Thoughts

On lockdowns

As more lockdowns are enforced in various countries all around the world, I thought I’d lay down my mixed feelings about them.

I realize they destroy small businesses and they obliterate the hospitality industry. We own a small business. Thankfully my wife and I set it up from the get-go so we could run it from home, therefore we weren’t so badly affected. We still lost money though. Also, during late 2019 and for most of 2020, we were part of the hospitality industry, because we opened a small pension in a Saxon parochial house, on an historic property adjoining a Saxon fortified church where we were taking care of the buildings through our NGO. Obviously, we lost a lot of money on that venture. Lots for us, so much so that we had to cut our losses and move on. Operating a pension during a worldwide pandemic is not a profitable business model.

I get it. My bank account gets it. Every time I have to print out a form, as we do here in Romania, sign it and stamp it with our company’s or our NGO’s official stamp just so I can leave my home, it gets tiresome and infuriating.

However, as you’ve read here on my site, time and time again, I welcome the quiet and the peace that sets over cities, towns and villages when there’s a lockdown, and that’s because:

  • I cannot stand loud noises. I can stand purposeful noise, such as construction noise, or the noise of diligent work, but idiotic or unnecessary noises, particularly loud music, parties, yelling or loud voices, banging, etc., they really set me off. I don’t know if you’ve ever been so mad that you’ve seen red, that you were ready to jump on someone and rip them apart with your bare hands, but that’s how I get when there are loud noises.
  • I cannot stand crowds. I find them suffocating. I find the invasion of my personal space by other bodies, voices, looks, body odors, to be repulsive. I can’t help it. I like people, but I have my limits. I enjoy being with friends, every once in a while, I enjoy seeing acquaintances on the street and having a short chat with them, every once in a while, but to find myself surrounded by a sea of people when I go into town is unbearable. Having to dodge and weave my way through a crowd just to run a simple chore is insanity. Different strokes for different folks I guess… I enjoy seeing happy, peaceful people at work, playing with their children, living their lives. I don’t enjoy crowds and their inherent chaos. I like to see order and ordered, purposeful movement. So you can well imagine that lockdowns, which do away with crowds almost completely, are a welcome respite from a loud, crowded, chaotic world.
  • I welcomed the change of pace that accompanied the lockdowns this year. It was nice to slow down and take time for personal reflection, for rest, for reading, for one’s spouse and child. That was a truly wonderful benefit, an unexpected present from a horrible situation.

A case in point: one of the villages near my town, where we are doing maintenance and restoration work on another Saxon fortified church and parochial house, is a gorgeous place. It’s got beautiful nature, wonderful rolling hills, healthy forests, clean, crisp air, fertile ground, good water, etc. It’s the kind of place where you’d want to live and grow old — except there are a few shitheads that completely ruin the place. They throw drunken parties, they put loudspeakers in their yards and blast loud music that can be heard up and down the main road of the village, and if you try to reason with them, they make threats, they intimidate, trespass and sometimes assault people. The village police have offered no permanent solution to the problem, because they’re more interested in maintaining good relations with everyone than punishing those who are guilty to the full extent of the law. It doesn’t even matter that plenty of other villagers complain about them, the police still do nothing. So a village that could be heavenly turns out to be unbearable, just because of a few rotten apples. When I go there to do repairs or maintenance work on the historic buildings and there’s loud music in the village, I have to make a decision: do I call the police, in which case I am going to get threats later on and as soon as the police leave, the music will probably get turned on again, or do I just go home and come another day… It is exactly because of situations like this (and there are plenty of them everywhere, even in our town) that I welcome lockdowns, because it forces the shitheads to be quieter. It doesn’t quiet them completely, but things are better. I realize liking a lockdown just because it makes a few shitheads quiet for a while is like using a machine gun to cut the grass, but there you have it.

Let’s talk about how these lockdowns affect the world, because that’s the important stuff. Remember how I talked about the pandemic being an agent for change? I can see the changes taking place and they’re not pretty.

I see the ultra-wealthy drooling because they’re making tons of money during this pandemic, including during the lockdowns. While decent folks are losing money left and right, these grievously greedy grubbers have already made a ton and they stand to make much more. I see how entire sectors of industry and economy are being purposefully destroyed via lockdowns, just so a few ultra-greedy sickos with a foot in the grave can get a bargain-basement price on good companies and properties as they gobble them up and add them to their empires. If profit for the few is any indication, I don’t think these pandemics will stop, because they’re too profitable. That’s troubling.

