Sunday, November 17, 2019

Some Solace For a Sunday

Time out.

You can't save the world every day. Life goes on (which is, after all, why one wants to save the world)

Anyway, it can have its uses as well, as we discovered when clearing out my daughter's room (to elaborate on what someone once said: the poor and a teenager's bedroom you will always have with you!), we came across some of her old DVDs, including that 'Mamma Mia' ABBA movie from a few years ago.

Remember ABBA? Of course you do. They're a part of the golden oldies circuit.

How is it possible, these days of ReDS, food shortages, displaced millions, power squabbles and general nummish* attitudes, to get solace from some blonde Eurovision contest winners from the seventies?

Apart from dewy-eyed nostalgia, have a look at these lyrics for I have a Dream:
I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
So, in between saving the world, give the world a chance to save you occasionally.

Message to IgDrip: I will 'cross the stream' when I choose, and I will *not* be coming over any time soon.
*num: I gather from a competent (16yo) authority that this is the current slang for a 'negative sum thinker'. A griefer to oldies like me.
Zero sum thinkers are 'zummers' (aka parents).
So , of course, positive-sum thinkers (guess who?) are ... 'possums'!

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Garden in the Cloud

When I first started 'structing, I had in my mind's eye a picture of a garden: a vacant plot where structs were planted and nourished and allowed to grow. As time went by, they would intertwine and hold each other up.

When I first started 'structing, I remember the great flurry of activity as everyone got to work. Tending my own patch, I gave the hubbub only passing attention. It wasn't until later that I realised how the noise diminished as people dispersed into the surrounding undergrowth

Until one day, I looked up, and there was ... silence. The centre had not held: people had drifted too far apart.

The silence was broken by a nearby wail from ubik "I cannot see the forest for the trees" he cried. It was true: the garden of my mind's eye was like a great grove of trees, all standing apart.. and silent.

So, I set to work. I began to search for the forest in the trees. I drew on a vision of each struct with its attendant retinue of information: members raves, threat facings. As I worked, I was drawn to an ineffable clearing where others were seeking to reconstruct their thoughts amid the stillness. We finally acquired the tools to work the soil in which the structs could thrive.

I stood back to see what I had done. The structs stood, viewable as a whole (to those not blinded by the Oedipus plague). It was now clear that the prevailing silence was a product of diffusion rather than true death. There *was* still life: more structs appeared over time and, as yet more time elapsed, their canopies of raves and membership spread.

Yet still apart: no linkages. A sterile plantation rather than a fecund jungle. An understorey of tales and discussions was needed.

Antonio opined: "we need to name the trees to know the ones we are interested in". Yes, but too much information to show at once!

And still, that need for connectivity. Something to indicate a common purpose between structs. Something like... tags.

So, the forest in the trees was not the end of the journey. We needed to see the cloud surrounding the forest. I started work again...

As it happened, the cloud forest was easy to form. Yet even this was not the end. For now I finally saw my garden in the cloud: an interlocking mesh structs and tales, bedded in a cloud of tags.

If you go here now you will see the garden bed. The structs and tales of GEAS are yet to appear out of the cloud of words, but they will come.

There is still work to be done, by you as well as by me. This garden needs to be tended for its own sake as well as for the things growing in it.

What you can do is this: look at the cloud. Look for the words you have used to tag your own creations. See if words that other people have used match your purpose. If they do, use them. If there is a better word, replace what you have used. If there is a typographical error , change it.

The cloud will respond to your care. The garden within will enjoy a much richer connectedness.

Please join us.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Sample from DisplayStruct

Been busy doing a little layout tool for superstruct.

Following the Oedipus2020 outbreak, a lot of cloud drifters aren't able to see the results, though.
Oh, well, while we consider a fix, here's a taste:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Thank Goodness I'm on Cirrus!

Oedipus Blinds Drifters

The IdEst cloud drifter app has been effectively blinded by a specifically tailored attack by a newly identified virus dubbed Oedipus2020*. The IdEst custodian, Macrowaft, has long maintained a maverick approach to cloud computing, preferring to provide carefully controlled and tailored packages for its clients, claiming that it provides a much higher quality experience.

Yet it is one of these packages ('Moonshine', which handles vision requirements) that has been exploited.

Following the recent success in thwarting a serious communications threat, LexLothar, designated spokesbeing for the Laokoon Swarm was quick to defend their product. "Laokoon 7 cannot operate where it is not invited", she explained. "The default policies of Macrowaft packages usually prevent all third party collabaration offers. In the case of Laokoon 7, it was an offer that should not have been refused."

"As a result, Oedipus has established itself in a significant sector of the skyscape."

Macrowaft declined to comment.

