Archive for September 2011
As you will see from the About page for this blog, the surveillance state is a major topic on Vision Aforethought because it can be and is often misused, or fails to deliver any benefits to society or the ‘recorded’. There are countless examples of people spying on others for no other motive than profit and/or voyeurism. It has happened again, but fortunately this time, the guilty party is being prosecuted. The bad news? Such prosecution does not occur here in the UK.
We have been on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years, yet only in the last few decades has it been possible for our public or private moments to be recorded, rather than just observed. The latter preferable because observation remains private, whilst once something is recorded, it can be distributed.
Fight back club: Privacy violated? Sue the bastards.
As an amateur photographer, over the last few years I have noticed just how sensitive people are to being photographed, even if for innocent creative purposes. This no doubt because people assume – in this case wrongly – that the photos will end up on a social networking site. So, imagine becoming aware that random occurrences in your life are probably being recorded, and not always in grainy black and white, but in full colour, as happened to me in Putney (London) a few years ago to my horror after I received a parking penalty charge attached to full colour photos of me driving – taken prior to the alleged offense!
The genius of reality is how it plays tricks with us, like a magician. He or she has you focus on their card hand, while the other is up to all sorts of jiggery pokery, without you realising – unless you are in the loop of course.
Over the last few decades we have been occupied with the card hand of terrorism and climate change. Whilst we have been debating these too issues, a far more sinister threat to common sense and the natural order of things has been worming itself into the underbelly of our very existence. Namely, the nefarious behaviour of pharmaceutical companies.
It was a shocking life changing event in 1991 (in a specific tall building on University Avenue, Palo Alto to be precise!) that first enlightened me to the fact that evil really really did reside deep within the culture and motive of some large corporations. And unlike Hollywood movies, no Harrison Ford or Matt Damon character would come to the rescue and bring it all to an end in a series of public exposes or fiery explosions.
Back in the old days, research was driven by the desire to do good. A lone scientist would work late in the lab and develop or discover something wonderful, without which, many or even all of us would not be around to tell the tale. Their motive was to do good with no material gain, even if some justified fame. We have all learned about such brilliant people at school.
Today, whilst there are of course honorable scientists, institutions and companies out there doing good, the situation in general is very much different, and it is quite simply terrifying. (Yes, go ahead and read the whole article – along with the comments below – and then return here.)
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I recall being shocked when living in the US how people would constantly pop pills for any ill, instead of trying to diagnose why they were feeling off or simply letting an improved lifestyle and time cure their woes for little or no cost. The reason this doesn’t happen (and this is one of the reasons I left the US, despite my love of the people), is because the whole nation (and soon the rest of the world), is setup through the whole structure of society to self harm and then seek a fix – profiting many 3rd parties. Just go spend a day with a diabetic to see how such firms have these long suffering individuals in the grip of their gadgets and drugs! And woe betide anyone who dares challenge this.
For the large corporations simply slip a nice little earner to their target politician, and the law is adjusted accordingly to ensure the status remains quo. With the social services, police and military under the instruction of said law, attempting to halt this gradual slide towards dystopia is going to become more and more difficult. Please do read your newspapers for evidence of parents or children being taken into care or arrested and/or given drugs they do not need due to the sudden invention of new illnesses that are nothing more than hot air, or the result of an over mechanised society and ‘curable’ through common sense action, time or both.
Sadly, one cannot simply run away from this issue, unlike terrorism or climate change. These drugs are entering our water supply, and over time, build up in the bodies of creatures small and large, here and there – without consent.
Fight back club: Fix yourself the natural way and refuse to befriend or break off relations with anyone who works for such corporations. I have, since the 1980s.
Whatever happens, we must not let the high street die, but to survive it must adapt and become more social. Some already have, and are prospering. More to come. A bit busy currently.
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While you wait, here is a comment I made on the Daily Telegraph website yesterday after reading about possible changes to planning laws. There is a correlation between what I write below and my thoughts on the high street.
“Having lived in the USA for 10 years, which whilst offering some of the most stunning scenery in the world (Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone etc), it is also covered in identikit cold dull strip malls and characterless ‘towns’. If you do not believe me, use Google Maps and switch to street view and just ‘drive’ around. You’ll be shocked at how vast stretches of the country look like a third world city suburb. Wide dull streets peppered with fast foot outlets, second hand car dealerships, nail salons and tax offices – little else.
Meanwhile, here in the UK, we have clean pleasant characterful villages and (some!) towns, not to mention our beautiful lush countryside that makes life worth living.
Take that away, and this country will become a characterless wasteland, like middle America or suburban Libya. And such a reality will render the very point of actually living and moving to the countryside pointless, and that will devastate the local economy. And for those who LIVE in the countryside, you will know that employment is almost 100% and crime, almost 0%. Why? Because the structure of the community is such that thanks to the ‘trickle down’ effect of robust hierarchical economics (land owners employ skilled tradesmen employ apprentices who spend money locally) there is little chance of people falling through the cracks.
