Monday, November 09, 2015

dangerous cult movement

people may have noticed (although they could be forgiven for not) that I've joined the movemberment

Little did I realize that this is a subtle and devious way to get people to look rediculous (more than white middle aged men with dreadlocks, or comb overs) and indulge in very expensive habits but also to need to seek relationship counselling and other support to cope with their loss of self esteem.

the whole moustache thing is incredibly competitive, mad and macho (mostly)

and while it may be literally truem I cannot say it is growing on me, figuratively.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

cambridge goes west

so i've dipped my toe into cambridge (including the river) twice in 5 decades -

first time was traditional experience of being at Trinity College, living right in
the middle of it all surrounded by the full on college and university expeirences of social and academic life mingling via the rich, messy ways they do.

the second time has been very department-centric, in the computer lab just after (15 years ago) it moved to the newly occupied West Cambridge site.
At first, this was a great experience, still zooming back to town for events in college(s) and doing formal halls here there and everywhere, attending seminars on everything under the sun (and the far side of the universe). Excellent.

However, in the past few years, West cambridge has gotten more and more distant from town, and has become more and more of a hi-tech island, isolated from the University, indeed, from time to time, almost cut off by buidling work As I type, the normal cycle/footpath route into town is blocked (and has been for months) by annoying building work o nthe new physics of medicine building. Plans for new bus ways to Cambourne look all set to massacre the area again. The proposal to fill in the Paddock in front of the Vet School threatens us with a wind tunnel (without recourse to the nearby Whittle lab) and no greenery to stare at when lost in thought, and yet more glass/metal buildings, hey, we might as well be in downtown Cambridge Massachusetts, not rural Cambridgeshire, England. West Cambridge, 15 years in, still has zero shops, zero restaurants, zero social spaces worth talking about, zero pubs, zero Cambridge style. It is pretty terrible.

The treatment of the (I believe) 3000 or so people that work and study here is 2nd class - I do not hold out a lot of hope that future developments will prioritize people - they will be about "impressive" builds (stupidly, given we don't have the money to compete on that basis with the likes of Harvard or MIT), rather than nurturing the social, the heterogeneous, messy, cultural weirdness that makes Cambridge University what it is (or should I say was, as it is vanishing).

This is not a good thing. And I am not saying this coz I am unhappy here - its great. It is just not as great as it was in several ways.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

True Cycling Advice

1. turn left on red at 4-way (take a cue from the US) -
i) make sure no cyclists are trying to cut on your inside
ii) make sure no cars going across (it is their right of way)
(check there's no filter light for oncoming to turn right!)
iii) make sure no pedestrians, pets or children within 10 meters
iv) make sure no boy racer nutter is acccelerating behind you to turn left the nanosecond the lights go amber
v) just go.

2. going ahead a t a junction when light is red -
i) Make sure no pedex action
ii) make sure no trucks with extra wide loads crossing
iii) if green box, go to far edge
iv) if yellow box, go about 20% into it
v) when no traffic crossing, just go

3. there are laws, then there's reality:
90% of car drivers ignore green box (its same as yellow box for them)
50% of car drivers turning turning either way fail to signal

this doesn't justify anything, but sure makes you feel less bad:)

4. always have good visibility clothes,
and reasonable (not ultrabright) lights.

and make sure your brakes work.

and own the road space (lane) you are in,
don't hog the kerb, or the parked cars.

everything else on the bike is optional.

5. if you see bad car/bus/taxi driver behaviour
and have a camera (phone)
and feel like you want to take a picture to have evidence
to give (to police, or your mum or your pet cat)
check your escape routes, as some drivers become violent
when their evil is being outed.

cycle carefully.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Peer Production and Post Capitalism - between snark & a boojum

Reading about Post Capital and the proposal by Paul Mason to restructure society around peer production to get rid of the:Precariat which appears not to be able to rise up, on account of Acquiescence causing all such occupy/indignados movements to fizzle out, despite the rediculously offensive Capital++ details.
(indeed, there's a whole other blog entry to be written about how the post modern disruption by surkov is remarkably similar to the US employment of shock doctrine, and the EU follows like a poodle....

