Monday, August 2, 2010

The End of History

The End of History from BrewDog on Vimeo.



*Update* The End of History is now sold out. But you can still buy some of our other limited edition, crazy high ABV beers. Buy the 32% Tactical Nuclear Penguin and the 41% (yes 41%) Sink the Bismarck! here: http://www.brewdog.com/product.php?id=47

This 55% beer should be drank in small servings whilst exuding an endearing pseudo vigilance and reverence for Mr Stoat. This is to be enjoyed with a weather eye on the horizon for inflatable alcohol industry Nazis, judgemental washed up neo-prohibitionists or any grandiloquent, ostentatious foxes.

The End of History: The name derives from the famous work of philosopher Francis Fukuyama, this is to beer what democracy is to history. Fukuyama defined history as the evolution of the political system and traced this through the ages until we got the Western Democratic paradigm. For Fukuyama this was the end point of man’s political evolution and consequently the end of history. The beer is the last high abv beer we are going to brew, the end point of our research into how far the can push the boundaries of extreme brewing, the end of beer....

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From stimulus to austerity: An international class-war policy

The past several months have witnessed a shift in social policy by the international bourgeoisie even further to the right, marked by a turn from economic stimulus policies to brutal austerity measures. In the name of deficit reduction, the ruling classes of all the major capitalist countries are carrying out a frontal assault on the past social gains of the working class.

The long-term aim of these policies is to eliminate the welfare state, reestablishing the competitiveness of the older capitalist powers by slashing workers’ living standards to the level of their impoverished counterparts in emerging economies like India and China. That the living standards of the world’s people are to be equalized downward, rather than upward, is an indictment of the capitalist system.

The “Big Society” speech delivered Monday by British Prime Minister David Cameron exemplified this shift. It was a manifesto for a return to Dickensian conditions of working class poverty.

Seeking to camouflage the brutal implications of his plan to impose between 85 and 100 billion pounds in social cuts over the next four years, Cameron described his “Big Society” as a “huge cultural change” that will “empower” and “liberate” people. It will supposedly achieve this by privatizing and gutting government-run social services.

The shift from the stimulus policy of 2008-2009—which centered on the plundering of national treasuries to bail out the banks, without providing any serious relief to the working class—to the austerity programs of today coincided with the 750 billion euro bailout fund announced in May by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The fund was established to stave off default by euro-zone countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain and the threatened collapse of the euro.

It represents yet another massive transfer of public funds to the big banks. As Mohamed El-Erian of the bond investment firm Pimco put it: “Through the ECB [European Central Bank], EU and IMF, the official sector has stepped in with its balance sheet to assume liabilities previously held by the private sector, thereby allowing private investors to exit in an orderly fashion.”

When the fund was established, the major European governments agreed that the cost of offloading the banks’ bad debts would be borne by the working class in the form of savage cuts in social programs, jobs, wages and pensions. Talk of stimulus to continue the “recovery” was dropped and replaced by the universal demand for “fiscal consolidation.”

The shift was signaled at the G20 finance ministers meeting the first week of June and formally ratified at the G20 summit meeting held at the end of the month in Toronto.

In working out its class policy, the bourgeoisie was emboldened by the experience in Greece, where the social democratic PASOK government has been able to push through a series of austerity measures in the face of massive popular opposition.

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Mock Up On Mu



Hallucinogenic mash-up of sci-fi and paranoid occultism. Mindbending and awesomer. Created by Craig Baldwin and an army of debauched garden gnomes. "This sick puppet has been attacked!"

Why I stopped working on the Bongard Problems

...Let's see... I suspect you don't really object that this is a plausible scenario. What you really believe (or maybe just hope) is that it will be us, our side, our army that will acquire such marvelous weapons. The enemy won't have them, and so we, with our superior technology, will emerge victorious and live happily ever after, having crushed the barbarians. Yey!

It is typically Americans who display this attitude regarding hi-tech weapons. (If you are an American and are reading this, what I wrote doesn't imply that you necessarily display this attitude; note the word “typically”, please.) The American culture has an eerily childish approach toward weapons, and also some outlandish (but also child-like) disregard for human life. (Once again, you might be an intelligent, mature American, respecting life deeply; it is your average compatriot I am talking about.) Here is what an American journalist wrote in Washington Post, on May 6, 2007:

    “So where does the air vehicle called the Predator [i.e., a flying robot] fit? It is unmanned, and impressive. In 2002, in Yemen, one run by the CIA came up behind an SUV full of al-Qaeda leaders and successfully fired a Hellfire missile, leaving a large smoking crater where the vehicle used to be.”

Yes, just as you read it: a number of human beings were turned to smoke and smithereens, and this pathetic journalist, whoever he is, speaking with the mentality of a 10-year-old who blows up his toy soldiers, reports in cold blood how people were turned to ashes by his favorite (“impressive”, yeah) military toys. Of course, for overgrown pre-teens like him, the SUV was not full of human beings, but of “al-Qaeda leaders” (as if he knew their ranks), of terrorists, sub-humans who aren't worthy of living, who don't have mothers to be devastated by their loss. Thinking of the enemy as subhuman scum to be obliterated without second thoughts was a typical attitude displayed by Nazis against Jews (and others) in World War II.

[ ... ]

As I explained earlier, it's not just the automation of Bongard problems that's involved. It's about the automation of cognition. Anyone who works toward making machines intelligent, and especially wanting machines to “come alive”, must understand the grave ethical issues involved in such an endeavor. Consider the following email message sent by a student at Indiana University (IU, the academic institution where I did my Ph.D.) in 2008 (my emphasis):

    Hello everyone,

      The IU Robotics Club is having its first meeting this Thursday,
    January 17th. We are a group of undergraduates and graduates hailing
    from many fields with a common interest in all robotics, automata,
    synthetic life and artificial intelligence. We encourage people to make
    stuff come alive, whatever they decide that means.

Does anyone at IU realize the ethical issues that these kids are toying with? Is it really more important to be concerned with cloning and stem cell research? Does it not matter at all that these kids, or maybe their children, might be turned to a loose collection of quantum particles some time in the not-so-remote future by the fruits of their own toy-making? Or is it that what causes the indifference is the remoteness of the future, whereas other ethical issues in science are present here-and-now? But don't the seriousness of the nuctroid threat and its logical inevitability make any impression on anyone? ...

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Judge Rules CIA Can Suppress Information About Torture Tapes and Memos

A federal judge today ruled that the government can withhold information from the public about intelligence sources and methods, even if those sources and methods were illegal. The ruling came in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation filed by the American Civil Liberties Union for Justice Department memos that authorized torture, and for records relating to the contents of destroyed videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of detainees at CIA black sites.

The government continues to withhold key information, such as the names of detainees who were subjected to the abusive interrogation methods as well as information about the application of the interrogation techniques. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today ruled that the government can continue to suppress evidence of its illegal program.

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“We are very dismayed by today's ruling, which invests the CIA with sweeping authority to conceal evidence of its own illegal conduct. There is no question that the CIA has authority under the law to withhold information relating to 'intelligence sources and methods.' But while this authority is broad, it is not unlimited, and it certainly should not be converted into a license to suppress evidence of criminal activity. Unfortunately, that is precisely what today's ruling threatens to do. The CIA should not be permitted to unilaterally determine whether evidence of its own criminal conduct can be hidden from the public.”

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Future Shock (1972)











A little known documentary based on the book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.

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image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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