Wetmachine has a new baby sister! And so does Acts of the Apostles!

Well, what I mean is, I’ve finally set up JohnSundman.com as a place to discuss, promote, wax ecstatic about, and, mainly, Real Soon Now, sell direct to you, dear friends, my hackertastic philosopho-literary tales of the technopotheosis. It’s not nearly as nice as it soon will be, but on the other hand it does exist, which is (as my pal Gary Gray will attest) something.

TOO-ALSO, my ancient chef-d’oeuvre Acts of the Apostles has been cloned, and the new instance has thereafter been given an oil change, face lift, new transmission and a stern talking to and rechristened Biogigital: A Novel of Overmind Emergent. For the next month you can get it (ebook only, DRM-Free) from Unglue.it. So please do check it out.

Posted in General, infotainment, My Thoughts Exactly, Writing | Comments closed

Few thing are sacred here at Wetmachine, but St. Urho-Patrick’s day(s) is one of them.

Alas tis true, as my dwindling parish of Wetmachine readers well knows, all two of you, that I’ve sadly neglected my home site here at Wetmachine over the last few years. The reasons for this neglect are many and various, and mostly bullshit. So I’m not going to go into them because I’ll just confuse & piss off my own self. I do feel bad that I’ve posted here so seldom in recent years (and grateful to my fellow Wetmechanics who’ve kept the lights on & the water bill paid in my absence). But I shan’t promise to post more, although that’s my intention, inasmuch as I’ve made similar promises before and broken them, which is kind of debilitating to me, even if nobody else notices. BUT ENOUGH OF THIS NAVEL-NOODLING, WE’RE HERE TO TALK UHRO.

Now listen, I’m not going to educate y’all about blessed St. Urho; that’s why God created the Internet & its idiot bastard offspring Google (google), Microsoft (bing), and Yahoo (who cares) (and too-also its not so idiot nor illegitimate stepchild DuckDuckGo); that is, so you can look St. Urho up yourself. I’m only going point out that March 16 is, by longstanding (all the way back to the 1950′s) tradition, St. Urho’s Day, dear to Finnish-Americans everywhere, and March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day, dear to Irish Americans almost everywhere (although not so much in places where people have gotten sick of all the St. Patrick’s day bullshit, another tale altogether).

Wherefore thus obviously to people like myself of Finnish-Irish heritage (with a minor in Swedish-Scottish), this name-day pairing is doubly sacred. As in, “make it a double”. Or, as I said in an earlier and somewhat more eloquent post a few years back before my brains went on vacation,

 

That special time of year, when St. Urhu’s day elides into the name-day of St. Padraic, is again upon us. Longtime readers know that here at Wetmachine we have a special place in our hearts for this great Finno-Irish-American festival–mainly on account of I started this site and I’m a Finno-Irish American, of which there ain’t too damn many offer dere, as my late Grandfather “Pop” used to say.

 

 

Wherefore let it be known that the logical Urho-Padraic menorah was lighted this year at Wetmachine. Selah.

Posted in General, infotainment, Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | Comments closed

The NSA & other USIAN “Surveillance” entities are actually

in the business of Control, not the business of Watching.

The two go hand in hand. See, for example, this essay by Cory Doctorow

For courage, take a moment to read the transcript of the late, great Pete Seeger’s testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee. “Who I associate with is none of your business.” Really, read it, it’s inspiring and eye-opening.

I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.

The NSA “metadata” sweeps are all about collecting exactly the kind of information Seeger mentions, and it leads, inevitably to the kind of state harassment and terrorizing that Cory Doctorow wrote about.

Call your representatives today.



Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", General, I Fear These Things, Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Ten Years of Wetmachine Already? Some Preliminary Observations

In the immediately prior post, Harold Feld reflects on ten years of blogging at Wetmachine.

Go read that post; it’s short & fun & informational. I’ll wait for you below the fold, where I offer some further reflections on Harold’s reflections. Read More »

Posted in General, My Thoughts Exactly, Writing | Comments closed

Governor Christie Channels Ann Romney

He’s had it with you people! He’s tired of you people!

Chris Christie yells at teacher

Just like Ann Romney in 2012!

I guess us people are just too irritating.

Stay tuned, we’re working on something more substantive. It does take us people a while to get ourselves organized, sometimes.