I can see the erosion of our personal freedoms. For a virus with a 99,96% survival rate, I cannot believe how much we have to give up in terms of the freedom of our movements and associations. In spite of what the politicians say, you cannot save everybody. People die every day. Death is kind of mandatory for people. It’s hard to avoid it. Using 0,04% as an excuse to shut down the world and lock people in their homes is either irrational or premeditated. I agree that the experience and sequelae from serious cases of COVID seem to be pretty terrible, as described by those who’ve gone through them. It’s an odd variance of the typical coronaviruses. But something to keep in mind is that people are suffering and dying everyday from all kinds of diseases and conditions. Every single day, people around us are dying, whether or not we know about it. While the world is obsessed with coronavirus, those people are still dying, and their deaths are no less important than a coronavirus death. Furthermore, their decreased access to treatment because of the pandemic is the real downside and what I would call the real sick part of keeping the world and the hospitals obsessed with COVID. A death is a death is a death.

I see the censorship that’s happening on social media and in the news. We cannot express any point of view that disagrees with the narrative that the media want us to know, and the media is all on one page, as if they’re all being fed the same script. I’ve been either forbidden from posting links to dissenting articles and videos on Facebook and Twitter, or I’ve been fact-checked after posting them. In much the same way, governments all over the world fell in line with the pandemic narrative soon after the virus hit the Western world. This is worrisome and it should be on your mind. It’s not about the spread of disinformation. It’s about the active suppression of information, and this has never happened to this degree in the Western world before. We’ve prided ourselves on our freedoms, including our freedom of speech. We’ve prided ourselves on questioning the status quo, on questioning the media, on questioning our politicians. Now we are not allowed to question them publicly, only privately. It isn’t right. I remind you, the survival rate for this virus stands at 99,96%.

I see the sickening desire to control more and more, and to gather up more and more wealth. It’s masquerading as the exact opposite, as a “great reset” that will improve the world. It won’t. What it will do, if it’s executed, is that it will concentrate power and wealth in the hands of even fewer individuals, while the rest of the people will be left to kiss the foot of those individuals in order to have a life. Not a good life, just a life. Good lives will be reserved for the vomitously unabashed brown-nosers and the exquisite lives will be the domain of those with the power and the wealth. That’s a disgusting and repulsive prospect.

I see the long game. What we’re experiencing now has been in the works for a number of years. The signs are there for you to see, if you do your homework. This is wrong. This is not the direction the Earth should be heading. This is not the direction humanity should be heading. An immediate course correction is needed.


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On 2020 politics

I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat, nor am I any other political flavor. I am not a member of any party, simply because no party offers a platform I can fully embrace. If I were to describe my political leanings, I would say they are centrist leaning to the right, which means I’m more conservative in some of my beliefs, though I hold quite a few modern beliefs.

Having had to read more than enough leftist views in the media during the past few years, particularly this year, I’ve now gotten to abhor anything that leans even remotely left. It’s been oversold, and it comes with shady and violent overtones, such as critical race theory, all sorts of unpallatable aromas of supposed “inequality”, BLM and Antifa. These so-called movements are clearly not to be taken at their face value. They have to be recognized for what they are: open attacks on the fabric of society, meant to destabilize and destroy commonly-held anchoring beliefs. Incidentally, this is what the communists would do as they were taking over a country (and afterwards). They would attack and destroy anything that would remind people of the old regime and that meant buildings, books, traditions, ways of thinking, etc. would all be thrown into the fire of “progress”. I can’t abide that. I’ve grown up in a communist regime and emigrated to the United States in 1991 to seek a better life. I’ve had enough “left” in my life to last me a lifetime.

Not that the extreme right is any more tolerable to me. Extremes in anything are not healthy and yet this year we’ve been treated to all sorts of political extremism.

I also can’t abide the continuous censorship taking place on social media against conservatives and against anything that challenges whatever the left wants to believe at a particular moment. The extremists can never be satisfied. You can never be leftist enough to please the commie axe blade that swings mere millimeters from your neck, and those who are advocating for more “left” in their lives will soon find that out, as they will find themselves on the wrong end of the axe. Last year we had #cancelculture and this year we have #doxxing plus so many hashtags I can’t even keep track of them.

