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Months unaccounted for

Flashing forward, four months unaccounted for…

By digital standards this gap would be easily considered as a crippling shift between then and now; a black smudge on the page of a writer’s collective works which has devalued the time leading up to the present. It’s not so much a case of ‘time well spent’ but more ‘time unrecognised’. Similar to a recovering amnesia patient, I must recall my past experiences in the hope that I find something worthwhile within it.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of the readership, it’s been a long time. I’m scared I’m going to fuck things up: I’m scared I’ll realise something terrible, that my creativity and my ability to express a thought in words is gone, and all that’s left behind is a bitter notion of what could have been as opposed to what really is: I’m afraid that I’m going to bombard you with so much literary pretense that you’ll find me laughable. Perhaps upon a quick scan you’ll confirm my latent uncertainty, as you regret choosing an anonymous note over an extra minute with your coffee. It’s probably gone cold, my condolences.

Certain events have led to a change of circumstances in my life. For instance, I’m typing this post in a library located in Värmlands, Sweden. For the next nine months I will be a full-time student of Karlstad Universitet, as a part of the ERASMUS exchange programme.

New settings

But more about that later, I need to decide whether I backtrack or start fresh, the latter is somewhat appealing.

But seeing as I no longer reside in Coventry, this domain may be somewhat problematic. I’ll get back to you with a decision later.

It’s good to be back.

 

That Wasn’t an April Fool’s Joke…

As much as I wish it were, the news of the new ‘snooping law’ that has been passed by the Home Office is not a hoax. It was announced today that the British Government is forcing all internet companies in the UK to comply with the GCHQ, who can now legally intercept any email or phone-call and pinpoint ‘who, where and when’ without a magistrates’ warrant. Naturally this has sparked opposition from several civil liberties groups who believe this is a breach of our privacy.

I wrote a full article on the matter at NoobyNews, to read it for yourself click here. I decided to talk about it on my university blog because this is an issue within the digital world as much as the physical one, and for that reason it draws a lot of similarities with the ‘Google issue’ I discussed previously.

It took me quite some time to come to terms with the fact that this is not actually a joke, as everything about it seemed sketchy. This is actually going to happen, the government can now monitor our communications to an extent they never enjoyed before. It’s in the name of better security against terrorism, but personally I think this is an excuse to squeeze the people a little bit more, putting paranoia into practice. The police (believe it or not) are capable of chasing down terrorists within our borders, this is nothing more than a political move. If you tell people you are going to monitor them 24/7 they will eventually get paranoid. People will worry about what they ‘have to hide’, but more importantly they will worry about what they are being ‘protected’ from. They will worry about terrorism so much that they will accept being spied on: If you push someone to the wall, go through their belongings and flash them the badge they will agree it is ‘for their protection’, that’s the post 9/11 world we live in.

Nothing is more powerful than fear and in a time when the masses are politically awakened to the point where they will question the government’s every move, certain measures must be taken. This is to remind them ‘who is in charge’, that authority is needed to save us from the ‘bad guy’ and there is no need to question the way things are.

In practice the Government simply do not have the resources to sit and go through 60 million files, they must forget that a lot of terrorists can be hidden within society, never to cause a stir until the day they are ‘activated’. It’s just like SOPA all over again; a bunch of dusty old politicians who don’t fully understand the complexity of the internet think they can catch a perp by smoking out the entire hive. The principal yet again falls victim to a higher agenda.

Most of us have nothing to hide from the Government, so don’t forget that. Fear is a weapon of mass destruction.

Google, mission complete.

I really should have posted this a while ago, perhaps around the time Google’s new privacy policy was popping up all over the internet. Most of us wouldn’t have read that, nor would we want to; terms and conditions, rights and privacy blah, blah, blah.”I’m way too busy to be rifling through some red-tape that probably won’t affect me, I have some facebooking to do!”

What would you do without Google, how much do you really know about them? Yes, that was a direct question to you there. Yes, you!

