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United States Loses S&P AAA Credit Rating

shomon2 Re:WTF that wasn't supposed to happen!? (1239 comments)

Yup, partisanship is what could break the world now, as people look at their savings and wonder if they are safe. At some point they might cave in,and go and take their money out, and then someone will publish some news about how they are all taking money out of the banks, and pretty soon lots of banks will have to go bankrupt. When this happened in argentina, only 250 dollars a week were allowed per family. I wonder how much there is now.

There is no secret fuel over the horizon like with petrol after WWII, and there is no magical alternative fuel that's going to move all our food and pharmaceuticals around the world if the US goes bust and takes europe with it. The US is not going to grow again in 6 months, or in 12 months, because measuring a country's wellbeing via GDP growth was a mistake in the first place, and it's now become very harmful to continue seeing the world that way.

So what happens as countries go bust is that a disposessed middle class goes out into the street, camps out, riots, but generally protests peacefully for stuff to get better. This is happening in egypt and north africa, but also in across southern europe, in chile, in marocco, belarus, iceland, turkey, the UK, israel, south america and pretty much anywhere you might have thought of as a stable or safe place even just a couple of years ago. And so the government becomes opposed to it's people, and the old alliances of media, police and bipartisan states start falling apart. We are at this point in Spain, where the Police now speak throught the police union, and beat up journalists and protesters alike, issuing public messages that are harshly critical of government and protesters. Meanwhile people lose jobs, houses, hospitals etc and everything is more and more extreme each day.

But I think there is a way through, which is through dialogue, through agreements by all parties - citizens, government, business, media and police or army forces, to collaborate because we have a huge crisis on our hands. Here is some timely viewing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8EYN1iBPdc

We all have to voluntarily take over as government and business fails, and keep basic services functioning. We have to relocalise, and figure out how to drastically reduce the need for transport, and most importantly, produce clean supplies of water, basic medicine and food. This can only happen with an active volunteer force, able to be creative and effective, and it just so happens that the pro democracy protests are basically formed from spontaneous voluntary acts from people across all (or most) aspects of society, and now at least in europe, by assemblies, allowing for high levels of organisation and very participative democratic decision making, and now - with social networking software like Lorea (based on ELGG), soon to be complemented by an information system allowing faster decisions and ability to organise complicated activities across a wide geographical area. Lorea can be found at http://lorea.cc/ or https://n-1.cc/ to see it in action.

I don't know if you see how hard that is going to be to reach this level of unity, with all the fighting going on at the moment. We need a huge amount of unity, and for a feeling to surface across the financially sick "western world" with some of what in the UK is known as the blitz spirit - an idea of shared catastrophe, that gets everyone out helping each other. I think a lot of the protests so far have embodied these feelings, of the drastic need to revolutionise our culture, politics, financial system and pretty much everything else, because of how harmful the damaged older system is(if we let things go on we will starve), and I really hope that October 15 - where wall street itself will be subject of a protest camp, can help bring more people to awaken to the idea that they have to take responsibility for this situation, and actively make things better, even if it means adapting very quickly to a new environment. http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/occupywallstreet.html

more than 3 years ago

If WikiLeaks Suspect Manning Is Legally Guilty, What Punishment?

shomon2 Missing option (359 comments)

So the US army sends their helicopter out, kills a journalist, lots of random passers by, all while soldiers comment coldly, from their IT rooms like the one where Manning worked. A passing van, with children in it, stops and a man gets out to help the injured journalist. But the van is blown up too. When they get the news that children were killed, they just comment "you shouldn't take your children to a war zone".

Manning divulged that the US are comiitting this kind of atrocity on a daily basis. Wikileaks went to find the people involved and interviewed their family to produce a piece of very powerful anti war media: www.collateralmurder.com/

So what about a poll option with punishments for the US army and government, for committing these crimes, and manning given some kind of recognition for everything he's suffered as a consequence?

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

shomon2 Re:Are you armed? (562 comments)

Yeah but you can get lots of urban vegetation though - dandelion is a good emergency foodstuff, you can eat the leaves, make the flowers into tea, and the roots can be fried with soya sauce... :)

Cities frequently have fruit trees growing all over the place, even on abandoned places by the side of the road because someone threw an apple core in the 70s and it grew...

In Bristol, UK there is a map of all edible fruit and nut trees and guides you can buy with all the different species of local plants and how to prepare them or use them medically.

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How Prepared Are You For a Major Emergency?

shomon2 Re:Ah. Survival. - the longer term view (562 comments)

I think the problem is long term survival - finding ways to meet your needs with something other than supplies or guns. If just you are lumbered with lots of stuff, or lots of weapons there is going to be someone stronger than you or someone who will work day and night to get what you have, but if you have skills and knowledge, you are better as a friend to these people. So here is your list but with some inventions and ecological solutions I've seen used a few times in open hardware/green circles, where a lot of the idea behind it takes from open source directly - the idea that you have to share knowledge openly:

Blankets/sleeping bags: learn to sow, knit, weave old clothes to make new ones, or get inventive with plastic bags or tyres to make woven baskets and footwear. You can make plastic bags into a waterproof coat if you iron the bits together wrapping them first in baking paper. Tyre is really durable and can get you really far making stuff with it. All you need to make shoes is a relatively varied amount of them, inner tubes are nice and soft, a sharp knife and some nails. If it is really wet and you need impermeable footwear, bags to the rescue again: just wrap your socks in plastic bags and they will stay dry, avoiding infection, trenchfoot etc in a wet/flooded situation.

Drinking water:make a freshwater filter - all you need is sand, stones and somewhere for the water to pass through, in hot places using solar ovens to boil your water (and to cook food without needing to cut down a forest a year just to heat food), also I hear there are simple ways of preparing water for drinking by just leaving it closed in a plastic container in the sun for a couple of hours.