To give you just one example of how loony this has gotten, I posted a video compilation to my FB page back in 2019, a short video clip of young women being harassed by men in bars or on the street with lewd comments, catcalls and the like, adding a short and simple leading quip: “men are pigs”. FB banned it because my statement was deemed “offensive to men”, even though the video itself offered ample proof that those men in the video were indeed pigs. It’s obvious that I was generalizing/stereotyping, but no man should be offended by something like that when it’s obviously true for most men at one point or another. And until a few years ago, no man would be offended. But now we live in the age of offence, where everyone takes great offence at everything, so in all the madness and pretentious, deconstructive arguments, we’ve given unwitting birth to all sorts of ideological monsters that have made their way into our politics and are now eating our societies. The amount of censorship going on now is absolutely incredible compared with this relatively mild example.

These ideological monsters such as inequality movements, BLM, Antifa, are all geared toward scaring people, instilling a permanent fear of persecution in them, and forcing them to accept whatever’s being pushed onto them if they want to keep their livelihoods and their way of life, and that’s no way to live!

If you’re somehow justifying the violence that took place on the streets of America during this summer and fall, leading up to the US elections, because the Democrats needed to push a “corrupt Republican” out of office, you’re in for some nasty surprises in the coming months and years. Allowing and encouraging large groups of people to commit vandalism, looting, assault and battery and even rape on bystanders or people who disagree with them, and to threaten them in writing and on video that there will be violent repercussions if they don’t vote Democrat, is a horrible, nasty thing to do. It’s the kind of thing that comes with a huge karmic payback. Once you encourage that sort of violence, you can’t just shut it down afterwards and pretend like nothing happened. It doesn’t work that way.

I’ll close with this: I dislike personality cults. I think it’s disingenuous to expect constant adulation from the people whom you’re supposed to serve. For some reason, Trump needs to be the center of attention wherever he goes. I get that he’s an extrovert and he feels great when he’s surrounded by the energy of large groups of people, but I don’t think it’s right to keep encouraging that sort of thing. When you, as a person, admire another person so much that you’ll go and stand for hours on a street, waving a flag, on the chance that you’ll get a glance of him driving by, you’re clearly biased toward him and you’ll be more than ready to forgive at least a few major faults, simply because you got a few moments of face time or a wave. People are people are people. In the mind’s eye, everyone should be weighed equally based on their merits alone, no matter what position they hold.

There is no overarching conclusion here: we are in uncharted territory.

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On the 2020 US election

Every time an election cycle draws near, I promise myself not to be drawn into it, but I always get too involved and it inevitably ruins my balance. Here are a few thoughts on what’s going on, before the election is called.

There’s an incredible amount of manipulation going on in the media. In the past, I’d always wonder why filthy rich businessmen would bother acquiring media companies, especially because they always bleed cash, but now I know it’s because they love to manipulate the public into believing certain narratives, especially when it suits their futures. The current flavor of the narrative is leftist and quite heavily so. Whatever the left’s selling, the mainstream media will flog, all day long. Having grown up in a Communist regime, I naturally abhor the left, but entitled, coddled American teens and youth have been brainwashed by top-ranking schools and colleges to believe that it’s a good thing, and that’s a sickening prospect.

There’s an unheard of amount of censorship in social media against anything that threatens the leftist agenda. I could not believe it when I could not post a link to the Hunter Biden stories on Twitter and on Facebook, and when the accounts of the NY Post and the White House Press Secretary were locked out, I knew social media companies had crossed the line. Apparently YouTube has been cutting off Partner status for certain conservatives or simply removing their accounts. I talked about the leftist leanings of big tech back in June, but I had no idea things would go so far, so quickly, that open censorship of official newspapers and official government accounts would occur on the eve of a presidential election.

There’s an unbelievable amount of voter fraud going on, and most, if not all of it, is being perpetrated by the Democratic Party. From illegal signs at voting stations and coaching of the voters, to countless ballots making their way into the hands of bad players, and the destruction of ballots found to be marked for Republican candidates, the Democrats are guilty of all of it. Just do a few simple searches and you’ll see plenty of proof.

