Monthly Archives: March 2013
Prescient Inspiration: Play once a day or as necessary…
Charlie Chaplin’s Speech at the end of The Great Dictator (1940)
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.
We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in;
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little.
More than machinery we need humanity,
more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.
Without these qualities life will be violent and all will be lost.
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say: do not despair.
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators will die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish.
Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder!
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men,
machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts.
You are not machines!
You are not cattle!
You are men!!
You have the love of humanity in your hearts.
You don’t hate, only the unloved hate.
The unloved and the unnatural.
Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty!
In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:
– “The kingdom of God is within man.”
Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men: in you!
You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power, let us all unite!
Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security.
By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people.
Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers! In the name of democracy: let us all UNITE!”
I have, until I heard this, never knew anything or heard anything which espoused my personal belief in human potential, in human virtue, in the strength of what is good in humanity in such a clear and focused way. I keep thoughts like these to myself because I fear most people would think I am too optimistic about people, that I don’t recognize what terrible things humans are capable of. I tend to think differently in that regard. I think of what we could do if we harness our energies for good, the same way we harness them for greed or fame or dominance over our fellow man. I will live this way even if no one but me can believe it is possible to harness the good in men. I think of movies today and find them mostly banal, filled with little to stir men’s hearts, but this, this is an anthem worth remembering.
Giant monsters + giant robots = Pacific Rim (math is good)
In case you missed it, here’s the official synopsis for the film:
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
This Guillermo del Toro-directed epic stars Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”), Idris Elba (“Thor”), Rinko Kikuchi (“The Brothers Bloom”), Charlie Day (“Horrible Bosses”), and Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”).
“Pacific Rim” is set to be released in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D on July 12, 2013.
Now recently released: Jaeger Blueprints
And in case you wanted to know more, you can join the Pan Pacific Defense Corps.
There is a countdown until the movie is release, more than likely there will be other information releases and theme specific resources. Enjoy!
And now a word from our sponsors: Hub City Blues Science Fiction Online!
The Overblown Death of the PC (part 2)
“The PC Market is collapsing.” –Business Insider
“Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have taken the world by storm. Apple launched theiPhone six years ago. Three years later came the iPad. Google sold its first Android phone in 2008, five years ago. Is the PC dead yet?” –Yahoo Finance with the Business Insider
In Part One of The Overblown Death of the PC we talked about the reasons people believed the personal computer to be on its way out. I disagreed with almost all of them.
But that conversation on LinkedIn continued and the overall message shifted to virtualization, thin clients, and the much ballyhooed “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD premise of bringing whatever you prefer and just connecting it to the company network.
Bring Your Own Device is not a silver bullet. BYOD is just one of a new strain of network security concerns which continue to abound in our modern age. Malware and other denial of service attacks continue to increase and are working on more sensitive integrated systems every day. As the technology for smarter devices continues to develop and as fast as new apps are being developed, malware is just as quickly propagating across this new interconnected and completely open environment.
What I hear far too little of is an understanding of the new technological ecosystem being developed. In addition to the growing iOS and Android playgrounds where few if any environmental monitoring is being done, almost no malware protections are being enacted and neither security processes, nor human awareness have kept pace with the potential for hackers to invade the privacy of billions of potential devices which lie unprotected for the most part.
Adding to this tech-soup of potential vulnerability are the complexities of virtual computing and remote desktop environments, as well as thin client systems are all becoming dependent on cloud computing technology, wide area networks and client-managed environments. Few are discussing the increasing complexity of these environments where hardware is centralized but use is distributed through a multitude of virtual environments without concern for operational capacity, network stability, and Internet connectivity.
We are seeing more outages of the Internet daily, so much so, there are applications which monitor traffic to let you know which services are currently available:http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/ . Though this tool is primarily for popular web services, Amazon has a version which is also accessible through the internet:http://status.aws.amazon.com/ . Each tool like these is predicated on the idea that no system of computer operation is infallible and the more interconnected we become the more likely we will find the opportunity to see first hand:
For Want of a Nail
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a nail.
The death of the desktop computer is built around the idea we have managed to supersede what the tool has given us.
- That we have managed to secure our environments, to create infrastructure which will support wireless technologies, metropolitan area networks, and the inevitable planetary-area networks we are designing.
- That we are able to effectively isolate and route around failed areas of the largest network which connects us all, the internet. The jury is out.
- That we have greater control of our soon-to-be completely necessary planetary network in such a way, hacking vulnerabilities are a thing of the past, every system which is put on that network is aware of how to deal with potential threats, without human intervention and will do so in a fashion so humans can simply be informed without having to worry about restorations of a failed environment, first.
