Everyone now wants to know how to remove themselves from social networks. It has become absolutely clear that our relationships to others are mere points in the aggregation of marketing data. Political campaigns, the sale of commodities, the promotion of entertainment – this is the outcome of our expression of likes and affinities. And at what cost? The reward is obvious: we no longer have to tolerate advertisements for things for which we have no interest. Instead our social relations are saturated with public relations. But at least it is all interesting!
Unlike the old days, when we could invent online identities daily, our social networks today require fidelity between our physical self and our online self. The situation is unbearable.
The frightening consequence of it all is that we believe in the value of these networks. We understand perfectly well that our privacy is being renegotiated without our consent; the rules are changing in plain view; but we still participate! It is like a new form of money, something we realize is a myth, but we act like it is real and that is its power. We can’t leave because everyone else is there! Or because we are invested in the myth ourselves.
The question is how do we extract ourselves from this predicament?
Recently, some programmers figured out how to computationally do exactly this. By entering in your username and password, the software would delete as much information as possible, ultimately removing the account itself. It was a radical enough idea to attract the legal attention of Facebook.
This software did not go far enough!
When someone disappears from Facebook, does anyone notice? Does this software retroactively invalidate all of the marketing data that has been collected from the account? Has this person de-dividuated themselves? No, silence has not disrupted the system in the slightest!
Social networks need a social suicide. In the same way that 99.99999% of users on Facebook don’t exist within the cloistered world of one’s home page, an invisible user – one who has committed suicide – is simply a non-factor in the constant and regular computational logic of the thing. The answer isn’t silence, but noise!
Suicide on a social network is a matter of introducing noise into the system. It spreads viruses and misinformation. It makes things less interesting for others. It disrupts the finely calibrated advertising algorithms on which suggestions are made – for friends, groups, institutions, ideas, and so on. Social networking captures, quantifies, and capitalizes on positive feedback. It records and reproduces similarity. Oh yes, everyone is not watching one of three mass-produced choices; but beneath all of the possibilities there is only one choice! The one for you!
A roadmap for an effective Facebook suicide should do some of the following: catching as many viruses as possible; click on as many “Like” buttons as possible; join as many groups as possible; request as many friends as possible. Wherever there is the possibility for action, take it, and take it without any thought whatsoever. Become a machine for clicking! Every click dissolves the virtual double that Facebook has created for you. It disperses you into the digital lives of others you hadn’t thought of communicating with. It confuses your friends. It pulls all those parts of the world that your social network refuses to engage with back into focus, makes it present again.
Invisibility comes in many forms, and on social networks it is the form of a radical overload of information – a maximum participation. No more thought, because every considered click adds to the collaborative filtering algorithms that makes sure everyone continues to like what they like, but in slightly modified form. Click everywhere, click often, and don’t stop until you have disappeared beneath a flood of meaninglessness.
This is a call for suicide, for the abandonment of seriousness and belief. It is a call to reclaim ourselves from the sad version of ourselves that lives in that bloodless village. Don’t become nothing, the singular point defined by an absence, become everything, with everyone else. Drown the system in data and make a new world in the ruins that remain!
Twenty-five years after a firebombing at Michigan State University caused more than $1 million in damage and destroyed decades of research, an eco-terrorist has broken his silence, coming clean about his role.
“I won’t sugar coat it; we were about psychological warfare,” Rodney Coronado told the Lansing State Journal.
The attack targeted MSU scientist Richard Aulerich, who was studying the nutrition and population decline of mink—research Coronado believed was carried out for the fur industry. So Coronado, a member of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), sneaked into the MSU building through a window, kicked down Aulerich’s door, and planted his firebomb.
“We wanted researchers like Aulerich never to know when they came to work and opened their office door whether there had been an attack,” Coronado said in his interview. “We wanted them to live in fear.”
Coronado spent four years in prison for the attack, with the court also ordering him to pay $2.5 million in restitution to MSU and other victims of the Animal Liberation Front—but to date, he has paid just $2,375, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Though the interview marks Coronado’s first admission of his involvement in the MSU attack, he has spoken before about the use of unlawful tactics. In a 2014 interview with Earth First Journal, Coronado said while he would “no longer advocate illegal activity,” if someone was “asking me more directly if I regret my illegal actions on behalf of wildlife, I’d have to say no, I don’t.”
ALF, Coronado’s organization, has operated in the United States since the 1970s, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations said in 2002 that it had “become one of the most active extremist elements in the United States.”
Activists gain ALF membership, the FBI said, by perpetrating “direct activity,” which usually means some form of criminal activity that menaces opponents or destroys their property. The group is known for being particularly skilled at arson, including using explosives.
Between 2000 and 2012, ALF and its affiliate, the Earth Liberation Front, carried out at least 100 attacks, according to statistics compiled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
And a 2014 study found that, between 1970 and 2007, radical environmentalists and animal rights activists had committed more than a thousand criminal acts, including 55 bombings or other attacks using explosives, the Washington Post reported. The FBI puts that number even higher.
Last year, FBI records obtained by Muckrack showed that eco-terrorism remains a concern. A 2013 memo warned of a “recent upsurge in animal rights extremist activity in the west and Midwest,” citing “more than 30 animal releases and acts of vandalism” that occurred in nine states between May and September 2013.
