Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Manifesto Wars



After the Clear-eyed vision of Quebec manifesto, published on October 19, 2005, and signed by 12 personalities of the Third Way, including the ex-prime minister of Quebec, Lucien Bouchard, 16 personalities of the Left, including leading socialist-feminist Francoise David, have responded less than 2 weeks later with their own manifesto, For a Quebec based on solidarity.

"We believe that we also have a clear-eyed vision", they state to begin with.

They admit the debt, the fiscal burden, the low birth rate, an aging population and the fierce competition from Asian economies deserve a debate and a search for solutions but they propose a diametrically opposed framework.

The "solidarities", as they are now being called by the press, say that they are concerned about leaving their descendants a "pale planet, destroyed forests, increased social and economic inequalities, wars for the remaing fresh water". To these children, they say they want to "transmit something else than a feeling that we have to submit to the dictates of the market".

According to them, contrary to what the "lucids" claim, the problem isnt that of "wealth creation but its redistribution".

Guess which manifesto I signed?

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Future of Men



The phenomenon of the ultra-groomed metrosexual man, such as David Beckham, 30, is over.

Now men have to be ubersexual — more macho but still in touch with their feminine side, like Jamie Oliver, 30.

"The descriptor 'uber' was chosen because it means the best, the greatest. Ubersexuals are the most attractive (not just physically), most dynamic, and most compelling men of their generations. They are confident, masculine, stylish, and committed to uncompromising quality in all areas of life.—Marian Salzman, "The Future of Men," Palgrave Macmillan, September 16, 2005"

Tolerance, Ethnicity, and Power



From WritersReps.com: "The Day of Empire (Doubleday, 2007) begins from Ami Chua’s discovery that empires on the rise have strengthened their power with multicultural tolerance, while ethnic stratification of empires has led to decline. Starting with the Han Dynasty of China in 200 A.D. and examining the Roman, Ottoman, Spanish, Dutch, and British empires, as well as the current American question, Chua explores this major world historical pattern."

Towards a universal language?


Should a language policy become part of a list of democratic transhumanist principles?

Today, the principle of a universal auxiliary language is not as timely as it was a century ago. Many find it difficult to work up much of an interest in the issue, especially when compared with more pressing ones such as racism or sexism.

Esperanto was new and exciting in the early 20th century. The idea of an easy to learn, comprehensive international language was appealing in intellectual circles of the time. Volapük was an even earlier constructed language intended as an international auxiliary language. It also won widespread support, though the language ultimately proved too difficult for most supporters to actually learn.

According to Wikipedia, "Esperanto is now the most widely spoken constructed international language. The name derives from Doktoro Esperanto, the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof first published the Unua Libro in 1887. Zamenhof's goal was to create an easy and flexible language as a universal second language to foster peace and international understanding.

Although no country has adopted the language officially, it has enjoyed continuous usage by a community estimated at between 100,000 and 2 million speakers. Today, Esperanto is employed in world travel, correspondence, cultural exchange, conventions, literature, language instruction, television (Internacia Televido) and radio broadcasting. There are possibly more than a thousand native speakers of the language.

There is evidence that learning Esperanto before another foreign language improves one's ability to learn that language — so much so that it takes less time to learn both than it would to learn just the second.

Invented auxiliary languages are not widely used; nor have natural languages such as English and French penetrated universally, as some people imagine. Moreover, advocates of various languages disagree about which language should be universal. To overcome these difficulties, it has been proposed that some language (natural or invented) be chosen by consensus of officials elected by the nations of the world, perhaps through the United Nations, in consultation with experts of various disciplines, a top-down approach. There would be a spoken and a written form; the adoption of an official script for the blind has also been proposed, to correspond to the chosen written international language. The language would be implemented in each nation as an additional (second) language, alongside the national languages. A bottom-up strategy tries to spread the language among ordinary users, so that it becomes the de facto standard. However, the idea has not yet spread as widely as intended. Some people see the need for an official political endorsement from the nations of the world, backed by resources for instruction and implementation.

