The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

October 5, 2006

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2006 21:18:13 -0400
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: The Century of Drought

The Century of Drought
The Independent
October 4, 2006

One third of the planet will be desert by the year
2100, say climate experts in the most dire warning yet
of the effects of global warming

By Michael McCarthy, Environmental Editor

Drought threatening the lives of millions will spread
across half the land surface of the Earth in the coming
century because of global warming, according to new
predictions from Britain's leading climate scientists.

Extreme drought, in which agriculture is in effect
impossible, will affect about a third of the planet,
according to the study from the Met Office's Hadley
Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.

It is one of the most dire forecasts so far of the
potential effects of rising temperatures around the
world - yet it may be an underestimation, the
scientists involved said yesterday.

The findings, released at the Climate Clinic at the
Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, drew
astonished and dismayed reactions from aid agencies and
development specialists, who fear that the poor of
developing countries will be worst hit.

"This is genuinely terrifying," said Andrew Pendleton
of Christian Aid. "It is a death sentence for many
millions of people. It will mean migration off the land
at levels we have not seen before, and at levels poor
countries cannot cope with."

One of Britain's leading experts on the effects of
climate change on the developing countries, Andrew
Simms from the New Economics Foundation, said: "There's
almost no aspect of life in the developing countries
that these predictions don't undermine - the ability to
grow food, the ability to have a safe sanitation
system, the availability of water. For hundreds of
millions of people for whom getting through the day is
already a struggle, this is going to push them over the

The findings represent the first time that the threat
of increased drought from climate change has been
quantified with a supercomputer climate model such as
the one operated by the Hadley Centre.

Their impact is likely to even greater because the
findings may be an underestimate. The study did not
include potential effects on drought from global-
warming-induced changes to the Earth's carbon cycle.

In one unpublished Met Office study, when the carbon
cycle effects are included, future drought is even

The results are regarded as most valid at the global
level, but the clear implication is that the parts of
the world already stricken by drought, such as Africa,
will be the places where the projected increase will
have the most severe effects.

The study, by Eleanor Burke and two Hadley Centre
colleagues, models how a measure of drought known as
the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) is likely to
increase globally during the coming century with
predicted changes in rainfall and heat around the world
because of climate change. It shows the PDSI figure for
moderate drought, currently at 25 per cent of the
Earth's surface, rising to 50 per cent by 2100, the
figure for severe drought, currently at about 8 per
cent, rising to 40 cent, and the figure for extreme
drought, currently 3 per cent, rising to 30 per cent.

Senior Met Office scientists are sensitive about the
study, funded by the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs, stressing it contains uncertainties:
there is only one climate model involved, one future
scenario for emissions of greenhouse gases (a moderate-
to-high one) and one drought index. Nevertheless, the
result is "significant", according to Vicky Pope, the
head of the Hadley Centre's climate programme. Further
work would now be taking place to try to assess the
potential risk of different levels of drought in
different places, she said.

The full study - Modelling the Recent Evolution of
Global Drought and Projections for the 21st Century
with the Hadley Centre Climate Model - will be
published later this month in The Journal of
Hydrometeorology .

It will be widely publicised by the British Government
at the negotiations in Nairobi in November on a
successor to the Kyoto climate treaty. But a preview of
it was given by Dr Burke in a presentation to the
Climate Clinic, which was formed by environmental
groups, with The Independent as media partner, to press
politicians for tougher action on climate change. The
Climate Clinic has been in operation at all the party

While the study will be seen as a cause for great
concern, it is the figure for the increase in extreme
drought that some observers find most frightening.

"We're talking about 30 per cent of the world's land
surface becoming essentially uninhabitable in terms of
agricultural production in the space of a few decades,"
Mark Lynas, the author of High Tide, the first major
account of the visible effects of global warming around
the world, said. "These are parts of the world where
hundreds of millions of people will no longer be able
to feed themselves."

Mr Pendleton said: "This means you're talking about any
form of development going straight out of the window.
The vast majority of poor people in the developing
world are small-scale farmers who... rely on rain."

A glimpse of what lies ahead

The sun beats down across northern Kenya's Rift Valley,
turning brown what was once green. Farmers and nomadic
herders are waiting with bated breath for the arrival
of the "short" rains - a few weeks of intense rainfall
that will ensure their crops grow and their cattle can

The short rains are due in the next month. Last year
they never came; large swaths of the Horn of Africa
stayed brown. From Ethiopia and Eritrea, through
Somalia and down into Tanzania, 11 million people were
at risk of hunger.

