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Digital currency – Wikipedia

Posted: November 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Digital currency or digital money is an Internet-based medium of exchange distinct from physical (such as banknotes and coins) that exhibits properties similar to physical currencies, but allows for instantaneous transactions and borderless transfer-of-ownership. Both virtual currencies and cryptocurrencies are types of digital currencies, but the converse is incorrect. Like traditional money these currencies may be used to buy physical goods and services but could also be restricted to certain communities such as for example for use inside an on-line game or social network.[1]

Digital currency can be defined as an Internet-based form of currency or medium of exchange distinct from physical (such as banknotes and coins) that exhibits properties similar to physical currencies, but allows for instantaneous transactions and borderless transfer-of-ownership. Both virtual currencies and cryptocurrencies are types of digital currencies.[2]

Origins of digital currencies date back to the 1990s Dot-com bubble. One of the first was E-gold, founded in 1996 and backed by gold. Another known digital currency service was Liberty Reserve, founded in 2006; it let users convert dollars or euros to Liberty Reserve Dollars or Euros, and exchange them freely with one another at a 1% fee. Both services were centralized, reputed to be used for money laundering, and inevitably shut down by the US government.[3] Q coins or QQ coins, were used as a type of commodity-based digital currency on Tencent QQ’s messaging platform and emerged in early 2005. Q coins were so effective in China that they were said to have had a destabilizing effect on the Chinese Yuan or RMB currency due to speculation.[4] Recent interest in cryptocurrencies has prompted renewed interest in digital currencies, with bitcoin, introduced in 2009, becoming the most widely used and accepted digital currency.

According to the European Central Bank’s “Virtual currency schemes a further analysis” report of February 2015, virtual currency is a digital representation of value, not issued by a central bank, credit institution or e-money institution, which, in some circumstances, can be used as an alternative to money. In the previous report of October 2012, the virtual currency was defined as a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community.

According to the Bank For International Settlements’ “Digital currencies” report of November 2015, digital currency is an asset represented in digital form and having some monetary characteristics. Digital currency can be denominated to a sovereign currency and issued by the issuer responsible to redeem digital money for cash. In that case, digital currency represents electronic money (e-money). Digital currency denominated in its own units of value or with decentralized or automatic issuance will be considered as a virtual currency.

As such, bitcoin is a digital currency but also a type of virtual currency. Bitcoin and its alternatives are based on cryptographic algorithms, so these kinds of virtual currencies are also called cryptocurrencies.

Most of the traditional money supply is bank money held on computers. This is also considered digital currency. One could argue that our increasingly cashless society means that all currencies are becoming digital (sometimes referred to as electronic money), but they are not presented to us as such.[5]

A virtual currency has been defined in 2012 by the European Central Bank as “a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community”. The US Department of Treasury in 2013 defined it more tersely as “a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments, but does not have all the attributes of real currency”. The key attribute a virtual currency does not have according to these definitions, is the status as legal tender.

A cryptocurrency is a type of digital token that relies on cryptography for chaining together digital signatures of token transfers, peer-to-peer networking and decentralization. In some cases a proof-of-work scheme is used to create and manage the currency.[6][7][8][9] See also list of cryptocurrencies.

Virtual currencies pose challenges for central banks, financial regulators, departments or ministries of finance, as well as fiscal authorities and statistical authorities.

On 20 March 2013, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued a guidance to clarify how the US Bank Secrecy Act applied to persons creating, exchanging and transmitting virtual currencies.[10]

In May 2014 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) “warned about the hazards of bitcoin and other virtual currencies”.[11]

In July 2014, the New York State Department of Financial Services proposed the most comprehensive regulation of virtual currencies to date, commonly called BitLicense.[12] Unlike the US federal regulators it has gathered input from bitcoin supporters and the financial industry through public hearings and a comment period until 21 October 2014 to customize the rules. The proposal per NY DFS press release … sought to strike an appropriate balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity”.[13] It has been criticized by smaller companies to favor established institutions, and Chinese bitcoin exchanges have complained that the rules are “overly broad in its application outside the United States”.[14]

As of 2016, over 24 countries are investing in distributed ledger technologies (DLT) with $1.4bn in investments. In addition, over 90 central banks are engaged in DLT discussions, including implications of a central bank issued digital currency.[15]

The Bank of Canada have explored the possibility of creating a version of its currency on the blockchain.[16]

The Bank of Canada teamed up with the nations five largest banks and the blockchain consulting firm R3 for what was known as Project Jasper. In a simulation run in 2016, the central bank issued CAD-Coins onto a blockchain similar Ethereum.[17] The banks used the CAD-Coins to exchange money the way they do at the end of each day to settle their master accounts.[17]

A deputy governor at the central bank of China, Fan Yifei, wrote that the conditions are ripe for digital currencies, which can reduce operating costs, increase efficiency and enable a wide range of new applications..[17] According to Fan Yifei, the best way to take advantage of the situation is for central banks to take the lead, both in supervising private digital currencies and in developing digital legal tender of their own.[18]

The Danish government proposed getting rid of the obligation for selected retailers to accept payment in cash, moving the country closer to a “cashless” economy.[19] The Danish Chamber of Commerce is backing the move.[20] Nearly a third of the Danish population uses MobilePay, a smartphone application for transferring money.[19]

The Dutch central bank is experimenting with a bitcoin-based virtual currency called DNBCoin.[17][21]

Government-controlled Sberbank of Russia owns Yandex.Money – electronic payment service and digital currency of the same name.[22]

South Korea plans national digital currency using a Blockchain.[23] The chairman of South Koreas Financial Services Commission (FSC), Yim Jong-yong, announced that his department will Lay the systemic groundwork for the spread of digital currency.[23]

In 2016, a city government first accepted digital currency in payment of city fees. Zug, Switzerland added bitcoin as a means of paying small amounts, up to SFr200, in a test and an attempt to advance Zug as a region that is advancing future technologies. In order to reduce risk, Zug immediately converts any bitcoin received into the Swiss currency.[24]

Swiss Federal Railways, government-owned railway company of Switzerland, sells bitcoins at its ticket machines.[25][25]

The Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government advised his Prime Minister and Parliament to consider using a blockchain-based digital currency.[26]

The chief economist of Bank of England, the central bank of the United Kingdom, proposed abolition of paper currency. The Bank has also taken an interest in bitcoin.[17][27] In 2016 it has embarked on a multi-year research programme to explore the implications of a central bank issued digital currency.[15] The Bank of England has produced several research papers on the topic. One suggests that the economic benefits of issuing a digital currency on a distributed ledger could add as much as 3 percent to a countrys economic output.[17] The Bank said that it wanted the next version of the banks basic software infrastructure to be compatible with distributed ledgers.[17]

The National Bank of Ukraine is considering a creation of its own issuance/turnover/servicing system for a blockchain-based national cryptocurrency.[28] The regulator also announced that blockchain could be a part of a the national project called “Cashless Economy”.[28]

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The Singularity – aleph.se

Posted: July 16, 2016 at 11:14 pm

Transhuman Page

Global Sphere

The Singularity is a common matter of discussion in transhumanist circles. There is no clear definition, but usually the Singularity is meant as a future time when societal, scientific and economic change is so fast we cannot even imagine what will happen from our present perspective, and when humanity will become posthumanity. Another definition is used in the Extropians FAQ, where it denotes the singular time when technological development will be at its fastest. Of course, there are some who think the whole idea is just technocalyptic dreaming.