- That scrupulous use of said planetary network ensures no one will be using it to unlawfully monitor its users, manipulate the users or their data, socially engineer user behavior for profit, perform acts of vandalism or terrorism, using said network as part of a control system and structure for acts of military warfare or sabotage.
So, is the desktop dead? Is that even the right question?
Perhaps the question should be: Is the desktop computer being killed by corporations who want to manipulate users into a cycle of:
- Regular planned obsolescence – creating underpowered devices which need constant upgrade to deal with software bloat, development issues and a constant need for upgrades.
- Consumerism – the technology is really being structured around pushing products, dependence and reliance on said devices (extending the reign of television advertising in the new medium).
- Development Control: by getting rid of users ability to create information this creates a more passive audience waiting for new “products” and “fees” for receiving them.
Is the death of the PC being artificially hastened to sell portable digital technology, even when financial, economic, social, and technological safeguards for that technology are not currently in place? Oh yes, I would say so, just from watching the industry and its lust for profit.
The PC is not dead. But we are sealing it up alive in the coffin for profit’s sake. Think of how much money can be made while new interfaces are being developed. Think of all the planned obsolescence inherently built into each device, replacing it after only 6-12 months. Imagine all of that technological churn being done, the billions spent on advertising new versions of old devices with only minuscule differences making corporations like Apple some of the most profitable agencies on Earth. Think of the ever-expanding app industry estimated to grow to $25 billion dollars in 2013 and continuing to grow. There is so much money to be made by Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, and other device manufacturers I can’t see them NOT promoting the device/gadget over desktops. The potential profitability is absolutely astounding. Charge as much for a handheld device as you do for a laptop with 1/10 the functionality, but call it mobile. “Make a gadget cool, and the sheep will follow.”
If the PC is dying, I suspect someone is killing it; for a profit. And it’s not the butler.
See Also: Gadgets: A Perfect Storm of Wrong – Where I discuss the environmental issues around the constant proliferation of gadget/device technology.
Cutting Education: You just shouldn’t do it
How does Paul Ryan or anyone in a position of authority justify cuts in spending to the engine of education?
At a time when we need an technologically-skilled, highly-educated populace, now more than ever, it seems both short-sighted and even destructive to the future development of the nation.
Not that education is doing well at the moment. It is struggling under burdens of defining the correct pedagogy for the era, defining methods, increasing financial pressures, teacher quality assurance issues, the increasing dependence on technology for the delivery of services and the attendant cost of that technology.
Corporate America is both the greatest user of educated workers but also one of its greatest detractors, saying education today has not produced the kind of workers they are seeking.
Corporations are loathe to admit that through their tax-avoidance policies, some of the lasting effects on education development are due to an lack of funding for education nationwide. Corporations directly affect the bottom line of education when they decide to maximize profit before considering the long term effects on the social fabric they are dependent on, but not taking responsibility for by paying taxes.
Teachers are being challenged to educate students whose needs vary widely, whose backgrounds and starting points are quite diverse and expected to create people capable of working in a workforce transformed by both corporate need and corporate greed into a two class system.
The first class is the high-tech worker who will be required to critically think, analyse, devise new ways of problem solving, utilizing new technologies, and being driven to find new levels of profitability against what would be considered our own best interests, environmentally, socially and in the light of a future growing ever more crowded, dysfunctional, unhealthy and psychologically unbalanced.
The second class is even worse off than the first. No real expectation is made of that second class of workers. Since the economy is becoming more service oriented, meaning fewer manufacturing jobs are being created in America, than at any time since the start of the Industrial Age, the service industry is being asked to absorb workers leaving school but lacking the capabilities of the first tier workers.
Exacerbating this problem, service industry jobs are already, unfortunately, unable to absorb the ever-increasing numbers of both second tier workers whose educations were not able to create a first tier worker, but must also compete with first tier workers who cannot get jobs due to the ever-present specter of technological obsolescence built into the Information Age society.
Simply put, there isn’t enough work to go around, no matter what level of technological capability and educational training a person may possess.
The service industry is completely saturated and will remain so for the foreseeable future and while the tech/development/creative/professional parts of society are still in demand, they have not kept pace with the number of educated people coming out of school, let alone emigrating to the US. Far too many highly-educated people are competing for a job whose mantra may be “Would you like fries with that?”
