Forgive the elitist title, first off; everyone's gotta have their click bait in this distracted, 1/2 second attention span age!
This is not a thread for 'intelligent' people. This is not a digital exurb for Mensa members- it's just a place to think and reflect together.
I wanted a thread where deep, or simply more involved discussions on a variety of topics from philosophy to history to futurism could take place. I feel like the WGB in particular and the internet as a whole (or perhaps simply the aggregation of sites I experience it through) is missing the serious discussion that used to keep me coming back to this board.
I want to keep it kind of open ended, like a college seminar.
So let me start with a thesis:
"Any sufficiently advanced corporation is indistinguishable from government."
Ok, let me rephrase that, Jeopardy style:
What is the difference between an exceedingly large corporation and a country?
Google most famously has its own university. But so does Walt Disney, Motorola, and McDonalds.
Google represents one-tenth of Mountainview, and shows no signs of slowing expansion. Employees work in Google offices, eat at Googleville restaurants (tax free), sleep in Googleville apartments. Google is diversifying into *everything*, it's in smartphones, self-driving cars, robotics, the energy grid.
It does not yet have its own police force, military, nor prosecutors. All corporations do have in-house security and their own "constitutions" -- protocols within their premises. "Breaking laws" -- breaching of the code -- results in exile, generally (booted out the door). Privatized militaries continue to grow and over two-thirds of US intelligence operations are outsourced to contractors. Besides official US-government-sanctioned activity, what else are these corporate CIAs and armies doing?
Take it from another angle with a sprinkle of Aristotelian logic:
The primary form of 'By The People' democratic government is through citizens voting for representatives to carry out their will.
90% of US elections are won by the campaign with the most money.
The biggest corporations (and their very-richest executives) contribute vastly more money than the average citizen.
Ergo: Washington DC is but a vessel to carry out government by the biggest corporations. Corporations ARE government through a nation-state proxy.
provided their own money, police forces, utilities, militaries, education systems
Or let me put it in a historical sense:
There is no necessary difference between a corporation and government, because they are both fundamentally social constructs, in the Foucault sense. A government exists only in the minds of the human beings who collectively believe in it. Who agree that that piece of paper with Jackson on it is worth two salted frappacinos and three blueberry scones. Understand that if they run away with the scones, they will be rounded up by the police and prosecuted according to pieces of paper we agree upon called laws.
This form of government, the democratic, free nation state is a relatively recent, hard won phenomenon in the history of human civilization. It was hard won through often violent revolt and revolution, from France to America to Russia. In the end, the social constructs: ideologies, countries, corporations, constitutions, doctrines, laws, religions -- these all had to be stripped away, torn up, and the raw face of the human animal revealed. Insane creatures that come to crave power, fame, prestige, immortality -- and who will subjugate and stomp on the face of their fellow man and woman to achieve such. The constructs, the icons, the semiotics, the uniforms, the flags, the logos, the crowns and gold and hushed marble -- the pomp and circumstance serve as set pieces to convince the actors (the common people) that the play they are in is and always has been, the Way of things. You must sit there, in the muck, servant, in your servants clothes. The King sits here, on the golden throne, in his king’s robes. But in truth, all the world’s a stage, as Shakespeare pointed out. The King is but an actor. You, the servant, are an actor. The costumes, the setpieces, the stage itself must be torn away, to reveal the true nature of things. Iconoclasm is the great equalizer.
The stage was torn, in 1776, in 1789. The emperor was shown to be naked. Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! Stripped of their constructs, of their cake and lavish finery, princes and paupers were equal, and thus the democratic nation state rose, and the power of the few, the royalty and the aristocracy diminished, made subservient to the will of The People. Government by the people, of the people, for the people.
So the human creature, flawed and still hungering for subjugation, constructed the corporation. It was a sleeping giant, a sleeper cell composed of men in finery less conspicuous than the garish robes of European royalty. The suit. The strategy for the aristocracy had to be a covert one -- lest they risk having their heads lopped off upon the guillotine again. The corporation was sold as, “a way of maximizing utiltiy, ensuring prosperous business”. It was given incredible privelege, limited liability, and personhood. It grew, and grew, and grew, and, in time, it became so large that it rivaled the power of the democratic nation state, the government By The People. And when it surpassed that of the nation state, it sent its tendrils into these governments, buying elections, moving policy in its own interests. The corporation then, became the shadow tyranny, the puppet master By The Few, controlling the empty husk of the democratic nation state.
Eventually, as corporations become advanced enough, the elite no longer will see the need for the pretense of national governments, and simply turn corporations into tyrannical, autocratic nations themselves -- they will provide their own money, police forces, utilities, militaries, education systems. Any sufficiently advanced corporation is indistinguishable from a government. The corporation will become the nation of the 21st century. The new construct. Players whose stage is the boardroom. The King sits here, in his corner office, at his twenty thousand dollar mahogany desk. You, the janitor, made to stand, sweep the marble floor.
Is the Brain a homunculus afloat in its cerebro-spinal amniotic fluid, the body a placenta integrating it with the external world? Biological systems are massively fractal, self-similar structures....