Anyhow, I have to disagree with Mason's key idea, which seems to be based on the same false premise as Charles Stross' accelerando, that information markets can exponentiate in "value", and have zero marginal costs, so replace capital or labour systems of value.

The problem is that you cannot eat or drink bits. Bits of information do not fend off rain, snow, tides or enemies. Knowledge doesn't keep you warm, although it may reduce the chances you catch diseases.
The problem is that a knowledge economy is built on the same quicksand and lime as the whole financial service industry - indeed, the financial service instruments are exactly that - pieces of (often faulty) knowledge (algorithms for trading), that do not link either to time (labour) or wealth (capital). In the end, humans have to trade time for money, or money for time.

Plus Mason makes no proposal to solve the social inertia, that humans are either driven by greed (for more toys) or by altruism (wish to be liked == greed for more social capital). A new economy needs to have a sound social basis. Even Russell Brand had at least a better stab at that. Maybe we could just revisit socialism (with modern technology) and see how syndicalism might be made to work (it nearly did in Spain until Franco backed, by the Nazis and unopposed by the Brits or the Russians for shameful reasons, killed it. In a modern world, such a movement might be able to resist the IMF.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Turing Institute for Data Science

trying to work out which of these two pictures will represent the sort of work the ATI will do most

1/ tamagochi hive mind
2/ astro turf wars

answers on a post card...

Friday, June 12, 2015

the naked eye aint wot it used to see

John Berger's ways of seeing  tv series was amazing - not just politically, but visually. everyone should atch it while they can (its >25 years old - makes new kids on the block look very naive) - its a polemic, genius art meets politics piece of criticism which is so much better than No Logo or Shock Doctrine. although I liked those too, albeit they were polemical, but with design instead of added art - hmm - maybe i'm just a polemicophile.

meanwhile, the four eye sage continues. Lft eye has accreted weird stuff in cornea so need laster treetment to restore it to pristine post-cataract post-detached-torn retina state. but the right eye now has vitreous partial detachment, so  might have to go thru same old retina shit if the macular/retina decide they like my vitreous more than my eye sight. great. we'll see. literally. and figuratively. and visually. and metaphorically. and luminously, and demonstrably. the outlook is temporary. the view from in here is, hmm// why dangle. floaters and shiny flashes cross the field, and I am not watching a thunderstorm or a plague of paparazzi.

how long does a vivid imagination outlast a visual reminder? the word, imagination: why is "image" in it? that's my currency. i don;t want to retire, even if it was to play blind lemon pledge for a few years (cue martin simpson joke name for blues guitarist) - would learn to play like this, maybe

Thursday, May 21, 2015


There's been some (social) success in micro-loan systems in bailing out developing areas of the world, however, the macro-loan business run by the european central bank and the IMF and other neo-liberal agenda organisations is unacceptable.

Why don't we start a macro-loan potlatch?

Potlatch is a mutual system of gifts which bonds societies together - described in anthropology literature, it existed in particular in the Pacific North West of America between native tribes, and resulted in less war, as well as marriage exchanges (ok, so not necessarily all good) - this would fit the exact  same goal that the EU was created for, but without the complex burocracy and mission creep. Also, without the centralisation and mission creep/capture by capital - instead it would be a syndic. Norway could bootstrap it for Greece (but note, it would not be government or financial service agencies - it would be people-to-people, peer-to-peer)

I think such a mechanism could actually realize a techno-anarcho-syndicalist end-run on the whole neo-con/neo-liberal agenda - if you look at the disposable wealth one could offer, a set of a few million brits could, for example, extend a couple of trillion pounds quite easily. but it wouldn't be brit-to-portugal, but interest group to interest group....

needs some wiki-rules to prevent misbehaviour (but given how much the centralized banks and their alleged regulators like the FSA and the credit rating agencies completely screw up, a child of 3 could come up with something fairer and more stable...

time to invade everyware