“The world still sings. But the warnings are wise. We have lost much, and we’re risking much more. Some risks, we see coming. But there are also certainties hurtling our way that we fail to notice. The dinosaurs failed to anticipate the meteoroid that extinguished them. But dinosaurs didn’t create their own calamity. Many others don’t deserve the calamity that we’re creating.” – Carl Safina, The View From Lazy Point
Decades of fighting the wholesale destruction of the wild, witnessing the displacement of wild communities, seeing the war on wild beings continue, failing to stop fragile ecological niches from being crossed and decimated by access roads and channels, and this is how it feels: exhausting.
I’m sure the earth is all too familiar.
We see the studies and reports. They never improve. Previous assessments (already bleak) for the impact of climate instability on wildlife put 7% of mammals and 4% of birds in the “heavily impacted” range. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) just updated that analysis to move nearly half of all mammals and a quarter of all threatened bird species into that category. That doesn’t include the quarter of all the world’s mammals that currently are threatened with extinction from habitat loss and poaching. That doesn’t include the 90% of the Great Barrier Reef suffering from coral bleaching.
This list literally does not end.
“One in five species on Earth now faces extinction, and that will rise to 50% by the end of the century unless urgent action is taken.” That is the summation of the threat that a group of ecologists, biologists, and economists (of all people) came to after a meeting this month at the Vatican (of all places). There are models: attempts to quantify what can only be considered a catastrophic turn of events in the timeline of the Earth. There are campaigns: attempts to tap into some deeply buried empathy on the part of the civilized by reminding us that statistics mean rhinos, elephants, gibbons, black-footed ferrets, and polar bears.
They aren’t dying: civilization is killing them. We are killing them.
As industrialization crossed a new threshold, into a world where carbon dioxide has moved above 400 parts-per-million, seemingly “permanently”, we are killing ourselves as well. The UK based NGO, Global Challenges Foundation, found that with current scenarios, “the average American is more than five times likelier to die during a human-extinction event than in a car crash.” Not to be outdone, professional doomsayer Guy McPherson believes there won’t be a human left on earth by mid-2026.
Like everyone else worn out by having to find a morsel of empathy, even just enough to try to leverage sympathy amongst other civilized humans to even want to care about imminent catastrophe, even likely to directly impact our own lives: there’s a breaking point. We’re left wondering if we deserve to survive the extinction event that we’ve started and continue amplifying? Didn’t we do this to ourselves? Wouldn’t the earth be better off without us?
At times, you get so deep in it that for a moment you actually feel just a fraction of this loss. In those moments, you can almost celebrate the notion of human extinction. Or at least hope that an asteroid hits the planet, setting off a chain of reactions faster and greater than anything civilization and its unfortunate human creators would shoulder. Realistically, that’s an escape, arguably one we truly don’t deserve.
But this is the problem with that question: it’s really fucking stupid.
It’s a pointless question that turns a real crisis situation into an existential dilemma. This is the kind of philosophical quandary that got us into this mess in the first place. The ability to disengage from reality and deflect the consequences of our actions happens because we aren’t grounded. We aren’t feeling this loss. We aren’t seeing it.
To a great degree, we can’t. Our brains evolved for life in nomadic hunter-gatherer camps. We evolved to know relatively local populations in great and intimate detail. Our impact, prior to being scaled irreparably through technology, was largely negligible on a global scale. Our ability and reach outgrew our evolutionary capacity to understand and control it. This is the tragedy of history.
But it is the underlying basis for our reality and the wild communities of this earth are dying as a result.
We are dying. But this is a biological consequence, not a moralistic one. The probability of human extinction isn’t payback. The earth isn’t vengeful. A destabilized climate creates dozens of potential scenarios where the earth simply becomes uninhabitable for humans.
That is a possibility.
In terms of certainty, we have a little more clarity, as biologist Carl Safina points out:
“The current concentration [of carbon dioxide] is higher than it’s been for several million years; it’s rising one hundred times faster than at any time in the past 650,000 years. The planet has survived much higher greenhouse gas concentrations; civilization hasn’t.”
To treat this as an existential threat, a crisis of faith, is seeking absolution. It’s looking for an easy way out.
That is luxury we surely don’t deserve. And for two reasons: the first being that humans didn’t create this mess, not as a whole at least. Civilization is a historical epoch. Settled societies, built around granaries and agriculture, begin to spot the earth barely more than 12,000 years ago. The cities that served as the foundation for the globalized civilization that we’ve inherited are roughly half as old. Civilizations start locally and spread by force.
It is clear that civilization is a human issue, but against the backdrop of millions of years where humans lived in egalitarian bands, our shared lineage of primal anarchy, it is also clear that most of us are captives of this beast, not the engineers. Nearly all humans alive don’t get to really reap the benefits of an extinction-causing glut of material and economic or spiritual bounty. As many examples as we have of humans actively destroying this earth, there are infinite counter-examples of how humans have lived with and within its wild communities. If we want to say humans deserve extinction, we doom the struggling nomadic foragers and semi-sedentary gardeners for the same mess they are actively resisting. If we’re talking about what is deserved and what isn’t, I’d definitely say we don’t have the right to give up on their behalf.
