Wednesday, November 28, 2012
[Note: This is a piece of fiction in progress, and is really in its early stages. Its taking shape as a scratchpad of ideas about the world of the future in which the Pleroma rules.]
Hanlen had been working for the company for years. Everyone did. That was the way of things on this the year of 2132 on the remnants of what had once been the third satellite of the solar body we call Sol. It wasn't work by what our standards might be as drawing sweat from the brow or a return from a difficult day at the office. He considered it serious and important work and for all intense purposes it was far more so than he would have known.
A lot had happened in one hundred and twenty years. Civilization had twice been brought to the brink of war, and ultimately its own destruction. Inevitably the better part of human nature succeeded and rejoiced and the urban sprawl continued until there existed no land that was not urban. In the course of that time government as we know it had changed to resemble what we would call a dictatorship and had merged into a single body the world over. By 2067 citizens the world over were united under one country, the only one there was: Utopia.
Unlike its namesake it was far from the perfect state of the equilibrium of human existence. The dictator wasn't human, nor of organic origins at all, though it did manifest itself in the consciousness of what we would call local representatives of government. Just like the software of the early twenty first century it ran in a non-linear programmatic sequence. Unlike the primitive software of the twenty first century, it executed outside of regular space-time in harmonic spheres, the mixed in-organic/organic hardware that we would call a computer and exploited the quantum properties of the human brain for both processing and input within these representatives. The programs ran in something called collapsed space, which was named for the collapse of the wave function as explained by Schrodinger in his (cruel) thought experiment. One possibility would collapse into reality and the next possibility would stem from that one. The program would computer all possibilities simulaneously yielding a result upon observation by a conscious observer. This result was called the harvest and the entirety of this program was called Pleroma.
Life was very different from ours. As alien to us as our lives are to the numerous creatures that populate a coral reef. The internet had ceased to exist, or better described it was a part of every consciousness. The entirety of human experience and knowledge was accessible to anyone, if you had the right level of access for that particular piece of information. There were no search engines, just pure thought. Hanlen thought about this and discovered this had been the case since the Penrose/Hameroff Consortium of Human Consciousness had mapped the relationship between microtubules in the human brain and quantum non-locality. Amazingly, we had been capable of faster than light transmission of information and communication all along. What that meant in our terms is that our brains took advantage of quantum non-locality, and had the potential to affect any number of a subset of properties of a particle instantly regardless of distance. Any one of us could make a particle dance regardless of our distance from it. This was a side-effect of everyday thought. Its most profound implication was however that whatever made us uniquely us, was not a part of space/time as we know it but beyond it. This still gave Hanlen the shivers when he thought about it. Everything that he was, without the organic hardware of his body existed in something that was independent of both space and time. We had all of the clues but were as close to an answer as we are today.
Hanlen had been an archive analyst for twenty two years. He never found his job boring as one might have found their job boring in the twenty first century. There was no such thing as money as the currency was access to knowledge. We literally earned the right to have access to more information or an access to a higher level of information. The promotion was made by Pleroma itself, which would modify part of the genetic code within the recipent of the promotion, allowing them the level of access they had earned, though the notion of level was more more of an arc than it was a series of steps on a staircase. Analog versus digital. Infinite versus finite. This information naturally transitioned itself to others as it was acquired by those with access. This fed the longing for the answers to age old questions such as what are we or where did we come from and yielded more curiosity and motivation to feed that curiosity with answers.
Most of the original surface matter of the world had been replaced by composite constuction materials and there existed no natural habitats. There were forests, animals and plants, but all were part of the Pleroma and engineered as contained tiny habitats for human experience or for the computing power of the Pleroma itself. The ecosystems which brought forth those species of animal and plant had long since gone from being information as a series of amino acids to information as a series of wavelets, the smallest indivisible unit of information used by harmonic spheres.
Most of the labor that was performed by people had been replaced entirely by nanotechnology and emergent collaboration. This enabled many nanites (microscopic robots) to work together as a collective and essentially become and organism unto itself, much like an ant colony. There were three basic types or roles for nanites, builders which would fuse two elements together to yield a compound molecule, demolisher which would desconstruct such molecules back into their constituent raw materials and couriers, which would transport raw molecules or raw materials to and from their required locations. The nanites were guided by the Pleroma through the issuing of a task called an intent. A complete intent encompassed everything required to create the end product of what the complete intent represented.
The nanites themselves were fuelled by raw oxygen, which they got by demolishing carbon dioxide, yielding a lot of carbon, which was most often used as a sturdy and abundant building material. The oxygen wasn't consumed, as the energy was gained by the process which combined it with hydrogen to yield water. The side effect was that the carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere was converted to solid matter and used as a building material by the nanites. This made up for the lack of plant life which historically had been able to eat carbon dioxide as part of their respiration requirements and yielding much oxygen for us.
