Strange Days

Sorcery devours American politics:

On the morning of November 9, Théodore Ferréol sat in front of his computer in Paris and wondered what had just happened. Ferréol is not an American citizen and so hadn’t voted for Donald Trump personally. But as an occult researcher, he knew about those who claimed responsibility for Trump’s upset election victory: an online group that spreads images of a cartoon frog. …

Underlinings (#48)

On ‘corrections’ to the legend of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim:

As a further testament to the admixture of text and spirit, we should bear in mind that such books attributed to him – informally referred to simply as Agrippas – acquired demonic personalities of their own: in France these were frequently kept chained up under padlock, ‘said to be a living book that hated to be consulted and hid its characters until it had been compelled, by beating it’.

Asymmetric War

I guess there has to be a lot of this kind of thing going on (and more all the time):

She was researching viruses, hoping to identify a fatal one that would attack males only. She said that once males were eradicated, she planned to introduce chemical reproduction without sperm. Furthermore, women would no longer carry the fetus; rather, the process would take place in the laboratory. She chatted about this idea as if she were discussing the weather.

(Given that a Y-chromosome targeting system would select only males, while an X-chromosome version would be sex indiscriminate, there’s a definite implicit genius to the idea. Waiting for the aftermath of the androcide before getting down to serious work on a post-sexual reproduction system is seriously hardcore.)

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Underlinings (#31)

The Platonic verses:

Since the principal subject of calligraphy always remained the divine word of God, copying of the Qu’ran gave rise to numerous questions involving geometry, beauty and theology itself. “Should all copies be written in exactly the same way? Should they all have same number of lines? Could words be broken at the end of a line and continue onto the following one? On these points there appears to have been no general consensus at first. Eventually, however, Qu’rans came to be copied out in odd numbers of lines and the splitting up of words was forbidden,” writes historian David James. The structure of these Qu’rans hints at number-mysticism and atomism very similar to ancient Greek philosophers like Euclid and Plato, whose works were also being studied and translated during this period.

Some recommended image support.

Smarm Singularity

Its contour already visible:

Lately Facebook is getting a little too intimate with me. “Good morning, Leigh,” it coos. “Thanks for being here. We hope you enjoy Facebook today.” Then, like a slice of dystopian cafeteria lunch, it serves one of its abysmal “memories” into my feed, some forgotten years-old share, and when I tell it I don’t want to see that, Facebook scrapes apologetically: “We know we don’t always get it right.” […] No, Facebook, of course you don’t. Remember how you started serving me wedding ads when I’d only just told one or two people I was engaged? That was creepy. Facebook is absolutely, indisputably creepy, a fungal colony of privacy violations fused helplessly to our human infrastructure. It spies on its employees and it demands pictures of our ID so it can regulate our names. […] Everybody knows Facebook is creepy. Nonetheless, all this time it never occurred to me to delete my account until it began doing this: Trying to act like a person. Pretending we are on a first-name basis. […] We often imagine the inevitable future tech dystopia will be cold, populations marching under the eye of sterile robot overlords, our speech monitored and scrubbed of sentiment and intonation. Increasingly, though, it seems like we’re hurtling toward the opposite: A singularity of smarm, where performative — maybe even excessive — intimacy is the order of the day. […] Of course we don’t want creeper spy colony Facebook to be our friend. But creating the impression of intimacy is becoming increasingly crucial to the content economy today, and it’s happening everywhere. …

(Coldness be my God.)