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Pulpo Fiction

January 9, 2010

The vampire squid and the other assorted cephalopods that comprise the ruling class of greed are busy spinning tales of deception, their own pulpo fictions to cover up their misdeeds. If they can’t cover them up, they simply apply a new spin, a new so called frame, something I like to call absolute fantasy bullshit. And people actually believe it and believe them, or if they don’t then they are easily distracted by some other sparkly lure on some other rod that is coated with paper of iridescent stickiness.

Pulp fiction, it is the cheap literature and magazines for the masses. It began in the late 19th century, the Golden Age of Robber Barons, and flourished into the 1950’s when television began to take its place. It was the entertaining lure of distraction back in the day. It told tales of weirdness, of darkness and mystery, of tabu and monsters. It brought up authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft and Dashiell Hammett.

Pulp fiction was just as its descendant television soap operas, sit-coms and crime series. They take the mind of the working and middle classes and opiate them, replacing the real corporate monsters with fabricated ones, all the while brain washing with advertisements and product placements. It has made us all into such good little consumers and debt slaves, hasn’t it?

For more on the history of pulp fiction go here: History of Pulps

And for more pulpo fiction cover art, go here: Poulpe Pulps

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    January 9, 2010 8:56 am

    More on Blackwater revelations from Amy Goodman interviewing Jeremy Scahill and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D – IL).

    “Blackwatergate”–Private Military Firm in Firestorm of Controversy over Involvements in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany

    It is a “gate” now.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    January 9, 2010 8:59 am

    An oldy but a goody series on fractals fro Arthur C Clarke and friends (Mandlebrot, Hawking, Ian Stewart, and Michael Barnsley).

    • cometman permalink*
      January 10, 2010 9:40 pm

      Thanks for posting that video – I wound up watching the whole series. Check out part 3 here about 3 minutes in.

      It really reminded me of that program “What Darwin Never Knew” that we talked about some last week especially when they discuss fractal geometry as a way to describe what we see in nature and then show how a simple direction can create complex patterns and a simple change in direction can cause all kinds of new patterns to develop. This program was from 1994, well before the Human Genome Project was completed, but now we know that there are way fewer genes than originally supposed and the same basic pattern is used to create the vast majority of life. Like they talked about in the “Darwin” program, the same gene can create a limbs in many different species and the wide variety we see is a result in small changes in directions to the gene responsible like when to turn itself on and for how long.

      On a related note, check this one out.

      It’s one of the winners from this New Scientist contest to create a work of art based on the closing lines of “The Origin of Species”.

      • Stemella permalink*
        January 11, 2010 8:25 am

        Great observation about more recent revelations about genetics. Those determining levers or switches on the dna strands are what make life’s incredible diversity, the manifestations of adaptation. The underlying patterns though, the geometry of life that Mandelbrot has brought to our attention, it’s practically religious, except not! ;)

        That second video is close to religious too. I did something like that, but not on film, when I took a class in Suminagashi


        • cometman permalink*
          January 11, 2010 9:12 am

          There was a part in the last video in the Clarke series where they talked about how these fractal images really resonate with people and the archetypal patterns almost seemed to be part of some collective consciousness which ingrained everything in nature. Like you said, practically religious, except not.

          I think Clarke would have been pleased to read about the discovery we mentioned here earlier that the the same Golden Ratio seen in that nautilus shell over to the right has been discovered in chains of single atoms. It really looks like science is getting close to figuring out some of the most basic laws of nature, if not the “why” then at least the “how”.

          I’m really excited to see what they will find with all the data the LHC will be generating soon. I wonder if they will use algorithms similar to those described in this post to analyze all the data. In that case scientists had computers analyze raw data without any knowledge of the underlying science and Newton’s laws of motion popped out. What new laws might they find with the billions and billions of pieces of data the LHC produces?

          The class you took looks pretty cool. Can’t remember if I mentioned it here or on Miss D and melvin’s site, but check out Werner Herzog’s “Wheel of Time” if you haven’t seen it. It talks about Buddhism and sand mandalas. Doesn’t get into exactly how they make them but it’s still pretty cool to watch.

