IMoPI

Nothing is True,

Everything is Permitted.*

.

The past is a myth

and the future is a lie.

.

(Or is it the other way around?)

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I’m all I’ve got

and it’s all I need.

.

And, if it isn’t

Well, at least I did it my way.

.

(Also:

Fuck You)

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A Sordid Affair: Capitalism and Socialism

I have a theory on why the World is going to hell. And, it somehow relates to why capitalism wasn’t the worst idea to begin with.

At the last point of time when socialism had any shot at affecting capitalism, i.e. at the time of the Cold War, people were just beginning to appreciate their individual rights. To even suggest to such a population, standing on the brink of what looked like cities of gold, that they must necessarily share their wealth with anyone, was nothing short of blasphemous. More importantly, it was unfair. Most importantly, it seemed regressive.

“Let the people choose” was the cry of the day.

Fair enough. Had the World not seen enough of foolish kings and cruel dictators? Had we not had enough despotism to not want any more of that in the State? Of the People, By the People, For the People, cried the People themselves. Yes, the World had seen enough of force and violence and oppression. It was choice we craved, and Capitalism was the only way visible to get at it.

And, what have we chosen?

In my humble opinion, I believe humanity has underestimated its ability to evolve/adapt to situations. People, as they existed in their natural state, may benefit from a survival-of-the-fittest kind of system that is capitalism. But, as generations are born and die within this system, the more they internalize these values, these codes of behavior, this sense of what is alright, and what is not, the more our basic values and core principles shift.

What values does capitalism promote? What do we have in place of the things that even cruel kingdoms could boast of? What is it that we value if not valor and honor and intelligence and compassion and understanding and creativity and communication? What is it that we allow the system to teach our children? What does this system reward, appreciate, encourage?

Competition?

Money?

Consumption?

Greed?

No, maybe what we really need is a capitalist government with socialist people. And, I think somewhere the Indian constitution grasped this need. [Or did whichever constitution they “borrowed” the concept of Directive Principles from. Irish, I think?] The Directive Principles of State Policy, contained in part IV of the constitution of India, are not enforceable by any court, but the principles laid down therein are considered fundamental in the governance of the country, making it the duty of the state to use these as guiding principles to establish and maintain a just society.

But, as a nation what do we promote?

As a people, who do we idolize?

And, who shall our children look up to?

I Can’t Take it Anymore [said the Pied Piper]

The Murdering
The Raping
The Torturing
The Terror
The Violence
The inability to stop involving the children!

There’s this theory scientists are looking into that suggests that our Universe might just be a giant computer program. There’s another theory that says that human beings existed longgg ago, even indulging in Nuclear warfare. All over the world, unexplained, mysterious ancient artifacts have been discovered that at least point towards the fact that we don’t know everything about the past. To me, these two theories could co-exist, as could they with the theory bout aliens watching over our planet. The reason I bring this up is because I like to believe that some of our older tales and information have trickled down from these futuristic ancestors of ours.

For instance, take the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Long story short, there’s a village of lazy, greedy people that get affected by a plague. Being lazy, they do nothing about the situation until it gets utterly out of hand. At which point in the story, the Pied Piper makes his entrance. He plays music for the people, but finds them super-stingy. It’s only the children that stop to listen to him. And, then too, they’re most often dragged away by their parents. Then, noticing a couple of reward-on-getting-rid-of-rats signs, the piper goes to the palace/mayor and claims that he can rid the city of the rats in 2 days (or something). The people smirk at him, and agree.

That night, the Piper gets up, and starts playing a soft tune. He plays in his room for a bit, and then steps out, his lips never leaving the pipe. As he walks through the village, slowly, rats start filing out of hidden nooks and crevices, falling into line behind him. The piper plays and plays, and the rats continue to pour out, as if in a stream, and slowly, yet surely, the piper begins to lead his absurd following towards the river. As he stands by and plays, one after the other, the rats leap off the stone bridge to their doom, and the few villagers awake to witness this, shudder and bar their doors.

The next morning, the piper goes up to the council/mayor and asks for his reward. “What reward?”, says the mayor, feigning ignorance.

The piper’s eyes grow cold. “The rats are gone.”

“Yes, and?”, asked the mayor, even as the greedy, stingy people looked on. “What had you to do with it?”