Other Sites Books See Also

What is the Singularity? by Dani Eder. Technological Singularity by Vernor Vinge. Teknologisk Singularitet (Article from Gateavisa 1994, in Danish). Singularity Article by Vernor Vinge. Notes on a Presentation by Dr. Vernor Vinge by John Graves. The Limitations of the Singularity Staring Into The Singularity by Eliezer S. Yudkowsky. A dramatic, original and somewhat irritating essay about what the Singularity means. Singularity Analysis: A Series of Educated Guesses by Eliezer S. Yudkowsky. Singularity discussion from sci.nanotech. When will the Singularity Occur? (From the Extropians FAQ) Paths to the Singularity by Daniel G. Clemmensen. About the Singularity and the events leading up to it, with a discussion of the >Web idea. The Socio-technological Singularity in Principia Cybernetica. Surviving the Singularity by Steve Alan Edwards (21C Scanning the future). About the singularity and the transhumanist views about it. Singularity by Scott R. Turner. A computer-moderated PBEM game based on the Singularity idea. Is a singularity just around the corner? By Robin Hanson, Journal of Transhumanism 2, June 1998. The economics of Singularity growth. A Critical Discussion of Vinge’s Singularity Concept. Edited by Robin Hanson. Arterati on Ideas: Vinge’s View of the Singularity. Extropy Online, Natascha Vita More. Simple Equations for Vinge’s Technological Singularity Hans Moravec. Some simple growth equations, showing the appearance of a singularity given fairly broad assumptions about accelerating technological growth.

Singularity. An organisation dedicated to those technologies which are most likely to take mankind to Singularity. Singularity Club. A mutual aid society for Transtopian Singularitarians. The Low Beyond. Papers by Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Damien Broderick, The Spike. Reed Natural History ISBN: 0730104974

Vernor Vinge, True Names (1980, short story reprinted in True Names and Other Dangers, Baen Books 1987), Marooned in Realtime (1986), A Fire Upon the Deep (1992).

Philosophy Page Intelligence Increase Page Information Management Posthumanity Page

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Reflections On The Direct Influence Of Psychedelics On Art …

Posted: June 30, 2016 at 3:38 am

by Henrik Dahl

on January 2, 2015

The following piece first appeared in Psychedelic Press UK:

Psychedelics often trigger a rich flood of visual content. One may for instance experience highly intricate patterns, otherworldly landscapes and mysterious beings some angelic; others demonic. Colours are frequently perceived as being extremely intense and objects may transform into bizarre and unthinkable shapes. Surely visions like these must be of great interest to visual artists. Still, most psychedelic culture researchers will find it hard to come up with a satisfying list of visual artists who acknowledge the importance of psychedelics in their work. Why is this the case? When it comes to writers and musicians, examples are plenty. Shouldnt there be as many, if not more, visual artists associated with psychedelics?

Admittedly, there is a lot of psychedelic art out there. Usually though the term is used to describe a particular aesthetic rather than art directly influenced by psychedelic drugs. Surprisingly little has been written about art that is psychedelic in the true sense of the word. The typical take on the subject is exemplified by art critic Ken Johnson, who is the author ofAre You Experienced?: How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art:

While I think it would be a worthy project for a sociologist or historian to find out who did what, when, and where, to provide some empirical grounding for speculations about the influence of drugs on art, I am neither equipped for nor inclined to do that job. What interested me was not necessarily the influence of drugs on particular individuals but the influence of psychedelic culture in general on artists (Johnson 2011, 8).

Image:Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s book cover.

A similar approach is found in David S. RubinsPsychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s, which explores the visual impact that psychedelic culture has had on artists working over the past five decades.

Although Johnson and Rubin have done a great and much welcome job with their respective books, they raise an important question: How many of the artists described as psychedelic actually feel comfortable with being categorised in such a way? In todays highly professionalised art world its likely that at leastsomeartists find the association problematic. Reasons for this may vary of course, but the connection to drug culture is probably one of them. Perhaps this is why Johnson points out that readers of his book are advised not to assume that any artist discussed has even used drugs at all or would agree that drug-induced experience has affected their art (Johnson 2011, 8).

Obviously, to be certain that a psychedelic has influenced an artwork one needs some sort of testimony from the artist that confirms the association. This fact dramatically narrows the number of artworks that are clearly induced by a psychedelic. That said, many artists have openly ascribed psychedelic experiences as a major influence on one or several of their artworks.

Discussions about psychedelic art are often reduced to speculations, where critics sometimes see trippy influences in artworks that in reality have little to do with the psychedelic experience, mistaking it for themes such as dreams states, New Age spirituality or the occult. This essay is a modest attempt at approaching the subject differently; rather than looking at art influenced by psychedelic culture as a whole, I will present some of the art that has been directly influenced by psychedelics.

A key figure when it comes to western art directly influenced by psychedelics is the Belgian-born French visual artist and writer Henri Michaux. Already in the 1960s he was looked upon as a pioneer in psychedelic art (Masters & Houston 1968, 118). His perhaps most notable work isMiserable Miracle, containing both his writings and drawings, published for the first time in French in 1956. The book was the result of the authors experiments with mescaline. In his dissertationA History of Irritated Material: Psychedelic Concepts in Neo-Avant-Garde Art, Danish art historian Lars Bang Larsen calls Michauxs drawings seismographic, describing them as pulsating,brutlandscapes (Larsen 2011, 115).

Michaux wasnt the only westerner experimenting with psychedelics at the time. Two years beforeMiserable Miraclecame out, Aldous Huxley described his experiences on mescaline in his essayThe Doors of Perception. Still,Miserable Miracleis an important work. Not least because of the inclusion of Michauxs psychedelic artworks. Incidentally, the same year asMiserable Miraclewas first published, psychiatrist Humphry Osmond coined the word psychedelic in a correspondence with Huxley. However, since Michaux was making his drug experiments long before psychedelic became a catch phrase in the sixties counterculture, Larsen aptly describes Michaux as a proto-psychedelic artist (Larsen 2011, 33).

Image: Miserable Miracle book cover.

Henri Michaux continued his explorations with mescaline, resulting in additional books on the subject. In 1963, he also made an educational film calledImages du monde visionnairefor Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz (recognized by psychedelicists as the company where Albert Hofmann worked when he synthesized LSD in 1938). Michauxs film was made in collaboration with French filmmaker Eric Duvivier for the purpose of demonstrating the hallucinogenic effects of mescaline and hashish. Given the limitations of the technology at the time, the films psychedelic effects look a bit bleak and feel rather unconvincing today and, according to an article on book publisher Strange Attractors webpage, Michaux himself was said to have been quite disappointed by the result. One may wonder if this is a common reaction among artists trying to depict psychedelic experiences. If that is the case, its possible that many artists avoid such attempts.

Although Michauxs drawings were induced by a psychedelic drug, it wasnt until the mid-to-late sixties that psychedelic art became recognised as a distinct artistic expression of its own. An early proponent of the style during this era was American painter Isaac Abrams. In 1965, he had his first LSD session with psychologist Stanley Krippner. According to the blog Transpersonalspirit, the experience gave him a vision of what he felt psychedelic art would look like. Abrams artworks display oceanic, cosmic and microscopic motifs, exemplified by his 1968 painting Cosmoerotica. Still actively pursuing his art, he has stayed true to the artistic style he envisioned on his first acid trip.