The second reason is that whatever conclusion we reach doesn’t matter. At all.
The problem with such a grandiose question as the fate of an entire species is that it’s unable to recognize the delusion of control we believe we have. Granted, we have militarized our ambitions. There are plots to eliminate mosquitoes now that echo the campaigns that wiped bison, wolves, and passenger pigeons out of the United States as surely as many native populations. If we doom ourselves, it will be incidentally: nuclear power, catastrophic shifts in a survivable climate, or a wholesale dependence upon a climate suitable for agriculture (a luxury we surely will lose).
Unless there’s a particularly sinister plot to create a gas that will target and finalize humanity, our discussions on the merits of human survival are pointless. Either extinction will take us or it won’t. Whichever way that unfolds, it will be our fault, but it won’t be our choice (outside of the individual level).
The arrogance of this kind of question is blind hubris: the same thing that got us in our predicament. And it’s the same arrogance that will keep us blind to seeing outside of it.
This is what we know: the earth is changing.
The stability that made settlements and agriculture possible is fading, quickly. We know that politicians and priests, in every single instance of civilizations collapsing prior, could never reconcile their vision with reality. Borders increasingly become death traps. Nationalism and xenophobia increasingly become distractions. This is exactly what we face now. Our situation absolutely has precedents. What has changed is the scale.
That is what must be accounted for. Attempts to correct the course are futile. And worse, they’re pathetic. More optimistic figures for human extinction tend to range in hundreds of years instead of decades. Are we really this resolved to defend our children’s executioner, in the event that we ourselves are spared? If we recognize that we can’t look to political, corporate and religious figures to see the wailing within the walls, then it is vital to recognize that their entire political system can’t save us. Civilization won’t save us. Agriculture won’t save us.
We are heading into unchartered territory. But there is a precedent here as well. We have survived ice ages. We have survived massive shifts in climate. Deserved or not, humans are pretty damn adaptable. Our ancestors survived the last ice age the same way coyotes did: embracing a fission-fissure society, based around mobility, shifted from being largely hunter-scavengers to hunter-gatherers. Mobility, adaptability, resilience; the things that made us egalitarian are the things that saw us through unthinkable periods of flux. I tend to think this isn’t a coincidence.
All of those aspects are still within us. They still shape the way we see, think, feel and interact with the world. History, the time since civilization, is a glaring contradiction to that reality, but, in the end, that matters little. There will be no cosmic justice.
History, all of the supposed achievements of civilization, abandoned skyscrapers and power plants that will stand as tombstones to an era of unnatural and unthinkable cruelty, will become its own dustbin. There is some reassurance in that, but there is no comfort. There are predictions for how our path unfolds, but there is no crystal ball. There is no one pulling strings.
There are certainties, possibilities and probabilities. A certainty is that things will get worse. A probability is that life will be better off because of it. Most likely, that won’t be immediately clear. Our survival, like the survival of half of all existing mammals and a quarter of existing birds, is a possibility.
It may not be a choice, but fighting for that possibility is.
It’s understandable to want to give in. It’s comforting to think that we might be powerful enough to wish punishment on ourselves. That penance is on our terms. But it’s an exercise in futility. A luxury we can no longer afford. If we want to resist the worst-case scenario, then we’re better off starting with the right questions. Instead of pontificating the merit of human existence, we should recognize that our own survival is intertwined with the fate of all other life. Our struggle is inseparable from theirs.
Our lives are inseparable from theirs.
The question should be: when will we start acting like it?
There is a frightening trend appearing on social media sites in Russia and spreading across the world, involving a suicide game called ‘Blue Whale’ where participants win by dying.
Fears are rising across Russia and the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, over online games said to be driving teenagers to commit suicide.
The shocking game – (“синий кит”) goes by a few names:
– Siniy kit (“ a blue whale ”,” синий кит “),
– Tikhiy dom (“ a quiet house/a silent house ”, ” тихий дом “,” #тихийдом “),
– More kitov (“ a sea/a bunch of whales ”,” море китов “,” #морекитов “),
– f53, f57, f58 and Razbudi menya v 4:20 (“ wake me up 4.20 am ”,” разбуди меня в 420 “,” #разбудименяв420 “).
Although it’s hard to say exactly where and when this alarming trend started surfacing online, Russia’s Investigative Committee did announce an arrest linked to the game, which was discovered on the VKontakte social network. Spokesperson for Russia’s Investigative Committee Svetlana Petrenko told TASS that after conducting an investigation, a criminal case on charges of instigating suicide was launched.
RBTH reports, “According to the investigators, from December 2013 to May 2016, the perpetrators established eight virtual groups on the VKontakte social network to promote suicidal behavior and drive underage users to commit suicide.”
The underlying premise of the game is as follows: you sign up and are given an administrator, or curator, assigned to you. This curator gives you things to do, over the course of 50 days, and you must send proof that you have carried out their demands. At the end of the 50 days, you win by committing suicide.