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", General, infotainment, Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | Comments closed

John E. Sundman 1926 — 2013

[Editor's Note: Because I've published books under three middle names and created a variety of  fictional "John [$variable] Sundman”  personae, I find myself in the unusual position of stating that the obituary that follows is for a quite real person, my father, who died last Monday. The newspaper obituary is here. A longer version follows below the fold, with a few comments by me at the end of it.  You’ll note that my father’s father was also named John Sundman. I suggest we blame him for any confusion — jrs.]

John E. Sundman

Dad in green polo shirt at LBI.

Dad in green polo shirt at LBI.

Read More »

Posted in Firefighting, General, My Thoughts Exactly | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

Staring at Jeremy Bornstein staring at me

I just pledged $7 to Jeremy Bornstein’s kickstarter project.

My reasons for so-doing after the fold.

Read More »

Posted in General, Memology, My Thoughts Exactly | Comments closed

A Bridge to Somewhere

Here’s a four-minute video that chronicles — in a not strictly chronological order — the building of the new San Francisco-Oakland bridge.

Yes, I know the bridge is 24 years late and billions over budget, that many parts of it were made in China, that the story of its building includes lots of venal politics and outright corruption.

But damn, it’s a beautiful accomplishment! Just imagine if we had done projects like this all over the country since the Big Motherfucking Ratfucker-Bankster Implosion (BMRBI) began in 2008! Imagine if we were ruled by decent people instead of “austerity is the answer for everything” knaves & eunuchs (a phrase I borrow from Ezra Pound, btw). Imagine if we put as much love and passion into building our country as we put into blowing up other peoples’ countries!

Ah, well, I’ll get back to gloom and doom in a little bit. For now just dig the video and marvel at what human people can accomplish when we work together.

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", Hardware, My Thoughts Exactly | Comments closed

Out of the mouths of babes— my prescient conversation with former FCC Chair Kevin Martin about NSA/Telecom surveillance

So a few years ago the FCC held a hearing (at Harvard University) on Net Neutrality & yours truly attended same (and the reception with FCC members following thereafter) & wrote a post about it on this very site Wetmachine. In light of all the Snowden/NSA/telecom stuff in the news, I thought to bring attention to this little reportage, of a conversation between me and then-FCC Chair Kevin Martin about collusion between the US government & telecom providers, warrantless surveillance, and all that:

So we talked about net neutrality and participatory democracy for a while. And then another fine fellow came along and joined the conversation (he was wearing a funny T-shirt that had a picture the old OSI stack model, with two additional stacks, “Financial” and “Political” with a little notation pointing to the “Political” layer saying “you are here”.) The conversation got onto the subject of GPS information in cell phones, which the FCC mandated.

Martin said, “I told those guys for two solid years to come up with a plan, but they never did. So I acted.” He talked about testimony from 911 call centers that 40% of their calls could not be responded to because they didn’t know where the caller was. But OSI-guy and I wanted to know about privacy considerations. Why, my neighbor with the cool T-shirt wanted to know, couldn’t the phones be programmed to only send geographic information when a 911 call was made?

Martin said that phone companies were legally enjoined from sharing private information, including GPS. I said, “why should we believe them? Why should we believe a word the telecom companies say? They lie and lie and lie, and expect immunity for it.”

Martin repeated with the regulatory and judicial history of how private information had been let out, had been used by stalkers, private investigators, etc, but now all that was now illegal.

I said, “That’s not my point. I’m concerned about them sharing the information with the government. They’ve been spying on all of us without warrants for years!”

Martin said something like “national security, law enforcement, those are different areas altogether.”

And I said, “What, and the law doesn’t apply?” but he didn’t hear me, as several people were speaking at once.

I don’t have anything else to add, other than a tip o’ the cap to my esteemed Wetmachine co-blogger Harold Feld for his coinage of the term “Cassandrafreude”, that feeling you get when you get to say “See, didn’t I tell you?” when something bad, which you have long been warning against, actually happens.  I expect that many of you won’t be able to read the original citation, above, on Harold’s Livejournal blog, so for added Cassandrafreude pleasure, see his recent Wetmachine entry
Associated Press is shocked –SHOCKED — To Discover Government Cannot Be Trusted With Power to Spy
where he pretty much predicted everything that Mr. Snowden has since brought to an even wider audience than Wetmachine enjoys.