As a result of the popularization of LSD in the sixties, many visual artists experimented with the drug. Its easy to assume that those artists were automatically incorporating their experiences in their art. However, that was not always the case. German-born painter Mati Klarwein, known for painting the cover of Miles Davis classic jazz albumBitches Brew, said his experiences with psychedelics never inspired his art in any major way. Instead, according to his biography on Matiklarwein.com, his inspiration came from extensive travelling and the artists interest in non-western deities and symbolism.

One who ascribed great importance to psychedelics though, was Swedish poster artist Sture Johannesson. In his piece Psychedelic Manifestopublished in the Swedish magazine Ord & Bild, phrased in his typically humorous and anarchistic style, the artist immodestly promotes psychedelics saying, The
cultural workers most important task in the future is to spread information about these matters. Psychedelic drugs mean freedom, equality and brotherhood (Larsen 2002, 8).

Image: Andre Will Take A Trip! (1969) by Sture Johannesson.

Between 1967 and 1969, Johannesson made a series of posters calledThe Danish Collection. They have stood the test of time surprisingly well and, apart from becoming collectors items, they are regularly exhibited at museums around the world. Included in the series isAndre Will Take A Trip!(1969). The poster, arguably one of his most complex and captivating works, shows a series of small photographs taken during Swedish engineer S.A. Andres balloon expedition to the North Pole in 1897, a misadventure that ended in the death of Andre and his group. The photos are arranged against a pink background and at the top of these is a quote associated with William S. Burroughs saying, Anything which can be done chemically can be done by other means! Lastly, much like a hallucination, three huge but delicately designed yellow letters placed in the centre of the image spells out the word LSD.

An artistic genre that is often associated with the use of psychedelics is visionary art. Artists working in this style often depict visions experienced while in altered states. Although far from being the only source of inspiration, many visionary artists acknowledge the importance of psychedelics in their artistic process. The genres association with mind-expanding drugs is evident inFirst Draft of Manifesto of Visionary Art written by visionary artist Laurence Caruana, where he discusses psychedelics at length. Interestingly, this type of art may have a particular function for those who view it. It is no secret that many visionary works of art are designed to be viewed with the aid of mind-altering substances, says Caruana in the manifesto (First Draft of Manifesto of Visionary Art,2001).

One of the foremost artists working in the visionary style is Alex Grey. A prolific painter, his artworks have appeared on several album covers and his 1990 art bookSacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Greyhas been translated into several languages and is still in print. In the mid seventies, while on LSD with his future wife, the artist Allyson Grey, Alex experienced what would prove to be a pivotal moment in his career as an artist. In a 2008 interview with SFGate.com, Alex said the trip made him interested in the study of consciousness, and that he started making drawings of what he had seen. For Allyson the experience turned out to be equally profound, saying it was to become the subject of our art for a lifetime (Allysongrey.com). AlexsUniversal Mind Lattice(1981) and AllysonsJewel Net of Indra(1988) are both depictions of their LSD trip.

Another visionary artist associated with psychedelics is the Peruvian painter Pablo Amaringo. Amaringo, avegetalistawho depicted visions on ayahuasca, was brought to the attention by ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna and anthropologist Luis Eduardo Luna. At Lunas suggestion, Amaringo started painting his ayahuasca visions, which resulted in the coauthored bookAyahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shamanpublished in 1999. Apart from being a painter, Amaringo was the art teacher at his Usko-Ayar School of Painting and was supervising ayahuasca retreats.

Most visionary artists are highly skilled at their craft. According to Laurence Caruana, as precise a rendering as possible is absolutely necessary for vision-inducing works. Fine lines, gradual transitions, infinite details there is no limit to the pains endured nor the patience required to successfully render a vision into image form (First Draft of Manifesto of Visionary Art,2001). One may wonder at what length the complex nature of altered states of consciousness including those triggered by psychedelics has affected the technical abilities of artists working in the visionary style. Its possible that the sometimes incredibly detailed visions seen on mind-expanding drugs have forced these artists to perfect their work considerably more than had they worked in another artistic field.

When discussing artists who use psychedelics one should keep in mind that very few of them are likely making art while actually under the influence. For example, in an interview published on Historygraphicdesign.com in 2002 San Francisco poster artist Victor Moscoso strongly opposes to the idea:

People ask me, Did you draw on acid? Draw on acid? Thats like drawing while youre tumbling down a flight of stairs. Are you kidding? With you dying and being re-born, having an understanding of the molecular structure of your body and of the cosmos at the same time. Drawing is absurd. You cant do it! Whatever you draw will not come close to what you can see, or perceive.

Most artists using psychedelics would probably agree with Moscoso. Yet there are several examples of artists who have made art while they were on mind-expanding drugs. In 1990, Charles Ray shot a self-portrait when he was under the influence of LSD, resulting in his artworkYes. Another contemporary artist making art while on LSD is Rodney Graham, whos film The Phonokinetoscopeis a 2001 reenactment of Albert Hofmanns legendary LSD bicycle trip in 1943. Also in 2001, Bryan Lewis Saunders made a series of self-portraits while on a variety of drugs, including psilocybin mushrooms and DMT.

The three artworks mentioned pose the question of how these artists actually managed to make art while tripping. In all likelihood, they either made their artworks while they were coming down from their trips, or their doses were low from the beginning. In the case of Graham, he is quoted on Ubuweb.com saying he ingested a blotter. Considering the fairly low doses usually distributed on blotter acid, Grahams trip was likely rather mild compared with Hofmanns, making the formers reenactment a less dramatic event.

Why are relatively few artists associated with psychedelics? I can think of several possible explanations. For instance, its probable that many artists trying to depict visions seen on psychedelics actually fail in their attempts. Translating such complex experiences as discussed by visionary artist Caruana in his manifesto requires great technical skills and an endurance that few possess.

Furthermore, artists working in the contemporary art scene may feel inclined to keep their psychedelic experiences to themselves. In todays highly professionalised, academically shaped and in many ways commercialised contemporary art world, its probable that many dont want to risk being associated with psychedelics for fear of being reduced to a drug artist. This is something I have encountered myself during interviews with artists working in this field.

From a historical perspective, its likely that quite a few artists have been using mind-expanding drugs in their artistic process. However, without testimonies there is no way to know for certain. One such example is New York avant-garde filmmaker Storm de Hirsch. Although generally left out of history, her 1965 filmPeyote Queenhas become a minor underground classic. The films kaleidoscopic imagery, combined with its title, strongly indicates she had taken peyote. There are many artists, like de Hirsch, who have probably been using psychedelics in the past. Yet because of their relative obscurity, their experiences with these substances will remain unknown.

Artists in the future will most likely keep experimenting with psychedelics as part of their artistic process. One can also assume that the vario
us types of mind-expanding drugs used for this purpose will be greater than those mentioned in this essay. How these artworks will look like, one can only try to imagine.

Perhaps we will soon see more art historians, curators and psychedelic researchers focusing on psychedelic art. Lately there have been many signs of a growing activity in this field. One recent example is the 2013 exhibitionUnder Influences Visual Arts and Psychotropicsat La Maison Rouge in Paris, where many artists directly influenced by psychedelics were exhibited. In addition, several books on psychedelic art have been published in recent years, clearly showing an increasing interest in the topic.

