An Ode To Fate: A Poem By Michael Wharton
Heisenberg was a man of principles,
In uncertain times he has many disciples,
There is no way to know what lies ahead,
We can not predict the future in our shed,
The path of each particle may be a pre-destined,
Unavoidable path which is pre determined,
But as external observers we can only see,
The present and past paths of its journey,
Free will versus determinism is an epic debate,
Either we control our lives or we're slaves to fate,
Can we override our base impulses and choose,
Load the chance cube of life and never lose,
Many theologies claim to control the odds,
Through prayer, human will, favour of the gods,
True mastery of fortune is not to seize the controls,
However to embrace your path, drift with its flows,
A little poem I wrote idly considering whether my actions or decisions have any effect on the direction of my life. I hope you enjoy the inner turmoil of my personal existential debate with fatalism and determinism!
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.
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.
Anonymous Operation Payback Targets Opponents Of Wikileaks
Okay, so due to really badly timed server issues, I have not been able to blog during the latest developments of what is now being called the first global cyber-revolution (thanks to Roger Davies for helping me out!). As my last blog entry: Twittocracy, Interactivism, Hacktivism & Cyber Anarchy: Cause covered Operation Payback, it was a vendetta campaign against those attempting to censor online content based on copyright infringement. Those perpetrating the attacks were Anonymous, the mysterious hacktivist group behind the latest cyber protests against opponents of Wikileaks.
At the end of last year, Wikileaks released the torrent of leaked American diplomatic cables they called Cablegate. To say that this prompted a lot of international reaction would be the understatement of this century. Most world leaders had something to say on the matter and the majority of it was not sounding too good for Wikileaks or its founder Julian Assange. The web server that Wikileaks was hosted on came under DDoS attacks, similar in style to those carried out by Anonymous during Operation Payback Is a Bitch: Save The Pirate Bay. Wikileaks then had its money supply cut off by Paypal, Visa, Mastercard and Amazon dropped hosting. Anonymous; as a hive collective, decided to leap into action. The public home pages of Visa, Paypal and Mastercard were targetted for DDoS by Operation Payback: Save Wikileaks, and hundreds of alternate mirrors of the site's Cablegate Datatbase were spawned.
Anonymous Changes Tactics: Operation Leakspin
The cyber protests in the form of DDoS caught the ever gazing eye of the worlds media and Anonymous got a lot of press attention, using this attention Anonymous launched into a new direction with a new campaign; Operation Leakspin. Operation Payback had successfully brought attention to the shameful acts of private corporations under the intimidation of the United Sates of America. More importantly it had won the support of the people of the internet for Wikileaks, and freedom of the press. With this heightened level of awareness, Operation Leakspin was to spread the contents of the leaked diplomatic cables virally; via social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Other spin off Anonymous Operations were Operation Blackout/Face-Off which encouraged people to replace their internet avatars with a plain black square, and Operation Paperstorm which encouraged people to print out and distribute paper flyers about Wikileaks and Operation Leakspin. A new hub site emerged as a centralised meeting -place for organisation of such Anonymous Operations with resources such as web chat, IRC and forums.