Most people didn't notice the plants missing, for most people's conscious attention was employed in simulations for the Pleroma, where they would experience a living and breathing world. One that no longer existed in the terms of what we define as being reality and the world had to some lost its lustre for those who sought a newer palette and canvas. The Pleroma provided this and it was where most of existence was situated in terms of being the foci of human consciousness.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Have you ever dreamt of flying a space shuttle mission? Here's an official short little flash based mission simulator from the Kennedy Space Center that serves as an educational tool as well that's youngster friendly.
For a very detailed simulation of the space shuttle try Space Shuttle Mission Simulator a commercial program with a freely downloadable demo. It supports a wide number of features including head mounted displays and head tracking for those who want real immersion. Throw in technical support and a good library of expansions and you have a great program. I only got a short peek at it and its great indeed, with the most accurate instrument panel I've seen.
On a low budget? For those of you running a Windows based PC, you can download Orbiter, a great free shuttle simulation with a modern dynamics taking into account such factors as the buoyancy of the atmosphere and a highly accurate instumentation model. It would be perfectly rounded out with SpaceShip 2 a sub-orbital space craft in development and one of the pioneer craft of commercial spaceflight.
Looking for something a bit further into the future where we've already tackled all of the rough bits regarding space flight? You might want to check out Frontier: First Encounters on the PC. Its a bit more of a game than a simulation but it originated way back in the early days of computer as the first space simulation game known as Elite first released on the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. Imagine that! There was a space simulation game that included IFR (Instrument Flight Reckoning) based and VFR (Visual Flight Reckoning) based space station docking in 1984. It was a completely ground breaking program at the time and will get its place on my links page. There were two sequels to the game, Frontier and Frontier First Encounters, both similar to each other but ground breaking in the sense that they simulated nearly the entire milkyway galaxy in 1993 on two 720KB 3 1/2" disks!
Another first was the fact that you could seamlessly fly from ground to space without transitions that were common in most space games at that time. It pioneered all space simulations for the PC including Google Earth utilizing LOD (Level Of Detail) and icosahedron subdivision rendering for its geometric representation of planets and moons. Looking a little dated compared to most modern space simulation games, a group of programmers and artists in the FFE community combined forces in two teams to take on the monumental task of updating Frontier First Encounters to utilize modern 3D hardware, which required reverse engineering a few hundred thousand lines of machine code culminating in FFED3D and FFEGL. Highly recommended, and lots of information and resources out there from the Elite and Frontier community. Special thanks to David Braben and Ian Bell, the original creators of those programs. For more information on these great programs please check out Frontier Astro, a great site detailing all of the Elite series of games.
Lastly, for an updated version of Elite! Check out Oolite, a multiplatform version of the original Elite, with updated graphics and object orientation which translates to lots of expandability.
What space themed blog entry would be complete without Star Trek and Star Wars? Well this one certainly wouldn't. Have you ever wanted to command and fly a Federation starship? Have you ever wanted to lead an away team on a surface mission? You can with Star Trek Online, a massively multiplayer online Star Trek game. It lets you do all that and more in a huge universe with cameo appearances and mentions of the crew of all of the Star Trek series. The best part is that its free to play, you just need an internet connection. Highly recommended.
Last but not least is Star Wars Online, an online massively multiplayer version or Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic. Another excellent online game with a free to play version. You can join the Galactic Republic or the Empire, with four different classes and many different races to choose from in each faction. This game takes place a few thousand years before the Star Wars movies and includes many of the locations from the movies. Again, highly recommended.
That should be enough space food to keep your tribbles happy for while.
Until then, may the force be with you at warp 9.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
both the living and the deceased
who have put at risk their own lives
to improve the quality of life in some way shape or form
whether here or in another part of the world
maybe you fought landlocked in a huge network of trenches in Europe
or stormed beaches against insurmountable odds and over the bodies of your fallen brothers
maybe you patrolled treacherous jungle in support of free society
acted as the neutral peace keeping friend between two warring enemies
maybe you provided emergency assistance
recovery from homeland attacks or natural disasters
or fought for the rights of women and children to attend schools and use hospitals and vote
a large part of our freedom is because of your effort
Thank you always and on this Remembrance Day
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Watched a couple of great movies last night, Knowing and MI:4 Ghost Protocol. Both were enjoyable and I specifically liked Ghost Protocol, and to top it off it had a great ending.
I also noticed a news item concerning cyber-threats by the Public Safety Department and Vic Toews which is good news. The main thing that I hope that they address is the problem of illegal monitoring by civilians. For an idea of what this problem entails, see Van Eck Phreaking at WhatIs and here care of DefCon. This club or gang possess this technology in their apartments and use it against non-members of their club and will often walk up and down the street announcing this information (my particular harassers in that way seem to constantly blame it upon Oriental culture, mostly out of my affinity for it).