References:

Caruana, Laurence.First Draft of Manifesto of Visionary Art(retrieved fromhttp://visionaryrevue.com/webtext/manifesto.contents.html), 2001

Johnson, Ken.Are You Experienced?: How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art. Munich: Prestel, 2011

Larsen, Lars Bang.A History of Irritated Material: Psychedelic Concepts in Neo-Avant-Garde Art(PhD dissertation). Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, 2011

Larsen, Lars Bang.Sture Johannesson. New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002

Masters, Robert E.L. & Houston, Jean (Eds.).Psychedelic Art. New York: Grove Press, 1968

Rubin, David S. (Ed.).Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s(exhibition catalogue). San Antonio: San Antonio Museum of Art, 2010

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Caribbean – Wikitravel

Posted: June 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm

Caribbean

The islands of the Caribbean Sea or West Indies are an extensive archipelago in the far west of the Atlantic Ocean, mostly strung between North and South America. They’ve long been known as a resort vacation destination for honeymooners and retirees, but a small movement toward eco-tourism and backpacking has started to open up the Caribbean to more independent travel. With year-round good weather (with the occasional but sometimes serious exception of hurricane season in the late summer and early fall), promotional air fares from Europe and North America, and hundreds of islands to explore, the Caribbean offers something for almost everyone.

The Caribbean islands were first inhabited by the Arawak Indians, then were invaded by a more aggressive tribe, the Caribs. Unfortunately, neither could appreciate their victory forever, although the Arawaks may have had a quiet reign of nearly two millenia. Then the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Danish, and British arrived, after which the Carib population steeply declined due to various factors. The islands have known many historic battles and more than a few pirate stories.

Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands, often grouped as Greater Antilles, are by far the largest countries in the area and the most visited by travellers. In the north is the Lucayan Archipelago, which includes The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Caribbean also includes the Lesser Antilles, a group of much smaller islands to the east. Further to the west and south, there are various less frequently visited islands that belong to Central and South American countries.

The Lesser Antilles can be further divided into three groups:

These countries are not part of the Greater or Lesser Antilles but are variously close to it, and are commonly associated with the Caribbean (e.g. members of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community).

Numerous companies offer cruises, charters, and boat tours in the Caribbean.

All of the Americas (with 16.3 killed per 100,000 population) suffer from homicide rates far above those in most of Asia (3.0), Europe (3.0) and Oceania (2.9) but some countries in the Caribbean feature in the highest murder rates in the world.

Most visitors are aware of the high rates of gun crime in the United States Virgin Islands (with 52.6) or Jamaica (39.3), but you might be unaware that even sleepy little Saint Kitts and Nevis (33.6) had a murder rate seven times greater than the scary old mainland USA in 2010!

The well policed Bahamas rang up a rate of (29.8), Trinidad and Tobago (28.3), Puerto Rico (26.5), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (with a state Latin motto of “Pax et Justitia” or “Peace and Justice” had 25.6), Dominican Republic (22.1), Saint Lucia (21.6) and Dominica (21.1).

To put this in perspective, rates in more placid countries like Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and New Zealand average well under a single person intentionally killed per 100,000 of their population each year.

Those of a nervous disposition when confronted by these kind of statistics may want to start researching a holiday in Martinique (2.7) or Cuba (4.2) since it’s rather uncomfortable to wear stab or bullet proof vests in these warm and humid climates of course, not to mention it make you look a bit of a prat…

WikiPedia:Caribbean Dmoz:Caribbean/

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en.wikipedia.org

Posted: March 12, 2016 at 5:44 am

Nihilism ( or ; from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical doctrine that suggests the lack of belief in one or more reputedly meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.[1]Moral nihilists assert that morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived. Nihilism can also take epistemological or ontological/metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or that reality does not actually exist.

The term is sometimes used in association with anomie to explain the general mood of despair at a perceived pointlessness of existence that one may develop upon realising there are no necessary norms, rules, or laws.[2] Movements such as Futurism and deconstruction,[3] among others, have been identified by commentators[who?] as “nihilistic”.

Nihilism is also a characteristic that has been ascribed to time periods: for example, Jean Baudrillard and others have called postmodernity a nihilistic epoch,[4] and some Christian theologians and figures of religious authority have asserted that postmodernity[5] and many aspects of modernity[3] represent a rejection of theism, and that such rejection of their theistic doctrine entails nihilism.

Nihilism has many definitions, and thus can describe philosophical positions that are arguably independent.

Metaphysical nihilism is the philosophical theory that concrete objects and physical constructs might not exist in the possible world, or that even if there exist possible worlds that contain some concrete objects, there is at least one that contains only abstract objects.

An extreme form of metaphysical nihilism is commonly defined as the belief that nothing exists as a correspondent component of the self-efficient world.[6] The American Heritage Medical Dictionary defines one form of nihilism as “an extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.”[7] A similar position can be found in solipsism; however, the solipsist affirms whereas the nihilist would deny the self.[8] Both these positions are considered forms of anti-realism.[9]

Epistemological nihilism is a form of skepticism in which all knowledge is accepted as possibly untrue or unable to be known. Additionally, morality is seen as subjective or false.[10]

Mereological nihilism (also called compositional nihilism) is the position that objects with proper parts do not exist (not only objects in space, but also objects existing in time do not have any temporal parts), and only basic building blocks without parts exist, and thus the world we see and experience full of objects with parts is a product of human misperception (i.e., if we could see clearly, we would not perceive compositive objects).

This interpretation of existence must be based on resolution. The resolution with which humans see and perceive the “improper parts” of the world is not an objective fact of reality, but is rather an implicit trait that can only be qualitatively explored and expressed. Therefore, there is no arguable way to surmise or measure the validity of mereological nihilism. Example: An ant can get lost on a large cylindrical object because the circumference of the object is so large with respect to the ant that the ant effectively feels as though the object has no curvature. Thus, the resolution with which the ant views the world it exists “within” is a very important determining factor in how the ant experiences this “within the world” feeling.

Existential nihilism is the belief that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. With respect to the universe, existential nihilism posits that a single human or even the entire human species is insignificant, without purpose and unlikely to change in the totality of existence. The meaninglessness of life is largely explored in the philosophical school of existentialism.

Moral nihilism, also known as ethical nihilism, is the meta-ethical view that morality does not exist as something inherent to objective reality; therefore no action is necessarily preferable to any other. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is not inherently right or wrong.