*Oedipus was a character in a play by Sophocles who put his eyes out in punishment when he learnt of his incestuous relationship with his mother.

- Goitres
...mind you, this could stuff my plan to display all superstructs!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Losing Perspective

I can't believe what some loonies are saying.

A return to the 'sustainable' population levels of the 1900's!!?
'Voluntary' extinction??

Apart from the small issues of the abrupt departure of eight billion souls, there's the small matter of the circumstances in which those levels would be reached!
"There are some levels of existence we are prepared to accept."
- The Architect from 'The Matrix: Reloaded'
No there isn't. I don't think anyone really has a clue about how conditions will degrade with just one of these doozies breathing down our necks, let alone five (or even the four that's prompted the 'return to the good old days' meme).

Well, maybe some do. That's why the grief rockers like that raptureholic 'IgDrip' are already spouting such gibberish about 'coming on over' (to the right hand side of the GEAS population graph)

They've given up. Worse, I can see they're going to be running malicious interference on those who haven't. (I thought we'd got over that a decade ago?)

*sigh* Welcome to 'Outlaw Planet'

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Watching the Meter

Our neighbours have a friendly rivalry going with us over our respective domestic power sourcing solutions.

They have solar cubes. We have a mix of solar cubes and spheres (technology upgrade in progress). Their's are mounted on the roof and garage. Ours are in a solar farm up in the Simpson desert somewhere.

Now, I'm all for home solar. Forget the FUD about safety issues emanating from certain quarters, most kits are installed in sealed modules that are not about to be tinkered with by the average user anyway. No, that we didn't follow suit with a lot of people when solar power became a cheap and viable option was a matter of practicality as much as anything else. Being situated on a fairly small city plot, we don't have a huge area available for such things. Furthermore, our roof is a cluttered mess, courtesy of an upper storey renovation we did some years ago. So, as much as I like the ideas espoused by the 'reclaim your roof' movement, I'll have to cheer from the sidelines on that one!

They still get power when the grid goes off. We get to watch them spend their high days and holidays struggling with one recalcitrant item or another without going through the roof or falling off. (Of course, after the chuckles have been had, such occasions usually call for a potluck pitch in)

What with transmission and service fees v DIY and local generation, they probably come out a little ahead in operating margins.

At least, we get to take it with us when we ever move! This makes it a popular option with the rental market.

Either way, the solar providers have a market for their kits.

So it goes. We win , they win. And the ball goes back and forth.

It seemed to land squarely in our side of the court the other day when I received the power bill.

Yes... bill! With the rebates we get from our existing Verdantor installations, we usually run at a modest profit (at least, enough to make me think we'll have paid off the admission and service fees in about five years)

So, I'm not used to power bills.

It seems that a couple of our units got damaged in a recent heavy hailstorm. Hailstorms. In a desert? Well, it happens, as they say.

Still, when your assets are a couple of thousand kilometres away, there's always the lingering suspicion that you are not being told the whole story. I got the title deeds out and checked the GPS locations so I could run a quick check with the 'I-spy' site and, sure enough, my units are not looking too happy, the upshots being:
1. Replacements are going to have to be paid for
2. no power income in the meantime

Lost that point.

Then again, the solar spheres we are getting as replacements are 10% more efficient...

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Tell Stories

There are, as I'm only beginning to appreciate, just so many ways people are tackling this, and just so much I can do.

It is my nature to gather my thoughts together before putting them on the table. This allows me to get details sorted, it also risks putting too much of the load on my shoulders. With a load this heavy, however, that way results in a breakdown:

While I collate my thinking on power struggle, let me offer a piece of advice I heard from a wise man many years ago.

By all means share. Reach out. Contribute to others' efforts.

But it will be that much more effective if you can overcome homophily: the love of sameness.

That wise man's advice ... ah! here it is, in full. The bit I want to point is this:

I’d been hoping the internet could be a solution to these problems. After all, it’s now possible to read the newspapers in another country, to read the blogs of people who live in these countries and hear what they’re thinking about. We can go to flickr and see the photos that people take, we can surf youtube and watch the videos that are making people laugh in other countries. Shouldn’t this help us connect with people around the world?

That’s what I thought a few years ago. I helped start a website called Global Voices, which is basically a site designed to help you find citizen media from other countries, especially the developing world. Want to know what people in China are talking about online? We filter through thousands of Chinese blogs, try to find the conversations that are interesting, translate them into English… and then into over a dozen other languages. If you read the site, you’ll end up getting a much better sense for what the hot topics are in other parts of the world… and you may find yourself emotionally invested in someone else’s blog, and by extension in their life and ideas.

