Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Internet Nakedness

In regard to Edward Snowden's leak of information about the capabilities and the extent of the internet surveillance that is going on without our approval, let alone knowledge, I feel stripped naked.

The argument that "if you having to hide then why be worried about the NSA having the information on your internet travels and email correspondence" does not hold water. It's like a nudist telling us all to go naked because we are all the same (within a normal distribution curve) beneath our clothes.

Yes, that's true, but I don't WANT to be naked all the time.

Have you got something to hide? YES, my dignity, my personal habits and preferences, what I would have liked to think was my private life!

As far as criminal activity is concerned, terrorism or child pron, no, I having nothing (much) to hide in my online presence, but I don't WANT government agencies or, worse, businesses having access to what I do online or who I talk to on my phone, criminal or not.

My activity involves reaching out to things in the web or on the phone network far away, outside the dark solitude of my artist's garret, into a public arena, but it's private in all other ways. It's me, it's mine, fuck off: I don't want you and your marketing people looking over my shoulder. It's creepy if nothing else.

My land-line phone calls are public in a sense as well, but if you want to tap my phone, have something concrete to suspect me about, then go get a court order or a warrant or whatever it takes. Ditto, I would like to assume, for my mobile phone use and my computer actions and interactions.


But, we all know that this creeping intrusion is inexorable. But I feel its progress into our electronic selves is as pernicious as it is inevitable.

Unfortunately for those of my cast of opinion, it is only going to become more comprehensive and much more pervasive. There is so much more information than we can comprehend currently being gathered by the Telcos as well as government agencies, and when they run their mining algorithms and the private gold of your prefernential activities is extracted, you are for sale.

The essential technology to gather and to extract useful information is there, to sell the soul of you, and Telcos are making money on it already. It's up and running now in a structurally limited way, but within a few years as the bandwidth of data gathering expands, that deluge of data will be able to deliver up such a wealth (literally, for someone) of information to "interested parties" that taking advantage of it will be overwhelmingly tempting - especially as it will be in real-time!

You know how Morgan Freeman had that huge aggregated screen in Batman The Dark Night, showing how all the phones in Gotham city were being tracked with "sonar"? That is not only on the way, it's here. Well not completely 3D and transparent, but still with an extraordinary amount of detail.

This is wrong!

Yes, indeed. To an extent anyway, this is happening now, but, says E@L's secret source in the industry, the technology currently will only allow 24 hourly updates. Currently. It's true. Every 24hrs, the location of your phone has been sold to someone. In the not too distant future however Singtel / M1 / Starhub / 3 / Optus / Verizon / Telstra / etc... will be selling crucial information of astounding detail in real-time, and making enormous amounts of money (they make enormous amounts of money on SMS's already.)

Information could be as detailed as how many iPhone users are currently shopping in Plaza Singapura: within seconds all those iPhones will be beeping with spam SMS's about the latest Spotlight savings deal, about the 50% sale at Marks & Spencer, the latest 24hr-hit CGI blockbuster in the cinema upstairs; ads targeted to their owners' previous shopping history from the database that was generated when their history of on-line shopping was sold previously.


Some of you think that this will be a good thing, of course. You don't want irrelevant spam. The businesses certainly will love it. But it is much more than those targeted ads that pop up on your web browsers.

This is exposure to a degree that a few years ago was unthinkable, unless you were watching Minority Report*. Now we know the US Government agencies have been doing this all along. As have those Telco businesses.

I feel that I am being stripped electronically naked, but I'd rather keep my internet body covered, thank you. It's not that I have things to hide, it's just that I'm shy, and I would prefer if my non-nude lifestyle choice was respected.

I should have the rights, and the freedom, to be shy, to be demure, keep my fucking clothes on.


* and now your games consoles and your TVs and your phones are responding to hand gestures... Fucking amazing.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Link To Someone Else's Blog

Terrific review of a book I really love.

John Self at Asylum reviews The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz. Wish I could a review a book this well. Wish I could read and remember what the fuck was IN the fucking book.


It is difficult to sum up the force and formal perfection of the pieces here without extracting one in full. Most contain something that felt to me like a punch in the gut, perhaps because so many link back to the patient’s childhood. One woman recalls a miserable time at boarding school, and payphone calls to her parents: “I was crying hysterically, ‘Please can I come home, please can I come home?’ and being told, ‘No, you can’t come home.’”


Old Quotes

After that excellent quote from Claude Levi-Strauss in the previous post, it thought it might be interesting, relevant, amusing, heart-breaking to list the quotes I had on the side column of my old blog (the layout of which seems to have fucked up of late...)

The entire first chapter of Tristes Tropiques is an extended attack on writing memoirs and travel stories BTW. I feel really motivated now! And so should you!

We don't need to see anything out of the ordinary. We already see so much.
Robert Walser

One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it is possible, speak a few reasonable words.

