Hollow Urban Centers

in #news25 days ago


The above image was made with stable diffusion using the prompt 'glowing wires in a brain Be the Change You Want to See.'

I just sent out a new Substack newsletter. Titled 'Be the Change You Want to See,' the piece includes stuff from this blog along with original material. It gets into trauma, mental illness, and addiction, with a focus on how these things benefit the control regime. In short, unwell people are good consumers who pose no threat to the regime's power.

Although the news has been dominated by foreign wars lately, I did run across this article from the Economist that said a fourth of police departments are using drones while a tenth of departments are using facial recognition technology. And a Daily Mail article described the retail theft crisis contributing to the hollowing out of urban centers. From the article:

A CVS pharmacy in Washington DC has been forced to replace almost all its stock with photographs in an attempt to combat rampant shoplifting. ... Amid the shoplifting crisis, CVS has joined rival drugstore chains Rite Aid and Walgreens in closing over 1,500 stores combined in the coming months. ... As a result of the routine shoplifting occurring across the country, data from CapitalOne Research estimated stores had lost $86.6 billion to retail theft in 2022 and projected that by 2025, retail theft may cost stores over $115 billion. ... Analysts at UBS have also predicted that at least 50,000 shops will close in the US over the next five years due to the increase in theft coupled with moves to online shopping.

This crisis appears to involve three types of criminals. There are swarms of juvenile delinquents who coordinate their attacks with texts. There are individual opportunists who loot at every opportunity. And there are organized crime groups stealing for online resale markets.

Here in Minneapolis, this is a relatively new phenomenon. It began in 2020 and never went away. Notably, the total surveillance of everything has not stopped the large scale thefts. Criminals are aware that no one is out there solving crimes and trying to catch them. The police may have drones now, but they're not using them to chase shoplifters.

The disappearance of retail is combining with massive office space vacancies to destroy formerly vibrant neighborhoods. Instead of crowds of people working and shopping, there are crowds of people camping on the sidewalk, strung out on drugs and begging for money. While the endgame is unclear, this situation is clearly unsustainable.

Some areas will devolve into slums. Some areas will feature armed guards at every turn. If rent prices collapse, businesses may begin returning to the empty locations, producing a fresh round of gentrification. Unfortunately, once a place is lost, it's hard to bring it back.

Mass surveillance aided by facial recognition systems is very dystopian. So is combating shoplifting by replacing actual products with pictures of products on store shelves. Our immediate future looks like hollowed out urban centers overrun with petty criminals who are beyond caring about getting caught on camera. Even in a best case scenario, it'll take years to turn things around.

Read my novels:

See my NFTs:

  • Small Gods of Time Travel is a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt that goes with my book by the same name.
  • History and the Machine is a 20 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on my series of oil paintings of interesting people from history.
  • Artifacts of Mind Control is a 15 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on declassified CIA documents from the MKULTRA program.

I really want to know what will happen to some areas
Things will change. Imaging big cities turning to slums or amy barracks
It will be sad

Community oriented models of commerce and land use could improve the situation. But things will probably get worse before they get better.

Sometimes in as much as we should be the change we want, I can tell that it's not always easy. It requires persistency

Persistence, yes, but it also requires authenticity.

WOW. Super disturbing. Replacing actual products with pictures of products on store shelves? Holy shit. Another dystopian consideration is that more money gets fueled into law enforcement systems, yet crime and drug use in our streets have only gotten worse. This is similar to how we pour the most money into healthcare than other countries, and we're more chronically sick than ever.

So when people say mass surveillance is needed to address crime, or all the money going into Big Pharma is to keep Americans healthy, there's a clear cognitive dissonance we need to address here.

Yeah the cognitive dissonance is real. We spend billions to solve problems and in so doing only make the problems worse. I feel like any true solution would begin with totally revising our stories about the world and how it works. Anything else will just lead to more of the same.