One correspondent from RFE/RL wanted to see how the Blue Whale game worked, so they created a fake profile of a 15-year old girl, on the VKontake site. The following is a transcription of their online conversation:
“I want to play the game.”
“Are you sure? There is no way back,” responded a so-called curator of the Blue Whale game.
“Yes. What does that mean — no way back?”
“You can’t leave the game once you begin.”
“I’m ready.” Then the curator explained the rules.
“You carry out each task diligently, and no one must know about it. When you finish a task, you send me a photo. And at the end of the game, you die. Are you ready?”
“And if I want to get out?”
“I have all your information. They will come after you.”
The first task given to the corespondent was to scratch “F58” into her arm. They tried to fool the curator with a photoshopped image, but the curator ceased to respond.
Over the course of about a week, RFE/RL managed to contact more than a dozen self-proclaimed current and former players and several curators.
“I am your personal whale,” another curator wrote, explaining that the game consisted of 50 tasks spread over 50 days. “I will help you take the game all the way to the end. The last day is the end of the game. If you die, you win. If you don’t, we will help you. Are you ready?”
The curator then promised to send the first task at 4:20 a.m. But by then, the curator’s account had been blocked.
Russian authorities believe the man behind this horrible creation is Filip Budeikin, who is currently facing charges for driving at least 15 teenagers to commit suicide.
One such victim was Galina Sibiryakova, a 19-year-old from Karaganda. She was found dead on Feb. 7 by her parents. The family claimed the teenager used her phone to stay in constant contact with someone on Skype, reports Astana Times.
Currently, authorities in Kazakhstan have blocked access to the “death groups” on social media, and in Central Asia, Kazakh Interior Minister Kalmukhanbet Kasymov has called for creating a national database of social-media users. In the capital of Kyrgyzstan, police have begun searching through schools to check children for signs of cutting or for suspicious messages on their phones.
While this may seem like an overreaction to some, others find the actions taken by authorities to be justified. Blocking of any sites with hashtags #SeaOfWhales, #BlueWhales, #WhalesSwimUpwards and #WakeMeUpAt420, as well as #F58, and many others has already begun.
Suicide is a real issue in these countries, and the children who fall victim to this game are lied to and led by a fear that someone will come after them or their family if they don’t follow the rules. One teenager reported receiving a message that stated, “Your mother won’t reach the bus stop tomorrow.”
Another participant who referred to himself as Ivan said he tried to quit the game by blocking his curator. However he later received a message from another curator saying, “You can’t hide from us.” Ivan blocked that account too and had no further issues, nor did he receive any more messages.
Despite the threats that many Blue Whale players have received, there have been no reported incidents of any kind related to the game outside the virtual world.
It might not be easy to understand what draws kids into these types of games, but the signs of a suicidal child can be recognized if you know where to look. Thankfully, the Youth Suicide Prevention Program has outlined some of the more noticeable characteristics found in depressed or suicidal teens.
Most suicidal young people don’t really want to die; they just want their pain to end. About 80% of the time, people who kill themselves have given definite signals or talked about suicide. The key to prevention is to know these signs and what to do to help.
A previous suicide attempt
Current talk of suicide or making a plan
Strong wish to die or a preoccupation with death
Giving away prized possessions
Signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness, withdrawal
Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
Hinting at not being around in the future or saying good-bye
As always, you should take any mention of suicide seriously, and reach out to these resources for more information and guidance on what to do in these situations.
They’re the darkest places on the dark web – ‘Red Room’ sites where ‘Pay per View’ viewers part with Bitcoin to watch scenes of unimaginable horror.
They’re the darkest places on the dark web – ‘Red Room’ sites where ‘Pay per View’ viewers part with Bitcoin to watch scenes of unimaginable horror.
Urban legends about the existence of ‘Red Rooms’ have circulated for years – but as yet, there’s no evidence that they exist.‘Red Room’ sites, the story goes, are darkweb sites where users pay thousands – or tens of thousands – to watch rapes and murders live.
If ‘Pay per View’ torture sites do exist, it’s almost certain that they don’t work via Tor (the software used to access dark web sites) – which is too slow to stream video live.
The term ‘Red Room’ has been around on the internet for more than decade – thought to originate either from ‘red rum’/’murder’, or from the 1983 horror film Videodrome, where torture is shown live on satellite TV in a red-painted room.
Has there ever been a movie more misunderstood than RoboCop? Paul Verhoeven’s hyperviolent dystopian cybersatire was released 30 years ago and almost immediately joined the likes of The Prince, Watchmen, and Wall Street in the great pantheon of works whose points have been completely missed by legions of fans and imitators. RoboCop was intended to be a viciously hilarious attack on police brutality, union busting, mass-media brainwashing, and the exploitation of the working class by amoral corporate raiders. Alas, all too many people only noticed the viciousness, not the targets thereof. As a result, the film’s subsequent sequels, spinoffs, and 2014 remake have been generally straight-faced. If they’re socially biting at all, their criticism is mild in comparison to their carnage.