“I got rid of them, like I said I would.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” said the mayor.

“Are you sure?” asked the piper softly, head bent low so that his cap prevented anyone from looking into his eyes. “You’ll regret this.”

“Are you threatening me?!”, asked the mayor. “Guards!”

The pied piper raised in hands in a non-threatening gesture, and slowly backed out of the packed hall, which let out a collective sigh of relief. Something about that man was very unnerving.

That night, when the inhabitants of the town are fast asleep, a beautiful tune starts to sound in the night air, soft enough to not wake a soul. Except, one by one, in every house, the children start to wake up. Quietly, they drop out of their beds. Stealthily, they sneak out of their homes. One by one, every child turns around and bolts the door shut. The pied piper continues his song, and the children fall in line behind him.

By now, parents have begun to notice their children missing. At first, they worry. Upon finding themselves locked in their little houses, they begin to panic. The fear spreads through the town like wildfire. “Look! There they are!”, screams a little boy’s mother, pressed against her window and pointing out into the distance.

Faint strains of the piper’s song can still be heard by villagers.

“He’s going to drown them!”, sobs another mother, even as her husband falls into a faint.

But the piper turns away from the river where the rats had leapt to their end, and starts moving towards the nearby mountains.

By now, some of the parents have managed to free themselves. Soon, most of the town is free, and they rush up and down, collecting torches and horses to ride out after their children before the night swallowed them whole.

Meanwhile, the children hadn’t looked back once, their eyes focused on their leader with the strange hat and the musical pipe. If any of them had bothered to turn around, they would have been surprised to see how far they had come, certainly further than most of them ever previously had.

Except for one boy. The town’s only cripple, the lame child had fallen behind as the trail of children followed the pied piper up the winding mountain path.

Soon, he was the only one the search party that was sent out to find the kids could see.

The pied piper, along with all the children of the village – they just vanished into thin air. When the distraught parents finally reached the crippled boy,  they found him standing and staring at the side of a mountain, tears streaming down his face. “They didn’t wait for me.”, he finally said, sounding as if his world had shattered.

