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Default Color me shocked (Project Venus)

June 11th, 2009, 16:45
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
You lived in a commune? Cool! Care to tell more about it? A living hell/a crunchy hippie utopia/a cult/something else?
Kind of all of the above, really, except 'cult'—happy to talk about it, it was a very …formative experience.

(I know a quite a few people, from a pretty wide range of age groups, who did that; I even stayed with one of them for two weeks; the place was called the Atlantis Art Colloquium, run by a part-time poker player, part-time landlord, full-time pothead called Marvin Marsian. It was a way cool and sometimes surprising experience, like when I first ran into Mooncat the house astrologer/nudist, or when Robie put weed into the communal stir-fry without bothering to mention it. "I like cooking with grass," she later explained.)
That about sums up the fun parts.
The place was called Mad Green, and it was located in a four story multi-flat frame building in the San Francisco Mission district. ( Mad Green of course being a rip-off of the house called Big Pink, where Bob Dylan and the Band used to hole up and get high and make records.) We had Dave the postal worker whose enslavement to the man paid the rent and bought the groceries, along with the allowance my first husband the Blind Buddha received from his parents and Soc Sec Disability for actually being legally blind, a few permanent residents and an assortment of crazed hippy types from all over the country who came and crashed and traded their illegal substances for a few weeks lodging.

I'm afraid as communes go, it was extremely slipshod, and the same people (me) always did the dishes, took out the garbage and cooked the brown rice and tamari and salted plums while the other same people sat crosslegged on the floor and discussed how to save the world and where to find the best acid. No doubt the whole saving the world thing would have come off much better without that second ambition. We did have fun though and nobody was seriously harmed or harmed anyone else. (—someday I'll scan my wedding pics and you can get a better flavor.)

I remember a few amusing anecdotes; once when Eddie Sneath (alias) went grocery shopping and convinced the Safeway checkout girl that he could indeed purchase a gallon jug of Ernest and Julio's finest with his food stamps because he was using it to flavor the hot dog stew he intended to make, and once when a San Francisco cop stopped his motorcycle and asked me to take the marijuana plants out of the front windowbox and grow them in the back where no one could see them.

The end of, and point of the story I guess is that nothing ever got done, the losers used the producers, and eventually everyone just drifted off and left the world pretty much unsaved.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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June 11th, 2009, 16:46
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Indeed it mustn't — but the Venus Project, and other utopian systems like it, do. They say so right on their website: it won't work, and can't work, until the whole world works like it.
Is that really what you get from reading their thoughts?

They're giving you their version of what they think is wrong with the world, and how they think it could be improved. They're not trying to force it upon anyone, nor are they claiming it will be a perfect system.

Actually, I think *you* are. There's a big difference between attempting to make the world a better place, bit by little bit, in whatever way comes best to you, and attempting to envision a utopia and then hack a path to it.
Hack a path to it?

We really must see this in very different ways.

Most utopian dreams are harmless, but they do have a very real danger — the temptation of the ends justifying the means. The thinking behind any form of totalitarianism or extremism, from Stalin to the old fart who shot the poor security guard in DC just now, is that utopia is just around the corner, and all we have to do is make a few sacrifices now to get there.
Again, I think you fundamentally fail to realise how they're intending this should work. Whether human beings use their ideas for ill purposes or not, it doesn't mean the ideas are not good or sound.
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June 11th, 2009, 16:54
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
The end of, and point of the story I guess is that nothing ever got done, the users used the producers, and eventually everyone just drifted off and left the world pretty much unsaved.
I am glad you confirm my stereotype of that kind of place dte will also like this summary…

Originally Posted by DArtagnan
Again, I think you fundamentally fail to realise how they're intending this should work. Whether human beings use their ideas for ill purposes or not, it doesn't mean the ideas are not good or sound.
As far as I understand PJ he doesnt care about intent. Belief in distant utopian goals has all too often led to cutting of corners as far as individual freedoms go. If we only try a little harder or sacrifice a little more we'll reach that utopia that makes it all worth it
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June 11th, 2009, 16:55
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Kind of all of the above, really, except 'cult'—happy to talk about it, it was a very …formative experience.


That about sums up the fun parts.
The place was called Mad Green, and it was located in a four story multi-flat frame building in the San Francisco Mission district. ( Mad Green of course being a rip-off of the house called Big Pink, where Bob Dylan and the Band used to hole up and get high and make records.) We had Dave the postal worker whose enslavement to the man paid the rent and bought the groceries, along with the allowance my first husband the Blind Buddha received from his parents and Soc Sec Disability for actually being legally blind, a few permanent residents and an assortment of crazed hippy types from all over the country who came and crashed and traded their illegal substances for a few weeks lodging.