I ask you this because Google has reached every corner of the internet, with a branded answer to just about anything you could want or need, it’s still spreading too. It wasn’t until my final 180MC task that I realised the scale of it all, and with their recent privacy change announcement – that’s when everything slotted into place, that’s when it all clicked. Nothing is free in this world, and if you are using something without paying and it is ‘good’ then there are two possible reasons: Either you are a criminal and you have stolen something, or YOU are the product without even knowing. I cannot remember who said that, but I know for sure that it applies directly to the Google Monopoly.

In April 2011 Google claimed it had hit the rough average of 1 billion different users using their products every month, they store every nugget of data whenever someone ‘Google’s something or downloads a file; whether you are filling out your life on Google+ or building a presence on YouTube it all goes to their information banks, where it is catalogued and analysed for their benefit. Facebook has roughly 900,000,000 users now, and Zuckerberg’s corporation farms all of the information to be sold as marketing data, Google has beat them at their own game before they even set up their own social network services: Everything about you is expressed through what you are attracted to, so whenever you ‘Google’ something you are telling them what you like, how you think, and what you do.

How could they have made all their money? Billions of dollars don’t simply appear to those with good will, they appear to those who are subtle, and can exploit without ever getting caught. The search engine transformed into a conglomerate that had an answer for everything, and we don’t pay? It’s not open source, it’s weightless capitalism.

I have thrown that word around a few times, it basically means the aforementioned business has a maximum output with the absolute minimum cost whilst maintaining an ever increasing demand. Because nearly all of the current digital natives grew up with Google they never sought after an alternative, so opposition like ‘Yahoo!’ or ‘Bing’ fizzle out of relative existence. With everyone unquestionably using Google the market becomes dominated, and the free media that we call the internet becomes just another field of commercial activity. And to keep the ‘net slaves’ hooked on Google they release new services and products on a regular basis; this is done without warning and without charge (totally contrasting the high-profile approach that Apple uses). But Google are killing two birds with one stone, as well as keeping us hooked to the franchise they are wiping out any future market contenders – companies with promising technology or ideas are snapped up and re-branded Blue, Red, Yellow and Green. Google has bought thousands of patents and resources from all over the globe, if it benefits them they slap it onto the shopping list…

SparkBuy (Google Shopping) 

Zagat, Zave, ITA systems (Travel, Offers and Booking)

Phoenetic Arts (Google Translate)

E-Book Tech (Google Books)

RightsFlow (Music Rights management)

Postini (Bought to make Gmail)

Pyra Labs (Bought to own Blogger)

Youtube (Huge traffic = huge profit)

ZipDash, Keyhole, Whereto (Google Maps and Google Earth)

NevenVision (Bought to make Picasa, to compete against flickr)

Teracent (Bought for Adsense, huge source of Google income)

Katango, Social Grapple, Fridge, Jambool, Slide.com,  Social Deck (Turned into Google+)

That was just a handful of the companies that were taken over, ‘Big Spender’ just doesn’t cut it. So where is this all headed? Well with the new privacy policy Google can now move all of their data from every site and service to one location. They have sugar-coated it and said it will ‘make things simpler, better and more interactive for everyone’, but it also means they can now connect the dots, put more extensive files together on the however many billions of people they are already harvesting. 

It’s terrifying, they know more about is than most (if not all) of the government agencies in known existence: They know where we live, what we know, what we eat, what we buy, believe in, like and dislike, what we do for a living, our sexual habits, our capabilities as products or employees, the list goes on. But it doesn’t stop there, they can monitor us in realtime with the new service Google ‘Latitude’, and thanks to the voice and face recognition software in their chrome books and nexus phones they will have mug shots and recordings too.

What I find very worrying is the playful innocent image they are painting themselves, with the GooglePlex and the Advertisements!

