Michael Wharton There Is Always A Theory: politics, anarchy, religion, atheism and science. now with poetry!

24Oct/170

Noah 2: Ark of The Convenient

No Gravatar

Get To The Lifeboats; The Planet Is Sinking!

Okay, so maybe this is an exaggeration of the truth but many organisations are obsessed with archiving plant seeds and the DNA of animal species in case of a global disaster of some kind. The concept of our way of life being restored from a back-up is a key theme in many science fiction stories, but in reality there are actual back-ups out there. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is perhaps one of the more well known examples of an attempt to preserve biodiversity of plants, whereas The Frozen Ark Project has loftier goals, to preserve genetic material for all endangered species of animals so that if their extinction is caused by mankind then they can be brought back by us too, by cloning them and reintroducing them to their natural habitat. I'm not aware of any projects which preserve human life itself, like the plot of some Science Fiction Television shows, books and films.

This is all very idealistic and obviously doesn't take into account the massive amount of work or time required to correct whatever we did to the natural habitat of such creatures to drive them to extinction in the first instance. My own personal idea of an "Ark" of sorts would be for humanity itself, if for some reason the Earth becomes too hostile to support human life and we can't evolve fast enough or genetically modify ourselves enough to keep up with the pace at which the environment of Earth is changing. This would be to build thousands of city sized airships to live aboard with every resource being produced aboard the airship. The canopy would be a giant greenhouse providing the oxygen required to breathe, and the food required to eat. The main gondola would be residential and leisure with all modern amenities. I have something in mind along the lines of The Laputa Floating City by Wang Nifu which the concept art just absolutely blew me away in terms of similarity to an idea I have had for some time now.

Imagine a city 2.0, untethered by geography, like Cloud City from Star Wars or Cloud 9 from Battlestar Gallactica, a place where people live, work and play in the sky. Immune to earthquakes, floods, droughts, severe weather, wasps at your picnics, hayfever, and even rained out sports events. At first I can imagine that it would only be the very wealthy who could afford to live aboard such luxury cruise ships of the sky, with their own personal flying vehicles shuttling them back and forth from the main ship. Over time they will be holiday destinations that working class families would aspire to save up to get to or even get into debt to visit. Some international business people will be tempted to stay there permanently when they realise that they can travel anywhere quickly from such a high vantage point. After some time I envision that more and more of these giant floating cities will be built, some will love them and want to live there more than anywhere else, but just like the modern city, some will hate them but still live in them for the convenience, or for work, or for the amenities they have, for the school system, even for the culture. Then after the inevitable decline of the monetary system, they will seem like a very logical option for most people who prefer to live in cities, well there is always a theory.

Better Safe Than Sorry!

We have all heard that it is always best to err on the side of caution, or prepare for the worst and hope for the best, better to have and not need than need and not blah, blah, blah, you get it right? Insurance is basically the principal I am getting accross here, if a supervolcanoe at Yellowstone goes off, everyone residing on the surface of Earth will suffer the same agonising fate, whereas the Cloud dwellers may escape the worst impact. The same could be true of an asteroid impact raising a cloud of dust that blocks out the Sun, Cloud Cities would ride above the worst of it and grow their own food and raise their own livestock just above the dust clouds which are choking the natives on the surface. The more we prepare to live isolated from the global ecosystem the less we will affect the global ecosystem in a negative way, if we develop a closed system which is still providing an excellent quality of life, then we can move more and more of the population over to this way of living until no human on earth negatively impacts the environment in any way.

Next Stop Mars!

The project I mention, lets call it Cloud Commuting, is also a fantastic solution to interplanetary travel from Earth to other planets in our solar system such as Mars. Vehicles with powered landing struggle to land on Mars, and the atmosphere is too thin to land wings, or a parachute. Would an airship work? Would we have to make adjustments to the pressures, the lifting gas? Would we be able to land an airship on Mars or would it make more sense to leave the main ship in orbit and send down shuttle craft of some kind? Probably, but that is Elon Musk's problem to work out, which he probably will. In fact;

Dear Elon Musk,
Please build city sized airships, for us all to live in!
kthxbai
Michael Wharton

So if this doesn't work, we can get the Chinese to build them for us on the cheap!

  • Share/Bookmark
27Apr/156

Renewing An Irish Passport in the UK

No Gravatar
I am a British citizen; let's get that out of the way. I lived in Ireland for many years in my teens and moved form Ireland to Manchester to attend University, and before moving I applied for an Irish passport. There were several factors in making my decision; cost, ease and timescale. I may have left it a little late, and living in Ireland makes it very difficult to apply for a British passport, which is more expensive to apply for your first passport than the Irish one. As my mother is Irish and my father is English, I am eligible for either, so I decided to go for the Irish option.

