Archive for the ‘Random thoughts’ Category

There’s no such thing as gay rights, it’s human rights all the way

February 18, 2014 2 comments

This opinion piece I read the other day in the Guardian ( got me thinking.

Why do we even talk about ‘gay rights’ as something different and separate from ‘human rights’? Or about the rights of women, for that matter? Aren’t LGBT people and women human beings? Why should their rights be treated separately and somehow in a different manner than human rights in general?

As for this whole gayness issue, why all this talk about genetic predisposition? Hasn’t it been a well established fact for quite some time now that human sexual attraction can work in all sorts of wacky ways with both nurture and nature playing pretty much equal parts and that some people can happily swing both ways and that yes, sometimes it’s a choice when people just feel more comfortable doing it with a person of the same sex as them. So my question is so what?

Why should society, let alone government, be in control over what people choose to do in the privacy of their own bedrooms?

Russia’s going full tilt bat-shit crazy on these issues these days, once again serving as a cautionary tale for the rest of the world, providing an example of what you never wanna see happening in your own country.  However, what’s been going on in Russia these past few years is a brilliant illustration of how gay rights and human rights are in fact one and the same thing.

A lot of those self-righteous conspicuously straight people  who supported the Russian ban on gay propaganda both within and outside Russia ( yes it seems weird but I actually know in person a few of the latter) don’t understand the simple fact that when government starts telling gays what they can and cannot do and gets away with it, tomorrow it will be telling all of us what we can and cannot do, including in our own private personal lives and that is already happening in Russia: come this July lace underwear is going to be officially banned in Russia and the other Customs Union countries (Belarus and Kazakhstan). For that alone the Ukrainians must do everything in their power to try and escape the clutches of Putin’s suffocating embrace.  Run, Ukraine, Run.

But back to my point: when LGBT people are discriminated against in any way, it’s not a gay rights violation, it’s a human rights violation. There is no such thing as LGBT rights separate from human rights.  People must understand that we all have to speak out loud and clear against discrimination of LGBT people because when their rights are being violated, our rights, as humans, to do whatever we want to do between consenting adults are being violated too.

And as for how homosexuality is unnatural and all that: people, wake the fuck up: it exists, that pretty much means it’s natural, saying homosexuality is some sort of an aberration is like saying that whoever doesn’t like apple pie is a genetic aberration and must be stripped of their human rights. In other words, it’s just insane.


is reprecentative democracy really just a farce

November 25, 2011 Leave a comment

With the upcoming elections to the Russian parliament (the so called doom-ah) just around the corner a lot of people in Russia are sometimes rather heatedly discussing whether or not to participate in the elections. Many believe that the results are a foregone conclusion, United Russia, the ruling party, will be once again pronounced the winner regardless of whether or not the majority of the people that do turn up at the polling stations on Dec 4 actually vote for it. If they don’t, just about everyone in Russia is sure the results will be falsified and United Russia will still be pronounced the winner.

The situation in modern day Russia is unique in that all the drawbacks of representative democracy have been laid bare here. It would appear at first sight that all the necessary institutions are in place, we’ve got a parliament and a president that is elected in a general election and yet we’ve had the exact same group of people in power for more than ten years now and they’ve managed quite successfully to remain in the Kremlin despite the economic crisis of 2008 and the devastating wild fires of 2010.

Do elections get routinely rigged in Russia? I personally don’t know, probably some of them do, however, I don’t think that they necessarily have to be in a representative democracy. Theoretically, for instance, just about anyone can run for president in Russia but in reality most people can’t for the simple reason that they don’t have enough resources to mount a successful presidential campaign. The same applies to parliamentary elections. To get to parliament you need a party but to organize a party you need resources and lots of them. Thus at the end of the day whoever has got the most cash ends up calling all the shots in a representative democracy.

And this doesn’t apply to Russia alone, it’s just that in Russia today the powers that be cannot even be bothered to make the effort to put on an air of legitimacy; their methods are crude and they hardly even try to conceal their machinations. Plus in general the ordinary people in Russia tend to be a bit less gullible than in some other places about these things.

So if what we’ve been taught about representative democracy is a hopelessly idealized model that doesn’t really work in reality, sort of like perfect competition with every decision maker having access to all the information about the market, why do the ruling elites in the world’s most successful countries even bother with this charade. After all, even in the US when push came to shove in the 2000 election, it was the supreme court and not the voters that decided who was going to be the president.

