Lum, Tucker and Spooner on Mormonism. Shawn P. Wilbur, Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule (2011-03-11).
The first mutual aid project with Kate Sharpley Library dragged out considerably longer than I had intended, but they've had their copy of Dyer D. Lum's Utah and its People for several weeks now, and I've finally put together a volume collecting that volume, Lum's follow-up, Social Problems of Today,...(Linked Saturday 2011-03-12.)
Ambition Should Be Made of Stirner Stuff. Roderick, Austro-Athenian Empire (2011-03-11).
A new individualist magazine, titled i, has a first issue devoted to egoist anarchist Max Stirner – including an article on Stirner by science-fiction writer Ken MacLeod (whose work I’ve discussed here and here). Ken comments on his blog here and here.(Linked Saturday 2011-03-12.)
Haunted. Dorothy, Cat and Girl (2011-03-10). (Linked Sunday 2011-03-13.)
okay how does one level up to "100% super homosexual" because i am trying EVERYTHING over here. Dinosaur Comics (2011-03-09).
archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - cute - search - about← previousMarch 9th, 2011nextMarch 9th, 2011: If you're working on a secret project where you're going to surprise me by translating all my comics into French, feel free to make this one about dogs or something! It seems...(Linked Sunday 2011-03-13.)
continuing on with errol morris: The actual quotation is from. Captain Capitulation, eye of the storm (2011-03-10).
continuing on with errol morris: The actual quotation is from paragraph 241 of “Philosophical Investigations”: “So you are saying that human agreement decides what is true and what is false?” –– It is what human beings say that is true and false; and they agree in the language they use. That is not agreement in...(Linked Sunday 2011-03-13.)
On the Town with Bad Decision Dinosaur. Dorothy, Cat and Girl (2010-09-24). (Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)
Food deserts and zoning. Stephen Smith, Market Urbanism (2010-09-13).
by Stephen Smith The other day I put up a post detailing the restrictions that small-scale restaurants and food carts face, but I should mention that grocery stores and supermarkets also face similar restrictions. Like restrictions on restaurants, they end hitting poor, urban, black neighborhoods the hardest, creating the phenomenon...(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)
Apparently, starvation blockades are bad for the economy. Who knew? John Markley, The Superfluous Man (2010-09-06).
David Brooks has a column in The New York Times entitled "Nation Building Works," in which he attempts to vindicate the US government's past seven years in Iraq. From the article (via Cheryl Cline at der Blaustrumpf):“Iraq has made substantial progress since 2003,” the International Monetary Fund reports. Inflation is...(Linked Friday 2010-09-24.)
Haystack vs How The Internet Works. Danny O'Brien, Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka (2010-09-14).
There’s been a lot of alarming but rather brief statements in the past few days about Haystack, the anti-censorship software connected with the Iranian Green Movement. Austin Heap, the co-creator of Haystack and co-founder of parent non-profit, the Censorship Research Center, stated that the CRC had “halted ongoing testing of...(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)
Libertarian Review Archives Online. Brian Doherty, Brian Doherty: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts. (2010-09-09).
One of Reason's high-quality competitors from the 1970s-80s has a semi-complete archives now available online. It's a fabulous compendium of Carter-ish era libertarian historical fun. David Boaz explains the mag and what it accomplished, focusing on its amazing editor the late Roy Childs.(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)
Openness is a lot of work. jonoscript, Not The User's Fault (2010-09-24).
You can’t just make something “open” and expect magic to happen. Openness is a lot of work. This is true whether you’re making an open-source software project, a website with user-generated content, a political movement, a charity, or any other kind of organization where you expect volunteers to show up...(Linked Saturday 2010-09-25.)
George Lucas Stole Chewbacca, But It’s Okay. Michael, Binary Bonsai (2010-09-18).
Foreword The creation of Star Wars is comprehensive mythology onto itself, populated by rarely documented anecdotes, the likes of “the Millennium Falcon was inspired by a hamburger, with the outrigger cockpit being an olive off to the side” (1) or “My original inspiration for Chewbacca was my dog Indiana.” (2),...(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)
Of Hayek and Rubber Tomatoes. Timothy B. Lee, Cato Unbound (2010-09-24).
Henry Farrell writes that “Hayek argues that markets are superior because they allow the ‘dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess’ to be aggregated in a useful way.” He then faults Hayek for failing to acknowledge a key limitation of the price mechanism:...(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)
“I’ve Never Seen a Poor Person Give Anyone a Job” Kevin Carson, Center for a Stateless Society (2010-09-16).