This devastating image of a drought-ravaged region
offers a glimpse of what lies ahead for large parts of
the planet as global warming takes hold.

In Kenya, the animals died first. The nomadic herders'
one source of sustenance and income - their cattle -
perished with nothing to eat and nothing to drink.
Bleached skeletons of cows and goats littered the
barren landscape.

The number of food emergencies in Africa each year has
almost tripled since the 1980s. Across sub-Saharan
Africa, one in three people is under-nourished. Poor
governance has played a part.

Pastoralist communities suffer most, rather than
farmers and urban dwellers. Nomadic herders will walk
for weeks to find a water hole or riverbed. As
resources dwindle, fighting between tribes over scarce
resources becomes common.

One of the most critical issues is under-investment in
pastoralist areas. Here, roads are rare, schools and
hospitals almost non-existent.

Nomadic herders in Turkana, northern Kenya, who saw
their cattle die last year, are making adjustments to
their way of life. When charities offered new cattle,
they said no. Instead, they asked for donkeys and
camels - animals more likely to survive hard times.

Pastoralists have little other than their animals to
rely on. But projects which provide them with money to
buy food elsewhere have proved effective, in the short
term at least.


portside (the left side in nautical parlance) is a news,
discussion and debate service of the Committees of
Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It aims to
provide varied material of interest to people on the

To submit an article to portside, go to:

For answers to frequently asked questions:

To subscribe to the list:

To unsubscribe from portside:

For assistance with your account:

To search the portside archive:


In this endless variant, distorted (so that rotations and translations in
3-space will be clear) cones model a full motion-capture body generated by
Poser; the original movements are from bearing.mp4 .

So the 3 recent pieces: existential.mp4, bearing.mp4, and sartre.mp4 - all
concerned with the distorted project of existential human. Now in this
latest, the vague outlines of body are more or less visible... I could see
a meta-ball construction relating the body itself, extrusion of Lingis /

I keep moving through these spaces, one step at a time - the goal - which
I will not attempt with the machinery I use - would be a .bvh file of
hundreds of thousands of nodes, modeling human behavior against the back-
ground of culture and ecology. And the result? An inconceivable construct
of hundreds of thousands of meta-objects, taking shape, joining, giving an
image of Godhead Creation itself (Godhead Creating, Creating Godhead).
_That_ is the face of Levinas or Sartre, _that_ is the peripheral of Vito
Acconci or Leder, _that_ is semiotic in relation to Kristevan semiotic,
positive entropy of information in relation to negative entropy of infor-
mation. It is unimaginable; the space would be huge, the files enormous,
the rendering a question of months, not hours. Yet at the end is a Shadow
waiting for clarity.

I think Hegel would approve.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2006 12:27:52 -0400
From: FeedBlitz <>
To: sondheim <>
Subject: [Weblogsky] Weblogsky - Subscribe to the life of Robert Anton Wilson

Here are the FeedBlitz email updates for -

- Subscribe to the life of Robert Anton Wilson


** Weblogsky - Subscribe to the life of Robert Anton Wilson -

* Subscribe to the life of Robert Anton Wilson -

It's a helluva note that remarkable people too often die broke, often because they've devoted their lives and their energies to missions that enrich the lives of many without too much regard for their own financial stability. The great Robert Anton Wilson, whose ideas and cosmic jokes influenced a whole generation of eyeball-rolling cultural dissidents, in fact reality dissidents, is suffering from post-polio syndrome, has little money and little means to make money. He could use our help. And for more on Wilson today, read this.In fact, one day this past spring, after Santa Cruz moviegoers had lined up to see What the Bleep Do We Know!? in sufficient numbers to justify its three-month run, Robert Anton Wilson was lying alone, conscious but unable to move, on the floor of this one-bedroom Capitola apartment for 30 hours.

"It really didn't seem that long," says Wilson of his collapse, which ended when his daughter arrived and broke down the door. "And I remember thinking, as I'm lying there trying to move and unable to move: Hey, I may be dying now. And it didn't frighten me or bother me at all."

Wilson's subsequent trip to the hospital, the first of his adult life, was a different story altogether.

