Jul 172017

A camera is a computer, right? Caputure timestamps are important, right? So, please, can anybody tell me why cameras can’t switch between normal and daylight saving time automatically? Yes, there is the matter of location, I know, but if we have point’n’shoots with GPS receiver modules, why can’t we have them on expensive system cameras like the PEN-F?

Energy drain? Not really. You could either track location permanently (and have it recorded in your pictures, accepting energy drain) or you could check at least once every 15 minutes as long as the camera is on.

Of course this image is one hour off, and that quite a few days after we changed from DST to standard time. Oh my!

Jul 162017

Is it all that bad? The recently passed Hans Rosling and his son Ola don’t think so. In fact, whenever the state of the world gets me depressed, I like to watch one of their TED talks.

Change takes time. Things are getting better, but they do so slowly. We as human beings on the other hand are not very good at perceiving slow change at all.

So, it’s not all that bad, right? It just takes time, right? Unfortunately it’s not that simple either. Change can go both directions. We can spend money on development and education, or we can pump it into a never-ending War on Drugs (or on Terror). Change is slow. This makes it hard to predict the consequences of, for instance, a Trump presidency. Consequences there’ll be though, that’s for sure. So, whatever consolation we get out of the Rosling’s message, it does not take away our duty to constantly try to give our best to improve this planet. Only then will statistics continue being on our side.

Jul 152017

A lot of words yesterday, no solution, I know. One of the reasons why we don’t have a revolution at the heart of the empire is in fact its distributedness. The other reason of course is, that most people here don’t have a problem.

Those who do have problems already walk towards the shores of the Mediterranean, and obviously the problems they have are so grave, that they come, although they likely know that they might not get through. They come, although they know that they are not welcome, because they disturb our peace of mind, by reminding us of the fact, that we are the cause of their problems.

Politicians like our smart young Sebastian talk about holding them back, but in the long run we’ll see what that euphemism really means.

Remember Boston Dynamics, the robot company bought by Google and then sold on to a Japanese company, likely because their image could only have been seen as detrimental to what Google likes to be seen as? Take their “Wildcat” and you’ll have a hard time to not imagine it weaponized. And now imagine thousands of them patrolling the Sahara, controlled by drones with normal and infrared cameras.

Not enough? Here’s another one for all those people who say they are not xenophobic and they don’t want to hurt anybody, and that we just have to secure our frontiers and build a Fortress Europe: Why not nuke the Sahara? Lay a deadly belt of nuclear hell across the desert. Would work like the perfect fence, right?

But then, of course nobody in the civilized world would do such a thing, That’s almost as if someone would have the idea to drop large amounts of poisonous herbicides over the jungle in a foreign country, just because they suspect a supply trail running through there, supplying their enemies in another country that they have no business in. Nobody would do that, right?

Frightening? Sure. Likely? Sure. Anything that can be done is done by our governments. We’ve painfully learned that since Snowden’s and Manning’s revelations. And it’s not even because they are so evil. They are not. They just try to get reelected, and so they do our bidding and try to keep up our illusion of paradise by hiding the ugly truths.

Exaggerated? I don’t think so. I’ve already heard one of our politicians talk about how important it would be to secure the southern Lybian border, in order to let refugees not even come to the shores of our private swimming pool.

Jul 142017

The G20 summit in Hamburg is over and everybody pretends to be shocked. Or is shocked. But shouldn’t.

I didn’t really understand why the militant part of the protesters went through streets flying torches and randomly burning cars. It’s not a very civilized thing to do and it’s not a very clever communication strategy either. Whatever they may protest against, they mute their own voices and make sure that surveillance and inner repression go to the next stage. Why did they do that?

Well, a comment under an article about Hamburg pointed out that, whatever representatives of the so-called Autonomous Movement say now, the kind of warfare-like behavior had been planned beforehand. As proof he presented a link to the blog of the organizers of the “G20 – Welcome To Hell” demonstration.

I didn’t stop with the short quote, I read the whole call to action (unfortunately not available in English), and found it to be a mostly stringent analysis of global politics and their economic roots. It’s a marxist analysis and I wholeheartedly agree with everything but some of the conclusions.

Basically there is a group of globalization critics with a marxist background, that believes in a kind of low-profile revolution. These protests are meant to be seen as a harassment of the mighty. You make those summits, we make clear that there is opposition.

Only that it does not work.

You can’t make a revolution without the masses. You can’t make a Ghandi-type peaceful revolution without a majority, and you can’t make a bolshevik-like revolution without at least a critical mass of supporters. They are magnitudes away from that. They are not even able to get their message across, and therefore all their actions are open to misinterpretation by establishment and media. And of course that’s exactly what happens.

