Everything and Moore

Illustration by Lee Moyer

Illustration by Lee Moyer

The legendary comics author Alan Moore has written a million-word novel, tribute to every eternal speck in his universe

by Tim Martin

(Tim Martin is a books and arts writer based in London. He writes reviews, interviews and features for The Daily Telegraph and The Times, and The Alphabet Library, a weekly column about forgotten classics.)

Alan Moore is waiting when I get off the train in Northampton, a majestically bearded figure in a hoodie, scanning the crowd that pushes through the turnstiles with a look of fearsome intent. When I wave, the glare becomes a beaming smile. ‘How are you, mate?’ he booms. ‘Splendid, splendid. I thought we’d go for a bit of a walk, so I can show you around and we can work up an appetite.’

Off we go up the hill. Moore swings his stick – a wooden snake coiled around the handle to symbolise his enthusiastic worship of Glycon, a second-century Macedonian snake god – and keeps up a constant flow of arcane local chatter. This station car park, he tells me, used to be King John’s castle, where the First Crusade began. That charmless glass-and-steel building was once a Saxon banqueting hall. Over there was a pub where, ‘if you’d come along here on a Sunday afternoon in the 1920s or ’30s, you’d have found a zebra tied up outside it.’

Before long, tramping through the riverside mud under a railway bridge, we’ve moved on to grander concerns. Moore has embarked on a potted summary of eternalism, the philosophical concept of time that ran through Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), played a part in his own revolutionary superhero comic Watchmen (1986-87), and is the central conceit behind ‘Jerusalem’, the million-word mega-novel the first draft of which he has now, after more than a decade, shepherded to its conclusion.

In essence, eternalism proposes that space-time forms a block – ‘imagine it as a big glass football’, Moore suggests – where past and future are endlessly, immutably fixed, and where human lives are ‘like tiny filaments, embedded in that gigantic vast egg’. He gestures around him at the rubbish-strewn path, his patriarch’s beard waving in the wind. ‘What it’s saying is, everything is eternal,’ he tells me. ‘Every person, every dog turd, every flattened beer can – there’s usually some hypodermics and condoms and a couple of ripped-open handbags along here as well – nothing is lost. No person, no speck or molecule is lost. No event. It’s all there for ever. And if everywhere is eternal, then even the most benighted slum neighbourhood is the eternal city, isn’t it? William Blake’s eternal fourfold city. All of these damned and deprived areas, they are Jerusalem, and everybody in them is an eternal being, worthy of respect.’

If this mixture of local history, cosmological speculation and messianic mysticism sounds bewildering, then perhaps you haven’t been reading enough Alan Moore lately. For many, his fame still rests on the comics work he produced more than two decades ago: as a writer for Warrior and 2000AD magazines and later as part of the so-called British Invasion of US comics, he wrote sprawling long-form works that, when published between covers and sold as graphic novels, transformed the way in which adult readers thought about the medium.

Watchmen, his intricate, noirish deconstruction of the superhero myth, appeared on Time magazine’s list of the top novels of the 20th century, and has not been out of print in a quarter-century. V for Vendetta (1982-89), an anti-Thatcherite fable about anarchy and terrorism, rose to prominence again in the late 2000s when the smirking Guy Fawkes mask of its protagonist was adopted by the Anonymous movement in the wake of a film adaptation. ‘Nobody was more surprised than I was,’ says Moore when I mention this. ‘But I’ve always felt that the interface between art and reality is porous.’

Since those days, Moore has been pursuing his muse down more esoteric avenues. His League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, begun in the late 1990s and illustrated by Kevin O’Neill, has morphed from a witty mash-up of Edwardian pulp literature into an episodic record of his engagement with the pop culture of the 20th century. Early storylines imagined Mina Harker, Allan Quatermain and the Invisible Man teaming up to take on Fu Manchu; more recent ones leap merrily from pastiches of Brecht and Weill to deft piss-takes of the Harry Potter series, Citizen Kane, Donald Cammell’s film Performance (1970) and even – in a story entitled ‘What Ho, Gods of the Abyss’ – P G Wodehouse…

more…

http://aeon.co/magazine/culture/alan-moore-i-am-in-charge-of-this-universe/

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Prepare your children for ‘a lifetime of surveillance’

The American investors have poured billions of dollars into new technologies to track students’ movements.

