Tag Archives: politics

Why we shouldn’t be so hard on Spitzer

George Dvorsky has been thinking about the Elliot Spitzer scandal, and while he’s quite certain that Spitzer transgressed the law and deserves to be punished as such, he thinks we’re overstating the strangeness of the transgression itself:

“Why did Spitzer go to a prostitute in the first place? Well, it’s not because he’s corrupt or evil; those are labels applied to his actions after the fact. Rather, it stems from a deeply hardwired desire to get some action on the side, for sexual fulfillment outside of marriage.

Simply put, he was being a typical guy.”

Just to reiterate, Dvorsky isn’t trying to let Spitzer off the hook here, but he is trying to point out that Spitzer is a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. If democracy has a future, I think it depends on us waking up to the idea that people in positions of power are just ordinary people – which, at the same that it removes them from their pedestals, should also remind us that we’re more than capable of falling from grace ourselves.

Beginner’s guide to starting your own nation

girl-with-flag If you’re looking for a way to kill time this Friday (before Friday free Fiction turns up, of course), why not start planning your own independent country with this concise summary of the steps required to create an internationally-recognised sovereign state? [image by dario_471]

As with business and industry, it can be tough going for the small start-ups in the statehood game, but the plucky and persistent sometimes manage to stay afloat. Once you’ve founded your micronation, you may want to join the League Of Micronations in lieu of acceptance into the UN; if nothing else, it’ll give you a social circle for bitching about the big boys.

Anonymous continues to blur the boundaries between the internet and the real world

Some of the Guy Fawkes masked protestors in London
After calling for mass protests against Scientology in its videos a few weeks ago, did online collective Anonymous have any effect on the world? Well, around 500 people showed up to protest in both London and Los Angeles, with hundreds more in other cities. The majority of protesters in London wore striking Guy Fawkes masks like in the film ‘V for Vendetta’. Protests appear to have been peaceful and in good spirits – eyewitnesses talk of lots of shouting of internet memes such asThe Cake Is A Lie’ from video game ‘Portal’, and little to no problems with police. Overall an estimated 7000 people in 100 cities across the world protested against alleged human rights abuses by the church.

It’s fascinating to see that many of the protesters were in their teens and twenties. This, together with evidence of large youth turnout in the Democratic Presidential Primaries suggest that the internet is gradually starting to increase the participation of some young people with real world politics and protest, rather than diminishing it. And with Anonymous’ activities moving away from the legally murky waters of hacking towards peaceful protest, are we seeing a return of the protest-happy youth of the sixties, with the help of some www’s?

[picture by xerode]

Bruce Sterling’s annual State of the World, 2008

Every year at The WELL, legendary author Bruce Sterling discusses his thoughts on the year just gone and the year to come. This year he talked with members of the WELL plus Jon Lebkowsky, who writes interesting articles himself for Worldchanging and Webblogsky. Among the highlights mentioned in the ‘State of The World, 2008’ talk are Pakistan, getting closer to a worldwide consensus, Sterling’s opinions of Europe (where he now lives) and the future of nation-states versus cities:

Well, there’s nothing inherent about nations as an organizing principle. Nations could go away. Global government, that’s never existed. It’s a sci-fi idea. It’s kinda hard to imagine *cities* going away, though, short of a massive population crash. All the major cities in the Balkans are still there, even though the “nations” they conjure up have changed their flags, passports and currencies five or six times. New York has a future. Chicago has a future. San Francisco is dynamic. Any place called a ‘creative class city” is very attractive’

Bruce Sterling has always been a fascinating writer and futurist and this is a thought-provoking discussion on the future of our world. Another great writer, Kim Stanley Robinson, also had a great interview recently on BLDGBLOG which is worth checking out too. As one of the commentators says,

“One of the things I’ve long admired about (Bruce Sterling) is his rejection of apocaphilia (ed- the love of thinking about the world ending) — not in the sense of being a cyberpollyanna sunshine thinker, but in recognizing that options exist and choices matter, even in the bleakest of landscapes.”

I think that’s an important point to make and one that I’m attempting to take on with my posts here at Futurismic. It’s essential to be aware of possible dangers to our world but we need to think about them constructively, not wallow in the prospect of something out of John Joseph Adams’ ‘Wastelands’ anthology. When I and others talk of the potential pitfalls of peak resources or climate change it’s not to glorify the threat but because the solutions are exciting.


Geoengineering – a new form for warfare?

flooded city Jamais Cascio has been having some unsettling thoughts about the potential of geoengineering technologies to provide nation-states with subtle yet powerful alternatives to conventional warfare:

“Geoengineering as a military strategy would appear to offer a variety of benefits. Research can be done out in the open, taking advantage of civilian work on anti-global warming geoengineering ideas. If my argument that nuclear weapons and open-source warfare have made conventional warfare essentially obsolete is correct, climate-based warfare would offer an alternative non-nuclear weapon, one that would be out of the reach of non-state actors. And the more we learn about how human activities alter the climate — in order to alter those activities — the more options might open up for intentionally harmful manipulation.”

Yikes. How’s that for taking the edge off your new year optimism, eh? 😉

Still, it strengthens my theory that nation-states are a root cause of a lot of the challenges we face. Call me a hippie if you will, but isn’t it high time we got over this arbitrary geographical factionalism and realised we’re all in the same boat? [Image by Cikaga Jamie]

[tags]climate change, geoengineering, warfare, politics[/tags]