Food: organic and permaculture based farming. Permaculture is more of a way of designing a way of living - with limited resources, and it's what was famously used in Cuba after the USSR collapsed and no more food or fuel was available from there. They all lost weight but by embracing this and doing without fertilizers they still managed to avoid mass starvation and everyone was relatively comfortable, and a lot better off once the organic harvests kicked in.

Ovens: the simplest indigenous ovens are just a hole in the ground with a fire on the bottom, that you puyt the food in and cover up with leaves and earth(kind of a slow pressure cooker), but you can also, with some practice, make a kiln - a bread making oven made out of mud, which will last about a week, and produce some tasty stuff for quite a large group of people...

Refrigerating food so it'll last longer: a couple of clay pots and water will produce a nice effect where the sand absorbs the heat from any food you put in the smaller pot: put the small pot inside the big one, fill the rest of the big one with sand, and pour some water in with it. The water will evaporate and the sand will get a lot cooler. So you have a little refrigerator. Keeping your stuff in a cool dark place can achieve the same effect, but the pots idea is much more lightweight and mobile.

Lights: solar lights(the garden ones for example are usually to be found quite cheap), windup lights, small LED circuits that you can make yourself from sites like instructables or make magazine, a few carefully placed mirrors can bring lots of light to a room so that you don't need to rely on electricity working all the time or on having enough money to pay the bill. A couple of medium sized solar panels and a 12v battery from a car can give you lots of much needed electric power for night time lighting, recharging devices and all kinds of other uses.

Cooking: again solar ovens are brilliant and aren't only good for producing drinking water, but also for slow cooking some brilliant meals. Instructables this week is showing off a permanent design for one that rotates to follow the sun all day. Wood gas heaters are easily made from tin cans and some old newspaper or some sticks. It doesn't use up loads of fuel (which is fossil based anyway so creating more catastrophes the more you burn it, and likely to go up in price a lot in the near future). If you have a bunch of people you can figure out some bacteria based systems for turning leftover food and compost into gas, which you can then use to cook with the way you would in a traditional gas kitchen.

Improvised housing: the hexayurt is an open hardware design for a refuge that 4 or 5 people can put together in a couple of hours, and which can last years once assembled. You can make it from mostly recycled materials you can find lying around. There's also the factor-e farm people who have made a compressed earth brick maker, also open source, and I think you could slowly make a more permanent house using only mud and heat. Superadobe is basically bags of dirt covered with something more durable. All stuff you can use to avoid having to live in a shabby tent throughout a winter!

Entertainment/boredom: cook together, eat together, work and party together, learn to play and make instruments, teach each other stuff... Get some 12v batteries together and run a PA for a meeting or some entertainment. Nothing like a blitz to get people sharing what they know and helping each other out.

Radio, WAN/Wifi mesh networks - easy to do wifi to link up a small area - a block of streets for example so you can share emergency info like on looters, people in need or flooded areas etc. Smartphones can be SMS gateways for feature phones to piggyback on and share info. Ushahidi and systems like this are downloadable and easily installable and you can use them to deal with local emergencies, but I think also to plan longer term actions and community rules or information dissemination.

All this is being documented and used in places like appropedia, akvopedia, in the millions of DIY tutorials across the internet, and you can make much more than what is needed to survive just a short emergency, but to endure a much longer lasting situation of need. There's even a site right now in Japan that is slowly filling with DIY techniques for meeting basic needs in disaster stricken areas there.

more than 3 years ago

What Nokia Must Do To Stay Relevant In Mobile

shomon2 Re:Did the author completely overlook,,, (289 comments)

Maybe a simple way forward is to turn the n900 series into what the G1 was a couple of years ago. With that phone, it became suddenly very simple to download a mobile sdk, plug the phone in, set some options and put a "hello world" application into a phone or even distribute it on that same day. I know further steps might get more complex along the line with android programming, but it's easier than symbian app programming is now. What puts me off android on the other hand is that it's not entirely open source and has that black box thing in there, and it doesn't work on older simpler phones, thereby excluding a huge amount of people in the world from it's use.

What if nokia managed to produce a symbian distro that "just worked" on phones like the n900, or even - magically, on some random cheap older simpler "featurephone", seamlessly recieving newly coded apps from developers and running them, and allowed developers to get programming a symbian app within a day? Perhaps by working on getting symbian stable enough and streamlined enough, and then adding some scripting language over it (there's already python for s60 so maybe something like that) or even a fancy drag and drop ui layout editor etc etc - basically if app creation was easier with symbian than with android or iphone, and there was an easy way to get it on more phones, it would really give symbian it's strength. Or it will do that anyway, slowly via open source, but in 10 years, and we'll still get the benefits eventually. It would be a shame if by that time nokia was irrelevant, so that this job would be up to the small 3rd world kiosks that repair and mod phones illegally, to take two sims at a time, unblock them, upgrade their firmware etc.

more than 4 years ago

Novell and Intel Team Up For Moblin On Netbooks

shomon2 Ok can someone explain? (29 comments)

What do I need to read and where do I need to go to get android running on one of those old oneTs? Or whatever - it's a testing ground, sold to a very generic audience. I would love to be able to run an ubuntu distro on there, although android sounds worth trying on a netbook.

One thing about netbooks though is they are half way between a phone and a computer, so they shouldn't need to be so complicated - both in interface design and in expectations. Another is this reliance on google docs or youtube and other commercial free-as-in-beer (I never thought I'd say that) services that just don't seem to have a proper funding model in a very unstable economy.

We really need to develop distributed software models that we can use to keep this kind of thing going. Projects like opengoo, or various mesh network wifi projects and organisations seem really useful, and ones that could easily adapt towards it, but I think the netbook will eventually be their playground...