Just as in the 2016 election, the public has been presented with two choices of candidates that are unlikable. On the one hand, we have Trump. I’m not sure what I could say about him that hasn’t been said already. I didn’t like him before he ever got into politics. I didn’t like his business practices and I didn’t like the debts he’d built up over the years. He was held up as a model American businessman through the 90s, 00s and 10s, and I kept wondering how that was possible given his business record and mountains of debt. I couldn’t understand the whole birth certificate controversy with Obama and I couldn’t understand why he got into politics. Right up to this year, I couldn’t stand the guy. But as the election drew near and I began to compare him with Biden and to look into what he’s accomplished while in office, he suddenly became more pallatable, because…

Biden is quite likely a “treasonous pedophile”, as he’s been described in the past few days. I’d add pathological liar and senile to that description. (Let’s not mince words here…) In spite of the narrative being put forth by the media, the proof is clear that he used his son and his political position to arrange large payouts from foreign governments. That’s at least corruption, if not treason. And every time I watch those video clips of him grabbing little children, pulling them toward him, sniffing them and whispering stuff into their ears as he’s forcing them to listen, there’s an inescapable gut feeling that comes over me, and that gut feeling screams “pedophile”. There are many videos of him lying through his teeth during his long and unproductive career in politics. Hell, he was even forced to withdraw from a previous presidential election because it was discovered that he plagiarized and lied his way through it. As if all this wasn’t enough to make me want to have the guy publicly executed, there are also clear signs that he’s quickly becoming senile. Then I begin to wonder about how complicit Obama and his administration were, because they knew about all this garbage when he was VP, and how corrupt the Democratic Party really is for putting forward such a nasty, ill-suited candidate at a time when it really matters. It’s filthy, vile stuff to do this to the American people and yet there he is, campaigning for “honesty, hope and decency”, the very concepts he’s been working to destroy all his life. Even the “no malarkey” slogan is the opposite of what he’s doing.

Serious financial efforts have been underway this year from certain individuals and groups of individuals with a nasty agenda to destabilize the US. Say what you will about Trump supporters — call them loud, obnoxious rednecks, call them racists, etc. (which they aren’t, by the way, most of them are none of those things) — they aren’t the ones who are clearly guilty of violent crimes, of physical assaults, of vandalism and destruction of property and historic art, of occupying neighborhoods and cities, as BLM and Antifa have done this year, and as they are doing right now, on election night. What’s also becoming clear is that these groups wouldn’t exist without financing from those individuals with a nasty agenda. While large mass protests are possible without manipulation, continued assaults on cities and people, night after night after night, aren’t possible without organization, equipment and funding. And when they happen inside a country, they are proof of well-financed efforts to topple an existing governmental structure. Furthermore, when local and state governments aren’t taking action to prosecute individuals identified as having committed those acts, there’s clear collusion between those groups and those governments, so that means even more money is involved in that game.

The whole COVID situation has been used as a political, governmental and economic football, with various sides blaming each other repeatedly. Whatever the virus may actually be doing to people, it has benefitted from much too much advertising (worldwide propaganda, really) for it not be used as an “agent of change”. What that change is and why it has been foisted on people will become clearer in the following months, but COVID has been one of the main actors in this presidential election and in this year, so it must be mentioned.

It’s absurd and tragi-comic how the US has been held up in recent decades as a beacon of hope and democracy for the world — and how corrupt it has really been. How in the world can a country that is so mired in a swamp of its own making, full of the nastiest stuff on earth, be a positive example for smaller countries such as Romania? I remember the speeches against corruption made by Gittenstein, the previous US Ambassador to Romania, only to find out this year that he’s been part and parcel of the greater corruption perpetrated by Biden and Basescu, an ex-president of Romania (see here). It seems that this brazen corruption (while speaking out against it) is the modus operandi of US politicians, in and out of the US, and any sane person has to wonder if any of them are decent people, or if all are guilty of having gone skinny-dipping in the Washington swamp.

I am left disgusted and repulsed by the whole situation. I’d like to see some proper house cleaning take place. It remains to be seen whether this will ever get done, or whether the whole house of cards will end up in shambles and ruin. Who knows, perhaps this has been the plan all along… What I do know is that nasty stuff is brewing up. This election is being hotly contested and where this leads is anyone’s guess.

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Adobe’s many-tentacled grip on its users

I’ve been using Photoshop since the late 1990s and Lightroom since its launch in 2007. I’ve been a user of Adobe software for some time, and have owned various software packages from them since that time. But in recent years, I’ve begun to be repulsed more and more by their greedy grip on their users. Their move to subscription-based software was the beginning of my discontent, which was only furthered by their constant attempts to constantly monitor what we do with their software and how we use our computers. I know of no other software company that does this so much, and I find it despicable. I think what they’re doing is a clear invasion of user privacy. Some might say it’s benign, that they’re only trying to keep track of their software licenses, but when you find out that they make most of their money with a suite of services they call Experience Cloud, where they offer “AI-driven solutions for marketing, analytics, advertising and e-commerce”, you get the sense that we’re the guinea pigs for their solutions, and their many “helper” applications that are supposed to only monitor software licenses are likely doing a lot more than that on our computers.

