The Weekest Links : as darkness falls

Long time no see, children, I know I know. Aunt Alice's been really busy these last few weeks/months, being all internationally-requested by the world's conference elite and having to appear globally-awesome for the planetary media apparatus. Tough life. Happy New Year BTW, and welcome back to our semi-regular chronicles of web yummyness here on stress. As I usually do after a long writing hiatus, here is a heart-felt promise that some working discipline will be applied and that these falsely modest paragraphs will resume their golden-era regularity and make justice to the now forsaken name of the show. Weekest they shall be, these links that have brought us together here today. Welcome back.

International conference Saturday, 25 January/ Sunday, 26 January 2014 
Volksbühne Am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin

I confess: all the hots I had for this conference came from the expectation of seeing Bruce Sterling in the flesh, a recurring theme on this show if you've been paying any attention. Didn't make it to Berlin, oh well, they have a live stream embed on the site so I thought I'd just watch it there. Before diving into the conference themes, which you already guessed by looking at the image above, let me just say that their "stream" is one of the worst I've seen, painfully slow, continuously interrupted by ads (!), and only the truly devout could ever take that much abuse and keep watching. So much for self-empowerment.

"The conference “As Darkness Falls” reflects on the growing scepticism toward a security society which monitors all areas of life around the clock and encroaches on the remaining and unclaimed niches 
where freedom is still possible."

Yeah, well. Like I said, I was only in it for Mr. Sterling. Thing is, I've been wondering a lot lately about this digital control/mass surveillance issue, and I'm growing increasingly uncomfortable with the "progressive" a.k.a leftist response to the Snowden-powered debate about the NSA and the thing-formerly-known-as-The-Internet. What is it about these activists that is always so self-righteous and so indignado that they always come out screaming against the evil ways of the world, without any appreciation for the fact that the real world is made of real people, real conflicts, never-ending knots that you just can't untangle with your hipster morals - let alone cut, for you do not possess thy royal sword?

"Gee, the planet is a complicated place, we all knew that already Alice, thanks." Well, you sure not letting people in on your hard-earned knowledge, lefties. What's more, you sure aren't getting up on your encryption skills, your bitcoin-as-protocol entrepreneurial workshop sessions, your deep dark web publishing network establishment. You know what else you're not doing?  Realizing that Europe, Western & Eastern, despite The Austerity, is still a beacon of light and enlightenment, in a world lost to Syrian uprisings, Afghan poppy seeds, Mexican beheadings and Colombian neckties, Chinese colonialism, Rwuandan secret police. 

The light which you hold in your hands (and those of you who have already watched the conference's "live stream" will know that I am now completely paraphrasing Mr. Sterling here - and going on a rant, which was totally not the initial intention), the light which you European/leftists/activists/conference-organizing and conference-going groupies now hold in your hands is the flame of Reason, and Doubt, and Self-Consciousness. Use it, by Jove. Not in the offended hand-wringing ways that have now permanently stuck to your persona as a group, with your demonstrations and your eating out at the local organic communal kitchen, no. Use the privilege that you have been granted - by the same forces that you so publicly decry, one might add - and get up to speed on the truly important issues of the day. It might help you, and the world, to face whatever is coming next with a little more humanity and dignity than what now passes for "emergent social movements". Also, help me do my job and click the links: 

This will take you to the Conference site. This will take you to the video archive. 

I will see you next week, promise, right here on In the mean time, do take care.

Alice Politics