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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

I have been a fan of science fiction literature since my youth. It started with a few books in Dutch when I was a teenager, with books from Paul van Herck and Carl Lans. I currently own 300+ titles, almost exclusively in English – going to the source seemed the best way to enjoy the genre.

So after talking about 1984, allow me to introduce another literary classic (which I haven’t yet read in its entirety, alas), commented by Cory Doctorow in a Slate article titled “I’ve Created a Monster! And so can you.“:

Frankenstein warns of a world where technology controls people instead of the other way around. Victor has choices to make about what he does with technology, and he gets those choices wrong again and again. But technology doesn’t control people: People wield technology to control other people.

People wield technology to control other people” – how true. Machines, be they constructued in hard- or software, don’t do anything, unitl guided by people. But is Cory Doctorow talking about the Facebooks and Twitters of this world, or about the NSA and other hackers? Both, probably. It remains remarkable how this insight was captured in a book more than 100 years ago.

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I should be re-reading “1984” again – it’s been many years since I opened the copy on my bookshelf. And there are good reasons to do so, if only to get a better grasp on what happens today in the world.

The dystopian future Orwell portrays in 1984 helps illuminate our post-9/11 world. In the novel, the government of “Big Brother” carries on a perpetual war that, as in American life today, “involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at.” And just as young Americans today have lived with that anti-terror campaign all their lives, so too 1984’s hero, “Winston,” “could not definitely remember a time when his country had not been at war.”

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Just go looking for the phone number of Adam West (the actor playing the original Batman on TV) in the telephone guides of Sun Valley, CA.

See the rest of the story in Rusty’s photos on Flickr
by clicking of the image

Thanks, Rusty Blazenhoff!

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The Global Digital Citizen Foundation developed the questions, BoingBoing pointed me to them. While certainly not complete, the list is an excellent start to evaluate whatever “news” or message is presented to you. Don’t “believe”, think!

Click on the image to download your copy of the Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet

We should make copies of this cheatsheet in as many languages as we can!

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From the “Uluru Statement of the Heart“, as reported by Alice Springs News online:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.

This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors.

Uluru as we saw it on our trip to the Red Centre

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Contrary to popular neoliberal belief, human labour is the basic ingredient for the production of goods and services. A little celebration is the least we can do for something so fundamental, don’t you think?

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Mr. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., AKA Muhammad Ali, was not just a boxer. 50 years ago he refused to be drafted into the US Army, after having tried in vain to get the status of “conscientious objector”. I don’t like boxing, but I salute the man who followed his conscience and his principles. His example could quite well have been a catalyst (perhaps among others) of the resistance against a continued war in Vietnam.

Photo Associated Press, as published in the Washington Post

15 years later, I (unknowingly) followed his example. I just did not have to go to jail, I did about two years of “civil service”. Less mediagenic, I’m afraid.

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