Unfortunately, we can now add another faux-boCop clunker to the steel pile: Fox’s new police procedural APB, which wears its admiration for RoboCop on its high-tech sleeve. The female lead (Natalie Martinez) is named “Murphy,” a near-certain homage to the real name of Verhoeven’s titular super-cop. The show borrows much of its basic premise from the 1987 masterpiece: A corporation privatizes a police force and puts advanced machinery on the streets to combat soaring crime. Alas, it lacks any of the visceral criticism of its forebear, opting instead to celebrate generic cop work done with fancy toys. That’s a goddamn shame, because RoboCop is more relevant today than it’s ever been. Indeed, if we had collectively heeded its warnings, America might not be in the dire situation it finds itself in today.
If you haven’t seen RoboCop, you could be forgiven for assuming the movie is an earnest thriller, given its basic plot outline. In a near-future version of Detroit, a sleazy firm with the delightfully over-the-top moniker Omni Consumer Products* (or OCP, for short) buys up the police force — ostensibly to fight crime more efficiently, but really to test out brutally violent hardware to sell to the military. They could not give less of a shit about the actual police, who are planning a strike, and when one of the boys in blue gets shot to pieces by an OCP-allied gangster, his brain is surreptitiously harvested to make a cyborg cop with a computer-driven consciousness. After a rocky period as a warrior against criminality, he turns on his masters and regains his individual dignity.
But the plot is only half the story of RoboCop. More important are the tone and stylistic flourishes, which are astoundingly good ventures in pitch-black comedy. Newscasters announce nuclear armageddon and accidental presidential assassinations with ignorant cheer; folks use comically oversize guns to shoot at their victims for 20-second stretches, unrealistic blood squibs firing left and right; everyone watches a TV show in which buxom ladies hit on a hideous old man who incongruously shouts, “I’d buy that for a dollar!” at random; an elementary school is named after Lee Iacocca; and so on. It depicts a fallen world where tragedy long ago faded into farce and we’re supposed to ridicule virtually everything that goes on. If you’re not laughing, you’re not paying attention.
That is, in a way, the tragedy of RoboCop — you really do have to pay attention to get it. It’s a victim of its own success, insofar as what makes it hilarious is how straight-faced everything is. There are no winks to inform you that it’s time to giggle, so if you’re only half-watching, you’ll miss all your cues. That said, if you do pick up what the film is putting down, you’ll see a remarkable degree of significance for the world of 2017.
In 1987, Verhoeven and writers Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner were extrapolating Reagan-era greed and enthusiasm for privatization by imagining a corporate takeover of public services. Now, that’s barely an extrapolation — it’s a serious proposal made by a startling number of America’s most powerful industrialists. OCP dreams of throwing off all government control in its Delta City community, and it’s hard to watch the movie now and not think of it as a kind of land-bound seastead. The Peter Thiels and Tim Drapers of the world have, in their infinite wisdom, concluded that government more or less doesn’t work and that folks would be far better-served if they were part of an entirely private polity that values entrepreneurship above conventional citizenship. Today’s techno-utopians may prefer Jobsian asceticism instead of the coke-addled sneers of Miguel Ferrer’s Bob Morton, but their ideology is closer to Bob’s than they may like to admit.
RoboCop makes a profoundly good case against privatizing the police force and, by extension, any public necessity. Sure, it makes the obvious critique that the profit motive drives people to carry out obscene miscarriages of justice like, well, using a near-dead body to secretly build a super-robot that can be shopped around to the highest bidder. But there are even wiser points, as well. In a nod to the robo-fiction of Isaac Asimov, RoboCop has to obey three hard-wired laws, along with a classified fourth. We eventually learn that the last directive prevents him from arresting or attacking any employees of OCP, thus exempting them from the very law enforcement they make it their business to enact.
That plot point echoes current controversies over Facebook and Google. As the saying goes, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product, and Facebook and Google — as well as a bevy of other digital entities — make their billions by mining users’ personal information. Each takes our secrets and our intricacies and auctions them off, but in a cruel irony, they themselves are black boxes. Some people are banned without explanation; others are allowed to remain, despite ostensibly breaking the terms of service. The core algorithms, so crucial to countless users’ businesses and lives, are opaque and will remain so until the sun dies.
Like OCP, Facebook and its ilk exempt themselves from the things they do to everyone else. RoboCop teaches us that a private service, be it a police force or anything else, will inherently lack the transparency and accountability that (at least in theory) is built into an entity beholden to the public through elections, recalls, impeachment, and the like. We trust free-market libertarians at our own risk.
What’s more, RoboCop teaches us that, when the forces of corporate overreach are at work, we have to retain power against them — power that comes not from robot suits, but from unions. Early on, we learn that the overstretched and underfunded cops, who receive not a whiff of the cash that OCP is stirring into its R&D division, are contemplating a strike. This becomes a running bit in the film, especially as the uncaring OCP chieftains start to favor their shiny RoboCop over the concerns of the actual folks on the beat. (To Verhoeven’s credit, the force has a substantial number of tough women, not just dudes.)