That’s a lot of information, one could call it a ‘God’s-eye view’ of the world. That information could be passed on or sold at anytime, so technically someone could be passing around files on your family as we speak, or a ‘Government’ agency could be coming to arrest you for some law you broke when you were online. Maybe I exaggerate a little bit, but the point is we are giving up much more than we anticipated in exchange for the wonders of the internet.

Think about that next time you post something online, or look at something you wouldn’t want other people to know about.

Chainsaw, anyone?

A truly bizarre video appeared on my YouTube feed a few minutes ago, CCTV footage of a twenty-four year old Dean Dinnen (allegedly on drink and drugs at the time) who decided to re-enter a pub brandishing a petrol powered chainsaw after he was asked to leave when he would not stub out his cigarette. Now I knew smoking was bad for you but this takes it to another level, he strolled in with a potentially lethal (not to mention absolutely terrifying) weapon and some deranged concept of revenge. You don’t need to be a genius to say with full confidence that this could have ended horrendously, the words chainsaw massacre spring to mind. During his truly surreal attack he struck one man, who later had to undergo surgery and has been left scarred for life. But fortunately the crazed human-lumberjack was seized by armed police before he could do any more harm, and later pleaded guilty in court. He is currently serving time in prison for his actions, with a mere three-year sentence before he returns to the streets. I’m not going into his meagre  prison sentence because this would turn into an all out rant, besides the footage of the attack that has surfaced is nearly a year old.

What’s so startling is the bravery of the pub goers who quite literally risked life and limb to defend themselves, the pub and the inhabitants as Dinnen revved on with a chainsaw. The footage of him in the pub looked like a rather one-sided bar fight, the sort you would expect to see in a ridiculous action film starring Steven Seagal fending off a crazed chainsaw wielding Van Damme. But hats off to those who plucked up the courage to fight the mad-man and then chase him away with barrels and stools, full respect! I can only imagine the terror of onlookers as a semi inebriated man walked down a street with a live chainsaw, like something out of a horror flick. I just hope no-one else gets any funny ideas, thinking they could be the next ‘Jason’ or ‘Leatherface’ and cause carnage in their local areas, because I personally think the Country has enough ‘anti-social’ problems to deal with, never mind power tool savagery…

Syria, you’re starting to look like Libya.

It worries me how the situation in Syria is panning out, indeed it is starting to draw strong parallels with the conflict in Libya, only with a pinch of Cold War. Let’s just look back for a second; In early 2011 the Egyptian people rose up against the dictatorship of Mubarak, and in front of the entire world, from the eyes of the news choppers and the camera phone YouTube uploads we saw an inspiring spectacle, a popular uprising against the big bad wolf. Syria sought to do the same against their ruler Bashar al-Assad, only the Syrian people did not have the welcoming support of the army, as did the Egyptians before them. The soldiers fired into the crowd with live ammunition, and things got very ugly. Not long afterwards the Libyan people rose up against Muammar Gaddafi, and it all got very horrific. But with the support of an armed coalition effort, and an organised force on the ground, the autocracy was brought down. This was not achieved without loss on both sides, the atrocities that were committed by the mercenary army and loyalists serving Gaddafi were gut wrenching, I remember the stories of mercenaries who had executed countless scores of people with fire and automatic weapons. Bloody as they were, the regimes came to an end – except for Syria.

The uprising continues, and now the country is on the brink of a full civil war. The acts of those under the command of Assad are worsening, and becoming just as outrageous as the ones in Libya, only without the hope of closure any time soon.

Homs, dubbed the ‘capital of the Syrian revolution’ has taken the brunt of the government retaliation, with over six thousand dead since the start of the protests in march last year. Assad is claiming that the military responsible for the attacks are not under his command; whoever is behind this all it is starting to become too familiar, as revolution and violent crackdowns are becoming something of a recurring theme in the middle east (at least in terms of what the news channels have to say).

