. This seems on the face of it to be a bit of a stretch.

21:10 This is giving me the urge to re-read some of that Churchland stuff I was bored rigid by 10 years ago... (url added)

21:14 I like the way Curtis always assumes that his audience is capable of understanding science without explaining it in breathless Brian Cox-stuff.

21:16 Yay for Buckminster-Fuller! Will there be a mention of C60, I wonder?

21:18 He's right about 'spaceship Earth' in some fundamental respects of course.

21:19 Oh, is that what Clarke was on about in his godsawful Rama series? Rama linky added.

21:21 Hm, an old hippy friend told me that I was born too late and I should've been a student in the 60s. He may have been right, though since (cheers, hindsight!) it was doomed maybe it's better that I wasn't.

21:25 How awesome is this? Video windows, mice and everything! This reminds me of a TED talk - I'll see if I can find it...

21:30 I'll look for it later - distracted from doc now!

21:31 Just think about the maths required for that model - incredible. Humans are wonderful.

21:37 Initial thought on the ecosystem as natural Toryism - if you've not read Richard Seymour's The Liberal Defence of Murder, I recommend you get hold of it - imperialism is subsumed into ideas far more frequently than it often appears on the surface...

21:43 I remember at school being told that this was how nature worked - natural systems that balnce over time. David Attenborough's Life on Earth is a good antidote to this.

21:48 Looking at the Twitter feed, what a lot of people seem to be forgetting is that Curtis likes to present a thesis. He may not be correct in all his assertions, but he is doing what no other mainstream documentarists are doing at the moment - presenting an intellectual argument as an intellectual argument and forcing you to engage with his ideas. His continual insistence on exposing the narratives elites and other influential groups tell themselves and the world rather than showing his own views or asserting a truth (other than that the universe is stranger than you expect) is what makes him remarkable.

21:52 *cough* NED *cough*

21:53 Also, vets often put holes into ruminants' stomachs - when you've got 4 stomachs there's lots of stuff to go wrong. Not as weird as it looks.

21:55 Curtis talked about this problem with communes in his Graun interview the other week.

21:59 Did I miss the thing about part 3? I thought this was a 3 parter!

UPDATE: Here's that TED talk, Sixth Sense Tech...

Monday, 23 May 2011

AWOBMOLG Doomed Liveblog Attempt

9:07 Adam Curtis is now highlighting for all the Bioshock players who didn't get it exactly what the game was satirising. For other good summaries of Her Bonkersness, see Action Philosophers (sample here - )

9:08 Randians against Burke, eh? Ooh a bit of Clint Mansell - good one Adam!

9:10 This reminds me a bit of some work on folk-psychology I did once. Boiled version: just because everyone agrees that the same thing is happening, doesn't mean that it actually is. If you pay attention only to the agreed-upon phenomena you can ignore the deeper structure that pre-determines the options for action.

9:12 Interestingly this (sickly marrying of neoliberalism with 'freedom') is exactly the kind of bullshit the Graun's tech weekly podcast often slavishly repeats.

9:15 Hoo - Atlas Shrugged! Any Sadlynauts will be familiar with the US right's response to the financial crisis a couple of years ago - threatening to 'go Galt'. Strangely they never did. Wonder why?

9:19 Bit disingenuous to say they were asking for a 'totally free society' since a central tenet of Objectivism was contempt for the majority of people. I know this isn't an original point, but it's probably worth repeating.

9:22 I was never convinced that those who professed belief in the 'new economy' guff weren't being somewhat disingenuous to be honest. I always kind of assumed that those who pushed it were the same ones who push every boom - the ones who are convinced they'll come out ahead.

9:28 Ooh it's the bit off the trailer.

9:31 From Rand to Monica Lewinsky - bit of a stretch?

9:35 The problem I'm having is that this is a very familiar story. I'm sure it's an essential par, but I've known this since I were a teenager...

9:37 She's* right, of course. Luckily, since no one ever reads this blog I'm in the privileged position of creating a commodity no one wants to buy.

9:40 The face on that IMF negotiatior...urgh...

9:42 IMF riots ... that takes me back...

9:45 Interesting that this time round the bankers don't seem to be even pretending that they have a solution. They've learned not to trade in optimism, at least.

9:51 Whod've thought that Objectivism was thinly-disguised, vainglorious hubris, eh?

9:54 Nice tying in to Power of Nightmares and Century of the Self.

9:56 I don't know, Adam. How many people really believed their own hype about permanent boom? It would require an astonishing level of naivety on the part of financial elites...

