Если бы я был сволочью…

Интерестное мнение/видение пробудило во мне желание покопаться в ошметках моих старых идей и мировозрений… Ну не то чтоб я их забросил или они уже не мои – но не возвращался я к ним уже достаточно давно.

Вот ведь штука какая – и возразить-то нечего: все ведь так – и жизнь сведена к жри/вкалывай/отрывайся и как бы текущий экономическо-политический режим тоже располагает… Но если начать с мелочей, то не все так просто как кажется. Взять ведь само существование журнала с этим-самым “мнением” – ведь он сам по себе является продуктом вышеописаного цикла (ровно как и этот журнал): мы ток подаем к той самой пластинке иным образом, стимулируем себя по-другому. Журнал это отдушина, илюзия что тебя кто-то услышал и твое мнение считается. Все та же пластинка, все та же мышь. И сгораем мы вываливая всю душу на публичное обозрение в надежде что заметят, поймут, оценят. Пытаемся превратить все то плохое что накипело-накопилось во все то хорошее чего не достает, и ногу с педальки не снимаем.

А вот как начинаешь идти по этой тропинке-то так и остановиться тяжело. Ведь если прикинуть на коленке – все чудеса прогресса и цивилизации – порождение лени и желание стимуляции того самого “эпицентра счастья”.  Значит если вывернуть это наизнанку – единственным путем остается откатиться до первобытно-общинного… И вот тут заковыка выходит – ведь если до первобытно-общинного откатишься так и дальше до инфузории-туфельки недалеко… Что же получается – одно с другим связано – желание “давить на педальку” и “homo sapiens”? Никакой разумности не было бы если б не желание сделать себе хорошо.

Ну вот теперь разобрались с одним направлением мысли… и если б был я сволочью то начал бы цепляться ко всем словам и деталям… да не выйдет. Почему? Да потому что раз уж мы (цивилизация) встали на этот путь – назад дороги нет (ну ладно, есть – но это тема для другой заметки). Раз уж начали мы этот процесс эволюции то нам его и заканчивать. Не было бы нас так другой подвид занял бы наше место. Это как с бурной рекой – если уж оказался на крутом участке – дальше дорога одна, и самым безопасным будет просто отдаться течению и плыть по нему – лавируя между препятствиями и стремясь лишь в малой мере контролировать скорость. Невозможно контролировать горный поток, нельзя плыть вспять, но можно лавировать… О чем это я..? Так вот общими нашими усилиями цивилизация катится к своей неминуемой развязке (чем бы она ни была) и единственное что мы можем с этим сделать это задавать вопросы и пытаться сделать все чтоб корректировать путь свой.

Вот к примеру капитализм – дожили мы до всемирного капитализма и убедились что ничего хорошего он не несет, и как говорил Маркс:

И уже не рабочий употребляет средства производства, а средства производства употребляют рабочего. Не он потребляет их как вещественные элементы своей производительной деятельности, а они потребляют его как фермент их собственного жизненного процесса, а жизненный процесс капитала заключается лишь в его движении как самовозрастающей стоимости.

Но в то же время тот же Маркс утверждает что капитализм должен был произойти и было ему место в истории – как одна из ступеней развития без которой никак нельзя.

Можно было бы отмести всяческие вопросы и сравнения с мышом как несостоятельные потому как экстраполируя мы могли бы прийти к абсурдному утверждению с которым и автор не согласился бы, но с другой стороны напоминание о недостатках наших и привязаностях наших это то что мы обязаны делать ежедневно. Иначе никак. Иначе никакого “homo sapiens” – ни тебе ничего “человеческого” ни тебе ничего “разумного”. “В споре рождается истина” и важно это не забывать.

 

Software industry, disaster capitalism and… wait… Microsoft!

I’m not sure whether anybody is paying attention, but it looks like lately there is a ton of mounting evidence that Naomi Klein’s “disaster capitalism” is in fact the new base standard for any form of capitalism.

Let’s examine some evidence. Let’s see what Slavoj Zyzek says on this account:

…we are now entering a period in which a kind of economic state of emergency is becoming permanent: turning into a constant, a way of life. It brings with it the threat of far more savage austerity measures, cuts in benefits, diminishing health and education services and more precarious employment.