So what are the ‘higher powers’ doing about all this? Where’s the world police when you need them?  Well the British are sending in the boots, and the US are trying to form a coalition that vetoes the actions in Syria, look at it like a ‘stand up against the school bully’ gig, only with on an international level. Meanwhile the UN is tripping over its own bureaucratic red tape as the community fail to make any valid action. The main reason for this is the ‘rift of interest’ that has been further realised over the past week. China and Russia are condemning the American vetoes on the Syrian Government, claiming they have their own agendas to pursue in the middle East. What could this be? Isn’t it obvious? Just like everyone else, the Russians and Chinese seek territorial eminence, oil and the strengthening of their own diplomatic ties in the region. Russia is a large buyer of Middle Eastern oil, and China is bitter towards any Western attempt to directly (or indirectly) hem in their influence.

Now I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but where exactly have we seen this kind of nonsense before? Superpower agendas hidden behind puppet play, each side whispering into an ear of the doll as they pull it apart? Oh that’s right, the bloody Cold War, Vietnam!

Like I said, I’m not saying this is going to be the next big time waster’s war, but the whole incident is practically shining ‘past mistakes’ in our faces, screaming “You really want to go down that path again buddy?” We seem to have this uncontrollable urge to knowingly take another bite out of the sandwich that gave us food poisoning the first time around, with promise of a greater stake in the crude supplies, or another place to mark your territory…

Maybe the ‘east-side’ gang think they can deal with the situation more efficiently than strafing runs and political gang-ups. Sergei Lavrov seems to think so, although this story isn’t as straight forward as that, because some media sources say one thing, and some say another. In this case it’s the confusion over what the Russians are really doing, are they looking for a peaceful resolution as they claim, or are they actually giving weapons to the soldiers, and patting the dictator on the back? There’s too much static and hypocrisy to decide, I just hope this isn’t a recipe (or should I say) an excuse for the superpowers to fight it out over Arabian soil.

Blackouts? Censorship? Come on now, don’t throw all your toys out of the cot.

In the latest bid for glorious laissez-faire capitalism in all things, the American government is considering enforcing the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ upon all US-based internet services, sites and pages. In short if you stream free stuff or link to a movie etc you will get busted, flushed from the internet and jailed, hooray for America. 

So why are they introducing SOPA? Well, I could tell you if it wasn’t for this big censorship nonsense, unfortunately people who speak up will most likely get bullied. They don’t like people having free stuff, they don’t like freedom. Bit ironic really when it’s from the ‘Land of the Free’! But yeah that’s pretty much why. Oh, nevermind.

I don’t want to cause a flame war, but I can’t help but comment on the US gov’s increased interest to police bloody well everything, not just the oil reserves in Iran and Saudi Arabia, not with the internal affairs of Mexico and Europe, not just trimming down populations (I’ll explain more in another post!), now they want to police the internet, the new media, the very future lifeblood of our technologically dependent existence. You can throw as many ‘just causes’ as you want into the argument, this kind of policing simply cannot be done without undermining the entire structure of the world-wide web. Let us not forget all the various ‘just’ insertions into Vietnam and Afghanistan that destabilized local society and damage everything, A heavy-handed entity cannot take the needle from the hay stack without taking half the crop with it, history has shown us this. Why they would even consider this kind of approach to a body as un-quantifiable as the internet is literally beyond me, You can’t stop a hive mind by chopping off a few heads, because more will grow in their place and problem will shift elsewhere.

They have left it too late to introduce some sort of ‘cyber dam’ to the web, we have interacted and implemented ourselves into it for far too long. Social networking alone is something of a symbiotic life form that lives off of us as much as we live off it, you can’t hack it away because somewhere there is a few links to free films and a few illegal downloads of songs. The backlash would be simply devastating.

I have noticed quite an uproar against this entire business, many super-power sites are participating in a protest black out. But if you ask me this will make matters worse, you will only incite panic and anger amongst the digital generation, and anticipate the effects of ‘SOPA’ and ‘PIPA’. I can only hope that the government will realise the effects this could have on the internet, and come to their senses, because they will be turning the gun on themselves as much as us.

