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Hive Mind
Saturday, January 29, 2005
 

Excellent Critique of Primitivism, fom an Anarchist Perspective


I wish that I had written this myself. Here's a nice little tidbit fom the article:
At this point some primitivist writers like John Moore cry foul, dismissing the suggestion "that the population levels envisaged by anarcho-primitivists would have to be achieved by mass die-offs or nazi-style death camps. These are just smear tactics. The commitment of anarcho-primitivists to the abolition of all power relations, including the State with all its administrative and military apparatus, and any kind of party or organization, means that such orchestrated slaughter remains an impossibility as well as just plain horrendous."(12)

The problem for John is that these 'smear tactics' are based not only on the logical requirements of a primitivist world but are also explicitly acknowledged by other primitivists. Miss Ann Thropy's 50 million has already been quoted. Another primitivist FAQ claims "Drastic population reductions are going to happen whether we do it voluntarily or not. It would be better, for obvious reasons to do all this gradually and voluntarily, but if we don't the human population is going to be cut anyway."(13)

The Coalition Against Civilization write "We need to be realistic about what would happen were we to enter a post-civilized world. One basic write-off is that a lot of people would die upon civil collapse. While being a hard thing to argue to a moralistic person, we shouldn't pretend this wouldn't be the case"(14)

More recently Derrick Jensen in an interview from Issue #6 of The 'A' Word Magazine[15] said civilization "needs to be actively fought against, but I don't think that we can bring it down. What we can do is assist the natural world to bring it down..... I want civilization brought down and I want it brought down now." We have seen above what the consequences of 'bringing down' civilization are.

In short there is no shortage of primitivists who recognize that the primitive world they desire would require "mass die-offs". I've not come across any who advocate "nazi-style death camps" but perhaps John just threw this in to muddy the water. Primitivists like John Moore can therefore refuse to confront this question of die off by upping the emotional ante and by accusing those who point the need for die-off out as carrying out 'smear tactics'. It's up to him to either explain how 6 billion can be fed or to admit that primitivism is no more then an intellectual mind game.

My expectation is that just about everyone when confronted with this requirement of mass death will conclude that 'primitivism' offers nothing to fight for. A very few, like the survivalists confronted by the threat of nuclear war in the 1980's, might conclude that all this is inevitable and start planning how their loved ones will survive when others die. But this later group has moved far, far beyond any understanding of anarchism as I understand it. So the 'anarcho' prefix such primitivists try to claim has to be rejected.

Read More or Download the PDF for distribution!

(Via Infoshop News)
 
Thursday, January 27, 2005
 

Two cool new distributed computing projects


(Via Worldchanging and RealityCarnival)

Two different distributed computing projects caught my eye as of late:

The first, Darwin@Home, is a "planetwide effort to create networked digital ecosystems." In other words, it is a massive artificial life simulation in which digital organisms can breed, compete, and evolve. Pretty cool.

In a somewhat more useful vein, Climateprediction.net is using a distributed computing system to run simulations of possible global warming scenarios, which needless to say, could be an invaluable resource for the coming onslaught of global warming. What makes Climateprediction.net unique is the sheer number of climate change scenarios the project is able to investigate, boosting the predictive power of climatologist's models exponentially.
 
Friday, January 21, 2005
 

Meatprinters


Apparantly researchers in Manchester have developed a way to custom construct human skin, bones, and organs using - get this - ink-jet printer technology. From the article:
Using the printers, they are able create 3-dimensional structures, known as 'tissue scaffolds'. The shape of the scaffold determines the shape of the tissue as it grows. The structures are created by printing very thin layers of a material repeatedly on top of each other until the structure is built. Each layer is just 10 microns thick (1,000 layers equals 1cm in thickness).

This method allows larger tissues to be grown than previously possible. The reason for this is the way in which the cells are inserted into the structures.

Before being fed into the printer, the cells are suspended in a nutrient rich liquid not dissimilar to ink, which ensures their survival. The cells are then fed into the printer and seeded directly into the structure as it is built. This avoids any 'sticking to the surface' which is a major disadvantage of current methods that infuse the cells into the structure after it has been built.

