Monday, February 28, 2005

"I'm an orange"

Something I have been wanting to comment on for a while is an article I read a few weeks ago. It deals with RFID tags being used on students. If you do not know what RFID is. This is a kind of technology that sends out a signal with information about usually products. It's like a barcode that sends out a signal a few meters. It is used to track goods these days.

According to the article I read one school in the US has now made it mandatory for students to wear big badges displaying who they are, with an RFID device included that tracks the students movements throughout the entire school. The device can also be read by anybody who happens to have a scanner (which can be bought illegally as well these days).

I don't even want to go into the privacy and security issues here. That privacy is being violated in the most horrible way should be clear. And that people become less secure if they are sending out personal information about themselves to anybody who has a reader, well you don't need to be a rocket scientist to get that one. Al through apparently being a manager of a School means you don't.

What I am wondering about is this nonsense that schools are more busy with major social issues, politics' and other activities totally not targeted at either education, nor at preparing people for the world. First and foremost I think a school should be teaching children things. If the school is unsafe I understand a school taking measures to create a save environment. But the school in question here had no problems with security or violence at all. And a school should also think how far it should go ensuring "safety".

What kind of a signal does a school send out to impressionable youths by treating them before hand as if they where criminals? By sending out a signal "we expect the worst from you" and "we don't trust you, none of you!". It also creates an "student vs. teacher" environment if you ask me. Trust and respect are important parts in a human beings life. This goes against this every possible way. It also takes away individuality I think. Because you are now being punished for the crimes of others. What others? Not even those in your own school, no the crime of being part of a certain school going age-group.

Are these the things we want to teach childeren?

Original article
Protest letter (PDF) send by EPIC, ACLU-NC and FOIA

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Failure to empathise

Aside from the thousands of objections one can have towards terrorism, and the flawed logic behind it. Has anybody ever wondered about that "there will be 40 virgins waiting for you in heaven" promise that is apparently made to some suicide terrorists?

I think this embodies one of the major problems with their flawed logic. I am not talking about the fact that what the hell one would want with 40 sexually inexperienced woman apparently for sexual pleasure. Nor am I talking about the fact that god would somehow reward people for murder. But has anybody stopped and wondered, who are these 40 virgins?

Do these 40 virgins have personalities of their own? Are they real human beings? Do they have their own desires, idea's? Do they want to be with this suicide terrorist in heaven and be used as sex slaves? Does god somehow condone slavery and give away slaves?

Aren't these 40 women also real women, with real dreams and hopes? I guess not. It seems to be a massive failure to empathise with the fact that other people are people too. Something that is also needed with murdering innocent people. Seeing people as individuals, all with their own individual lives.

Outsourcing torture

I recently came upon an article through another blog. It seems that the USA is aside from their own atrocities against prisoners and suspected terrorists is also sending people away to different countries to be tortured. Already an objectionable practice if it involves real terrorists, but the definition of that term and qualifications have become ever more blurry for them.

Given the length of the article, I won't babble on to much myself. Just one note. Aside from the medieval-regression and crimes against humanity being committed here. Since when has torture been a reliable source of information?! With enough torture somebody will say anything you want them too. Torture is an instrument to get people to say things you want them to say, not to extract information.

Outsourcing torture

The European constitution

The EU constitution is slowly heading our way here in Europe. The ministers of the various European countries have agreed to this constitution, all that now is still needed is for a hand full of countries to have a referendum about it. Which is my last hope of this document they wrote never becoming our constitution. Let me explain why.

I am actually a strong supporter of a united and strong Europe. Al through I think the differences between the countries and national cultures should not be under estimated either. I support the idea of Europe unifying. Just not THIS Europe.

The entire EU constitution is a very bad joke in my view. It doesn't at all look like what a constitution should be like. It's more a document on how the political process should be organised and how the economy should be directed. Other then that it's filled with vague, open for interpretation terms, to keep all countries "happy". These are not things that should make up a constitution in my view. These are not things that belong in a constitution. A constitution should be about the basic rights and plights of the citizens and government. Economic direction does not have a place in a constitution.

