Thursday, August 13, 2015

No place to hide

  When I’m now once again reading No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald, about the NSA, Edward Joseph Snowden and The Surveillance State, I am once again amazed by it, by its content and its ability to amaze, shock and move me.
  I always knew that there was extensive surveillance, but its vast extent surprised even me. The most outrageous statement and claim from the most paranoid among us was suddenly validated. Even they underestimated the danger. We hadn’t been paranoid. We hadn’t been paranoid enough.
  There is Snowden itself, of course, his quiet determination and courage, his desire to get the explosive material published no matter the cost to himself. There is the entire situation surrounding it, Greenwald’s justified distrust of established media and everything related to it, established media’s deliberate and eager cooperation with those in charge. There is one exposure, one undeniable fact on top of another.
  One of many things it does is to reveal irrevocably Barrack Obama and his administration as enemies of freedom and of mankind itself. Obama is shown as an active and eager, not merely a passive participant in the surveillance. He is a conman, one of the cleverest elected presidents ever and always was. He never had any intention of making good his election promises, deliberately deceiving the electorate even more than the usual politician.
  His remaining supporters should definitely read this book.
  Greenwald was among those with high hopes that Obama becoming president would lead to improvements, but those hopes were quickly crushed, in virtually all areas of politics. Obama, during the election, among other things, spoke highly of whistleblowers and the need for supporting them, but has, during his presidency persecuted them worse than any president before him.
  The first article showed that NSA had been working with Verizon (and virtually every other telephone company in America) in order to sweep customers’ phone records.
  Revelations on PRISM, spying on foreign, allied governments, The UK GCHQ program, XKeyscore, undermining of Internet security and more quickly followed suit, exposures with a value that can hardly be underestimated.
  I think all the exposures are great, of course, and reject the propaganda attacks from the establishment against Snowden, Greenwald and other whistleblowers completely.

  If I’m unhappy with anything is that they didn’t reveal everything. I would have wished they had released every single bit of information they have. I certainly don’t care about the security of United States and its spies around the world. They are an integrated part of a beyond sinister network oppressing mankind and deserve no quarter.


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Things to do in London when you burn with passion and life (II)

 (I)

  Thursday morning I had one of only two breakfasts at the hotel. It’s expensive and not really giving you much for your money.
  I left the camera in the hotel room, deciding on a whim to experience London without it that day, temporarily falling back on my old, misguided conviction that dragging a camera around lessens a given Journey.
  I usually stay in Bayswater, close to the Central Line stations of Lancaster Gate or Queensway, but this time I stayed in Paddington, just a minute’s walk from Paddington Station and the Bakerloo Line. The Central Line would have taken me to Tottenham Court Road (it’s closed most of 2015). Bakerloo takes everyone (or at least me) straight to Piccadilly Circus.
  Dorothy and I met up at Costa, in Covent Garden, one of my favorite coffee shop chains. We have known each other for twenty-seven years and we share two children between us. We’ve always enjoyed an off/on relationship and have never really split up. Fairly long periods of absence have been coupled with intense moments of reunion, an «arrangement» suiting us both.
  We first encountered each other on the beyond memorable Midsummer Night of 1988 and moved into a squatted house together not long afterwards. The next five years should be one of the most amazing periods of our lives. She, more than any other person, showed me what life is about.
  She had great news for me this Thursday morning. I knew that, just by looking at her, before she even started speaking. She had actually managed to gather most of the old gang, doing so for the first time in years. I felt how anticipation filled me. We were both excited beyond words, an excitement clearly visible to everyone else present. Some were angry at our loud voices, while others loved our sizzling exhilaration and mounting joy.
  Usually I sit a while and enjoy my time at a coffee shop, but this time I devoured my giant cappuccino in no time, and we were off to the nearest pub, having decided to start the celebration of our reunion early.
  It’s always a strange feeling for me to be in the company of a given woman… and being unable to take my eyes off her. It’s almost like I try to imprint forever every single line of her face on my cerebral cortex. Her stare was equally intense. We didn’t mind and sat there toasting and cheering and drinking Guinness as if our last day had come. Sometimes later we had dinner at a great non-expensive vegetarian place north of Oxford Street. We were back at devouring Guinness not long after that.
  Usually I don’t drink much alcohol in London or when traveling at all, since I’m high enough just by the act of traveling, but this time was different.