Naomi’s own words:

What we have been living for three decades is frontier capitalism, with the frontier constantly shifting location from crisis to crisis, moving on as soon as the law catches up.

Now after a bit of thinking this is the exact model Software Industry employed. Industry creates it’s own disasters to profit selling means to clean up the aftermath. Case in point: Antivirus industry. Where it started is with Microsoft and alike who were too busy pumping out new products to pay any attention to fixing existing ones. It’s like hitchhiking on a runaway train – you climb aboard for a ride when it’s moving slow but then after a while you can’t jump off – it’s moving too fast and you can’t really stay because you know tracks end someplace… So Microsoft software was buggy and full of holes which were instantly exploited by virus/trojan-makers. Instead of Microsoft plugging those holes – we saw the rise of industry responding to those problems: Antivirus. After that one took off there was no stopping it: Microsoft became partners with those same companies now they can’t screw them over and all of sudden fix everything, and why would they – nobody pays for increased security – people are conditioned to pay for “new and shiny”. So now this hydra has 2 heads, but it gets better: spammers catch on and we see the rise of botnets. Botnets provide the means for bruteforce attacks of systems that are otherwise well-protected. And you’ve got yourself third head. That monster is growing and heads multiplying.

Now look at this from the user perspective: user by now is conditioned that his/her machine is in constant state of “disaster” and doesn’t mind that state anymore since they don’t know it could be any better. Which only strengthen position of monopolies of Software Industry. If you look close enough – every “big player” plays by that book: Oracle, IBM, SAP, etc. It’s all covered by “to err is human” logo which in fact covers the ugly truth: features sell, security doesn’t.

Which is where Open Source enters the scene. Lets make a ridiculous assumption that Microsoft was producing Open Source OS to begin with. What’s the point for Antivirus companies to produce Antivirus if they can go straight to MS code and fix the vulnerability in the first place? Now for Microsoft it’s “bad business” for two reasons: somebody fixed their code and proved they know nothing about what they do, and they killed off a potential branch of “partner companies” that otherwise could feed Microsoft. So instead of spending money on fixes, code control etc. they are actually earning money by extending their partnerships and keeping an image of impenetrable corporate entity.

On closer examination Software Industry doesn’t follow capitalist ideas anymore (moreso than any other industry). Current techniques employed by software industry are more totalitarian, something that is indeed dear and near to any disaster capitalist. Corporations do not compete anymore – they are too busy screwing each other:

Behind Microsoft’s $15 Samsung Android royalty claim

What is Microsoft doing suing  companies producing Android-based devices? It’s the most blatant racketeering scheme of them all. Nobody ever saw MS claims, defendants are not the ones in position to argue since they are not the one building the platform – they are merely hooked on it. It is cheaper for them to just pay off MS so that they can get back to building handsets and other devices.

http://blogs.forbes.com/timothylee/2011/07/07/microsofts-android-shakedown/

 

Y'all Seen Dexter's Laboratory?

Long time ago, when western culture started pouring into Eastern Europe I enjoyed watching Cartoon Channel and one of the shows in particular – Dexter’s Laboratory. Something about this show tickled my geek side in a right way. Then TV died, then we moved to another country, then… I lost track of it.

A couple of years ago people around me started mentioning new show – Dexter and all that was appearing in my mind was "Dexter’s Laboratory" – lots of test-tubes, computers, lasers and crazy sister ruining brilliant experiments every time – kind of like Road-Runner’s Zen. I imagined "grown-up" version of Dexter and his sister running through the same routine over-and-over-and-over again.

The Killer Inside Me – Dexter meets big screen big time

Tea and Tranquility

Tea cupAside from other things I’m passionate about tea is one thing that caries me through the day. Sometimes I really need my tea. My addiction is not of chemical sort – it is a mental addiction – tea is just a symbol, a ritual to break daily routine and get some space for myself where there is none.