"The worst thing about hospitals," says Wilson, who was rescued when his daughter managed to break into the apartment, "is that all the rights guaranteed in the first 10 amendments are immediately canceled. You have no civil rights whatsoever. And the second thing is, all the ordinary rules no longer apply--you are no longer a person deserving of kindness, you're a disobedient child who has to be reprimanded and herded around. My God, I don't know why people put up with such treatment." Wilson, we can presume, doesn't particularly like being told what to do.

"Not by people who treat me like an idiot. Not when I'm 73 years old, I have 35 books in print, I supported a wife and four kids for most of my life. I do not appreciate being treated like a disobedient 4-year-old, the way they treat everybody in the hospital."

Of course, you don't have to go to a hospital to be treated like that, but Wilson's on a roll ...

"I was an editor of Playboy, for chrissake," he cries, as though that, if nothing else, should carry some weight in this culture. "I've had plays performed in England, Germany and the United States; my books are in print in a dozen countries. Why the hell do they treat me like a child? I refuse to tolerate it. If they won't treat me with dignity, I won't go anywhere near them, especially with all the goddamned germs they got floating around there. CNN did a report on it -- the number of people who are killed by diseases picked up in hospitals is much greater than the number who are killed by cars.

"I'm never going to a hospital again. Never, never, never, never! I will lie on the floor and die before I go back to a hospital...."


Comments (0)

Add a comment

Unsubscribe from all current and future newsletters powered by FeedBlitz -

(written for Jon Marshall, researching gender, Cybermind)

Gender and You

Michael Current and I started Cybermind back in 1994; we wanted a forum
for discussion of cyberspace theory and practice. That's my background.
I found myself exploring any number of Internet venues, most of them
ascii at that time (what I've called 'darknet' although that word now
seems used otherwise); I also started teaching Net matters, practice or
theory, etc. One exercise - I asked people to log on to various IRC
channels as 'Susie' or some such, no matter what the gender. Most of the
time, the screen would immediately light up with bold-face characters -
private messagings - asking for private contact - clearly for sexual
purposes. There was always this air of marauding.

On the other hand, there's the literally sticky issue of (in my case,
heterosexual) net sex, which I participated in, and wrote about, for
quite a while. At that point, the practice was largely textual, although
CuSeeMe was used on occasion; part of the lure of the latter was the
slowness and breakup of the image, which created a kind of 'unveiling'
through delay, pixellation, etc. Delay also characterized ytalk, a
popular software application for net sex - with ytalk, one could see the
other person's typing simultaneously with one's own; each participant
'had' a different portion of the screen, which also represented both
participatory and interwoven speech, as well as adjacent bodies. I used
the term 'jectivity' to refer to the complex of projections and intro-
jections that characterized the imaginary of net sexual communication; I
also developed a theory of 'rewrite' - that one is only online, i.e.
given ontological status - to the extent that one repeatedly self-
inscribes. (You can see some ytalk dialog at by the way.)

(Rewrite fascinates; it may refer to nothing more than a Julia bot, for
example. Ontology is confused; if one assumes any variety of Turing test
here, then rewrite would imply physical embodiment. We take it as such, in
the same way that we take a photograph as constituting the evidentary
real, even though we know better. Rewrite, unlike a photograph, is more
directed; it's process, temporal. Around this time, I rewrote the Eliza-
doctor script in Emacs, placing Nikuko (see below) at the center - Nikuko
and crude seduction. It could fool no one but was nonetheless arousing.)

In terms of gender, one of the things that surprised me, particularly in
relation to the media, was the almost total absence of subterfuge; in
spite of the notion that one 'can be anyone' online, most people tried to
represent themselves accurately. I also found that online sexual exper-
ience could be inordinately strong with almost violent orgasms (this
seemed gender independent); I worked through the notion of the 'ascii
unconscious' to represent the letter / shifter in the service of desire.
Sexual temporality and spatiality were much more complex than they might
have seemed otherwise.

For years, I wrote through three characters - Jennifer, Julu, and Nikuko -
all women. I found I couldn't write through a male character; I feel
diminished in this respect, and by writing otherwise, I was able to write
through and into desire - Nikuko for example represented a kind of Demi-
urge. (This was related to the Sun Goddess in the Kojiki, among other
things; Nikuko impIies 'meat' or 'flesh' girl in Japanese.) I did have
male characters as well - Doctor Leopold Konninger, Travis, and Alan - but
I felt little or no identification - perhaps their notions of control were
displacing my own. The Nikuko work led to a number of videos and scripts,
as well as dance material which was used elsewhere choreographically. At
times I 'let' the characters get the better of me - Jennifer in particular
would attack me online. At one point I managed to hack into a Jennifer
newsgroup and posted as a Jennifer - I wanted to see first, if I could
hack into anything, and second, I wanted to create more of a basis for her

