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Ed Webb

The Sci-Fi Roots of the Far Right-From 'Lucifer's Hammer' to Newt's Moon Base to Donald... - 0 views

  • Strong leader Senator Jellison (who is white) then asks former Shire founder Hugo Beck what went wrong, and Beck says his fellow hippies just never realized how great technology and laissez-faire economics were, and now all his old friends are dining on human flesh under the thumb of a scary black communist.
  • Today, Lucifer’s Hammer reads as a depiction of a post-apocalyptic war between Trump counties and Clinton counties, simultaneously promising American renewal even as it depicts unavoidable catastrophe. The comet acts as a cleansing, wiping away so much dead wood of civilization. (Feminism, too, comes in for repeated knocks.)
  • SDI was only one part of a larger right-wing techno-futurist project. SDI historian Edward Linenthal cites a 1983 interview with Newt Gingrich in which the young conservative Congressman predicted that SDI would not just destroy Russia’s Communists but liberalism, too. SDI would be “a dagger at the heart of the liberal welfare state” because it destroys “the liberal myth of scarcity,” leaving only “the limits of a free people’s ingenuity, daring, and courage.”
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  • Gingrich subsequently secured a job for Pournelle’s son with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in 1994, who like Gingrich is now a stalwart space booster and Trump supporter.
  • What Trump does is less important than the fact that he kicks over the table, strengthening America’s military state while demolishing bureaucracy and ignoring niceties. Democracy and law matter less than security and innovation
  • with communism a fading threat by the late 80’s, Gingrich shifted his focus to the specter of a new enemy, arguing in 1989 that “Islamic extremism may well be the greatest threat to Western values and Western security in the world.” Such fear-mongering—Islamic extremism remains a fraction as destructive as the nuclear Soviet Union—may seem ill-suited to optimism in mankind’s future, but as a political project it can be uncannily effective. Pournelle wrote that Islam demands adherence to a principle of “Islam or the sword,” and that an aggressive military response is not only justified but demanded: we are at war with the Caliphate.
  • Gingrich and Pournelle’s enthusiasm had less to do with Trump’s particular ambitions than with his capacity for destruction of the status quo. Much of the chaos Trump foments is, to Gingrich and Pournelle, a key feature to induce the future they want—the one where the feminists and “eco-terrorists” and university professors are soundly defeated
  • In their science fiction as in life, Gingrich and Pournelle shared an optimistic belief in power of technology—and an equally powerful insistence on the inevitability of conflict. They believed this required a robust, authoritarian state apparatus to preserve order and bind citizens together. Indeed, while backing Reagan, Gingrich had promoted a techno-futurism that was less conservative than it was authoritarian: he called for pruning inefficiency while aggressively promoting expansion and military technology. For his part, Pournelle published anthologies of science-fiction and techno-military essays through the 1980s under the name There Will Be War.
  • No science-fiction writer since has exerted as significant a political influence as Pournelle. But Pournelle does have a spiritual successor in Castalia House, the independent science-fiction publisher run by white nationalist Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day. Beale, like Gingrich, has said that his job is to save Western Civilization—and that it is in dire need of saving. Beale, however, is far more explicit about race.
  • Pournelle has dissociated himself from Beale’s politics, but Castalia House’s republishing of Pournelle’s 1980s There Will Be War series (as well as publishing a new volume 10) is no mere coincidence. Rather, they are indications of a shared worldview. To these writers, civil rights, equality, and civil liberties are irritants and impediments to progress at best. At worst, they are impositions on the holy forces of the market and social Darwinism (“evolution in action”) that sort out the best from the rest. And to all of them, the best tend to be white (with a bit of space for “the good ones” of other races). If there has been a shift in thought between the 1970s and today, it’s that the expected separation of wheat from chaff hasn’t taken place, and so now more active measures need to be taken—building the border walls and deportations, for example. Trump is an agent of these active measures—an agent of revolution, or at least the destruction that precedes a revolution.
  • Trump was far from the first to eliminate the line between right-wing thought and outright bigotry.
Ed Webb

"We will need writers who can remember freedom": Ursula K Le Guin at the National Book ... - 0 views

  • I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.
  • We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

Going up! Cosmic elevator could reach space on a cable made of diamonds - 0 views

    A Japanese construction company, Obayashi Corporation, has been investigating the concept for a space elevator. Their researchers believe that advances in carbon nanotechnology could make a space elevator possible as soon as 2030. (CNN) -- Want to ride an elevator into space?

The Right Chemistry: Soylent is no longer just a science-fiction concoction - 0 views

    Soylent Green is here, people. Kind-of. The bigger question: can they make it taste like Nutella?

Light Memory Experiment Affects Mice Brains Like An MIB Neuralyzer - 1 views

    Scientists think they've found a way to alter memory using beams of light... Freaky stuff.
Ed Webb

FreakAngels - 0 views

    For those who enjoy Transmetropolitan, a different kind of treat from Mr Ellis.
Ed Webb

THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster - 2 views

  • like the cell of a bee
    • Ed Webb
      Why this image?
  • She knew several thousand people, in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously
    • Ed Webb
      What is the weight of that "in certain directions"?
  • I can give you fully five minutes
    • Ed Webb
      Does this seem as outrageous today as it must have in Forster's time?
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  • wasting my time
  • "I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine."
  • The Machine is much, but it is not everything. I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you
  • the Machine did not transmit nuances of expression. It only gave a general idea of people - an idea that was good enough for all practical purposes, Vashti thought. The imponderable bloom, declared by a discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was rightly ignored by the Machine, just as the imponderable bloom of the grape was ignored by the manufacturers of artificial fruit.
  • "It is contrary to the spirit of the age," she asserted.