I would love to find out for sure if at 30-50 watts we're finally at something I can attach an exercise bike or a couple of solar panels to and actually get enough power to run it. In environmental terms it would be a huge breakthrough. And I wouldn't spend so much time reading email.

more than 5 years ago

WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level

shomon2 Re:From a Hot Zone (557 comments)

Regardless of who (or WHO) is right - and as with many of these big threats, you should "do what you should have been doing anyway" - an ecologist mantra that you can read more about here: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/25115.

And in this case this means resting, avoiding stress, getting lots of vitamins and above all avoiding pre processed foods and factory farmed animal meat: eat organic, locally grown food that hasn't travelled the world and been imbibed with chemicals or antibiotics that lower your own natural resistance to infection.

The reason we have pandemics like this one, Sars, Aids or bird flu is because of 30+ years of lowering resistance to disease due to the way we eat and the practices we have.

So if you do well with this, by August - by which time the virus may be much more dangerous - you'll have a nice resistant immune system. And if the virus disappears, you'll still have that nice resistant immune system!


more than 5 years ago

Green Is In At CES, But Is It Real?

shomon2 Re:What the hell is green anyway? (165 comments)


Wrong generation really, I'm not a baby boomer, but I'll bite - yes as you say "green" is a really vague buzzword that everyone wants to jump on, sometimes with rubbish products that break straight away or that are only green in a small way, without addressing real issues or causing people to think they can buy their way out of our problems.

I'm a post baby boomer, born in the 70s, consumed during the 80s and 90s as if the world was infinite, as did all of "western" society and as you probably did yourself if you were around then, it was pretty hard not to, and I didn't question this really until the september 11 incidents. So I share that responsibility: as anyone alive and part of society now and in those years has, and probably much farther back in time and in different non-western societies as well, I helped fuck things up for our kids and other species.

But where I disagree with you is how to deal with this situation: one way, as you seem to do, is to just give up and only see the bad side of the so called green movement. I see it as a great opportunity for our teenage society to finally come of age and embrace it's limits, but I don't need anyone to agree with me on that. In anything there are positives, and one thing about being a "modern" environmentalist is that you can be more holistic - it's not about single issues any more, you don't need a beard, and it's certainly not such a side issue that people will not believe you. Most people nowadays have heard of peak oil, climate change, the food and credit crisis and the huge Ponzi schemes the financial system was built on. If you dig deeper you find even more crises that can seem really unsolvable. So what do you do? Just give up, dig for the last drops of oil, fight for the last scraps of food and secure the future maybe half or one generation down the road for your own family or country?

In everything we do there is good and bad. I really have trouble when companies go on about not being "evil" - it's very hard to be purely good, and we have to live with the fact that being alive means eating other living things, consuming resources and sometimes being destructive, but also it includes being creative, wise, strong etc. So nothing we do will be completely safe or positive, and no so called green products will be either, but we can go for the best we know, and try to do the best we can, improving our choices as we go.

What I think though is that everyone can have a positive vision for where they want things to go. These don't have to be the same vision, and sometimes they might even conflict, which is ok as long as we accept that people have differences. So in your example of carbon monoxide or electric car batteries, I think it's a bit of a waste of time to try and measure between how good one or another thing is - sure within reason, but it's a waste of time to aim for total green purity, and I think I prefer seeing this as a road with many corners and stops along the way, rather than just as green vs not green. Changing to low energy lightbulbs, recycling more or convincing people about a coming financial crash feels a bit 2007 now, so we have to keep going farther. People still have issues they see as more or less important than others, but if you give up, how are you going to keep going forward? Same with IT. Don't listen to the idiots or marketing departments, just make your own future and don't give up.


ps:Disclaimer: I'm a webmaster for Transition Bristol in the UK. You can read more about the transition movement here: http://www.transitiontowns.org/

more than 5 years ago

Portable Solar Power For Portable Hardware?

shomon2 Don't buy kits, buy the bits (262 comments)

I wouldn't go for the fancy laptop bags with solar panels... Maybe they work well, but if you're a real geek why not build your own? To run a regular 15-24v input laptop for 6 hours a day you'd need:

2 x 30W Mnocrystalline Solar Panels
1 x 6amp Charge Controller
1 x 85 Ah Deep Cycle leisure Battery
1 x Cigar to Crocodile Clip Adaptor
1 x Universal Laptop adaptor

At least that's here in drizzly old england. Comes to around 250 pounds in our drizzly english money.

Carbon costs and payback aren't everything: computers today aren't green and aren't sustainable but don't just get sad and do nothing :)

Using solar panels for this means microgeneration and helps promote use of decentralised, off grid energy which I consider a positive social change towards green-ness, and it will help you in particular if you live in a place with frequent blackouts (i.e not the UK!). Think of it as a ticket to a cheap shed-studio setup, or temporary remote setups like at festivals or camping, and once it's all wired up and charging a battery, I can plug it into loads of other kinds of things.


more than 6 years ago



shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  about 8 years ago

shomon2 (71232) writes "If we take World Energy Use in 2006 as W2006, the amount of energy we can use sustainably(Se) - i.e via renewable energy (RE), traditional energy generation (TEG) and harshly reduced use levels, then

Se = RE + TEG
W2006 = RE X 10

Renewable energy - hydro electric, wind and solar for example, are usually seen as supplying around 10% of present energy needs. I don't think there's a way to supply 100%, so we have to reduce our consumption by whatever it takes to get to Se.

A way to understand how to do this could be looking to the past and seeing what per capita energy consumption(Epcx) was, multiply this by however many people are living now in comparison(POP2006), and there you have it. I think we're going to get blasted into the past.