Until they take this threat seriously, there will be considerable problems for Canadians and others in the world whose private information is used illegally or even intimidatingly by perpetrators of this activity. In my neighbourhood it is used to protect crack cocaine.
I've had situations whereby my neighbours might announce specific lines from something that I writing as I am writing it, and without an internet connection whatsoever. They need to address the fact that there are Canadians conducting illegal monitoring against other law abiding Canadians, using means and technology that does not require the presence of an internet or network connection whatsoever, with some computers and phones being vulnerable to this.
I trust the companies asking for the information, but not the people in the next apartment who can read the information from my computer screen with illegal technology, often without me having an internet connection whatsoever.
I hope that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews addresses problems like this and that investigations are made with regard to this activity.
It would be great to watch a movie from one of the online movie rental providers or buy a dvd and watch it without having a neighbour say "you totally ripped up Knowing and Ghost Protocol".
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
For my spare time in the evenings I've been watching some flicks and playing a couple of video games.
All of the best to everyone, and I should be back at the typewriter again soon, with an update to a couple of the stories as soon as I can get a window of opportunity with enough peace to work on them. I've been playing with some other ideas as well, but like I said, I need a window of opportunity.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The players viewpoint would most likely be first person perspective or even 3/4 top down perspective. Either would work with the concept.
Flow of Gameplay
The gameplay would take place over a series of maps or levels either indoor or outdoor in a terrestrial setting, perhaps starting modern times. Each map or level would represent a different point in time, and entry to the level except for levels in the modern time would be made via a time machine.
Each level would be played out of time sequence with a number of level puzzles or challenges. At some point into the game, the command structure requires you to use the time machine to fix problems created by your initial tampering in that time. The risk is that you are not allowed to cross paths with the previous "you", that is that you cannot cross the viewpoint of your previous self on that level. If you do, you are wiped out and must begin the process on that level from your first attempt at the level all over again.
The concept is a little bit similar to the movies Back To The Future 2 and Millenium, which involved time paradoxes effecting time spaces as sort of earth quakes or obliteration of the violators of the laws of time/space. The game itself would borrow nothing from the concept of the movie except for time travel which is a popular theme in fiction and movies but has rarely been explored in video games.
Eventually the player would end up dealing with as many as three or possibly four instances of themselves within each level, maybe with a missions like being required to "disable" one of the prior instances of yourself to prevent it from completing its mission.
The concept could run on any existing modern 3d engine without too much modification, and the only requirement would be that the engine supported the recording of motion paths and events on the level, for later playback while the player entity played the level again.
The playback of a motion for any entities in the level would include the usual collision checks during the process of playback as the second instance of the player entity might collide with any any such entities on that level. As soon as a collistion was detected, the force and impact data would be applied from that point on and the entity that was collided with would be taken off of playback mode and interact regularly from therein.
- How hard you press the keys (Velocity Sensitivity)
- How you vary the pressure on the keys while they're held down (After touch Sensitivity)
- How quickly you release the keys (Release Velocity)
- How far you turn the modulation/pitch bend stick/wheel (Pitch Bend/Modulation Wheel)
- How long you hold a pedal (Sustain Pedal)
Those are the only means of affecting the sound during a performance other than by turning dials in realtime to affect sound parameters as you play. What I am really talking about are means of expression that allow you to ad different forms of expression that are available on an acoustic instrument like a guitar or a saxophone.
Side To Side Expression: Does It Exist On Any Midi Controller Keyboards?
Another new one if it doesn't exist would be to have an option on a midi controller to use side to side expression, that is by shaking the key to one side or the other would act as an expression channel like pitch bend or filter amplitude (make it assignable of course). There's enough distance between the keys on keyboards that it would be feasible and I don't think it would impact the lifespan of a keyboard's design.
Monday, September 10, 2012
A thought occurs somewhere in the brain or somewhere else in extradimensional space with the brain acting as a "thought receiver". It then goes through a complicated series of electrical signals and nerve impulses to become manifest where it most often translates to an interaction of some kind with an object. That object is used to convey that thought to someone else in the material world. That thing might store the thought for later retrieval by the recipient of the thought as in a paper note that is left on a door, or might convey the thought instantly as in the case of speech.