My theory is that enlightened ruling elites use the institutions of representative democracy as a means to gauge the public mood and aspirations. History teaches us that if the ruling elites completely lose touch with the masses things will often get completely out of hand with the masses storming the posh houses and palaces of their rulers and stringing them up on lamp posts or doing some other nasty things to them. The last such major showdown was in Romania where the Ceuacescus were essentially summarily executed after a failed attempt to escape Romania. Before that a similar fate befell the Romanov family in Russia. Imho, the failure of both regimes stemmed from total loss of touch their their people and that’s where representative democracy comes into play.

Its goal is not to empower people to rule themselves but rather to provide the ruling elites with a safety valve and a way to monitor what’s going on in the general population.  However, in Russia, it would appear that our representative democracy is failing miserably in this mission. The prudent course of action at this stage, imho, would be to ditch the Putin-Medvedev tandem as well as the United Russia party and bring to power someone new. If Putin actually remains in power in Russia things might eventually spin out of control, possibly even by 2017.

Would you rather climb a mountain or run a marathon?

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

between climbing a mountain and running a marathon I would choose climbing a mountain.

Think about it, running a marathon is dull, you just run on and on, after a while you’re so exhausted you stop noticing what’s happening around you and once you cross the finish line you just drop to the ground half dead. With mountains it’s much more interesting, a mountain is always a challenge, even if it’s a small mountain and yet nobody’s rushing you and you can pace yourself, take your time, camp half way up, take in the scenery, take pictures. Then if it’s a really high mountain you can even get to look down at the clouds or get to see snow in the middle of the summer. In short climbing a mountain, imho, is a far more diverse and rewarding experience than simply running like a stupid machine with an Energizer battery up your butt.

Running is too much like the sort of lives we tend to live today, we’re all already running marathons as it is, getting up in the morning, going to work, working, then coming back home, going through the motions, a huge percentage of what we do every day gets done on autopilot we’re not living anymore we’re just going through the motions and running a marathon is very much about going through the motions of moving your legs and arms and running on along. By contrast to successfully climb a mountain you have to think and plan first and then you’ve got to be switched-on all the way to the summit so you can adjust if things change.

In short, we ought all to stop running marathons and try and climb more mountains instead, both literally and metaphorically

Categories: Random thoughts

web sites that go away

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

the Internet is a-changing. It’s a truism that is true, the only constant online is change and as new websites are popping up into existence old ones are going off-line. It can be quite a shock when a site you’ve come to depend on is suddenly just no there anymore but that the downside of the Internet for you. It’s there today and tomorrow it’s gone, for whatever reason, the owners may have run out of cash or lost interest in the project and puff it’s gone. It can be quite frustrating and sad, online the landscape is changing so fast we can no longer keep pace with it, things are coming and going at such a speed that we no longer even have time to develop any sort of emotional dependence on them. Think about it, a day will eventually come when facebook will go off-line.

Categories: IT, Random thoughts

Who knows you better than anyone else?

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

good question, I would probably say that in my case it’s my mom. She can always see right through me. Although a couple of years ago I was able to surprise her, but not for long. That’s probably part of the reason while I always tend to feel a bit uncomfortable in her company – she knows too much about me.

The reason she knows so much about me is because I lived with my parents for far too long and it’s inevitable that your parents are going to know too much about you after watching you grow up and go through all your trials and tribulations. And in a way it sort of sucks. I guess I’m a secretive kind of person so I don’t particularly like it when people know too much about me. My idea of effective communication is where I only reveal to others as much as I want and not more and I’m always in control.

If somebody knows you too well that also implies they know your vulnerabilities, it kind of puts you at their mercy. I guess it’s ok if it’s your parents because parents normally tend to love their kids but what if somebody else? they can always use that knowledge to manipulate you into doing something you’re later going to regret.

Categories: Random thoughts

the demise of the global village

I will probably never understand why people seem to take so much pleasure in drawing borders where there were once none.

In technology today things are changing very fast. I’m not really all that old yet but I can still remember the time when the Internet was global in the sense that it didn’t matter where you were accessing a resource from, you’d still be getting the exact same information. Back in the ‘olden days’ I was so enamored of that ‘global village’ idea I didn’t even notice when things started changing.

