The basic problem with modern BRC

A forum for community conversation and deeper discussions about the cultural direction of Burning Man.
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Captain Goddammit
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The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:07 pm

It all boils down to making it too easy.
It used to be hard. Zero services. Horrible potties. You were in your own if you wanted to go.

Then people had great ideas... let’s have busses to make it easy for anyone to go. Let’s even have air service. Let’s have camps that provide accommodations, and let’s have lots of on-playa services.
That way, anyone and everyone can go, whether they want to put in the real effort or not!
I mean, it’s not FAIR if everyone can’t hop on a plane and spectate.

Well now everyone is trying to do just that.
And now it’s pretty messed up.

Making it easier was the opposite of what it needed.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Token » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:51 pm

From a nuts n bolts perspective, sure, big driver of the decay.

But the meat of it goes deeper.

It’s simply a social issue at this point.

What was once a word of mouth fringe piece of Americana, has become a media circus and the farce to see and be seen at.

Technology and media did way more damage than any of the poor decisions made along the way.

Video Killed the Radio Star.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by BBadger » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:12 pm

If you subsidize something, you get more of it, and so it has been with mass transit and other mechanisms to encourage people to treat this event as a regular tourist destination.

The barrier to entry to the event was formerly your ability to bring what you needed to survive out there, not obtain the ticket, not whether you had enough "self-reliance" to find the PnP camp that won't scam you, etc. And yeah, it did matter whether you lived in some foreign country or even a different state: it made the journey just that much harder, and that was the nature of attending an event that, in its modern BRC form, has always been purposely made difficult to attend.

While there is no objective measure to determine whether a person is a "participant" or "tourist" or whatever, at the very least we can make it where a personal amount of effort is required to attend the burn. The event must not be thought of as something you consider going to unless you really know what you're getting into and can put the effort into. It must not attract "common people," which is to say people who might think of Burning Man as a "trip" in the way of going to Disney Land or Las Vegas is a trip.

Those "common people" are not necessarily bad people. They may even be good burners. Nothing says they cannot be burners either. However, to attend *Burning Man* you should be willing and able to make sacrifices to attend, even if this means driving an RV into the event at a minimum.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Simon of the Playa » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:49 am

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Sham » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:04 am

Moderator hat off....
I agree with most everything above. It's the need to move forward and improve on what has been done in the past.
Unfortunately that doesn't work so well in a place like Black Rock City. No longer do we just get to chuckle at the "frat boy camps" and the shocking sight of them all being dressed identical from Abercrombie & Fitch---drinking the cool beer of the week.

For me it seems nearly impossible to try and interact with someone walking or riding a bike. Each person seems to be on a mission to head someplace else. It's like a fancy resort and they are heading for their yoga class that starts in 10 minutes. The whole middle part of Burning Man (the part where you interact and meet interesting people) has been replaced with Instagram selfies and elaborate, store bought costumes.

For all the first timers coming to Burning Man, I would recommend that you think of this one of a kind city in THE EXACT OPPOSITE WAY that you think of any other city. There is no money in your pockets, so interacting and gifting is prevalent. You will see great performance art. Stop and watch it. Put your phone away. Even if you're just using it as a camera, it will get hopeless dusty, possibly lost, and make you look like a tourist asshat. (you don't want to look like a tourist asshat)

Immediacy is a real thing. Read those 10 Principles again. It's what differentiates Burning Man from Disney World.

Moderator hat back on and rant over....

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by ACfromSAC » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:15 am

Nothing would please me more than to see the airport go away forever. Experiment over.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by some seeing eye » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:46 pm

The basic problem with modern BRC is it is a business because of its size. Therefore it makes short term business decisions which produce hard-to-reverse longer term impacts.

That produces every distortion.

The lack of preparedness is just one problem. My #1 Bad club behavior. #2 Festival-spectator mindset - entertain us. #3 PnP/hotel/many camps & their buyers' culture-lack of participation and self sufficiency mindset: feed me, shelter me, take care of my trash, water, washing. Burning Man is a wilderness campout. I think my 2&3 go to the core the original post.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by 666isMONEY » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:30 pm

It's too BIG, too popular. Like trying to find beach parking places in San Diego or campsites in State or National Parks. BM is good if you have a reserved camping spot within a few blocks or feet from the playa.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Dirkadirka » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:21 pm

Sham wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:04 am
Put your phone away. Even if you're just using it as a camera, it will get hopeless dusty, possibly lost, and make you look like a tourist asshat. (you don't want to look like a tourist asshat)
The basic problem with modern BRC is all the old timers so preoccupied with how others are doing it wrong.