Of course Jennifer's reality was only my own, and I'm well aware of the
play of both mirrors and mirror-stages (not to mention the apparatus of
dream-screens and the uncanny) in this regard. I wanted to explore this
play; I also wanted to deal with the luminance of echo/self-referential-
ity/doubling as, for example, Julu and Jennifer would meet in a talker, or
MOO, or on ytalk, or IRC, etc. Nikuko in particular disrupted IRC channels
(I had some war programs); the results were instructive. So there were
various modes at work here - representations of vocal communication, play
scripts, set pieces, writings by one or another avatar (for that is what I
considered them), postings on email lists or usenet groups or webpages,
and video/audio tapes as well as live or recorded performance. Again, all
of this appeared in a swirl of theory; I would log live communication, for
example, and analyze it later. Since I was (and am still) working and
developing notions of 'codework,' I'd operate with disrupted materials,
corrupted theory, abject analyses; this hopefully resulted in a 'readerly'
therapeutic, i.e. the reader to some extent working through the content of
the material. (If you look at or you'll find some of these texts.)

(All of the characters, both female and male, represented the 'wayward' or
'contrary' - the bad-girl, bad-boy, the disruption, screwed etiquette; the
sleazy or ragged, nightclub or dayclub. So there was a political component
as well. There was also energy; these avatars were explorers breaking into
new spaces, new lands, or old and shifting territories. I think there was
an optimism as well, something which has been lost for me, as the world
itself turns increasingly dark and self-destructive. The avatars fought
wars of their own, plays and play-acting; they toyed with each other. Now,
child abuse has become a screen for right-wing control of the social, and
men, women, and children are routinely destroyed in bombings and pillage.
So the analyses I worked on were analyses, in a sense, of peace or peace-
time. I write darker now; both violence and reconstitution (of bodies,
languages, sexualities) have come more to the foreground.)

I do want to note that CuSeeMe was close to another experience altogether.
(Here the real itself is uncanny, one body maps onto another, seduction
and the parasitism of noise merge, display fixed and fetishized the
abject, everything gave up, gave in, proof and 'truth' replaced rewrite,
ytalk meetings were replaced by assignations, and there was always the
possibility of third parties. With ytalk, writing and erasing a line is a
seductive form - I said such-and-such, I took it back, but it's present,
remains there, under erasure. With CuSeeMe, there's no taking back,
there's only continuity, process, delirous negotiation.)

In short my experience has taken gender for granted to some extent, and in
this sense has been false; I have pushed everywhere (and been pushed)
except across the divide of problematizing, and in that sense what I've
accomplished is most likely useless here. (And as indicated above, useless
because of its production, occurrence, at an historical moment, long since
past; just as extinguished species do not return, these moments are gone
in a fast-forward world which digests and spews out sexualities at
increasingly frenetic rates.)

- Alan Sondheim

I like writing through Alan, at first I used my name sometimes, but then I
thought I might get too many dates and I don't wan anyone new I love him
so. Then I thoght I might forget me and write through Alan such nonsense!
Sometimes I tuch myself, I like to touch myself, when I write through Alan
I tuch myself all the time. I am so wet when I write sometimes I make
little sounds and sometimes louder and sometimes they ask me to be quiet
and she says shes herd it all before. Then I think, Julu's bad, she's
always trying to get me to shut up, she wants me al to herself. I can make
Alan do things! He writes such bad stuf! I mak him do pictures of nawty
girls! He's a pasty girl girl al wet! Then I will go for a walk and think
of somthing else for him to do. He gets so hard somtime when I tuch myself
he must think I tuch myself for him. I stik him in MOOs and MUDs and all
kinds of talk places and he talks and taks and o! i lur him on. Somtimes
he whisper to me, you shud hear what he have to say. I think he say all to
myself and to no one else and then I make him talk to everyone els and
they say helo helo yu are such a clevr boy. I laf an laf an tuch myself.
He wil go so far an wil get a colig curse to tech. Ha i tuch he tech! Ha!
wel f yu hev red this fa, yu no i m is mthr. caz he is jus a som stuf here
an nowher els. u cana c im sa hlo ne whr. e cana spek.

