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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Flying as an Impractical Status Symbol is Really Bad and Needs to End

We may need ‘flight shame’ (not ‘air miles’ pride)

Departure gate

AS someone who works from home (for many years already) I may be biased, but here we go anyway.

I’ve long regarded long-distance flying (across nations, oceans, continents) as largely unnecessary or considered that to be a luxury that’s rarely essential except for visiting close relatives. Some people have taken advantage of the lowered cost of flying (not taking account/measure of environmental costs) to take a plane journey to some distant beach for only a few days.

Well, the pandemic makes such travel even less convenient than it was before (adding to the security theatre in all major airports around the world). For the sake of this planet, among other things such as biodiversity, one can hope not for travel bans but for travel deflation. Humans do need to travel, but rarely is it imperative to travel very far for very short timespans. There are other ways to get things done. Working from home, where the nature job is doable/applicable, is another.

If something good does come out of this whole pandemic/health crisis, perhaps it will be a much-needed decrease in travel. It has long been a major contributing factor not just to pollution (a silent killer) but to global warming.

The Tories Are Lying and You Should Consider Going Into Lock-down Again (Irrespective of What the Government Says)

Manchester and the northwest badly hit

Manchester COVID-19

Just over 3 weeks ago we went into lock-down again (personal decision), seeing the non-linear growth in the number of COVID-19 cases, not to mention how the government had (re)opened lots of non-essential things — all this while denying access to very critical services. They forced us to take a phone of a friend to bypass their oppressive restrictions [1, 2].

Apparently you can meet ‘mates’ down the pub but cannot see a public official to get important work done! Worse yet, those public officials don’t even respond to you. They don’t speak to you and there’s nobody to talk to. Not even in E-mail or over the phone.

While vaccination does lower death rates, it comes at a hidden cost. And morever we cannot entirely rely on it as if it makes people invulnerable and thus we can just go back to “normal”.

If you value your safety and well-being, and if it’s possible for you to work from home, consider doing that for months to come. Don’t trust what our ‘Orange One’ says. We have a psychopathic and insane Pry Minister who keeps spreading false optimism about coronavirus (this misplaced optimism is bound to make things even worse!). Patients admitted with coronavirus are up 40% this past week alone, yet the lying psychopath pretends it’s all going to be “business as usual” next month. Deja vu (last summer).

We shall stay home. Our leaders are nihilistic (what sane person says “bodies [can] pile up high”?), far worse than incompetent and more sinister than merely misinformed.

Busy-ness as a Form of Happiness

Business? No. Just keeping busy, not necessarily making money but keeping oneself occupied.

Got mail

Boredom or inactivity will not bring about happiness. Just ask retired or very rich people who do not work; they can sink into depression quite easily as they lack a sense of accomplishment (even making one’s meal can be a sort of accomplishment). They’re not distracted from ordinary issues and they drift into a world of “entertainment”, sometimes other people’s lives (strangers or fictional characters). They’re overthinking things and having regrets because they’re busy recalling the past instead of focusing on the present.

Feeling down? Keep busy and it might go away, as new thoughts and feelings obscure the prior ones.

When Those Who Expose Crimes Are Treated by the State Like the Criminals

Leonie Brinkema trial

Leonie Brinkema, appointed by Bill Clinton, works in a kangaroo court; it’s widely notorious for a rubberstamping-like behaviour in a variety of deeply political cases. “No one should have to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information,” said a letter to the editor yesterday, highlighting the nature of what some whistleblowers had done and got punished for. In exchange for them exposing crimes they got treated like criminals and this is more or less the job of Leonie Brinkema, protecting criminals by putting in prison those who spoke about these crimes. I don’t know Leonie Brinkema personally and it’s not even simply to find a simple photo of her face (drawings are out there and she looks a lot more furious in them).

It is expected that if (or when) Julian Assange gets ‘kidnapped’ and ‘shipped’ to the US Leonie Brinkema will be the sociopath who sentences him to death (or prison until death) for merely exposing the crimes of people like those who appointed her. What a crazy world we live in. They call it “justice”, but to those who set this court up it’s “just us”.