We're all fucked. I'm fucked. You're fucked. The whole department is fucked. It's the biggest cock-up ever. We're all completely fucked.
Sir Richard Motteram,British Civil Servant

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly

The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
Mark Twain

To write is to attempt to know what we would write were we to write.
Marguerite Duras

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
Thomas Mann

a) Don't lie if you don't have to.
b)Assume infinite intelligence and zero prior knowledge.
Leo Szilard

...if I can be allowed a mediocre generalization, don't pointless things have a place, too, in this far-from-perfect world? Remove everything pointless from an imperfect life and it'd lose even its imperfection.
Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

The truth is scandalous. But without it, nothing has any worth. An honest and naive vision of the world is already a masterpiece... As you approach the truth, your solitude will increase.
Michel Houellebecq

And if a man lived in obscurity making his friends in that obscurity, obscurity is not uninteresting.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko

My only job is to be talented.
Anton Chekhov

Boredom, of course, like any mighty force, you must respect.
Saul Bellow

He often made great mistakes and arrived at false conclusions, still he had so much genius and knowledge that a great part of his work will always remain true.
Arabella Buckley, (speaking of French naturalist George-Louis LeClerc, Comte de Buffon, Intendant (Administrator) of Les Jardins des Plants, anticipator of Darwin and Lyell)

It is only kings, and the nobility, and those fortunates who dwell in the tropics, where bread grows on trees and clothing is unnecessary, who have reserved seats in this world.
Charles Dudley Warner, (from an address to the Alumni of Hamilton College, NY, 1872)

I may not agree with what you say but to your [?my, someone's] death I will defend your right to say it.

I may not agree with what you say so shut the fuck up you fucking fuck.
No-one will admit to this one, but I have my suspicions.


Tristes Topiques

I hate traveling... It is now fifteen years since I left Brazil for the last time and all during this period I have often planned to undertake the present work, but on each occasion a sort of shame and repugnance prevented me from making a start. Why, I asked myself, should I give a detailed account of so many trivial circumstances and insignificant happenings?"
Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, 1955.


Why indeed. I've done fuck all in the past fifteen years myself, except fritter away any self-allotted writing time on this and the old blog. Fuck all on anything serious. But I've been meaning to do a heap of things with all those blogged words - tie all the Bruce and the coffee and the taxi stories together. Thread a genuine novel (I DO have a plot) into the weft of these inanities. But I haven't.

And I've really cut back on blogging (I'm presuming you've noticed this). I guess, like the 250,000,000 bloggers who aren't Savmarshmama or Xiaxue, I've gone off the boil. I have my reasons. None of which will stand up to any tough (reasonably tough) scrutiny.


But here's one - it's 12:30a.m. and I have to work in the morning. Late morning. But work tomorrow does means to chat with a Doctor over the incubator of a tiny premature baby and explain why my machine will make his task... well, you get the idea. Tomorrow's work is pretty important, so I should get to sleep now. Yet here I am.

And here's where that excuse falls into a hole. I've been going to be at 2am to 3am lately anyway. I've been facebooking, wanking (sometimes combining the two), Game Of Thronesing, reading online newspapers and books (incompletely, incompetently and superficially), and did I say wanking?

The late hour is no excuse.


Perhaps it's something to do with the slight heart attack angina incident I had in Italy last year (and the dubious celebration of its anniversary - I can come off one type the rat-poisons they feed me - comes soon). Perhaps I've hit a fatalistic slump; my despond is being held captive in slough; I have lost my way in the dark forest of my middle age. I don't know what to do, and why I'd want to do it anyway.

Actually, dedicated readers will be no doubt aware of my tendency to melancholia (and alcoholia) when I pause from chronicling the outrageous and amoral misdeeds of my buddy Bruce. And I have paused. As Bruce has paused. For medical, cardiac-cripple, shit-scared of dying suddenly reasons.

But here's where the pseudo-depression excuse falls into a hole. I've been FBing like a maniac. Lots of little pithy asides, running gags, etc... that are annoying the fuck out of the remaining "friends" of mine who have not yet had enough of the fuck annoyed out of them to unfriend or ignore me.


Maybe I have nothing left to say here, at length.

I haven't been working on any novel.

I haven't been taking any notes.

I haven't even wanted to.

Perhaps I should get back into the habit of writing first.


And now - it's almost after 1am - I do feel like typing a long rant and a raving post on god knows what unimportant cerebral ejaculation - something you don't (or shouldn't) do on Facebook. Mmmm, not such a bad idea, my kind of fun perhaps.

Ah, I wonder if I might be able to get back in to blogging a bit more reliably and pull out some more inconsequential trivia to provide a bit of light relief and amusement or to provoke deep philosophical snippets for all of us, at greater length tha FB or Twitter. Mostly for me though.



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