10:00 Well, I'm fully satisfied. Lovely bit of Curtis, was that. What is the theme over the end credits?**

*Just to be clear, 'she' in this case refers to Carmen Hermosillo, not Ayn Rand.

** It's Stereo Total - Aua

*** Title fixt

**** Intriguingly, Virgin catch up lists AWOBMOLG under 'Drama and Soaps', rather than documentaries. How odd.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Something to make teachers angry

If you're a teacher and you're being balloted about whether to strike, there's a handy thingummy here that will allow you to calculate exactly how much you're being screwed by proposed Government changes to the pension scheme.

For example, I'm going to lose over £166,000 over my working life. In other words, a house.

I don't like Tory scum for many reasons, and few of them have to do with my personal situation as a worker under attack, but this is a nice illustration of the viciousness of what they want to do to me and thousands like me.

If your union hasn't yet balloted, speak to your rep and put pressure on them to do so. Together, we are strong. Divided, we will be screwed by total and utter bastards.

Remember, we're not all in this together - they are attempting to make us pay for their fucking crisis.

Public Service Announcement

Just in case you've been living in a Chinese pipe, I thought I'd alert you to Adam Curtis' new documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (AWOBMOLG, as all the cool kids are calling it).


Wow, I've done drunken blogging before, but that was quite impressive. Still, I would like to call attention to the lovely spelling, if not grammar. Heigh ho.

Friday, 20 May 2011

I dunno, stuff I guess.

I have my own version of SMGW. It's called The Good Wife.* It's truly dire. From the fact that every black face turns out to belong to a twat, to the bizarre moral righteousness from a character that works for someone everyone admits to be a heroin-dealing murderer, to the explicit right-wing politics, it's utterly terrible.

Tonight I saw the episode where it went beyond mental. Well into Ally McBeal dancing baby mental. It had this bizarre schtick where the courageous bastards cunts who I'd quite happily stab for a period not greater than, but approximating to, eternity, decided to 'do' international politics.

Cheers Ridley (but I'm guessing mostly Tony) Scott! It's one thing where your mental idea of reality coincides with Chicago. It just doesn't work if you're trying to involve your vehicle for the ex-ER woman in the real world.

Here's my take on this shitfest. It's quite fun to watch Americans being dicks. Everyone expects Americans to be dicks. The bizarre bit is when you pretend that American politics has anything to do with reality. Hell, it's weird when you see a show that is happy to pretend that the way that the USG presents its foreign policy has much to do with what actually happens in the world. Is this what it's like to read the Sun?

I have to love the whole 'working for a dictator' line. I am not a Chavez fanboy but the idea that he's a dictator is particularly nice. It goes with the bizarre storyline that one of the lead characters is having to do some eye-rolling because his daughter's off to a kibbutz (in the US it's still that period in 1963 when you could ignore the Naqba and go on about equality in the commune whenever Palestinian suffering rudely interrupted). In fact the way the two reality-denying storylines mesh is nothing short of fucking spooky. Both involve an inversion of reality (socialist elected president = dictator; Occupied territories = socialism) that neatly mirror each other. It's so carefully done I have to assume it's on purpose.

I'd reward that with kudos if it weren't so retarded.

*Those with taste may safely look away now.

**Hey, what are you lot still here for? oh......

Thursday, 5 May 2011

AV then

Bloody bread and circuses.

Just a couple of highlights then for those that missed the shenanigans. First there was the No campaign...

Then there was the Yes campaign...

Finally there was grim reality...

Millions of mainly working-class electors have boycotted the electoral system since 2001. The Labour leadership knows that most of those are abstaining ex-Labour supporters. The reasons for this are obvious – their interests are not being effectively represented.

But AV doesn't promise to empower them. And it actually replicates one of the undemocratic aspects of FPTP. Ralph Miliband's criticism of FPTP was that it was used by party leaders to discipline rank and file members and force them to accept centrist policies, in order to win support from "marginal" constituencies. Under AV, the parties would be doing much the same thing in order to gain the "second preference" votes of their larger competitors.

I was going to vote no. But then I saw how pathetically the yes campaign was going to be beaten and I began to pity them. And since it's still effectively rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, I thought about voting yes after all.

Then I saw the Stephen Fry video, and went against it all over again. Politicians are going to start 'working in the national interest'? Stephen sweetie, there's no such animal. And the last thing we need is more collaborationist corporate centrists telling us that because they all agree it must be best for everyone. We're All In It Together could become our national fucking motto at this rate, which would be quite something, since it would be even more dishonest than the current 'My God and my right'.