I am also a Mac owner, and in stark contrast to Apple’s constant marketing-speak about user privacy, they never mention Adobe’s many applications that are constantly talking back to the Adobe servers, and they never go into the details of what the many Adobe helper applications actually do on our computers.

At best, the many “helper” applications that get put onto your computer when you install Adobe software can be called sloppy programming, and at worst, you have to wonder exactly what they’re doing with each and every one of those pieces of software under the guise of “keeping Adobe applications up-to-date” and “verifying the status of your Adobe licenses”. Most people probably assume those apps are the various components of the Creative Cloud suite and even though they’re numerous and they can probably tell those apps are in constant communication with Adobe, they choose to tolerate them.

I know things may be different on Windows, where software gets installed in multiple places, but on Macs, applications are and have always been packaged into single files that contain all that a piece of software needs in order to work. Even Microsoft Office on the Mac functioned this way and only used one additional piece of auto-update software to make sure everything stayed that way, and after it moved to the App Store, even that went away. They let Apple handle all their updates now.

Not so with Adobe… They have to be “special”. They have to stick their tentacles everywhere on your computer, doing and monitoring who knows what. I absolutely hate the fact that their Creative Cloud software has to run all the time and talk to their servers all the time, just so I can use their software occasionally. I find it abusive and overreaching and questionable, but for some reason, we’ve chosen to go along with it because we want to use the software.

Have a look at what gets installed with their Photography Plan, where only two apps should be present.

You of course will get Creative Cloud, even if you don’t want it, with its many little apps that invade your computer. Then you get Adobe Lightroom CC, the app that hardcore Lightroom users never asked for and don’t want, because all we really want is Lightroom Classic. You then also get Photoshop, which I might use to create a logo once or twice a year, and I infrequently use to blend different frames together into a single photograph (for focus stacking). If that functionality were offered in Lightroom, I’d barely need to open Photoshop. It’s overkill for me.

Let’s see what we get with Creative Cloud, because that’s the crux of this post. Most people won’t realize that the little red folder called Creative Cloud in the Applications folder isn’t really the whole of it. No, Adobe also puts a lot of helper apps in your Utilities folder.

Whether you want them or not, you get Adobe Application Manager, a second Adobe Creative Cloud folder, Adobe Creative Cloud Experience, Adobe Installers and Adobe Sync. Let’s have a look at each of them.

Look at all the “goodies” you get in the Application Manager folder. Yuuuummmy… I didn’t effing ask for all this, Adobe!

Let’s see what else we get. We get more stuff we never asked for in the Creative Cloud folder.

We also get to be part of a Creative Cloud Experience that we never opted into.

We also get the uninstallers. Fine, okay… although on the Mac, we should simply be able to drag an app from the Applications folder into the Trash (sorry, the Bin) and “bin” done with it.

We also get Adobe Sync, which is another application/service I don’t want and didn’t ask for. Never mind that sometimes it’s stuck on syncing a few photos for weeks on end. I guess it’s thrown in as padding to justify the cost of the subscription plans. “Look, you’re getting the good software, and you’re also getting storage space and a website”… I didn’t ask for it. I just want Lightroom and nothing else!

By now you might think we’re done, but no, you also get a special plugin that monitors your online activity, um, “detects whether you have Adobe Application Manager installed. I bet you didn’t know about this little goody from Adobe, did you? It’s called the AdobeAAMDetect.plugin.

Ostensibly, it’s used to detect whether the Adobe Application Manager is installed onto your computer, but who knows what else it does without looking at its code? All I know is that when I go to my Safari plugins, it’s not openly and transparently listed there. No, it’s hiding in the /Library/Internet Plug-ins/ folder, so you have to know where to look in order to find it. Why? And what else is it doing? Is it monitoring my online activity, just like the apps installed on my computer are monitoring my application usage and who knows what else?

