Showing posts with label Dystopian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dystopian. Show all posts

May 27, 2020

The Nail That Stands Out

So everyone knows what happens to the nail that stands out...

It gets hammered down!

Deviation from the norm or the groupthink is met with a resounding klop on the head. 

You conform or you face the guillotine. 

Way too dystopian. 

Freedom, individuality, diversity, self-expressionthese are the engines of innovation and growth. 

If every nail gets hammered down, you have a society that implodes with inbreeders and Stone Age stale ideas. 

Tradition is one thing, a closed mind is something that is an extinction level event. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 2, 2018

Computer Sentiment 1984

So I found this book in an IT colleague's office. 

It's called: "The Unofficial I Hate Computer Book".

It was written in 1984, and like the George Orwell's book by that name, it is a dystopian view of technology. 

The back cover says:
Computer haters of the world unite: It's time to recognize and avenge the wonderful advances we've made thanks to computers--excessive eyestrain and headaches, irritating beeping noises, a one-ton printout where once there was a six-page report, a "simple" programming language you can't understand without five handbooks, a dictionary, and a math degree.
The book goes on with illustration after illustration of unadulterated computer hate and associated violence. 

- Dogs dumping on it (see cover)
- Contests to smash it with a hammer
- Hara-kiri (suicide with a knife) into it
- Skeet shooting computers that are flung into the air
- Shotput with a computer
- Tanks rolling over them
- Sinking it in water with a heavy anvil
- Boxer practicing his punches on it
- Setting it ablaze with gasoline
- And on and on, page after hate-filled page.

So in the last 34-years, have we solved all the annoyances and complexity with computers and automation?  

Do the benefits of technology outway the costs and risks across-the-board?

How do security and privacy play in the equation? 

I wonder what the authors and readers back then would think of computers, tablets, smartphones and the Internet and apps nowadays--especially where we can't live without them at all.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 19, 2016

Bird's Nest Surveillance

I took this photo today of a bird's nest on top of a surveillance camera. 

I find this fascinating!

The pure irony of a bird finding safety and shelter in a nest atop a surveillance camera looking out for bad things like criminals and terrorism. 

On one hand, safety and security.

And on the other hand, the fear and insecurity of it all. 

A bird may find a peaceful nesting place there.

But for the rest of us, the world continues to be a very dangerous place. 

Often walking the streets of a major urban city, I think to myself the chaos and danger that could so easily ensue if events took a sudden and serious turn for the worse where society as we know it can completely start to unravel, and as they say, "the sh*t hits the fan!"

I believe that many, if not most people are worried about this, hence the incredible popularity of shows and movies far and wide such as:

 (Fear) The Walking Dead
Containment
The 100
The Last Ship
Jericho
Mad Max
Road Warrior
I am Legend
The Book of Eli
The Postman
World War Z 
Waterworld
Children of Men
Outbreak
Armageddon
Oblivion 
The Day After Tomorrow 
and more. 

The camera is surveilling and the bird is watching from their perch. 

We go about our days like the post apocalyptic zombies that wander the Earth.

But not so deep down, in our minds and hearts is the terror of what can happen at any moment and what is likely destined to happen eventually. 

This is not about doom and gloom, but about what the threats are out there, what is being done or not done about them, and who will ultimately survive and would you even want to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2015

In Every World, The Haves And Have Nots

So no matter the time nor the society and their particular philosophical, economical, and social creed, there are ALWAYS the haves and the have nots. 

You have your upper caste and lower caste, your rich and poor, your religious elites and laypersons, your Harvard-educated and community college grads, your executive suite and your day laborers, you masters and your slaves, your ruling elite and your plebeians, your hunter and hunted, your VIPs and your Joe Shmoes.

In India, you still have an extensive caste system even today.  In Russia, you have the KGB, the Politburo, and the Oligarchs. In China, you have the Communist Party, the Military elite, and the venture capitalists/billionaires. In Europe, you still have The Queen and vestiges of the old guard monarchies, although gone are the Feudal lords and serfs, instead replaced by the Church and successful business and political elite. In America, ah...money and political power make the country go round. 

Last evening, I watched the movie, Elysium, taking place in a dsytopian future where the Earth has become overpopulated, polluted, and sick, but the elite are riding high on a large circling space habitat called Elysium, where everyone lives in a mansion with pool and lush grounds, eats exquisitely, and has the finest healthcare in machines that can cure everything from lymphoma to do full facial reconstruction in a matter of seconds. 

Whether in the future or the past, the only difference between the haves and have nots is how much the haves have, and how little have nots have not.

Is this societal makeup preordained or is their a way that we can raise the standard of living for everyone AND make it more equitable (unless you consider it necessary for Bill Gates to have $80,000,0000,000 and the homeless person on the street not a dime in his pocket)?

Over and over again, I read how the disparity between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, becomes ever more pronounced:  
- Now for example, CEOs generally earn 331 times (yeah last year it was 354) the amount average workers do and 774 times as much as minimum wage earners!
- Studies that show that Presidential and executive powers continue to expand with eleven reasons why.
- And the richest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world.

