Middle East vs West, Getting Caught in the Middle

Mass violence seems more a risk than it used to be, at least in the West. You could be out somewhere and all of the sudden, you are in the middle of something that either end in the loss of life, severe trauma, or a combination. Meanwhile, we have a politics that leads us to think that we are near the apocalypse.

One thing is for sure, there are people in the West and the East who want … want a World War. A mass global conflict is what some dream about. A chance to reset the clock, reset civilization, settle scores, and show once and for all who is top dog. Maybe we are in the End Times, but do we need to speed it along?

Some people are racing quickly to see a major war. Civil war, religious war, cultural war, you name it. All that rhetoric on public mass media tickling the urge to battle. Us vs. them. Domination is a zero sum game.

Well, that is enough of that talk. Anyway, do not be surprised to see some leaders take advantage of violent tragedy and economic disappointment to steer people against each other. Much of it, in terms of sentiment seems rather contrived.

Unfinished Business from American Slavery: Roots

A week or so ago, I saw the remake of the televised version of Roots. Actually, I only saw part 4, plus the commentary afterwards. Still, I got enough from it to think about the issues of Slavery, Racism, White Supremacy, and the place of African-Americans in the modern world. I think anyone would be touched in the direction of great introspection on these issues and life in general upon watching the series. Continue reading

Despite Surveillance, Communication is Natural

The person who helped create the Web may have some regrets about what the Web has become. The Web was intended to be a great avenue for knowledge, information, improvement of people, an input into a new kind of Renaissance. It was all of that, but not for the people but for the big governments and businesses. None of that means I am not for government or business. Quite the contrary, but I do think you can get too big and I think too much power can lead to outcomes that are not good. In other words, I look for balance.

The people’s relationship to institutions either seem out of balance or getting there quick. The imbalance will be corrected, but corrections can be messy. Best to avoid messy corrections and simply change course ahead of time.

One of the problems we face is that despite all this surveillance, we cannot help but want to talk to one another. People are social. It is like breathing. No person is an island. Life is an interdependent web. Control and independence is an illusion. You may have a degree of independence, but absolute independence is impossible. Everyone needs each other and that means communication.

A new Web can be defined with this in mind, but with the protocols of discretion built-in. If the person who helped build the Web is understood correctly, he sees the prospect of making a u-turn to get things back on track. Well, that is a tall order but possible. What’s more, before long, you just may see some of the top minds (not necessarily the top corporations) go back to the drawing board and start something new.

People are going to talk to each other. Is there a way to do that so a person preserves their ability to moderate their encounter with the wider society and not relinquish their liberty? We all have a chance to be part of the solution rather than see things as inevitable. Make different choices with technology. Decide that freedom and the dignity of others is worthwhile.

Trans Pacific Trade Partnership

Google has come out in favor of TPP. I am a huge supporter of Google in terms of technology. The positions they’ve staked out on a variety of technology topics has been great. I was so glad when they won the trial case regarding Java. The work they have done with Android (a customized rendition of the free Linux operating system), Chromebook (another derivative of Linux), and the pioneering work they’ve done in data centers (again with Linux) is a testament to their prowess.

With all the fortune they’ve gained from the use of free and open source technology, how can such a company come out in favor of a deal that would deprive others of the opportunity to achieve the same outcomes they’ve enjoyed? That is a question without a clear answer. Anyway, I am not in favor of the TPP.

As a general class, I have grown disenchanted with many of today’s tech companies. Some who have staked out positions in alignment with the Electronic Frontier Foundation have reached a point of departure from said positions. I believe in what the EFF advocates. Perhaps it is time to no longer look to companies to carry forward such views but to abide with such views regardless of who supports them.