I find all this deeply disgusting, and without opening up each of those apps that Adobe sticks on our computers and looking at the code, we won’t know what they really do. If I didn’t like Lightroom so much, I’d switch to another piece of software in an instant. But I have yet to find a single piece of software that:

  1. Doesn’t have a subscription plan,
  2. Lets me easily edit my photos and, this next one is really important to me,
  3. Lets me easily edit the metadata across all of my photos and update it as needed, and finally,
  4. Lets me import my catalog from Lightroom while keeping my collections, smart collections and collection sets intact, so I don’t have to sort through hundreds of thousands of photos manually.

After 13 years of using Lightroom, the interface is very familiar. I know exactly where to find what I need, but I sure find Adobe’s business practices despicable and would gladly switch to something else. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve stepped over the line long ago and have been invading the privacy of their users intentionally for years.

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Thoughts

On the automation of surveillance

We are seeing an increased use of surveillance at every level of our lives (on the street, at work, online, on our phones, etc.), and we see increased use of automation (simple, algorithmic and AI) to sort through all our activities. It’s a worrisome trend. We should be asking questions such as:

  • Who’s surveilling us and why? It’s easy to answer this with two terms: government and big tech, but the answers can be and should be much more granulated.
  • Who’s keeping track of that data? Exactly who are the players who have access to our data, who are running analysis on it and who are storing it, backing it up, etc.
  • How long is our data kept and where?
  • When algorithms decide our human fate, is that just? Should we tolerate it?
  • Who wrote the algorithms and are they skewed in some way? Given the recent censorship issues on Facebook and Twitter, I think algorithms are clearly written with an agenda in mind and they can be easily skewed to fit the needs and wants of the companies who apply them.
  • And many more questions like this…

I’d first like to point out the following: we live in a human world, and we’re meant to relate to each other in human ways; it doesn’t work well otherwise.

However, as I’ve pointed out in past posts, the world is too full of humans, and there are many complications that arise from that. Chief among them is this: an unusually large proportion of them aren’t relating to their fellow humans in human (or humane) ways and they are engaging in violence, murder, kidnappings, rape, pedophilia and other perversions, vandalism, theft, looting, corruption at all levels, drugs, road rage, terrorism, con schemes, etc.

That’s when law enforcement and governments, unable to keep track of every one of these so-called “humans” with existing personnel, turns to computers, mass surveillance, facial recognition, algorithms that identify suspicious behavior, etc., in an effort to sort through the mass influx of human faces, some of which are engaged in criminal/inhuman activities. The issue of why personnel cannot be ramped up in these institutions so that humans can sort through and keep track of these activities is up for debate, but I think we can all agree that when surveillance and automation are used to flag and identify the activities listed above, so that humans can sort through them, it is probably okay, and it is probably to be expected.

It is not okay when automation of surveillance is used to:

  • Spy on our private activities simply for the purpose of keeping track of everything we do, “just in case” we do something wrong,
  • Restrict freedom of speech, such as when social media algorithms simply won’t allow us to post certain links or words on our accounts, or will outright censor certain subjects or people,
  • Dig through our online activities and disqualify us from obtaining a job simply for having posted something questionable in the past, or to destroy our lives altogether, as today’s cancel culture and supposed race inequality movement is actively trying to do to so many people,
  • Monitor all our communications, such as our messages, emails and telephone calls, in the name of national security,
  • And the list can probably go on and on…

Here’s my understanding of the direction of this trend so far: as long as humans will continue to grow in number and to present a very complex environment where it’s thoroughly difficult or outright impossible for a limited number of people involved in law enforcement to keep track of illegal activities, the arguments for the use of automation in surveillance (to the point where artificial intelligence will handle a large part of it) will continue to mount. Also, as long as hidden agendas will continue to be tolerated in government, in the media and in academia, hidden surveillance will continue, for various nefarious purposes, such as persecution, extortion, a building up of arguments to support certain policies, etc.

The solution as I see it is to decrease the world population till we stop being numbers and countless faces and we become communities once more, where we know everyone who lives around us, where we are not one nameless face in a mass, in a ridiculously large throng of people, but a meaningful, contributing member of a neighborhood, a village or a town. That’s when surveillance and its automation will no longer matter. It won’t even be an issue anymore. We’ve got to stop multiplying like rabbits. We’ve got to stop focusing on large numbers. We’ve got to focus on quality, not quantity. We’ve got to focus on meaningful human interactions and meaningful numbers when it comes to our communities and our towns. To those of you who live in smaller communities, what I’ve just said is obvious, but to those who still prefer to live in large cities, I think my words will sound quite strange. And for them and because of them, mass surveillance and the automation of surveillance will continue…

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Twenty years

This website turned 20 on the 7th of August. I didn’t notice, nor did I remember, although I’d looked forward to this milestone since its 12th anniversary back in 2012. Life has a way of refocusing one’s attention, and this year, of all the recent years, I think we can all say has been… a little nuts (or completely crazy, depending on where you live in the world).