However, the idea that a universal language would displace native languages is potentially troubling. This could be a problem for people who value cultural diversity. Language is strongly attached to culture. The prospect of all-but-universal language extinction would be undesirable to less dominant languages and cultures, like Uyghur or Cornish, which are struggling for distinction. American Indian languages and cultures were suppressed in boarding schools in the United States and Canada much to the detriment of these peoples. The effects of the suppression of Irish can still be felt today. To the world's ethnic minorities an imposed language would be tantamount to an imposed culture."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Putting a Human Face on Evolution by Teaching Transhumanism

Larry Arnhart is one of the stalwarts of the "politics and the life sciences" movement which brings together political scientists interested in health policy, bioethics, evolutionary psychology and transhumanism. In an interview for Connect for Kids he is asked about the intelligent design controversy and how best to inspire kids to study evolution and biology:
"Besides teaching Darwin, do you have any other recommendations for engaging students in biology education?

Arnhart: I would suggest that biology teachers should introduce discussions of the many moral, political, and religious implications of biology. For example, advances in biotechnology are going to change human life. Some people even think that biotechnological power over the human body and mind might eventually create a 'transhuman' or 'posthuman' species. Why shouldn’t this become a topic for high school students? Wouldn’t such topics stir them to think more deeply about science than they otherwise would?"
But don't get him wrong. Arnhart isn't a transhumanist. He is author of Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature and Darwinian Conservatism. Listen here to a lecture by Arnhart speaking on a panel on "Transhumanism" at the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences in Washington D.C., Sept 1, 2005. He's very critical of the Nietzschean overtones of the H+ers. But obviously he recognizes the importance and sexiness of the issues.

Cyborg Democrats wish you...



a Merry Winter Solstice and a Happy New Year!

"Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time..."



From belief.net: "The General Assembly and Security Council overwhelmingly approved resolutions Tuesday establishing a new U.N. Peacebuilding Commission to help countries emerging from conflict manage the difficult transition to stability and development.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the resolutions go a long way to bridging a critical gap that too often has seen "a fragile peace... crumble into renewed conflict."

At the U.N. summit in September, world leaders decided to create the commission but the resolutions were needed to launch it and spell out its exact role, composition and operation - which were the subject of intense debate. The adoption of the resolutions by the two main U.N. bodies marked the first major outcome of the summit - the largest-ever gathering of world leaders in history which focused on U.N. reform.

General Assembly President Jan Eliasson called the resolutions "truly historic" because they will for the first time in the history of the United Nations create a body to try to ensure that countries emerging from war move toward peace.

"It will be our best chance to reverse the trend which in recent years we have seen around the world where half the countries emerging from conflict are lapsing back into it again within five years," he said.

"Our goal for the Peacebuilding Commission must be to reduce the number of countries falling back into conflict," Eliasson said. "It must work out there in the field - that's how we test this commission."

South Africa's U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said the commission will be judged on whether it makes a difference for millions of people in Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and other African countries.

The General Assembly approved the resolution by consensus with a bang of the gavel by Eliasson after Venezuela objected that the commission was a mechanism "for intervention by states through a perverted and bogus multilateralism, serving the will of the United States and its allies."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

John F Kennedy, Liberal Saint?



"Those who argue the case for conspiracy in the JFK Assassination, frequently do so from the perspective that when JFK was killed, a great symbol of Progressive liberalism was snuffed out, and with his death, the hopes of revolutionary "progressive" reform in American society was snuffed out as well. Always, JFK is seen as one who would have been at home with the radicals of the late 1960s who marched against the war in Vietnam and demanded an end to the Cold War, and who argued for more action on social justice issues of civil rights and poverty. To the likes of an Oliver Stone, the murder of JFK represented a conspiracy by reactionary forces who wanted to stop the progressive ideas of greater action for social justice and the end of the Cold War from being implemented. As conspiracy author Jim Marrs put it:

But it may be worth considering what kind of America we might have today if President Kennedy had lived. Imagine the United States if there had been no divisive Vietnam War, with its attendant demonstrations, riots, deaths, and loss of faith in government. There may not have been the scandals of Watergate, other political assassinations, or the Iran-Contra Pentagon-CIA attempt at a "secret government." Detente with Communist Russia and China might have come years earlier, saving hundreds of millions of wasted defense dollars--dollars that could have been put to use caring for the needy and cleaning up the environment. Picture a nation where no organized-crime syndicate gained control over such divergent areas of national life as drugs, gambling, labor unions, politicians, and even toxic waste disposal. (Crossfire, p. 589).