Tea is my reason to get out of my chair – walk down the hallway put on kettle, wait about 5 minutes for water to boil, pick my tea in the meantime – green means I’ll have to use my cup to stage boiling water through – transferring water through cup should bring temperature down about 5-10 degrees if needed I can let it cool down bit more for couple more minutes to get the best brew. Black tea shortens the time by eliminating cup as a transit station but extends brewing time. All boils down (pun intended) to about 10 minutes for myself – for my ritual – away from grinding routine, away from dark political matters from social injustices from everything that makes me feel down.

My subtle addiction to tea culminated in purchasing the book “A brief history of Tea, The extraordinary Story of World’s Favourite Drink” by Roy Moxham. I’m far from being through the whole book but have learned quite a few history lessons already. The rise of monopolies in 18th century (East India Company and such), governments offloading their responsibilities onto corporations, which in turn rip off everybody they deal with, lobbying that goes a tad farther than subsidies and culminates in international military conflicts. The darkest so far for me is Opium trade in China in 19th century. British Empire exploiting Chinese weakness against that powerful drug that didn’t stop at simple distribution – distribution was pretty much enforced and legalized to increase British profits all in the name of recovering silver to be able to buy more tea:

The exchange of opium for tea was a disaster for China. While it was true, as British were ever fond of pointing out, that no one forced the Chinese to smoke opium, it was also true that exports from British territory and the smuggling by British merchants undermined Chinese efforts to stem addiction… Perhaps most seriously of all, the British military expeditions sent to protect the opium-for-tea trade destabilized the Chinese regime and fueled xenophobia…

In other words another corporation creates this new market – hooks entire country on it, then forces everyone else to pay the bill for it’s wrongdoings, washes off their hands and moves on to its next target barely affected. What, Microsoft, IBM and Apple (I can name more but that’d be boring 😉 ) tactics are not new???

History is always complex. It’s always one little thing that triggers another that causes chain reaction with the following explosion of revolution, war, conquest etc. But why did it have to involve the drink that I like?

So now even my tranquility moments have been invaded and sabotaged by corporations, governments and not-so-smart general population. No hiding from it now. Just like in “No Logo”: there’s “No Space” left for personal, it is all overtaken by other entities. Not only on the streets but also in our minds. I will fight for my space though. I do not let go of things that are mine by right, so easily. I won’t stop drinking tea. What I will have to do is “invert” the space around me: just like army taking battles from the streets inside the houses and moving through the corridors and roofs – I will invert the space around me and walk along the crevices and claim some of them as mine and expand from there.

Battlestar Firefly

I like good movies. Scratch that – I LOVE good movies. Jim Jarmusch have opened so many great actors for me and his movies are the ones I keep going back to over and over again. Peter Greenaway let me explore my dark side, taught me the art of irony and sarcasm exploding human nature into some grotesque forms. Babbling and insecure Woody Allen made me feel better about myself. Kar Wai Wong, Yimou Zhang, Alice Wu shown me sides of Asian cultures that are free of Manga, Godzilla and flying kung-fu masters (although I do enjoy watching those on occasion). Point is – I like when movies get serious, I like depth, I like something I can watch over and over and over again and still enjoy it and be able to discover something new – some hidden gems, some imperfections (in the wabi-sabi way, of course) and some unexplored sides of the characters. And to complicate matters I do enjoy a good Sci-Fi (I wouldn’t be geek if I didn’t, now would I?)

Good Sci-Fi movies with depth are hard to come by and when you turn to shows things get even worse. So while frustrated with the lack of real choice in that category (Sci-Fi TV Series) I have learned to not expect much from those shows and my disappointment levels dropped significantly. For quite a while I thought Babylon 5 is “it”. It had mediocre depth to the characters, but it did have some storyline stitching the entire show together (well at least first 4 seasons). Then, one night, we were visiting our friends – it must’ve been party of some sort, but TV was on and somehow it was stuck on Sci-Fi channel right at the time when Battlestar Galactica miniseries were on. That was the night when my expectations for the Sci-Fi shows grew to the new level. All of sudden characters made sense, the whole scenery looked real, nobody was babbling about new inventions – everybody was busy using them and the laws of physics seemed to apply. “Oh, my $deity!” I thought to myself – it can’t be real. And then the full-blown series came out. It was a very new experience for me just like for the rest of geek population on the planet. Not only did this show turn upside-down formula of Sci-Fi show it also blew out of the water theories about piracy hurting entertainment industry (the last one being an unintentional side-effect that even the show-makers won’t admit to):