Fast-forward to ten years later and I am now living in England, trying to get my Irish passport renewed. As it turns out, the Irish embassy has provided a handy guide to how to do this, which is all relatively straightforward until you come to the part where you have to get your photographs "endorsed" by someone.

https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/great-britain/passports/top-passport-questions/how-to-get-your-passport-application-witnessed/

Unfortunately, of the people on this list produced in Ireland, many seem confused as to the social responsibility they signed up for when they pursued their career initially. I myself would relish the opportunity to flex my community muscles, as it were, if I were one of those on the list. If I were a police officer, it would make my day for a young person to come into my station and I could help him with his forms, stamp and sign and feel like an authoritative member of society, which is why I would have become a police officer or bank manager or, lawyer in the first place. Maybe that's just me.

I thought I would get my MP to do it, but due entirely to my own foolishness I left it too late, and parliament dissolved, rendering my MP powerless to help me as he is now just some guy I met last time he was campaigning. Wanting to get it done sooner rather than later, I first tried the police station. On the weekend I cycled all the way from Withington to Didsbury only to find out that Didsbury Police Station is a Police station in name only, no actual police inside. So after work, I cycled to Lonsight police station which was manned by two female PCSOs who initially seemed not to know for certain what to do, discussing various reasons why they wouldn't endorse it. One reason they mentioned (with a straight face) was that they wouldn't endorse it in case I was actually a wanted criminal in Ireland. They followed this up by theorising that if the newspapers found out that a Manchester police officer had endorsed my application it would cause a scandal. They touched on the fact that they believed that I have to have known the individual for at least 2 years, as it is with an INITIAL UK passport application; this is not the case. I explained the facts of the case and they seemed to think it over before confidently claiming that they had seen them get rejected in the past, when UK officers filled it as it has to be a member of Garda Síochána and that I should "Google it". Well I did "Google it", I even tweeted my Embassy and they have reassured me that they would not reject the application if a UK police officer had endorsed it, and that unfortunately they can't force people to live up to their end of the social contract they agreed to when they applied for their career path.

Shortly after my less than helpful encounter with the police, I decided that maybe my local Reverend would be helpful and full of Christian charity. I may have been wrong about this, she turned me away without listening to me very well, insisting that she had to have known me for 2 years, the same story I was to hear again and again, despite it not being the case at all. She did have someone with her and I can understand her desire to get back to that person quickly if they were known for their petty theft when left unattended for periods longer that 3 minutes.

The following day I didn't start work until 12:30 so I cycled into Manchester City centre to visit as many High street Banks as I could, to get my application endorsed by a "bank official". I arrived at my own personal bank, believing that I had the best chance with the Co-operative; they have it in the name! Unfortunately the branch manager was unavailable so I had to try Halifax, who point blank refused, without going into any actual detail as to why. They will only Endorse or stamp internal documents. Full-stop. Okay, on to Barclay's, who were bend over backwards helpful, but unfortunately their branch manager was at the same meeting that every other bank manager was at that day. Santander and NatWest point blank refused, Lloyds had nobody to speak to. I had zero faith that I would genuinely get any help from a Bank, but still didn't think that they would quite be so obstructively unhelpful. I headed into work and on my lunch break went to the nearest doctor's surgery.

I walked in and confidently approached the counter asking if the Dr had any free time to take 5 minutes to endorse my form. The receptionist gave me 3 mutually exclusive excuses as to why this would not happen today; 1 this Doctor would not endorse my application because I am registered with a different Doctor, and he has to have known me for two years... 2 The Doctor doesn't get a spare 5 minutes as he has to do lots of admin work between patients, so I should book an appointment if I want my Doc to sign and endorse my form, 3 There is a £20 administration fee to pay. On the list of authorised professions, is accountant, lawyer and notary public, all of whom I expect without even asking would charge me to do this, but I really did not expect the Doctor to charge. I didn't even want to get the Dr to do it as he has sick people to deal with, who are his priority. For all I know my appointment will be cancelled to deal with a real patient, or emergency.

So the story is not over, I am still looking for someone to do it for me!

If you are an Irish Passport holder and have been through this; then please leave a comment with tips for me and others on how to get around this bureaucratic headache.

With as little expense as possible!

  • Share/Bookmark
30Mar/150

Bloggy blog

No Gravatar

So, I used to be proud to have a website. I used to bring it up in conversation with strangers, shamelessly link back to it from other sites. A blog, a place to vent my opinion, creativity and wisdom. Alas I seem to have completely forgot about it. My password was lost I couldn't log in and I lost interest. I think maybe because I was never putting in enough effort. This time will be different.

