The Battle Of Bytes

I have been reading of the latest round of interventions by the large Media groups so stop people pirating their goods and believe there is an interesting and very human dynamic that has not been well explored on the Internet.

The act of sharing – taking a piece of music or software – and physically sharing it as I used to do with the old records / cassettes and had many friends lend me a record to listen to has expanded to include people you do not socialise with in your own locale but that is none-the-less a community bonding experience. I have this, you should experience it too. There is no difference here than in sharing food or sharing anything you have paid for. By extension the media shared can now be shared more widely and we have an interesting dynamic – the corporations have made this act of sharing illegal.

Because it loses them money. But the act of sharing in this way has aways lost them money.

Piracy to take copyrighted goods and copy them to sell as your own goods is of course theft. It is and always has been illegal no matter what kind of goods you are talking about, that is why we have patents. But to outlaw the necessary human act of sharing as a show of friendship is actually, impossible to do. Corporations are trying to turn back the tide of evolution. A far better strategy from their point of view would be to lower salaries and product prices because more talent is giving away their media and selling physical products in addition to their music and films. What is actually bought is changing, and the seller and buyer relationship has altered forever.

If Not A Writer Then …

I have often thought if I had not chosen to be a writer then I would have been everything else.

The research I used to do in libraries every week, having a list of things to find out, the constant need for encyclopedias and reference books makes a writer a jack-of-all-trades and master of one. The creation of the Internet means I can write, need some information find it in the browser, take notes and work on that section without waiting a day or two. But when you think there is nowhere and no subject a writer cannot go in order to edit and form their story, you quickly see how information is the life blood of authorship.

Personal information gives you that edge, that use of words, that passion that people call ‘authenticity’ but authenticity can be and regularly is, faked; from the famous Western writer who has never visited the USA, to the whole drama of the sandstorm in The English Patient being ripped from National Geographic.

But facts and how one uses them are the book. Every piece of writing, even fairy tales, have their roots in real life and that is not to say writing is derivative, but to explain that writers are explorers.

A Cartoon Life

It is easy to mock those who lead us, as easy to rant against the tyrannical leaders of others. To a great degree the mocking is necessary both for us and them, for its brings them down-a-peg and it gives us a form of power over the powerful. Cartooning a situation is so much of a release I decided not to publish ‘A Brief History of Lies’ without them and was fortunate to find the brilliant Calvin Innes to draw eight cartoons for the essay.

The inadvertent laughter leaders can give us, from Bush’s linguistic anomalies to jokes that fall flat and idiots in suits like Berlesconi who prove that fools can make fortunes, is a vital component of keeping the peace. To be able to draw some satisfaction that they are neither infallible nor so much better than us helps to maintain civic order.

A fact that is not lost on leaders who put up with vile cartoons, and outbursts by comedians and digs in movies without letting it get to them because they know the kinds of leaders who find these things unacceptable are not leaders at all but slavish followers to a creed. Whatever that creed may be. To be laughed at is never pleasant but there is satisfaction in knowing that it is a better way of dealing with powerlessness than fighting.

Katherine Philips (1631-1664)

Friendship’s Mystery, To my Dearest Lucasia

Come, my Lucasia, since we see
That Miracles Mens faith do move,
By wonder and by prodigy
To the dull angry world let’s prove
There’s a Religion in our Love.

For though we were design’d t’ agree,
That Fate no liberty destroyes,
But our Election is as free
As Angels, who with greedy choice
Are yet determin’d to their joyes.

Our hearts are doubled by the loss,
Here Mixture is Addition grown ;
We both diffuse, and both ingross :
And we whose minds are so much one,
Never, yet ever are alone.

We court our own Captivity
Than Thrones more great and innocent :
‘Twere banishment to be set free,
Since we wear fetters whose intent
Not Bondage is, but Ornament.

Divided joyes are tedious found,
And griefs united easier grow :
We are our selves but by rebound,
And all our Titles shuffled so,
Both Princes, and both Subjects too.

Our Hearts are mutual Victims laid,
While they (such power in Friendship lies)
Are Altars, Priests, and Off’rings made :
And each Heart which thus kindly dies,
Grows deathless by the Sacrifice.

The Fight For Peace

It is a strange aspect of our existence that we do one thing because we hope for the exact opposite. In fact we do the thing for that reason; so we go to war, so that we can have peace. At least that is what we do these days. But in other times that was not the reason we went to war. Prince’s a warriors made war for conquest and gain, and many would spend their whole lives either at war or planning for it.

Very religious people spend their whole lives preparing themselves for living after they are dead.  We work all week so we can enjoy our holidays and leisure time the more. We make money so we can buy the things that are made of the things that were found on this planet free of charge. These things rule our existence and yet in themselves they are not the aim or objective, they are merely the means.

Even stranger then to know if we did without them we would have peace, lots of leisure time,  and more of a heavenly life on this side of death than most people think even possible. All it takes is a different way of thinking and a different way of building nations. Which means we really need a wholly different kind of human being.

Ancient And Modern

We live in interesting times. A sentiment that can be justifiably expressed by every human being all over the world throughout history. As if we are impressed that anything should be happening whilst we are alive. But we are all living history and not just in the political and nation-state senses.

Physicists test out their theories on how the cosmos works by seeing if the equations create the universe as we see it, because if it creates everything but the grass turns out to be blue then it’s wrong somewhere and likewise, although we could not easily divine it from this fact, we are the secret of how it works because we are here and all that we are necessarily flows from how the cosmos works.

And if you still want to know more about merely human history you can see from our brains and our DNA all that we have come from, where we branched off to evolve differently and how we are still ruled by instincts that served our progenitors well but sometimes leave us flawed and exposed.  The search for companionship, the settling of communities, the division of labour are all part of our non-thinking selves that we try to believe are a part of our intellects.