The end of, and point of the story I guess is that nothing ever got done, the losers used the producers, and eventually everyone just drifted off and left the world pretty much unsaved.
Ok, that's too cool. My respect for you just went up ten fold

As for not saving the world, I wouldn't worry about that. Everyone wants to save the world, but who says the world wants to be saved

Despite all my rage.
I'm still just a rat in a cage.
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June 11th, 2009, 16:57
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Indeed, if it was possible.

I'm not sure how you'd go about figuring that out?
Argument and experience. We can take the ideas they're proposing, try to figure out what would be needed to get them to work, then see if those prerequisites can be met. For example, we already know a great deal about what makes us humans tick, how far, and how, our personalities are molded by environment and which parts are instinctive, and so on. So, for example, we could try to look for previous attempts at molding people's behavior through conditioning, and see how far they succeeded and where they failed, and what it tells about the limits of such conditioning.

With all the different cultures and societies — both spontaneously evolved and consciously engineered — that we have, there's no shortage of material to work with.

That's ok with me, and I don't expect many to agree with their approach, much less understand it.
Their approach isn't hard to understand. In fact, it's when you DON'T understand it that it becomes easy to agree with. Once you understand what they're attempting, and how it compares to similar attempts before, the problems become apparent. If you approach it naively, without that understanding, you're much more likely to be "colored shocked" by how awesome it seems.

Oh where, exactly, would I find my vision articulated in a better way? I'm really curious about this.
Plato, Thomas More, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Proudhon, Orwell, Vonnegut, Huxley, Theodore Sturgeon, Heinlein, Ayn Rand, de Grazia, Iain M. Banks, Ken McLeod for starters, and then Karl R. Popper to show where they all go wrong. I strongly disagree with almost all of these, but all of them have stronger intellectual underpinnings than the Venus Project, even Ayn Rand.

Somehow I get the feeling you think reading is better than observing, but I could be wrong. Maybe that's why you think so highly of spending your time reading?
No, I don't believe reading is better than observing. However, it's a huge time-saver. Without reading, we'll end up simply repeating the same experiments and same mistakes over and over again. We'll only make progress if we're able to build on what we already know — "standing on the shoulders of giants," as someone or other put it.

Reading is the only way we know that lets us build a map of our existing knowledge; to know when we're exploring genuinely uncharted territory, and when we're simply treading in the footsteps of people who have already been there, enslaved the natives, strip-mined the mountains, and clear-cut the forests.
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June 11th, 2009, 17:00
As far as I understand PJ he doesnt care about intent. Belief in distant utopian goals has all too often led to cutting of corners as far as individual freedoms go. If we only try a little harder or sacrifice a little more we'll reach that utopia that makes it all worth it
But that's the basic point I'm trying to make. They want people to open to this, and they know and understand that nothing good will come of it unless people agree it's a good idea.

Naturally, I can't exclude that people who join up won't fully understand, and there's a VERY real possibility that they might start bending their vision and intention.

It's at that point I will no longer feel that I agree with them.

It's not like I'm saying this is sure to have a perfect execution, I just happen to agree about what the primary problems we currently face in the world - and that it's through open education we have the only chance of making the necessary changes.
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June 11th, 2009, 17:06
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Is that really what you get from reading their thoughts?

They're giving you their version of what they think is wrong with the world, and how they think it could be improved. They're not trying to force it upon anyone, nor are they claiming it will be a perfect system.
Actually… not quite. They're giving you their version of what they think is wrong with the world, all right, but they're not saying how they think it should be improved. Instead, they're saying how they think it should work. That's different. They're articulating a goal, but ignoring the problems inherent in reaching that goal, and (worse!) the problems inherent in the goal itself — specifically, the little practical matter of acquiring an automated productive capability so powerful that nobody needs to work unless they want to.

Hack a path to it?

We really must see this in very different ways.
To be fair, they're not doing that either. They're just painting a pie in the sky and going "wouldn't that be cool?" without articulating any way at all of actually getting there. Again, that can make for good sci-fi, but it's not very useful if your objective is to make the world a better place.