  • Share/Bookmark
28May/120

Raspberry Pi Time! With Raspberry Pi set-up & Unboxing Video

No Gravatar

Our Raspberry Pi Has Arrived!

It came through the letterbox, like it was a letter, or a rented DVD. This was no regular post, this one came with Pi, Raspberry Pi. Roger had mail ordered it when it was first available for inquiry all those months ago, so did some people we know. The first batches were shipped and friends of ours got theirs and we were so jealous, now ours has arrived and we've been playing with it every day since.

Here are some close-up photos.

Close Up Photo of Raspberry Pi RCA video out & 3.5mm audio out

Close Up Photo of Raspberry Pi SD Card & Micro USB-2 Power Input

Close Up of Raspberry Pi HDMI portClose up of Raspberry Pi USB ports & LAN PortTop View of Raspberry PiBottom View of Raspberry Pi

  • Share/Bookmark
29Feb/121

The Death Throes Of Capitalism: Anonymous Occupy Wikileaks; Theory

No Gravatar

Is Capitalism A Malevolent Force For Control Of Consumption?

I personally really dislike capitalism, let us just get that out of the way. That is my opinion, it is based on the fact that its principles of wealth acquisition causes a massive disparity between richest and poorest. The stark contrast between the consequences of success and failure leads to a control over material resources that we all need equally. Then there is the fact that resources are seen completely objectively, no matter how destructive or costly it is to obtain them.  There is no greater example for these factors than the oil industry. At each stage in the process of extracting and selling petroleum products, there is some form of evil added. Land is acquired many times under duress, defended militarily and the sea itself is plundered. Workers in some countries are threatened with violence and intimidated into working in poor dangerous conditions and for very little money. Oil as a toxin is released into the ocean, the by-products of petroleum refinement are toxic. The consumption of petroleum produces carcinogens which cause cancer and excessive amounts of heat and carbon dioxide, which scientists theorise may be causing a greenhouse effect; gradually heating the earth leading to freak weather and eventually melting the poles and flooding coastal areas. Oil is bad. It causes conflict everywhere it pops up, it probably has done for aeons of human history. Wars have been fought over oil for thousands of years, people have been killed, blown up, assassinated, assimilated, executed and oppressed. Does all this bloodshed and environmental damage increase the price of oil? No, it makes it a lot cheaper. Oppression and control of supply enables the worlds largest buyer and distributor of oil to keep prices down and maintain market control over any would be competition. When the price does go up due to a manufactured shortage, or any other kind of false scarcity tactic to drive the market, we all complain and moan, not truly wanting to face the reality of where the product comes from and what the true cost is.

Oil is a source of energy, other forms of energy are less easy to commodify and therefore market for a profit, therefore in a capitalist environment these energy sources are ignored. Solar power is not terribly efficient, but wind and hydroelectricity are both incredibly efficient and found in almost every populated area on the planet. The most efficient use of these technologies is on a distributed network amongst homes and businesses themselves, cutting out the energy companies. They spend a lot of money on massive windmills in the countryside and off-shore to prove that you still need them, but for a fraction of the cost they could individually kit out thousands of  homes in a distributed network that would power  thousands more. Companies would never do this though because they would be losing consumers. As much as it is the best strategy for resource efficiency and the best application of the technology to protect against power failure, it isn't very capitalism friendly.

Consumable commodities are the most profitable, products that your customer needs to replenish their supply of and therefore return for repeat business. Food is the best example of this, we buy it, we eat it, we want more. Due to a constant consumer demand for a variety of cheap food, we have begun to cut back on the ethics of the industry. The quality of the food we take into our bodies has suffered due to capitalism, whatever is cheapest and most profitable to produce, packaged in a way that has a greater market life and value. Our food comes from all over the world, more and more oil is used to transport our food over hundreds, even thousands of miles. Preservative chemicals are added to our diets, in order to allow for such mass transport over such vast distances. People in the countries that grow our food rarely see much profit from their efforts, and are often bullied and intimidated into growing a cash crop rather than food for the region. More and more people are becoming aware of where their food comes from due to public pressure from famous chefs, who have a higher standard than the average supermarket consumer.

(Due to technical difficulties I.E. the hacking of the admin area of my Wordpress installation the rest of this blog was written between  13/02/2012 and 29/02/2012)

Occupied: Update; The Internet Takes Over Real Life As Predicted!

