Archive for the Frankenstein’s Monster category

January 23rd, 2011

FBI and Fracking company contra woman in Pennsylvania

Fracking — a method of drilling for natural gas — poisons groundwater yet is steaming ahead under Obama.

Here is an ACLU video about a Pennsylvania woman active in trying to prevent local Fracking getting targeted by Homeland Security, which lumped her with terrorists and proceeded against her as such, and passed intelligence about her to the corporation doing the local Fracking.

We are so far gone down the road to perdition. That fracking is alllowed to occur anywhere is itself something out of dystopic science fiction.

January 22nd, 2011

Obamarama: Internet IDs
coming this year

Obama will be unveiling a “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” in the next few months.

The “White House Cybersecurity Coordinator” practiced Doublespeak while breaking the news a few weeks ago, pointing out that the Commerce Department:

is “the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government” to centralize efforts toward creating an “identity ecosystem” for the Internet ….

“We are not talking about a national ID card. We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

January 22nd, 2011

Greenland melts
all the more

The year lately passed saw by far the worst melt in Greenland since worrywarts started watching in 1979.

Some background here.

M

January 4th, 2011

?? Russians say Wheeler assassinated re US chemical weapon disaster in Arkansas ?

Ed Note: See comments below to follow this strange story as it evolves — or more likely disappears in a cloud of web nonsense and, perhaps, professional disinformation.

JOHN WHEELER was the leader of the Vietnam Vets Memorial movement, among other things.

Career Air Force with sensitive assignments.

Showed up murdered in a dumpster the other day.

Meanwhile thousands of birds have been dropping dead out of the sky in Arkansas.

Now Inteltrends publishes a report that claims to have seen a Russian intel report saying that Wheeler was killed, by the Americans, because he

threatened to expose a U.S. Military test of poison gas that killed hundreds of thousands of animals in Arkansas this past week.

June 26th, 2010

Lawrence Durrell and
the Workings of Abel

As poet, publisher & old friend David Abel, long gone from New York, breezes thru this weekend with a reading on Sunday the 27th at the Zinc Bar, I find myself reading TUNC by Lawrence Durrell from 1958 …

A pheasant stuffed with nominal chestnuts, a fatty wine disbursed among fake barrels in a London cellar — Poggio’s, where people go to watch each other watch each other. I had been trying to explain the workings of Abel — no, you cannot have a computer with balls; but the illusion of a proximate intuition is startling. Like a buggerish astrology only more real, more concrete; better than crystal ball or divining rod.

“Here we have lying about us in our infancy” (they clear their throats loudly) “a whole culture tied to a stake, whipped blind, torn apart by mastiffs. Grrrr! And here we are, three men in black overcoats, ravens of ill omen in an oak tree.” I gave a couple of tremendous growls. Heads turned toward us in meek but startled fashion.

“You are still drunk, Felix.” This is Nash.

“No, but people as destinies are by now almost mathematically predictable. Ask Abel.”

“Almost.”

“Almost.”

“You interest me strangely,” said Vibart dozing off for a second. Emboldened Charlock continued.

“I call it pogonometry. It is deduction based on the pogon [then in Greek], a word which does not exist. It is the smallest conceivable unit of meaning in speech; a million pogons make up the millioneth part of a phoneme. Give Abel a sigh or the birth cry of a baby and he can tell you everything.”

June 10th, 2010

Geneticists dead or missing
from 9/11 thru 2005

Posted for files: An old story most people never heard about.

Don Wiley was the bigshot DNA sequencer at Harvard whose disappearance made people start to wonder if somebody hadn’t made a list, and in the chaos post 9/11 begun to work thru it.

In defense of Mother Nature, as it were.

May 30th, 2010

Matt Simmons re
The Gulf of Mexico

Simmons is a legendary oil service man. One of the planet’s genii in this sphere.

Both men offer practical containment ideas that should be used and don’t understand the government’s inaction.

And both assert at length that the little geyser we’ve been watching on TV is not the prime leak.

January 1st, 2010

Film: The White Ribbon
Crisis of the Old Order

Magnificent. Must see. Glorious black and white. Gloriously and utterly un-American. One recalls why, when we were young, people thought film was a serious art.

It’s a psychological whodunit, to begin. So it’s natural the reviews would focus on the puzzles. Even so …

Spoiler Alert. The rest of this is for people who’ve seen it already. Unless one cares not to preserve a fresh first viewing.

