Blog Main Archive - Jul 2015

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7/8/2015 - Some thoughts on synchronicities (Self-Help)
7/12/2015 - The "Internet of Things" and "Pervasive Computing": Some of the Worst Ideas Ever (Corporations Gone Wild)

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Some thoughts on synchronicities
Wednesday, July 8th, 2015
14:05:54 GMT

Self-Help

I've been continuing to procrastinate about even checking my email or forums lately. Sorry about that.

At the moment, I'm more in the mood to just climb up on my soapbox and give a speech than interact with people.


I'm still itching to create (or find) a CMS (or content management system, for lack of a better term) that I feel happy and comfortable with - since until I do, I don't think I'm going to feel really enthusiastic about adding to my websites. Plus, I think a lot of my projects could benefit from some templating features.

A CMS of some sort should also help with my old project of writing my autobiography. (It's surprisingly more interesting than most people would expect. Surprised me, too.) And, since I find most mundane things about life relatively boring - with my autobio project, I will probably continue to mostly focus on documenting the weird but cool synchronicities and other surprising oddities I've sometimes encountered, rather than writing very much about the many boring things in my life (which far outnumber the interesting things).

I have a bunch of remarkable things rather crudely documented, but, I want to make them a lot more organized and presentable, even beyond what I've already managed to achieve with the help of Astroblahhh Desktop.


Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to publish most of my autobiography for a very long time due to privacy concerns and the fact that I almost certainly wouldn't be able to obtain permission from everyone mentioned.

But, I'm not sure publishing it would do the world much good anyway, since reading about others' remarkable experiences (and then having to wonder if they're even true) is definitely far from as life-changing (and hopefully beneficial) as having your own remarkable experiences.

So, perhaps what would be more worthwhile for me to share would simply be, suggestions which could help curious people increase their chances of encountering (or noticing) remarkable synchronicities.


Actually, I already mentioned some ideas a long time ago on the About Astroblahhh.Com page.

Such as the idea of keeping a dream journal, so if there ever happen to be any odd coincidences between your dreams and the real world, you'll have a much easier time noticing that than if you never write down your dreams.

And I also highly recommend checking out checking out asteroids in astrology, including both natal placements of asteroids, and transits. There are thousands of differently-named asteroids. I particularly recommend checking out the ones which have your name(s) or similar, or the names (or approximate names) of significant people or things in your life. I've seen some darned weird-seeming stuff with asteroids at times.

(At the moment, it's probably easier to look up asteroids using the free chart-calculating features on Astrodienst than to use my free, libre, open source astrology software Eryss, unless you happen to already be running Lucid Puppy Linux 5.2.8 version 004, or something quite similar. But someday, I hope to release versions of Eryss for a wider variety of computer platforms.)

And another thing I highly recommend is taking lots of notes. And not only having a dream journal, but a diary of events in your life might really help a lot.

Hmm, those actually might already be the best suggestions I have for anyone who wants to encounter (or notice) more odd synchronicities in their own lives.


Even though I probably won't be able to release my autobiography for a long time, I still want to work on it, because for me, synchronicities serve as a lovely reminder that perhaps it's really true that "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy", and that maybe miracles really are possible.

And, I hope analyzing these various oddities more carefully, comparing them to each other, looking for patterns amongst them, etc., might help shed more light on how and why in the universe such strange things sometimes happen.


I have far more questions than answers. Questions like, does prayer actually work, at least a bit, sometimes? Does God exist and really send "signs" sometimes?

Is there actually some grain of truth in the often disgustingly snake-oily-seeming New Age "Law of Attraction" crap?

Some people (like various famous reputedly psychic mediums) believe that everyone has "spirit guides", and that sometimes your spirit guides send you meaningful "signs". So is that the explanation for synchronicities?

Can astrology ever be proven objectively to have some grain of validity? What would analyzing astrology in depth using statistics reveal? (Hopefully future editions of Eryss - my free, libre, open source astrology software - will be useful tools in exploring these questions.)

Does telepathy really exist, or other psychic phenomena? (I'm not sure what else could explain some of my dreams.)

Does reincarnation really exist?

Searching for credible answers to questions like those will probably keep me busy for the rest of my life.


Returning to the topic of synchronicities - another possible (but boring) explanation for synchronicities is that they are nothing but an illusion resulting from the human brain's capacity for perceiving patterns that aren't really there.

Sure, many flimsy synchronicities are probably totally explainable that way - though I think they probably shouldn't even be called synchronicities if they're that flimsy.

But the really interesting ones are not so easily dismissed.

I'm tempted to share a doozy or two from my own life - but, I'm feeling a bit too timid to do that at the moment, so I'll just direct you to Wikipedia's article on synchronicities.

Plus, anything written by C. G. Jung would probably be fascinating to check out. I haven't read very much of that yet myself, but I really want to, maybe even in its original language (German, I assume).