The fact of the matter is that the real JFK bears no relation to the progressive martyr envisioned by Oliver Stone, Jim Marrs, and by numerous members of Internet newsgroups. In order to promote the idea of JFK as "progressive," they have asserted some strange things that even liberal historians would find very puzzling." (Read more at St-John the Liberal?)

I post this only because I think its important for some older American progressives to stop pining for some mythical Camelot and move on...

Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is paralyzing Democracy



From Amazon.com: "Taking the constitutional law debate out of class and into the public square, journalist Daniel Lazare argues that the Constitution is decrepit and is incapable of being fundamentally amended, except for technical changes. If Lazare identifies one culprit, it is Article V's guarantee, unamendable in effect, of states' equality in the Senate. Indulging himself, Lazare ends with an imagined future crisis in which the House of Representatives unilaterally repeals the proviso. That scenario caps the essence of the Lazarean exegesis: that the Constitution, as a product of its era, unfairly lords the past over the present. In making the point, he cogently summarizes the English legal historical background to the founders' checks-and-balances scheme and moves on to pre-Civil War criticisms of it. The postwar radical Republicans, he believes, missed a chance to effectuate his preferred supremacy of democracy, embodied by the House, over the supremacy of abstract constitutional law. One needn't agree with Lazare's centralizing preferences to be impressed by his flowing prose and well-deployed facts, which speak broadly to we the people, not just they the lawyers. --Gilbert Taylor"

Fashions for the politically progressive...




"Clothing of the American Mind is a Los Angeles-based apparel company founded in response to the vast, unyielding moneymaking machine of the incumbent administration and the alternative idea vacuum that had become the order of the day during the 2004 election. We still feel there is a dire need to raise money for Democratic change and to perpetuate dissenting views of what’s really happening due to American policies around the world. Clothing of the American Mind is committed to holding the Bush Administration accountable for its transgressions and indignant self-righteousness. We feel we must not remain silent while Bush, Cheney, Condi, Rummi and their cronies chastise us for not believing in their versions of the truth.

To combat the neo-conservative falsehoods being spoon-fed to the American public, Clothing of the American Mind has created the ideal way to make a statement while simultaneously starting a dialogue of the real issues and how they effect us instead of getting muffled by the drumbeat of whatever battle or crisis the White House dreams up.

We want you to feel as righteous as you look, knowing that a percentage of your purchase goes toward assisting forward-thinking organizations such as MoveOn.org, The Progressive Majority, Progressive Democrats of America, Amnesty International, Peace Action, and the Democratic National Committee. Not only are fair wages paid at all of our suppliers, no animals or children are harmed in the making of our clothes. We are committed to bringing informed dissent back into vogue, figuratively and literally.

Electoral College Dropout

Normally, we would never advocate dropping out of college, but this one sucks. They grade on a curve so tweaked that it’s inverted and being smart means you fail. Elections and campaigns should be for every voter not just those that live in battleground states. Show the world you’re ready for change and an improved way to fairly elect a president that more than 51% and Ohio want. Meanwhile most of us feel like were in detention for the next four years because we know what is better for our country than the bozos running us trillions of dollars into debt."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Pro-Life Continuum



"The labels we use should more precisely reflect the complexity of the reproductive rights debate. One way to do this is to abandon the empty term, "pro-life," and adopt labels that more accurately reflect a person's values and policies. Pro-sperm. Pro-zygote. Pro-fetus. Pro-baby. Where do you stand?" (AlterNet article).

A Time to Impeach?



From AlterNet: "President Bush may find himself in deep trouble after ordering and defending illegal wiretaps of U.S. citizens -- a crime for which Richard Nixon was [going to be] impeached . When the U.S. Senate last Friday refused to renew the liberticidal Patriot Act -- with its provisions for spying on Americans' use of libraries and the Internet, among other Constitution-shredding provisions of that iniquitous law -- it was in part because that morning's New York Times had revealed how Bush and his White House had committed a major crime."