Even so, the lack of comment in the reviews on the treatment of social history is surprising. This is what struck my mind throughout, and seems upon further thought the Grund of the story, the spine of the script.

Confirmation here comes (after dozens of hints) rather late when the Baronness declares she is leaving the Estate, and indeed leaving Germany — and is taking her son, the family heir.

Thus dissolves the Baron’s household, the power atop the village social structure, and the employer of most of its people.

Why does the Baroness bail? Because she has fallen in love with a banker in Lombardy (ie Milan), who swept her off her feet with his energy and sophistication, and was good with the boy.

Thus the Gentry gives way to the Liberals — the industrialists and their bankers, the Capitalists, the Bourgeoisie beloved of Saint-Simon — atop the pile of struggling classes.

Each of the adult male characters speaks for a familiar estate/class of late feudal society. Only the Officer is missing. But his clamor can be heard at film’s end, as his day dawns in 1914.

The Doctor serves well as a representative of Modern Science:

– mistreating, after deeply exploiting, the pre-modern Midwife (his professional precursor in the Middle Age now vanishing). He despises her “stench” and finally wishes she were dead.

– abusing the trust and curiosity of his daughter because, as he explains to the Midwife, his passions are autonomous, ungovernable, beyond good and evil. Robert Oppenheimer comes to mind. Or How I Learned to Love the Bomb.

Whether the Doctor’s unexplained departure at story’s end marks him (and Modern Science) a monster or a black hero turns perhaps on whether one comes to feel he has adopted (acknowledged?) the Midwife’s retarded son or, prefiguring the Nazis, has euthanized him. That his own boys are named Adolph and Rudi (Hess?) puts a point on the question but doesn’t decide it.

And note, most broadly, that while the children of the Minister and the Doctor are in close congress, their fathers seem to exist in separate towns. Or ages. Like Christendom and its successor Modernity.

As for details, a dozen otherwise odd and/or disjointed events in the film find justification (beyond gratuitous thrill-making) and make simple sense when considered as social history or pathology.

E.g., the Minister’s suppression of his son’s sexuality. The boy’s face (on the poster above) says it all: One of these decades that kettle’s gonna blow.

His name is Martin. Dubbed, no doubt, by his earnest father in honor of Luther. But as quickly as that came to mind I thought of Martin Bormann. Portrait of the Sadist as a Young Man.

Also interesting, in this vein, is the crudely bon-vivant and violent Steward of the estate, occupying his position of petty power between the Baron and the Peasants. In southern Italy such pastoral players were the root of what blossomed, as Noble control faded, into the urban mafias.

And, indeed — the Steward has been cast (Josef Bierbichler) as a hulking dark and garrulous Italian type, utterly distinct in appearance and behavior from the reserved Saxons that populate most of the screen. In particular his joking with ladies about sex stands out. Are we are to guess he was hired from Uncle Eduardo’s estate in Lombardy? Perhaps to keep the increasingly restive Peasants in line?

The film compares, then, to Bertolucci’s 1900 (in essence, not style).

To The French Lieutenant’s Woman — though much more Fowles’ novel than the film.

And to Ivy Compton-Burnett, who across some 20 novels, all set in late Victorian mansions peopled by failing grownups and bitter, biting children, told an epic story of social decline and shifting class loyalties and behaviors.

Both Bergman and Dreyer of course also come to mind, for various reasons, re both style and concern to tell social history, even if one believes Fanny and Alexander were happy kids.

It seems, then, that A.O. Scott, in particular, missed quite a big boat here. He seems to have been mezmerized by the spectacular surface psychology — and thus left to complain that Haneke told a shallow story (oh so familiar in America) that blames the Nazis on “child abuse.”

On the contrary: The surmise of the narrator (the now-old Schoolmaster) that this story, even if less than perfectly true, may help explain what the kids went on to accomplish in their prime, working hard and playing hard, seems well supported: The dissolution of the Old Order, and the Blow in Sarajevo (the first war and its disastrous sequelae), gave the deviant Nazis an opening to power.

Thank goodness it couldn’t happen here, where a prosperous and populous Middle Class exercises sovereignty in a vibrant constitutional democratic — uh, hmmm …

Finally, no reviewer I’ve seen has suggested what, after two viewings, seems clear: the gentle, somewhat bumbling Schoolmaster, played by Christian Friedel, is intended to be understood as Jewish.