The parents of the village were inconsolable, and wished that they had done right by the pied piper, but they never saw him, nor any of heir children, ever again.

~~~ The End ~~~

Okay, so that was pretty much long story long, but, well, I like telling stories. And, since it has been forever since I last read the Pied Piper of Hamlin, it’s more like a cover than the real story. I’m sure I got a hundred things wrong. Just think of it as the modern retelling. :\

Anyhow, the reason I brought up the tale of the Pied Piper, as well as the theories about computers/aliens, is: What if this story isn’t just a metaphorical reference to the fact that children will leave you if you stifle their fresher spirits with your jaded talk of wealth while they still believe in dreams?

I personally think it’s an allegorical reference to Moses and his leading of the people into the desert in the quest for the promised land. Or the advent of Christianity after the Jewish community unfairly treated Christ, who dealt with it so well, that nearly all of their children “left” to “follow” him.

Either way, I think if Aliens are involved (or a supercomputer program, or God-like futuristic ancestors), the implications of this story would be a lot more straightforward.. and a lot more sinister.

Treat your children right, or we will take them from you.

If humanity doesn’t change its ways, the planet will either find a way to destroy us, or we, the planet. The virus will most likely affect our ability to reproduce, counting on the barbaric nature of man to ensure it’s spread across the globe.

And we will die.

Sometimes I think that is the only way to stop the screaming in my ears.

How can you stand it?

Sometimes I think that to die would be more of a relief than an adventure..
Especially when I think of the children.
Our descendants should be ashamed of us…
and if they are not, then we should be ashamed of them.

Live

I cannot keep up! Cannot, cannot, cannot! How can you? The World is spinning away and into focus at unimaginable speeds. Things are forming and changing and breaking and reforming. Everything is permitted because nothing is true. Then, why are we all stuck doing the same damn things? Over, and over, and over. Like mechanized robots with no sense of self or value or ideas of progress. Exit is not the right option, yes, but neither is conformity!

People keep complaining about how the World will never change. Well, we ARE the World. And, if it has to change, we have to be that change.

So, don’t wait for the New Year, or your next promotion, or the birth of your first-born child. Do something now. Be Alive. There shall be zillions of millenniums to be just another identity-less piece of the many. There shall be billions of centuries to be dead. This is your only chance to live.

So, Live.

The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place: Customary Holiday Post

Every customary holiday post needs a review of the trimester. However, the last three months of my life have been extremely strange, even more so than usual, and when I try to look back at them, there’s just this cold gust of wind that flows through me in a way that should hurt.. Instead I find its coolness is only refreshing.

I used to think many things. I was convinced of many things. I’ve seen these three months destroy so many of my convictions, and I’m too shaken up right now to form any new ones.

I used to have a room-mate who would travel to the ends of the World for me, and a relationship that gave me the sort of rare liberty that only security brings.. Now, I find myself with a crew full of human friends, with their own flaws and weaknesses and fears and songs. And, I love them all. This trimester has seen us Protesting and Partying from the first moment to the last. Protesting against all that is unfair, and celebrating everything in life that is still worth celebrating. [Literally so, as the first thing we all did together was protest the unfair conditions for women, followed by an evening at the new pub in town, and the last thing we did together was break a rule so that we could all drink together through the night].

I made some new friends too. And, began reading philosophy. Discovered some new places, revisited some old ones. Fell in love with Vivaldi’s Winter, and had the sort of Strawberry Fields that I should have been proud of, were I not only half there.. I’ve been half everywhere for a while now… Except for the night before the last. Then again, breaking the Rules always did help me feel alive faster than most other things could ever manage. And that’s always the kind of rebellion I enjoy the most; the kind that’s so fun, you want to yell out your adventures to the moon.

But, that was only the ending. For the rest of the time, I remember reading A Game of Thrones, and learning how to play the guitar, and attending a GBM drunk, but determined. I remember being part of a football team that was always top of the table, and a barbecue Christmas night. Orcs must die, and conversations that have been pending for years, and a life-altering moment that I have no recollection of whatsoever, with someone that I don’t know at all. I remember walking across miles and miles, alone in the rain, in a red coat. And, there were parties in rooms, on different terraces, in old and new places, with old and new faces. I attended wild quad parties, tried to launch a revolution, had my feet slip out under me only to fly into the air and have my head hit the ground so hard, I was sure I was lying in a pool of my own blood.

I did all the new things that have always been missing in my life; I missed a flight, broke up a fight involving a blind-side punch to the face and a broken nose, had time to chill at SF, won a football tournament (yay!), got over my longest relationship (finally) and started listening to the kind of music that my dog and I can trip out on together. (I think she likes Beethoven best.)

I went to college in October, certain to be miserable and coming up with all sorts of plans to keep my mind busy; Instead, for the next three months, I found myself in the middle of almost the most fun that I have ever had. I’d forgotten how terrifying and yummy freedom was. I’d forgotten how hard it was to feel alive entirely on your own, and how much more worth it. I’d forgotten how many hours there really were in a day, and how much of my brain, and how many corresponding cells, were caught up in solving stupid pointless problems rather than thinking about any sort of development or dealing with any real issues. Most importantly, these past three months reminded me what it could really be to be me.

And, I absolutely loved it.

~~~

These are the guys who made my trimester beautiful:

Plato, Socrates, Nietzsche, Vivaldi, Chopin, Beethoven, John Snow, the Targaryens, Walzer, Pink Floyd, Lounge Piranha, Puppies, sharp seniors, spirited juniors, dedicated professors and the kind of friends who you would fight all of hell to save.

Cheers!

The Importance of Aaron Swartz: The perspective of a layman

The SOPA – PIPA bill was not about piracy, but about control. As was ACTA. This short video puts across the difference between physical stealing and using ‘Intellectual Property’ quite nicely:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmQN93NqqDM. ‘SOPA itself was worded in a way that would send you “to prison for 5 years for uploading a Michael Jackson song to Youtube. That’s one more year jail than the doctor who killed him!!!” This is what Zuckerberg has to say about SOPA/PIPA: http://readwrite.com/2012/01/18/mark_zuckerbergs_not-so-surprising_view_on_sopapip

The whole thing about Aaron Swartz is that he was a long-respected genius in circles that have been fighting such instances of legislation that threaten to impede upon rights that the govt has no right impeding upon. The problem is that the MPAA, and the RIAA have enough money to “buy” whichever ‘representative’ they want to, and the entire copyright industry in America is full of these ex-Policymakers who now conveniently work as Directors or the like in these companies. 