  We ended up on my hotel room, celebrating our reunion the rest of the day and evening, keeping it up until we fell into a deep, deep, dreamless sleep.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Twenty months

  Since I bought my Canon EOS 5D Mark III I have made approximately 7500 image files, both photographs and film cuts. Of those about one tenth has been useful in some way, and will be used in some way or another.
  I will always take far more photos and files than I use, but I don’t delete anything or much. They all tell my story during the time period in question to some extent.
  I learned to use it, to more or less master its very intuitive technical hurdles in just three days. To work off my rustiness brought on by my long break and to an extent master photography again, took longer. But during this time I have learned the answers to most of those questions I had before I procured the camera about photography and movie productions, found far more and learned a lot in the process. As with most things I do, it’s a matter of unending, life-long learning.
  Adobe Creative Cloud, with Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere and other applications is also a part of this. It clearly adds to and enriches my experience of the camera further.
  I am quite pleased with my Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG «Art» wide angle lens. The occasional vignetting in F1.4 and 2.0 is significant, but can easily be removed in Adobe Photoshop if desirable. With me, enjoying shadows and dark fields in many pictures it very often isn’t.
  This is my only lens so far. That can feel limiting at times, of course, but it also encourages me to blow away whatever limitations there are or might be. You don’t take portraits with a wide angle lens, some photographers claim. I do! I take all kinds of photos with it, actually, except close up wild animal photos. That’s as close to being impossible you can get.
  Anyway, as I often do I work well with imposed limitations, both because I have to and because I can. Being a man lacking financial muscles I’ve taught myself to expand the possible into the impossible. I’ve taught myself to work and grow with a zero-budget, which is liberating in itself. You kind of force-grow your creativity, adding further to your enjoyment of the process.
  There are inevitable frustrations, but I’ve taught myself to deal with them, too, taught myself even more patience. Like with my novels and other things, I get things done, even though it takes time.
  I saved money for five years before being able to procure this camera. It was worth it.
  In 2008, when the Mark 2 was released, I knew it wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but I also knew the next step in digital evolution would be. I was right.

  I waited for the Mark 2 to metamorphose into Mark 3. It was worth it.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Things to do in London when burning with passion and life (I)

  Wednesday…

  People keep asking me what I’m actually doing in London
  I don’t really understand or fathom the question, but here is my answer anyway. This is a fairly incomplete list of what I did in a given week in early May.
  What am I actually doing in London? Not necessarily that much all the time. The most important part of it has always been the experience of it, taking in the unique mood present in the very air around me.
  This visit turned out to be even more than usual special, since I was down (but not out) with a cold during half of my stay.

  The plane landed on Gatwick airport, on time 10.15 in the late morning. I had no luggage, but just carried all my stuff, except for the camera in a fortified plastic bag, so except for the usual looong walk through the southern terminal I was out of there pretty fast. My expectation of enjoying the usual Large Cappuccino at Costa right after landing was frustrated when the coffee bar in question was closed for refurbishing. I wasn’t too disappointed. There are tons of Costa coffee bars in London.

  I can intellectually recall what I feel every time I walk the streets of London, but after a while after having left them I have a hard time actually remembering emotionally. It’s fading with absence and the dull sadness of civilization takes its place.
  Everything is flooding back, now, when I, after a thirty-two months absence wander the streets of London once again.
  I do believe in the enduring human spirit. In fact I embrace it. And every time I spend time in London it’s there, at the forefront of my elevated state of consciousness. That doesn’t mean I forget about the less unsavory aspect of human nature, certainly not, it just makes me focus more on what’s truly important and experience life in an even more than usual passionate and valuable way.

