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Palliative Care for the Human Species

Klint Finley

Arran James follows up a previous post about extinction:

It is the palliative care of the human that we should really consider. We open with a discussion of the dying Earth because it is this dying that is killing us: a vicarious species-suicide? These are dark thoughts that imply a loathing so great in our species that we’d take out everything else just to slit our own throats once and for all. But we’re not that grand, we’re all too limited, all too human still. Like smokers in the 1950s we didn’t know what we were doing, then we did and did nothing about it, then everyone said it was too late. We’re not quite sure of the periodicity. We don’t know if it is too late. What we do know is that we’ve had a mass terminal diagnosis and there is no consensus on the prognosis. What are we dying of then, if not some anthropathology [3]?

Full Story: synthetic_zero: Beyond palliative care

Automation by Capitalists Vs. Automation by Workers

Klint Finley

From Kurukshetra:

The difference between “bad outsourcing” (“bad” from the labor/leftist perspective) and this case of outsourcing should be obvious. “Bad outsourcing” is done on the company’s terms–that is, in a situation where the worker has no say in the matter, and where the company boss outsources a job and pockets the difference between cheap foreign labor and American labor. Outsourcing by the workers, on the other hand, is just that: outsourcing done on terms dictated by the worker, where the worker outsources her own job and pockets the difference.

Now, extend this observation to automation. As it stands, there is a whole lot of concern (particularly, it seems, from economists) that the increasing rate of automation, roboticization, and cybernation is creating a secular decline in employment, leaving an increasing number of millions structurally unemployed, and severely limited in their ability to access the theoretical benefits of mass automation. But just as with outsourcing, the underlying reason why workers are losing out is because they hold little to no power in the process of implementing automation. Labor does not control the means of (automated) production; capital does.

Full Story: Kurukshetra: Automation by Capitalists Vs. Automation by Workers

Kurukshetra tables the discussion about whether someone making six figures a year is still part of the working class, which is understanable under the circumstance. But they also bypass the question of whether outsouring your job to someone else makes you into a capitalist, but in the case of automation, this no longer matters.

Mutation Vectors: Worst Case Scenarios Edition

Klint Finley

Nomad from Hardware

Status Update

Taking a week off work.

Browsing

 Uncivilization festival

After posting about Warren Ellis’ extinction aesthetic thing on Monday, I figured I should look into the Dark Mountain Project a bit more. I figured the New York Times Magazine profile of Paul Kingsnorth would be as good a place to start as any.

Reading this led me to wonder what the current worst case scenarios for climate change, ocean acidification and peak soil are, which led me to a long piece from The Nation that, if I understand it correctly, reports that we could see a 3.5 Celsius increase in global temperatures as early as 2035. An increase of 3.5C would kill off the earth’s remaining plankton, which are already dying quickly thanks to ocean acidification, which would kick off a series of events leading to the death of most of our food sources.

In other words, we could be facing human extinction in just 21 years.

Actually, I imagine it would take at least a few more years after 2035 for the human species to actually go extinct. Maybe we’ll discover that some people can live on smaller amounts of food, or but it doesn’t sound like things will be pretty for the survivors.

And if we don’t hit those numbers by 2035, there’s a ticking time bomb of methane stored in arctic permafrosted soil, and that’s going to be thawing out sooner or later. And when that happens, temperatures are likely to go out of control fast.

Even if we make it to 2050, current projections estimate that our soil will only be able to produce about 30 percent of the amount of food we do today. That’s particularly bad news because new population projections predict that instead of peaking peaking at nine billion around 2050, we’re going to hit 11 billion by 2100 and keep growing (unless of course we all starve to death decades before we ever reach that point).

The good news is that these are just the worst case scenarios. Many scientists still think we can turn this around, at least somewhat. The bad news is that the worst case scenarios keep getting worse.

Other cheery subjects:

Good news: stop and frisk is all but gone in New York City and violent crime is still dropping. Bad news:

The police remain a visible presence in the borough’s Brownsville neighborhood, where the vast and violent expanse of public housing had made the neighborhood a proving ground for the department’s use of the tactics as a way to curb gun violence. As part of a new strategy called Omnipresence, the officers now stand on street corners like sentries, only rarely confronting young men and patting them down for weapons. But the residents of Brownsville, conditioned by the years of the stop-and-frisk tactics, still view these officers warily.