The American investors have poured billions of dollars into new technologies to track students’ movements.

The data mining company inBloom died, killed off by parent opposition, but the data mining industry is not dead. Far from it. It is growing and metastasizing as investors see new opportunities to profit from the data surreptitiously collected while children are using computers, taking tests online, chatting online, and practicing for state tests online.

According to an article in Model View Culture, investors have poured billions of dollars into new technologies to track students’ movements.

Designed for the “21st century” classroom, these tools promise to remedy the many, many societal ills facing public education with artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, and other technological advancements.

They are also being used to track and record every move students make in the classroom, grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance and turning education into one of the most data-intensive industries on the face of the earth. The NSA has nothing on the monitoring tools that education technologists have developed in to “personalize” and “adapt” learning for students in public school districts across the United States.

The federal government and the law called FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, passed in 1974) were supposed to prevent invasions of privacy, but the U.S. Department of Education loosened the FERPA regulations in 2011 to make it easier for vendors to data mine. Make no mistake, this is big business. It will not easily be stopped.

“Adaptive”, “personalized” learning platforms are one of the most heavily-funded verticals in education technology. By breaking down learning into a series of tasks, and further distilling those tasks down to a series of clicks that can be measured and analyzed, companies like Knewton (which has raised $105 million in venture capital), or the recently shuttered inBloom (which raised over $100 million from the Gates Foundation) gather immense amounts of information about students into a lengthy profile containing personal information, socioeconomic status and other data that is mined for patterns and insights to improve performance. For students, these clickstreams and data trails begin when they are 5 years old, barely able to read much less type in usernames and passwords required to access their online learning portals.

These developments are alarming. Why should commercial vendors have the right to monitor our every move? Why should the government? This must be stopped, and the successful fight against inBloom proved that it can be stopped. Parents will have to inform themselves and protect their children by demanding legislation that puts an end to the surveillance of their children at school and at home, whenever they are online.

http://www.presstv.com/detail/2014/10/20/382934/us-kids-under-lifetime-surveillance/

 

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The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

By Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire “categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.

Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases—though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list. In an affidavit, Holder called them a “clear roadmap” to the government’s terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: “The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed … could cause significant harm to national security.”

The rulebook, which The Intercept is publishing in full, was developed behind closed doors by representatives of the nation’s intelligence, military, and law-enforcement establishment, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. Emblazoned with the crests of 19 agencies, it offers the most complete and revealing look into the secret history of the government’s terror list policies to date. It reveals a confounding and convoluted system filled with exceptions to its own rules, and it relies on the elastic concept of “reasonable suspicion” as a standard for determining whether someone is a possible threat. Because the government tracks “suspected terrorists” as well as “known terrorists,” individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being a suspected terrorist, or if they are suspected of associating with people who are suspected of terrorism activity.

“Instead of a watchlist limited to actual, known terrorists, the government has built a vast system based on the unproven and flawed premise that it can predict if a person will commit a terrorist act in the future,” says Hina Shamsi, the head of the ACLU’s National Security Project. “On that dangerous theory, the government is secretly blacklisting people as suspected terrorists and giving them the impossible task of proving themselves innocent of a threat they haven’t carried out.” Shamsi, who reviewed the document, added, “These criteria should never have been kept secret.”…

more…

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/07/23/blacklisted/

 

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U.S. Humanitarian Aid Going to ISIS

by Jamie Dettmer

Not only are foodstuffs, medical supplies—even clinics—going to ISIS, the distribution networks are paying ISIS ‘taxes’ and putting ISIS people on their payrolls.
GAZIANTEP, Turkey—While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists, assisting them to build their terror-inspiring “caliphate.”

The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.

The Bible says if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him something to drink—doing so will “heap burning coals” of shame on his head. But there is no evidence that the militants of the Islamic State, widely known as ISIS or ISIL, feel any sense of disgrace or indignity (and certainly not gratitude) receiving charity from their foes.

Quite the reverse, the aid convoys have to pay off ISIS emirs (leaders) for the convoys to enter the eastern Syrian extremist strongholds of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, providing yet another income stream for ISIS militants, who are funding themselves from oil smuggling, extortion, and the sale of whatever they can loot, including rare antiquities from museums and archaeological sites.