Other nihilists may argue not that there is no morality at all, but that if it does exist, it is a human construction and thus artificial, wherein any and all meaning is relative for different possible outcomes. As an example, if someone kills someone else, such a nihilist might argue that killing is not inherently a bad thing, or bad independently from our moral beliefs, because of the way morality is constructed as some rudimentary dichotomy. What is said to be a bad thing is given a higher negative weighting than what is called good: as a result, killing the individual was bad because it did not let the individual live, which was arbitrarily given a positive weighting. In this way a moral nihilist believes that all moral claims are void of any truth value. An alternative scholarly perspective is that moral nihilism is a morality in itself. Cooper writes, “In the widest sense of the word ‘morality’, moral nihilism is a morality.”[11]

Political nihilism, a branch of nihilism, follows the characteristic nihilist’s rejection of non-rationalized or non-proven assertions; in this case the necessity of the most fundamental social and political structures, such as government, family, and law. An influential analysis of political nihilism is presented by Leo Strauss.[12]

The Russian Nihilist movement was a Russian trend in the 1860s that rejected all authority.[13] Their name derives from the Latin nihil, meaning “nothing”. After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, the Nihilists gained a reputation throughout Europe as proponents of the use of violence for political change.[citation needed] The Nihilists expressed anger at what they described as the abusive nature of the Eastern Orthodox Church and of the tsarist monarchy, and at the domination of the Russian economy by the aristocracy. Although the term Nihilist was first popularised by the German theologian Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (17431818), its widespread usage began with the 1862 novel Fathers and Sons by the Russian author Ivan Turgenev. The main character of the novel, Eugene Bazarov, who describes himself as a Nihilist, wants to educate the people. The “go to the people be the people” campaign reached its height in the 1870s, during which underground groups such as the Circle of Tchaikovsky, the People’s Will, and Land and Liberty formed. It became known as the Narodnik movement, whose members believed that the newly freed serfs were merely being sold into wage slavery in the onset of the Industrial Revolution, and that the middle and upper classes had effectively replaced landowners. The Russian state attempted to suppress the nihilist movement. In actions described by the Nihilists as propaganda of the deed many government officials were assassinated. In 1881 Alexander II was killed on the very day he had approved a proposal to call a representative assembly to consider new reforms.

The term nihilism was first used by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (17431819). Jacobi used the term to characterize rationalism[14] and in particular Immanuel Kant’s “critical” philosophy to carry out a reductio ad absurdum according to which all rationalism (philosophy as criticism) reduces to nihilismand thus it should be avoided and replaced with a return to some type of faith and revelation. Bret W. Davis w
rites, for example, “The first philosophical development of the idea of nihilism is generally ascribed to Friedrich Jacobi, who in a famous letter criticized Fichte’s idealism as falling into nihilism. According to Jacobi, Fichtes absolutization of the ego (the ‘absolute I’ that posits the ‘not-I’) is an inflation of subjectivity that denies the absolute transcendence of God.”[15] A related but oppositional concept is fideism, which sees reason as hostile and inferior to faith.

With the popularizing of the word nihilism by Ivan Turgenev, a new Russian political movement called the Nihilist movement adopted the term. They supposedly called themselves nihilists because nothing “that then existed found favor in their eyes”.[16]

Sren Kierkegaard (18131855) posited an early form of nihilism, to which he referred as levelling.[17] He saw levelling as the process of suppressing individuality to a point where the individual’s uniqueness becomes non-existent and nothing meaningful in his existence can be affirmed:

Levelling at its maximum is like the stillness of death, where one can hear one’s own heartbeat, a stillness like death, into which nothing can penetrate, in which everything sinks, powerless. One person can head a rebellion, but one person cannot head this levelling process, for that would make him a leader and he would avoid being levelled. Each individual can in his little circle participate in this levelling, but it is an abstract process, and levelling is abstraction conquering individuality.

Kierkegaard, an advocate of a philosophy of life, generally argued against levelling and its nihilist consequence, although he believed it would be “genuinely educative to live in the age of levelling [because] people will be forced to face the judgement of [levelling] alone.”[18] George Cotkin asserts Kierkegaard was against “the standardization and levelling of belief, both spiritual and political, in the nineteenth century [and he] opposed tendencies in mass culture to reduce the individual to a cipher of conformity and deference to the dominant opinion.”[19] In his day, tabloids (like the Danish magazine Corsaren) and apostate Christianity were instruments of levelling and contributed to the “reflective apathetic age” of 19th century Europe.[20] Kierkegaard argues that individuals who can overcome the levelling process are stronger for it and that it represents a step in the right direction towards “becoming a true self.”[18][21] As we must overcome levelling,[22]Hubert Dreyfus and Jane Rubin argue that Kierkegaard’s interest, “in an increasingly nihilistic age, is in how we can recover the sense that our lives are meaningful”.[23]

Note however that Kierkegaard’s meaning of “nihilism” differs from the modern definition in the sense that, for Kierkegaard, levelling led to a life lacking meaning, purpose or value,[20] whereas the modern interpretation of nihilism posits that there was never any meaning, purpose or value to begin with.

Nihilism is often associated with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who provided a detailed diagnosis of nihilism as a widespread phenomenon of Western culture. Though the notion appears frequently throughout Nietzsche’s work, he uses the term in a variety of ways, with different meanings and connotations, all negative[citation needed]. Karen Carr describes Nietzsche’s characterization of nihilism “as a condition of tension, as a disproportion between what we want to value (or need) and how the world appears to operate.”[24] When we find out that the world does not possess the objective value or meaning that we want it to have or have long since believed it to have, we find ourselves in a crisis.[25] Nietzsche asserts that with the decline of Christianity and the rise of physiological decadence,[clarification needed] nihilism is in fact characteristic of the modern age,[26] though he implies that the rise of nihilism is still incomplete and that it has yet to be overcome.[27] Though the problem of nihilism becomes especially explicit in Nietzsche’s notebooks (published posthumously), it is mentioned repeatedly in his published works and is closely connected to many of the problems mentioned there.

Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. This observation stems in part from Nietzsche’s perspectivism, or his notion that “knowledge” is always by someone of some thing: it is always bound by perspective, and it is never mere fact.[28] Rather, there are interpretations through which we understand the world and give it meaning. Interpreting is something we can not go without; in fact, it is something we need. One way of interpreting the world is through morality, as one of the fundamental ways that people make sense of the world, especially in regard to their own thoughts and actions. Nietzsche distinguishes a morality that is strong or healthy, meaning that the person in question is aware that he constructs it himself, from weak morality, where the interpretation is projected on to something external. Regardless of its strength, morality presents us with meaning, whether this is created or ‘implanted,’ which helps us get through life.[29]

Nietzsche discusses Christianity, one of the major topics in his work, at length in the context of the problem of nihilism in his notebooks, in a chapter entitled “European Nihilism”.[30] Here he states that the Christian moral doctrine provides people with intrinsic value, belief in God (which justifies the evil in the world) and a basis for objective knowledge. In this sense, in constructing a world where objective knowledge is possible, Christianity is an antidote against a primal form of nihilism, against the despair of meaninglessness. However, it is exactly the element of truthfulness in Christian doctrine that is its undoing: in its drive towards truth, Christianity eventually finds itself to be a construct, which leads to its own dissolution. It is therefore that Nietzsche states that we have outgrown Christianity “not because we lived too far from it, rather because we lived too close”.[31] As such, the self-dissolution of Christianity constitutes yet another form of nihilism. Because Christianity was an interpretation that posited itself as the interpretation, Nietzsche states that this dissolution leads beyond skepticism to a distrust of all meaning.[32][33]

Stanley Rosen identifies Nietzsche’s concept of nihilism with a situation of meaninglessness, in which “everything is permitted.” According to him, the loss of higher metaphysical values that exist in contrast to the base reality of the world, or merely human ideas, gives rise to the idea that all human ideas are therefore valueless. Rejecting idealism thus results in nihilism, because only similarly transcendent ideals live up to the previous standards that the nihilist still implicitly holds.[34] The inability for Christianity to serve as a source of valuating the world is reflected in Nietzsche’s famous aphorism of the madman in The Gay Science.[35] The death of God, in particular the statement that “we killed him”, is similar to the self-dissolution of Christian doctrine: due to the advances of the sciences, which for Nietzsche show that man is the product of evolution, that Earth has no special place among the stars and that history is not progressive, the Christian notion of God can no longer serve as a basis for a morality.