  I took the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station. I tell myself every time that I should take the slower and less expensive train, with more stops, but every time I get impatient and want to reach central parts of London as fast as possible.
  The first thing I did, the first thing I always do when reaching Central London is to buy myself a one-week travel card. I know I will use public transport extensively, and this is so much less expensive compared to buying single tickets that it is ridiculous.
  There was a queue as usual. I met a man asking me for directions, and I was able to help him, easily.
  The awkwardness persisted, as I made my way to the hotel. This is always next on my list. When I have checked in at the hotel, I can start relaxing, start doing London, start awakening, searching for my «London feeling».
  My first attempt at doing that is usually my first dinner. I usually go for a safe dish the first day, so I went to Friday’s and my favorite spare ribs.
  I usually enjoy that immensely, but this time I didn’t, for some reason. It felt like a totally unremarkable meal, with little or no joy. The prices had gone up with thirty percent since my last visit, but that wasn’t it either. I took some picture, both inside and outside the restaurant. They were not very good.
  Dinner was done. I moved through rainy streets. It was just a drizzle, really, nothing for one growing up in western Norway. We know what true rain is, and this wasn’t it.
  I started snapping pictures in Coventry Street and on Leicester Square, and later in Covent Garden, places I am intimately familiar with. There had been a few changes since I last walked there, but not that many. Covent Garden was the place I first spent time when I arrived in London in July 1983. It was also where I and the guys had played street theater in the late eighties and early nineties. It brought back tons of memories.
  I ended up going to one of my favorite pubs, The Coach and Horses and had my first Guinness. Its taste was great, as always. I sat there enjoying myself, without a care in the world.
  Except for the slight irritation in my throat that had been there since the airport before departure. I ignored that.
  I had a second Guinness, one tasting even better than the first. Leonard showed up when I had downed half of that. We met through the Internet some years back and have been friends since. It’s a curious thing. Without the Internet we would probably never have met. Some friendships take years to develop, but we clicked instantly.
  So, we sit there during most of the afternoon, having one of our excited conversations about life, existence, politics and everything. To grossly underestimate it: it was yet another great afternoon in London.
  One of my goals for the evening was to locate the poetry club in Covent Garden, but even though I searched extensively, I was unable to do so. If I had owned a smart phone or brought my laptop it would have been easy, but I dislike smart phones and usually take a deliberate break from computing when I am traveling. I had brought a copy of Secrets, my latest poetry collection, and was prepared to do some public reading.

  Giving up after a while I went to Starbucks and bought some coffee. The place in New Oxford Street, like the Coach and Horses and my encounter with Leonard and others always gives me inspiration to write and take notes in my paper notebook, and it did this time as well. I wrote several pages that afternoon and evening, and several of the plots of my unfinished novels made major advances forward.

  (II)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brink - The Sixth Great Mass Extinction Event is here and it’s us

  When is a given species in most danger? At the top of its dominion of a given ecosystem.
  Humanity currently dominates, with a few exceptions, directly of indirectly virtually all ecosystems on this planet.

  Once again, we get to know for ourselves the obvious truth that civilization is organized insanity. This isn’t a matter of doing some limited «conservation» or fixing a few problems concerning release of pollution like climate gases or poisonous chemicals. It’s about human society, about civilization itself. What has been more than obvious for a long time has recently become even more so: It must go!
  Rachel Carson with her book Silent Spring made a splash with its stark warnings about human produced chemicals more than fifty years ago, but it didn’t really make an impact, not even approaching one necessary in order to deal with the issue at hand.
  The dire warnings about global warming have been with us for at least twenty-five years now, but even though we talk a little about it, there is no real impact on our society. Even if virtually all solutions currently on the public table are implemented it will do us little good.
  Nuclear power plants continue to bombard all life on the planet with the deadliest poison in existence.
  We are screwing with life and nature on all levels. Frankenstein products, like genetic modified organisms, are numerous and pervasive, their proponents wealthy and influential, with all mainstream politicians in their pockets.
  And now, these days we get the beyond dire warnings of the final nail in our coffin, the facts about what we have wrought.
  There has been some limited debate whether or not the Sixth Great Mass Extinction is on its way or already is here. Now, more and more reports make it clear that the latter is true. The report, led by the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley in the United States confirms and exceeds the findings in earlier studies. Vertebrates are disappearing at a rate at least 114 times normal. The species going extinct in the last century would have normally taken thousands of years to do so, and would probably not have without humanity’s pervasive dominion. The total loss of biodiversity is a reality and is fast approaching an irreversible state that will take nature millions of years to recover from.
  The culprit is human civilization, is practically everything we, humanity are currently doing and humanity is also one of the species that will go early, in about hundred years or so. «Conservation» is a joke and has always been. We save one or two tigers, for instance while the species are heading for extinction, and we do nothing about the actual cause. And as stated; this isn’t about a few species, but about all of them, except perhaps cockroaches and similar.
  If we manage to kill off the cockroach, one of the most adaptive creatures on Earth, there is really no hope for us.
  We are destroying the foundation of our own survival. Urban «development», destruction of ever more wilderness, habitats and the ever-stronger level of pollution and chemicals soaking ecosystems are choking all life. We seek cheaper and «cleaner» energy, but don’t realize that it’s the use of energy that must go way down, not the access to energy that must go way up.
  To make it totally clear: the extinction isn’t due to a few limited factors, but to the beyond excessive presence of humans on the planet and our equally excessive capacity and penchant for destruction. Our tools become ever more «improved and effective». A small group of humans can remove or have removed a given large forest or destroy huge chunks of wilderness with a snap of fingers. Such groups are numerous and widespread, are everywhere, really. Advanced technology can not help us. Advanced technology is a huge part of what got us into this mess and a major part of the vast wrongness surrounding us. The claim that what is causing the problem can help solving it is definitely yet another proof of the ongoing insanity. The massive priorities of our totally unsustainable society are pushing all other life forms out. The depopulation of all life, along with all the other factors threatens our own survival in countless and massive ways. «Our way of life» is horrendously wrong. We have long since become like a cosmic disaster, a force of unparalleled horror and devastation in this world.
  To repeat: all current human activity is grossly unsustainable. Civilization itself must go if we want to survive as a species.
  You think this is pessimistic and/or drastic? Then, quite frankly you are just one more dangerous idiot refusing to acknowledge reality.
  One more concern, among many is that even if humanity returns to being hunter/gatherers, like we should, there won’t be enough left of nature and wildlife, making our changes of surviving even slimmer. The longer we wait, the less likely our survival.
  Human society is going in the wrong direction, in all areas, going from bad to worse to horrible with practically everything we do, with every new act and «invention», bringing us ever closer to the brink.
  We don’t need more capitalism, more inequality, more injustice, more «free trade», more technology, more destruction of lives and nature, but that’s where we are heading. We are headed for a totally unprecedented destruction, a tailspin collective suicide run of our own making. We are fading, heading for death with a pitiful whimper, and we’re taking life on Earth with us.