One of my many heros is D'Arcy Thompson who is best known for his Biological treatise "On Growth and Form". I love the idea that different biological morphologies across species are simply variations on a common theme. Parsimony and Butterfly Effect. Nature creates the new out of simple alterations and combinations of the old (throwing in vast iterations and voila - something unrecognizable but actually based on the same simple theme). Maximum complexity for minimum evolutionary investment.
I encountered similar excitement in studying embryogenesis - especially when discovering that that the skin and the brain develop from the same layer in the blastocyst. The organs that intimately contact the outermost and the innermost worlds are derived from the same cells and share many characteristics in physiology and histology. And it is doubly interesting that the placenta and the fetus develop from the same blastocyst. Biological systems are massively fractal, self-similar structures.... The placenta is the quintessential fractal border - fractal interface. Massive surface area. The organ that connects the fetus intimately with the outer world. Its is intimately integrated with the fetus, but ultimately it is not the fetus. Both and neither. Another fact I find extremely interesting is that the placenta has no nerves....
I also remember reading Dawkin's The Selfish Gene and thinking the idea of the phenotype being this giant robot designed to propagate a community of genes a really interesting perspective in a Philip-K-Dickian science-fiction fashion. I am not a big fan of Dawkins' scientism bent but he has a lot of creative ideas. What if we take the idea a step further....
What is consciousness? Where is it located? In the brain? In the Body? Both? Which part contains the "I"? The Brain?
Where does our Knowledge come from? Completely from our senses? Our sense organs transduce the outer world into patterns of neurological activity. But is this a one-way relation? What of reason, intuition, inspiration? Is the Body a homunculus, the brain a placenta integrating the body with the internal conscious world...?
The immune system is our first line of cognition, and is often described as the body's security system.
"An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system....
Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment... In other words, individuals living in too sterile an environment are not exposed to enough pathogens to keep the immune system busy. Since our bodies evolved to deal with a certain level of such pathogens, when they are not exposed to this level, the immune system will attack harmless antigens and thus normally benign microbial objects — like pollen — will trigger an immune response." -- Wikipedia
In Virtual Light, Rydell and Sublett work for Intensecure - a very large and powerful security company with ties to Datanet.
Rydell has a habit of going overboard in security situations. Sublett is allergic to everything....
Rydell and Sublett are duped into over-reacting to a harmless situation when they are fed false information by the Repulic of Desire - a group of hackers who have taken take control of the "Death Star", Intensecure's communication satellite.
Replace “ghost” with anything Fortean you’ve encountered, experienced or heard about from a trusted friend or loved one.
On the rare occasions I’m asked my opinion on ghosts and the paranormal I have to answer, truthfully, that I am a skeptic. Quickly adding the caveat, “However . . . when I was very young . . . “
I lived in the upstairs half of a quondam Victorian kindergarten.
For the first seven years of my life I thought the sound of drawers opening and closing, footfalls plodding heavily on board wood and muffled nattering and conversation were normal and expected throughout the night at every home. Because they happened every night at mine.
My room was accessed by a hidden, mirrored door in the school’s old dance hall. Of course, it was the coldest in the house.
One night I felt particularly panicked, couldn’t sleep. About midnight I shot out of bed and splashed my face with water. When I looked into the medicine cabinet mirror, there was my face, but superimposed over my eyes were two swirling embers like lit cigars.
I slowly worked past my paralysis and spun around, to run. Just before I’d made 180 there came a piercing noise — my faucet turning on, by itself.
I bolted all the way to my parents room at the other end of the house in about five seconds flat.
A few nights later, I had another fitful night. As a child, I was (as many) a junior naturalist and collector. My room had become a minor Hermitage of Stuff, impeccably organized.
I woke to the sound of someone trying to come into my room. My dad — blocked by a barrage. It consisted of everything I had arranged so neatly on my desk — hurled onto the floor, trashed. Destroyed.
When I was cleaning up, I checked on my Alligator lizard in the terrarium across the room. He’d been cut neatly in half.
The grand finale:
My sister, her friend and I were the only ones home late at night (ages 7-9). I forget where our parents were — some Saturday night event.
The house was a scary place to be, so we slept in the same room. As soon as the lights were turned off, a hideous, pained, male voice screamed out of the darkness. It was followed by indistinct whispered words — sentences.
We bolted out of the bedroom. The living room TV — the source of the sound — had turned on by itself and was madly scanning across the channels, pausing briefly enough at each to stitch intention into the chaos — single word-bits forming awful phrases . . . mostly gibberish but spiked by moments of terrifying clarity. ( . . . hissssssss . . . . fzzzzzzzzz . . . I WAS . . . DEAD . . . csshhhhhhhh).
Long before cell phones, we tried our parents one by one. My sister’s friend’s parents picked up — and at the moment the call went through, the TV stopped.
As soon as the connection was cut, THE TV STARTED UP AGAIN.
Right until about two minutes before my sister’s friend’s mom showed up.
The best part about this story is its EPILOGUE.
In classic movie fashion — do these places still exist? — my dad had the TV taken to a “TV Repair” shop. It came back with a note: "We could find nothing wrong."