Ultimately in the field of essences these things cannot define every human being because they are not part of every human experience. A human without love is non-the-less human, a hermit is human, a self-interested person is still human. The essence of humanity is not an equation or an expectation and most definitely not a theory.

Geoffrey Chaucer

A Rondel of Merciless Beauty – The Original

I. 1.
Youre two eyn will sle me sodenly
I may the beaute of them not sustene,
So wendeth it thorowout my herte kene.

And but your words will helen hastely
My hertis wound, while that it is grene,
Youre two eyn will sle me sodenly.

Upon my trouth I sey yow feithfully,
That ye ben of my liffe and deth the quene;
For with my deth the trouth shal be sene.
Youre two eyn will sle me sodenly
I may the beaute of them not sustene,
So wendeth it thorowout my herte kene.

II. 1.
So hath youre beauty fro your herte chased
Pitee, that me n’availeth not to pleyn:
For daunger halt your mercy in his cheyne.

Giltless my deth thus have ye purchased;
I sey yow soth, me nedeth not to fayn:
So hath your beaute fro your herte chased.

Alas, that nature hath in yow compassed
So grete beaute, that no man may atteyn
To mercy, though he sterve for the peyn.
Youre two eyn will sle me sodenly
I may the beaute of them not sustene,
So wendeth it thorowout my herte kene.

III. 1.
Syn I fro love escaped am so fat,
I nere thinke to ben in his prison lene;
Syn I am fre, I counte hym not a bene.

He may answere and sey this and that,
I do no fors, I speak ryght as I mene;
Syn I fro love escaped am so fat.

Love hath my name i-strike out of his sclat,
And he is strike out of my bokes clene:
For ever mo ‘ther’ is non other mene,
Syn I fro love escaped am so fat.

Let’s Play, Play, Play The Game

If you have read Kim by Rudyard Kipling you will be aware of the long and testing spy war fought alongside the military wars between Russia and Britain over Afghanistan. This was brought to mind today when Russia stood firm against UN declarations against Assad in Syria whilst people died, and my thoughts went once again to the way in which we think it justifiable to put one county’s interests over and above the people of another country. It is the way in which deals were done when there were no true democracies in the world and I have to wonder why they are still doing the same things?

Of course Russia is a  thug ridden semi-Tsarist nation not even playing at democracy but it isn’t just Russia, all countries play this game whilst championing the cause of freedom. The Chancellor of the Exchequer during the famine in Ireland would not open soup kitchens because he thought the poor would get used to them and stop working. I am sure he went to church every Sunday whilst a million people died.

The sadness is when you have power you no longer make decisions based upon who suffers,  but upon who benefits and not seeing that alleviating all suffering is the greatest benefit is the corruption at the heart of all government.

The Cold

According to the news two hundred homeless people are now dead in Europe from the cold, frozen to death on various streets along with a few tragic people too poor to heat their homes. More are going to die, thousands are suffering. And all governments can say is this would not happen if they had had money, been rich.

Everything needed to make a heaven on earth is here from clean skies and clear waters to all the necessary elements and human beings have the brains to tame the wild creatures and soften the excesses of nature but instead all we can do is long to be rich. The only thing not given to us was wisdom, that we have to learn because learning shows a willingness to tame the wild beast inside us, but we cannot even do that.

And I realized that imagery is very important to us, and so I can clearly see now for the first time in my life that if there is a god he turned away from this world centuries ago preferring to be hung on a cross to bleed to death than live amongst this crippled intellect called human kind. We could have had it all and instead we poisoned our very souls with a show of ego that has rubbished an entire planet and deserted common kindness.

When In Rome

The recent revenge on a few bankers is almost too ridiculous to mention for the panaceas thrown to the people have always been the way of tyrants and despots and I am sure a few hundred years ago a few men would be without their heads today. What was more interesting was a contrite business leader saying on the BBC news that capitalism is not a good system but it is better than the others out there. Another mantra for those who are not used to thinking.

First let us begin by admitting that capitalism IS NOT democracy. Capitalism is the accruing of wealth and from what I can see tyrants and Communists are pretty good at that, they are just useless at sharing.  The democratic principles of conscience, freedom of speech and association and many others, are not capitalism. So what we have is democratic capitalism, and that is not the best idea out there because capitalism necessarily brings boom and bust cycles and appeals to greed and selfishness.

There must be forms of capitalism that we can marry with democracy that do better than that? That do away with the whole idea of nations and treat the world as one Eco-system without which there is no money, unless of course we are planning to build a new world somewhere else and feel we can trash this one completely first.

Rampant self interest and greed do no go well with democracy.


You can’t wait for them when you are young and you dread them when you are old. There is however something perverse and self-consuming in the idea of yearly celebrations for like all habits they have a function both to cement our idea of ourselves and our acceptance of the community. But with birthdays comes the whole idea of growing older and thereby weaker, or marking a regular milestone and separately marking out significant millstones such as the beginning of new decades.

But actually it is entirely meaningless. In a universe that is eight billion years old,  part of a planet that is four and a half billion years old, and part of a species that might have ancestry as far back as a million years with recorded history of thousands of years what could fifty or sixty or a hundred years actually mean? It isn’t as long as it takes to snap one’s fingers in terms of what goes on in the universe.

But birthdays are not about equivalency, they are there to confirm that a particular human being has ‘made-it’ and today no one even thinks about this very much they just accept that every year one must accept another year has gone. Celebrations always seem fairly arbitrary but amongst them, birthdays must be the least serious and most persistent.

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February 2012
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