Tag Archives: Modern

3615 – Pills

I’ve found this ceiling in a modern church in Vienna. I suppose I pushed the colors a little more than necessary, but actually I like the plasticity of the result. Ymmv.

Btw, today is the 15th anniversary of the event that formally turned western democracies into fundamentally authoritarian systems.

Not that secret services world-wide wouldn’t have interpreted the laws in “creative” ways before, but this was the point when we handed the world officially over to unelected, unaccountable, secret organizations with secret plans and methods. And when we did find out about them, well, it was all lies, propaganda, power games, torture and war crimes.

1984 I was convinced that the book was outdated and essentially only valid in dictatorships and in the Soviet Empire. When I first saw Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”, I recognized many things, but although I adore the film, I found it factually exaggerated. “Minority Report” was fascinating, but built around such a fundamentally stupid idea, that I didn’t see anything like that coming.

I was wrong in all accounts. We’re well past 1984 when it comes to surveillance, the idea in “Minority Report” is pursued by police forces world-wide, and as far as “Brazil” goes, more and more I feel like being right in the middle of it.

Wouldn’t it be a cool idea to stand up, step back and recognize again that we are “The People”? All that has happened has happened because of choices. Choices have been made by people who were not entitled to make choices that could (and did) destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. But leaving those choices to those people, that’s also a choice.

You can always choose Norbert Hofer in Austria, Marine Le Pen in France or Donald Trump in the US. They won’t disappoint you in one respect: choosing them will change a lot. Only not for the better.

Choosing the authoritarians means choosing choices to be taken away from you. That’s the very nature of authoritarianism: Someone decides all the things and it’s not you!

3609 – Circularity Found

Two days ago I wrote about how I would want my camera to allow me to tag manual lenses while shooting. The process wouldn’t suit everyone, but it would suit me fine.

My wish won’t be fulfilled though. This is the kind of wishes that never get fulfilled. That’s sad.

Can you remember computer game arcades? Yes, I mean those places where you had to go if you wanted to play computer games. Each game had a dedicated computer with a dedicated set of input devices like steering wheels, pistols or flipper-like buttons. For a while those devices flourished, even while you could already buy the first home computers. They had the advantage of better input devices and better screens, and they were in places where you could meet your friends and play together. Then they vanished.

Can you imagine today’s computers being like that? Don’t get me wrong, some are, and the industry certainly prefers dedicated computers and tries to push them all the time. Modern game consoles are a little bit like that, early mobile phones certainly were, but generally people don’t like them. People like multi-purpose computers, or actually they like the idea of being able to control the software that runs on their computers themselves.

For some it is enough to be able to buy any software they like, and some even want to write their software themselves.

You can do that on a general-purpose computer, regardless of whether it runs Windows, OSX, Linux, Android or iOS. I think you should also be able to do it on a camera.

3446 – That Sinking Feeling

Capitalism is a magnificent wild beast. It creates the best iPhones one can buy, and if you think of it, when the iPhone appeared out of thin air (not yet eight years ago), it created a whole new industry. Mostly it did so in China though.

It’s not only modernization losers who’ve got a sinking feeling nowadays. To be accurate, the whole concept of losing does not make sense any more.

You can’t lose when there’s nothing to win. Our “conservative” politicians love it to portray the world as a place of equal opportunity for all who are willing to work hard. While it never was that simple and success always was tied to luck, things have changed fundamentally.

Transport has become incredibly cheap. It has become so cheap, that we can grow potatos in one country, wash them in another and fry them in a third. And that’s even before they are sold.

The most fundamental consequence of cheap transport though is the concentration of all manufactoring in a few Asian countries. We just don’t build anything around here any more. The owners of our factories have become the owners of factories in other, cheaper countries. Countries, that offer their workers less social security, less civil rights. Globalized capitalism does just that: it shifts work away from the middle class, it shifts work away from unionized workers, it shifts work out of democracies.

This leaves cheap jobs in the service sector, and of course for a tiny minority it leaves the most profitable practice of all: buying and selling fictional goods that have no connection to anything in the real world. Credit default swaps, for instance.

No, it’s not just a bunch of modernization losers who vote far right here in Europe or there in the US, it’s just a bunch of damn idiots, who can’t understand that the Nazis always are in bed with their capitalist funders.

This image shows part of an old industrial complex here in Vienna. The fragments have been integrated into a do-it-yourself store. It’s directly opposite my office, therefore you may see it once in a while.

2478 – Permanently Temporary

“Temporarily closed due to renovation” says the sign in this window. It once was a restaurant, now it is nothing, and I guess it won’t open again any time soon.

Why I know? Well, I don’t, but whoever owns this place must have known for years that a bunch of new office buildings would open this spring.

In the meantime they have, and at noon around 800 hungry people swarm out for the few restaurants around. Having a restaurant in this place, that’s a gold mine. If it has not opened by now, I can’t imagine it opening ever again.

That’s how it always is. Progress is not linear. Some things improve, some things get worse, some people win, some lose. If more gets improved than decays, if there is just a tiny majority of winners, that’s when we call it progress. And there is no guarantee for progress either. Regardless of what you think about the downsides of Roman civilization, it was leaps ahead of what succeeded it for the next 500 to 1000 years.

The Song of the Day is “Permanently Temporary” from the 2001 Blackmail album “Bliss, Please”. Hear it on YouTube.