Ignited Aggregates

Currently Unit One has two divisions (or unities, as we prefer to call them): The English language Unit One Cascadia, and the Norwegian language Enhet En Trønderland. Thus the need has arisen for an overarching organization that can handle units in Prince Rupert,  and other places were we have friends.

But why should one stop at the boundaries of the atmosphere? If Elon Musk and Space X has his way, soon there will be humans once again on the moon, not to mention Mars. But  stopping at the edge of the solar system, seems a bit short sighted. Should we not be open to humans to be associated with other stars? Proxima Centauri, for example. Why should we exclude other sentient beings, just because they lack human DNA?

Does anyone have any comments on the proposed name, “Ignited Aggregates Intergalactic Cultural Cooperative”? Ignited is meant figuratively.

Bob Dylan’s banquet speech, 2016-12-10

Are Bob Dylan’s songs literature? An answer to that question is provided in the banquet speech written by Bob Dylan but given by the United States Ambassador to Sweden, Azita Raji, at the Nobel Banquet, 2016-12-10.

Good evening, everyone. I extend my warmest greetings to the members of the Swedish Academy and to all of the other distinguished guests in attendance tonight.

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.

I don’t know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It’s probably buried so deep that they don’t even know it’s there.

If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon. In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn’t anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.

I was out on the road when I received this surprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it. I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”

When I started writing songs as a teenager, and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirations for these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffee houses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium. If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do.

Well, I’ve been doing what I set out to do for a long time, now. I’ve made dozens of records and played thousands of concerts all around the world. But it’s my songs that are at the vital center of almost everything I do. They seemed to have found a place in the lives of many people throughout many different cultures and I’m grateful for that.

But there’s one thing I must say. As a performer I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.

But, like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. “Who are the best musicians for these songs?” “Am I recording in the right studio?” “Is this song in the right key?” Some things never change, even in 400 years.

Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, “Are my songs literature?”

So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.

My best wishes to you all,

Bob Dylan

© The Nobel Foundation 2016.

522 K

522 K is the name of Unit One’s Knowledge Preservation initiative. Much of the knowledge preserved is in the form of books, but also instructional videos. Sometimes, the material will be worked into a course, including a MOOC – a Massive Open Online Course. The first proposed MOOC course, Life skills, to be produced by Unit One has been described elsewhere: https://brockmclellan.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/life-skills/

What has not been described elsewhere is how to handle MOOCs and other forms of information, after the end of the Internet (as we know it).

The End of the Internet?

Yes, we have to be realistic. This age of freedom that we have enjoyed since about 1880 seems to be coming to an end. Those who want an understanding of this should very quickly watch Adam Curtis’ HyperNormalisation (2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fny99f8amM General information about it can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperNormalisation

The reason for the haste is not that HyperNormalisation will disappear. It will simply be morphed into countless fake versions by adding and subtracting content. In the end, no one will know how the original looked. This is accord with the political philosophy of Vladislav Surkov.

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Vladislav Surkov in 2013 (Photo: Kremlin)

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to find information about Vladislav Surkov and his implementation of Sovereign  Democracy. Critics of the approach often use the term Managed Democracy, or even a phrase that eliminates the word democracy altogether. HyperNormalisation describes it vividly, and interested people are referred to that section of the film.

Surkov’s approach to politics is to have the state give financial support to a vast number of organizations that populate the political landscape, not merely from left to right, but also in many other ways. These groups will frequently be in opposition to each other. Using this approach, politics becomes theatre. It is impossible to know what is a real group, and what is a fake group. This is precisely what the politicians (and the economic elite) want.

There is no need to physically shut down the Internet, to end its usefulness. Instead, fake news is being produced and added to the feeds of social media. Soon, there will be so much fake news, and so little real news, that people will have a hard time knowing what is real and what is fake. Presumably, in the next few years numerous iterations of this blog post will appear, and no one will know which one is original, and which are fake.

This is especially easy to accomplish with the use of the Cloud. Why anyone in their right mind would trust some unknown organization to store data is beyond my comprehension. My advise – trust no one you don’t know personally, and have met in the flesh. If there is one thing that I am certain, it is that the Cloud is sentral to the “faketization” of content.

