Category - Interviews

Talking war and secrecy with William M. Arkin

For the last 40 years, William M. Arkin has been studying war: first for the Army, when he was a military analyst stationed in West Berlin, then for groups like the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Human Rights Watch. He has also been a columnist for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. In 2010, Arkin made waves coauthoring the series “Top Secret America” with Dana Priest for the Washington Post (later published as a book of the same name). Recently he launched Phase Zero, a Gawker blog covering national security issues. His latest book, Unmanned: Drones, Data, and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare, arrives July 28.

Continue reading on The Kernel

Peter Levenda on Cthulhu, Kenneth Grant, and the ‘sinister forces’ in American history

If you want the maximum bang for your book-buying buck, you could do worse than Peter Levenda. Aside from his probable authorship of the Necronomicon, Levenda has written something like a dozen books on occult history. His most ambitious work, Sinister Forces, is a three-volume set that details the dark side of the American story, from whatever happened to those pre-Colombian American civilizations to CIA mind control experimentation and beyond. Ultimately, Sinister Forces is an examination of America’s failure to acknowledge the existence of evil — and it does this through a relentless deluge of conspiracist high weirdness. The books are fascinating, and they’ve earned kudos from fellow authors Jim Hougan (who called it “one of the darkest and most provocative books that you are ever likely to read”) and Norman Mailer.

I interviewed Levenda a while back about these sinister forces, and about his book The Dark Lord: H.P. Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant, and the Typhonian Tradition in Magic. The transcript was edited for space and clarity, mostly because I had a fever when I did the interview, and really I wasn’t making all that much sense. This didn’t seem to bother Levenda, however. He’s able to be erudite and well-spoken with very little prompting.

In The Dark Lord, you discuss the occult significance of H.P. Lovecraft’s work — an idea that Lovecraft himself would disavow. When did you become interested in the subject?

It was the paradox that intrigued me initially. Lovecraft was a self-professed atheist, and someone of a very scientific bent. He started writing articles for an astronomy magazine, he had wanted to become a scientist and an astronomer. He just wasn’t able to do that because of his family situation, living at home and the fact that he was sickly through most of high school and had a very hard time graduating high school because of that. So, one thing led to another and he wasn’t able to gratify that urge that he had. But he considered himself a scientist. He had no patience with mysticism, occultism, or religion for that matter. Yet he is considered the father of modern gothic horror, which for him is based on a scientific appreciation of the fact of science, of the fact that reality as we know it, being at its heart composed of vast distances and vast amounts of time. He found that to be unsettling. He was totally opposed to any idea of their being any kind of spiritual forces or entities coming into this world from the outside. And yet, that’s all he wrote about.

Continue reading on The Conspiracy Review

The presidency is unsustainable: an interview with Joseph G. Peschek

 

Joseph G. Peschek is the Chair of the Department of Political Science at Hamline University. His latest book, The Unsustainable Presidency: Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Beyond, argues that the the modern American president’s power largely exists within a narrow context: to produce unlimited economic growth and national security through the expansion of empire.

Do you believe America now has an “imperial presidency,” as John Boehner has charged, in which President Obama is exercising power beyond constitutional limits?

That ‘imperial presidency’ charge is short-term politics. In the context of some of the things that Obama has done on immigration, in particular maybe relations with Cuba and a few other things, there’s nothing new about that. I would say that we do have an imperial presidency, but it’s not because presidents issue executive orders from time to time that upset the other side of the aisle. We have an imperial presidency because America is an imperial power.

Just to refer to Obama’s State of the Union address, he did talk about the troops coming home and so forth, but at the same time he asked for authorization to attack ISIS, and those sorts of operations will continue. And that’s part and parcel with a modern imperial presidency. America’s a global superpower with military and undercover operations all over the world, and that’s probably going to continue. And there’s very little debate about that, because both sides are pretty much committed to that approach—whatever differences they might have about relations with Cuba, for example, the show goes on.

Continue reading on WhoWhatWhy

 

Wikileaks meets Surveillance Valley: An interview with Julian Assange

“The problem,” says Julian Assange, is that “a lot of groups that would normally criticize Google, the nonprofits that are involved in the tech sector are funded directly or indirectly by Google. Or by USAID. Or by Freedom House. Google and its extended network have significant patronage in the very groups that would normally be criticizing it.”

Assange is speaking over the telephone from his exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. I’m 3,700 miles away in the eastern United States. The connection is awful, which makes the conversation stilted and weird. It also lends the whole affair a certain degree of intrigue. It feels like the secret police could bust in and confiscate our shortwave radios at any minute.

“For example,” he continues, “the EFF is a great group, and they’ve done good things for us, but nonetheless it is significantly funded by Google, or people who work at Google.”

I wanted to make sure I heard him right: “Are you saying that if it didn’t have those ties, that the EFF would be more outspoken against Google?”

Continue reading on PandoDaily

Yasha Levine: using the web to fight ‘journalistic malpractice’

In the United States, the question of who is (and isn’t) a journalist has always been hotly debated, but in the age of blogs and web-only news organizations the issue is more important than ever. For Yasha Levine, a founding editor of The Exiled, this isn’t rhetorical — and he has the mugshot to prove it (or he will, as soon as he gets around to asking for one).

Yasha and I recently spent an hour talking about the rise of Russian-style politics in this country, Occupy LA, the hazards of going against the media mainstream, and what The Exiled is doing about “journalistic malpractice.”

Continue reading at The Verge

5 Minutes on The Verge: Irin Carmon


Irin Carmon is a journalist and commentator whose work has appeared in publications including Jezebel and Salon, where she’s a staff writer. She was kind enough to take five minutes (give or take) to talk to me about the panel she moderated at SXSW, “Curing a Rage Headache: Internet Drama & Activism,” as well as the general theme of changing the world in the age of trolls. Her most recent article for Salon, “White Male Nerd Culture’s Last Stand,” addresses the ways that the conference has tried to encourage diversity “in a still-segregated world.”

Continue reading at The Verge

5 Minutes on The Verge: Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music

Peter Kirn is a composer / musician, media artist, educator, technology writer, and the creator and editor of one of our favorite websites, Create Digital Music. When not busy making music (and writing about it for various publications), he’s somehow found time to author Real World Digital Audio from Peachpit Press and edit our current favorite airport read, Keyboard Presents: the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music (Backbeat). We’d like to thank him from taking time from his current move to Berlin to answer a few questions.

Continue reading at The Verge

5 Minutes on The Verge: R.U. Sirius

Ken “R. U. Sirius” Goffman first gained substantial notoriety as the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Mondo 2000 in 1989. Since then, he’s been in movies, a band (Mondo Vanilli), podcasts, and authored a number of books (including Counterculture Through the Ages and Design for Dying with Timothy Leary). He also ran for president in 2000 as the candidate for The Revolution Party — sadly, he lost. Currently you can find him at Acceler8or, a website that bills itself as “your thoroughfare to all the best transhumanist bits and bytes, with a side order of strangeness and charm.”

Continue reading at The Verge