• The Asylum Issue

    Bad News: This Too Shall Come Too Late

    The Asylum Issue

    Bad News

    This Too Shall Come Too Late

    Well, shoot. I opened my notes and it just read “maybe the world will end?” No such luck. Instead, the world is still here. Ending. Slowly. Get on with it already.

    Anyhow, once again I embark on a summary of the previous weeks most-concerning events. And once again, I got way too little sleep. So before I dose off, why don’t you pour yourself a nice warm cup of coffee (how do you like it, by the way?) and grab the aux cord. Because this week, we’re just going to do it. We’re just going to turn on the soundtrack, open a fresh browser window, and get right down to business. The business of empathizing with each of our hopelessly undignified lives, writhing on the glue trap that is this dying planet:

    Monday, October 5

    Dawn breaks. The birds chirp. The public relations board of Google’s new parent company Alphabet announces it’s officially dropping the slogan “don’t be evil” from its promotional material. The guys over on Madison Avenue were like, you know what? At some point you’re just insulting your customers.

    Corroborating what many a wingnut has told me at anarchist conventions, scientists studying the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster area found that it is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. Why, you might ask? Because humans evacuated some 1.6k square miles around the area, leaving the rest of the animal kingdom to eat and fuck in peace. Is nuclear devastation a reasonable roadmap to environmental remediation? Perhaps. But you could draw a different conclusion: we’ve just reduced the density of life everywhere else so drastically that radioactive quarantine zones actually seem lush. Hmm.

    Speaking of voluntary human extinction, General Mills, the company that makes edible cardboard and passes it off as the incomplete “part of a complete breakfast” announced today that it would be recalling 1.8 million boxes of its Cheerios brand cereal. Toxins? Human body parts? Lead? Nope. They’ve got gluten, people. Please kneel down, and slowly crawl away from aisle six.

    A survey of eigth graders across eight different middle-schools across the country found that 12-14 year olds check their social media accounts more than 100 times a day. Many of them admitting that most of what they post could be considered “cyberbullying,” and included things they would never say to someone face-to-face. Should 13-year-olds be so plugged in? You know what? Doesn’t matter. You know what I was doing at 13? Ignoring the well-meaning and generally good advice of people older than me. That, and chatting on ICQ.

    I know it’s hard to remember a time before 9/11 was an inside job memes, but you might be surprised to learn that the phrase “inside job” was actually bitten from an older, even more ridiculous meme celebrating the wingnuttery of middle-aged white men clinging to any sense of understanding about a changing world. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the moon landing was a hoax theory. Well, now that the crotechety, old coots who thought this are finally kicking the bucket one by one, NASA thought it would get some revenge humor in at the last minute by declassifying hundreds of photos taken during the Apollo moon landing missions. Sure, once we’ve completely explored the known universe of Photoshop.

    OK, I’ll admit it. I barely like sports. I mean, sure they’re fun to watch now and then. And don’t get me started about my theory that baseball was constructed as a metaphor for communism used to agitate the proletariat and inspire both the labor and desegregation movements. But brass tacks? Sports are dumb. That’s why I’ve never really understood fantasy sports – you know, the office wagers about which atheletes will outperform each other, statistically speaking? Jesus. I’m already fucking asleep. Thus, I was astounded to read that it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. What is that? Like, betting on sports? Isn’t that illegal? Isn’t that gambling? Apparently not, apparenty it is unregulated. Well, big drama today in that world as the two biggest fantasy football companies were accused of essentially running an insider trading ring. What are the odds that I do not give a fuck? Gimmie $200 on those odds, whatever they are.

    You want to get into spectator violence? The hard stuff? Pay attention to French unions when strike-time rolls around. Those motherfuckers do not play. Today, during negotiations regarding nearly 3000 potential layoffs with the executives at Air France, workers stormed the meeting and tore the clothes right off their bosses. I remember one time when Michelin executives got taken hostage. Gimmie a French labor riot over a Monday night scrimmage any day.