Epcx : POP1XXX = Epc : POP2006

W2006 = Epc . POP2006

Or in other words, we're fucked, but how can we stabilise as well as possible, with the least disruption? See individual houses for example. What do we have to give up until taking anything else away would take away our health? What is the minimum a person needs to survive? This is the starting point, the end point being our situation now - in the western world that is, where we're really oil and energy dependent.

I think a big problem will be getting water to people, keeping them sheltered, and growing enough food in a small space to feed everyone. Another problem will be access to healthcare and medicine. Finally, violence and security.

We need close personal ties with people living close to us, so that we help each other, a spirit of getting things done and working together. We need skilled people in older traditional trades such as farming and preservation of food. We need to get what knowledge we can now of what various traditions and cultures have done in hours of need, but also to do simple tasks that we might do at a great expense of energy.

With a few old computers you can manage a barter economy and maintain medical records and census info within a local area of even thousands of people living in very low energy conditions, with engineering you can produce working bicycles from discarded ones, or even better make them even more favourable and able to use geometric properties to be more efficient. We can use junk and rubbish we've thrown away until now as something that we can convert back into energy or simply renovate and re-use. We can use mass transport systems and bio-fuel for sporadic long distance travel, although that will become something for the rich. There may be more of a division between rich and poor, but women are now free of cultural ties they had in the past, and able to work and function in society much more than before.

On the other hand, we've forgotten a lot of old world skills, and most of all, there's no clear sign people are realising the seriousness of this situation."



Sustainability Maths

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  about 8 years ago

If we take World Energy Use in 2006 as W2006, the amount of energy we can use sustainably(Se) - i.e via renewable energy (RE), traditional energy generation (TEG) and harshly reduced use levels, then

Se = RE + TEG
W2006 = RE X 10

Renewable energy - hydro electric, wind and solar for example, are usually seen as supplying around 10% of present energy needs. I don't think there's a way to supply 100%, so we have to reduce our consumption by whatever it takes to get to Se.

A way to understand how to do this could be looking to the past and seeing what per capita energy consumption(Epcx) was, multiply this by however many people are living now in comparison(POP2006), and there you have it. I think we're going to get blasted into the past.

Epcx : POP1XXX = Epc : POP2006

W2006 = Epc . POP2006

Or in other words, we're fucked, but how can we stabilise as well as possible, with the least disruption? See individual houses for example. What do we have to give up until taking anything else away would take away our health? What is the minimum a person needs to survive? This is the starting point, the end point being our situation now - in the western world that is, where we're really oil and energy dependent.

I think a big problem will be getting water to people, keeping them sheltered, and growing enough food in a small space to feed everyone. Another problem will be access to healthcare and medicine. Finally, violence and security.

We need close personal ties with people living close to us, so that we help each other, a spirit of getting things done and working together. We need skilled people in older traditional trades such as farming and preservation of food. We need to get what knowledge we can now of what various traditions and cultures have done in hours of need, but also to do simple tasks that we might do at a great expense of energy.

With a few old computers you can manage a barter economy and maintain medical records and census info within a local area of even thousands of people living in very low energy conditions, with engineering you can produce working bicycles from discarded ones, or even better make them even more favourable and able to use geometric properties to be more efficient. We can use junk and rubbish we've thrown away until now as something that we can convert back into energy or simply renovate and re-use. We can use mass transport systems and bio-fuel for sporadic long distance travel, although that will become something for the rich. There may be more of a division between rich and poor, but women are now free of cultural ties they had in the past, and able to work and function in society much more than before.

On the other hand, we've forgotten a lot of old world skills, and most of all, there's no clear sign people are realising the seriousness of this situation.



shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Activism, opposition isn't everything. At home I'm plagued by indecision about what is my home and what is the life I want. I want to go all the way with the communities side but it causes me suffering because I know anarchy is just another political system which if taken to the extreme is just as bad as any other. It's based on means and methods, structures and theory. Still it's strange to think about the left wing now that I've learnt about anarchism.

In that sense it's about giving everything to the state, rather than in capitalism where private owners control everything. And neither of these is as free sounding as anarchism's communities, collectivisation and opposition to all kinds of power structures. I know though that the left is more permissive of anarchism, and my cousin Muchy from Cuba, in her descriptions of life there showed that the state provided for about 75% of what was needed each month, and the rest is up to your own initiative. This initiative was a mix of stealing, scavenging, odd jobs and community strength. It works because everyone knows each other and takes care for each other. But at the back there is state authority. And that's where Anarchism comes in.

I wonder how it proves it's basic premise, if there is anyone who has written about this in detail. They say it's reflected in tribal systems dating back to the ancient civilisations whose workings and reasons we've forgotten, via Taoism and the various revolutions squashed by both Stalinists and Capitalist states. And I've an inkling that at a small level - kibbutz-sized, it can work, whereas at a higher level you need something else, more formal and structured, but still transparent and not based on power - maybe more like the UN in theory?

How does Buddhism fit with this? As a soka gakkai member this is really important to me. We have a supposed structure which is bottom-up, and yet there is so much stuff about Sensei - which is what I've had a problem with for so long and really want to get to the bottom of. Districts are the basis for this: a basic unit of maybe 10-20 people in a local area. This is where real activity is based. And where buddhist sociologists like Jim Cowan apply comparisons with local councils - the real power is at this level, and everything above it should only function in bringing districts together and allowing large scale decision making. But if this is the case, why doesn't most of our guidance and study material come from other members from other districts around the world? I really want to work towards this being the case. But the truth is I'm an example of the laziness in many people where yes, I can learn from Sensei so he's still up there and so are the top leaders giving guidance and dashing about on planes everywhere.