In Elysium, after a lot of sci-fi thriller action and fighting, the protagonist manages to make EVERYONE a citizen of Elysium, so they can all partake of the largess, and at the end the med ships arrive to cure all the sick. 

That's the movies, but in real life, maybe we will see this only when the Messiah comes or there is a complete shift in the way we think and treat each other. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 22, 2014

From Pepper Spray to Champagne

Shhh! This is the story of drones. 

Drones continue to go from battlefield to backyard. 

Initially, developed for advanced persistent surveillance and later weaponized for targeting terrorists, we heard the like of Jeff Bezos promise drones for Amazon delivery. 

Once again, the double-edge of drones continues...

This week we saw the introduction of scary, "Riot Control Drones" developed by Desert Wolf (a military contractor) that can shoot 4,000 rounds of pepper spray, paint balls, and non-lethal plastic projectiles, employs bright strobe lights and blinding lasers, and issues commands and warnings through loud speakers, and monitors crowds of protesters by high-definition and thermal vision cameras. 

At the same time, we saw drones being used as Flying Bel Hops in the luxury Casa Madrona hotel and spa in California for delivering champagne, treats, toys, and even sunglasses to their $10,000 a night guests on their guest deck or even to a boat out on the bay. 

And we are still only at the beginning, with drones, and robotics in general, moving to revolutionize our world.  

Robots will surveil, they will attack and kill, and they will serve people everywhere from restaurants and retail to hospitals and homes.

You can't shush the robots, they are on the march and they will have the means to help and hurt people--it won't be simple, but it definitely will be completely invasive. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 16, 2013

Dystopia Man

I love this picture that I saw in the art gallery here in Florida. 

I named the person in the portrait, Dystopia Man, because he reminds me of how people would look in a speculative futuristic society.

The way the man looks askew with bloodshot eyes, head split, and hand partially covering his mouth all make me feel like the future is quite unknown, somewhat risky, if not sort of ominous.

We have lots of national and global challenges--with security versus privacy, openness versus secrecy, sharing versus private ownership, social entitlements versus capitalism, theocracy versus democracy, control versus freedom, and man versus machine.

How will these turn out for society, for us?  Will we maintain a healthy balance and respect for individuals? Will these and other conflicts be resolved peacefully? 

Hopefully G-d will grant us the wisdom to solve these dilemmas and many others that await us in the present and not so distant future. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2012

What Are People Hungry For?

In the Hunger Games, the storyline is of the common people being punished for rebelling against "The Capital" generations ago, by having to put up male and female "Tributes" (kids age 12-18) from each of 12 districts to fight it out to the death, while the rich and powerful in The Capital watch, laugh, and enjoy the equivalent of the gladiators in the Coliseum. 

The Games offer a restricted hope to the people--as hope is seen as "the only thing stronger than fear." In this movie, the hope for winning the games is supposed to displace the fear of the central authorities over their subjects as well as any real hope of change, equality, and justice for the masses. 

What the kids and adult fans of this movie seem to be lining up and cheering wildly for with this box-office smash hit is the main character Katniss Everdeen who defies the corrupt politicians and affluent capitalists by fighting not for her life in The Hunger Games as much as for the dignity of the common people in the districts.

From the beginning, Katniss become the first ever to volunteer for the games to take the place of her less adept, younger sister, Primrose, who is selected from District 12; Katniss put her life on the line to save her sister's life.

And all along during the movie, Katniss refuses to be a pawn in the game and simply kill or be killed, but she rises above the fight and acts all the time with humanity, caring for other tributes and generally refusing to hurt others, unless her life is threatened and she literally has no choice. 

For example, she cares for a younger girl from District 11 who eventually is speared to death by another tribute hunting them. 
Also, she cares for her companion from District 12, Peeta, who is injured, and she risks her life to get medicine to save his. 

At climax, Katniss is ready to commit suicide, rather than continue playing to the evil dictates of the authorities. 

Katniss comes from the poverty and ordinariness of the district people. However, her fighting spirit, humanity, and ability to outwit not only the other tributes, but the evil leaders--who play the tributes (and districts) off each other for their own power, permanence, and punishment of the lower class--makes her a hero among the masses who are at the ready to revolt at her simple salute to the people. 

What I thought was going to be a kids movie that would put me to sleep, turned out to be an uplifting experience watching an old, familiar theme of Rocky the fighter win against all the odds, but in this case with the added twist of defying a corrupt government and elitist culture.

I think this movie is appealing to people at exactly a time now where the 99% are simmering and fed up with the shenanigans of the 1% and elements of both the Occupy movement and Tea Party are looking for principles of freedom, justice, and dignity to be restored.

The Hunger Games is not just about the dystopian future society that doesn't exist today, but rather about a historical perspective of people who are craving for the proverbial "dirty politicians" and "greedy capitalists" to put aside their games, agendas, excuses, and pots of power and gold for a more utopian society where all people are created equal and treated fairly with hope anchored in reality. 

(Source Photo: Adapted from here)


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