Elsewhere: Deb Chachra revisits Betsy Haibel’s article on the the tech industry’s consent problem and finds many more examples.

Watching

Wilson from Utopia

This week I watched Hardware, not realizing that human sterilization and population control were subplots. And finished watching the second season of Utopia (the British drama, not the U.S. reality show). I seem unable to escape the themes of human extinction and involuntary sterilization.

(You can read the first few issues free online)

Reading

Stray Bullets issue 3 "The Party" cover

Stray Bullets: Uber Alles Edition, which is the sort of thing that makes you think that humans deserve to go extinct.

Listening

The Bug: Angels & Devils

GOD: Possessions

The War on Teachers

Klint Finley

Malcom Harris on Dana Goldstein’s book The Teacher Wars

The tag line to Dana Goldstein’s new book The Teacher Wars is “A history of America’s most embattled profession.” That Goldstein, an education journalist now at the fledgling Marshall Project, can make that claim without ruining her credibility before the first page speaks to the unique role educators play in American society. They’re (mostly) unionized government employees, but they spend their time working alone. We ask that they produce standardized results and demonstrate individualized care at the same time. We say their work is invaluable and pay them as if they were semiskilled. They come under frequent attack from all corners of the political map. Whether that necessarily makes teachers more embattled than psychologists or babysitters or coal miners or housewives I’m not sure, but they are certainly curious.

Full Story: The New Inquiry: Not for Teacher

(via Metafilter)

Why pessemism can be good for you

Klint Finley

The Atlantic interviews Julie Norem, a psychology professor at Wellesley College and author of The Positive Power Of Negative Thinking:

Olga Khazan: What is defensive pessimism?

Julie Norem: It’s a strategy for dealing with anxiety and helping to manage anxiety so that it doesn’t negatively influence performance. If you feel anxious in a situation, it doesn’t really matter if it’s realistic or not, you feel how you feel. It’s hard not to feel that particular way. If you feel anxious, you need to do something about it. Usually people try to run away from whatever situation makes you anxious. But there are other ways of dealing with it. Defensive pessimism is one way.

When people are being defensively pessimistic, they set low expectations, but then they take the next step which is to think through in concrete and vivid ways what exactly might go wrong. What we’ve seen in the research is if they do this in a specific, vivid way, it helps them plan to avoid the disaster. They end up performing better than if they didn’t use the strategy. It helps them direct their anxiety toward productive activity.

Full Story:

(via NextDraft)

See also: The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking

On telling your dreams to go fuck themselves

Klint Finley

And on the subject of not not doing what we (think) we love, here’s Dan Hon on Hank Green‘s talk from XOXO festival last weekend:

Hank’s thing was treading the well-worn path of telling you to fuck your dreams because, hey, your dreams are unrealistic. Well, they’re not unrealistic. But they’re just suggestions. And that you don’t owe any obligation to your former self: they literally don’t exist anymore. But this is the hard part: if you’re trying to work out what it is that you *want* to do, then you kind of have to try a whole bunch of things out. Our education system and culture and economy isn’t set up to do that. We aren’t set up to let people a/b test a whole bunch of vocations or careers. We haven’t built up a society that enables and empowers people to work out what’s best, because hey, we’ve got bills to pay all the time. And if you haven’t noticed, all of this technology that empowers people and enables new forms of success *costs money*.

Full Story: Things That Have Caught My Interest: The Difficult Third Album

Extinction Aesthetic

Klint Finley

The_Road_bleak_scenery

Warren Ellis has identified and named something of a Ballardian inversion of the rather Gibsonian New Aesthetic: Extinction Aesthetic.

Extinction Symbol. Dark Extropianism. Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Dark Mountain. Uncivilisation. In The Dust Of This Planet. Health Goth. Accelerationism. After Nature/Dark Ecology/Ecognosis. Early signals: The New Nihilism, Speculative Realism, Neoreaction, Occulture. Cusp: Toxic Internet. Post-Westphalian.