The kind features of his face, his distinctively dark hair, his distinctively broad education, all support this reading, but also:

– his bitchy chastisement by the Baronness about church music and the church calendar;

– the otherwise pointless evasion of his would-be father-in-law at the matrimonial negotiation, who remarks that the teacher’d be better off working in his father’s shop in town (where your kind belong); and

– at story’s end, the abrupt and monstrous dressing down he suffers from the Minister after suggesting that the latter’s children are sadistic criminals. Denounced as “repulsive” and threatened with prison, ordered to “get out” and never return, he timidly acquiesces.

Thus fails, too — when the Other challenges at a stroke both Bible and Blut — the structure of Assimilation.

That the Schoolmaster when young was a Jew well at home in Bismarck’s young nation-state casts new light on his opening sad hope of somehow explaining “what happened later” as an effect of the alienating contradictions of old Christendom and its dissolution under pressure of Modernity’s miracles and wonders.

“The world’s not going to collapse.”

Twice we hear this during the year the Schoolmaster is required to wait for his bride: a naive but golden girl from a nearby town, daughter of a straight-shooting German Arbeiter, the very best that society has to offer a man of the Schoolmaster’s station.

But then comes the news from Sarajevo, and the marriage — consummation of Assimiliation — doesn’t come off.

Instead the erstwhile groom goes to war, for the Kaiser. And afterward, he tells us, never returns to the baronial village, returning instead to his hometown, to take over his father’s tailor shop. Which leaves the tinkling of Kristallnacht in one’s ears as the story fades to black.

We first met the Schoolmaster with his arm around Karli, the retarded boy, framed in the schoolhouse door — as the gang of kids, somewhat distant, snidely look on and sneer. It’s difficult not to think here of the Third Reich’s select victims. The kids will go on to burn both books and teacher.


Click

January 1st, 2010

2009 in review

“A London taxi driver tied one end of a rope around a post and the other around his neck and drove away, launching his head from the car.
Sarah Palin published a book and Sylvia Plath’s son hanged himself in Alaska.
Scientists in San Diego made a robot head study itself in a mirror until it learned to smile.”

From the Yearly Review in Harper’s.

November 27th, 2009

Genetics: Are genes the only Natural Kinds?

Craig Venter is the celebrated fellow behind the privatized charting of the human genome.

Richard Dawkins is the Brit who writes celebrated yet perfectly circular arguments as to the centricity of the gene in biology.

Here, for files, they chat.

August 18th, 2009

Murdoch: No More Free Lunch

When News Corp reported quarterly results two weeks ago, Murdoch announced that all websites under the umbrella would convert to paid subscriptions.

No more free lunch.

What will this world be like in 5 years? The affluent will have something like journalism and the rest will be entertained?

The silcon-and-software revolution has been destroying the business of culture for twenty years. Music. Books. Now newspapers.

News Corp now dominates business news in the USA. Perhaps Murdoch’s move will blaze a trail, show the rest (and more worthy) how to survive the onslaught.

July 24th, 2009

A Dirty Vacation —
Greenland melts

Ed Note: See comments below to follow climate-change stories thru the dumb distraction of “Climategate” into the winter of 2010-11, when news comes that 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year and saw Greenland’s ice melt continue to accelerate “beyond model.”

M

Una sporca vacanza

In June [2009] we learned that Greenland’s ice is melting even faster than the people who closely watch such things were shocked to report two years before.

Today’s news is that things are much worse:

“Runoff in 2007 was approximately 35% greater than average for 1995-2006. From 1995 through 2007 overall, precipitation decreased while ablation increased, leading to an increased average SMB loss of 127 cubic kilometers …”

But might one shrug 2007 off as an outlier?

Uh … No. Sorry. See the 2nd comment below for a brief history of public notices re the great melt. The trend is clear and recent.

(See in particular 2000 NASA and 2003 Pentagon reports. And note that in each of the past three years the rate of melt has increased well beyond model projections — suggesting nobody really knows how fast the ice will flow to the sea.)

The Idiot Box was abuzz about Greenland for a day or two in June before Michael Jackson died. The skinny for those too busy mourning or Making Ends Meet: The coastlines known throughout recorded history will (relatively) soon be gone.

Locals might also note that another recent report (by a different research group) forecasts the Greenland melt will make things particularly bad — nearly twice the global ocean-rise average — along the North American northeast coast: 12 to 20 inches higher than the roughly two-foot average rise predicted “by 2100.”