I need to gain the same experience through buddist practice. I'm also so interested in organisational methodologies though. So I need to read studies on the district in buddhism and draw comparisons to maybe collectivised farms in republican spain during the civil war or other large anarchist controlled systems and see how this can form a part of society. Ultimately we work towards the best society we can and by practicing buddhism I can stay on a realistic path and not get caught up in means and methods, or in vegging out in front of the tv. Kosen rufu and chanting each day for no more Soka Gakkai. One day it won't have to exist anymore because we'll be there with things in our hearts and in our trust and we won't need these structures. In my lifetime I hope!

In October there's the next gathering of Radical Routes. A weekend dedicated to meeting with other members of housing coops and communities working for positive social change. But Bush would say go work for halliburton. Positive social change is in the eye of the beholder. And Trets. Both really important.



shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago


For our little co-op - renewable energy - a small wind turbine providing elecky in winter, coupled with solar panels for summer - would we maybe be able to light a small part of the house with it? Would it make a good investment, in a place like Britain? In Italy, Duino - where the Bora blows hard, cats go flying past, wind turbines over cooperative communities would make the communal experience very satisfying - even allowing for generation of enough wattage for a small band to play!

But hold on to your hat.

And the fiesta system. I would put together the fiesta system for all the communities strewn across the UK if I had the time and dedication. Maybe that is this elusive dream job. Do I want to be renowned for my creativity only, or actually do something more menial yet actually of practical use? Setting up the systems to allow for large spending - bringing people to sell their goods periodically - for maybe 2 different seasonal festivals for each town. Travellers would then become market people moving between communities following the fiestas to sell their produce or move it between different places and you'd have a low cost distributed commerce system - perhaps independant of any non-local, unethical or consumerist produce. Of course, there would also be music, and arts - and rituals! modern post pagan rituals would probably be the most used as it's the tradition in alternative britain.

And the fiestas themselves would be like festivals - a time to bring more people to their area and sell what they make or bring publicity or other benefits, although they would also be an expense: although I'm not against any form of charging outright - in the andean allyu this works because each place puts down the resources for it's own festival, but then expects each other area to offer their own resources when it's their turn - so you gain the rest of the year, but have to work hard when it's your turn. Larger scale fiestas might be a problem - some festivals will undoubtably be more popular. I don't know how this problem was balanced in the time of the Aymara kingdom - but I imagine the Andean Ayllu was always of a definite small size - a few families, and had systems for splitting when they grew too much, so no fiesta would have been beyond the means of a single or a couple of local Ayllus.


day breaks

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

On my way to work and I'm walking down the hill having said goodbye to Andy, my new neighbour who takes the train with me and will live to the left in our new Daisy road house. I think about Matthew from Exeter with his improvising ensemble meeting in that echoey church and going to work every day to do stuff with Maths when he dreams of caravanning around ireland with a troupe of radical farmers or whatever it was. And yet as strange and unique he is he fits into normal society only in that abstract way - the maths he shares with us normal people.

Lunch break and I go to Fresh and wild. Also a conglomerate but if the people that I'm meant to be protecting with that reasoning are people like the "clifton health food shop" with their terrible staff and service then I'm sorry I'm with dr evil. But evil is not good for messing with and I pay 3.38 for a crappy but tasty malaysian chicken curry in a cardboard container with loads of free lettuce, which I consume to great pleasure with my rice from before. Still some left for tomorrow. At least there's something to look forward to at work. Also at work I organised the Cube Cinema rehearsal before going down to buy food - the Improvised orchestra that I take such an active part in cos I just want to be able to work with that amount of improvisers at a time, and especially at a time like now when improvisation in bristol is starting to get known by musicians. The cube sees us as their mascot band so we have to march from the cinema to the malcom X centre in June for the Venn festival, composing and assembling some kind of moving improvising setup.
And then there's the possibility of playing at Ashton Court in the cube's blackout tent. Maybe to a film. Team brick has invited me to play a gig too - although I can't remember the name of the gig or the same gig but different event that I was supposed to go to to get an idea of the vibe. And I have to play mandolin on it.

Out from work and it's a run to the train and then to Besley Hill, estate agents where our cooperatively bought house is slowly churning in the throes of acquisition. It's 4th time no less. Fourth time it changed hands. And the only slightly tarnishing thing is that it used to be owned by an executioner. After that it's just the beauty and quaintness of living with such active and aware people - although I'm already aware of a certain discomfort at being the only man in the house - A project being done together with E, a lovely irish lesbian organisation-motivation head who is also organising a worker's cooperative to take over the beleaguered Easton community centre - against the evil bid of the city academy and all the labour bureomonstruosity that that implies. She is so confident and interested in the way to be leaders in this world, our little bristol niche of recyclers and fair traders, where cycling and going to the g8 is a regular event. And outside of this haven we have to explain, and we can't even explain carshare. Utopia in inner-city red. Red of the knife in the mugger's hand.

They end up taking the house for 135 - our first offer, so the survey doesn't need re-doing, the numbers don't need re-jiggling, and we can go ahead from here in all the getting together of mortgage and other legal bits and pieces. We all got a marshmallow from Gareth too. This kind of thing wouldn't happen in Spain. I was at my estate agent's office once and some Okupas passed by. He rushed outside to them, but they had gone. He said when they passed they would grab all his flyers and throw them on the ground. I ran into a g8 protestor. His face was covered with a handkerchief. They were setting bins on fire, in our poor Barcelona neighbourhood. THey were turning them over. The police were chasing them with batons and we were running through town to get home. Our portinaia, Nuria? Went to the market and narrowly escaped being beaten in the violence that ensued. We all ended up in a heap at the foot of our outside door. But I remember that boy's stare. I looked at him with a scowl holding my daughter - as if to say - why did you come and burn our bins? We were on your side. Don't you see this girl in my arms?