Again, I think you fundamentally fail to realise how they're intending this should work. Whether human beings use their ideas for ill purposes or not, it doesn't mean the ideas are not good or sound.
Yeah — that's because they're not saying how they intend it should work. The program is long on goals, short on means. Anyone can make up a utopia if they can just invoke magic — divine magic, in medieval times; technological magic, in this case. I don't have a lot of respect for that. It's when you can articulate an intellectually coherent program to actually do it that things become interesting, and The Venus Project is remarkably vague on that score.

(I forgot Arthur C. Clarke from my reading list — his The City And The Stars deals with this kind of thing too. He was honest enough to situate it so far in the future that the sun was starting to turn into a red giant, though.)
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June 11th, 2009, 17:08
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
But that's the basic point I'm trying to make. They want people to open to this, and they know and understand that nothing good will come of it unless people agree it's a good idea.
Oh, I agree that it'd be a freakin' GREAT idea to have sustainable technology that automagically provides us with everything we want or need. It's getting there that's the problem, and, as stated, that's where The Venus Project gets awfully vague.
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June 11th, 2009, 17:12
After noting that they link to the Zeitgeist movement I frankly think that they are the ones who dont understand much of anything. That is the Midas touch of insanity as far as I am concerned.

Zeitgesit - the movie can be summed up as:

The world is run by an evil cabal of central bankers (I think they got their idea of the economy from Mudsling and warped it just a little bit extra)
The US war of independence was a war to escape the clutches of said evil bankers
The Bush family is part of the cabal
9/11 is a fake

All presented with all the suggestive movie tricks in the book I was sort of waiting for them to add that the bankers collaborate with ZOG, but they never got that far…
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June 11th, 2009, 17:14
When I read their description, this little bit of dialogue from South Park popped in my head:

"Step One: Collect Underpants!
Step Two: (nothing on the sign, the character speaking pauses)
Step Three: Profit!"

If they want to go about with this thought experiment, okay, I guess, but I'd much rather have people turn utopian idealism into something that could pay out real dividends and benefits, today.

I have to agree w/ PJ on the intellectual side, too, by the way. None of this struck me as new…Just updated with modern technology and with intellectual and philosophical underpinnings ripped out.

At least The Republic had "a plan" for carrying it out, you know? He discussed how the children would be educated in the creches, etc.

Edit: Not that 'old' ideas are bad. I'm perfectly fine with them if they're applicable, sensible, or workable. I don't think this one is.
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June 11th, 2009, 17:15
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Argument and experience. We can take the ideas they're proposing, try to figure out what would be needed to get them to work, then see if those prerequisites can be met. For example, we already know a great deal about what makes us humans tick, how far, and how, our personalities are molded by environment and which parts are instinctive, and so on. So, for example, we could try to look for previous attempts at molding people's behavior through conditioning, and see how far they succeeded and where they failed, and what it tells about the limits of such conditioning.
That's what they're doing.

Actually, it's an on-going process.

With all the different cultures and societies — both spontaneously evolved and consciously engineered — that we have, there's no shortage of material to work with.
That's exactly what they're basing their conclusions on. They've looked at how things haven't worked, and they're suggesting how it might work.

Their approach isn't hard to understand. In fact, it's when you DON'T understand it that it becomes easy to agree with. Once you understand what they're attempting, and how it compares to similar attempts before, the problems become apparent. If you approach it naively, without that understanding, you're much more likely to be "colored shocked" by how awesome it seems.
Why must you insist on me being shocked by their ideas. I started out by explaining how I've had these ideas for years.

Again, you utterly fail to understand on a very basic level.

You're obsessed with this being unimpressive, and you leave no opportunity to brag unused.

You should really be prepared to accept that the only way you can possibly make an impression upon me, is to set aside your ego and focus on truthful and open communication.

It's good that you've spent so much time reading all these books, but knowledge is gathered in a multitude of ways. It's the application of the tools we have as human beings that can potentially impress, and knowledge is only a tool if we use it as such.

As long as a person is capable of reading, he can sit down and read until he's blue in the face.

Reading and comprehending what you read are two very different things indeed, and even comprehending is no guarentee of positive gain. That would depend on what you read.

Plato, Thomas More, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Proudhon, Orwell, Vonnegut, Huxley, Theodore Sturgeon, Heinlein, Ayn Rand, de Grazia, Iain M. Banks, Ken McLeod for starters, and then Karl R. Popper to show where they all go wrong. I strongly disagree with almost all of these, but all of them have stronger intellectual underpinnings than the Venus Project, even Ayn Rand.
I'm sorry, you're not capable of giving me a single example - and you mentioning Marx and Rand, for instance, is just another example of fundamental incapacity to understand what I'm trying to say.