          • Stemella permalink*
            January 12, 2010 9:51 am

            I haven’t yet seen that Herzog movie, but it’s now on the top of my Netflix picks. By the way, I saw that Herzog was going to be fiming a new version of the opera La Boheme, but instead of Paris as a setting, it would be in Africa. Should be interesting.

            What Clarke says at the end of this clip you’ve posted is pretty profound. In terms of fractal geometry, “The map is the treasure.” It ties in nicely with the idea that the journey of life is the reward, not the various destinations or achievements attained by the end of it. I guess this could lead to the discussion of the realm of ends justifying the means or vice versa, of Kant vs Utilitarianism. I haven’t had enough coffee for Kant, in my whole life actually! haha

            We are living in an amazing time indeed with all the potential for scientific and related philosophical discovery and connection all the while as systems small and large, manmade and natural, spin out into chaos, entropy, warfare and decay.

            • cometman permalink*
              January 12, 2010 10:42 am

              I’ll keep me eye out for that new Herzog movie – sounds pretty good.

              I don’t know if a gallon of coffee flavored with cocaine would be enough to get started with Kant and the like :) Haven’t read Kant much except via Bertrand Russell’s summation of him but when I try to read these philosopher types directly they can be a little on the esoteric side when they get into all the proofs and theorems and axioms etc. I’ve always like David Hume who seemed to anticipate quantum physics because he felt you couldn’t ever really prove much of anything. Just because the sun has come up every day of your life doesn’t mean it will tomorrow and all you can do is estimate the probability that it will based on past experience.

              I did pick up a copy of a collection of Kierkegaard’s essays against the church in a dusty old bookstore a few months ago. Parts of it look very dense but I did read the first series of letters which were originally part of a battle he was having in the local papers with some church authorities. I really got a kick out of it and you might too because it reminded me of some blog battles I’ve seen before. Kierkegaard was attacking the church as an insider because he felt that it had gotten corrupt and full of hypocrites more concerned with their social standing than helping people. He calls out one official who is gunning to be a bishop after the old bishop had died saying that they do not even come close to acting as Jesus directed. Then he does it again. And again. And again. The battle just goes on for weeks and every time they try to refute Kierkegaard he just hammers them with his original points again. It’s really pretty funny, at least as far as somewhat arcane 19th century Nordic philosophers go.

              I have some more related to your last comment but I’ll post it lower so this doesn’t get clogged up.

        • cometman permalink*
          January 11, 2010 9:55 am

          Why do all my good ideas get stolen? :P I was letting my mind wander yesterday after watching these vids and thinking that one possible solution to the problem of human overpopulation (that would also make a good sci fi story) would be to genetically engineer people so they could use photosynthesis for the energy their bodies need. If people got their energy directly from sunlight like plants then we wouldn’t need to use so much space to produce food anymore. Now today I see that sea slugs have poached my idea!

          Shaped like a leaf itself, the slug Elysia chlorotica already has a reputation for kidnapping the photosynthesizing organelles and some genes from algae. Now it turns out that the slug has acquired enough stolen goods to make an entire plant chemical-making pathway work inside an animal body, says Sidney K. Pierce of the University of South Florida in Tampa.

          The slugs can manufacture the most common form of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that captures energy from sunlight, Pierce reported January 7 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Pierce used a radioactive tracer to show that the slugs were making the pigment, called chlorophyll a, themselves and not simply relying on chlorophyll reserves stolen from the algae the slugs dine on.

          “This could be a fusion of a plant and an animal — that’s just cool,” said invertebrate zoologist John Zardus of The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.

          • Stemella permalink*
            January 12, 2010 9:52 am

            Clearly you need to start feeding on poached sea slug and start photosynthecizing, Cman! ;P

  3. Stemella permalink*
    January 9, 2010 12:33 pm

    Popcorn time!

    Former AIG chief takes shot at Goldman Sachs

    Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former chief executive of AIG, told the Journal in an interview he believed not enough attention was being paid to the role Goldman Sachs played in the subprime meltdown.