[Reach out: ]But you probably won’t. That’s one of the biggest things we’ve discovered with the project - it’s hard to care, even if you want to. I can point you to a lively conversation taking place in another corner of the blogosphere and even if you can read the language, you’re probably not going to connect with the conversation. You don’t have the context. And beyond that, you don’t have any connection to the people or events involved.

It’s not your fault. Human beings are tribal by nature. There’s a sociological phenomenon called “homophily” - it’s the tendency of birds of a feather to flock together. Let people organize themselves and people will form into groups, usually by race, nationality, religion, level of education. In the US, there’s a lot of mobility - people move all the time - and we’re starting to see this happen politically - Bill Bishop calls it “The Big Sort”. It ends up meaning that left-leaning people live with other leftists, conservatives with other conservatives and we’ll each understand less about each other. We do this with information as well. If information affects people like us, we pay attention to it - if not, we’re almost hard-wired not to care.

It turns out that there’s an art to getting people to care. It’s about telling stories, stories that introduce us to people we care about, whose pasts we speculate about, whose future we worry about. Most of the world’s problems can’t be summed up by a single story about a single person… but unless you can attach a story to a problem, it’s likely that you won’t get anyone to pay attention to the larger problem. The problem with this art is that it can turn into a trick. The trick works by oversimplifying, turning stories into good versus evil, black and white. If we tell the story and lose the subtlety, at a certain point we’re lying.

We’ve got the infrastructure that makes it possible to connect to one another, to tell stories to one another, to share films and family photos and things that make us laugh or cry with people anywhere in the world. And so far, we’re pretty bad at using it. At the worst, we use it to hurt each other - think of the guy in Lagos who wants to rip you off while promising you millions of dollars… or the guy in London who makes sport out of humiliating and punishing him.

So here’s where I’m asking for help - we need bridge figures, people who can help build connections between cultures. We need xenophiles, people who are interested in the whole world and in building conversations that break out of the homophily trap. We need tools that let us use this infrastructure to connect. Help me figure out how to bridge people and how to build these tools.

- Ethan Zuckerman

In the end, the art of superstructing is the art of 'xenophily'

So, tell stories.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Drowning in superstructures.

So much to do... so little time.
So much information!!
Where do we start? Where do we end?
More practically, how do we share out a tangled-interlocking mess like this?
It'll settle down, but at the moment, everyone's pitching in all over the place.

I suppose a site like Superstruct, if it is to work at all, will demonstrate 'emergent properties' as it reaches certain critical masses. At this early stage, the main emphasis is 'gaining mass': ideas are being laid out, and tended, and groomed for presentation. There is, as yet, little of the cross-fertilisation that is needed to make them take flight.

That would include me as well. Despite the little interdiction, I have still been able to throw a few crumbs into the stew: the notion of an online forum to allow refugees of a particular origin to retain a sense of identity, and to give them a voice.

I will need to start stirring the pot soon.

Somebody Doesn't Want You To Read This!

Are you receiving this?

The GEAS Superstruct foundation has been requesting help in identifying solutions to the superthreats they have identified, and it would seem that one of those threats is fighting back: within minutes of accessing the site and getting an account started, I find my cloud space has been flagged as a potential spam farm, and my activities have been restricted until I can persuade the powers that be in blogspot otherwise. Others have apparently reported difficulties accessing their accounts.

Whoever it is that is 'spinning the grief' gets marks for cheekiness!

Oh well, if the strategy these days is to make friend and foe indistinguishable, I suppose this is to be expected.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Getting Perspective

There's nothing like a graph to put flesh on figures.
GEAS population projections 2015-2100

This is a summary of the GEAS population projections to 2100. It seems that one threat or two are relatively weatherable (although bear in mind that even a *slight* dip in this graph is measured in tens of millions of people.) There's a strong knock-on effect, however, and the 'grief' will get exponentially worse so that, by the time all five of the threats are in play, it's good night from us!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Turkey Was Hacked!

We were all a bit woozy yesterday, and now I know why, having received a call from our weekend hosts.

Apparently some enterprising wag added a little something extra to the turkey printout! A botched attempt at some recreational pharmaceutical or other, including a brazen addition to the additives list, complete with anonymous contacts! Seems to be a new way of promoting the traditional 'enhancements'

(there are so many these days, including some derivative of funnelweb venom, I hear: terminal buzz or something!) Anyway they got it wrong, so no buzz, just a bad hangover, but we're getting a check-up in case it gave us something more unpleasant.

I thought digisigs were meant to prevent this sort of thing? Nothing can prevent carelessness, I guess.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Grim Reckoning

The party's over, and I'm coming back to earth.

The GEAS report has certainly put a damper on the day/year/decade/whatever.
You know the one I mean, I think. We're all going to be gone by 2042 (give or take a month).