“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” says an aid coordinator who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition he not be identified in this article. The kickbacks are either paid by foreign or local nongovernmental organizations tasked with distributing the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it…

more…

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/19/u-s-humanitarian-aid-going-to-isis.html#

 

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Too Many Pedos In UK To Prosecute

The head of the UK’s National Crime Agency , Keith Bristow

The head of the UK’s National Crime Agency , Keith Bristow
UK online pedophiles too many to prosecute: NCA

Britain will not charge pedophiles that possess child abuse images because of the high volume of people engaging in such activities.

According to the head of the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), Keith Bristow, it was “not realistic” to prosecute the 50,000 people in Britain who have viewed and shared child abuse images.

“Our responsibility is to focus on the greatest risk and tackle those people,” he said.

The British Labour party labeled the NCA’s inactivity as “disgraceful” and said that the NCA was not fit to deal with the problem.

“This is a disgraceful policy from the National Crime Agency and the Home Secretary which sees the vast majority of people downloading vile child abuse images not investigated, while children remain at risk,” said Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

She went on to say that the NCA has details on tens of thousands of offenders who have accessed images of child abuse, but has only made 600 arrests.

“Of course they need to look first for the most dangerous cases, but it seems most cases aren’t being investigated at all,” she added.

She also said that if the NCA does not have the sufficient resources to investigate all cases, how come “the police arrest more than 220,000 people a year for theft and more than 110,000 for drug offences.”

The NCA is the UK’s lead agency against cyber crime, drug trafficking, economic crime and human trafficking and became fully operational on October 7, 2013.

In September, hundreds of indecent images of school children were found on the computer of a British teacher.

According to the police, nearly 600 secretly taken indecent images of boys aged nine to 12 were found on the computer of Martin Goldberg, the deputy head teacher of a school in Essex, England.

Recent reports show that British schools have witnessed a 40-percent rise in sex-crime reports from 2011 to 2013, with at least 2,865 cases being recorded.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/10/21/383015/uk-pedophiles-too-many-to-prosecute/

 

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Chemical contamination in environment, including pharmaceuticals, are ‘growing at exponential rate’

environment

by: Julie Wilson

The “innovative” and “challenging new compounds” created each day by commerce are threatening the planet in which we live, scientists say. More and more traces of pharmaceuticals are being discovered in our lakes, rivers and soil daily, and their effects are pretty much completely unknown.

For once, a lack of regulation on the government’s part is largely to blame. The “environmental spread of pharmaceuticals” is totally ignored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allowing these man-made pills to end up everywhere, including our drinking water.

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which hasn’t been updated since its creation, excludes drugs and pesticides. Under the law, the EPA is required to maintain a registry of industrial compounds that may be potentially toxic, but advanced safety testing of those materials is not required, according to a report by The New York Times.

“Congress has not sent an environmental law to the president’s desk in 18 years”

Only a fraction of the estimated 84,000 compounds registered have been tested for their safety on humans, prompting scientists and environmental groups to call for serious revisions, in which the risk assessments of suspect compounds are performed.

“Our chemical safety net is more hole than net,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. “Where does that leave us in terms of scientific understanding of what drugs to regulate?”

Anne Womack Kolton, vice president for communications at the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers said, “Think about the world 40 years ago. It was a vastly different place. It’s common sense to revise the law and make it consistent with what we know about chemicals today.”

The American Chemical Society maintains a database of chemical substance information containing more than 89 million organic and inorganic substances and 65 million sequences dating back to 1957. An estimated 15,000 new substances are added each day, many of which are poorly understood, scientists say.

In an essay published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, Dr. Jerald L. Schnoor, a University of Iowa professor of civil and environmental engineering, wrote about the way older compounds are altered in the environment. Some substances become even more toxic after they are broken down by plants or animals.

Chemical contamination in the environment is growing at an exponential rate, scientists say

For example, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs (which are banned in the U.S. but keep showing up in the environment), are broken down into even more “toxic metabolites,” reported the Times.

Another example is chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic organophosphate insecticide that when ingested by animals become 3,000 times more potent, according to Beyond Pesticides [PDF].