    Tuesday, October 6

    I’m keeping a running tally of major newspapers that publish speculation that computer algorithms will bring massive layoffs and reorganizations despite the complete absence of the subject in political conversations, even amongst radicals. I feel like environmentalists probably did in the 90s: shouting at the top of my lungs while everyone ignores me until a decade passes and people look at the actual numbers like “fuck, I wish we would have been talking about this sooner, the situation is hopeless now!” Anyway, I’ve always been partial to a bit of hopelessness, so let’s just call this a hobby.

    Speaking of hobbies, everyone give it up for the latest federal anti-smoking campaign and make some nooooiiise! That’s right, the Fresh Empire campaign is targeted at “urban youth” (you know what that means, lol), and aims to replace the constant neurotic compulsion to self-harm in small but eventually deadly doses of tobacco just to drown out the complete lack of control we have over our lives with the injunction to scour for opportunities for economic mobility. Um, telling kids that tobacco is the reason they’re poor is like telling them being tall is the reason they get shot at by the police daily. “Are you the CEO of INDEPENDENCE in YOUR life?” Check it.

    Meanwhile, in tobacco country, a report today estimates that over 11 trillion gallons of water fell onto the Carolinas last week. That’s one-third the volume of Lake Tahoe. And I know what you might be thinking: sure, but I don’t know how much it normally rains. Maybe that’s a normal amount of water, Tyler, I’m not a damned meteorologist! Well, here’s another stat: this so-called 1-in-1000-year flood (actually meaning 0.1% chance) everyone has been talking about was given that likelihood a decade ago, but in the last five years it’s rained just as heavily at least six times. LOL. Get me outta here.

    This week in good news/bad news, the first 5,500 inmates eligible for dramatically reduced sentences following a ruling on drug-related offenses will be released this November. So, what’s the bad news? This is the first portent of the coming coalition between the Democrats and Republicans to reduce catastrophic budget deficits – and this is no-doubt a form of austerity. Of course, I think we should blast holes in the walls of the prison, and encourage the prisoners to form anti-state militias like any self-respecting anarchist would. But don’t be fooled, politicians are working together for the first time during the Obama adminstration not out of the goodness of their hearts (ha!), but because they’ve finally landed on an austerity platform that works in America: excuse budget reductions based on trending social justice issues. These cuts could free up more than $122 million a year, and you better believe they’re not going to give that money back to the poor communities they destroyed with decades of draconian legal policies.

    If you’ve been following this column for awhile, you probably know that I’m always publishing strange links to obscure military drone magazines about how we’re all going to be enslaved by toasters. Well, to continue with the theme of my own vindication at the expense of our collective well-being, analysts say that the United Nations cannot move fast enough to effectively ban lethal autonomous vehicles before the major super powers have developed and depolyed them. If you want to shit your pants, watch the video embed on that article.

    Wednesday, October 7

    You know, while we’re on the subject of horrific things I’m probably right about, check out this protoype city being built in southern New Mexico. It’s a billion dollar town built by a telecom firm to demonstrate and test automated civil services on a massive scale – from internet-connected streetlights to decentralized solar power grids. Evidently the company will just rent it out to whoever needs to test something, so please donate to my new Kickstarter for driverless bank robberies.

    Wow, Obama apologized for bombing a hospital with a drone. Maybe just don’t do it, mate.

    I like to include at least one piece of affirmative news just to lighten things up on hump day. This week, it’s this story about the group of prisoners who defeated the Harvard debate club. I think the only fair thing to do now would be to have them switch lives. Maybe make a reality TV show out of it. I don’t know, I’m just an idea guy, you’ll have to run with that.

    Once in a blood moon, I find myself literally too paranoid to link to an article. So let’s establish a little code. Let’s call those big boom-y things that make mushroom clouds “muffins” and people who smuggle them “mooses” and those oft-vilified angry religious people who want to destroy America “jars of jam”. Today, an unsettling report from the AP came across the wire about a 2.5 million euro dirty muffin being sold off by a moose to a jar of jam. Except, spoiler alert, the jar of jam was actually a jar of jelly – that’s right, an informant working for the US and Moldova on a sting. The ol’ moose-muffin honeypot – oldest trick in the book.

