This week, no small task – rewiring the greatest delete key of them all. An attempted reanimation of debates about extinction. And in the face of such a large beast swooping down on us, all we can hope for today is a work in progress, but at least, let us hope, this can be a kind of rewritable excursion. An extinction list then, of beings, machines and hybrid combinations.
Cute & Pretty Animals
These are actually called ’emblem species’ by some scientists, referring to the ways eco-lobbyists use cuties to appeal to the general public’s heart strings whilst aiming to conserve larger ecologies. This means that while koalas and dolphins are hanging in there ok ( well not all dolphins), plenty of uglier animals with their own important roles to play within the eco-system, are getting shafted. Sometimes the handsome ones have to take it on the chin too, such as the last Tasmanian tiger, who died alone in captivity in 1936. There’s a preserved tassie tiger foetus in the Hobart museum, and they’re hoping to recreate one by 2010 with DNA samples. While such Jurassic Park schemes are fascinating, The WWF ( not the wrestlers) put it bluntly: “At present rates of extinction , as many as 20% of the world’s 7-15 million species could be gone in the next 30 years.”
The Military Industrial Entertainment Complex
Presumably CDs & DVDs will be eventually relegated to the dustbins of history, given tech+media acceleration of late. Maybe they’ll find some retro respect and delayed redundance, who knows? A more interesting query: how long will the current systems set up to distribute these discs last, before caving in on themselves? Is Mp3 really the new radio? DivX the new cinema? Does this mean our grandkids’ll ask – what’s a record company? What’s a video rental store? There’s too much money in them there hills, for the data networks to miss out on developing, so although the methods of distribution and pie-slicing are in the midst of giant transitions, and change inevitable, there’ll undoubtedly remain pie slicers of some sort for the foreseeable future.
Even More Species
5 -10 million African elephants existed in 1930. Around half a million remained when they were added to the international list of the most endangered species in 1989. 1900 saw about 100,000 cheetah worldwide – present estimates place their number at 10,000 -15,000 with about one tenth of those living in captivity. Of the dozens of species of rhino that once roamed the earth, only 5 now exist. Where there were once over 100,000 black rhinos on the plains of Africa, there are now only 2,707 on the entire continent. Many more number games available online of course, but they all boil down to the same thing : we are wiping out more species than any time since the dinosaurs disappeared, neither a healthy or smart practice.
Music Containing Distorted Guitars
Is unlikely to disappear anytime before the mass media regime collapses, but there are other more interesting considerations for the guitar. Reanimating the exquisitely quirky corpse of everybody’s secretly favourite band, might be possible if we can say, somehow extract juice from recordings the Pixies have left behind. Some future maths head after anally analysing these discs, could concoct a series of algorhythms for producing endless genetic variations of music the Pixies might’ve made. Presumably with a lame filter to dramatically reduce it’s quality after 10 albums. For now, we can only face the music – the Pixies are gone. Kaput. Vamoosh. Extinguished. No more chances to witness live, Frank Black croon/ creak / rasp / threaten like a sad punk :
“I smeehhll smoooke that comes from a gun named extinction”.
Of course, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Fanning the Flames
As members of the species most effectively extinguishing others, it’s a mighty ripe time for behaviour modifcation. Scientists and technologists can also save us. All they have to do to turn back the tide of extinction, is invent a machine which stops crucial habitat destruction, limits human population growth, evens out our distribution of goods and foods, our wealth, and curbs human greed. The internet can be the loudspeaker on such a machine.
Arm wrestling with ghost limbs
Ghost limbs are what you get, when say an Afghanistani landmine claims one of yours and a lingering sensation sometimes convinces you that you really still have all limbs, really you do. This phenomenon really exists too, really it does. Some nervous system cache perhaps? At any rate, arm wrestling with ghost limbs is yet to exist, and thus is at no risk of going extinct. Never mind.