Google Glass: Wearable Surveillance

1411835_the_live_food_

OTHER than the fact that Google Glass is Linux-powered and partly Free/Open Source, I have never had interest in Google Glass. The fact that it is hackable — in the sense one can install one’s own system on the hardware — sure makes a difference, but most people will never practise this freedom. As long as Google, by default, hoovers in data from Google Glass (like it does on the Nexus series), the data is easily accessible to the Surveillance Industrial Complex. This ties into the previous post about peer-surveillance. There is no escaping it and there is reason to antagonise Google Glass as a concept, irrespective of whether one buys/uses it. A lot of people will have no choice as to whether their life(as dynamic imagery) is taken and then uploaded to a datacentre with weak data sharing/protection/retention policy. This is not the same as CCTV. Here we talk about videos that are captured in private spaces, too, more so than surveillance drones whose motion is limited to aerial and is still privacy-infringing, albeit they’re less ubiquitous due to cost, air traffic control, legislation and so on.

This is not about resisting a brand. It’s not hating advancement or fearing the future as Google likes to paint it. It is about telling the difference between marketing (the technology for Google Glass as an implementable concept has been around for decades) and societal effects. It’s like antagonising proprietary software for its effects on society, regardless of practical uses. Fog Computing (‘cloud’) should be rejected on similar grounds. Not everything that can be done should be done, at least or especially if it disregards the consent of non-participants.

To the user, the novelty here is the size of the hardware, the image resolution, and the wireless connection speeds (not related to Google at all).

To the Surveillance Industrial Complex, the novelty here is the ability to access a private (i.e. not accessible by us) database of videos for any given person queried (identity can be derived in a variety of ways, ranging from inter-personal connections to audio, video, and geographical location).

Equal Versus Identical

Being on par without necessarily being the same

It recently occurred to me that I never wrote about feminism in 8 years of this blog running and almost 10 years of this Web site existing (I actually wrote the first page over 10 years ago, but it resided in a different domain). I thought I would address this subject, laying out my thoughts and perhaps compare them to my opinion a few decades later.

When I was young I was pretty disconnected from the debate about feminism, as I was merely a teenager. While I was respectful to women, I was not so tolerant of gay people (it was more fashionable to alienate them at the time), not that I said anything offensive to them though. When I got older and entered academia I identified myself as somewhat of a liberal, so I was naturally strong on the equality side; therefore I became very much in favour of women’s rights and gay rights. I saw them as somewhat parallel to my fight for software freedom and fair competition in IT. Slavery is another, but let’s leave that aside for now. It’s very different except for the reparation argument. Also, gender and sexual orientation are quite different from race, although all of them are not a person’s own choice, unlike religion for example.

Something happened as I grew older and saw how feminism is being used by the ultra-feminists, primarily in the situation where one wants special treatment, bashes men, portrays them as stupid on TV while at the same time resorting to antiquated women’s privileges like alimony when it suits a goal of convenience. I am still all in favour of equality, but where it becomes a two-dimensional strategy where ‘victimhood’ is used as well as claims of privilege, then it is becoming problematic for men.

But here is where my main dilemma now lies. Gender roles are being blurred out and claims of discrimination often lead to a state where guys are expected to act feminine (ultra-proud gay people play a role in this) and women become more masculine, which, in my humble opinion, also makes them less attractive and less likely to manage to sustain a marriage. It is that which I call the confusion between equality and identity, or the fight for equality resulting in the pretense that men are equal to women in every way, even strength, leading to a mismatch between activities and actual innate skills. For instance, a man is still better off doing physical chores because men are, in general or on average, stronger. They are not as well endowed as women in many other ways, including the ability to conceive and give labour. There is nothing derogatory in the latter role; in fact, in many ways it is more important because all men and women are raised through this process.

But anyway, just to quickly conclude, to take claims for equality too far can often do more damage than good. To make men act in a way their DNA is not programmed for is a bad idea and for women to get more aggressive is also a bad idea; it weakens the family unit, which in turn challenges the upbringing of future generations (discipline, example from parents, etc.). Single-parent families are fine, so that’s not the point.

Let’s keep the debate over equality civil and not try to impose our views on others. Let’s not let zeal exploit the existing movements and give them a bad name, either. All genders, races, etc. deserve equal rights, but let’s not pretend they are all identical in nature. People are attracted to opposites, not copies of themselves (which usually just lead to competition, not harmony and complementation).

IF you find this post offensive, please explain why. It’s not intended to offend anyone.

Google Apps Are Bad

Office surveillance, like in phones

Mobile phone

GOOGLE is sometimes said to have rescued us from Microsoft Office monopoly. But what has it really brought about? Now we are distracted enough to forget about Free software alternatives such as OpenOffice.org and instead we push some enterprises into using spyware — an office suite which tracks everything and keeps one’s data online for government to access upon will. Moreover, Google Apps (including Docs) does not properly support ODF, causing all sorts of issues, including on Android devices.

Google should not be treated as a solution to office suites lock-in. Google has become part of the problem.

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