For those of you interested in how this website came to be, they details are listed on my about page (scroll down to the last paragraphs there).

That’s all: I get a virtual pat on the back — from myself — and we’ll all carry on. Thanks for being a subscriber (where applicable)!

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Thoughts

Once again, on the problem of noise

I’ve written repeatedly about noise issues in distant and recent past. Noise is something that affects me deeply and not in pleasant ways, so it’s an issue that’s always boiling beneath the surface, so to speak. Particularly during the quarantine, I was able to enjoy such quiet times, that I found the contrast between that period and these once-again too-busy times extremely jarring. I’m writing about it this time because I may have come up with a better way to word the noise laws, for those that are interested. There are two parts to it, as detailed below.

First, here are three posts I’d like to point out:

I was prompted to think about this by a recent incident, where the noise violator took advantage of a loophole in the Romanian laws against noise violations. It’s an optional loophole that the police can choose to apply in cases where the violator has relations on the police force or the local government, namely to require the use of a special device that measures the decibel level of the noise, which in Romania involves scheduling a visit from a special police team from another city, instead of relying on the complaints of a person or persons, or the observations made by the police officers who’ve responded to the call. In short, if you’re bribing someone at the mayor’s office or on the police force, you can get away with some serious noise violations. I hope you can also see how not solving a noise violation on the spot and requiring a scheduled site visit from a police team with special equipment is clearly a loophole that’s meant to be misused. In this particular recent case, I’m talking about a habitual noise violator with a history of more than 8 years of disturbing the peace of the historic city center.

Part 1

My proposed wording for noise violations is this: if the noise can be heard outside the perimeter of the noise violator’s property, it must be fined; by the same principle, if the noise can be heard outside of the noise violator’s car, it must be fined. This would force these callous, incredibly insensitive people to adjust the volume of their music, events and/or arguments so that their neighbors cannot hear the noise. If it can be heard, it can and should be fined. The only loophole I would put in is for construction or other work noises, which I find to be the only noises that are justifiable. Construction must occur, whether it’s new construction, renovation or restoration, and work such as mowing the lawn or doing various house repairs must also go on and is, I would say, necessary, so it must be tolerated and understood, within reason. But any of the non-work stuff must and should adhere to the simple principle of not disturbing the neighbors, whether they’re in the house next door or the car in the next lane, or passersby trying to enjoy a quiet walk through town. I think the current schedule of “quiet hours” that exist on the books in most countries, such as 10 pm – 8 am and a “siesta” from 1 pm – 2 pm in the afternoon, is a good schedule and should be kept, but it should be literally enforced by the book, not left up to the interpretation of corruptible policemen and local governments. And I think that even if a noise violation occurs outside of those quiet hours, as long as it meets the very simple criteria described above, it still qualifies as a noise violation and it must be fined. Someone else’s loud music or screaming is still extremely bothersome, no matter if it happens at 3 pm or 3 am. Should they want to blow out their eardrums, let them do so with the aid of headphones, not loudspeakers.

Enforcing the new wording should also be very simple: using the guidelines above, first-time noise violators must get a written warning. Any time after that, no matter what, they get fined, by the book. In other words, noise violators with a long history of breaking the law should never get a break. They should always get fined. The time for warning them has long since passed.

Part 2

I would also suggest a restriction on the use of amplifiers and speakers for public events organized by local governments to only those venues that are specifically equipped for noise abatement and/or are physically distanced from residential areas, such as concert venues. This would do away with loud events that are heard throughout entire neighborhoods or towns. I’m not saying public concerts shouldn’t happen in town squares, or that musicians shouldn’t be allowed to play on the streets, but the noise they generate must not be amplified artificially. It must be generated solely by analog musical instruments or their voice. No microphones, no speakers. That way, it simply wouldn’t travel as far and as artificially as the deafening stuff blared through loudspeakers, and would become a more natural sound that can be enjoyed within its physical context.

I think those governments that are so inclined to apply these rules would quickly see a much-needed improvement in the noise levels in their cities, and I know for a fact that most working people would appreciate having more quiet time to focus on their tasks.

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