I had a dream last week of frowning Age-of-Reagan Yuppies — today’s midlevel eager beavers and Free Marketeers, raised on patriotic television — elbowing around Manhattan in power boats. Getting Their Own. Working Hard and Playing Hard …

One wonders when coastal real estate will collapse. Perhaps in Florida the top, for the duration, is already in.

CNN reported a few months ago that the Carteret Islands in the south Pacific have lost 60% of their land to the ocean in recent years. Trying to imagine hundreds of millions of people retreating inland worldwide produces a disaster movie full of shotgun violence and sociopolitical dissolution. But perhaps people and governments will rise, with the oceans, to the occasion.

Frontierland USA, however, populated with plastic Rugged Individualists, seems less than fruitful ground for a sociable ever after. Pious inwoners of the hinterland will tell their children the submersion of Boston, New York, Philadelphia was God’s vengence upon the Liberals.

Europe seems more promising sociologically. But will the cessation of the Gulf Stream leave what remains above sea level covered with ice? And pious Likudists nodding with deep and grim satisfaction, thinking of Noah and the 1940s? Shall any ‘scape whipping by this vengeful God?

Will the grass nowhere be greener?

Perhaps the recent development of expensive gated communities with autonomous power generation in the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, Montana, has something to do with the recent hydrology — and, too, the incoherent violence of American foreign policy in the brave new century.

The Pentagon, after all, warned (itself) years ago of abrupt climate change, reporting measured declines in the flow of the Gulf Stream, and issuing new criteria re base location.

Recall the decision to abandon Homestead Air Force Base in Florida after Hurricane Andrew — a shocking decision announced in a live press conference by Secretary of Defense Cheney in 1992. People everywhere were wondering what the heck Dick was doing.

Playing catch up, the maps on the tube this past June, accompanying reports of the latest data, showed all of south Florida (north of Okeechobee on down) under water “by 2100.”

Not to speak of the Netherlands, Bangladesh, a good deal of southeast Asia …

Venice …?

A Dirty Vacation indeed …

April 7th, 2009

Total Recall

Posted in Frankenstein's Monster by ed

A drug that effectively erases targeted memories.

March 28th, 2009

Dem Builderburgers ain’t so bad,
heck, I seen worse

An American in Ireland, Richard Moore, worries often aloud about the world in articulate, informed style — at the moment about the Bilderbergers. Just now I dashed off a reply email that without trying hard encapsulates a view of the world (if not a Worldview):

The Bldbrgers are good and useful to consider. They don’t Run the World but they give insight into some of the people involved in the high level struggles to operate and endure the world.

They express a more European point of view than, eg, the Davos gatherings, which are more technocratic and global and American influenced. This European view is caught in our time in the middle, and I tend to sympathize with it.

I mean — the world today is dividing in a new way:

1. Russia and China, among the major powers, are still nation-states. Their owner-operators are still wed to their Nations (ie People). These powers can be read fairly easily as to what their interests are and how they are likely to behave to protect and forward them.

2. The US since the advent of the bomb has been ceasing to be a nation-state (if indeed it was ever a good idea to consider it as such).

(The bomb brought pressure to control events globally and to do so without major-power war; this pressure has been bending the minds of the people who run the National Security Apparat since the end of the war 1945. This is one big reason why the Apparat has grown so strong in Washington while the Congress has almost ceased to exist as a policy making body and the White House careers back and forth, with presidential heads more often than not winding up on platters.)

The owner-operators of the US began to reassert themselves behind Reagan’s smile and broad shoulders, having gone to school on the lessons of Vietnam (an educated working class is not a good idea, reliable pensions are not a good idea, fairly free and balanced mass media are not a good idea) and having realized that the technological revolution meant (re capital) that Globalization was the ticket.

To be extremely brief then: The US since the war has been morphing from something like a nation-state to a thing bestride the globe with two primary interests: to float the National Security Apparat (chiefly the Pentagon but also the mature so-called intelligence agencies) and to float the large globalizing corporations. Responsibility of the owner-operators for and to the Nation (ie People) has become almost neglible.

(Even the most Progressive voices among the American owner-operators are corporate-centric, as if someday Google may just blast off into space, Silent Running with Hughie, Dewey and Louie … )

3. Europe occupies too a rather new and strange space — having undertaken the Euro Union. But the traditional bonds between the component ruling classes and Nations (Peoples) — born of millenia of strife and tight geography — are still rather strong.

The Bilderbergers convey this uneasy place in the middle — between the brute classico Russian and Chinese nation-states and the global military-industrial enterprise based in the U.S.