    “Well, it certainly wouldn’t be difficult to come to that conclusion,” Greenberg told the Journal.

    Goldman Sachs shot back at Greenberg, who based some of his accusations on articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other news outlets.

    “Anyone, including Mr. Greenberg, who relies on news reports rather than facts to form an opinion, particularly of a complicated subject, has a very high probability of reaching the wrong conclusion,” Lucas van Praag, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, told Reuters.


    Greenberg, who left the company in 2005 amid fraud allegations, is calling for a fresh look at the role investment banks, and especially Goldman Sachs, played in developing new policies on credit default swaps and housing-backed derivatives that caused AIG’s downfall.

    He charged that Goldman Sachs, sensing a downturn in the housing market, created subprime housing-backed derivatives, and at the same time began shorting them, or betting they would fall in value.

    Greenberg called on investigative journalists, members of Congress and shareholder lawsuits to explore the policies that led the company he built up over four decades to implode.

    “There is too much smoke, too many smart people asking questions that deserve an answer. I would hope that investigative reporters do the job they love to do and bring the truth out. I would hope that Congress would then say we must do something about this in all fairness,” Greenberg told the Journal.

    “The American people should know about this and then bring about the changes necessary to avoid the total destruction of a great company that was the pride of America in the insurance industry,” Greenberg was quoted as saying.

    So Mr. Greenberg. Howz about forkin’ over some of the green stuff you’ve handily acquired through AIG and fund some investigative reporting operations like McClatchy for example? No? Somehow I find it difficult to believe that AIG is blameless in all of this.

    • cometman permalink*
      January 11, 2010 8:34 am

      Here are a couple of pieces on AIG via Naked Capitalism in case you haven’t seen them.

      This one tears apart Greenberg’s argument trying to blame Goldman for AIG’s ills- Hank Greenberg’s Self-Serving, Largely Off-Base Salvo at Goldman.

      And this one is really interesting. It seems that AIG had a secret stash of billions in bonds which nobody has paid much notice to until now.

      • Stemella permalink*
        January 12, 2010 9:55 am

        And here is another related one about Mary Queen of SEC blocking transparency for investigation on the subject of AIG until 2018.

        SEC agreed with AIG to keep some bailout terms sealed

        very many bad words and thoughts ensue

        • cometman permalink*
          January 12, 2010 12:35 pm

          Don’t we pretty much own these motherfuckers now? And we still can’t have any transparency. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  4. cometman permalink*
    January 10, 2010 9:57 pm

    The rats start to each each other. More please! And you’re right- if he were serious about getting to the bottom of it all I suspect he has more than enough money to fund some kind of investigation. But a real investigation would likely show these companies were joined at the hip in their rotten deals and that it was done with the knowledge of some in the Fed and Treasury too. Nothing but bluster from Greenberg.

  5. cometman permalink*
    January 10, 2010 10:11 pm

    And nice post by the way. Since we often refer to evil underwater creatures here, I figured I should bone up on my HP Lovecraft who I haven’t read in 20 years or so. I got a book of his for Xmas and I’m a few stories in right now and it’s pretty clear why he was a pulp writer. The stories are pretty fun to read and he’s has some good ideas, but how many times can some unmentionable evil be too hideous to describe? Someone should have gotten him a thesaurus to help him flesh out some of those descriptions ;)

    • Stemella permalink*
      January 11, 2010 8:11 am

      Thanks! I also read some Lovecraft stories many years ago after I read a book by Colin Wilson called The Mind Parasites that featured Cthulhu. You might like that book, actually, if you haven’t read it. Especially now that you’re on Lovecraft. Yes, he is a definite period piece, but a classic nonetheless. :)

  6. Stemella permalink*
    January 11, 2010 8:05 am

    Must see Bill Moyers with Kevin Drum and David Corn on Fear and Loathing on Wall Street my title

    Also see related articles:

    Accountability Deficit

    Thank you Wall Street. May we have another?