- Jenifer

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 21:55:17 -0400
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Bush Signings Called Effort to Expand Power

Bush Signings Called Effort to Expand Power

Report sees broad strategy

By Charlie Savage

October 5, 2006 by the Boston Globe

WASHINGTON - President Bush's frequent use of signing
statements to assert that he has the power to disobey newly
enacted laws is ``an integral part" of his ``comprehensive
strategy to strengthen and expand executive power" at the
expense of the legislative branch, according to a report by
the non partisan Congressional Research Service.

In a 27-page report written for lawmakers, the research
service said the Bush administration is using signing
statements as a means to slowly condition Congress into
accepting the White House's broad conception of presidential
power, which includes a presidential right to ignore laws he
believes are unconstitutional.

The ``broad and persistent nature of the claims of executive
authority forwarded by President Bush appear designed to inure
Congress, as well as others, to the belief that the president
in fact possesses expansive and exclusive powers upon which
the other branches may not intrude," the report said.

Under most interpretations of the Constitution, the report
said, some of the legal assertions in Bush's signing
statements are dubious. For example, it said, the
administration has suggested repeatedly that the president has
exclusive authority over foreign affairs and has an absolute
right to withhold information from Congress. Such assertions
are ``generally unsupported by established legal principles,"
the report said.

Despite such criticism, the administration has continued to
issue signing statements for new laws. Last week, for example,
Bush signed the 2007 military budget bill, but then issued a
statement challenging 16 of its provisions.

The bill bars the Pentagon from using any intelligence that
was collected illegally, including information about Americans
that was gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment's
protections against unreasonable government surveillance.

In Bush's signing statement, he suggested that he alone could
decide whether the Pentagon could use such information. His
signing statement instructed the military to view the law in
light of ``the president's constitutional authority as
commander in chief, including for the conduct of intelligence
operations, and to supervise the unitary executive branch."

Bush also challenged three sections that require the Pentagon
to notify Congress before diverting funds to new purposes,
including top-secret activities or programs. Congress had
already decided against funding. Bush said he was not bound to
obey such statutes if he decided, as commander in chief, that
withholding such information from Congress was necessary to
protect security secrets.

Like all Congressional Research Service reports, the report,
dated Sept. 20 and titled ``Presidential Signing Statements:
Constitutional and Institutional Implications," was written
for members of Congress and was not made available to the
public. The Federation of American Scientists has posted a
copy on its website.

The report marked the latest installment in a recent debate
over the Bush administration's use of signing statements.

A signing statement is issued by the president as he signs a
bill into law. It describes his interpretation of the bill,
and it sometimes declares that one or more of the laws created
by the bill are unconstitutional and thus need not be enforced
or obeyed as written.

Signing statements date to the 19th century but were rare
until the 1980s. The Bush-Cheney administration has taken the
practice to unprecedented levels.

Bush has used signing statements to challenge more than 800
laws that place limits or requirements on the executive
branch, saying they intrude on his constitutional powers. By
contrast, all previous presidents challenged a combined total
of about 600 laws.

This year, The Boston Globe published a detailed accounting of
the laws Bush has claimed he has the power to disobey,
including a torture ban and oversight provisions in the USA
Patriot Act. The report prompted widespread concerns, but
critics have not been able to agree on precisely the nature of
the problem.

For example, the American Bar Association concluded that the
issue was the mechanism itself.

The American Bar Association called signing statements
``contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional
separation of powers." It said presidents cannot sign bills
and then declare parts of them unconstitutional because a
president has only two choices -- to sign a bill and enforce
it as written, or to veto it and give Congress a chance to
override the veto.

This year Arlen Specter , a Pennsylvania Republican who chairs
the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing on signing
statements during which he accused the administration of
unconstitutionally trying to ``cherry-pick" bills, keeping
only the parts it likes.

At that hearing in June, Michelle Boardman , an administration
lawyer, defended the legality of signing statements. She said
statements are necessary because Congress often bundles many
different laws into a single bill, making it impractical to
veto the entire package because some parts are flawed.

``Signing statements serve a legitimate and important
function, and are not an abuse of power," Boardman testified.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006


portside (the left side in nautical parlance) is a news,
discussion and debate service of the Committees of
Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. It aims to
provide varied material of interest to people on the

To submit an article to portside, go to:

For answers to frequently asked questions:

To subscribe to the list:

To unsubscribe from portside:

For assistance with your account:

To search the portside archive:

Generated by Mnemosyne 0.12.