They must get all caught up in the camaraderie.


morning come

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Up this morning after 5 postponements in the new downstairs bed, upstairs being occupied by K's mum and here already I don't know if we'll be going with pseudonyms, but well let's say you never know if I've amalgamated two people into one or anything like that, cos for example catso-fatso is a real living thing/person/concept.

So instead of chanting I made for the prospect of mocka or whatever - "macchinetta" coffee and cheddar cheese on toast. And then a cycle down over streets and past Easton houses on my crappy bike with no wheel-guard bits and a big bell in the wrong bit that doesn't ring. Down home to Foster St to make a pot of rice to take to work as a half-meal. I'd buy something to go with it and have a really cheap meal. Like bhajis from J Sainsbury, but Sainsburies is horrible and is a member of the supermarket oligopoly that exploits workers in the third world and producers all over the place so by the time lunch came. Ok and here's a whole morning gone but it's just work. On my way to work on the little train that takes us into town - where Claire, who took our tickets for over 2 years is now gone for good. I overheard another passenger telling her "have a nice life!" but felt too tired or shy to go over and find out if she was really leaving. The commute leaves me mindless. On my way I thought about last night's show and the impro jam with Hugh on transparent plastic orange square guitar and Tim on his stonertronic with pedal effect whilst I accompanied with Tabla worrying about the crowd. But I wasn't worrying about that. Last week we'd done it too. I'm starting to figure out some showpieces. First the rules of free impro and how the show should look. We resolved to take on the task of filling in next week's full slot - there is no headlining band so our usual jam from 8:30-9:15 is going to have to triplicate. I proposed adding 20 minutes of solo set each, perhaps with a couple that can be performed together. I only have one of that kind. It's backwards mandolin and percussion in that one, but it could as well be 2 freely improvised sound sources from tim and hugh, and we could drag it out for another minute as we have the chance of dragging something more out of it. And then Paris/Eskimo Cabaret, which I practiced today. That can give another 7 minutes, but I need to practice it again. And finally that country death song about the superhero and let go and andana3 to appeal to the masses. Not that the masses care. A violinist got up last night after our freaky set with casio toy keyboard and 2.5 in a bar antics. A girl shouted from the audience after he'd got the whole place stomping to folk ditties - can you do amazing grace? And then she got up and sang it, and it was really beautiful. My flatmates had a chat with her after that. Anyway.


shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

The purpose of these effects is to create source materials for live visuals that use lo fi or real life materials for moving visual reasons. 1960s psychedelic screens a la early pink floyd need only be the start. All people can join in just learning different ways of producing DIY video effects. Try it! You can do it. Anyone can.

  1. You are a living video effect even with your face.
  2. But interesting also is the coffee losing heat over the space of half an hour,
  3. a video pointed at it's own projection showing echoes and an infinite game of mirrors. This can be done with a cheap camera or even webcam pointed at it's live screen. And these feeds can then be manipulated by a video editing program such as a manipulated vidwhacker.
  4. Stir a concoction. Good things to use are water and oil, perhaps boil some tomatoes. Put in some herbs. The oil will bubble up in the mix and create a glistening top layer of bubbles. Stir hot chocolate so that it produces some swirling textures. You can draw over these as they are made, using the feedback in your mind like ever forming cloud formations of the id.


Prison System

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Instead of treating a prison as a punishment, it should be a place of rehabilitation. Of renewal and rebirth into society cured of all evil. The convicts should enter into a complex social system - a heirarchical team based game of points to score freedoms with each good trait or learned positive behavious rewarded by the other prisoners in a collective team based big brother futuristic nightmare. It would be a bootcamp. A rough place but which instills cameraderie, and social values. Convicts would have their own television stations and would have to gain popularity votes to get the best positions, at all times aided by teams. Or teams can set up businesses and an entire small market system is put in place whereby they can actually make money - perhaps valid outside the prison walls as much as inside.


RFID anti-corporate system

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

Users voluntary register on an independant ID registry whereby anyone on it is in a web of trust that builds up and dissolves temporarily. They register to have their ID implanted or even just worn on the body as a label - on a piece of jewellery for example. All this contains is a tag. We create a binding legal place for this piece of hardware to exist so that research in this area can never be held privately by an organisation. All uses must be available and accessible to all users of the system. Encryption programs would be the most obvious possibilities, or monitoring systems, even trust networks identifying where someone is at any one time (to allow tracking of an elderly person in a house or for artistic theatre purposes).

The reason is not some underlying commercial gain or future takeover by some archevil nemesis. It's just doing it ourselves before they do it to us anyway.


hl2 map

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago Marble plated. like an old swimming pool with marble tiles, the kind of victorian thing you don't want to be around at night. It came to me in a dream when I was 3 or 4 years old: I was at school at night, wandering around after I'd been shut inside because I didn't get out in time after the bell rang. I went to the toilet, the usual toilet I went to but now there was a huge round thing in the middle of the wall, that hadn't been there before. It was scarey looking and was like the beginning of a big tube, like the way into some sewers. I looked inside and knew that if I went in the door would close behind me and I would be forever trapped in a huge pipe with yellow water trickling around the bottom. Maybe I'd have to survive on little bugs I caught with my fingers and maybe I'd die of hunger or maybe I'd just go on walking forever in my own hellish maze. And one day I might come to a junction in the tubes, after a lifetime of crawling around turning into a wanderer of creaking marble sewage systems. An illusion of choice. Press the red button now.

So this never materialised as a flash animation, although I did storyboards for it. I never wrote a song about it, but I wrote a text and a legend behind it where the pipes are actually tiny veins in the eyes of the enemies of some really forgotten king. The enemies walk forever in the maze of veins, but one day the incantation might be broken and these monsters would be set loose on the touristic city (I imagine a version of venice) where the hall of eyes exhibit was housed. One day a monster would find himself in this strange place with a guestbook on a plaque and tourists walking around with cameras and children. And maybe would berserk or would fade into a dream again.