“I’ve never seen a poor person give anyone a job.” The cliche is commonly repeated on the Right, in polemics against what they call “class warfare” — not that there’s actually much of it being waged by Democrats, except when they’re fighting on the same side as the Republicans. See...(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)
I Am Detained By The Feds For Not Answering Questions. PKL, KNIFE TRICKS (2010-04-23).
Sherman Oaks, CaliforniaI was detained last night by federal authorities at San Francisco International Airport for refusing to answer questions about why I had travelled outside the United States.The end result is that, after waiting for about half an hour and refusing to answer further questions, I was released –...(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)
10 Brief Responses To 700 Comments About Refusing To Answer Questions At Passport Control. PKL, KNIFE TRICKS (2010-09-11).
Phuket Island, ThailandMy post about refusing to answer questions from Customs and Border Protection officers when re-entering the U.S. has resulted in a lot of debate. My thanks to everyone who joined the conversation, including the authors of the more than one hundred posts that called me a douchebag. Let...(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)
Deregulating food. Stephen Smith, Market Urbanism (2010-09-11).
by Stephen Smith Urban planners like to discuss heavy things – roads, buildings, cars, trains. Food, though an integral part of humans’ lives, generally doesn’t enter into the equation as more than a footnote. This may be because food service is governed by different departments than buildings, streets, and vehicles,...(Linked Sunday 2010-09-26.)
Fonts: true meaning. Javier, THE COSMONAUTS (2010-07-27).
(via I Love Charts)(Linked Friday 2010-08-06.)
Police and nonviolent means: Pacifism at the service of oppression. www.jesusradicals.com (2010-08-07).
In this video, police demonstrate a new “nonlethal” weapon that will blind people. Some Christian pacifists have worked to make the police “less violent” by advocating for less lethal weapons than firearms, such as tasers. In a recent editorial in The Mennonite, for example, Everett Thomas who is also a...(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)
This Week’s Crime Column. Radley Balko, The Agitator (2010-08-02).
The tease: When Pennsylvania resident Brian Kelly was arrested and charged with a felony in 2007 for recording a police officer during a traffic stop, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania District Attorney David Freed told a local newspaper that he sympathized with Kelly’s plight. Kelly was arrested based on a tortured interpretation...(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)
Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse. Unless You’re in Law Enforcement. The Agitator (2010-08-07).
Part of a recurring theme. In addition to my prior post today, here’s a roundup of other photography/video stories in the news of late: Earlier this month, Carlos Miller—who runs the Photography Is Not a Crime blog—was “banned” from Miami’s Metrorail system after guards from the firm hired to provide...(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)
"Come, a glass to our captain—the destined destroyer of civilization!" Shawn P. Wilbur, Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth (2010-07-21).
While searching for hollow earth narratives (a curiously political genre, as it happens), I came across Hartmann the Anarchist, an 1893 science fiction/adventure novel, by Edward Douglas Fawcett (the brother of the "Lost City of Z" explorer.) Fawcett also wrote Swallowed by an Earthquake, which I haven't tracked down, but...(Linked Saturday 2010-08-07.)
Why Do Law Enforcement Officials LOVE the iPhone? Chris, Chris Pirillo (2010-08-04).
Why Do Law Enforcement Officials LOVE the iPhone? is a post from Chris Pirillo Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS FeedDid you know just how MUCH information the iPhone stores on you? Police do, and they LOVE the iPhone for making it easier...(Linked Sunday 2010-08-08.)
I was a geeky teenager in the 1990s, so I could hardly avoid being at least casually familiar with the X Files. But, for whatever reasons, I never really dug into the show. I watched stray episodes here and there, had a basic idea of how the show worked, knew some of the major recurring characters, but never really got into the major plot arcs or followed the show regularly. One of the things I’ve been doing lately is catching up a bit in my off hours; thanks to the wonders of Netflix Watch Instantly, I’ve been going through the early seasons. One of the things that going back and watching it has reminded me of is just how really influential the X Files has been on the development of pop TV. It’s obvious with Fringe, of course, or with lesser imitators like EUReKA and Warehouse 13. But you can also see interesting points of contact with more conventional spaceship fare like Stargate SG-1, or in other gimmick-based buddy-cop procedurals like Bones. Just looking at it structurally, and sticking with the sci-fi for right now, since the X Files hit it big, it’s been pretty easy to find science fiction that revolves around a heroic team of scientists and investigators or soldiers, working for a special branch of government security, and constantly in search of a secret — hidden — truth in a universe much larger than anyone in civilian life dares to imagine.