Once again Capitalism is in the direct gaze of the public consciousness, the one percent are under direct scrutiny by the ninety-nine percent. So as far as I can understand, the Occupy movement is the public reaction to finding out that the people who caused widespread unemployment, poverty, repossession, fore-closures and bankruptcies, were bailed out of their debts with tax money from our governments and then they want to pay themselves huge bonuses out of that money. Money itself is the worst single product that capitalism spews out. Capitalism needs money to survive, if we all used barter, it would be difficult to acquire much wealth,(or create wealth from doing nothing more than picking up a telephone and barking coded messages to an underpaid underling).

The world could do without money I think, with a little science and technology. The Venus Project has aspirational ideals and hopes and dreams that seem very far removed from reality, however there does seem to be a global shift in aspiration towards a sustainable, fairer future.  Technology is being developed all around the world that seems to make all our lives easier, robotic assistants around the house are a great start, but robots have been taking over jobs and reducing the cost of manufacturing for decades. It won't be long until there are fully automated machines doing 99% of jobs while humans become the 1% on them. The futurists of history imagined humanoid robots that could do all of the jobs a human could do, but the current trends signify a shift towards specialisation. Automated vacuum cleaners, self parking cars, automated checkouts, driver-less vehicles, and even vending machines (not an entirely new threat, but more and more products are coming out of the bottom of them these days!) are all replacing human tasks in succession. We may well have servile humanoid robots in the future, to serve us personally, but the majority of labour will be divided between scores of devices engineered around their tasks.

The Internet shopping trend has also cost a lot of people their jobs. It's true, it is a sad fact. Retail and sales is a huge sector of the workforce globally, this sector is the most critically hit by Internet. As much as the Internet has created jobs for many highly trained and skilled professionals, these professionals created code to make a lot of jobs redundant as they created online shops. It was great for the capitalist model, it fit perfectly; you see a product on the internet, the place you spend so much more of your time now, you like it, you buy it and it gets sent out to you from a warehouse, PROFIT! What will people actually do for jobs in the future? Will there be any jobs in the future? What if every process could be automated, if every human effort could be replaced by an efficiently designed machine? What need of capitalism would we have then?

All those "middle men" cut out of the consumer experience have been racking up, but the capitalist model still seems to be making profit. Or is it? The juggernaut of capitalism is definitely slowing down and weakening. The need for a fairer system is ever more urgent, the money men, the ones who control vast wealth, are unscrupulous.  They use our money for the manufacture of their fortune from speculations they make on our lives, our successes and failures fuel their extravagant lifestyles while we scramble for a pittance.

Globally the iron fist of capitalist oppression is squeezing tighter, most reccently on the Occupy London, it won't be the end of the movement. May is traditionally an excellent month for anti capitalist protests and planning is going on right now to make this years Mayday protests even bigger. I'm really upset by the news of School of Ideas, how do we explain to children that we live in a big angry state that will come and get you if you threaten to oppose it, especially if you are trying to expose it's corruption and greed. In our country we are not really doing anything new. We are using new tools, like the internet and tent cities, but the tactics employed by the Occupy Movement, to me, are like an urban version of the environmentalist forestry protests where protesters occupy treetops. The main difference is our knowledge, we have serious amounts of information about the inadequacies of the economic system used to control us. We know how crooked our politicians  and how morally bankrupt our journalists are.  We have Wikileaks and Anonymous to thank for that, and maybe even our morally bankrupt journalists a little too. It is like the darkest parts of society all turned on each other, the media, the government, and the financial greed machine are all devouring each other in a bid to rule us supremely. In this moment we must seize our opportunity to stand as one and say "No, we shall not be ruled over by leaders with agendas and objectives for us. If we allow a state to exist, it must serve our agendas and objectives, it must serve us. "

The likelihood of humanity rising up against the archaic control systems imposed upon it for millennia , may have seemed insignificant even a decade ago.  This decade though seems to be one of serious thought towards the future, and why we're not there yet? What systems have been holding us back for personal gain and what should we do about it? A global revolution towards Utopian Anarchy could be great, but as long as there are haves and have nots,  there will always be a threat of capitalism and greed.  We need to figure out the limitations imposed on us by corporate entities, we need to provide for ourselves. Then we can survive without them.

  • Share/Bookmark

There Is Always A Tag Cloud

There Is Always A Tweet

There Is Always A Sponsor

There Is Always A Cause

There Is Always An Opinion

There Is Always A Category

There Is Always An Archive

There Is Always A Tag Cloud

There Is Always An Explanation

"Sense About Science has produced a guide to help people to query the status of science and research reported in the media. Get the guide by clicking the e-button"