The only thing that comes across is the call to arms, not the analysis behind. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sympathize with violence, because although we live in a system of injustice, violence never goes against the system, it always goes against individuals. Some individuals may be guilty to a degree that violence against them would seem justified, but in the end those are never the victims. They always stay behind, they always get away.

What I do agree with is the need for radical changes, but how?

What we’ve seen in Hamburg was harassment. You can call it terrorism, if you like, but I think “terrorism” has already been stretched into meaninglessness. They couldn’t do anything more, because they lack popular support – and I think for a lot of bad and some weighty, good reasons.

A revolution can’t happen at the fringes, it must happen at the heart of the empire. If it happens, it must have massive popular support. Even then, in times of globalization, it is doomed to fail, because the very heart of the empire is globalized itself.

SciFi author Daniel Suarez tried to solve this problem in “Daemon” / “FreedomTM” by introducing a benevolent artificial intelligence, created as the testament of a dying genius programmer / billionaire. Basically this is the tech equivalent to divine intervention. Unfortunately it does not work. AI is much more complicated. I’m afraid it’s part of the problem, not part of the solution 🙂

So what should we do? I think it is important to recognize that this has not been random violence. It was planned violence. It’s also important to recognize, that these protests – however ineffective and counter-productive – were rooted in honest and serious concerns about a current economic and political system, that has demonstrated its inability to steer the world into a peaceful, just and prosperous future. The violence is a symptom, and it won’t do us any good to carry on and ignore the malady.

Jul 132017

Austria is governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Conservatives, with most influential ministries under control of the Conservatives, and the Head of Government, the Chancellor, being a Social Democrat. The Social Democrats have won the last elections, but effectively they had no other choice for a coalition, and that made them an ideal target for extortion.

When they signed their pact, one of the first things they did, was to increase the period of governance by a year, from four as it had been all through our recent democratic history, to five. Ostensibly they did it to be able to shoulder the “big problems”.

Well, this year the Conservatives broke the pact and in October we’ll have general elections, one year earlier than planned. The reason is, that the Conservatives have a new shooting star, some 30 year old Sebastian Kurz. He has been Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration during the past period.

Basically Kurz has one single topic so far, and that’s the refugee crisis. He also has one single success so far, namely that he negotiated with Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia, in an effort to close the route through their countries for refugees.

Apart from that, Kurz’ primary achievement is, that he brought the Conservatives completely under his control. During a recent congress, his party granted him unprecedented privileges of leadership, something so far impossible especially in this traditionally fractioned political organization. He is now the much adored pop star of the Conservatives, the messiah who has stepped down from the heavens to lead his struggling party into a bright future. Or at least that’s what we are told.

Kurz also seems to be attractive to a lot of women of about my age, basically women who could be his mother. That’s what I gathered from a chat that I had to overhear on the train recently, and that’s what I hear over and again since. Something with his eyes, they say.

If you look closer, you can see that, apart from young Caligula’s age, there is not much that distinguishes him from other politicians. Personally he has dropped out of university for an early political career, and all through his short adulthood he has been a professional politician, being integral part of and being carried along by the party, that he now claims to be changing so completely.

OK, I don’t like him, that’s obvious, but what exactly is his program? If he really were head of the next government, what would we have to expect?

And this is exactly the problem. In a perfidious move the Conservatives don’t tell us. Kurz travels across the country, lets his eyes be seen, but the only thing else he does is, to raise fears of a new wave of refugees. His idea for keeping them out is to close the Mediterranean. He’s a big fan of the “Australian Model” of concentrating refugees in island camps, or if that’s not possible (which it is not), of sending them back to Africa.

I don’t claim to see no problems. Definitely there are, but just to close our eyes and pay for more border troops will not solve any of those problems. And worse: exploiting those real problems for political purposes is extremely dishonest, but that’s exactly what the Conservatives do. They speak of preparations to close Austria’s southern border to Italy, much to the dismay of the Italians and at a time when there is no reason for it at all – apart from the upcoming elections.

Ostensibly Kurz’ tour across Austria is an effort to gather people’s opinions, in order to come up with a widely supported program in early September.

This could be. I doubt it though. I think what really happens is, that they send him around in order to establish him as an untainted Saviour. At the latest point possible, they will come up with a deliberately vague program, impossible to vet, especially in such a short time. It will be a program that uses shiny marketing language, in order to hide what they really intend to do, namely what every “conservative” party in the world does, and that is to lower taxes for the wealthy, to let “The Market” reign supreme, to increase surveillance and to keep exploiting this planet as if we had a few to spare.

It’s a shenanigan, nothing more. I could be wrong, but I doubt it seriously.

Jul 102017

This image is a good example for the “tone mapping” technique that I described a few days ago. The image from the camera also had a well distributed histogram across the full range of values, because cameras tend to do that, but while the sky was overly bright, the trees were dull and brownish at best. No gold was to be seen, and gold was, what I had in my memories.