And I tried to do it as a dhtml nightmare back in the nineties.

But Half life 2 is the best outlet for it. Again a distorted deathmatch map: the only weapon you're given is the crowbar, you seldom meet other wanderers, the tubes are randomly generated, go on far too long and small bugs run around giving 1 health each time. The tubes are also a boy's height. So you have to crawl at all times. And then there's random teleporting going on. One random teleport that happens rarely will take you to a museum, where a hall of eyes lines the side, where you can go on a rampage and kill tourists, but with some physical constraint to make it harder (like guards with actual guns). I think the experience of someone using it would have to usually be just the cramped sensation of wandering around in the dark in a tube, which sometimes goes underwater and where you sometimes find bugs, and it's never the same and then you get bored and leave. But if you stay in it for a really long time, you might find another wanderer (and both die from the ensuing crowbar fight) or you could get teleported to another part of the tubes or if really really lucky to the outside tourist world. But most people would just get bored and leave. And a few people would hopefully get claustrophobic and related emotions to do with confinement and dark tunnels up ahead.



shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago

text on screens all divided and growing pulsating with text being written by furious typers flaming nine geese a braying writing up validating working pushing papers on their desk. Random channel terms grabbed from /lists from searches from online chats from java and all kinds of plugins, but never for a useful cause except harming the monitor and showing you the never ending typing of people around the world intent bleary eyed fingers wired like extensions in a dreamlike rsi-less world of computing and progress and work and serious talk about emotionless crap. Or blogs, emotional drivel. Teenage angst. And the side project is providing texts for readings text for poetry, disjointed words in freedom for typographic abuse. But the first step is a simple system for putting random boxes on the screen before filling them in with typing from an text based internet source. Access, parse, input, show on screen.


Fps deathcamp simulation

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 9 years ago Map is recreation of existing torture or concentration camp eg San Siro in Trieste where people were brought in under the noses of the locals under the pretense it was food processing. Graffiti and scratches are still on walls and it would make good basis for texture photographing and map building. Half life 2 source engine would be good: you can play as a guard or as a prisoner, and as a prisoner you get no weapon, and are somehow really easily killed. Player skins could be just thin-ness: pale diseased skin, hair falling out, rags and skin and bones, scanned/reconstructed from period photographs of dead people from those camps.

Prisoners have no weapons. Guards could have tasers or machine guns. Period stuff would be best, but actually feel is what I'm after rather than authenticity. Every game is team deathmatch mode. You can have guards with the "not-damage-each-other" bit set so the only thing you can do is kill prisoners if you're a guard. Every prisoner dies if map is run to completion. Objective for guards is to herd prisoners into gas chamber. Objective for prisoners is to stay alive as long as possible.

Could be extended to allow graffiti-ing, or game could be modded to do more with bodies once players are dead. Could be videoed for a machinima event and destroyed.


Thank you past, you knew my future!

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Silence, buffoons! He said: "Thank you past, you knew my future".

But what I am about to say is not for you to know.

It rides unworthy in the tide.

There is that certain ghoulishness, that feeling that something is not right in the kitchen. Something is not right behind the wiring and the walls. It is the feeling that all kinds of sofas, be they IKEA, or old mouldy things left outside by our neighbours, are the most useless and uncomfortable things know to humankind.
I want to create a better future for all you people. But alas my mind is lost like yourselves and I can't keep it together in my head. Repeat after me: "Take responsibility! Admit that everything about all your problems is because of you! You yourself are the one who should change!"

And they demanded that all people immediately take responsibility for their lives, chasing people down streets and subjecting them to torture until they could convincingly prove that they were making positive change happen in their lives.

And then they said. Americans! Yes, you people who take even in your name, possession of an entire continent not all of which is really yours. I am an Aymara, standing on my pachamama and I am more American than you. Americans! I know that you are sorry, but this isn't some stupid thing to send your photos around for. Why don't you spend your time campaigning for this to end? That is why we are still in this mess.

They seemed to blame everyone but themselves.

You belligerent swine!

Soon however, desperation drove them insane, and we instituted the barriers, and we humanely began to feed them, on condition that they control their population and keep good ties with us. After some misunderstandings, they caught on to the benefits of living peacefully with us. Although by that time their numbers were dwindling.

It was then that we took off for another plane. We had understood that our mission here as a race was over, and we had discovered a technology that could catapult our brains across the planets, always aware as long as our silicon vessels could absorb the stars and feel the winds, propelling themselves along on the tails of comets.

But to die on earth, once our minds had been copied, was something many of us were not prepared to take. The starvation we had been put under by the predator race. Those snarling mobs of fat angry drunken monsters. They would come in to kill us for fun. They would video the killings. There was even a sizeable population of predators already living within our confines, which had been halved during the repercussion slaughter of a war.

We just knew now, that we could not lose, and now we were going to give them a good whipping. We were not without the same powers they themselves had. Did they really believe we were so backwards, because there seemed to be so few of us? They could not control us, because they would not venture into the area we lived in because of the radiation and the diseases. But we lived quite fine with those diseases and treated them like you treat anything. We would stir ourselves in one single blow, to show those monsters what was going to happen. We were going to fry every single chip on their energy grid.

To do this we began to use them against themselves. But of course, our feelings of brotherly love made us welcoming to those of the predators that had forgotten the wars and ventured out in a spirit of friendship. So if they seemed friendly we would meet them, and talk to them about the pachamama.

[Follows song about pachamama]

But for us it started long before that. It started when we moved house and ended up living in a rural part of the united states, by the mountains where no one knows if you or a bear will be their next visitor. And in there, there was a place that was incredible and known to few. Such a beautiful unique place.