Europe: Trying to “compete” with the run-amok North American colossus, while trying (as always) to survive the “Asian Hordes,” while trying to maintain the distinctly European take on the Individual-in-Society.

For my money, Europe’s approach to Modernity (the technological civilization that in the West succeeded Christendom) is superior to the American, the Russian and the Chinese. European societies seem to me superior.

So then — even though my own feet are rooted in the Working Class, I don’t find the Bilderbergers as alarming as some. (And I have always valued the reports from the chamber that Mr Estulin has been channeling for some time now.)

Rather, I find the entire careering planet alarming. Chiefly the unbridled advance of science these past two centuries, which has created monstrous wealth, technological processes and weapons that have left us and the earth at the mercy of forces I think NO one or one body of people has a chance to control, let alone govern. Everything put together sooner or later falls apart, as Paul Simon noted circa Watergate.

My view of Europe’s “superiority” doesn’t mean, of course, that if one had to bet on the Last Man Standing he should bet on the European Union. Indeed, many have been writing that the current financial crisis may ruin it.

Would Europe survive the Union’s disintegration? In some fashion, surely. Might that seismic de-centralizing move actually, despite costs, show us something of the way out of Modernity’s disaster? Too much to hope for, I suppose.

October 25th, 2008

Cyber-divorcee arrested in the flesh for “murdering” avatar of her cyber-ex

Wow.  A new frontier in notional crime and relations between the sexes.

April 24th, 2008

The Sane Society: US leads world in “prisoner production”

As we pack our lives into pickup trucks and head down the dusty road of dearth for Depression, the Times is good to point out that by at least one measure of socioeconomic production the US is still number one.

An old friend who was raised to hate the Soviet Union always refused to grasp that since the advent of the War on Drugs the US has a higher rate of incarceration than the Reds at the height of Stalinism.

(One angle: Seems we freed the slaves then put them in jail.)

Do we live in a Sane Society?

There are other measures. Suicide rates. The now fairly well entrenched fad of adolescents massacring fellow students.

I’ve never, at least since the passing of Santa Claus, been a faithful Christian. But since that same time it has also been clear, in the bones if not between the ears, that the American Civilization (as certain stodgy Brit historians insist on calling it) or, better, the Scientific Civilization, which in the west succeeded Christendom immaturely when the latter blew its brains out in 1914, is off its rocker.

Ungovernable. At odds with the Kind-of-Being-that- is-Human. Chronically mass murderous. And (the most Inconvenient Truth of all) suicidal.

But the new Grand Theft Auto is dynamite. And there’s always Second Life when your first one gets snuffed. (Or …? How does that work?)

January 24th, 2008

Scientists draw near creating life from scratch

Posted in Frankenstein's Monster by ed

Brave new world that hath such creatures in’t.

November 19th, 2007

Constant Gardener?
Nigeria accuses Pfizer

I haven’t yet seen this in the American press: Nigeria prosecuting Pfizer for operating a la mode The Constant Gardener.

From the German magazine Der Spiegel:

USING AFRICANS AS GUINEA PIGS

Nigeria Takes On Pfizer over ‘Killer Drug’

By Hauke Goos

The Nigerian government is taking on Pfizer, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company. It accuses the company of using a meningitis epidemic to test an unapproved drug on Nigerian children. Eleven children who participated in the tests died and others were left with disabilities. … END QUOTE

nigeria.jpg

The case is rooted in 1996. Perhaps in part inspired Le Carre’s novel? Which was published in 2001.

It seems art, in any case, imitated life.

Meanwhile, as Democratic candidates debate how many tens of millions of Americans should live without health care, the scientific so-called community heralds progress in the immortalization project: the cloning of primate embryos, and the production of stem cells from skin (rather than embryos).

Most news reports and commentators seem to be presuming that the latter innovation removes all/most ethical roadblocks to stem cell work.

If so, according to the technoprophets who briefly came out of the closet at the turn of the millennium — including some of the scientist businessmen running the primary biotech companies involved — the grandchildren of the very rich may perhaps needn’t die unless they want to. Brave new world that hath such creatures in’t.

August 11th, 2007

Chinese issuing computer chip IDs

Posted in Frankenstein's Monster by ed

NY TIMES says:

SHENZHEN, China, Aug. 9 — At least 20,000 police surveillance cameras are being installed along streets here in southern China and will soon be guided by sophisticated computer software from an American-financed company to recognize automatically the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity.

Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens.

Data on the chip will include not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.