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

24Oct/170

Noah 2: Ark of The Convenient

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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!

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8Jun/170

Environmentalism, Literature and Style

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Why has the environmental movement stalled when it is so close to its goal?

I wish I knew the answer to this question, all I know is that unless we figure out a panacea, all the disparate efforts of various individuals and groups will amount to no more than a hill of beans, similar to the EU butter mountain that I keep hearing about.

I would love to blame Donald Trump and his ilk, the baby boomers who think they have a god given right to defecate all over the Earth's surface and expect us to wallow in it with them. I would love to blame those with heavy investments in the fossil fuel economy. Unfortunately, it is not all their fault, some of it is ours, that is, the people shouting at ecological tyrants are not achieving anything, except for a hoarse voice.

What we need to do is to stop telling people what they should do, and what they should not do, and simply make it easier, and more financially viable to do the right thing. We know already from history that industrial regulation will always be flouted where the fine is less than the profit margin, no matter what the regulation. What we need to do is to motivate people with the carrot and the stick in proportional response to the behaviour of the worst offenders of that industry, if people are cheaply dumping illegally on conservation land, then undercut this cost with the cost of responsible disposal with subsidies. If a company is still producing a product in a package that can't be recycled, then subsidise the cost of the sustainable alternative until it is cheaper.

People on both sides may accuse me of suggesting that we coddle industrial tycoons and make it easier for them to do business at profit and hand-holding them to the brighter future that they should want to do for themselves. I have to respond by saying, you can lead a horse to water easier than making him drink it, leading a horse isn't shouting at it until it does what you want, it is to control it through physical force, coercion and to stand beside it the whole way. We need to show business leaders the way, and make it so that this is the only logical choice, that choosing any alternative would cost them dearly.

People who are wrong, rarely realise it by themselves, they usually require some form of external stimuli to benchmark how wrong they are. Let me be that external stimulus, let me tell you; YOU ARE ALL WRONG!

Hey environmentalists, go live up a tree! Hey you capitalist pig dogs, sell solar panels to hipsters! Hey, you rich multi-billionaires, build air ship greenhouses to grow food in and transport said food around the world! Hey deniers, go read a book, any book, then burn it, because you disagree with what books say. Hey intellectuals, stop talking about what people should be doing and do something about the fact that it is easier to do the wrong thing. Hey bloggers, stop writing inane posts about what people are doing right and wrong and start, oh...nvm.

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13Jul/150

Ironing: Why do we still do it?

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I don't iron any clothing and haven't for about 10 years now. Why do people iron their clothes? It certainly isn't to make them last longer, or to save time, or to make sure that people know that they washed them. Is it to make the clothing appear as though it is brand new out of the packaging? It could also be to make sure people are aware that the person wearing the ironed clothing is wealthy enough to afford to iron their clothes; and certainly wealthy enough to not have to work hard enough physically to crease said clothing. At least, that's why the Victorians still ironed their clothes.

People sometimes point out my creased shirt and ask questions, such as "Did you forget where your iron is?" or give advice like "If you roll your shirt up it won't crease up as much in your bag after you've ironed it!". I usually placate them with throwaway lines like "Well, I cycle to work and change when I'm here, so I don't bother.", but this is not the whole truth. I vehemently disagree with ironing on an ethical and ecological level. I am not just lazy...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironing

After reading about the history of ironing, I am still bewildered why this custom and tradition is kept up. It is clearly a class issue, those of the upper classes used to be the only ones with ironed clothes, now the lower classes can buy an iron for less than two hours wages. However what is the ecological impact ironing has on the planet, and don't we all hate doing it? I am clearly not the only one out there with such questions:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2011/sep/02/ironing-save-energy-electricity-consumption

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/my-fashion-footprint-is-your-wardrobe-bad-for-the-planet-887027.html

An excerpt from the 2nd article in the Independent sums up what I had already felt on a more philosophical level, I always assumed that ironing used more energy in joules than even the mechanical energy required to spin them in the washing machine:

"A couple clicks of the mouse, then a figure appears at the bottom of the screen. Our household EDUs is 1,282. A breakdown shows that our actual clothing EDUs is quite low at 558. But then there's the laundry, which at 724 EDUs is slightly alarming. It includes 324 from washing and a whopping 400 from ironing.

The ironing is what did us in, more environmentally damaging than our washing. "It's like having the kettle switched on for seven hours straight," says Phil. But more shocking, if we add seven tumble-dryer loads a week. The figure more than doubles..."

Obviously the excerpt and the full article, (well worth a proper read) allude to the fact that tumble drying is also pretty ecologically harmful. I don't tumble dry myself, but I may on occasion have been tempted to as it is a functional device. We don't like to wear wet clothes, we may be forced to wear something soon after washing it, and it won't dry naturally quickly enough. I plan around the fact I don't have an iron or a tumble dryer by washing my clothes before I need to wear them by a few days (usually...). the article then goes on to give bulletpoint advice on improving the ecological impact of your wardrobe:

"iron only where necessary..."

When is ironing necessary? I can't imagine.

I am clearly not the only person writing about this issue:

http://community.babycentre.co.uk/post/a20837015/anti-ironing_campaign

http://h2g2.com/entry/A361522/conversation/view/F44694/T105842/page/1/

http://davewalker.cc/stop-ironing/

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/housekeeping/a1840119-How-to-give-up-ironing-without-crunchy-towels-etc

If there is one thing to take away from reading this webpage, STOP IRONING!

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23Jul/120

An Ode To Fate: Poem By Michael Wharton

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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!

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29Feb/121

The Death Throes Of Capitalism: Anonymous Occupy Wikileaks; Theory

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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.

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