An officer who’s acquiesced to OCP control muses that “we’re not plumbers, we’re police officers — and police officers don’t strike.” The guy is, of course, totally missing the point: The fact that cops don’t usually strike makes a potential strike all the more potent. Not everyone has a tin exoskeleton, but everyone can create the collective armor of a picket line. Even then, though, there has to be a society-wide appreciation of unionization, as RoboCop points out — when the strike is put on the table, an OCP exec gets stoked about the idea of using it as an opportunity to put more robots on the street. In other words, RoboCop was talking about the tension between automation and working people well before it became a topic at the highest levels of political and economic debate. It’s hard to imagine these ideas coming up in a sci-fi film today, largely because union membership is so passé, free-falling at a rate that makes 1987 look positively communist. RoboCop’s pro-labor message was powerful then, but it’s vitally urgent now.
So, too, is the way Verhoeven and his collaborators confront actual police work. RoboCop is a metal personification of extrajudicial police violence, destroying bodies and lives with casual aplomb. He bursts into an attempted convenience-store stickup and viciously beats the gunman, then, without attending to him medically, bids the owners a calm “Thank you for your cooperation” and walks out. He reads a thug his Miranda rights while punching him bloody. He also has no idea how to interact with the community — after stopping an attempted rape, he holds the victim and, in his inhuman, metallic monotone, declares, “Madam, you have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify a rape crisis center.” She looks terrified.
Such overcompensating intensity feels especially chilling in the Trump era. The new president frequently depicts the “inner cities” as hellholes rife with murder, gangs, drugs, and (his favorite term) carnage. It’s not unreasonable to think the man in the Oval Office would love to see RoboCop put on the streets, fighting violence not with any kind of structural reasoning or community improvement, but rather the simple language of brutality. The irony is that he’s also in favor of unrestricted access to guns, which is another essential point of critique in RoboCop — everyone has firearms, and they accomplish nothing but mayhem and dismemberment.
Unfortunately, the mayhem and dismemberment is all that some people enjoy about the film, the ultimate insult to RoboCop’s teachings. We’re supposed to laugh at and loathe the use of violence. In this, the movie is a spiritual sibling to Verhoeven’s other tragically misinterpreted masterwork, 1997’s antiwar satire Starship Troopers. In both tales, the impulse to fuck other people up and over leads only to empty souls and dead bodies. The vulgarity of television and interpersonal conduct leaves everyone debased and pitiful. Our present moment is one in which the ability to take what you want at all costs, without the slightest bit of empathy, is espoused at the highest levels of society — in other words, a moment that RoboCop prefigured three decades ago. It’s time to listen to what the movie screams at us, to reengage with a movie that is simultaneously funnier, more thrilling, and more socially astute than most ever made. A RoboCop renaissance? I’d buy that for a dollar.
“We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures, and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision. They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident, inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.”
Up to 80% of the Internet is said to be hidden in the so-called “deep web,” which can be accessed using special search systems, like the Tor browser. Often, the “deep web” is associated with criminal activities, like firearms sales and drug trafficking.
The deep web is a kind of mysterious place where one can find everything that has been published on the Internet, but can’t be accessed via traditional search engines. In other words, it is collection of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them.
“There are various services within this universe. Some are used to protect delivered information, conceal identities or ensure anonymity,” IT expert and CEO of TIB company Maximiliano Alonzo explained in an interview with Sputnik Mundo.
At the same time, Alonzo noted that the deep web can be used both — in positive and negative ways.
“The deep web is like a scalpel: in the hands of a doctor it can save lives, but in the hands of a criminal, it can kill. So everything depends on its use. There are certain countries in which citizens have a limited access to the Internet, and the deep web is for them an alternative way to receive information,” Alonzo explained.
The concept of a deep web appeared with the occurrence of the first search engines. All data that can’t be accessed by Google is available via special search systems, like the Tor browser, which makes it impossible to trace the identity or address of its users.
“If a user tries to access a certain web site, his IP address gets registered in the system and makes it possible to identify the country, the city and even the identity of the user. The Tor system can change a person’s data and make its access anonymous,” the expert explained.
The deep web contains any kind of information and is often associated with criminal activities (like firearms and drug trafficking as well as personal data sales).
For instance, the sales of a fentanyl drug caused a wave of deaths and were ultimately prohibited by one of the Dark Web marketplaces.
Earlier, it was also reported that hackers sold on the deep web hundreds of millions of personal passwords from websites such as LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumblr, Fling.com, and VK.com.
Two of the world’s greatest comic book writers are wizards. No, seriously. Their work has not only changed comics forever, they’ve spilled over into literature and especially film. A lot of the movies you loved, and even more of the movie-plots you loved, were influenced by these two guys. So even if you never actually heard of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, you know their work.
Both men are British; both are only a few years apart in age. Both present themselves as rebels of a sort. Both are passionately dedicated to a personal practice of the occult, and their occult writing has been taken seriously and influenced the scene.
But here’s the kicker: Moore and Morrison freaking despise each other. So much so that it’s actually bled into their work. Some of the greatest comics of the last 25 years have been a direct product of Moore and Morrison’s wizard-fight.
First, some background: both men started out writing comics in the 1970s, and became famous in the 1980s (internationally, Moore became famous a few years earlier than Morrison).
Alan Moore is probably most famous for V for Vendetta, From Hell, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and a little miniseries called “Watchmen” that changed comics forever.