Say it with me: BUSH MUST GO!

Cyberpunks Unite!


The Cyberpunk Project is an online, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to promote, support, research, study, and create cyberpunk subculture.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A transhumanist gift for Christmas!



From Guardian Unlimited: "Christmas shopping for the unborn baby has never been easy. However, stem cell technology may have brought what is possibly this year's most original gift. For a mere £1,250, it is possible to harvest stem cells from the umbilical cord at birth and store them frozen for up to 25 years.

"Stem cells are not just for life - they're for Christmas," said Shamshad Ahmed, managing director of Smart Cells International, a company offering stem cell gift certificates as a new line this year.

He has sold the idea to 50 customers so far - mainly grandparents who want their descendants to have access to stem cells' healing powers in the event of illness or injury. The cells are separated from the blood of the umbilical cord, cryogenically frozen and stored at minus 180C.

The company says they can be used to rebuild organs, muscles or other tissue if the child - or maybe a sibling - needs treatment for a life-threatening condition such as some heart illnesses or leukaemia."

Hunger is a Crime Against Humanity!



100 000 people die everyday of hunger when world agriculture can cover the needs of 12 billion individuals, which is almost 2 times the actual world population.

The fact that millions of human beings are condemned to malnutrition and hunger remains an absolute scandal at the start of the millenium!

In the 18th century, people were dying of hunger in France and in America because humanity lived under, what Karl Marx called, the reign of objective lack, an imbalance: Goods available on the planet where not objectively sufficient to cover the effective needs of populations. Marx and his fellow economists as well as his liberal adversaries such as Adam Smith were all convinced that objective lack would last for centuries. The realm of necessity would indefinitely determine the human condition and therefore the cursed figure of the master and the slave. But that projection was wrong.

Amazing industrial, technological and electronic revolutions have potentialized humanity's forces of production and have raised it into the realm of abundance. The common good, measured by the capacity to redistribute material goods, is possible for the first time in the history of the world. Numbers presented in the World Food Report, edited by the Food and Agrilculture Organization of the United Nations, claim that world agriculture, in the current state of production, without genetically-modified organisms, would be able to feed 12 billion human beings!

But in this moment where humanity has access to the possibility of objectively resolving, at a universal scale, the problem of hunger, we are witnessing imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, organized by the appropriation of wealth into the hands of oligarchs while the quest for the common good is relegated to the fringes of utopia.

Children dying of hunger are the victims of a new world order. A world of globalized capitalism, which has conquered the planet like a criminal pyromaniac's brush fire, where only one type of capital has became autonomous - financial capital - spurred by extraordinary waves of electronic and technological revolutions, the creation of a cyberspace allowing us to accelerate the speed of money flow as well as increase profit even faster. The system has allowed the establishment of private transnational corporations at the top of which reign the oligarchs, who have power that no pope, no emperor and no king has ever had in history.

However, one cannot deny the awesome power of the capitalist mode of production which seems like the most creative and inventive humanity has ever known. The constant increase of the gross world product, world commerce having shattered the mythical ceiling of 6 billion dollars per year, energy consumption doubling every four years all testify to it. With the speed of the flow and the impunity of the oligarch that dictate its laws, capital has progressively emancipated itself from national regulatory systems.

The first thing Bush, Koizumi, Markel, Blair, Chirac, Berlusconi, Martin and Putin do in the morning is look at yesterday's stock market quotes to see what nanometer of possible maneouvering they have for their national policies...

So if you subject all sectors of the economy to the law of profit, that is the Law of Capital, if you eliminate any reference to the common good, if you make the free market the only principle, you liberate the power of money, you give yourself the means to resolve everything that was before only the realm of utopian socialism. But it is precisely when everything is possible, when the common good can be acheived, that an appropriation of wealth by transnational capital is taking hold - imperialism - against which any form of resistance is dismissed as utopian.