    Unfortunately, Joseph Stiglitz’s related article is only available by subscription. I’ll have to pick up a hardcopy issue today.

    This Moyers program connects to so many discussions we have had here. Corn says that the banksters are holding Congress and the country hostage and we are in a Stockholm Syndrome relationship. He says that the banksters told Congress that if they didn’t go along with their hostage taking that “Americans would be out fighting in the streets for RAT MEAT!”

    Got me to thinking we should consider re-issuing local Scrip currency like people did during the Great Depression. Turns out people in places like Detroit and the Berkshires are way ahead of me.

    From April ’09
    In Depression-Era Move, Communities Print their Own Currency to Keep Cash Flowing

    • cometman permalink*
      January 12, 2010 1:00 pm

      Hadn’t seen that Moyers program yet, I’ll bookmark it to watch later.

      I saw that quote about the rattusses in the third link you posted. I think that article states pretty well why there hasn’t been more anger at the banksters yet. So many people are struggling just living paycheck to paycheck if they’re lucky enough to have one and they don’t know where to turn for satisfaction because Congress sure as hell isn’t going to help. But if it keeps up, which definitely appears to be happening, I think people will figure it out eventually and by the time people are finished with them the bankers may wish they had forgone all the bailout cash and just gone under.

      Regarding alternative currencies, a few years ago there was a small movement afoot to create a currency of “hours” with the money based on labor. Just did a quick search and it looks like it’s still in use to some extent although on a pretty limited basis.

  7. cometman permalink*
    January 11, 2010 8:24 am

    Although I have been occasionally assured of my own domestic necessity, there are those who say that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle. So what about queens without a drone? Seems they get along just fine in some cases too – Asexual ants.

    The complete asexuality of a widespread fungus-gardening ant, the only ant species in the world known to have dispensed with males entirely, has been confirmed by a team of Texas and Brazilian researchers.


    Queens of the ant Mycocepurus smithii reproduce without fertilization and males appear to be completely absent, report Christian Rabeling, Ulrich Mueller and their Brazilian colleagues in PLoS ONE this week.

    “Animals that are completely asexual are relatively rare, which makes this is a very interesting ant,” says Rabeling, an ecology, evolution and behavior graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin. “Asexual species don’t mix their genes through recombination, so you expect harmful mutations to accumulate over time and for the species to go extinct more quickly than others. They don’t generally persist for very long over evolutionary time.”

  8. Stemella permalink*
    January 11, 2010 8:56 am

    Some resources I found on Moyer’s site related to Financial Reform

    Americans for Financial Reform

    Open Secrets – Crossing Wall Street

    National People’s Action

  9. cometman permalink*
    January 11, 2010 9:22 am

    Very nice piece from one of my favorites Robert Shetterly about how language is rendered practically meaningless by our junk politics – My Grandson and Saying What’s Real.

    Introducing a pre-verbal child to the world of things engages the basics of trust. Knowing the name of a thing and the difference between it and its representation is a fundamental survival skill. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers would never think of answering the curiosity of a 10 month old with a false name — Oh, that chickadee at the feeder? We call that “bookcase.” Deception like that would not only be cruel, it would literally be crazy making. How can anyone navigate the world if the names of things aren’t constant. Anything, then, can be everything. Meaning disappears. It all turns to mush. Who would want that?

    Well, of course, people with power are in love with mush. The high fat, low vitamin variety. Deception, name swapping, is the reality they promote. And it makes us all crazy. What’s democracy? Oh, we call that free-market capitalism. What do we call the grievances of people victimized by this form of free market democracy? Victims with grievances? No, we call them evil. What do we call the clear-cutting of the rain forests and the blowing up of beautiful mountains to scrape out the coal by the cheapest means? We call if development of resources. We call it progress. What do we call our terrorism? We call it collateral damage, necessary and justified murder. What do we call national security? The right to classify the truth. What do we call the corporate media? We call that free speech because we have given corporations the rights of individuals under our Constitution. And corporate free speech includes the right to bribe with campaign contributions. What do we call a country that allows two presidential elections in a row to be stolen? The greatest democracy in the world!