  As always, the links are gateways to crucial background material and is important for better understanding of the issue at hand.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Great New Barbarians

  I had another post-civilization dream last night, adding itself to all those before it, one more about the challenges and joy during and after the collapse of the world-wide tyranny marring humanity for so long.
  We had to teach ourselves how to live again, educate ourselves in order to not repeat the vast mistakes of the society of our birth, adolescence and adulthood.
  But doing that, teaching ourselves and the emerging children aren’t that difficult. We encourage everyone to think for themselves and not being led by others. In only one generation we unlearn everything making humanity a plague on the Earth.

  This is a work in progress, an ongoing, never-ending process.

  This is the future Earth, the future human societies as they, generally speaking, should be.
  Forests and wilderness cover the planet. Civilization has been abandoned, its physical and psychological scars slowly, painfully fading until nothing but echoes remain. Wildlife returns everywhere.
  A child is born to a tribe. It, male or female, is welcomed and cared for by the entire tribe, not just the biological parents. All the tribe’s members are its parents, but the children don’t owe any obligation to any of them, except to become a complete, independent person, not owing any obligation to anyone.
  A society with a justified pride in itself and its citizens needs to encourage variety and creativity and independence, not merely accept it, and it must certainly not do everything it can to smother it, like civilization does.
  The children play with each other. They learn how to value their friends and fellow tribe members, and not put them down at every turn, not put themselves before others. They learn that everyone and everything have true value, and that life is precious, and that property, the very idea of it is a bad thing. They are told empathically that strangers should be welcomed around the campfire.
  They learn to hunt and survive and thrive, in a world teeming with life and fire, both spiritual and actual.
  The new barbarians and nomads cross the wilderness with determination, smiles and laughter on their mind.


  There is no perfect society, nor will there ever be one, fortunately not, but this will at least encourage mankind’s good and great traits, not the bad and ugly, like civilization does.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bias

  I won’t claim to be completely free of the bias and intolerance marring present day human society. It’s impossible to grow up in such a rather dismal place without being damaged by it in some way or another. But I have worked hard since I became conscious of such things to remove them from my thoughts and imposed automatic responses.
  It’s an ongoing, never-ending process, thousands of big and small notions and sneaky impositions to deal with and confront.
  Sadly, most people today, so willingly fucked up practically embrace their bias, encourage it in themselves and others at every turn.
  I and others attempt, at least to liberate ourselves from the imposed narrow reality of our birth, adolescence and adulthood. We don’t react with fear and distrust confronted with the unknown. We are not easy buttons to push when a new, suggestive headline encourages a given population to attack immigrants and people with a different skin color or culture and outcasts in a given society in general. Single mothers and impoverished people, for instance are still objects of choice when those in charge need someone to blame.
  Use buzzwords like God and country, for instance, and people fall in line without resistance.

  It still feels shocking and ridiculous to me how much prejudice there is, how easily most people are played, becoming an eager tool in their own oppression.