You seem to think communism is new to me, or the concept of a utopian society is new to me.

But it's easy to reference a bunch of writers and pretend they've all said exactly the same thing.

Look at what the people in question are saying, and then point out who said this in a better way.

Otherwise, stop making claims you can't possibly back up - it's useless.
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June 11th, 2009, 17:17
Bah, ok - hehe.

Too many people piling on, and I'm not prepared to spend this amount of time trying to defend what I really had no intention of defending.

Whether they're blind morons or happy puppies - it's for sure that they're not going to convince those of you participating - and since I was already convinced - this is where I'll have to call it quits.

Still, maybe I'll return in 50 years and see if anything's changed
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June 11th, 2009, 17:21
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
Ok, that's too cool. My respect for you just went up ten fold
I don't know about respect—most of what went on during that time in my life was pretty worthless except as what used to be called a learning experience and now is referred to as 'a teachable moment."

As for not saving the world, I wouldn't worry about that. Everyone wants to save the world, but who says the world wants to be saved…
Well, it certainly seems to struggle against it.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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June 11th, 2009, 18:58
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
That's what they're doing.

Actually, it's an on-going process.
No, they're not. They're not looking at precedent. They want to carry out a social experiment.

That's exactly what they're basing their conclusions on. They've looked at how things haven't worked, and they're suggesting how it might work.
Again, no they're not. They're critiquing current society, and proposing a utopian solution to its ills. As far as I can tell, they're not even acknowledging that similar utopian experiments have been attempted before, let alone explaining what they've learned from them, and how their solution addresses the reasons why they failed.

Why must you insist on me being shocked by their ideas. I started out by explaining how I've had these ideas for years.

Again, you utterly fail to understand on a very basic level.

You're obsessed with this being unimpressive, and you leave no opportunity to brag unused.

You should really be prepared to accept that the only way you can possibly make an impression upon me, is to set aside your ego and focus on truthful and open communication.
You're the one bringing me and my ego into this — most of your post was whining about what a miserable, conceited person I am and how I don't UNDERSTAND! you or them. Feel free to ignore all of that and concentrate on the substance of what I'm saying.

(snip rest of that stuff)

But it's easy to reference a bunch of writers and pretend they've all said exactly the same thing.
I'm not saying they're saying exactly the same thing. That would be absurd, because they aren't. However, they *are* all examples of thinkers who devised imaginary utopian societies; some of them even attempted to devise programs to put them into practice, and all of them had stronger intellectual underpinnings than this particular project.

Look at what the people in question are saying, and then point out who said this in a better way.
I already provided you with two: Alfred de Grazia and Iain M. Banks. Read his Culture cycle. They're nice, solid, utopian Communist science fiction, and quite exciting to read even if you don't care for the social and political underpinnings.
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June 11th, 2009, 19:48
Like Zaleukos already mentioned, if anyone has seen Zeitgeist 2 they know what kind of crazy world view these people share.

By the way, isn't the project leader Fresco a social engineer? If he would be a real engineer maybe he might have a more realistic point of view how to develop society further.
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June 11th, 2009, 20:02
Thanks for the pointer, Surlent. I found an FAQ written by Jacque Fresco on their site. It goes into a good bit more detail than the site… but doesn't really answer any of my questions. It's still "technology will provide" and "we will create the New Man" to all of those hard questions. It really is similar to Banks's or McLeod's anarcho-Communism.

[ http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/…d=28&Itemid=66 ]
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June 11th, 2009, 23:00
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
When I read their description, this little bit of dialogue from South Park popped in my head:

"Step One: Collect Underpants!
Step Two: (nothing on the sign, the character speaking pauses)
Step Three: Profit!"

If they want to go about with this thought experiment, okay, I guess, but I'd much rather have people turn utopian idealism into something that could pay out real dividends and benefits, today.

I like that analogy.

……….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe6kGJDGctU
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June 12th, 2009, 00:19
Ah Mags, you bring back memories of my time living in a commune in Denmark where we shared everything and clothes were optional. Pity I had to eventually go back to university and complete my 'education'!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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June 12th, 2009, 04:00
Those were the days, eh?
(Why do I now feel so old? )

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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June 12th, 2009, 04:56
Because, like me, you are!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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