    "Do you mean by that, contrary to the Machine?"

  • The surface of the earth is only dust and mud, no advantage. The surface of the earth is only dust and mud, no life remains on it, and you would need a respirator, or the cold of the outer air would kill you. One dies immediately in the outer air
    • Ed Webb
      In common with many other dystopian writers, Forster predicts environmental catastrophe.
  • For a moment Vashti felt lonely.

    Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere - buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.

    • Ed Webb
      What of this seems familiar?
  • To most of these questions she replied with irritation - a growing quality in that accelerated age
  • Her lecture, which lasted ten minutes
    • Ed Webb
      Forster predicts the TED talk?
  • Vashti was seized with the terrors of direct experience
  • I will not tell you through the Machine
    • Ed Webb
      Is this due to concern about surveillance, or due to the personal nature of what he wishes to communicate, which needs nuance?
  • thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over. Rapid intercourse, from which the previous civilization had hoped so much, had ended by defeating itself. What was the good of going to Peking when it was just like Shrewsbury? Why return to Shrewsbury when it would all be like Peking? Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul.
  • her horror of direct experience returned. It was not quite like the air-ship in the cinematophote. For one thing it smelt - not strongly or unpleasantly, but it did smell, and with her eyes shut she should have known that a new thing was close to her.
  • The man in front dropped his Book - no great matter, but it disquieted them all
    • Ed Webb
      Why? Is this society not governed by reason?
  • they seemed intolerable
  • When the air-ships had been built, the desire to look direct at things still lingered in the world. Hence the extraordinary number of skylights and windows, and the proportionate discomfort to those who were civilized and refined
  • illegal, unmechanical, and punishable by Homelessness
  • People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine
  • "Cover the window, please. These mountains give me no ideas."
  • She might well declare that the visit was superfluous. The buttons, the knobs, the reading-desk with the Book, the temperature, the atmosphere, the illumination - all were exactly the same. And if Kuno himself, flesh of her flesh, stood close beside her at last, what profit was there in that? She was too well-bred to shake him by the hand.
  • "You think it irreligious of me to have found out a way of my own. It was just what the Committee thought, when they threatened me with Homelessness."

    At this she grew angry. "I worship nothing!" she cried. "I am most advanced. I don"t think you irreligious, for there is no such thing as religion left. All the fear and the superstition that existed once have been destroyed by the Machine. I only meant that to find out a way of your own was----Besides, there is no new way out."

    "So it is always supposed."

    "Except through the vomitories, for which one must have an Egression-permit, it is impossible to get out. The Book says so."

    "Well, the Book"s wrong, for I have been out on my feet."

  • Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed. Humanitarians may protest, but it would have been no true kindness to let an athlete live; he would never have been happy in that state of life to which the Machine had called him
  • Man is the measure. That was my first lesson. Man"s feet are the measure for distance, his hands are the measure for ownership, his body is the measure for all that is lovable and desirable and strong
  • all the food-tubes and medicine-tubes and music- tubes that the Machine has evolved lately
  • Kuno had lately asked to be a father, and his request had been refused by the Committee. His was not a type that the Machine desired to hand on
  • I felt, for the first time, that a protest had been lodged against corruption, and that even as the dead were comforting me, so I was comforting the unborn. I felt that humanity existed, and that it existed without clothes. How can I possibly explain this? It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here
  • There was not room for such a person in the world. And with her pity disgust mingled. She was ashamed at having borne such a son, she who had always been so respectable and so full of ideas
  • Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives in the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now
  • I fought till the very end
  • Beware of first- hand ideas!" exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. "First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by live and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element - direct observation
  • in theory the Machine was still the creation and the implement of man. but in practice all, save a few retrogrades, worshipped it as divine
  • No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence
  • Time passed, and they resented the defects no longer. The defects had not been remedied, but the human tissues in that latter day had become so subservient, that they readily adapted themselves to every caprice of the Machine
  • mankind was not yet sufficiently adaptable to do without sleeping
  • Under the seas, beneath the roots of the mountains, ran the wires through which they saw and heard, the enormous eyes and ears that were their heritage, and the hum of many workings clothed their thoughts in one garment of subserviency. Only the old and the sick remained ungrateful, for it was rumoured that Euthanasia, too, was out of order, and that pain had reappeared among men
  • there came a day when, without the slightest warning, without any previous hint of feebleness, the entire communication-system broke down, all over the world, and the world, as they understood it, ended
    • Ed Webb
      How would we respond today if the internet and all media it supports suddenly stopped working? People dial 911 when Facebook goes down...
  • She had never known silence, and the coming of it nearly killed her - it did kill many thousands of people outright
  • man who had once made god in his image, and had mirrored his strength on the constellations, beautiful naked man was dying, strangled in the garments that he had woven
  • some fool will start the Machine again, tomorrow
  • scraps of the untainted sky
    • Ed Webb
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