"The problem is getting cells into the interior of these constructions as they naturally stick to the sides of whatever they are being inserted into. If they stick to the sides then this limits the number of cells which can grow into tissues, and the lack of penetration also limits their size. By using inkjet printing we are able to seed the cells into the construction as we build it, which means 'sticking' isn't a problem," says Professor Derby.

Professor Derby believes the potential for this technology is huge: "You could print the scaffolding to create an organ in a day," he says.

Worldchanging (where I found this article) has posted some extremely interesting commentary regarding this technology:
As always, this research needs some time before getting to the point where it will affect our daily lives. But when translated into a shippable product, organ printers will have some pretty amazing implications. No longer having to worry about tissue rejection or a lack of available donor organs is one obvious result, and the possibility of more accurate (and aesthetically pleasing for the recipient) reconstructive surgery was one of the drivers of the research. If more complex organs could be created (as might be possible if the scaffolding system is combined with stem cell research), one can imagine a scenario where organ replacement is a faster, safer option than organ repair (such as open-heart surgery).

But this technology would have implications beyond the medical world. For example, this technology should work equally well for building non-human muscle tissue for consumption as meat. While the comparative expense would be enormous at first, artificially-grown real meat might have some distinct advantages: it would be cruelty-free, by definition; meat factories could be anywhere, would take up much less space than cattle ranches or chicken farms, and ostensibly produce much less waste (and methane!); fields now used to grow grain for livestock could instead grow food for people, or even become CO2 sequestration sites; and control over the "seed" cells would mean that prion contaminations (leading to mad cow disease) could be completely avoided. While "vat-grown" hamburgers have been a staple of science fiction stories for awhile now, the future may instead be in "meatprinters." When McDonald's buys Epson, you'll know that this future is near.

Oh how I long for the taste of a meatprinted hamburger!
 
Thursday, January 20, 2005
 

Even More Hot Bug Porn



 
Thursday, January 13, 2005
 
Subscribers to “This Mobile Will Change Your Life” receive SMS text message orders which they must carry out immediately, in Mission Impossible-style.

Orders vary from the straightforward (“kiss the nearest tall stranger”) to the hazardous (“Walk into a police station, tell them you’re finally giving yourself up, then remain totally silent.”) to the deranged (“It’s 2am: everybody meet in your nearest cemetery dressed as zombies, then march on the town centre”).

Subscribers must commit to obeying the 10 instructions a month without fail, in return for which their life is guaranteed to change.

The service is the brainchild of Ben Carey and Henrik Delehag (known as “Benrik”), the authors of the cult bestselling book “This Diary will Change your Life”.

“Most people’s lives are already dominated by their mobile phone. We’re taking this one step further by making them literally slaves to their mobile,” said Ben Carey of Benrik.

“In the process, they’ll lead a far less boring life.”



(Via Avantgaming)
 
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
 

UNUSUAL REPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR OF ODD ANTS SURPRISES SCIENTISTS


The type of ants in this study – harvester ants – are one of the largest insect societies in the western United States, with ranges covering hundreds of miles and nests so large they're visible from airplanes.

"This is the ant that runs the west – it's everywhere," Rissing said.

The researchers had noticed that in certain areas – mainly southeastern Arizona and New Mexico – some of the male harvester ants looked different. So they collected several dozen pairs of queens and males and brought these pairs back to the laboratory for genetic testing, with surprising outcomes.

"The DNA of some of these ants was just weird – we certainly didn't expect to get the results that we did," Rissing said. "It seems that the queens in these colonies mate with males from two different genetic lineages. And when a queen and male with the same lineage usually mated, it usually produced a reproductive female – another queen. But when a queen and male from different genetic lineages mated, that pairing overwhelmingly produced a sterile worker.

"This kind of reproductive behavior is very different from what we expect to see in ant societies," he continued. "We'd expect to see the same DNA sequence from all ants in a given colony. But that's not what happened here."

More...
 
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
 

Major advance made in transparent electronics


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University and Hewlett Packard have reported their first example of an entirely new class of materials which could be used to make transparent transistors that are inexpensive, stable, and environmentally benign. This could lead to new industries and a broad range of new consumer products, scientists say.

The possibilities include electronic devices produced so cheaply they could almost be one-time "throw away" products, better large-area electronics such as flat panel screens, or flexible electronics that could be folded up for ease of transport.

More...
 

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