Category Archives: Depressing news of the cyberpunk dystopia we live in.

Drawing is my medicine: free protest and march sign art.

suzanneforbes NoBan Jan 28 2017 NoWallI made this drawing of Lady Liberty after a guy on twitter said he’d donate $5 to the ACLU for every hand-drawn image of support for refugees and detainees tweeted at him.

It’s licensed thus: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain. Anyone can use it for anything they want.Public domain BaphoMeta by Suzanne Forbes Jan 2017

I made this drawing of a variant Baphomet after seeing this post of a miniature Baphomet statue (I want one for my dollhouse garden so much!). The Satanic Temple sells them in their online store.

It is licensed as follows: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication.

The horrific situation with the US makes me want to make transgressive art that shows love and faith. I don’t know if this will give comfort to anyone but me, but it makes me feel better to have made it. Thanks to the monthly support of my Patrons, I can make and distribute free and copyright free art. He can gut the NEA, but he can’t stop the people from supporting artists.

Usually I make my free drawings available with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike License (CC BY-NC-SA), so that people can use them freely but Urban Outfitters can’t profit off them. However, in this case, if Urban Outfitters wants to make t-shirts or phone cases with my fat, hairy, trans demon sheltering a spectrum of marginalized children, they are welcome to.

This drawing is in no way intended to be a critique of the official Satanic Temple Baphomet statuecreated by Brooklyn sculptor Mark Porter after a drawing by 19th-century French occultist Eliphas Levi.

The official sculpture is a transgressive work of art that derives visceral power from the clever use of two children in a pose that echoes popular formatted iconography of the 1950s.  No shade, just a variant, an homage I offer to the world!

I hope the statue will be placed at the Arkansas Capitol; I love the mission of The Satanic Temple:

The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Politically aware, Civic-minded Satanists and allies in The Satanic Temple have publicly opposed The Westboro Baptist Church, advocated on behalf of children in public school to abolish corporal punishment, applied for equal representation where religious monuments are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict women’s reproductive autonomy, exposed fraudulent harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners and claims in mental health care, and applied to hold clubs alongside other religious after school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations.

Soylent is free research for space sustenance. Drink on, geeks!

Suzanne Forbes illustrationI just read Lizzie Widdicombe’s thoughtful New Yorker piece on Soylent. On the face of it, Soylent seems like a classic example of privileged people solving Valley problems. No-one wants to not need food but supertaster Aspies who think they’re too busy saving the world to eat, right? When the Kickstarter launched, I saw it primarily as another asshat lifehack from an engineer who lacks sensuality. And a possible solution for my hacker fiance’s dislike of eating.

But… I care about space travel as much as I care about heirloom tomatoes, and Soylent could be an important piece of making it viable. We know that the DNA of heritage turkey breeds could provide the genetic diversity from homogenized foodstock turkeys we need for a resilient new-planet ark. Slow food is part of the future of space travel for those reasons. So is DIY. The legion of unpaid researchers using their own backyards to develop greywater irrigation and raised bed planting innovations are working for space. Although they’re only trying to grow their own food to save this planet, and building these raised beds because their West Oakland soil is full of toxins, they’re advancing our sustenance palette.

NASA would have to pay people lots of money to live on beige post-food slurry and carefully monitor and record the results. Companies would spend fortunes on the R&D these Soylent formula obsessives are doing for free. If I get on the generation ship (as a resident artist, I hope!) I’ll be glad a bunch of vegans in a Santa Cruz dorm tested green sludge recipes for a year. So I withdraw my criticism of Soylent, and I say, drink all the sludge you want, narcissist ascetics. Just make to quantify everything you learn.

What’s this horrible “shared endorsement” business of Google using your name and image for ads?

Imagine Google searching through your whole life on the internet and pulling up all your likes and endorsements and comments.

Then they pair them with your name and the photo from your Google+ profile, and display them as ads. That sounds positively….evil, doesn’t it? Remember that time you “liked” your friend’s band, even though you hadn’t seen him since college? What was the band called, PedoNecrophiliaBestiality or something?

Now stop imagining, and go change your account settings.

goog2

How you want your Google+ settings if you don’t want to Share Endorsements.