People say to me, "You're a dreamer." Yeah well, I prefer being a dreamer than continue buying this nightmare you are trying to feed me...

Cyborg Democracy is a vision...



The single most powerful force that we as persons shall ever possess are the visions by which we choose to organize ourselves.

But for a vision to succeed it must have three unique qualities:

First, it must be ethically sound.

Second, it must evoke a compelling future worth fighting for.

And lastly, it must provide the tools for a better way of living that brings forth enhancement to those who choose it and those who do not.

CYBORG DEMOCRACY is a vision.

A sexy, high-tech vision of a radically democratic future.

Its critics and supporters shall all pass away as those before them have in the chaotic course of life.

In the end the only thing that shall survive is that vision...

The End of the American Era?



From Amazon.com: "The title alone makes it clear how controversial this book promises to be in the present climate. That all great nations must fall is a historical fact of central importance to Charles Kupchan's distinctive and provocative version of 21st-century geopolitics. A former National Security Council staffer and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Kupchan eloquently describes the historical trends and long-term patterns within European and American foreign policy that help reinforce his projections detailing the end of the American era. He devotes much of his book to explaining and subsequently refuting alternative views of the future from other famed political analysts such as Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington and Thomas Friedman. Kupchan unequivocally states, "Each of the visions has its merits, but all of them are wrong." According to Kupchan, most of these accounts subscribe to an unrealistic worldview that has America remaining the sole power in a "unipolar" world. Kupchan asserts that the rise of the European Union coupled with the emergence of a strengthened Asia will create a serious challenge to America's primacy, and that new fault lines will emerge around these multiple centers of power, creating a new cycle of history. With a belief that America will contribute to its own demise with the current "go-it-alone impulses" of American policy makers, he warns the U.S. to shy away from an isolationist policy that could alienate potential partners. Given most recent foreign policy developments, Kupchan's book should be more relevant-and more roundly criticized-than ever. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc."

The decline and fall of the American empire is an old but still interesting 2002 interview of Kupchan by Suzy Hansen in salon.com.

MODIFY!


Enough said!

Go Evo Go!

From Democracy Now!: "In Bolivia, union leader Evo Morales has claimed a stunning victory in Sunday's presidential elections. Exit polls show Morales won just over 50% of the vote - giving him the greatest political mandate that any Bolivian president has had in decades. Morales would become the country's first indigenous head of state. He has vowed to increase state controls over Bolivia's key gas resources and to protect coca plantations ... The Bush administration has criticized Morales for his close ties to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Cuban president Fidel Castro as well as his opposition to so-called free-trade policies. Morales closed his campaign Thursday by declaring his election would be a: "nightmare for the United States.""

What do Cyborg Democrats want?


We want to change the world.
But we cannot do it alone.
We need you. Every single one of you.
From the radicalized computer hacker sitting in his basement to the disillusioned corporate executive sitting in his office, we need you to stand with us.
Whether you are a realist, a progressive or an utopian, we need you to contribute your unique ideas, skills and resources in order to build a satellite for our Upwing Underground that will transmit a resonating voice for a sexy, high-tech vision of a radically democratic future -

False miracle at Seoul. Even Science has its confidence men



When scientists having presumably already succeded in a human cloning claim to have found the key to many cures, millions of people begin to hope that finally the miracle they were waiting for is close at hand. There in lies the shock when a scandal like the one currently grabbing medical headlines happens. When politics is corrupt, we almost expect it. But medical research? It is to forget that science can also be perveted…

The scientific press must now better immunize itself against those who would absuse its mandate and its authority.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Can Technology Save the Planet?


"Our opposable thumbs got us into this mess, and they can help get us out, says futurist and science fiction writer Bruce Sterling.

Massive technological change is coming. Are we ready? Given the pace of technological innovation we have experienced in the past 50 years, by mid-century we will have an infrastructure as radically different from today's as industry in 1900 was from that of 1700.

If we handle the huge transition correctly, it will be worth cheering. In 50 years, nature will be less oppressed, culture will be wiser, government will take new and improved forms, industrial systems will be more efficient and capable, and business will be less like a rigged casino. Purveyors of art, fashion, and design will see what went on nowadays and bust a gut laughing in derision. Our children and grandchildren will get up in the morning, look at the news, and instead of flinching in terror, they will see the edifying spectacle of the world's brightest people transparently solving the world's worst problems. This sounds utopian, but it could soon be everyday life."