Those who live in the countryside will know exactly what I mean.”
In 1992, after reading about a short story competition in the Palo Alto Weekly, I started work on a screenplay predicting a devastating (nuclear) attack on New York city. The whole concept was based on my observations of US culture over my humble, (at the time) timid and reserved English upbringing. I felt that if I as a citizen of a nation at the ‘centre’ of the world was shocked at US culture, how would those further to the East or with similar more reserved values react and how long would they put up with it, even if such differences were not intended to cause intentional harm? In a nutshell, I felt an event on the scale of (or greater) than 9/11 was going to happen years before anyone had ever discussed such a concept – Tom Clancy included.
Well, unfortunately, my prediction came true, even if on a lesser scale – relatively speaking.
I put a considerably amount of effort into what became a short story called The Party. And to date, have never profited from it, despite the fact many others have profitted from 9/11 itself. My story was written prior to the event and so does not exploit it and I would never do so.
As per other short stories I may complete, am considering asking those who enjoy my stories to pay a small fee if they desire. In the case of The Party, I was thinking of (say) $1.75 or a £1.00. Or perhaps a little more and donate a % to a charity.
What do you think? Please comment below.
“Regarding social commentary, Kubrick has been noted for the recurring theme of concern with the over-mechanization of society which, in its attempt to create a safe environment, creates an artificial sterility that breeds the very evils it tries to exclude.”
I hadn’t planned on posting this, but whilst catching part of Full Metal Jacket on TV I started reading the Wikipedia entry on Stanley Kubrick and came across the aforementioned quote that bares much in common with one of the main themes of this blog. Namely the concern that politically correctness, (misused/ridiculous) ‘human rights’ and health and safety laws, dumbed down media, robotic call centres manned by clueless artificially friendly automatons, council jobsworths entrapping the middle classes and social media and other ‘inhuman’ concepts devoid of five senses will have the opposite effect their well meaning OR bitter creators intend. And the recent riots in the UK validate this, as does the gradual collapse of ethical dignified society, in particular in the UK. And I am not even bringing up the main symptom of all this, stress! Life is just so complicated now.
Fight back club: Follow the wise.
Re Kubrick, I have found each one of his films, in particular 2001, Eyes Wide Shut, Dr. Strangeglove and AI* to be so intellectually and conceptually beyond any other that there is no comparison with the mainstream. The man was a unique and talented visionary genius who you either get or don’t, or get later as you mature. Example, when first seeing 2001 as a child, I found it boring. A fine argument to constantly seek enlightenment, because that way, you appreciate more and more of what life has to offer!
*A JV with Spielberg, but Kubrick’s influence was everywhere.
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Even prior to seeing the Mad Max movies, I always felt that within my lifetime, we would face an apocalypse. And before I type another character, as I recently commented on a newspaper story, am willing to bet that deep down, a good majority of you feel the same way now, even the conservative of you or those who are too young to remember how terrifying it could be during the height of the cold war.
I received a lot of ‘Likes’ for my comment – a bit worrying!
What is surprising today is the complete lack of advice on how to survive the downturn, crazy unpredictable weather and resultant rocketing cost of food and fuel – the backbones of a strong economy and security against slipping down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The reasons for this lack of help are obvious to those of us who bare little goodwill to large corporations – it isn’t good for business!
So, here’s a great way to survive and maintain a relatively comfortable, more secure (sustainable!) and independent lifestyle:
- Don’t buy prepackaged foods – they cost three times or more what it costs to make it yourself. And yes, it all adds up.
- Unplug and/or giveaway/sell as many white good, such as extra freezers. Watch you fuel bill plummet! How many other appliances or gadgets are drawing power 100% of the time?!
- Bicycle to anywhere you cannot reach by car or on foot.
- Switch from a monthly airtime contract on your mobile phone to a sim only plan, where you can opt out with a month’s notice.
- If you have the energy and live near one, apply for an allotment – great if you have kids.
- If you do have the budget, are or have an architect – and handy skills, build your own house, with one south facing side constructed almost entirely of glass (to let in sunlight), and the other, a thick stone wall to act as insulation. This will reduce the need for artificial heating or cooling. Many experimental houses like this already exist – some near Oxford, England, others in Arizona.
- Do as much as you can to disconnect from ‘the grid’ and as per your mobile phone, avoid any long term contractual commitments. Rich? Install a huge solar panel on your roof. (Follow @lifemachine on Twitter if you have an interest in matters green associated with practical sustainable living.)
- Stay away from any processed foods and additives that will make you ill at some point in the future just when you are needed.
- Don’t ever forget that from the second you were born, you were for sale. But you know that, right?
- More coming!