Morrison wrote Animal Man, and Doom Patrol, and The Invisibles. He was the driving force behind the ‘vertigo’ line of DC comics which focused on weird fiction with occult/horror overtones, which had a huge influence on subsequent movies and TV.
His work was groundbreaking, but he was also responsible for incredibly significant work on mainstream comics like the X-Men, the Justice League, Superman and Batman, radically renovating each of those titles and producing some of their most memorable stories of recent years.
Moore did mainstream superhero comics too: in the 1980s his writing on Green Lantern had a significant influence on that character, he turned Swamp Thing from a failing monster-comic into a major character, invented John Constantine, wrote “The Killing Joke” for Batman and a couple of Superman stories that were extremely memorable. But he had a falling out with DC comics over royalties for “Watchmen” and in opposition to a plan to put ratings systems in their comics; after that he quit working for the big mainstream comic companies and never looked back.
By the early 90s, it was already obvious Moore had issues with Morrison. He claimed to have helped give Morrison a leg up in his career (Morrison later pointed out he was making comics, though much less famous ones, before Moore had become known at all), and that Morrison in return just ripped-off all of Moore’s work.
Morrison, on the other hand, claimed that Moore’s own work was derivative of a 1977 novel called Superfolks, and that “Watchmen” was not as great as everyone thought, and that Moore wants to take credit for everything great in comics while slagging anyone he sees as competition.
Moore has continued to insinuate throughout the years that Morrison has kept ripping off his ideas, once notably saying, “I’ve read Morrison’s work twice: first when I wrote it, then when he wrote it.”
Even the question of which one of them is the more “occult” comic book guy has been a bone of contention. Moore’s coming out as a magician was better known and got way more press, and he did that in 1993. On the other hand, Morrison was talking publicly about being involved in Chaos Magick a few years earlier than that, and Morrison has claimed that Moore only decided to come out because Morrison was already public about it.
It’s not as if either of them were really secretive about it. Moore’s magical ideas were already mostly evident in his early work, and Morrison’s pre-1993 work was already highly esoteric. Moore’s V for Vendetta openly espoused gnostic concepts and Aleister Crowley‘s magical philosophy.
Magically, the two believe in very different things. Neither of them are exactly orthodox, but Moore is a more traditionalist kind of wizard. He is an admirer of Aleister Crowley’s “Thelemic” magick, and the philosophy in his Book of the Law. He appreciates the value of magick as a kind of art form, and in turn, considers art to be a kind of magick.
Grant Morrison is from the school of “chaos magick”, who practice magick that is less worried about rules and ritual and more about trying to get things done. Magick can be done from just about anything, as long as you have the right intention. Chaos magicians tend to like mixing up elements from a whole variety of different cultures and history, to reinvent it all to fit whatever they’re in the mood for, and have no problem with doing magick for personal gain (or to change the world) rather than just for human transcendence.
Moore’s very loud statement of declaring himself a Magician in public may just have been a factor in motivating Morrison to go whole-hog with the ‘occult comic book’ thing, when he started on “The Invisibles” in 1994.
“The Invisibles” is a 1500 page (59 issue) masterpiece of Occult Literature, written in comic book form. Its winding plotline tells a single long story (with various sub-plots) about a group of occult rebels using magick to try to liberate mankind, opposed by a cabal of black magicians in positions of power and authority trying to use sorcery to control and oppress humanity. It is, simply put, one of the greatest comic series of all time.
According to Morrison, if you want to take him at his word and not just assume it’s a chaos-magician metaphor, he was told parts of the story by space aliens when he was abducted by them in Kathmandu. The entire comic was intentionally designed to function as a kind of spell’, meant to create powerful changes in consciousness in whoever reads it. It also had weird effects on Morrison’s own life.
His character “King Mob” was meant to be based on Morrison’s ideal version of himself as an occult rebel-hero; Morrison started to find that when he wrote bad things happening to King Mob, bad things happened to himself. When King Mob nearly died from magical bacteria in one of the comic’s issues, Morrison himself caught a life-threatening infection. Later, King Mob was shot and almost killed, and Morrison himself had to be hospitalized for blood poisoning. After that, Morrison started writing King Mob as having great things happening to him, and Morrison started to have unexpected fame and fortune of his own.
While “The Invisibles” hasn’t got its own movie or TV series yet (it’s probably too weird and too hard to make), it was enormously influential on a ton of sci-fi and fantasy writers, as well as filmmakers. In particular, the creators of The Matrix were hugely influenced by “The Invisibles.”
So here’s where we get to the part that most articles on the Moore/Morrison feud have missed. I’m a comics reader but probably not expert enough to really detail the history or quality of work other than at the ‘fan’ level. But I am an expert on occultism. And I can say this: the war between Moore and Morrison isn’t just a “writers’ fight”, it’s a “wizards’ feud.” It is two very different views on magick using comics as a medium to fire salvos at each other.
A few years after Morrison started on “The Invisibles,” Alan Moore came out with “Promethea” – a 32-issue comic about a young woman who becomes the latest host for the spirit of an ancient superpowerful demigoddess of the imagination. Incarnating in the modern world, she takes on the role of a wonder-woman-style Super-heroine.