I suppose we should be grateful that the ‘key players’ in government overruled the plan to introduce ISP immunity to the ‘guilty websites’, which make websites disappear; this would be about as useful as punching holes into our fuel tanks, just as wasteful, and just as dangerous.

I take my hat off to politicians, they really know how to ruin a good thing. Sure companies will lose a fair share of money from the internet steams, but I can guarantee they would be worse off without it all together, especially nowadays. ‘Transumer’ culture (the process of taking what we want and when we want from the internet – a NON DEPLETING RESOURCE) is just the way things are; we can’t change that but why should we? We passed the point of safe return a long time ago, we’ve been tumbling down the rabbit hole ever since…

Music assessments, coursework feedback and World War 3, gotta love Mondays…

It’s been a little too much today. Started the day with a relaxing jam session in the studios with some music performance students, and then before I know it I am thrust into a classroom, put behind a drum kit and made to perform Queen covers in front of a class, I did not realise that this was an actual module assessment, which I apparently had just become a part of.

That was nerve racking, but I think I pulled it off. Shortly after getting back to accommodation I got my coursework results, I won’t disclose the results on here but I realise it wasn’t too bad for a first attempt, however next time I will have to push a little further. So the day continues, and getting up earlier than I would have liked has had something of an adverse effect on my body clock, I’m hanging by a thread, and not even a total flushout of caffeine is enough to keep me focussed. Then, suddenly I am told to check the news online and BOOM, now I’m awake.

In the recent Iran/US crisis China has stated that it will back Iran’s cause for nuclear weapons, and will defend it against the Western sanctions, even if that (and I quote) takes us into World War Three. Yeah,  the WMD rubbish and a very fishy story about the CIA drone that was downed in Iran has quite possibly become the spark for a global nuclear conflict. Does Harold Camping have anything to say? I really hope not, I think this media hype has caused enough panic without a few crackpots jumping onto the band wagon to make it worse.

Before we all give up on life, invest in ‘luxury bunkers’ and move to Australia lets look at the logic here. The more panic and bias portrayals in the media, the more the public sides with the intentions of the government, making impulsive actions such as an invasion or nuclear strike much more justified. Its like a self-fulfilling prophecy; and this is being used to the advantage of those in power, who would love to get a little more strategic control of the earth’s oil and gas reserves (over 60% of the remaining reserves lying in the Middle East). I very much doubt Iran or North Korea (who are also apparently working on nuclear weapons capable of hitting the US) would ever launch these missiles, it would be suicide, genocide and xenocide (as they know it would trigger everyone else to panic launch): It is much more likely that they are requestioning these resources as a sign that they too have some power, so they can have a say in world affairs and gain a little more respect along the way (that’s what superpowers strive for), perhaps Iran is fed up with being looked down on by countries with nuclear capabilities, and wants to sit at the ‘adults table’, or perhaps they are sick of being the only ones with a gun pointed to their head (when I say this I am referring to the nuclear sites in Italy, Israel and Turkey that are aimed directly at Iran, as if they are waiting for them to slip up).

When you take a step back you realise that no nation is without it’s faults, no country has a right over another, yet we demonise one another like we are in the right. Sad times we live in…

So yeah, pretty tiresome Monday.

 

The seed is planted…

I have found quite a few cases of racism and general cruelty popping up since that ever so impolite woman (who has now been arrested) made those rather unpleasant comments about ethnic minorities, it is as if the seed of cruelty has been planted, and the delinquents of society have plucked up the courage to step up and make their vulgar stamp on the internet one by one…

There were a number of women who have trended since the original ‘tram experience’ who equally have something mean to say about immigrants and ‘non-British’. There are plenty of racist videos freely circulating on YouTube, this recent explosive video have shed brought some light to a darker side of YouTube Maybe they want some of the infamy too…

