Saturday, 16 April 2011

Ubuntu crashes PC big time

I wish to relate my dreadful experience of Ubuntu. I downloaded the 64 bit AMD version and put it onto a CD. I ran the CD, and chose the option to install the system alongside another OS (I have a 1TB hdd partitioned into two equal parts.) The installer installed Ubuntu over my whole HDD and destroyed my Windows 7 installation, and all my data. Today I have been out and bought a  new HDD for a clean install of Windows, and all day the PC has been running a utility to recover the Windows data. I don't know yer how successful that will be.There was no going back with the installer, no warning. This has been one of the worst weekends of my life. If you have any contacts in the world of Ubuntu, I would be grateful if you could tell them this and also warn people that you are recommend the package to.

I regret having to say this, as I appreciate open source and free software, but this is very bad.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Circular contribution

It's often said that people need to contribute to society and that's why they should have a paid job. Not having a paid job means you're not contributing to society (unless you're retired). In the extreme, jobs are even created for people to do so that they can contribute by doing them. Some "jobs" are, by being made illegal, shown to be not contributing to society, though. Let's say a mugger. It's work - it takes skill and nerve, and it could be quite good money, but it isn't socially acceptable/constructive. Therefore any job that demands skill and nerve is not necessarily socially acceptable/constructive and there must be some other attribute of the job that makes it so.

I submit that the attribute should be whether what is being done directly helps the sustainable survival and thriving of humanity on this planet.

Financial Trading and IT

Just been listening to BBC Radio 4's 'Click On' (oddly similar to Click - nee Digital Planet -  though they never mention each other). There was an item about the super intelligent computer programmers sought out and vertiginously paid by the banks to write computer programmes that trade 'financial instruments'. For all the jargon that surrounds finance, what has not one away is the idea of buy low and sell high. Computers can do this very fast and continuously, and the finest brains in the world jusst make them do it that little bit faster. The computer has to do its thing without being noticed, so that the herd mentality doesn't kick in and cause everyone to sell, or buy, or whatever.

This is how we waste our finest brains. Not working to cure disease, save the environment, predict natural disasters, overcome language barriers, digitise the world's off line knowledge and culture, improve communication, put a man on Mars, or anything actually useful - just playing glorified computer games. This is a special case of the 'any job is contributing to society' fallacy in which doing a job is by definition contributing society, irrespective of what job it is. Their job is more socially useful than feeding a slot machine all day - they're just very, very good at it.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Love Police

I've said before that francesc0 from TZM sends out some great links. My favourite of the latest batch is this:

These chaps call themselves the love police. This video shows them in London making sarcastic/wry comments by means of placard and megaphone. They also hug people - in particular the police, many of whom are plainly uncomfortable.

It's clever, because it's very funny and satirical.

That said, the first part is "gestural" as Peter Joseph might say. It's just a montage, but bear with it - the action comes soon enough.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Work and contributing to society

Faced with a ballot paper asking whether I would support industrial action against compulsory redundancies, I thought again about employment in our current system.

It is the system that has decided that generally speaking, people should not have access to the necessities of life unless they have a paid job. It doesn't particularly  matter if the job is not technically necessary (ie it could be automated) or if it is not socially constructive (say a tobacconist, though, say, a drug dealer is illegal because drug taking is not deemed socially constructive in most cases).

Having decreed that people pretty much must have jobs, the system can then take the job away from you. This is usually because of money, of course. When we look objectively at an organisation, we want it to be efficient - to get the same things done with fewer people and for less money. But when it's the organisation that employs us, we want any efficiency savings to stop short of us being out of a job. Hence trade unions and collective action by people to stay in employment.

This is just another perspective on the problems of putting profit and money before human need. Once again, what we actually need to do is understand what resources we have to sustain the planet and humanity. Then we need to determine how we can most efficiently ensure that whatever work needs to be done to sustain the planet and humanity is done. No other work should be done by anyone/anything for any other reason.

Will people participate in the endeavour to ensure that all necessary work is done as efficiently as possible. Well, there will certainly be those who realise that what is done for the benefit of humanity benefits them as a human, even if the link between their work and their individual benefit is indirect or week. People do things for the benefit of their community all the time. In an RBE the world would be their community.

Then there are the people that give time/money to charity. They see that there are people starving, and they are motivated - perhaps by compassion - to do something.

Then there are those who, when they see a fairer system like an RBE in place or coming into place, will move from passive acceptance of the system they're in to either active or passive acceptance of an RBE.

The most feared category, though, is the 'something for nothing' category - people who are only out for what they can get, and have no intention of putting anything back. The whole current system gravitates towards this idea that people must be deprived of the means of survival to force them to "contribute to society".

Who knows how big this category is. Society already tries to educate them out of the something for nothing mind set, and I dare say society won't stop doing so the while they exist, but let's examine "contributing to society". In the current system, it means get a job - more or less any job, but not every job is genuinely contributing to society. Having a paid job is not necessarily contributing to society. It may also be that some people in this category do not have much ability and would not do well in the job market because of that, and therefore may as well take what they can get, at least from their point of view.

The dictum "from each according to his means, to each according to his needs" comes to mind here. Is it necessary for us to have a system that ensures, by coercion if necessary, that each person contributes to he full extent of his means - ie does what s/he can, or can society cope with people who simply won't contribute, whatever. It may be that in an RBE the work needed is less than the total "means" even of the willing, but it is also true that to some extent we already cope with those who can/will contribute little or nothing. I think in an RBE there will be fewer people and we will cope better even if there aren't.