Minnesota Zumbro River laced with traces of prescription pills

While investigating the chemistry of the Minnesota Zumbro River, environmental health scientists were surprised at the “sheer range and variety” of prescription drugs they found. Relatively high levels of acetaminophen, an over-the-counter painkiller that causes liver damage in humans, the antibiotic anti-convulsive carbamazepine, caffeine and pesticides were among the contaminates found.

“We don’t know what these background levels mean in terms of environmental or public health,” said Deborah Swackhamer, the investigation’s lead scientist.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) tracks chemicals in waterways, sediments, landfills and municipal sewage sludge, which are often converted to fertilizer. Steroid hormones and triclosan (an antibacterial agent banned in Minnesota) were found in sewage.

The antidepressant Prozac has shown up in fish, causing them to be anxious, anti-social and even homicidal, reported the Scientific American.

“We’re looking at an increasingly diverse array of organic and inorganic chemicals that may have ecosystem health effects,” said Edward Furlong, a USGS chemist. “Many of them are understudied and unrecognized.”

Sources:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com

http://www2.epa.gov

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.scientificamerican.com

http://www.cas.org

http://www.beyondpesticides.org

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.beyondpesticides.org

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/047342_pharmaceuticals_toxic_chemicals_environment.html#ixzz3Gnp8KmC6

 

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Our Souls Turned into Weapons

By Jayel Aheram via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Jayel Aheram via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Good German

Robert C. Koehler writes at Common Dreams:“During basic training, we are weaponized: our souls turned into weapons.”

Jacob George’s suicide last month — a few days after President Obama announced that the US was launching its war against ISIS — opens a deep, terrible hole in the national identity. George: singer, banjo player, poet, peace warrior, vet. He served three tours in Afghanistan. He brought the war home. He tried to repair the damage.

Finally, finally, he reached for “the surefire therapy for ending the pain,” as a fellow vet told Truthdig. He was 32.

Maybe another war was just too much for him to endure. Military glory — protection of the innocent — is a broken ideal, a cynical lie. “Times for war veterans are tough because we know exactly what is going to happen with the actions that Obama talked about in his recent speech,” his friend Paul Appell told Truthdig. “Jacob and other war veterans know the pain and suffering that will be done to our fellow man no matter what terms are used to describe war, whether it is done from afar with drones and bombs or up close eye to eye.”

And wars don’t end. They go on and on and on, inside the psyches of the ones who fought and killed. War’s toxins hover in the air and the water. Landmines and unexploded bombs, planted in the earth, wait patiently to explode.

In a chapbook that George published called “Soldier’s Heart,” which contains the lyrics to a number of his songs accompanied by essays discussing the context in which they were written, he explains his song “Playground of War.” It was written when he returned to Afghanistan with a peace delegation — George was one of the first Afghan vets to do such a thing — and at one point visited, God help us, a landmine museum.

The guide, “hard-faced,” overflowing with emotion, explains, George writes, that “it would take over a hundred years of working seven days a week to clear every single landmine out of Afghanistan. He says their fathers and grandfathers used to work their fields with plows, but now they work their fields with metal detectors and wooden rods. Instead of harvesting potatoes, they harvest explosives. He tells me all kinds of things that change my life in a matter of minutes.”…

- See more at: http://disinfo.com/2014/10/souls-turned-weapons/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+disinfo%2FoMPh+%28Disinformation%29#sthash.DuCYdamm.dpuf

 

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6 Bullshit Facts About Psychology That Everyone Believes

By

Psychology is one of those subjects that everybody likes to think they know something about. We love to go around diagnosing our friends and co-workers, both to make sense of the world and to make ourselves feel like we’re smarter than they are.

But like any science that makes its way into the pop culture, a lot of the “common sense” statements we hear every day are so wrong that they border on raving idiocy. Such as…

#6. “If You Let Your Anger Out, You’ll Feel Better!”

You always hear people talk about how “cathartic” an experience was and how much better they feel, or you’ll hear them say things like, “If you keep your anger bottled up, one day you’ll just snap!”