    What I’m saying is nothing new. These are simply a few obvious hypocrisies that have become the foundation of political discourse in this country. It’s a corruption of language we would all be ashamed to use with a ten month old. It would be child abuse.

    • Stemella permalink*
      January 12, 2010 10:04 am

      Great piece. Nail on the head about the dialogue coming out of DC. Lately the word of obfuscation that has been annoying me greatly is the term “Progressive” First it makes me think of two who shall not be named who used “pwoggy” a lot elsewhere, and secondly it is being used by people who are Status Quobama Neo Liberal Blue Dog loving shitfaces to describe themselves, which is an insult to Progressives of political movements in the past and an insult to current liberals and lefties who get lumped in with them by proximity.

  10. cometman permalink*
    January 11, 2010 9:33 am

    Ha! Marc Fiore pissed off some knuckle draggers with this cartoon.

    • triv33 permalink
      January 11, 2010 9:54 am

      I saw that on Friday and meant to post, but I got all caught up tilting at windmills. Trying to explain to some people that coverage does not equal care when they are going to argue for the status quo, regardless, is surely that. I got me some new health insurance that’s ridiculously similar to what the Senate is claiming will be fabulous to mandate for everybody! The company is getting out ahead of the excise tax. Hey, you know, upfront 2000 dollar deductibles should be no problem for people who live paycheck to paycheck. That one free wellcheck a year is going to be great. Let’s just hope they don’t find anything wrong. I’m off to my 200 dollar doctor’s appointment now. Lucky for me refilling my prescriptions in the cheap 90 day supply mail order method just once should bring me close to them starting to kick in their part of that coverage we’re paying 25% more for. Democratic majority, Fuck Yeah!

  11. cometman permalink*
    January 11, 2010 10:09 am

    This is interesting. Archaelogists have discovered 130,000 year old stone axes on Crete which they suggest may be evidence that early homonids were seafarers who sailed out of Africa.

    Several hundred double-edged cutting implements discovered at nine sites in southwestern Crete date to at least 130,000 years ago and probably much earlier, Strasser reported January 7 at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Archaeology. Many of these finds closely resemble hand axes fashioned in Africa about 800,000 years ago by H. erectus, he says. It was around that time that H. erectus spread from Africa to parts of Asia and Europe.

    Until now, the oldest known human settlements on Crete dated to around 9,000 years ago. Traditional theories hold that early farming groups in southern Europe and the Middle East first navigated vessels to Crete and other Mediterranean islands at that time.

    “We’re just going to have to accept that, as soon as hominids left Africa, they were long-distance seafarers and rapidly spread all over the place,” Strasser says. Other researchers have controversially suggested that H. erectus navigated rafts across short stretches of sea in Indonesia around 800,000 years ago and that Neandertals crossed the Strait of Gibraltar perhaps 60,000 years ago.

    Not quite ready to accept that at face value myself. There is a significant amount of tectonic activity in that area too and there are some small islands off Crete that were once connected to it and were separated due to fairly recent seismic activity. I think it’s possible that Crete was once connected to a larger landmass and could have been separated due to an earthquake. Or maybe it became an island due to rising sea levels from the melt-off after an ice age. Early hominids could simply have walked there. Probably never know for sure unless we find the boat.

    • artemis54 permalink
      January 11, 2010 5:37 pm

      Hmm. It doesn’t seem much of a leap to me. You see logs floating out to sea and may jump on. Interesting to see where it leads.

      Speaking of old times, possibly the oldest business enterprise in North America: Hand-Hewn Granite Basins at Native American Saltworks, Sierra Nevada, California

      Native Americans apparently excavated them for the purpose of collecting saline water to evaporate and make salt for their use, and also as an animal attractant and a trade commodity.