Like the X-Files, it’s important that all these other shows are supposed to take place in the present day and the real world we’re familiar with, not in a spaceship future or in a galaxy far, far away. Our heroes have to live in our world but they are always encountering marvels and dangers from this much larger universe.
Shows like Fringe and SG-1 follow in the X Files tradition of treating the conspiracy theories and fringe communities they riff on with ironic affection. Within the show, these theories are reality after all; just seen as through a glass, darkly, by those who are weird enough and obsessed enough to catch the right rumor or grasp the deeper truth. The fact that all this is happening in the here and now of our real world makes the paranormal both fascinating and poignant and a bit disturbing; there’s a whole extraordinary universe beyond our ken, and in spite of our lingering doubts about conventional wisdom, we just really don’t know about it. Specifically, we don’t know anything about it because government security agents have made a concerted effort to keep the whole thing secret from us. The shows pretty much always have a longer arc above and beyond the individual episode’s mystery; the longer arc is always caught up in the fact that this mind-blowing universe might not be secret anymore. (Either the truth is about to be revealed, or some world-threatening crisis is looming that nobody but the heroes and villains have even begun to imagine.)
But of course it’s usually more interesting to talk about how obviously similar things differ. Usually the potting of Fringe that you hear is that it’s
X Files without the aliens, but that’s only a
difference in the least interesting way possible. Getting back into X Files after all this time has reminded me of what the real, big difference between the X Files and Fringe, or all the other secret-knowledge shows that have come along, is. In the X Files, Mulder and Scully work for the government, but they are constantly trying to expose a massive government conspiracy that’s hiding vital truths.
The Truth Is Out There, both about the aliens and about the government cover-ups and we’re supposed to be fighting for it — against shadowy villains well-placed within a security state that obscures, manipulates, and destroys evidence in order to keep mind-blowing truths secret and lie to people
for their own good, to keep them from finding out truths that the security state decides they Aren’t Ready For.
What about the bizarre, world-threatening Pattern investigated in Fringe? What about the secret history and vast alien universe of SG-1? In every single post-X-Files esoteric sci-fi show I can think of, the team not only works for the government; they’re part of the conspiracy; they’re in on the cover-up. Fringe Division investigations routinely end with Broyles, acting as both boss and fixer, telling the team, with a wink and a smile, what this week’s cover story is; in SG-1 the team themselves often have to take extraordinary steps to destroy damning evidence or convince witnesses to remain silent about alien encounters, hyperadvanced technology, and even our own origins as a race, even though the lies that they tell constantly leave everyone outside of a tiny military-government cabal oblivious to the constant, overwhelming danger of enslavement or extinction that looms over every one of us. Everyone remembers
Trust No One; there’s another early episode of the X Files about covered-up government experiments on human subjects, where Mulder and Scully briefly get into a conversation with a local dairy farmer about rBGH; Scully insists that he shouldn’t worry, because rBGH has been declared safe, and the farmer snorts back
Where’d you hear that from? The gov’ment? In the world of Fringe and SG-1, the heroes of the story are the gov’ment, and they expect the rest of the world to believe what they hear when they declare the world safe — nothing to see here, everything’s alright. Even though they know for a fact that it’s all a massive lie. The Truth Is Out There — and we’re going to make sure you’re not ever going to find it.
Of course, I watch Fringe and SG-1 and all that because they’re fun shows — sometimes even really good shows — and I enjoy them a lot. I don’t know if there’s any broad sociological lessons to be drawn here; pop culture is weird, and niche TV writing is even weirder. But I do think it’s hard not to notice the fact that the X Files first came on the air in September 1993, just two years after the fall of the Soviet Union, and just half a year after the massacre at Waco, while the U.S. intelligence aparat and the military-industrial complex were still reeling from the collapse of the Junior G-Man mindset and a very real possibility that they might be judged necessary evils that were no longer necessary. The story of war and intelligence politics since the mid-90s has been the story of the National Security State trying to develop a convincing rationale to justify its own continued existence in a world without hostile superpowers — to revive the state of perpetual emergency and the Cold War mindset that justified it by looking the other way and trusting in the good faith of the chain of command — a sort of cultural reconstruction that they never really accomplished in any stable way until the unveiling of the Great Patriotic War on Terror. Keeping that in mind, it’s interesting to be reminded that Fringe is a story that basically takes place in the fictional world of the X Files — but while Mulder and Scully spent about half of the X Files acting as rogue agents, in Fringe, the Bishops and Agent Dunham are basically working for the Smoking Man. It’s hard not to see just how much it is a show of the Bush-Obama decade.