One such reaction to the loss of meaning is what Nietzsche calls passive nihilism, which he recognises in the pessimistic philos
ophy of Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer’s doctrine, which Nietzsche also refers to as Western Buddhism, advocates a separating of oneself from will and desires in order to reduce suffering. Nietzsche characterises this ascetic attitude as a “will to nothingness”, whereby life turns away from itself, as there is nothing of value to be found in the world. This mowing away of all value in the world is characteristic of the nihilist, although in this, the nihilist appears inconsistent:[36]

A nihilist is a man who judges of the world as it is that it ought not to be, and of the world as it ought to be that it does not exist. According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: the pathos of ‘in vain’ is the nihilists’ pathos at the same time, as pathos, an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.

Nietzsche’s relation to the problem of nihilism is a complex one. He approaches the problem of nihilism as deeply personal, stating that this predicament of the modern world is a problem that has “become conscious” in him.[37] Furthermore, he emphasises both the danger of nihilism and the possibilities it offers, as seen in his statement that “I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism’s] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength!”[38] According to Nietzsche, it is only when nihilism is overcome that a culture can have a true foundation upon which to thrive. He wished to hasten its coming only so that he could also hasten its ultimate departure.[26]

He states that there is at least the possibility of another type of nihilist in the wake of Christianity’s self-dissolution, one that does not stop after the destruction of all value and meaning and succumb to the following nothingness. This alternate, ‘active’ nihilism on the other hand destroys to level the field for constructing something new. This form of nihilism is characterized by Nietzsche as “a sign of strength,”[39] a wilful destruction of the old values to wipe the slate clean and lay down one’s own beliefs and interpretations, contrary to the passive nihilism that resigns itself with the decomposition of the old values. This wilful destruction of values and the overcoming of the condition of nihilism by the constructing of new meaning, this active nihilism, could be related to what Nietzsche elsewhere calls a ‘free spirit'[40] or the bermensch from Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Antichrist, the model of the strong individual who posits his own values and lives his life as if it were his own work of art. It may be questioned, though, whether “active nihilism” is indeed the correct term for this stance, and some question whether Nietzsche takes the problems nihilism poses seriously enough.[41]

Martin Heidegger’s interpretation of Nietzsche influenced many postmodern thinkers who investigated the problem of nihilism as put forward by Nietzsche. Only recently has Heidegger’s influence on Nietzschean nihilism research faded.[42] As early as the 1930s, Heidegger was giving lectures on Nietzsches thought.[43] Given the importance of Nietzsches contribution to the topic of nihilism, Heidegger’s influential interpretation of Nietzsche is important for the historical development of the term nihilism.

Heidegger’s method of researching and teaching Nietzsche is explicitly his own. He does not specifically try to present Nietzsche as Nietzsche. He rather tries to incorporate Nietzsche’s thoughts into his own philosophical system of Being, Time and Dasein.[44] In his Nihilism as Determined by the History of Being (194446),[45] Heidegger tries to understand Nietzsches nihilism as trying to achieve a victory through the devaluation of the, until then, highest values. The principle of this devaluation is, according to Heidegger, the Will to Power. The Will to Power is also the principle of every earlier valuation of values.[46] How does this devaluation occur and why is this nihilistic? One of Heidegger’s main critiques on philosophy is that philosophy, and more specifically metaphysics, has forgotten to discriminate between investigating the notion of a Being (Seiende) and Being (Sein). According to Heidegger, the history of Western thought can be seen as the history of metaphysics. And because metaphysics has forgotten to ask about the notion of Being (what Heidegger calls Seinsvergessenheit), it is a history about the destruction of Being. That is why Heidegger calls metaphysics nihilistic.[47] This makes Nietzsches metaphysics not a victory over nihilism, but a perfection of it.[48]

Heidegger, in his interpretation of Nietzsche, has been inspired by Ernst Jnger. Many references to Jnger can be found in Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche. For example, in a letter to the rector of Freiburg University of November 4, 1945, Heidegger, inspired by Jnger, tries to explain the notion of God is dead as the reality of the Will to Power. Heidegger also praises Jnger for defending Nietzsche against a too biological or anthropological reading during the Third Reich.[49]

Heidegger’s interpretation of Nietzsche influenced a number of important postmodernist thinkers. Gianni Vattimo points at a back-and-forth movement in European thought, between Nietzsche and Heidegger. During the 1960s, a Nietzschean ‘renaissance’ began, culminating in the work of Mazzino Montinari and Giorgio Colli. They began work on a new and complete edition of Nietzsche’s collected works, making Nietzsche more accessible for scholarly research. Vattimo explains that with this new edition of Colli and Montinari, a critical reception of Heidegger’s interpretation of Nietzsche began to take shape. Like other contemporary French and Italian philosophers, Vattimo does not want, or only partially wants, to rely on Heidegger for understanding Nietzsche. On the other hand, Vattimo judges Heidegger’s intentions authentic enough to keep pursuing them.[50] Philosophers who Vattimo exemplifies as a part of this back and forth movement are French philosophers Deleuze, Foucault and Derrida. Italian philosophers of this same movement are Cacciari, Severino and himself.[51]Jrgen Habermas, Jean-Franois Lyotard and Richard Rorty are also philosophers who are influenced by Heidegger’s interpretation of Nietzsche.[52]

Postmodern and poststructuralist thought question the very grounds on which Western cultures have based their ‘truths’: absolute knowledge and meaning, a ‘decentralization’ of authorship, the accumulation of positive knowledge, historical progress, and certain ideals and practices of humanism and the Enlightenment.

Jacques Derrida, whose deconstruction is perhaps most commonly labeled nihilistic, did not himself make the nihilistic move that others have claimed. Derridean deconstructionists argue that this approach rather frees texts, individuals or organizations from a restrictive truth, and that deconstruction opens up the possibility of other ways of being.[53]Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, for example, uses deconstruction to create an ethics of opening up Western scholarship to the voice of the subaltern and to philosophies outside of the canon of western texts.[54] Derrida himself built a philosophy based upon a ‘responsibility to the other’.[55] Deconstruction can thus be seen not as a denial of truth, but as a denial of our ability to know truth (it makes an epistemological claim compared to nihilism’s ontological claim).

Lyotard argues that, rather than relying on an objective truth or method to prove their claims, phi
losophers legitimize their truths by reference to a story about the world that can’t be separated from the age and system the stories belong toreferred to by Lyotard as meta-narratives. He then goes on to define the postmodern condition as characterized by a rejection both of these meta-narratives and of the process of legitimation by meta-narratives. “In lieu of meta-narratives we have created new language-games in order to legitimize our claims which rely on changing relationships and mutable truths, none of which is privileged over the other to speak to ultimate truth.”[citation needed] This concept of the instability of truth and meaning leads in the direction of nihilism, though Lyotard stops short of embracing the latter.

Postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard wrote briefly of nihilism from the postmodern viewpoint in Simulacra and Simulation. He stuck mainly to topics of interpretations of the real world over the simulations of which the real world is composed. The uses of meaning was an important subject in Baudrillard’s discussion of nihilism:

The apocalypse is finished, today it is the precession of the neutral, of forms of the neutral and of indifferenceall that remains, is the fascination for desertlike and indifferent forms, for the very operation of the system that annihilates us. Now, fascination (in contrast to seduction, which was attached to appearances, and to dialectical reason, which was attached to meaning) is a nihilistic passion par excellence, it is the passion proper to the mode of disappearance. We are fascinated by all forms of disappearance, of our disappearance. Melancholic and fascinated, such is our general situation in an era of involuntary transparency.