Wikileaks, Anonymous & The Coming Arabic Cyber Revolution
In the last two weeks, the internet; in particular, Twitter, Wikileaks and Anonymous , have played a vital role in the on-going cyber revolution across the Arab world. Firstly in Tunisia, where internet censorship has been used to silence dissenting voices for a while, one incident sparked a wave of protests across the country. A single individual immolated himself publicly leading to days of protests, until the leader of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia. More recently since January 25th, Egypt has been awash with protests against their tyrannical dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak. Over the last few days these protests have descended into violent chaos, as Mubarak attempts to cling onto power by inciting violence among his minority of supporters. At one point Mubarak was desperate enough to shut down the entire country's internet access, to try and end this burgeoning revolution. According to the latest news sources, Mubarak was no longer intending to run for re-election in September yet refused to step down as President. [UPDATE] Mubarak has now handed over power to his senior military leadership; who were instrumental in advising him to step aside at the behest of his people. The people of Egypt seem to have accepting this situation as an interim to a new democratic government, but have planned to hold a public demonstration for this Friday (18/02/2011), to garner public opinion on the progression of this process . [/UPDATE]
As if inspired by the courage displayed by the brave Tunisian and Egyptian people; similar protests have taken place across the Arab world. Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Jordan, Oman, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania and even Saudi Arabia have all had incidents ranging from small protests to all out revolution. This democratic movement is largely driven through social media and the internet, which is why net neutrality is so important globally. The open internet model is necessary to maintain the freedoms of expression of those who are oppressed. In those countries where oppression is most rampant, the internet is used as a means to silence dissent. The voices of freedom cry out to the internet and are silenced, but Anonymous, and other internet freedom groups have taken up the mantle of freedom of speech. These internet vigilantes or hacktivists, have provided services to such affected regions such as Google's Speak to Tweet or information on proxies like Tor.
[UPDATE] (17/02/2011) Anonymous & Wikileaks Versus The FBI & HBGary [/UPDATE]
In the recent weeks the FBI in the USA and British Police have arrested several "Members of Anonymous". The FBI hired a company called HBGary to infiltrate and gather intelligence on the group Anonymous. Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the more skilled hacktivists of the group, who proceeded to hack into HBGary's server. They replaced the home page with the above image, and leaked thousands of emails to and from the company.
It seems like the message from Anonymous is pretty clear; the world governments and organisations who seek to control the internet have three options now:
A) Release all of your secret information in an organised fashion
B) People inside your organisation feel compelled to leak the information and do so
C) The extremist arm of the internet comes and takes all your secrets and leaks them into the public domain
Whatever the future holds, the internet is key not only to observing and predicting social change, but generating it.
An Ode To Science: A Poem by Michael Wharton
The scientific method is the most logical option available,
For gaining new knowledge and understanding the real truth,
Empirical evidence; data, is collected, measured, verified,
Hypothesised, tested, and retested to determine the proof.
Proof of a theory that includes it in a far wider concept,
To explain a natural phenomenon of the observable universe,
With matter, gravity and energy, explained by methodology,
To attempt to do so any other way would just be perverse.
Foolish men have attempted to subvert these noble efforts,
To know the mechanics of all existence with experimentation.
Abusing obsolete beliefs to admonish human intellectualism,
Science prevailed against this offensive with determination.
For aeons we have pondered on the purpose of our existence,
On the origins of humanity and beginnings of time and space.
We organised life into Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family,
Genus and Species, in taxonomy there's no such thing as race.
We catalogued and categorised the visible celestial bodies,
They were then personified, deified, fortified and beatified.
Philosophies and ideologies were attributed to these deities,
These teachings sanctified to identify those to be vilified.
Scientific teaching now teeters on the edge of a precipice,
Created by folk ignorant of evidence contrary to their belief.
What they all fail to realise is right before their very eyes,
Science fabricates a pair of wings and flies up to its relief.
Every single individual is fully capable of discovering truth,
Through experimentation, examination and observation of reality.
The truth will out repeatedly until uncovered in its entirety,
Fundamentalist individuals won't be ready for this eventuality.
When reason replaces dogma as the predominant belief structure,
Humanity will emphatically embrace a new dawn of enlightenment.
No longer will sophisticated society acquiesce to myopic piety,
Human civilisation will be emancipated from dogmatic arraignment.
More poetry from Michael Wharton, this time on the subject of science and scientific endeavour. Science; like all things (at present) is a commodity for enterprise, to research and develop products for making money. If only this were not the case, every scientist developing better shampoos and face creams should be working on diseases like Cancer and Alzheimer's.
More recently, science has come under fire from fundamentalist religious groups who advocate "creationism" or "intelligent design" as competing "Theories" to Darwinian evolution through natural selection. They really need to start to grasp the meaning of the word theory in science...
On top of the onslaught from the evangelicals, Vince Cable is now threatening the budget for scientific advancement in research and development.