Wealth Inequality: Why it will get worse before it gets better
Wealth Inequality in the United States
Wealth inequality will only grow worse in the coming decade. (Robert Reich: The Widening Wealth Divide, Huffington Post) Most economists already know this but are reluctant to inform the general populace. The reason is built right into the above video. Most Americans already show a remarkable lack of awareness regarding the economic and class structures in place in the United States. The true state of affairs is simply beyond most people to truly understand either the scope or the effect of our political policy on this landscape. The economic elite have both the money and power to alter the behavior of businesses, governments, both local and federal and the media systems which provide information to the public ensuring their continued hegemony.
Just a few of the controls used by corporations to further their growth at the expense of everyone else:
- Avoiding taxation: Yes, large corporations and the very rich are shouldering the burden for the nation’s taxes but since they own 80% of the nations wealth, it makes sense, they should also pay 50% of its tax burden. But with that said, many large corporations pay almost no taxes by using offshore companies, keeping money in foreign banks or utilizing tax havens/loopholes allowing them to reduce their tax obligation.
- Stagnation of wages: Reducing the value of the work done by actual workers while increasing the value of the work done by managers and executives allows firms to force workers to work for less and fight for jobs while wages are systematically reduced. With politicians reducing options for unions, making states ‘right to work’, off-shoring, out-sourcing and other such tactics erodes the worker’s value while still increasing the profitability of corporations at their workers expense.
- Leveraging the value of money: Currently the dollar can be borrowed at fantastic rates, allowing companies to purchase smaller firms (thus our recent merger-mania) in order to gain further economic advantage by absorbing intellectual properties from smaller companies. While this is normally encouraged, during difficult economic times, it gives a greater advantage to companies which already have the capital to invest without risk.
- Control of media: The media is a powerful tool when dealing with the expectations of the public. Control of media agencies gives corporations (and often the politicians they lease) the ability to tailor messages to make themselves appear in a positive light even while they are convincing the people to vote against their own interests, either by making the information too difficult to absorb (i.e. the debt ceiling debate) or wearing people out with the constant bombardment of news coverage until people tune out and are unable to make informed decisions. Media saturation or complete blackouts are both effective ways of allowing corporations to manipulate the mindset of the public.
Here is a twitter-stream and associated documents which expand on this video further in my Storify collection: Wealth Inequality in America
Here are a few of the highlights
The Incongruence of Man
A Mouse Trap
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.What food might this contain? The mouse wondered… he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning:
There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, ‘Mr.Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.’
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, ‘There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!’
The pig sympathized, but said, I am so very sorry, Mr.Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.’
The mouse turned to the cow and said, ‘There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!’
The cow said, ‘Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.’
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap . .. . alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.
The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.
The snake bit the farmer’s wife.
The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.
Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.
But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock.
To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died.
So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.
So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you,
Remember —- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.
We are all involved in this journey called life..
We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.
* * *
1. The Incongruence of Man
How can a monster be so magnificent in all that he does?
When creating, masterpieces are born, timeless,
works of art, visions of design, ripped from Logos itself.
When he destroys he rivals Shiva and Kali, ending the existence,
of one and all, with only monuments to ever speak of regret.
How do we reconcile this creature, fearfully made,
fearfully led, fearfully cowering in its own darkness?
Seeking validation, finding none, like the fallen Morningstar
destroying to facilitate a semblance of power, of control
flailing against a universe where no control truly exists?
This is the madness, the dissonance, the incongruence of Man.
Forever seeking, never finding, never willing to understand
that what he seeks, he already has, all he must do is turn to another
— John Nox
2. No Man is an Island
These famous words by John Donne were not originally written as a poem – the passage is taken from the 1624 Meditation 17, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and is prose. The words of the original passage are as follows:
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
“No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a
peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod
bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well
as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy
friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes
me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore
never send to know for whom the bell
You can enjoy other famous literary poems at Famous Poems Online
3. Planet of the Apes
Despite the fact the movies were by today’s standards of science fiction less than perfect, there were occasional moments of terrible brilliance within them. This line, more than anything else in the movie, has never left me.
“Beware the beast man, for he is the devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport, or lust or greed. Yes, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him. Drive him back into his jungle lair: For he is the harbinger of death.”
The Twenty-third Scroll, Ninth Verse, “Planet Of The Apes”
This quote was found on Cool Quotes Collection.com.
4. Chinese Anti-terrorist Exercise
In this photo released by the official Xinhua news agency, members of China’s armed police demonstrate a rapid deployment during an anti-terrorist drill held in Jinan, east China, on Wednesday July 2, 2008, roughly one month ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games. (AP Photo/Xinhua/Fan Changguo)