Another problem I have is the fact this constitution in effect gives all the decision making power to the larger countries. Because the power will be based on the number of people living in a country basically. The noble idea behind this is great, we are all European citizens and country borders are not relevant. But the borders between countries have not broken down enough for this. Those in France will support items that are beneficial for them and not so much for others for example. This is simple human nature.

The Netherlands is one of the richest European countries and contributes the most per citizen. And we get the least back. I do fear if we sign away our rights as this constitution entitles, this will only increase. It may sound very protectionist, but we simply are not ready for a noble unified Europe in this way. The country borders, the differing cultures are not broken down enough. We should first work towards breaking these down, before we decide we are all ready to truly be European citizens.

The fact however that the EU constitution is such a bad document, the fact that the EU is so corrupt and badly organised... it all wouldn't matter that much to me. If it wasn't put forward that if you are against THIS EU then you are against a unified Europe.

I myself am all for a unified Europe, not just not THIS unified Europe with THIS constitution. I would prefer them to fix many, many things. Unfortunately the sign of the times is that politicians have long since forgotten they represent the general public and that they in a sense "are the general public". But there seems to be a huge gap between the community and collection of people and those that are supposed to represent that.

All I can say is that I will vote NO. And this no vote to me is actually a yes vote for a unified Europe, but a no vote to the state the union is in now and wants to develop into. There is no need to forcefully accept a bad decision at all. It's not "this or nothing else".

Europian No Campain

Stereotypes? nah never!

I also posted my previous Blog entry on the forum of the website I run, doom-metal.com. I was not amazed to find that one rightwing supporter decided to bash me. I think if I had changed "right winged party" in my previous post to "left winged party" he would have totally agreed with me, but I of course can't change the facts. But as is to be expected with some people, they are more actively busy being part of a certain direction of thought, then actually thinking for themselves.

What did surprise me however is that at some point I got an entire argument slammed against me about how I started a topic bashing America, Neo-conservatives and Bush. If you have not read my previous Blog entry, please do. Can anybody tell me where I mention any of these things? The post clearly is about a Dutch party and a Far East country. The guy who raised this "argument" was American.

Sometimes it is really scary to see an American confirm stereotypes so much. Self-centred? Thinking that everything revolves around them? These are stereotypes we here have of Americans, but some do seem to prove those stereotypes dead on sometimes. Al through it does also showcase the overall disease with many people all over the world to not really listen to others. No matter what one says, they hear their own story, their own point, their own words and idea's in it.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Security

A member of the mainstream right winged party (and major government party) of the Netherlands (VVD) just on TV mentioned how saw an example in how China managed their police force and dealt with security and that he wished we moved more towards such a model. How much easier such a model is and how much easier it is to keep people "secure".


....

China executed 1,781 political dissidents in three months time in order to upkeep their fascist dictatorship.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Digital art by digital people for analogue people

painting by AARON Inspired by a slashdot article I stumbled upon AARON. Who is AARON you might ask? Actually, it would be better to ask "What is AARON?". It turns out there has been quite an active movement to see if computers (well software) could create it's own unique art. AARON is seems is one of the more advanced software programs that can create it's own unique, random art works.

Al through the website about AARON speaks of an artificial intelligence, I myself would not go that far. The way I believe AARON has been programmed is probably a very long way away from being an artificial intelligence. But it does raise an interesting question. If it is created by a piece of software, is it still art? And if so, who is the actual artist? The software, or the programmer(s) of the software? Just some food for thought.

Website dedicated to AARON
Samples of paintings by AARON (refresh the page to see a new one being drawn)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Controversial idea

I've got quite a controversial idea I thought I would share with all of you. An idea that actually goes against some of my own principles. Perhaps it would be best of Europe would start to re-arm itself. Obviously Europe has quite a large standing, modern army (don't underestimate it), but that we should become the biggest military power.