Not the news to be confronted with when you've already got a throbbing headache (does cranberry sauce ferment? It would seem so... or maybe that fab turkey had something extra)

In one sense, Australians are keenly aware of the changes that have been going on in the world in the last few decades. In others, we have been rather isolated from the world as well. ReDS? A minor worry. Food sources? Stretched, but adequate. Refugees? Yes, we've been getting more, but nothing like Europe. Internal displacements are fairly small as well (the Darling basin never having had a high population) Power? We have plenty for our needs. Law and Order?

While GEAS does not mention climate change as an explicit threat, it is clear that it is an underlying driver for most of the specific threats it mentions. So, while it all seems a bit abstract, we do know better, and I will need to see what GEAS has predicted for this part of the world.

The news is still sinking in, of course. In some ways, I'm rather detached from it. After all, in the normal run of things, I'd be slated for extinction due to Anno Domini around that time anyway. I've heard of the sixth wave of extinctions, but never thought of humanity as riding it. (No safety in numbers, it seems: remember passenger pigeons?)

I expect the reaction will come later.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Christmas in July

It's a fairly recent Australian ritual, arising from the observation that traditional Christmas fare is best enjoyed in a cold climate. Traditional *western* Christmas fare, that is! Whether it is all appropriate to have plum pudding and roast turkey in a place like Australia, or whether we'd be better off with bush tomatoes, emu and lilli-pilli berries, is a moot point. Either way, I suppose the change in eating habits is a form of adaptation.

Nevertheless, Christmas in July it is, and here I am, celebrating the occasion (and a belated sixtieth birthday) in style on one of the new airships. Comebacks for these lovely vessels have been tried before but it is only now, with soaring fuel costs and vubble-tech that the economic equation has changed in their favour (the catch-cry being that nothing costs less than helium!). Hopefully, as more get built, they will take the strain off a groaning freight network (for what infrastructure does a balloon need?) Until then, it'll be just revellers like ourselves enjoying the experience free from traffic jams on Eastlink.

Heading East from Melbourne, the Latrobe valley is coming into view. The chimney stacks of the old brown coal power stations can be clearly seen poking through the morning mist. Hazelwood has been de-commissioned, but Loy Yang is still puffing away. Not for much longer, though: for all that Australia's contribution to the CO2 content is small beer compared to more populous states like China, brown coal is a no-no these days and there are examples to be set! But what examples? Somewhere down there are the shells of nuclear power stations newly commissioned, or under construction. There is some sense building them there: the continued emphasis on power generation keeps the community intact. Still, despite the much vaunted improvements in reactor design, they still face fierce resistance in some quarters. Not all of it is from the fear of a few stray neutrons.

So to the menu. The Entree today is an orange compote. Ah, oranges! Always traditional Christmas fare (in the olden days when such things were a treat in Northern Europe). We've been spoilt up until a few years ago, and now the irrigation regions around Mildura which supplied them have been spoilt in turn. Climate change in SE Australia has been a reality for nearly twenty years now. The reduced inland rainfalls mean that the Darling no longer connects to the Murray, and that area is now a salt-sewn, astringent desert, fit only for the solar farms that are springing up in competition to the above mentioned nukes. They have a vocal backing, although I feel that the monolithic slab deployment being practiced is akin to clear felling and does the degraded environment no favours. Far better to co-exist with some sort of fractal strategy?

There's a warning there, too. Many people, dissatisfied with the solutions decreed by big government and big business, have opted to take matters into their own hands and install their own solar. Enough to make a noticeable dent in power revenues. There are signs of push back in the wind: changes in regulations and safety standards that may act to bring the little folk back into the dutiful consumer fold. Fat chance! The DIY genie's out, and a sunshine rebellion is brewing: central vs distributed! It was never just about oil, or even power, but how you can use power to control. Some things never change, only the means...

Which brings us back to the source of the oranges: home grown of course! If you can have home solar, then why not home water recycling? Indeed, many systems operate so as to combine the two! Thus, a few people still manage to get enough water to keep the backyard orange or lemon tree healthy, despite Melbourne's catchments running perilously close to dry last May. I take a sip from my wineglass, and contemplate the irony that *that* industry seems to be surviving well enough without home help!

The main dish today is a bit of an experiment, billed as turkey, we are assured that it will look like turkey, and will even taste like turkey. but, as we see it being prepared layer by layer (having your food printed still seems to be considered a novelty), some of our party wonder if the ingredients will be printed on it as well and what will happen when it's heated?

With technology like this, land intensive animal husbandry is likely to go the way of the thatcher, and I'm sure that the product will be very nice ... with plenty of cranberry sauce!