Saturday, 5 October 2013

enumerated powers

valle perturbante

Via the ever-excellent Boing Boing comes a preview from Dangerous Minds of the soon to be published of a new edition of the bizarre, Hieronymus Bosch-like, Fantastic Planet illustrated manuscript called the Codex Seraphinianus.
The work is similar to other mysterious codices and artefacts, like the Voynich Manuscript, Carl Jung's Red Books or the Nebra Skydisk, subject to much speculation and wonder, except that the author, Luigi Seraphini, is still very much around—he has only been rather silent about his meaning, hundred of plates picturing alternate and alien biologies and taxologies written in a secret language that place the familiar business of anthropology, mechanics and natural sciences in highly unusual settings.
Seraphini, having first released the book in 1981, went so far as to claim there was no meaning behind his work, but I don't think anyone believes that. The review explores the enduring fandom and following the manuscript has garnered during the information age and perhaps how such an abstraction previsioned it.   More strange imagines are to be found at the link above and one is invited to guess at the meaning. Readers can order the new book from Rizzoli Publishing House later in the month of October.

Friday, 4 October 2013

honeypot or carry on constable

Since 2007, law enforcement in the United Kingdom has gotten into the spreading practice of using lures and decoys to apprehend burglars in the form of Capture Houses and Bait Cars. There is a strange and indefinable feeling of entrapment or pre-crime to this tactic, though I wouldn't actually say it makes me think neighbourhoods are not better served by rounding up more of a certain element, but one has to wonder about the defenseless, anomalous households and whether such easy targets might not present some not otherwise inclined with a gateway target.

After casing the joint for sometime, finding the home to be predictably empty and outfitted with only the usual array of security and deterrents, chains and bolts and lights on a timer (though I suppose attentive neighbours might always prove the best offense), the perpetrator would be greeted with usual tantalizing array of electronics in a setting meant to appear lived in. The home, a freestanding unit, row-house or a flat in a sizable apartment-block, has been vacant for sometime—idle except for an impressive lot of surveillance devices that the police have contracted experts to install in these simulacra that fully document and tag the thieves, probably also revealing something about best-practices in burglary and loot-liquidation. Elsewhere, law enforcement agencies have even mocked up store-fronts to bait would-be robbers. It is quite surreal to think about how that quiet apartment or fly-by-night operation constantly under new management might not be what they seem at all, but more like a hunting blind.

static or if these walls could talk

Apparently allowed four hours like every other non-essential federal employee to prepare for an orderly shutdown, update out-of-office automatic replies and voice mail instructions, the Voyager 1 space probe, as it is poised to leave the Solar System, messaged, poignantly:
“Farewell, Humans—you'll have to sort this one out yourselves.” Like always, NASA could be noising-off all sorts of fascinating things, like following up on that teaser byline about a exo-planet with an atmosphere comprised of water in an exotic plasma state or the timing of the admission by the Russian Ministry of Defense that it is woefully unprepared to protect the Earth from attacks by extra-terrestrials—to say nothing of the suspension of reporting on asteroids hurtling towards Earth. That is not to say government institutions have a monopoly on research and exploration or that the progress and inspiration of science hinges alone of social-media, but it does seem like a very precarious set-back.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

full faith and credit

Survey says that many Americans have a negative—or at least skeptical opinion about the Affordable Care Act, probably because such a mandate to look out for someone's better interests is novel and has been subject to a lot of besmirchment by ideologues that disagree with its implementation.

And although the law and enforcement may not be perfect and all find it unsavoury to ransom America's already diminished reputation through a battle of the wills, there does not seem a more virtuous insistence than to champion universal health coverage and bring US public welfare more in line with the rest of the world. This contention seems even more righteous especially considering that that the plan is already law, vetted through the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government—and though without unanimous agreement (no Republicans supported the bill but that's part and parcel of the democratic process), negotiations and compromise have limned the act's final form, it being not entirely what the administration hoped to gift to the public, replete with exemptions for businesses and delays for being in compliance (for companies but not for individuals) strong-armed by the opposing party. It seems the Republicans got the concessions they demanded already and now want to do more to threaten the spirit of the law.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

pollster or keep calm and carry on

One would think given the virtual omnipresence of America's spying-apparatus, some one in the US government—with influence—might have had an inkling at least of how unpopular and damagingly disruptive a government shutdown and the emergency furlough to follow would prove. Enough studious bureaucrats were wringing their hands over it for days, working frantically, mongering rumours and nursing disbelief to gauge public reaction and sentiment. For that matter, one would think that the intelligence agencies would have had some insider-knowledge and could have predicted the stalemate in the legislature and where the cracks are forming in each side's stance and whom will eventually give in. Though non-essential services have been curtailed, time is still of the essence and only after one full day of this new reality, panic and doom is setting in. As for the households directly impacted, dreading a pay-check even docked by a few days' pay that may never materialise because money is tight mostly already spent, the mounting inconveniences that lurk after funding is appropriated with weeks of catch-up, shuttered monuments, parks and museums, and science projects put on hold weren't already reason enough to find a quick resolution—there are attendant consequences.
Among the knock-on worries are the Federal Depositors' Insurance Commission (FDIC) being incapacitated and unable to launch any new investigations should a bank declare bankruptcy, the potential for delays in ship- and airfreight for a nation warehoused with vulnerable, interdependent just-in-time systems or that the federal courts will exhaust remaining funds in ten days or so. A few days more and business and the exchanges will begin to commiserate as well as more and more deadlines are trounced. So much for omnipotence, I guess.

limes or probeauffรผhrung, รฉchantillon, prova

Just prior to the plebiscite to keep in place mandatory military conscription in the Alpine nation, Swiss authorities revealed that the army staged some war games, called Operation Duplex-Barbara, whose scenario seems creative if not outlandish but contingencies for such threats probably are not too far-fetched if not outright prudent.

Planners imagined borders breached by hordes of citizens from a bankrupt and fractured France, desperate to retrieve pilfered treasure. The Swiss are not alone in these preparations— in company with America, who has been quietly protecting similar domestic fall-out should there be a economic collapse, and just last year, Switzerland carried out a larger scale, more public and political exercise, called Stabilo Due, to practice girding itself for potential waves of financial refugees should the surrounding monetary union of the euro become untenable. Meanwhile in Poland, former prime minister and architect of the Solidarity Movement, Lech Waล‚ฤ™sa suggests that Germany and Poland should unite, forgetting their pasts and an overture beyond his former calls for an Eastern Europe more oriented towards the West, musing that technological advances have made national less relevant and shuttle people, identities and activities far beyond their home countries.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

it could happen here

Dum, dum, dum—Slate Magazine introduces what promises to be a brilliant series of lampoons describing American politics in terms and with the tutting tone traditionally employed by journalists for limning the situation in distant lands, unfortunately inexhaustible as well.
The first vignette is of course on the curious case of the government shut-down, which probably seems to the rest of the world as it unfolds as some arcane, secretarial matter to be resolved directly. This spot of bother, which is in fact a manufactured crisis, does seem anomalous and dressed in peculiarities of national laws, sort of like day-light savings time being out of sync, non-residential taxation, or resistance to the metric-system, until the founding factors and very real repercussions are considered. A hand was forced, and not on principle alone, but to not make security for the least protected more of a slippery-slope—an inch for a mile, and the delayed, bemusement of the subjects' of America's customary critique speaks volumes.