Full Story: morning.computer: Extinction Aesthetic

The Morlocks/Omegas from X-Men: Last Stand

  • Amused to see healthgoth and neoreaction cited as part of the same current.
  • This brings to mind the new season of Utopia (the British conspiracy thriller, not the American reality show)
  • My imagined soundtrack: Bruxa. The Soft Moon. Burial. Zomby. Kode9. Sunn 0))). Karin Dreijer Andersson. Cult of Zir. Sister Mamie Foreskin.
  • If Minecraft is New Aesthetic, what is the Extinction Aesthetic equivalent?

See also:

Radiolab on In The Dust Of This Planet

Dark Theory

Post-Nihilism

Speculative Non-Buddhism

extinction symbol

Mutation Vectors: Speculative Geopolitics Edition

Klint Finley

Status Update

I spent yesterday afternoon at Maker Faire volunteering at the Tesseract Design booth, where I was lucky enough to watch Crawford 3D scanning people and then printing out little plastic busts of them. Talk about a New Aesthetic experience. I also got to see a a real-life Flintstones car and a bunch of Tesla coils.

Spending today recovering from too much heat and not enough water, and catching up on some reading.

Browsing

“The current struggle for Scottish independence has about as much to do with the events depicted in Braveheart as America’s ongoing racial struggles have to do with the events depicted in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” writes Amanda Taub for Vox. In fact, the movie is outrageously historically inaccurate even by Hollywood standards. Fortunately, Taub also wrote a nice ‘splainer on the whole situation. Meanwhile, Quinn Norton puts it in context with other contemporary independence movements.

On a weirder note, China has been manufacturing islands in a bid to gain legitimate control over the South China Sea. M1k3y speculates that China could eventually become the first off-world power.

Elsewhere in hypothetical geopolitics: if Reddit were a country it would be a failed state.

And for a taste of something completely different, how about the Islamic roots of science fiction?

Watching

After binging through the entire new season of Trailer Park Boys, we just started the latest season of Channel 4’s Utopia which as I’ve mentioned was one of my favorite shows of last year.

Listening

Continuing the fequent Mutation Vectors motif of me finding out that one of my favorite bands has a new album out months after the fact, this week I found out that Bruxa who I raved about before put out a new album in July on a pay watcha want basis.

Apps

Mailpile, a web-based e-mail client that aims to balance security and usability, is now it beta. You can check out my story on them from back when they had just finished their crowdfunding here.

Why “Do What You Love” Is Terrible Advice for Creative People

Klint Finley

Food for thought going into the weekend, from Alex Soojung-Kim Pang:

The problem with the “do what you love” mantra is in how we follow it, which is with a single-mindedness that carries unnecessary risk. We interpret “do what you love” to mean “Do only what you love and nothing else,” and the implication of that is that if you don’t practice this kind of creative monogamy, you’re being untrue to yourself. A corollary encourages, “Don’t worry about the details and practicalities.” The universe will reward your passion and belief in yourself. It also means assuming all the financial risk of a risky career move. The reality is that creative work is terribly funded, and the odds of making a steady living from it are very very small. Being fully exposed to that kind of instability can make you less creative, not more so.

Full Story: Medium: Are you creative? Then “Do What You Love” is terrible advice

See also: Quit Your Passion and Take a Boring Job

And: Our interview with Pang on Mindful Cyborgs part 1 and part 2.

Millenials Actually Read More Books Than People Over 30

Klint Finley

Some surprising research from Pew:

Millennials are quite similar to their elders when it comes to the amount of book reading they do, but young adults are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months. Some 43% report reading a book—in any format—on a daily basis, a rate similar to older adults. Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, compared with 79% of those age 30 and older. Young adults have caught up to those in their thirties and forties in e-reading, with 37% of adults ages 18-29 reporting that they have read an e-book in the past year.

Full Story: Pew Research: Younger Americans and Public Libraries

Plus: “The number of independent bookstores in the US rose by more than 20% between 2009 and 2014, according to the American Booksellers Association,” Quartz reports.

(both links via NextDraft)

Previously:

Debunking The Millennials’ Work Ethic “Problem”

New Survey “Proves” There’s a Generation Gap Between Workers

Why “digital natives” don’t exist