    While we’re literally dripping with sweat, terrified about the end of the world, let’s turn now to Beijing, where economic advisors are leading efforts to sell off massive quantities of US debt. Why exactly? Well, for one, China (and a few other debt-consumers) are losing faith that the US economy will ever recover. And two, well let’s just say if it’s not one, we’re all in for a shitty century of war. Just like the last century, only technology-er.

    I almost cut this story because I’m always rambling about surveillance, but I command-z’d this shit back from oblivion when I remembered how awesome it feels to be right about the severity of the panopticon. This time, it’s a story about the private firms that have been collecting license plate information and logging the movement of vehicles for years, and the police agencies that pay for access to their database. But is it ethical? The pundits might ask. What the fuck do you think, lol. What even is “ethical” anymore.

    But private companies datafying everything in sight isn’t just for the police state – advertisers want in, too. That’s why I’m watching the developments over at Facebook HQ closely. Especially on the back of this official announcement that they are indeed working on augmented reality heads-up displays following their acquisition of Oculus Rift. I’ll break what this means down into bite-sized chunks: contact lenses or glasses that overlay information and advertisements over everything you look at and interact with, capture that interaction in a database, and use it to map what kinds of things you look at to advertisers that may want to increase the visibility of their products or services. Basically, they want to make it cost money to be visible. Mark my words, we’ll all be wailing and nashing our teeth by 2021.

    No reason why we shouldn’t writhe now, though, because Airbus, the company that makes most of the airplanes we’re stuffed into whenever we make the mistake of moving from one place to another, is getting creative. Check out this patent they just filed for a second level of seats inside of existing aircraft to cram even more of us into their sardine cans. This really reminds me of a naughty Tetris knock-off I downloaded in the 9th grade. Seems about as fun.

    Lastly on this cold, bitter October day, we’ve arrived at the moment one Christian group predicted the world would end. As you can see from your scroll bar, that we are only halfway through the week of bad news, so indeed the world went on. However, I’ve read their pamphlets and seen the devastation of the Christian apocalypse prophesied by their scary pastel drawings, and honestly I’m not sure I can differentiate this rendering from the shitstorm of news I had to read just for this column.

    Thursday, October 8

    Nothing much happened today. That is, unless you count the fecal-power plant being built in DC. Or the artificial intelligence that outsmarted a four-year-old in a verbal IQ test. Or the new excercise pill capable of chemically simulating the effect of physical excercise in the body. Or the diagnosis of the first case of Fukushima-related cancer in Japan. Or the right-wing morons who had a field day when the US Navy released the Sexual Assault Power and Control Wheel. Or the migrant chic fashion photoshoots in Hungary (as seen in the artwork above).

    Friday, October 9

    Oregon released the first numbers regarding recreational marijuana sales today, and found that the state spent more than $11 million dollars on pot in five days. I don’t smoke pot. If you do, that’s cool, whatever. But Oregon? Slow your roll. We all know you’re a bunch of glazed-over well-off hippies, you don’t have to brag about it.

    Today, Wikileaks released the intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The short version is that it’s fucked. The long verion is that it’s really fucked.

    Saturday, October 10

    Let’s see here: Apple deactivates its news app in China, New York Times illustrates which US families make political donations, a Hindu woman was fired from the US military for witchcraft, and Texas students rally against open-carry gun legislation by staging an open-carry dildo protest.

    Sunday, October 11

    You guys, I can barely write this column anymore. It’s just too grim. Here are two of the most depressing things I found, though. First, the Pentagon will make condolence payments to the surviving victims of the Doctors Without Borders hospital they blew up. And second, the preference for bitter black coffee – my personal fav – is a strong signifier for psychopathic urges and behavior.

    Tune in next week!

    Google Smart Pants look pretty fucking dumb! Thousands of previously undiscovered species documented in rare mountain valley completely vanguished just for the hell of it! People stopped talking about vivisection a few years ago, but it’s still a really shitty practice!

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