In Nihil Unbound: Extinction and Enlightenment, Ray Brassier maintains that philosophy has avoided the traumatic idea of extinction, instead attempting to find meaning in a world conditioned by the very idea of its own annihilation. Thus Brassier critiques both the phenomenological and hermeneutic strands of Continental philosophy as well as the vitality of thinkers like Gilles Deleuze, who work to ingrain meaning in the world and stave off the threat of nihilism. Instead, drawing on thinkers such as Alain Badiou, Franois Laruelle, Paul Churchland, and Thomas Metzinger, Brassier defends a view of the world as inherently devoid of meaning. That is, rather than avoiding nihilism, Brassier embraces it as the truth of reality. Brassier concludes from his readings of Badiou and Laruelle that the universe is founded on the nothing,[56] but also that philosophy is the “organon of extinction,” that it is only because life is conditioned by its own extinction that there is thought at all.[57] Brassier then defends a radically anti-correlationist philosophy proposing that Thought is conjoined not with Being, but with Non-Being.

The term Dada was first used by Richard Huelsenbeck and Tristan Tzara in 1916.[58] The movement, which lasted from approximately 1916 to 1922, arose during World War I, an event that influenced the artists.[59] The Dada Movement began in Zrich, Switzerland known as the “Niederdorf” or “Niederdrfli” in the Caf Voltaire.[60] The Dadaists claimed that Dada was not an art movement, but an anti-art movement, sometimes using found objects in a manner similar to found poetry. The “anti-art” drive is thought to have stemmed from a post-war emptiness. This tendency toward devaluation of art has led many to claim that Dada was an essentially nihilistic movement. Given that Dada created its own means for interpreting its products, it is difficult to classify alongside most other contemporary art expressions. Hence, due to its ambiguity, it is sometimes classified as a nihilistic modus vivendi.[59]

The term “nihilism” was actually popularized by Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons, whose hero, Bazarov, was a nihilist and recruited several followers to the philosophy. He found his nihilistic ways challenged upon falling in love.[61]

Anton Chekhov portrayed nihilism when writing Three Sisters. The phrase “what does it matter” or such variants is often spoken by several characters in response to events; the significance of some of these events suggests a subscription to nihilism by said characters as a type of coping strategy.

Ayn Rand vehemently denounced nihilism as an abdication of rationality and the pursuit of happiness which she regarded as life’s moral purpose. As such, most villains are depicted as moral nihilists including Ellsworth Monckton Toohey in The Fountainhead who is a self-aware nihilist and the corrupt government in Atlas Shrugged who are unconsciously driven by nihilism which has taken root in the books depiction of American society with the fictional slang phrase “Who is John Galt?” being used as a defeatist way of saying “Who knows?” or “What does it matter?” by characters in the book who have essentially given up on life.[citation needed]

The philosophical ideas of the French author, the Marquis de Sade, are often noted as early examples of nihilistic principles.[citation needed]

In Act III of Shostakovich’s opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District”, a nihilist is tormented by the Russian police.[citation needed]

A 2007 article in The Guardian noted that “…in the summer of 1977, …punk’s nihilistic swagger was the most thrilling thing in England.”[62] The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen, with its chant-like refrain of “no future”, became a slogan for unemployed and disaffected youth during the late 1970s. Their song Pretty Vacant is also a prime example of the band’s nihilistic outlook. Other influential punk rock and proto-punk bands to adopt nihilistic themes include The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Misfits, Ramones, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Suicide and Black Flag.[63]

Industrial, black metal, death metal, and doom metal music often emphasize nihilistic themes. Explorers of nihilistic themes in heavy metal include Black Sabbath, Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, KMFDM, Opeth, Alice in Chains, Godflesh, Celtic Frost, Ministry, Autopsy, Dismember, Motrhead, Nine Inch Nails, Bathory, Decapitated, Darkthrone, Emperor, Tool, Meshuggah, Candlemass, Morbid Saint, Kreator, Morbid Angel, Sepultura, Exodus, Entombed, Death, Mayhem, Nevermore, Dark Angel, Dissection, Nihilist, Weakling, Obituary, Electric Wizard, Eyehategod, Pantera, Sleep, Xasthur, At the Gates and the band Turbonegro have a song called TNA (The Nihilistic Army), which is solely in reference to outlying principles of nihilism.[64][65][66]

Three of the antagonists in the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski are explicitly described as “nihilists,” but are not shown exhibiting any explicitly nihilistic traits during the film. Regarding the nihilists, the character Walter Sobchak comments “Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.” [67] The 1999 film The Matrix portrays the character Thomas A. Anderson with a hollowed out copy of Baudrillard’s treatise, Simulacra and Simulation, in which he stores contraband data files under the chapter “On Nihilism.” The main antagonist Agent Smith is also depicted frequently as a nihilist, with him ranting about how all of peace, justice and love were meaningless in The Matrix Revolutions.[68] The 1999 film Fight Club also features concepts relating to Nihilism by exploring the contrasts between the artificial values imposed by consumerism in relation to the more meaningful pursuit of spi
ritual happiness.

In keeping with his comic book depiction, The Joker is portrayed as a nihilist in The Dark Knight, describing himself as “an Agent of Chaos” and at one point burning a gigantic pile of money stating that crime is “not about money, it’s about sending a message: everything burns.” Alfred Pennyworth states, regarding the Joker, “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like moneythey can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated withsome men just want to watch the world burn.”[69]

Although the character Barthandelus from Final Fantasy XIII is not referred to as nihilistic in the game itself, he is referred to as such in the Fighting Fate entry for Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.[70]

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free speech fundamentalists – New Statesman

Posted: January 3, 2016 at 5:44 am

Dear liberal pundit,

You and I didnt like George W Bush. Remember his puerile declaration after 9/11 that either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists? Yet now, in the wake of another horrific terrorist attack, you appear to have updated Dubbyas slogan: either you are with free speech . . . or you are against it. Either vous tes Charlie Hebdo . . . or youre a freedom-hating fanatic.

Im writing to you to make a simple request: please stop. You think youre defying the terrorists when, in reality, youre playing into their bloodstained hands by dividing and demonising. Us and them. The enlightened and liberal west v the backward, barbaric Muslims. The massacre in Paris on 7 January was, you keep telling us, an attack on free speech. The conservative former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agrees, calling it a war declared on civilisation. So, too, does the liberal-left pin-up Jon Snow, who crassly tweeted about a clash of civilisations and referred to Europes belief in freedom of expression.

In the midst of all the post-Paris grief, hypocrisy and hyperbole abounds. Yes, the attack was an act of unquantifiable evil; an inexcusable and merciless murder of innocents. But was it really a bid to assassinate free speech (ITVs Mark Austin), to desecrate our ideas of free thought (Stephen Fry)? It was a crime not an act of war perpetrated by disaffected young men; radicalised not by drawings of the Prophet in Europe in 2006 or 2011, as it turns out, but by images of US torture in Iraq in 2004.

Please get a grip. None of us believes in an untrammelled right to free speech. We all agree there are always going to be lines that, for the purposes of law and order, cannot be crossed; or for the purposes of taste and decency, should not be crossed. We differ only on where those lines should be drawn.

Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didnt think so (and I am glad it hasnt). Consider also the thought experiment offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the unity rally in Paris on 11 January wearing a badge that said Je suis Chrif the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. How would the crowd have reacted? . . . Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended? Do you disagree with Klugs conclusion that the man would have been lucky to get away with his life?

Lets be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offend comes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.

When you say Je suis Charlie, is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdos depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave?

Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic. Also, as the former Charlie Hebdo journalist Olivier Cyran argued in 2013, an Islamophobic neurosis gradually took over the magazine after 9/11, which then effectively endorsed attacks on “members of a minority religion with no influence in the corridors of power”.

It’s for these reasons that I can’t “be”, dont want to be”, Charlie if anything, we should want to be Ahmed, the Muslim policeman who was killed while protecting the magazines right to exist. As the novelist Teju Cole has observed, It is possible to defend the right to obscene . . . speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech.

And why have you been so silent on the glaring double standards? Did you not know that Charlie Hebdo sacked the veteran French cartoonist Maurice Sinet in 2008 for making an allegedly anti-Semitic remark? Were you not aware that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published caricatures of the Prophet in 2005, reportedly rejected cartoons mocking Christ because they would provoke an outcry and proudly declared it would in no circumstances . . . publish Holocaust cartoons?

Muslims, I guess, are expected to have thicker skins than their Christian and Jewish brethren. Context matters, too. You ask us to laugh at a cartoon of the Prophet while ignoring the vilification of Islam across the continent (have you visited Germany lately?) and the widespread discrimination against Muslims in education, employment and public life especially in France. You ask Muslims to denounce a handful of extremists as an existential threat to free speech while turning a blind eye to the much bigger threat to it posed by our elected leaders.

Does it not bother you to see Barack Obama who demanded that Yemen keep the anti-drone journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye behind bars, after he was convicted on terrorism-related charges in a kangaroo court jump on the free speech ban wagon? Werent you sickened to see Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of a country that was responsible for the killing of seven journalists in Gaza in 2014, attend the unity rally in Paris? Bibi was joined by Angela Merkel, chancellor of a country where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, and David Cameron, who wants to ban non-violent extremists committed to the overthrow of democracy from appearing on television.

Then there are your readers. Will you have a word with them, please? According to a 2011 YouGov poll, 82 per cent of voters backed the prosecution of protesters who set fire to poppies.

Apparently, it isnt just Muslims who get offended.

Yours faithfully,

Mehdi.

Mehdi Hasan is a New Statesman contributing writer and the political director of the Huffington Post UK, where this column is crossposted

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NATO leaders balk at Russia's threat to nuke warships

Posted: March 24, 2015 at 5:51 am

U.S. troops place a Patriot air and missile defense launching system at a test range in Sochaczew, Poland, March 21, 2015, as part of a joint exercise with Polish troops to demonstrate the U.S. Army’s capacity to deploy Patriot systems rapidly within NATO territory. Getty

BUCHAREST, Romania — Britain’s defense secretary says NATO members Romania and Britain will not be intimidated by threats against members of the military alliance.

“Neither Romania nor Britain will be intimidated by threats to its alliance or its members,” Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Monday during a one-day visit.

His remarks came days after Russia’s ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, said in a published report that Danish warships could become targets for Russian nuclear missiles if the Danes join the alliance’s missile defense system. Bases are planned in the southern Romanian town of Deveselu and in Poland.

“I do not think Danes fully understand the consequences of what happens if Denmark joins the U.S.-led missile defense. If this happens, Danish warships become targets for Russian nuclear missiles,” Vanin was quoted as saying by the newspaper Jyllands-Posten on Saturday.

Should Danes join “we risk considering each other as enemies,” he added.

Vanin’s comments prompted an angry response from Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard, who said they were “unacceptable” and that Vanin had “crossed the line” by saying that “everyone who joins” the shield “in the future will be a target for Russian ballistic missiles.”

However, Lidegaard added that “it is important that the tone between us doesn’t escalate.”

“It never has and never had anything to do with Russia,” Lidegaard said about the missile shield, saying the defense system was aimed at protecting against rogue states or terrorist organizations, among others.

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford wrote on Twitter Saturday that Vanin’s comments “do not inspire confidence” or contribute to peace and stability.

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NATO leaders balk at Russia's threat to nuke warships

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FREE SPEECH ZONE s08e10 (3-14-15) – Video

Posted: March 18, 2015 at 4:52 am



FREE SPEECH ZONE s08e10 (3-14-15)
1) Niels Harrit presents WTC7 Video and WTC Dust samples to Danish Courts 2) Swedish Lawyers to interview Julian Assange in London. 3) Overincarceration in your city? 4) Crimes of Hilary…

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FREE SPEECH ZONE s08e10 (3-14-15) – Video

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One person dead in Copenhagen shooting, Danish police say – Video

Posted: March 14, 2015 at 4:58 am



One person dead in Copenhagen shooting, Danish police say
One person is reportedly dead and others are injured after a shooting at a meeting on free speech where a controversial Swedish cartoonist was speaking. Dani. One person is reportedly dead…

By: Pime Vecu

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One person dead in Copenhagen shooting, Danish police say – Video

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World leaders denounce Copenhagen shootings as attack on freedom of speech, offer condolences

Posted: March 11, 2015 at 7:54 am

Published February 15, 2015

Dansh Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt pays respects Sunday Feb. 15, 2015, at the Copenhagen Synagogue for the victims for the Saturday nights shootings in Copenhagen. Danish police shot and killed a man early Sunday suspected of carrying out shooting attacks at a free speech event and then at a Copenhagen synagogue, killing two men, including a member of Denmark’s Jewish community. Five police officers were also wounded in the attacks. (AP Photo / Thomas Borberg, Polfoto) DENMARK OUT(The Associated Press)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Abir Sultan)(The Associated Press)

Police working at the scene where police shot and killed the alleged shooter in Copenhagen. Shooting took place early Sunday morning close to Noerrebro commuter station. Danish police shot and killed a man early Sunday suspected of carrying out shooting attacks at a free speech event and then at a Copenhagen synagogue, killing two men, including a member of Denmark’s Jewish community. Five police officers were also wounded in the attacks. (AP Photo / Jens Dresling, Polfoto) DENMARK OUT(The Associated Press)

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt in front of the Synagogue in Copehagen, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015. A man opened fire Saturday killing a Danish documentary filmmaker and a member of the Scandinavian countrys Jewish community and wounding five police officers in the attacks. (AP Photo/Polfoto, Jens Dresling) DENMARK OUT(The Associated Press)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark Public figures across Europe and beyond on Sunday condemned the attack by an unidentified gunman against a free speech event and a synagogue in Copenhagen that left three people dead, including the suspected perpetrator. Investigators in the Danish capital say the gunman could have been inspired by the terror attacks in Paris last month, in which three Islamic radicals killed 17 people at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, a kosher grocery store and elsewhere.

Here’s a look at some of the reactions to the events in Copenhagen:

“Denmark has been hit by terror.”

“As a nation we have experienced a few hours that we will never forget. We have tasted the nasty taste of fear and powerlessness that the terrorists want us to taste.”

“We do not know the motive for the alleged perpetrator’s actions, but we know that there are forces that want to hurt Denmark. They want to rebuke our freedom of speech.” – Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

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World leaders denounce Copenhagen shootings as attack on freedom of speech, offer condolences

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