Something I’ve found quite fun to do is to bring an old broken phone around with me so I can pretend to have a loud important business call in the middle of a bar and watch some people steam at the ears observing me but never say a damn word to me.

You do you and let them do them. All the behaviors you all complain about make up such a small fraction of people at the event. If you didn’t let yourself get so bothered by it you wouldn’t even notice. I sure don’t.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Dirkadirka » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:30 pm

ACfromSAC wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:15 am
Nothing would please me more than to see the airport go away forever. Experiment over.
Have you spent any time at the airport? It’s fuckin’ awesome. First time I had way too much fun and got way too drunk at burning man was at the airport bar. Got caught talking to some pilots for hours. You can make a solid argument for doing away with the burner express air but leave the rest alone. Pilots sure are a rambunctious and interesting bunch. You might even make a friend that will take you for a joy ride around the playa.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by wraith » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:45 pm

Dirkadirka wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:21 pm
Sham wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:04 am
Put your phone away. Even if you're just using it as a camera, it will get hopeless dusty, possibly lost, and make you look like a tourist asshat. (you don't want to look like a tourist asshat)
The basic problem with modern BRC is all the old timers so preoccupied with how others are doing it wrong.

Something I’ve found quite fun to do is to bring an old broken phone around with me so I can pretend to have a loud important business call in the middle of a bar and watch some people steam at the ears observing me but never say a damn word to me.

You do you and let them do them. All the behaviors you all complain about make up such a small fraction of people at the event. If you didn’t let yourself get so bothered by it you wouldn’t even notice. I sure don’t.
I'm sure glad you're so above it all, totally-not-a-sockpuppet who registered today to whine about it. :D

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by BBadger » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:33 pm

I'm fine with the airport, just not with using it to ferry attendees to the event. People can fly their private planes there and maybe like a couple personal passengers but that is it.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by gaminwench » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:01 pm

I say we do away with big sound systems.

Then the DJs won't come.

Then the sparkle ponies won't come.

Then the rich dudes won't come.

Win/win.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Dirkadirka » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:55 pm

wraith wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:45 pm
I'm sure glad you're so above it all, totally-not-a-sockpuppet who registered today to whine about it. :D
Yup, I’m new here. Guess that makes my commentary invalid? Wouldn’t say I’m above it all but I do know it’s not my place to tell others how to burn. I’m all for educating someone who is breaking one of our 10 principles but I don’t see how using a phone as a camera does that.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Dirkadirka » Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:02 pm

Two controversial topics at the cultural direction setting meeting I attended were outside services and camps paying members for their time and contributions. I am in the group that felt those both have to go. I think that alone would lead to some big changes most seem to be looking for at the event.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by BBadger » Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:28 am

It's impossible to police people paying other camp members for services. The whole "dues" thing is a gray area and forbidding it is unenforceable. Even banning Humano was probably more about their LNT record than any kind of fees they were supposedly charging their members, despite whatever the post on the BM site says.

What can be controlled are official services and what attendees can expect they have access to at the event without having to secure such things through their own accommodations. Transportation is a big one in my mind. The very concept of being able to just book a flight or bus to the playa creates the impression that the next step is to find some camp that one can lodge at for the duration of the event -- rather than having to bring your own accommodations. Those services should be the first to go, with the additional measure of preventing private services from filling the gap too.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Simon of the Playa » Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:10 am

i think what we need is a great equalizer.

it’s called dust.

i’d like to the see the mother of all haboobs, 3 day alpha storm with thunder, lightning, hail, rain, mud, possibly frogs and dragonflies falling from the skies, the whole kit and kaboodle.

then let the city huddle and get to know each other in the face of OVERWHELMING ADVERSITY and then after its all over, help each other recover from the “Natural Catastrophe” that would lay waste, and paralyze the entire desert.

THATS the good shit. Thats the BEST of times in the Worst of times.

go ahead, tell me im wrong..
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:13 am

It would surely highlight the self reliant. :twisted:
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by BBadger » Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:23 pm

Yeah, and a permanent exodus of many people after those plagues.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:13 pm

I think Simon’s scenario is the only hope for reversing the deterioration and dilution of the event.
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Papa Bear » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:23 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:13 pm
I think Simon’s scenario is the only hope for reversing the deterioration and dilution of the event.
I certainly think it's the quickest route. A couple of years of difficult nastiness that gets lots of press, and many of the instagrammers are going to seek out easier photo ops while declaring Burning Man "so last year". I imagine it would discourage a lot of the wealthy tourist set, too.