This might come as quite a shocking statement from a dedicated pacifist and humanist. So let me explain this controversial idea. It's clear that in this current day and age there is a problem with fanatical Muslims who want to either kill everybody or make them suffer under a barbaric, primitive rule. I'm not saying anything bad about normal Muslims, I am just talking about the ones who prefer to drag us all back into the dark ages. I however fear another group is currently being under-estimated: fanatical US Christians. Despite their opposition towards the previously mentioned Muslims, their end goal seems to be the same. To drag us back into the dark ages.

This idea, I will admit, scares me. When I hear about how schools stop teaching all possible scientific theories (like the evolution theory) and try to ban knowledge, it scares me. When I see it's perfectly legal to oppress an entire group of human beings and deprive them of their rights (gays), it scares me. When I hear about how they want to ban culture and books that don't fit in with their idea's, it scares me. When I hear about how they for "religious reasons" buried old, scientifically important human remains into the ground again. Refusing science a change to study it for "religious reasons", it scares me. When I hear them claiming idea's such as that Bush is send by god, and how they want to turn the US and then the World into a world governed by the bible..... that scares the living daylights out of me!

These people are mad, dark age fools who should know better. I can't grasp why these people are so dumb, so blind, so intolerant... so plain evil! I can't find any other explanation then that part of humanity has regressed back into a sort of form of dark age insanity. These people need to be treated in a mental hospital, not given the power to run the world! This I don't mean as an insult, I mean it in the purest form of the word.

I also have no interest to be caught in-between a religious war of fanatical Christians and Muslims. Whatever the outcome, sane, logical thinking people will lose. As such I want to come back to my original and quite controversial idea. Since Europe is not contaminated as badly by these dark age people, we should make sure it can't happen. And unfortunately I fear we might at some point in time need to defend ourselves actively against these aggressors.

And with defend I actually mean defend if we are invaded. I don't mean "lets attack random countries who did nothing to us and call it a defensive move in order to protect ourselves". Moderate Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindu's, Buddhists and other believers will be welcome as refuges. Just as the part of Americans who are still sane and by that time can still escape from the Christian-fascist state that could rise. And we will need to defend our borders from these barbarians.

Perhaps it all sounds a bit farfetched, but I do think we seriously under estimate the problem of fundamentalist Christianity. The fact research and science are now openly hindered and there is an open call to abolish the division between church and state (and effectively create a tyranny in the US and abolish what is left of democracy.... in the name of freedom ironically) are things we are under estimating. I think because of us sane people, it's very hard to actually grasp the pure insanity behind these people. We think they are either a bunch of loonies, or it just can't be that bad.

But I do fear we might be heading towards new dark ages. Perhaps not as drastic that Europe will need to defend it's borders from people who mentally are the equivalent of a 5 year old and have the arms arsenal big enough to destroy the world, but it's sadly also not as farfetched as it sounded a few years ago. I will honestly and openly admit, that I am scared of these people. They will be the downfall of logic, reason, science, culture, civilisation. A regression into superstition, witch hunts and humanity surrendering itself to it's more primitive, animalistic nature.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Torture as good Christian entertainment.

Yesterday I saw on the news that in the US you now have the crucifixion and torture of Jesus Christ as an attraction in some sort of bible-theme park. Jesus gets tortured and crucified many times a day for people's enjoyment. You know what is the real problem is? Not that this is happening. But that a large part of humanity can't grasp the concept of the pure insanity, the madness behind this. We human beings are not advanced in anyway when I hear about things like this, it's a grim reminder of how primitive and simple we are.

Oh and as icing on the cake, the actor playing Jesus claimed Bush was send by god. I know a lot of the US is really progressive and all. But I mean? Hello?! Does anybody even grasp the pure insanity of this? Have we really progressed so little? Stone-age talk by cavemen in the modern age. Pure madness.

Christianity, blood for the blood god?

Ps. I can't help but wonder if these are the same people who have declared Spongebob Squarepants bad for children because it "promotes homosexuality" (uhm, excuse me? where does it do that?!). Of course friendship between two people (Spongebob and Patrick) is not good wholesome entertainment for children, as lets say... watching Jesus getting tortured and put to death in a horrible way.