      The flow of the salty streams delivers about 2.9 metric tons of salt per summer season to the basin area, and evaporation rates and the holding capacity of the basins indicate that about 2.5 tons of salt could be produced per season. This correspondence shows that the Indians made enough basins to exploit the resource. The site is the most impressive prehistoric saltworks yet discovered in North America and represents a unique departure from traditional hunter-gatherer activities to that of manufacturing.

      The actual report, web only and linked from the above page, is very well illustrated.

      • cometman permalink*
        January 12, 2010 12:50 pm

        I do think it’s possible that early hominids could have just floated out on a log or a raft. I just felt Strasser’s statement I quoted made it seem like there was intent to travel by sea but looking at it again, the word “seafarers” could include accidental voyages and elsewhere in the article they do include the possibility of floating out there by accident. I’m probably a bit biased because in the excavation I worked on the director had a tendency to make declarative statements about what he found based on little evidence that later turned out to be inaccurate.

        Thanks for the other link – lots of interesting stuff there.

  12. cometman permalink*
    January 12, 2010 11:00 am

    When you travel far, always be sure to take your plastic Jeebus with you. And a map.

    And if you’re the old fashioned type who prefers a map you can unfold, you can print yourself out a copy of the one at this link – From here to infinity… logarithmically.

    You mention above how we’re on the brink of many amazing discoveries at the same time as we are busy ruining the only planet we have. My biggest worry is that by ruining too much we will set back this new age of discovery and have to take a few steps backward as a society before being able to move forward again. That’s why I liked this little excerpt from the first link above –

    It is humbling, after all, to realize how insignificant we really are. Yes, we have the gall to change our planet, and threaten all living beings on its fragile surface. But, still, in the grand scheme of things, we’re a grain of sand in a vast and beautiful ocean. We’re totally irrelevant. I find this to be oddly reassuring and calming.

    We may screw up our planet but it isn’t like we can screw up everything.

    • Stemella permalink*
      January 12, 2010 1:49 pm

      Ah yes, perspective. I need to remember geology and astronomy to keep that necessary humility in mind when all the activities of the hairless monkeys get to be too much for me on this third rock from the sun.

      Thanks for those links C-man. That video was entrancing.

  13. cometman permalink*
    January 12, 2010 11:19 am

    That Clarke video has really gotten me reading some of my favorite science sites over the last few days. Via Cosmic Variance again here’s some interesting reading about a topic we’ve discussed before – How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

    I thought this essay was particularly good, especially this bit from the end:

    We have embodied our rationality within our machines and delegated to them many of our choices, and in this process we have created a world that is beyond our own understanding. Our century began on a note of uncertainty, as we worried how our machines would handle the transition to the new millennium. Now we are attending to a financial crisis caused by the banking system miscomputing risks, and a debate on global warming in which experts argue not so much about the data, but about what the computers predict from the data. We have linked our destinies, not only among ourselves across the globe, but with our technology. If the theme of the Enlightenment was independence, our own theme is interdependence. We are now all connected, humans and machines. Welcome to the dawn of the Entanglement.

    • Stemella permalink*
      January 12, 2010 1:35 pm

      Bingo! That was a great essay. We are in an age of entanglement, perfect word to describe it. We have entanglement at every level, interdependence on one end of the spectrum and co-dependence on another. Ultimately an empire is one big clusterfuck of codependence; throw in the internet and the entanglements only exponentially escalate.

      I read some of the other responses to the “how is the internet changing you …” question and I realized that as of this moment I have lived half my life without daily using a computer machine and the other half doing so. I have been using the internet for about one third of my lifespan so far. Yeah, entanglements. I find myself very aware of them and have been learning to reduce the amplitude of their effects. Because of the economic collapse among other recent events, I think it wise to always maintain preparedness for functionality in all ways separate of the grid/web. Living off the grid is more difficult today than ever before, at least in North America, hence why we shouldn’t forget how to do it. We should all make sure the next generations get those skills as well.

      Always remember the lessons of the Mayans. When you get too big to fail, and you cut down all your trees, and your society becomes so complex and entangled, failure is totally guar-an-teed. No money back kind of guarantee, but they’ll definitely thrown in a sham wow for your trouble! :^P

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