Unfortunately it would probably also be a nightmare for resto, as a bunch of unprepared idiots panic and bug out without bothering to pack up any of their shit.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by wraith » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:06 am

Dirkadirka wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:55 pm
wraith wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:45 pm
I'm sure glad you're so above it all, totally-not-a-sockpuppet who registered today to whine about it. :D
Yup, I’m new here. Guess that makes my commentary invalid? Wouldn’t say I’m above it all but I do know it’s not my place to tell others how to burn. I’m all for educating someone who is breaking one of our 10 principles but I don’t see how using a phone as a camera does that.
If you can't see how viewing everything through the filter of a screen interferes with immediacy, or how little participation comes out of the people roaming to get the best selfies for Instagram, I can't make it happen for you.

If you also can't see how radical self-expression is changed when anything outside the norm can be on Facebook, tagged to your friends and family, or posted up as involuntary pornography from the event itself, I have to assume you are too young to remember a world before smartphones. Or just terribly naive. :mrgreen:

Getting cell service onto the playa has rendered the media policy impossible to enforce.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:22 am

Papa Bear wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:23 pm
[quote="Captain Goddammit"
I think Simon’s scenario is the only hope for reversing the deterioration and dilution of the event.
I certainly think it's the quickest route. A couple of years of difficult nastiness that gets lots of press, and many of the instagrammers are going to seek out easier photo ops while declaring Burning Man "so last year". I imagine it would discourage a lot of the wealthy tourist set, too.

Unfortunately it would probably also be a nightmare for resto, as a bunch of unprepared idiots panic and bug out without bothering to pack up any of their shit.
[/quote]

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Corvus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:53 am

BBadger wrote:
Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:23 pm
Yeah, and a permanent exodus of many people after those plagues.
A few years ago when we had minor whiteouts on Monday morning, and Tuesday morning, and Wednesday morning, I had a conversation with a guy who'd arrived on Thursday. He commented there was a lot of dusty traffic southbound on 447 when he was coming north.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:46 am

IT TOOK ME 30 HOURS TO GET OUT OF Black Rock this year.

Two shredded truck tires, full ignition-system meltdown, minor air-cleaner fire, and several hacks to my brake and taillight wiring seemed about what I deserved for attempting to drive, once again and against its will, my 1969 junkyard crane truck home after attending the Burning Man festival, two hours north of Reno, Nevada. But, as is often the case, the event was not quite done with me: When I got home and opened my e-mail, I found this -- already on its 1,000th or so bounce around the Burning Man e-mail ecosystem:

Wednesday, Sept 4th

Starting Tuesday at noon and going until 7 in the evening, the playa had the worst whiteout conditions seen in the history of the event in Black Rock. Whatever was not packed up by noon is now under one inch to 18 inches of dust. They are having another whiteout today, including gusts of up to 100 MPH.

These are very serious conditions. We all have friends still on playa, who are having to deal with this. The lucky few of us who got out in time are home, rested and clean. If we can find it in our bodies, souls and pocketbooks to go BACK to the playa now, the project and our loved ones need us.

How better to participate than to go rescue our friends, the DPW (Department of Public Works), and the project in general? Hands are needed to clean up MOOP (Matter Out of Place), help pack up camps still left on playa, and guard piles of stuff against the scavengers, which are everywhere, sadly.

By the time I read this dispatch, it was too late to return. I had already lived through the cataclysm; I was one of those who didn't get out in time. I sat through the dust on Tuesday and Wednesday, watching firsthand from the cab of the crane truck. I watched as everything got buried and generally destroyed. Waves of blinding white alkali scratched over the cab as my truck reeled with each blinding gust. Loading anything ä was out of the question. Trying to sleep in any vehicle was like trying to nap in a Shop Vac -- running. No one could leave. You couldn't see for more than a couple of feet. It was like being incarcerated, against your will and better judgment, in one of the largest expanses of open horizon in North America.

And while I watched it, I remembered: This is what always happens.