When I have to think

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 10 years ago When I have to think, I have to have the radio on. And with that thought, Amanda took one huge leap off the bed and almost into a drawer by the dressing table flicking the switch whilst teetering on one leg like a ballerina.

Outside the streets were washed with rain, lights rarely lighting up the puddles in powerful neon designs. There was a stillness in the air even though everyone was out for the morning commute. Sandwiches were bought and sold, coffees were carried on to trains and left for the next person to look at all the way to Preston.

"We'll just do what we always do, man" - said Nick, who was a tired little south Indian Sikh with a turban, who nevertheless got into all kinds of mischief stuck in a kind of vortex of aggression that led him to various crimes committed around the parks and footpaths of the inner city. It was the raging twenties. Survive this and you'll have survived hell. Suddenly drawn from your privileged life as a child, into manhood, in the big bad world, where people bump into you then call you a prick just for being in their way.

"Turn that damn radio off!" - Roared Joan to her daughter, afraid that she might damage her eardrums and finding the invasion... "...of space infuriating. Mental space, emotional space, and just simply territory. Now back to homeopathy: I'm going to be putting one of those ads in the paper and getting an 0845 number - no-one ever thinks of doing that. With the resulting exposure I'll put Amanda into a private school where they're going to really give her the attention she deserves..."

In reality though, Amanda was killed at the age of 57 by cancer, but in all her years - her fight with cancer being only the last of a series of great struggles that had left her with the wisdom of the ancients - she never learned a thing from her mother's harsh self-conditioning. None of Lady Amanda Pie's wisdom was gained in private schools - which happily bounced her around as she was expelled and suspended regularly through high school. She had already been through two terms in one, the previous year to the year when these events take place. Her mother could only but hope, concerned as she was for her to be able to avoid the surrounding slums.

Huge long skyscraper - towering above, almost swaying with pride at your smallness. You look up and all you see is white paint cracking in the distance on a huge mass of grey stone. In that last term, she'd seen a girl get raped, when she was out camping. They slashed her in the face with a knife after that. Why did they do that she thought. What bastards.

She lies gazing at the same spot of plaster on the wall, for minutes at a time before shifting and getting back into her magazine. But look into her eyes and maybe catch a glimpse of the colourful world inside. Words melting and abstract forces clashing and flowing alongside each other. Music, movement, muscles and dancing were her way of talking and breathing. Charlotte was still on her mind, but that book and it's visions were convincing her that she would not be the only one to dream up such situations.

Sunday, October 24, 2004 1:41:00 PM


Man fashions genetically mutated servant race

shomon2 shomon2 writes  |  more than 10 years ago

They were sort of covered in this very light, thin layer of fur. Almost invisible. They were stupid.

They did the most menial of tasks in Guinea. After the infighting wars like this, Guinea was one of the only places where it was possible to set up a scientific lab, although with great difficulty, but Dr Thorton had managed it. Living like any other of his line of thinkers and aristocrats, on the luxuries of the new age, he had set up a thriving business in catering.

The work he did outsourced the virtual enjoyment of thousands of rich people all over the world, in their various enclaves and rich cities. We didn't really spend too much time finding out about it, but it was Dr Thorton's world and as far as they were concerned, it was the only world that existed. We were outsiders. We were able to be free, maybe more free than they were, although we never knew what tomorrow would bring and sometimes worried about our livelyhood. And they didn't care about us.

I once saw two of them fighting over a piece of bread. They really fed them badly, but managed to work them out so that they put loopholes through any animal rights laws. They didn't actually contain any human genes, but more the reverse engineering of the bits that make us able to work hard together with a complex social structure that artificially gave exponential growths in data retention with each passing year. The memory of an elephant, although it was actually kept in chips manufactured where Elephants had once lived. But in Guinea, life changed with the introduction of these simple self procreating animals. This is why our parents used to kill them and were ousted from the city. They used to go on shooting sprees at night just picking them off. No rights but those of their owners meant it was only slightly more punishable than killing animals or vandalism. And who knew if the judge was just jealous of his outsourcing from the cases that actually made money.

Stupid hairy yellow diseased faces. Dependence on oil based technology. Their existence depended on their profitability. If they didn't work, their chips would not be renewed.

When I was nine I first heard about it. They were going to pilot them in a factory. We all went to see them arrive. But they arrived in a posh bus and went right in. They were herded in with electric shock poles.

A lot of regular, human workers were usually herded in like that though too, so it was no different. They would use satellites or some technology to look through the wasteland that used to be government rubbish tip, now melded with the rest of the countryside in a giant expanded moving trail of rubble progressively closer to the city.

They would go there and round people up, because it wasn't legal to get people to do what they did to you. And people wouldn't remember either. But if they actually hired people, the queues had a great tendency to turn into riots. People were too hungry, too desperate in the city to act with restraint before they were fed.

They would instead take you and do whatever torture it was on you for brief moments at a time. A day, a week, or permanently, meaning you disappeared.

But this forced labour was probably not paying off enough. And that was when even the more priviledged of us couldn't work anymore. When the mutants became mainstream, we just turned to counter culture, those of us who could.

And counter-culture welcomed us.

Although it meant being good at guarding from scavengers. We'd just take off in convoys to escape the cities. Now our dreams of somehow surviving there were gone. The old western dream.

The cities reduced to working and killing grounds for the quickly reproducing mutants, stupid obstinate mutants who never dreamed of anything. Us, we lived back with our grandparents and parents and plenty of other people in the countryside. When I was 15 we went to town though, a cousin had died and we all went for her funeral. A huge display was in the sky to mark her passing. She had been someone important. As the gliders surfed the sky above I saw a dead mutant in the side of the road. I was 15 and I was glad they were starting to be treated like we once were.

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