Between our paranoid governments and greedy corporations, it is these mutually supported ideas of censorship and copyright that meet and threaten to punish citizens for literally victim-less crimes in a manner that shows nothing but the intent to control a population, and what they ‘dare say to each other’ over the internet.

The changes that the US govt. has tried to bring about with SOPA and PIPA, their underhanded threatening letters to different countries across the World telling them to enforce similar legislative standards when it comes to copyright, the relentless persecution of both children and grandmothers by the great RIAA, the unimaginable “losses” and “damages” often claimed by these agencies, the sneaking in of similar provisions along with anti-pornography laws, and their outdated, cheap, easily broken, completely *ineffective* technological measures used to ‘protect’ copyright – this is why people are angry that Aaron had to go off himself. Because, believe me, he was one of the good guys. A very intelligent and smart good guy, whose loss will definitely be felt as this War is carried forward.

This is very important. Yes, the issue is a whole lot more complex.. But, while it’s true that democracy is meant to guard against these wrongs, and third-party mediators can play a huge role in maintaining standards, the current publishing houses, and recording agencies, these are all archaic third-parties that once had an important role to play in information dissemination, got really rich and powerful doing it, and now cannot accept the fact that we’ve reached an age where they are more or less obsolete. Knowing this, and having a lot of money, these corporations are then using their resources to convince the government to hold back the inevitable technological advance that the internet has been bringing to the World since its advent.


But, that’s the general problem with our copyright laws today. However, it’s relevant in this instance, because what is protested against is the unfair bargaining position of the middlemen, and the damage this is doing to both the public as well as the authors. As you said, it seems like the assumption made is that all authors are willing/eager to have their content circulated. Well, in most cases, isn’t that a fair assumption? And, in cases where that isn’t true, wouldn’t it be better if the author had more direct control over who could and could not access that content? 

At one point of time, this was as inconvenient as it was impossible. Very. But processes which took months and months, now take place in minutes. These industries must evolve, or perish. But, the problem is that civil society must force this change upon the said corporations. The case of Grooveshark would be one such example of an external shove. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grooveshark> On the other hand, in the world of gaming, an internal initiative can be seen with the Valve Corporation, who’ve been making games and distributing them since 1996, and who launched their social distribution network Steam, allowing users access to an insane number of games, with offers ranging from free-to-play to holiday discounts and games from new-developers that you can give them direct feedback on. 

I’m not very sure how much differently things work when it comes to Scientific and Cultural content, but, when music and games make so much of a difference, and it’s only because their users are more likely to engage in civil disobedience, isn’t it unfair to assume that the existing state of affairs, when it comes to academic content, is okay simply because the vast majority of the world appears to be okay with it? When the truth is that it is blissfully unaware, would like to remain so, and the only people who may have a problem (Students of Universities) are given access to these worlds to keep us feeling privileged, and some highly intelligent people outside the system who can see it for what it is.

A better system will come into place. But, as it stands, it is unfair. And it is most benefiting people who have no right to be so benefited. At everybody’s cost. Information is Power, and if we want to live in a World that is even slightly equal, slightly fair, then this imbalance must not be tolerated.

When the World changes, I think everyone has their own role to play. And each move forces someone else’s hand. There are academicians and scientists already arguing for change from the inside, and there are surely parts of the government resisting this effort by the corporations, and there is Anonymous, dispensing vigilante justice and drawing society’s attention to both the dangers of a Free internet and those of a closed one (and the corresponding realization that the latter is usually worse). Aaron Swartz had his own role to play. And, it’s a damn shame that he killed himself, but he did it all in the name of something bigger than himself. 

The Zapista movement in Mexico (which is really interesting) has a slogan that comes to my mind: “For everyone, everything, for us, nothing.” 

Aaron Swartz didn’t get anything for his efforts, and his efforts were made in the name of information. Access to information. That’s sort of noble, isn’t it?

Here’s a link to his manifesto:

http://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt.

Requiescat in pace, brother.

~ May the Rage be Relentless ~