In fact the “about to go crazy because he can’t express anger” character is a mainstay in television and movies (see that Simpsons episode where Ned Flanders finally loses it, and every movie where a renegade cop fires his gun into the air instead of unloading on the bad guy who just killed his wife).

Things like squeezing stress dolls, screaming into a pillow, hitting a punching bag and strangling a kitten are all practices that we’ve seen offered as healthy alternatives to walking up to the fish counter at Farm Fresh and drowning the clerk in the lobster tank.

A lot of actual therapies have been constructed around this idea, and they all basically encourage you to curb your anger by feeding a knuckle sandwich to a punching bag, to prevent you from doing the same to your boss. It makes sense, right? Why throw your wife against the refrigerator when the casserole she under-cooked will shatter to pieces in a much more literal, and satisfying way?

Why it is Bullshit:

Research says it doesn’t work. Expressing your anger, even against inanimate objects, doesn’t make you less angry at all. In fact, it actually makes you want to get pissed off. Imagine if Bruce Banner walked around all day looking for an excuse to hulk-out, but replace the embarrassing shredded pants with friends and loved ones who are legitimately terrified every time his favorite sports team loses.

See, we humans have these things called “habits.” When we do something, and it makes us feel good, we want to do it again… and more often. This is why you don’t see a lot of Buddhist monks throwing bricks through storefront windows on their path to enlightenment and Lifetime original movies spend more on broken casserole dishes than on acting. The rush of anger is addictive as hell, and letting yourself lash out as a means to control your anger is like drinking to control your urge to drink.

And that’s bad news, considering there are lots of situations where you don’t have an inanimate object to take it out on. If a person gets entrenched in the habit of beating the living shit out of an inanimate object every time they get upset, heads are going to roll if they can’t excuse themselves from a meeting to go chokeslam the tank on the break room water cooler.

#5. “Just Believe in Yourself, and You’ll Succeed!”

The “self-esteem” thing has been hammered into our brains for decades, based on the belief that high self-esteem types achieve more in school, make and keep more friends and, in general, function better as a member of society.

Pretty much every single high school movie is a huge proponent of this theory. The fat, dumpy pariah, tired of years of depressing abuse, digs deep down and discovers his/her own self-worth in time for the big dance/game/senior trip. Then the entire student body takes notice of this radical change and raises this loser up to the most popular kid in school (roll credits to a Green Day song).

Numerous training programs and self-help books take this idea and run with it; promising that building self-esteem is the key to overcoming obstacles and failure. Even elementary schools jumped on board and started giving self-esteem classes to kids, because as all Americans know, the key to happiness is constant rewards for little to no actual accomplishments.

Why it is Bullshit:

This seems to be one of those deals where they’ve confused correlation and causation. Rather than thinking, “Maybe kids with high self-esteem feel good about themselves because they get good grades in school and have lots of friends,” they decided that it’s the other way around, that they succeed because they have self-esteem. So they tried to teach people to feel good about themselves for no other reason than pure entitlement, figuring the actual reasons for feeling good about themselves would follow at some later date.

This results in some kids having too much self-esteem, a breed of human that scientists classify as “douchebag.” [See Figure 1.1]


Figure 1.1

We’re not kidding. Research shows kids who have an inflated sense of self-worth become aggressive when their sense of superiority is called into question, leading to a more damaging fall for little Billy when he realizes what a loser he is (whereas fat Ralph already knew himself to be a loser and is therefore immune to disappointment).

We’re certainly not experts, but it would, you know, seem like the solution would be to teach the stuff that leads to success (like social and communication skills, better strategies at dealing with stress, etc.) and just let that lead naturally to success and thus self-esteem, rather than just bypassing all that and going right for the self-esteem part.

Mr. Miyagi didn’t teach the Karate Kid to believe in himself. He taught him how to kick people in the fucking head…

more…

http://www.cracked.com/article/85_6-bullshit-facts-about-psychology-that-everyone-believes/

 

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Lucid Dreaming in Real Life

by Nikki Sapp

Posted in Bizarre, Brain, Curiositys, Living, Matrix, Psychology, Visions | Leave a comment

The Meaning Fields

by Amy L. Lansky, PhD

Posted in Brain, Curiositys, Esoteric, Globalization, Matrix, Psychology, Visions | Tagged , | Leave a comment