There was also a particularly distressing upload of a man feeding a kitten in a Christmas hat to a Python. I did not know how to react to this, it was extremely distressing to watch, as I have a couple of family cats at home whom we all dearly love. You can argue that it is ‘natural’ for a snake to eat a smaller animal, but the predetermined nature of this act was just sick. The fact that this was uploaded as a ‘christmas’ video, open for kids to watch just shows how thoughtless and morbid some people can be. And it’s the selfish, indifference of people that has led to atrocities throughout history- be them large or small, and it makes me ashamed of humanity…

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3976106/Catch-the-sicko-who-fed-a-kitten-to-a-python.html

People have serious issues, it’s surprising how twisted a mind can be…

The ‘Trams’ of Britain…

I came home after a long day, made a cuppa and sat down to get a little bit of work done, When a friend of mine phoned me with a rather dire sense of shock in his voice. He told me to open YouTube and simply look at the ‘trending’ videos, or the most viewed in most of the categories. I scrolled down and soon enough found one resurgent video, which had amassed a staggering two and a half million views in just over two days. The video was entitled ‘My Tram Experience’, in which a white woman in her thirties essentially spat racial obscenities towards everyone who was of mixed ethnic descent within the confines of  a London public transport. It was… well it was just shocking, I can’t really describe it word for word, just watch it here

Well after watching that I thought to myself, “Was that actually real? Can people really hold that kind of a grudge with their fellow Britons?” It was a totally uneducated attack on the mixed race residents of Britain, and it was totally unjustified.

It’s also illegal, not only were her actions a qualified civil disturbance, but they were also a racial attack that could (and should) have left her behind bars. People are so stupid they make me sick, taking little bits of so called fact from already slanted and biased media sources and then using them as justifiable information for their arguments.

Whilst running the risk of sounding stupid I think nearly all ethnic minorities are poorly represented in Britain. And I think it’s the fault of the mass media, they have this god-awful habit of showing the ‘bad bits’ to sell a story and get their readers riled up for nothing. To this day I question who thought it was a good idea to perpetuate stereotypes and grudges against other races (or classes for that matter). People claim multiculturalism has failed in Britain, it’s only because people allow themselves to get swept away with the false information the ‘sewer stream media’ injects into our homes.

Then again it isn’t just multiculturalism, its the student/youth population too. Ever since the largely peaceful protests against the tuition fees the Daily Mail readers (the name I have decided to give to those whose snobbery grows out of pretentious class divides and ‘elite’ readership) look at students (in particular) with contempt. A handful of trouble makers and now students are hated… I’m not over exaggerating, you should see the amount of dirty looks I get when me and my friends stroll into a ‘local’ area in Coventry (or anywhere for that matter).

I’m going to end this post here, because otherwise I will say something that I shouldn’t. People, are in many cases the problem- and that sucks. Maybe one day there will be a better sense of unity in this country, or maybe it’s too late…

Claude Levi-Strauss once said “The world began without man, and it will end without him” Maybe its just as well…

11.11.11.

There was quite a few articles on the supposedly mystical date yesterday. Scientists and mysticism enthusiasts alike tried to explain what this ‘once a century’ event means, and what it is doing for the world we live in (whether it is symbolic, historical or religious).  I don’t want to even start thinking about what the numerology community is doing with the date, perhaps proclaiming some ‘sign of a great arbitrary apocalypse’. I don’t know, but I’m surprised Harold Camping didn’t have something ridiculous to say!

I think for the kids the biggest thing about yesterday was it was the release date for the new Elder Scrolls game ‘Skyrim’, which is a sad thing indeed, probably the sign that the youth of today are now furthest from their roots of British heritage. I wonder how many school kids even held a two minute silence, and if they did were they even thinking about their ancestors who sacrificed everything for the chance to keep us safe? I doubt it, sadly enough.

I totally forgot about ‘Skyrim’, I totally forgot about the mystical day of numerical alignment, but I did not forget those who died for their countries and their people. RIP x

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