It is now clear that the first Tuesday after Labor Day causes large-scale meteorological disturbances in northern Nevada -- disturbances that result in high winds and the accompanying dust storms across most of the Black Rock desert playa, the site where Burning Man has arguably ended a day or two before. It's happened every year for the last eight years, without hiccup. The old-timers will even tell you that, back in the day, the wind blew twice that hard, in both directions, simultaneously, and the dust was actually more like sharpened volcanic pebbles dislodged and propelled from the surrounding mountains. It went right through car paint and blue tarps, chafing the skin to blood at 103 feet per second.

As those who stay late know, the dust storms are key: Each year they create a desert full of front-row seats for a performance in which people you know and respect snap in curious and revealing ways. The BMan literature makes claims for the transformative nature of the event. But, in reality, the event is only the necessary prelude for the real show: Eight days of no sleep, lethal dehydration, substance abuse, unrequited sexual aggression, camp drama, faux-fire warfare and heroic art catastrophes leaves everyone hanging on a thin sliver, right and ready to deal with the skin-stinging, eye-blinding and breath-preventing reality of a good dust storm. And this is where the real tests begin.

All it takes is about two hours of dust on Tuesday before things start heading south on a screaming pulse jet. Within six hours, I get in my vehicle (if it still runs) and start the camp tour to enjoy the now-real scenes of the apocalypse and the generally accelerating disassembly of humanity. Faint figures in full desert wrap quietly scrounging discard piles for goodies contrast harshly with screams of frustration as large metal objects are heaved into the backs of U-Haul trucks. It quickly becomes clear who has "crossed over" and lives in the desert, and who needs to get the hell out of there and back to work.

The dull truth is that, this year, as with every year, the Burning Man Department of Public Works needed no concerned urban youth to return to that chaos in a shiny Honda Civic, hoping to rescue a DPW desert-hardened warrior, fingers deep in the mechanics of a chopped Dodge Power Wagon. The trajectory of rescue would have quickly been inverted.

The DPW builds the site of Burning Man from dust and will return it to dust before the real rain sets in sometime in November. All traces of our creative excess will be erased, and the stillness of Black Rock will be all that's left to thank them. As the DPW announced several days later in an e-mail: "Curb your e-mails, enjoy being home AND STAY THERE."

- Jim Mason
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by wraith » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:40 am

I'm actually curious what's going to happen the first time it storms so bad the Burner Express can't make it.

Since the BLM and the org have gone out of their way to make it impossible for everyone to provide their own transport, and all... :mrgreen:

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:29 am

radically self reliant people from far away lands using “public transportation” should not be singled out for bullshit ridicule.


in a dust storm EVERYONE IS BEIGE
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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Dirkadirka » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:04 am

wraith wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:06 am
If you can't see how viewing everything through the filter of a screen interferes with immediacy, or how little participation comes out of the people roaming to get the best selfies for Instagram, I can't make it happen for you.

If you also can't see how radical self-expression is changed when anything outside the norm can be on Facebook, tagged to your friends and family, or posted up as involuntary pornography from the event itself, I have to assume you are too young to remember a world before smartphones. Or just terribly naive. :mrgreen:

Getting cell service onto the playa has rendered the media policy impossible to enforce.

Sounds like you’re making a case against cameras in general. That is a different discussion. I was commenting on phones being used for their camera function being singled out amongst the amateur photographers of brc. Not everyone owns a digital camera in addition to the one included on their smartphone.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by Sham » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:58 pm

So there is no confusion or ambiguity, the remote, off the grid location of the Black Rock Desert makes this area absolutely ideal for police to train on the use of their Stingray monitoring devices. It's pretty much understood that calls, messages and postings are passing directly through these police devices. If you send an ominous text message, you and your phone can be tracked to the inch on the playa with GPS. This gig the a massive training ground for police. Expect to be surrounded and surprised with the response.
READ ABOUT IT HERE. It's very real.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray_phone_tracker

The New York Times had an article related to this technology.
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... ket-newtab
Image
It's time to shut those phones off and leave them locked up.

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Re: The basic problem with modern BRC

Post by BBadger » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:50 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:29 am
radically self reliant people from far away lands using “public transportation” should not be singled out for bullshit ridicule.
(emphasis mine) If and only if they meet that qualification.

I just don't think this is really the case for most riders though. You can only bring so much to even survive on the bus, and way less on a damn plane.

Most importantly, the very impression that you can book a flight/bus to the event is harmful to the event. The next logical step to booking a flight or bus ticket anywhere is booking a hotel for your stay. It's not so much ridiculing the people, but the very concept of it all that attracts more people thinking that this is a bus-tour type event.
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