It may come as a surprise to many, but those that run clouds store their data in lakes. http://insidebigdata.com/2016/08/19/fog-computing-an-alternative-to-big-data-lakes/

The alternative to cloud and lake computing is pond computing. Everyone should store data in their own pond, and back up that data in someone else’s pond. For example, we have a NAS (Network Attached Server) that can back up 12 TB of data. More importantly, we also have external drives capable of storing 20 TB. While the NAS is online, the external drives are offline, making them considerably more difficult to manipulate. They are also located physically away from our house. Destroying our house will not destroy our data.

522 K is designed to ensure that information remains uncorrupted. We encourage people to have their own NAS, and to have external drives that duplicate the content found on their NAS.

The above photos show an Asustor AS5002 NAS (left) and 4 Western Digital My Passport Ultra 4 TB external disks (right). The Asustor NAS is typically populated with 2 x 6 TB Western Digital Red hard disks.

The project title refers to Ray Bradbury’s iconic Science Fiction novel, Fahrenheit 451. It seems that Bradbury was about 30 degrees F. too low in his estimate of the auto-ignition temperature of paper. Thus, 480 is probably a more correct estimate. Despite the fact that the number of significant figures is somewhere between 2 and 3, conversion sites will provide 248.889, as its Celsius equivalent. Converting this to Kelvin, one gets 522.039 as an official answer. Here, we will pretend that we have 3 significant figures and use 522 K as a title for this project.

To make certain that one can see the arbitrary nature of this number, we will connect it (in some mystic new age fashion) to the Dewey Decimal number 522 – Astronomy: techniques, equipment, materials. Readers should also be pleased to know that 522 K could also refer to Pioneer VSX-522K home theater receiver, or some exotic feature of an American tax law that I have not been able to understand with sufficient clarity to post anything about here.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2012/06/ray_bradbury_death_does_paper_really_burn_at_451_degrees_fahrenheit_.html

Life skills

As the world continues its spiral of decline, there will be a greater and greater need for insight into basic knowledge, as more and more families become dysfunctional.

J. D. Vance explained the challenge in a TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/j_d_vance_america_s_forgotten_working_class

Not everyone is blessed with an understanding of hygiene. Because lives may depend on it, The province of British Columbia requires all food service employees to take a “Foodsafe” course, level 1. This ensures that everyone has a minimal level of knowledge about the correct handling of food. http://www.foodsafe.ca/

For some time, male inmates at Verdal prison have been offered a “House Husband” course. Here, they learn the basics of hygiene, food preparation for a family (nutrition, meal planning, setting tables, cooking, serving, using dish washers and washing/ drying dishes), laundry basics (washing, drying and ironing clothes, some minor repairs) and house cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, washing floors, walls, windows and bathrooms).

2010-12-11 Snowblower
Snow removal is not covered in the “House Husband” course. Perhaps it should be, but with a focus on more manual methods. (Photo: Patricia McLellan, 2010)

Dysfunctional families and their members need fundamental knowledge on how to survive. “Life skills” is the proposed name for a MOOC course that provides this fundamental knowledge. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Those interested in learning how to make MOOCs should investigate: https://www.canvas.net/browse/itsligo/courses/moocs-on-a-budget

Comments are invited as to what such a course should contain, and how it should be divided up into modules.

 

 

General Systems Theory – Nine Requirements

Proton Bletchley is responsible for General Systems Theory at Unit One. Here are his Nine Requirements for working effectively with Systems.

1. Persona

Life can be distracting. A person who has a mind divided between, say, surfing in Australia and general systems theory will accomplish little, because they will be bouncing between dreams of waves and boxes of GST content. At Unit One, work is divided between several different personas. While Brock heads off to virtually surf at Bondi Beach, Proton Bletchley is responsible for GST. His last name comes from the secret WW2 centre where Alan Turing worked, and developed much of the foundation for computer science. His first name comes from Earnest Rutherford, who named protons in 1920.

Proton

Proton Bletchley is Unit One’s resident expert in General Systems Theory. He is also an environmentalist, which helps him focus his thoughts.

2. Wardrobe

If one goes to the trouble to develop a persona, the very least one can do is to clothe that persona in something relevant. Proton uses corn blue workwear. This in part is because his environmental focus is on water.

Workwear is useful because people who work with General Systems Theory also have to function in many different places in the real world. A typical example, might involve the collection of environmental data using Arduinos with SD cards. Devices may have to be made in a workshop, then transported to a site where they would be used as data loggers.