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", I Fear These Things, Software | Comments closed

The “Meme Hustler” hustler: Evgeny Morozov’s Stupid Talk about Tim O’Reilly

[note: I wrote the following post one Sunday afternoon nearly two months ago. It was no great shakes, but I was happy to have finally written something to break out of my Wetmachine doldrums. I set it aside to jell overnight, intending to re-read, put in links, give it a once-over the next day before posting it. However on that next day,  Monday , the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon occurred, and publishing this  little essay was clearly inappropriate. Time has passed & I've finally gotten around to re-reading and putting in the links. It's no longer as timely as it was, but in any event, here it is. . .]

Evgeny Morozov is a guy with a soapbox and a schtick.

His soapbox is his position as a “go to” authority on technoskepticism — that is, he makes his living pointing out, to any who care to listen, The Folly of Technological Solutionism (which phrase I italicize because it’s also the subtitle of his latest book, whose primary title is To Save Everything, Click Here).

His schtick is finding influential people who embrace (or appear to embrace) this philosophy of technological solutionism and taking them down a peg or two.  And he’s really good at peg-decrementing — which probably accounts for the prominence of his soapbox, which includes positions at prestigious academic institutions (Stanford, Georgetown) and think tanks, and regular appearances in prominent publications (New York Times, Foreign Affairs) and a TED fellowship.

Consider, for example, Morozov’s hilarious (and quite well-deserved, in my opinion) evisceration of former San Francisco mayor, and current Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, in a Bookforum review of Newsom’s book Citizenville:

 

In a flourish [in the publisher's catalog] as logical as it is grammatical, we learn that “Newsom’s quest to modernize one of America’s most modern cities—and the amazing results he achieves—form the backbone of this far-reaching book.”

Alas, this dubiously signifying nonsense does not let up between the covers of Citizenville. To say that Newsom’s ruminations on technology and politics come in fifty shades of bullshit is to give this all-too-representative study in online civic boosterism too much credit. Newsom’s bullshit is solidly and tediously monochrome.

 

The essay gets only more brutal from there. I loved it when I read it; I actually exclaimed “YES!” out loud a few times, which seemed to startle my fellow passengers on the New Jersey Transit train from Penn Station to Chatham, New Jersey. When he’s on target, Morozov can be brilliant, funny, and merciless.

Recently Morozov turned his attention on Tim O’Reilly, the founder of  O’Reilly Media (formerly O’Reilly & Associates), the so-called visionary whose careers first as a publisher of books on computer technology and then as impresario of various conferences that bear his name catapulted him to international prominence as a commentator on where technology is, or might be, taking us as a nation and even as a species.

To put it mildly, Morozov doesn’t care much for O’Reilly. In fact he seems to reserve for O’Reilly a disdain much more intense than that which he evinced for the poseur airhead Gavin Newsom. In a recent piece in the smugly iconoclastic magazine The Baffler, (“The Meme Hustler — Tim O’Reilly’s Crazy Talk”) Morozov goes after O’Reilly like an angry Rottweiler.  Or more accurately, he goes after a caricature of O’Reilly like a caricature of an angry Rottweiler. I really enjoyed Morozov’s take-down of Newsom, and O’Reilly (“Saint Tim”) is, frankly, an object of veneration in some circles who could stand a little ribbing. I’m a Walt Whitman kind of guy in that I don’t have much tolerance for the veneration of  popes, Dalai Lamas or Steve Jobses; Whitman enjoined us to “tip your cap to no man”, and I’m down with that.  So I wouldn’t mind seeing St. Tim taken down a notch or two, just on general principles. I had done a 30-second skim read of Morozov’s essay when it first appeared in The Baffler and it looked promising, so I was looking forward to actually reading The Meme Hustler when I found the time to do so. I found the time yesterday.

Man, what a disappointment. What a pompous, shallow, unfair, error-filled and hysterical piece of dreck. Essentially, I found The Meme Hustler stupid and baffling. It made me angry. I explain why below the fold.

Read More »

Posted in "A Republic, if you can keep it", Memology, My Thoughts Exactly, Software, Writing | 3 Comments (Comments closed)
  • Connect With Us

    Follow Wetmachine on Twitter!

    Email Updates

    Subscribe with just your email address To get updates for all Wetmachine posts. Want more control? Log in using your Wetmachine account (or with your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account), or register for a Wetmachine account.

Username
Password

If you do not have an account: Register