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GlassUp is a receive-only HUD, versus the Google Glass voyeuristic creep factor.

Do we want AR?

Are we ready for augmented reality, on our faces on the daily?

screenshot-2017-01-05-at-1-27-10-pm-editedIs AR a very separate need from the visual version of distributed mechanical telepathy and jacking in to someone else’s sensorium? Will we buy a second screen for our second screens, a HUD that will show texts in our visual fields, because looking down at our Dick Tracy watches is just too inconvenient?

I’m currently re-reading Gibson’s Spook Country. Like all of his recent works, Spook Country is mostly a collection of stylistic tics (luckily, I love Gibson’s stylistic tics). However, it’s interesting in that it foresees* (in ’07) our return to the seemingly failed notions of VR and AR.

The idea of locative art has long since peaked, but the notion of enriching our awareness of the world through technology we wear is red-hot. The eversion of cyberspace has happened, is commodified. There is a wearable tech gold rush on, and HUDs are a big part of the territory. So a number of devices that compete with Google Glass are emerging.

One is the very affordable ($299 without camera) GlassUp device, which projects your phone data onto your glasses.TechCrunch suggests that price and eyelessness could push adoption of GlassUp- that people who are creeped out by the camera on Glass would feel better about buying GlassUp. This ignores the fact that GlassUp will be available with a camera for just $100 more.

The concept is similar to that of a Bluetooth earphone (actually, we have thought of a notifier earphone as well). Whatever arrives on the glasses is already on the phone, so it’s useful only to see messages without grabbing your smartphone. We see it as a first step towards telepathy, for which we couldn’t yet find the technology solution (yet :-)).

The privacy issues that horrify my boyfriend (see my “promise me you won’t wear them in the house” post) about Google Glass are related to the Glass camera and facial recognition. He is a person who is very uncomfortable about the idea that his movements can be tracked, online or in meatspace. Not because he’s a criminal, but because he read Ayn Rand at an impressionable age.

Myself, I assume that the government is tracking everything I do, and has been all my life. Because my parents were drug-taking hippies in an era when people who took drugs were the objects of a Phil Dickian surveillance state, and by the time I was fourteen all my friends were drug dealers (Stuyvesant had a lot of them in 1981), I accepted being watched as a fact of life.

Being connected to the Grateful Dead tour acid dealing network meant being connected to people whose phones were tapped by the DEA and FBI. I was lucky enough to get sober and out of drug culture as the “war on drugs” escalated and people I knew began to go to prison, in the late ’80s. But I never shook that feeling of being watched.

My boyfriend is a Millennial; he was born in ’82. He’s been online since the beginning, since chatrooms and dial-up. He’s always been in hacker culture, which is intrinsically paranoid and anti-establishment and parasitically infiltrated by the Man, so even though he’s not a druggie, we share a cellular, atavistic reaction to the word “narc”. And we share the experience of having our friends go to prison.

Yet being surveilled is enraging to him, while to me it’s undisturbing and in fact somewhat promising. Is it because I believe privacy is dead? Or is it because I believe in agency-based social compliance, enforced by alibi archives, copseyes and benevolent surveillance? Nah, it’s because I don’t have the bandwidth to care about anything ominous, and I’m basically techno-optimistic and an Internet Optimist.

I trust my friends at the EFF to protect my rights, and I trust the American Constitution to bounce back from damn near anything. I trust human adaptability and I trust the future. This is what growing up on science fiction did for me: it gave me an OS of hope. If we all wear glasses that tell us when the Colosseum was built and that mom is at the restaurant already, it’ll be no big deal. If we all wear glasses that let us see through each other’s eyes, it might change the world.screenshot-2017-01-05-at-1-33-24-pm-edited

*It also contains a chilling awareness of the NSA tap-o-sphere that foreshadows both Snowden’s revelations and the surprising public indifference to them.

Gibson notes that most Americans assume the government is tapping their phones, and so the idea of their digital communications being monitored as well is unsurprising.

I’m not sure what annoys me more: That the National Security Agency can tap into every major Internet service and telecom carriers and monitor everything you do online or that I just can’t get wound up about it.

this post originally appeared on the T324 blog.