While you might assume the SciFi Channel saw a significant drop-off in viewership as a result of this piracy, it appears to have had the reverse effect: the series is so good that the few tens of thousands of people who watched downloaded versions told their friends to tune in on January 14th, and see for themselves. From its premiere, Battlestar Galactica has been the most popular program ever to air on the SciFi Channel, and its audiences have only grown throughout the first series. Piracy made it possible for “word-of-mouth” to spread about Battlestar Galactica.

Back to the subject – for a while there I thought BSG was the only game in town and in fact are trail-blazers in the area of character depth in Sci-Fi shows. Then I came across Firefly. Let me be straight here: I do not like Joss Whedon and his creations, none of them. Except Firefly. Buffy and it’s spin-offs had no characters with depth, even the ones that seemed to have depth had it only 1″ deep. Firefly all of sudden presents an interesting phenomena – characters have enough in them for you to want explore them, their stories go for miles and mix of corny humor, unique vision of future and “in your face” cutting through stereotypical behavioral patterns for both Westerns and Sci-Fi shows really sets it apart. Read through the comments in IMDb and you’ll see it’s a “love it or hate it” kind of show. People either hate it right away or they fall in love. But people do react: 100K comments is a very impressive number in my books – that is how many people decided it was worth their while to post a comment on IMDb just on account of Firefly.

So recently I came across an article on The Register titled “Shut up, Spock! – how Battlestar Galactica beat Trek babble” and while agreeing with most points made by Kevin Grazier about the science behind BSG and how it made it all more believable I realized that quite a few things mentioned there apply to Firefly as well. And it also looks like Firefly beat BSG to a punch by a narrow margin, but it did. Firefly was first to give characters some depth (in it’s own, unique way), it had no techno babble: “Okay, I need that in captain dummy talk, Kaylee.” and avoided most of the cliché’s of action movies like long villain/hero long talks before acting, disregards for chain of command, ships were actually worn out, people tired, nobody wears dorky bodysuits, no blasters left right and center and everybody speaks Chinese. Is it really that important who was first and who wasn’t? No. But I’d like to set the record straight anyway 😉

What does all of the above mean? Does it mean anything? Well, it does. To me it means a lot. It means it is possible to create a Sci-Fi show that I can enjoy on several levels and not only on a Sci-Fi level. It also means that the new standard has been set and now other shows will try to match it. And on top of it all it means that my respect to “Earth Final Conflict” (what a disaster! Re-watched it now after 10 years or so and still can’t figure out what did I see in it?), Lexx (just got DVDs delivered recently and setting my expectations sufficiently low) and “Star Trek” (the original series, I terrified to watch it again – the memory of it may be tarnished forever) is fizzling and the only way I can still watch those if I remind myself that at that time those were the best we’ve had. And they were “damn good shows”.

If I was a conspiracy theorist I’d think that it’s a plot to deny us pleasure of enjoyment of all shows and hooking us to new stuff forcing us to abandon all those purchased VHS tapes and DVDs for the sake of new Blu-Ray collections and anxiously wait for more new stuff. But it can’t be true. Can it?

Back online

Took me a while, but I’m back online… pihua is dead and now I’m trying the new concept. This time I won’t make the same mistake and will backup my database 😉

This time it’s an experiment in ego-measuring contest with no rules. This time it’s all about me, my narcissistic self and all I care about. Good portion of Internet population is already indulging in self-promotion and streaming their thought onto unsuspecting public, so why should I sit idle? We should either overload this media with sufficient levels of noise or bring the level of average blog to a sufficiently high level to discourage any participation from folks who have nothing to say.

I do have something to say. I have a lot to say. Not sure if anybody cares to listen. I’ll make it my diary to confide in, my stick to beat all the issues that bother me, my empty stage for yelling out loud when nobody listens. I will be here even if nobody comes.

Get ready – it’s going to be rough, unedited, plenty mixed up and #$cked up too.