Of course there are GST theorists, sitting around producing virtual thoughts while puffing away on their virtual pipes, can reduce their clothing budgets considerably, by purchasing only virtual clothing.

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Workwear feels appropriate when working with General Systems Theory. While Proton has only a blue outfit, other workers may wear green, black or red – depending on their moods.

3. Computer

Computing is an integral part of General Systems Theory. At one level this means supercomputing. Meteorologists and other -ists who want data in real time, need fast computers.

The fastest computer in the world is arguably D-wave’s quantum computer in Burnaby, just a few blocks from where our good friends Roy Sinn and Sue Innes live. See: http://www.dwavesys.com/

So, there is no point in Proton having anything big. It will never be big or fast enough. He is opting for the exact opposite – minimal computing. Proton remembers seeing his first ad for an EEEbook, and thought “I want that!” He was referring to the computer, not the girl!

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Asus EEE PC 701 was launched in Japan in January 2008. (Photo: Asus)

By June 2008, Asus had probably realized that many of its customers were women and offended by its previous ad. With the launch of the Asus EEE PC 900, it replaced its beach girl user with one referred to as “The Housewife”.

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“The Housewife” was used to promote the new and improved Asus EEE PC 900 in June 2008. (Photo: Asus)

Today’s (2016) ads for Asus have not changed much, although the computers are larger and more powerful.

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Asus EeeBook X205TA (Photo: possibly odishafast.in)

Sam Rutherford, in Laptop Mag concludes, “The Asus EeeBook X205TA offers excellent battery life, a solid display and strong everyday computing that puts it a notch above other budget laptops.” (http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/asus-eeebook-x205ta)

4. Operating System

Proton prefers Linux. Because of Proton’s connections with New Westminster, the original answer was Mandrake. Mandrake the Magician takes his name from Leon Mandrake, the stage name of New Westminster resident Leon Giglio. Leon Mandrake had been performing for more than ten years before Lee Falk “invented” the comic strip character. However, in 2004, MandrakeSoft lost a court case to Hearst Corporation, and was forced to change the name of its Linux distribution.

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New Westminster’s very own Leon Mandrake with Princess Narda (Photo: Yes, well looks like Romaine down at the bottom …citing sources can be difficult at the best of times)

Fast forward to 2016. Mandrake has morphed into Mageia. Version 5.1 was announced 2016-12-02.

Proton has considered using other Linux distributions, including Linux Mint and elementary OS (which has a unique and simple design). If Proton wasn’t so prejudiced, I’m sure that he would be wanting to experiment with elementary OS: https://elementary.io/

5. Browser

In keeping with the open source philosophy of Linux, Firefox is an open-source web browser. There are many other open source browsers, including Chromium and Opera. However, Proton is concerned about the close bindings between Chromium and Google. Opera has started to require users to log on every twelve hours, so they can profit from advertisements. As an alternative to Firefox, Midori is a lightweight, fast and open-source (free) browser.

6. Email address

One of the main challenges of employing so many personas, is the habit of having only a single personal email address. Proton disagrees with this philosophy, and is considering having an additional email address just for the Proton Bletchley persona. The advantage is that one can keep all of the material related to that persona in a single place.

7. Office software

Open source office software provides many of the features and functions provided by Microsoft Office. LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice consisting of a suite of programs packaged in a single install.Components of the LibreOffice suite are:

  • Writer: word processor.
  • Calc: spreadsheet editor.
  • Impress: presentation editor.
  • Draw: graphical editor.
  • Math: mathematical formulae editor.
  • Base: database program.

Project planning software has always been something of a problem. LibrePlan, for example, states that it is open source, but that only applies to a limited suite of software. Anything really useful is excluded from the open source version, and has to be purchased. At the moment, Proton’s favored open source project software is Open Project: https://www.openproject.org/

8. Simulation software

There is a close connection between general systems theory and computer simulation. While Insight Maker is not open source, it is free and available, although Proton notes disturbingly, that it has not been updated for over a year. The last bimonthly newsletter was posted in August 2015. His fear is that someday it will simply disappear.

While some simulation programs are general, others are made for specific purposes. This topic will be covered again in another post.

9. Library

Books are articles are needed for inspiration. Ideally, they also have to be available for scrutiny at any time. It is becoming more and more important to use ebooks, which compress the space of even the largest library into less than a litre.