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Tag: Donald Trump

This website was archived on July 20, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.
Exolymph creator Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Nothing Clever, I’m Just Scared

Warning: I’m only equipped to gradually wind my way around to the point.

I’ve been trying to write down my feelings all day. I reread Cat Marnell’s Amphetamine Logic columns and pondered oblivion. Did you know that I’ve basically never done drugs? It’s silly to be a teetotaling transhumanist, no matter how passive. Maybe shooting up would Show Me the Way. Perhaps I’d be a better advocate for total bodily autonomy (AKA trans rights).

My partner gave me the corner of an edible once and I just felt like I had a fever. That’s the closest I’ve gotten to “doing drugs”. Alcohol, on the other hand. Well! I do have an appropriately addictive personality, and my therapist is so concerned when I admit that I drink as much as any other formerly depressed twenty-something.

On the subject of depression, I felt more anguished today than I have in a long time. The SFO protest helped in the moment, but comedowns are always painful. Venlafaxine fixed my brain chemistry. But as far as I know, neurotic personalities can’t be fixed. BEING YOURSELF IS PERMANENT.

I reread Marnell’s essays, and I reread my post-election blog post. Then I second-guessed myself. Back in November I wrote, “I don’t believe we’re on the edge of a national apocalypse,” but what the fuck did I know? What the fuck do I know now? How can I pull away far enough to judge my own capabilities?

You could call this liberal tears. Please, feel free. Here in the United States, we’re close enough to my pre-committed “total resistance” threshold — the Muslim registry — that I’m pondering the best strategy of, uh, total resistance. Tips welcome. If you live in an authoritarian country you might be laughing at me, and that’s fine.

At the protest last night, I cried once, and wished the crowd would sing “This Land Is Your Land” even if most of us are colonizers because I need some kind of harmonious resistance in the present. I need an identity politics that is able to unite people instead of sectioning them off into boxes and imposing baroque rulesets.

Last year on Tumblr I coined the term “femmencholy” and that’s how I feel. I’m never more ladylike than when I’m sobbing. Not that I’m literally sobbing — it’s more of a symbol. A concept.

Image by @greatartbot.

Image by @greatartbot.

What does this have to do with techno-dystopia?! You may be wondering. It does and it doesn’t. You see, this is where we are:

As a result of many related factors — difficult economic conditions, the recrudescence of nationalism and tribalism, weak and uncertain political leadership and unresponsive mainstream political parties, a new era of communications that seems to strengthen rather than weaken tribalism — there has emerged a crisis of confidence in what might be called the liberal enlightenment project.

They don’t mean the lefty type of liberal, they mean the “believes in representative democracy” type of liberal.

The “new era of communications” is what enables me to contact you and also what enables everything that scares me.

We’ve found ourselves here as well:

The Internet was supposed to liberate us from gatekeepers; and, indeed, information now comes at us from all possible sources, all with equal credibility. […] The belief in the corruptibility of all institutions leads to a dead end of universal distrust.

How very Russian of us, comrades!!!

Liberal tears, I know. I know, okay? I suspect many of you have an anarcho-libertarian bent, which is my preferred brand of radical. I hope you will forgive me for being partisan.

Header artwork by Magochama.

No Escape from the Dreaded Content

When I started Exolymph, I thought about making it a links newsletter instead of a random-reflections newsletter. I decided not to do that for two reasons:

  1. There are also already tons of links newsletters, and far fewer newsletters that offer a five- or ten-minute shot of ideas. (Glitchet is an excellent links newsletter that also features weird net art.)
  2. As a person who subscribes to many links newsletters, I know that they can be stressful. There are more interesting articles than I have time to read.

However. I’ve come across so many incredible stories over the past forty-eight hours that I can’t narrow it down. (I did limit the Trump content.) Not all of these articles were published recently, but they’re all indicative of The State of the World, Cyber Edition.

Don’t click on anything that doesn’t truly grab you, just let the deluge of headlines keep flowing…

“Who is Anna-Senpai, the Mirai Worm Author?”

Brian Krebs, a respected cybersecurity journalist, investigated the botnet that knocked his site down with a massive DDoS attack last September. The result is a bizarre real-life whodunnit that takes place almost entirely online, replete with braggadocious shitposting on blackhat forums and the tumbling of shaky Minecraft empires. SO GOOD. (Also, buy his book!)

“Security Economics”

Spammers and hackers are just in it to get rich, or whatever the Eastern European equivalent is. (That stereotype exists for a reason. Again, buy Krebs’ book!) This is a quick overview of the players’ financial motives from an industry participant.