I believe that the first time it was brought home for me loud and clear that the global village might be going down the drain was back in 03 (or was it 04) when I was visiting my relatives in West Ukraine and wanted to look up the roaming rates of my mobile operator on their website. I went to a local Internet cafe, since back then my Ukrainian relatives did not eve have a computer, but to my total dismay each time I tried to load my mobile operator’s website, it loaded the website of their Ukrainian branch instead. I remember that I eventually figure out a way around this region-based redirect and got through to my mobile operator’s website but still the whole experience seemed totally wrong to me. What’s the use of the Internet if I can’t access a website I want from anywhere in the world?

Unfortunately since then things have been going from bad to worse. This abandonment of global values has been especially awful in the corporate world. The websites of various commercial news outlets, TV companies and the like offer lots of content that can only be accessed from within the US or the UK or whatever regional market they happen to be targeting. It’s the f..cking DVD region codes all over again. As one sitcom character from the 1990’s would have said, ‘This sucks, this is total BS’

It would appear that the corporate types have totally missed the entire point of the Internet. The whole idea behind the technology was to make information globally accessible to facilitate cooperation and creativity and I believe that at its core this idea doesn’t really run counter to market economy. If anything the globalization capability offered by the Interent on the one hand makes the market place more competitive, which in theory should lead to better products, but on the other hand allows companies with niche market offerings to make a killing by targeting niche markets all over the world.

I was also wondering if there are any legal repercussions to refusing to sell stuff to people because of where they happen to be accessing your website from. It’s one thing if you simply can’t send things there but what if all the infrastructure is in place (and for most places it is in place, services like DHL can deliver things wherever) but you still say, sorry, you’re in eastern Europe so you can’t buy anything from us.

Well, whatever the case might be regarding all those legal issues, the fact remains that the global village as people envisaged it in the early naughties seems to have been divided up and segmented into tiny little localized sub-villages with all sorts of restrictions on what kind of information can be passed from one to another, and I personally think it’s a rather sad development – yet another dream of humanity has been crushed or is in the process of being crushed.

always a beginner

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

These days things happen too fast to even register with some people.  In Russia DVD’s came and went within a span of just a couple of years, literally. In the late 1990’s they were a new hip technology that few people could afford and then before we knew it they were supplanted by blue-ray and broadband downloads. Then there’s the mobile phones – I can still remember the time when their displays were black and white and today there’s people who won’t even give a mobile phone a second glance unless it has the latest type of touch screen.

And in this whirlwind of constant change, whenever I open a book on some latest technology or gadget that I’ve just downloaded off the internet in a first draft version even before it officially hits the shelves of brick and mortar book stores (let alone gets translated into Russian), I can’t help getting a creeping feeling that by the time I’ve finished reading it this technology will be obsolete. Things are just moving too fast these days.

Thus I will often end up just looking at the table of context and the index at the back and just picking and choosing the bits and pieces I happen to need at this particular moment and more often than not the rest of the book never gets read.

Do I have a chance to ever become an expert in any new technology? I doubt it. Is there really enough time for anyone to become an expert in something these days? Well, perhaps, if it’s psychology or something equally fundamental that’s part of the human nature or just nature, like physics, then probably the answer is yes. Acquiring expertise takes time, so if the subject of your expertise is pretty much constant then you can probably pull it off. However, if it’s something is fast-moving and fluid as technology or ICT, then the best you can hope for is becoming an expert at your job, the stuff you do day in and day out and which is bound to be obsolete by the time your company lets you go.

So what do we do? In white water rafting it is said that you have to be moving faster than the current if you want to retain at least some degree of control. The problem of moving faster than the lightening speed changes in technology these days is that unlike white water rafting, you don’t know where you’re supposed to be moving and thus there’s a very good chance that you might end up moving very fast but in a very wrong direction. Happens all the time. Thus as the pace of life increases, we’re slowly but surely being turned into gamblers who’re doing it not of their own volition but simply because we’v got no other option.

Well perhaps there’s the option of abandoning technology altogether and going into maths and social sciences. Mathematised social sciences seem to be one of those next big things, you predict the social dynamics with maths and then make all the right moves and get rich. And as for technology, well, perhaps you feel you can keep up with it and even outpace it, but if it’s just too much, maybe it’s time to call it quits and concentrate on something else.

Categories: Random thoughts