Read more in Sierra Magazine.

Embrace the Machine...



From Rage for the Machine (salon.com, 2000): ""Give Peace a Chance," "We are the World" -- and now "Embrace the Machine." Using computer-altered voices laid over sci-fi sound effects from the 1950s, a new tune by techno group Mobius Dick tries to carry on the tradition of rallying support for a social cause through song. Its social cause? Technology.

The lyrics point to no rage against the machine -- but to a critique of Bill Joy and his fears of a future world overwhelmed by robots and technological innovation. Joy, Sun Microsystems co-founder and chief scientist, has been warning his colleagues that innovations in nanotechnology, robotics and genetics could become as dangerous, if not more so, than the atomic bomb.

But Mobius Dick's frontman, who uses the stage name "A.G. Android," thinks Joy is mistaken and paranoid. "Machines are already your servants," the Nashville musician croons on the track that made it into the top 20 "intelligent techno songs" on MP3.com. "In time they will be your friends, perhaps even your lovers.""

Deliver us from Rael

It was in 1973, during his first close encounter of the Third Kind, that the Elohim supposedly gave Claude Vorilhon the name of Rael. "It literally means," he details in The Book that tells the truth, "Light of God" or, for a more precise translation, "Light of the Elohim". Curiously, three years earlier, French television aired an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, in which one the characters was called… Rael.

Rael's theories? Kooky but definitely not original. He recycles more than he invents. Among his acknowledged or secret influences, the alleged sightings of Greys; the hedonism of Charles Fourier; the sectarianism of Saint-Simon; the politics of Plato and Jean-Marie Le Pen; the religion of Buddhism; the libertarianism of Jiddu Krishnamurti; the poetry of Khalil Gibran; the mythology of Genesis; the esoterica of the "L'Aventure Mystérieuse" series; the UFOlogy of George Adamski; the symbology and eugenics of Nazism; the Blake & Mortimer comic book; and the science-fiction of The Fifth Element, The Matrix series, A. E. van Vogt, Aldous Huxley, Roger Zelazny, and Pierre Bordage.

However, Rael has two other and major influences that are awkward for transhumanists: the future studies of Hans Moravec, Eric Drexler, and Ray Kurweil.

When we read Rael’s rants about mind uploading, advanced nanotechnology, and, of course, the promise of immortality, it’s obvious that he synthesizes in a distorted fashion the visions of Moravec, Drexler and Kurzweil, with an intentionally religious rhetoric, which is not only used for tax purposes.

However, he introduces a small yet very clever personal nuance: rapid-growth cloning. So, in the future, when you die, you could download your mind into a young adult body, so rapidly grown that it wouldn’t have memories of its own, in order to benefit from personal immortality. Rael is smart. He knows that if a normal clone of you (that doesn’t have your downloaded mind) attends your funeral, it will not be you that lives on but your twin sibling. So, with this ruse, he has overcome the usual criticism of cloning.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that "Rael" and "raelian" are the two words that come up the most in the frequently asked questions for transhumanist activists, especially those located in Quebec, the current home of the Raelian movement...

Since Rael continues to hurt the very transhumanist cause he praises in his books and speeches, the following is my unsollicited advice for our local prophet:

1. Hold a press conference where you publicly confess that Raelianism is an organized lie.

2a. Promise that you will liquidate the assets of the Raelian movement to donate most of the money to legitimate cult awareness networks and become their most vocal spokesperson

OR

2b. If you can't abandon the joys of being a religious leader, join the Unitarian Universalist Association, the only creedless religion whose principles and purposes you could endorse, and become their most eloquent missionary. With the latter option, I'm sure that someone as charismatic as you could convince a majority of your followers to contine... following you.

Think about it, Claude. We all know you're a publicity seeker so, short of really producing the first human clone, what could you do that could possibly top the spectacle of such a mea culpa and path to redemption?