I used to have an even unhappier life than I do now. I used to be far more cynical (I still am probably more cynical than I should be, but at least less than before), and far more close-minded, scornful, and prejudiced against anything I regarded as irrational nonsense, such as religion, spirituality, astrology, or anything else that seemed to make no darn sense. (Though at the same time, I was still curious and both repelled and intrigued by such things, rather than 100% dismissive and avoidant. I was quite dismissive, but not nearly as avoidant as many people who consider these things a total waste of time are.)

Then, on a curious whim, I took a closer look at astrology when I was 18, and was quite surprised by what I found. (But that's a long story which I can't yet get into.)


Those and other fascinating synchronicities gradually made me more and more open-minded, and I became convinced that parts of religion, astrology, spirituality, and other things I had scoffed at were quite possibly not such abysmally irrational and empty rubbish as I originally thought.

So, I gradually became agnostic (with major suspicions that God might really exist), rather than an atheist-almost-for-sure as I had originally been.

I still retain my skeptical distaste for blindly believing in anything without evidence/logical reasons to believe.

But the various remarkable synchronicities I encountered seem to provide me some legitimate reason to at least suspect that there really might be "more things in heaven and earth" than were dreamt of in my original cynical, closed-minded, very mainstream-skeptical philosophy.


Despite my largely transformed worldview, I stlil sometimes (OK, often) pout and get profoundly sad about how unpleasant and lonely my life has too often been, and the tons of problems in the world. O me of little faith.

But, thinking back to the various wonders I somehow had the luck to stumble into (partly thanks simply to keeping a dream journal and diary, and being observant and curious) has done a lot to rescue me from abject despair.

So, I just thought I should write about that - the best cure for despair I've encountered in my life, other than obvious comforts like food, shelter, money, love, etc.

Perhaps if other people do some of what I did (dream journaling, keeping a diary, playing around with astrology, etc.) and encounter their own remarkable synchronicities, perhaps it might help lift them out of despair too?


Again, I'm unable to share too many private details from my and others' lives.

But, fortunately, there's far less reason for me to avoid pointing out odd astrological coincidences I've noticed which have nothing whatsoever to do with anyone's private lives. :-)

I guess I'll only point out a few for now. And, with the particular ones I had in mind, it seemed most appropriate to post them to Eryss.Com.

So, here's a link to that post:

Eris, Xena, Discord

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The "Internet of Things" and "Pervasive Computing": Some of the Worst Ideas Ever
Sunday, July 12th, 2015
16:58:06 GMT

Corporations Gone Wild

The "Internet of Things" and "pervasive computing" are concepts which I find creepy, foolish, and dangerously naive.

(Additions, Sept. 1, 2016, 5:03 AM/6:35 AM/10:45 AM EDT, etc. In retrospect, that wording seems like quite an understatement! Much of this wrecknology is creating more and more chances for accidents and other catastrophes to happen.

Nowadays, software can not only crash your computer - it can crash your car!

The many defects of software are having more and more severe effects on the physical world, simply because too many people have been naive (or ill-intentioned) enough to put real-world objects such as cars, medical equipment, smoke alarms, door locks, voting machines, and so on, under the control of software.

So many problems could be avoided simply by relying on purely mechanical things, instead of electronic, computerized, or internet-connected things.

Thanks to Umair Haque for writing this great article about wrecknology (which is where I first noticed that word), and many other great articles.

End of additions.)


Putting internet capabilities (or even just computers/software without internet) into things that don't really need them (like cars, phones, and common household appliances) might make those things vulnerable to computer glitches, viruses, hacking/cracking, invasions of privacy, and despicable corporate practices such as companies making their own products impossible to repair by keeping all the software/computer hardware closed source and proprietary, and withholding tools, parts, and repair information. (And at least one company even went to such lengths as using non-standard screws which standard screwdrivers can't remove.)

Here's a page from ifixit.org about the right to repair, and some of the ways that right is being threatened.


And here are some articles about some even worse ways closed-source, proprietary software and hardware are being abused:

From the Daily Mail, Sept. 24, 2014: Driver nearly crashes when her car suddenly shut down on a busy interstate because auto lender hit remote kill switch when she missed a payment

From the New York Times, Sept. 24, 2014: Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car

From Wired.com, Apr. 21, 2015: We Can’t Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership


In these cases, I actually don't think having only free (as in freedom), libre, open source software or computerized devices in cars, tractors, etc. would fix everything. That might help stop some bad things - but, I'd still be worried that even libre software and computerized devices also could be vulnerable to glitches, malicious hacking/cracking, invasions of privacy, viruses, or corporate rubbish. (Unfortunately, software or hardware being under a libre license doesn't automatically mean that the software or hardware is great, well-designed, secure, and harmless.)

So, I'd actually much rather have a traditional purely mechanical car (or tractor, if I wanted a tractor) with no computers, computerized devices, or software at all. Or at least no computers/computerized devices/software connected to systems that can do dangerous things like shut your car down, jam your steering wheel or brakes, or unlock and open your doors.




(Addition, Aug. 9, 2015, 1:19 AM EDT: Here are a couple more recent scary articles I found:

From Wired.com, July 21, 2015: Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It

From Wired.com, July 24, 2015: After Jeep Hack, Chrysler Recalls 1.4M Vehicles for Bug Fix

End of addition, except some slight wording changes below.)




