It’s not the State, it’s the Megacorp that watches you…

…and the big difference is in a democracy what State knows you can get it to release to you, or you can control what they control, by voting on different policies. In a democracy you can join a party, or start your own, and you’re allowed to have your thoughts.

What we now live in, and what we are watching emerge, most of us passively, some even in a sense of wonder about what science and technology can do, is something else.

Already the bank issuing my card knows what my purchase patterns are, even if they don’t know exactly what it is that I buy. And the large chains knows perhaps not your over all patterns but they know a lot of specifics, like if I shop lots of cat food (“probably has a cat”), or that I buy bread and milk and ecological fruits and veggies. Even if you’re not a member that can track this, as long as you don’t pay cash. Which fewer and fewer do, partly because the shops encourage the use of cards.
And if you’re a member of some chains, who owns not only grocery shops but book shops, shops for home electronics, for clothes… then they know A LOT about you – what you eat, what you read, what sizes you and your kids are.

Trends are more and more shops, or local/national chains, are bought by large multinationals. And then it’s not just the local chain who knows all about you – now some distant number counter with whole divisions devoted to analysis of all of this data, to predict when what to market to whom, when.

And when the rfid tag gets incorporated in products they can even track where you take that product. And it’s not some common interest but a purely economic one, unhindered by us humans.

Some might gawk in awe.
I for one am unable to.

And I think of the future Brazil, as described in Ian McDonald’s book Brasyl.

It’s not only integrity going up in smoke. It’s every thought of independence, of equal rights, of justice, and of a democratic state.

Not by means of any single little instance, but the waves chipping away at the foundations… they seem so innocent, and one day the house falls into the river.

And then it’s too late.

Way to late.

Review: Riders of the Storm, by Julie E Czerneda

Some books are almost impossible to review. Riders of the Storm is one of those. While reading it (it’s book 2 of 3 in the Stratification Trilogy) I was immersed in the story but when my head popped out of the book, after the last word left my retina… I just don’t know what to think.

In the first book (Reap the Wild Wind) I felt grateful that she – Czerneda, author of these books – didn’t let her characters drown in needless romantic involvements. True, there were hints of possibilities, but nothing overt. This is also, partly, how this, the second book, starts.

Book one focuses on how change and evolution is inevitable, that not even the strictest rule/r can stop it from happen, and that knowledge – if not understanding – can be a facilitator for such change.

In this second instalment focus has shifted to look at consequences, what happens when you do things without understanding the larger context, but it’s also about taking responsibility and about society; what do a society need to sustain itself?
This is the main storyline, carried by the young woman Aryl Sarc.

The second storyline, or point of view, is that of Enris Mendolar. His use is to provide character depth and back story to some of the supporting cast, and to convey a wider, more complex, picture of the world than one person – Aryl – possibly can provide. This works well. Until the last handful of pages. I can forgive that, it’s a good read. But I think it was a bit too much, even given what happens is founded in the previous 800+ pages of the story. It’s also more romance than this books needs.

All in all a good read; I look forward to reading part three, whenever it arrives in my mailbox.
But be prepared for some truly deus ex machina moments, however consistent with the described world they may be. (Hint – on Star Trek they originally invented the ‘transporter’ so the cast could go places without spending TV time/production cost on being ferried around…)

Is the truth out there?

Over a period of time I’ve had an on-line and offhanded talk with some colleagues. The talk have been a bit rambling but have touched on matters of interpretation of truth and how the social and cultural belongings of a person or group of people colours that interpretation.

I think it can fairly well be said that I don’t think there are any specific eternal truths to be found, anywhere. The idea of Truth with a capital T have nevertheless been, and still is, an idea both strong and potent in the minds of humankind. The impact it have had on our history is undeniably big.

The list of thinkers that have elaborated on the concept is as long as history is old. What is it that makes truth such a tasty, even addictive, concept for some people? And what makes a lie?

And, as one of my colleagues so aptly stated – what is the difference between an interpretation that unbeknownst to the interpreter differs from the original, and conscious misinterpretation? He raised this topic while thinking of the US Bill of Rights, but it’s an interesting issue in a wider perspective as well, mainly because it relates to the way we look at a wide variety of topics. Like, we hail the the ancient Greeks for their giving us the concept of democracy, and a lot of people seems to think what they meant with it was just what we mean. Is it? In some countries, certainly, because it excludes all women, and all men that aren’t above a certain income level. Then, democracy means that only rich males are allowed to participate in the decision-making.
To me, of course, this is not democracy. To me the word implies that power is given to the people. (This means there exist no democratic countries, as of today). I, then, is a conscious misinterpreter of the concept ‘democracy’, as I widen it to include all people. But it could be argued that the Greeks thought it included all people too, they just didn’t think women or the less well situated to be ‘people’.

This is not an academic discussion. Throughout the history people with the power to assert their (skewed) interpretation of a ruling or guiding document to be true have used this to their personal benefit, often to justify organised harassment and torture of groups of people. Going back to the US Bill of Rights mentioned earlier it’s now certain that the US as a nation views some people as more equal than others, whatever it says in that document. And as it at the time is was written did NOT include people not classified as ‘people’ it could be argued that this is in line with the original idea. Even if the idea originated in 1776, and even if it could be argued that rather a lot of water have flowed beneath the bridge since.

This is just one example. There are examples spread throughout the world. That I happened upon this one was because my colleague mentioned it – a coincidence, not a judgement.

So, maybe it’s not the concept of truth that should interest us, but how we treat each other; how we perceive and judge each other.

So, no, there’s no truth to be found. Not out there, not in here. Mainly because truth is not the important thing – being true is.

The statement is a contradiction, in itself, but I stand by it.