“Scammers Say They Got Uber to Pay Them With Fake Rides and Drivers”

The headline sums it up pretty well. Bonus: identity-theft slang!

“Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich”

Both hilarious and depressing, my favorite combo. Silicon Valley billionaires and multimillionaires are buying up land in New Zealand, stockpiling weapons, and getting surgery to fix their eyesight. Their paranoia — or is it pragmatism? — is framed as a reaction to Trump’s election. Here’s a more explicitly political companion piece, if you want that.

“This Team Runs Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Page”

As the wise elders have counseled us, “He who leads Brand… must become Brand.” Zuck is taking that ancient adage seriously. The kicker: “There are more than a dozen Facebook employees writing Mark Zuckerberg’s posts or scouring the comments for spammers and trolls.” MORE THAN TWELVE HUMAN BEINGS.

“Advanced Samizdat Techniques: Scalping Millennials”

Warning: authored by a notorious neo-Nazi. Everything weev does is evil. But also brilliant. Here we have an example of both, which is funny if you’re able to momentarily suspend your sense of decency. (I didn’t cloak the link, because it leads to Storify rather than a Nazi-controlled website.)

“World’s main list of science ‘predators’ vanishes with no warning”

Either someone is suing the poor guy who compiled it, or… threatening his family? Let’s hope the situation isn’t that sinister.

“Dictators use the Media Differently than Narcissists and Bullies”

Guess which self-obsessed politician this is about? (Granted, all politicians are more self-obsessed than the average person. But the MAGNITUDE, my friends, the magnitude!)

“RAND’s Christopher Paul Discusses the Russian ‘Firehose of Falsehood'”

A counterpoint to the previous link.

“How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts”

Modern slot machines are expertly engineered to trick players and engender addiction. (The writer strongly implies a regulatory solution, which I don’t endorse, but the gambling industry is definitely diabolical.)

Lastly — most crucially — Ted Cruz totally clobbered Deadspin on Twitter. Aaand that’s it. Enjoy your Wednesday.

Header artwork by Emre Aktuna.

Filters or Madness with Your Entree, Sir?

Sending this Exolymph dispatch from my phone because I’m super 2016 like that 😬 lol millennials amirite ✌️️

@sargoth / Johanna Drott quote.

@sargoth / Johanna Drott quote.

So. I watched the second presidential debate. My head is full of that tonight. But don’t worry, international readers, this is not about the *content* of US politics.

We watched Trump and Clinton trade barbs. Everyone around me was upset — both IRL viewers in the same room and a substantial portion of my online companions (who were present via Twitter and the #democracy channel of the Cyberpunk Futurism chat group).

Maybe my reaction to the whole rigmarole is blasé because I’m far too jaded now. Maybe it’s because I’m still certain that my preferred candidate will win. It’s certainly not that I don’t care!

For me, functioning on a day-to-day basis requires filters of the kind mentioned in the @sargoth / Johanna Drott quote I opened with. Sustaining my baseline of mental health through election season might require heavy-duty filters. Perhaps my brain set them up instinctively and tags everything election-related as memes.

Convince Your Brethren

“Ambience, they realize, is really a subset of a stronger power. The power of narrative. The literary tropes declaring that, given A, B is sure to follow.” — Scott Alexander’s Unsong

The stories we tell ourselves — and the stories that we tell each other — are important. Many of these everyday narratives are guesses about the future. We fixate on the outcomes that we’re yearning for. Maybe wishing will make it true! (See also: meme magic.) Alternately, we worry about the possibilities that we’d like to believe are impossible. Donald Trump being elected this autumn — that can’t happen, right? Right? Please?

Photo by Matthias Ripp.

Photo by Matthias Ripp.

On February 25th, Longreads published an excerpt from Paradise Now, an overview of American utopian movements written by Chris Jennings. I was struck by the similarity between attitudes in the mid-to-late 1700s and Silicon Valley’s prevailing mood over the past decade:

“New technologies of mass production augured a future in which scarcity would become a dim legend. […] The new faith in limitless, human-driven progress merged with the old faith in an imminent golden age. Perhaps human genius — manifested in new ideas, buildings, machines, and social institutions — would be the lever by which the millennium of fraternity and abundance was activated. […] The idea of a New World utopia was born in the fever dream of religious revelation and the waking nightmare of early industrialization.”

Our current nightmare, at least in America, is de-industrialization. It’s been going on for longer than I’ve been alive, and I suspect it’ll keep going for a while. The dual impacts of the internet and true globalization have hardly gotten started.

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