(Additions, Sept. 1, 2016, 7:55 AM EDT, etc.: I was very saddened to find out today that the actor Anton Yelchin died possibly because of the "e-shift transmission" in his Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was involved in a recall. He was only 27.

From BBC.com, June 20, 2016: Anton Yelchin, Star Trek's Chekov, killed by his own car

From Autoweek.com, June 20, 2016: Was Anton Yelchin's death caused by a recalled shifter?


Anton Yelchin's parents are suing the car companies involved. I hope justice will be done.

From DailyMail.co.uk, Aug. 2, 2016: Anton Yelchin's parents sob revealing their son was sent a recall notice for his Jeep a week AFTER he was crushed to death as they talk about their lawsuit against its manufacturer


Many other people have also had accidents and injuries:

From Consumerist.com, Feb. 8, 2016: More Than 100 Crashes Caused By Confusing Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge Gear Shifters


And yes, the "e-shift transmission" apparently is controlled by software:

From CNN.com, June 22, 2016: Fix ready for Jeep gear shift problem that killed Anton Yelchin

But how can anyone know for sure if the software is truly fixed and now glitch-free? And how can anyone be sure the software is unhackable/uncrackable? If that software gets hacked/cracked, or infected by a virus, or otherwise corrupted, people's lives could literally be at stake!


Car companies of the world, please stop putting literal wrecknology into your vehicles!

I don't know much about cars, but I can't imagine that old-fashioned purely mechanical transmissions have anything like those problems.

End of additions.)




(Addition, Feb. 11, 2016, 12:47 PM EST: Another scary car-related article:

From PBS.org, Feb. 10, 2016: Google’s Self-Driving Car May Soon Be Considered a Legal Driver

Some scary quotes from that article:

"The recommendation suggests that the U.S. government might allow Google to build marketable self-driving cars that don’t include steering wheels, pedals, or any other human-operated feature."

[...]

[...] 'the NHTSA letter said that Google expressed concern “that providing human occupants of the vehicle with mechanisms to control things like steering, acceleration, braking… could be detrimental to safety because the human occupants could attempt to override the (self-driving system’s) decisions.”'

End of quotes.

So, I guess if the "self-driving" car's software goes haywire or gets hacked, any unfortunate people inside the car might have no way to take control of the car. :-(

End of addition.)




(Addition, Sept. 24, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT: The recent Volkswagen scandal reputedly involves deceptive software:

From NYTimes.com, Sept. 22, 2015: Volkswagen Says 11 Million Cars Worldwide Are Affected in Diesel Deception

End of addition.)


(Addition, Oct. 25, 2016, 3:06 PM EDT: Some good news related to the Volkswagen scandal:

The largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history was just approved. VW buybacks start soon
From Oct. 25, 2016 on LATimes.com

If you have an affected car, you might be able to sell it back to Volkswagen. Having them modify the defective car is also an option, but I would have a hard time trusting Volkswagen to fix it correctly. Though I wouldn't trust anyone else to be able to fix it either, because I think putting software in important systems in cars is an inherently bad idea.

Hopefully this settlement will cause all car companies to be more wary of ruining their products by adding software to them.)




(Additions, Oct. 20, 2015, 1:26 PM EDT, etc. Yesterday evening at about 8:08 PM EDT during the TV show Gotham on Fox, I saw a TV ad for Nest.com, and I was particularly dismayed when the ad appeared to show a smoke alarm being turned off with a mobile phone.

Smoke alarms seem to me like yet another thing that should never be designed to be controlled by something potentially hackable, infectable by a virus, or vulnerable to software/computer glitches.


Also, here's a very worrying blog post, mainly about malware-infected routers, and people's stuff getting infected soon after connecting to such a router, and other related problems or potential problems:

From CodingHorror.com, Aug. 8, 2015: Welcome to The Internet of Compromised Things

I always thought connecting computers or devices to random routers, or even known and (mistakenly) trusted routers, might somehow be more dangerous than most people suspect.

End of additions.)




Also, here are some articles about spyware which some companies are actually selling for use on so-called "smart" phones and computers:

From The Guardian, Feb. 28, 2015: Spyware and malware availability sparks surge in internet stalking

From The Guardian, Jan. 25, 2015: Spyware and smartphones

From NPR, Sept. 21, 2014: Smartphones Are Used To Stalk, Control Domestic Abuse Victims


Even people who don't have their own personal stalker or domestic abuser to worry about probably ought to worry about what various unethical corporations are doing behind all our backs (or right under our noses).

And we'd likely be at least a little better off using hopefully safer and more secure free (as in freedom), libre, open source alternatives to closed source, proprietary software and devices.

Or, best of all in many cases would be to use softwareless and computerless things.


We not only need free (as in freedom) software and hardware, but the freedom to not have software and computers in every d*mn thing.


Click this link to display the blog comment thread hosted at the Eryss.Com Forum:

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