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Michael J. Ruppert: The LA Cop Who Became the Leading 9/11 Conspiracy Spokesman

Apr 16

I’m sorry to hear of the suicide of Mike Ruppert. I spent a day with him in the L.A. suburbs in 2002 for an article I was assigned to write for Rolling Stone. It was a pretty weird experience, but nothing I wasn’t accustomed to. I liked the guy.

As far as I can remember, the article was killed because I didn’t want to sacrifice the wee bit of my own character or opinionizing that I brought to it. I felt that the article would have been an assault without it, although I’m sure Mike would’ve been upset by it anyway. Still, I’m sad to see the man go. He was off the wall on a lot of things, but he also did some good research. And his lectures…  he would pour sweat. The hardest working man in conspiracy show business. A veritable James Brown of underground gonzo investigative journalism.

Kevin Kelly’s Pro-Surveillance Rap: Passable Futurism but Bad Politics

Mar 14

So original Wired editor Kevin Kelly checks in this week with a Wired article provocatively titled, “Why You Should Embrace Surveillance, Not Fight It.”  The thesis, developed with Kelly’s typical assumption of technological inevitability (he wrote the book What Does Technology Want?), is that total mass tracking is coming anyway, so we should make the choice for “a mutual, transparent kind of ‘coveillance’ that involves watching the watchers.”

It may or may not be true that total surveillance is inevitable.  We rather have it now and I’m among those who push back against it.  As future speculation, Kelly’s piece is just about tolerable, but as contemporary politics it’s horrendous. And it is framed (and it must be framed) in the context of current conditions.

What too many people fail to understand is that the surveillance carried out by the super state (NSA, CIA, Big Capital, etcetera) doesn’t just create unequal transparency. One of its main functions is as a fortress against transparency. With rare exception, the only way we find out anything  about the inner workings of our government or some other powerful institution, whether private or public, that they don’t want us to know, is via whistleblowers and, in many cases, their contacts with the media. And total surveillance is a clear, present and effective form of intimidation as discussed in this report from the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

The underlying mistake in Kelly’s analysis is when he says that we should “think in terms of coveillance” and make a “choice” against the panopticon (and for that coveillance).  We can think anything we like, but power will choose. You’re never going to be able to hone in on data about where Lloyd Blankenfein or John Arnold shopped yesterday; what they’re reading, where they went with their cell phones  ad infinitum.  You are transparent to them. They are not going to be transparent to you.  Ever. And if you have a strategy to make them more transparent, they’re gonna know about it. You’re transparent so they don’t have to be.

Riddle Me This… Another Selfie

Mar 3

Here are some of my favorite interviews with me that are available on the web today.  While it’s generally unfashionable, I like the interview format. For one thing, you get the persons voice unimpeded by any (frequently incorrect) assumptions imposed by the journalist doing the interview. Also, I think it’s sometimes good to have a prompt rather than finding some awkward way of getting to your point.  Sometimes there’s more clarity in the interview than in the essay.

Nevada’s “Ayahuasca Tea Party” Candidate

Feb 27

So here’s this dude, David Lory VanDerBeek, and he’s running for governor of Nevada.  On February 23, he proudly posted a research paper he’d written in college titled Shamanistic Redemption: Entheogenic Intervention.  The piece, in wooden and convoluted prose, makes an argument that psychedelics, and particularly Ayahuasca, hold a special ancient place in the human experience and that, unlike other drugs, they are redemptive and, in fact, a shamanic treatment for addiction.

OK, then. Given the unlikelihood that legal Ayahuasca (he’s for it) will be a popular issue in the upcoming Nevada Gubernatorial campaign, you have to give this fellow points for charming eccentricity (and for liking Ayahuasca!) So who is David Lory VanDerBeek and what sort of politics has his expanded awareness wrought?

Well, in the biographical section of his webpage (Wait… he and his wife look happy, but the kids look either tortured or Children of the Damned), he lets us know right off that he’s not from Kenya. Which he needs to do because Ayahuasca.

Long Before “Her”, There was “Teknolust” — Lynn Hershman Leeson & Her Virtual Personas

Feb 24

Image above: Seduction,  part of the Phantom Limb Series, gsp, c. Lynn Hershman 1986

…and Spike Jonez knew all about it.

Lynn Hershman Leeson has been making art and films about the thin line between the real and the virtual for four decades. She is probably best known for two of her films — Conceiving Ada (I had a small role) (1997) and Teknolust (2002) — both starring Tilda
 Swinton, which explore emotions, sexuality and technology and the ways in which they converge. Around 1999, while Leeson was working on Teknolust, she
 contacted Spike Jonez, asked him to be in the film and introduced him to her online A.I. web
bot ,“Agent Ruby.”

This interview is a combination of some text we exchanged via email recently with an interview I did with her back around 2005 for my long lost NeoFiles podcast.