-  And not just because Scully’s dad is in every episode of the early seasons. ↩
-  Besides the dynamic between Booth and Brennan, Bones frequently runs plots that are basically the X Files in reverse, where the hyperrational red-headed corpse-examining scientist always wins the argument: a corpse turns up in a bizarre condition that seemingly can’t be explained by any known phenomena; within the first half of the episode, Brennan identifies natural causes for bubbling bones, devil horns, and even corpses that look like Roswell Grays. Meanwhile, one of the supporting characters, Dr. Jack Hodgins, is obsessed with conspiracy theories and government coverups, and frequently offers them as explanations for the case. ↩
-  Usually about one marvel or danger per episode, and usually following a canonical set of scenarios. most of them well established within the first couple seasons of the X Files — a bizarre, hyperadvanced technology is uncovered that nobody knows what to do with; inscrutable aliens show up with mysterious, dubious, or malevolent purposes; blowback from government fringe-science experiments on human subjects; an ancient or alien disease is accidentally uncovered through man’s folly and now threatens our heroes, or even life as we know it; prodigies with psychic powers cause inexplicable crimes; shape-shifting or mind-controlling infiltrators destroy our heroes’ ability to trust their senses; the discovery of new forms of life and cryptozoological monsters; sudden real-life, modern-day confrontation with a creature out of ancient legend. ↩
-  X-shows pretty much always end up doing episodes where the team meets up with a conspiracy theorist or fringe enthusiast, usually a lovable weirdo, where the humor of the situation revolves around the fact that the weirdo enthusiast is dimly grasping at an amazing secret that the serious-and-grounded-heroes would never have believed, except that they now deal with it every day. ↩
-  The fact that our heroes are constantly engaged in the Big Lie is either taken as a matter of course, or, if it is ever brought up, with a line that could have come straight out of the mouths of the Syndicate:
Can you imagine if this got out? People just aren’t ready to know.The human villains in X Files are always players well-positioned within the government, acting on orders handed down from the highest levels, while Mulder and Scully often have to operate well outside of FBI approval; in the post-X shows, the big human villains are evil industrialists plotting to build private empires, or else rogue agents now operating outside, and against the wishes of, the National Security State that our heroes serve. ↩
- Help Noam Chomsky Find His Inner Anarchist. Roderick, Austro-Athenian Empire (2010-02-10).
A reader tipped me off that Noam Chomsky has agreed to answer the top-rated questions submitted via this reddit page; the reader suggested that I condense my “Chomsky’s Augustinian Anarchism” gripes into a question. So I did. Here’s my question for Chomsky: Although as an anarchist you favour a stateless...(Linked Wednesday 2010-02-10.)
- DAVID T. BEITO: Rand Paul is No Libertarian. Liberty & Power: Group Blog (2010-02-10). "This first advertisement for his U.S. Senate campaign ... is quite simply terrible. It not only panders to the darkest side of American conservatism but to the basest emotions of voters." Like pappy, Ron's boy Rand has chosen to emphasize absolutely the worst parts of his platform in his early campaign advertisements. Here, the current poster-boy for Chairman Ron's Great Libertarian Electoral Revolution comes out for "strong national defense," an immigration police state, and overseas legal black holes for "enemy combatants." (Linked Wednesday 2010-02-10.)
- How to split up the US. pwarden, PeteSearch (2010-02-06).
As I've been digging deeper into the data I've gathered on 210 million public Facebook profiles, I've been fascinated by some of the patterns that have emerged. My latest visualization shows the information by location, with connections drawn between places that share friends. For example, a lot of people in...(Linked Wednesday 2010-02-10.)
- Bear Becomes Mushroom; Trout Implicated. Roderick, Austro-Athenian Empire (2010-02-11).
So the picture on the left of a girl leaning against a bear is an image that appears on merchandise produced by independent artist Hidden Eloise; and the picture on the right of the same girl in the same pose, leaning against empty air in the vague vicinity of a...(Linked Friday 2010-02-12.)