Like “The Invisibles,” “Promethea” is full of occult symbolism and esoteric philosophical ideas. It’s lavishly beautiful and brilliantly written. Just as The Invisibles served as a showcase for Morrison’s own ideas about chaos-magick, buddhism, conspiracy theories, psychedelia, UFO-fanaticism, esoteric psychology, punk politics and apocalypticism; Promethea became a showcase for Moore’s ideas about Magick, Thelema, the Qabalah, gnosticism, art-as-magick, imagination-as-reality, transcending the shallowness of the modern world, and apocalypticism.
Yes, both comics end with the ‘end of the world’. But the way these end up is very different from each other, and reflect the different views of the two magicians. In the Invisibles, the apocalypse is a humanity-transcending singularity. In “Promethea,” it is a divine union which makes us all more totally human than ever. This difference, like almost all the content in both comics, serve to highlight how Moore and Morrison have very different ideas about occult philosophy:
Morrison on magick:
Moore on magick:
I could have picked some other quote from Moore, like his manifesto about how magick should be stripped of its nostalgia or its introverted edginess and be treated as an expression of art, and how learning how to use words is what magick is all about (that you cast a spell in the same sense as ‘spelling’ a word). But the quote above in some ways seems more appropriate. Morrison wants to be precise and coherent, and he wants to present an image of himself in everything he does; he’s a kind of preacher for magick. Moore doesn’t give a crap what you think of him, and he just wants to drop hints of wisdom at you, and then you need to figure the rest out yourself.
Moore seemed to be mocking Morrison’s style of chaos magick in “Promethea,” basically calling it wankery. In one scene in the comic, Moore has a character point out that in the 1920s, (ritual) magick was all about “turbans, tuxedos and tarts in tiaras,” but now modern (chaos) magick is all about “sigils, stubble, and self abuse.”
In response, Morrison called Moore’s Promethea “elitist.” He seems to want magick to be both accessible to everyone, and revolutionary at the same time.
As a wizard myself, I’d say that both comics are absolute masterpieces of modern occult literature. “Promethea” probably includes the greatest explanation ever made of the “Tree of Life” – the roadmap of traditional western magick. It’s glorious. “The Invisibles” is probably the most complete compendium of occult ideas of the modern age. That’s how they’re different: “Promethea” shows you magick, teaches you why it’s important, and invites you to make your own humanity magical. “The Invisibles” doesn’t give you a choice: just reading it changes you, it blows your mind like it was a supernatural drug. It’s not an instruction; it’s an experience.
But it’s too easy to try to write the conflict off by painting Moore as some kind of grumpy old traditionalist, and Morrison as the bold in-your-face counter-culture rebel.
Remember, it was Moore who argued his way out of mainstream comics forever. On the other hand, Morrison plays the rebel but has become an icon of Mainstream Comics (though anyone reasonable would agree he’s transformed that mainstream and helped enormously to raise the quality of mainstream comics writing).
Morrison even got an MBE from the Queen, which Moore saw as the ultimate proof of Morrison’s fake rebel act being exposed as conformity. For it, he called Morrison a “Tory” (which, from Moore, is like the dirtiest word imaginable).
Morrison once claimed that Moore only had one “Watchmen”, while he does “one Watchmen a week”; which frankly is complete bullcrap. And you could laugh at Morrison’s arrogance for saying something like that, except that then he went on to launch a magical attack directly at Watchmen just to prove his point, with his comic “Pax Americana.”
“Watchmen” had started out as an idea Moore had using a certain group of DC-owned characters (Captain Atom, Peacemaker, The Question, Nightshade, the Blue Beetle, Thunderbolt) which DC wasn’t really using. Luckily for us all, DC didn’t let him use them, so he reinvented them as the Watchmen characters (Dr.Manhattan, Comedian, Rorschach, Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Ozymandias) and created a masterpiece.
But in “Pax Americana,” Morrison reversed the situation. First, he did get to use the DC characters; but he wrote them in a style that imitated (almost but not quite to the point of mockery) the style of Moore’s “Watchmen” characters. Then he makes a complete story in just one issue, that is just as much a work of genius as Moore’s 12 issues of “Watchmen.” This too is a magical technique, once again, Morrison has turned a comic book into a spell. “Pax Americana” itself even deals with the nature of time, and the keys to the universe in the number 8; he even magically over-rides “Watchmen”’s base-3 (9 panel) format with a base-4 (8 or 16 panel) format. It’s like a wizard crafting a more powerful magical square-talisman than his rival.
The first page of the story actually shows you the ending of it, and you can read “Pax Americana” from front to back, back to front, or starting from anywhere in the middle. By playing with time in this way, and using the older characters Moore’s “Watchmen” was based on, Morrison’s comic-spell is essentially trying to retroactively change history, and to neuter Moore’s claim that he was there first. “Pax Americana” isn’t just an amazing comic – it’s an amazing spell.
For his part Moore hasn’t responded to this latest volley quite yet, having been too busy working on his decade-long novel project Jerusalem, which he finally published last year. It’s one of the ten longest novels of the English language, and got some pretty good reviews. But I’m guessing comics will pull him back in again, and Alan Moore’s magical duel with Grant Morrison won’t be over until one of the two is dead. Maybe not even then.