What if we could bypass that whole process of translating a thought into a series of actions which affect the material world in a way that represents the thought to direct conveyance of the thought itself, or the contents of the mind from one mind to another. The model for how our conscious mind uses the "hardware" of the brain to store and retrieve information works with our conscious mind acting as a kind of magnifying glass (our concentration) with access to the various parts of mind. Those parts might be cumulative cognition (the sum of our perception and senses for a particular immediate experience), recent memory and long-term memory. Such facilities in our mind are accessed by our conscious mind in serial, that is our conscious mind allows us to focus on one thing at a time whether we are solving a problem or remembering an experience. We might be driving a car and our concentration would safely be focused on our cumulative cognition. If we were dialing a phone number that we had previously looked up in a phone book, our concentration would be recalling from our recent memory. If we were relaxing on the couch and listening to music which reminded us of something we had experienced a long time ago while listening that same music, our concentration would be on our long-term memory.
If our conscious process works via electrical impulses that stimulate the various parts of our brain through electro-chemisty, then Maxwell's Laws of Electromagnetism must apply and that is that a current passing through a conductive medium produces an electromagnetic field, and an electromagnetic field passing through a conductor produces current. Now if we take two brains, each functioning on the same principles but perhaps with a little bit of a different structure that is based upon the adaptive growth of neural conduits, it may be possible for one brain to intercept the thoughts of another via Maxwell's laws as the electromagnetism produced by one brain would trigger the other brain to produce currents from the electromagnetic information contained therein. Each of the brains thoughts would produce an electromagnetic field that would contain the sum information of the electro-chemical process required to process that thought. Therefore the possibility exists that each one of two such brains could reinterpret the thoughts of the other by reproducing the current in the receiving brain via the electro-magnetic emanations of the sending brain.
Assuming this to be the case we could then look at models on how one person could retrieve thoughts like looking up information in a computer from another via cognitive steering. Cognitive steering works by the use of suggestion, that is by one person saying a particular word to another person, a thought is evoked and our conscious mind reflexively focuses on the recall of a memory. In this way, one person could with enough experience and given enough such suggestions perform a whole series of lookups in the brain of another person. Such words in this case are like sounds or smells that remind one of a particular experience or memory and focus our "magnifying glass" on the particular part of our mind required to access that experience. By cross referencing the results of such lookups, one could form a complex model (a reference model) based upon another person's thought process and associative analysis, that is knowing what thoughts and memories are associated with what words and how they collectively form a pattern. In this sense, it would be akin to looking up information on a search engine, with different keywords producing different results.
Each time, the person doing the lookup would likely be receiving the current focus of the allegorical magnifying glass in the other person's mind. This magnifying glass would likely be required of the person doing the lookup as it would be needed to do the translation and accomodate the differences in brain structure between two people. The conscious focus is an abstract feature of the mind that would be common in most minds and therefore would likely be the window through which a person performing a lookup on another person would peer through to be able to perceive the translation of thought of the subject's brain.
Unfortunately for the person whom is being used in this way, this whole process might be somewhat invasive, if not ultimately so if done against the permission of the person whose brain was being used as an organic search engine. Someone who is vulnerable to such an activity could be said to be susceptible. The person who is susceptible might seek to protect themselves with something similar to a firewall (although it would not go so far to simplify the brain to being anything like a classical computer as it is far more complex). Such a firewall against intrusion using suggestion would require someone to exercise their conscious will in such a way that when someone tried to use suggestion to perform a lookup, their conscious mind (or the magnifying glass part) wouldn't automatically jump off to the activity of recalling an experience or memory. To do so, someone might try constant exercises to keep their conscious mind at the wheel at all times and not let themselves drift off into autopilot, a semi-conscious state where they would be susceptible to attempted lookups.
In such a premise, where people's thoughts were retrievable by merely finding the "brain address" (web address?) and then performing a lookup, there would most certainly be much mental noise like radio station static that someone attempting lookups from someone else would have to first navigate to find the person whose signal they were looking up from. This means that to find the connection to the person they were looking up from, they would first have to drop a series of suggestions in the open and look for a candidate amongst the results, that is the people whose brains automatically performed the lookup when the person dropped the suggestion. By using suggestions in a series based upon the reference model for that person's mind, the person doing the lookups could attune specifically to the mind they were looking for. This is somewhat akin to the analogy of the Voight-Kampf examination from the movie Blade Runner although this test was geared to finding artificial humans or replicants that lacked or imitated conscious process rather than those trying to conceal it.
It is therefore in this noise that would be the best place for someone to protect themself against such an intrusion, and would be akin to hiding in a crowd. To train oneself to do so, they would have to train themself to break the rules of word association in such a way that when someone else dropped a suggestion, a completely unrelated thought emerged, or no discernible thought amongst the "thought" background noise. A person with this capability could be said to have a stealth mind. Training oneself to this would take a considerable amount of time and effort, but the effort would be worth it. When not in a crowd though, such a mind might attract attention from those attempting to perform lookups, as they would most certainly get suspicious when they encountered a mind with no response.
Therefore breaking one's associative memory would have to occur in such a way that the associations would in fact retrieve decoy memories or experiences, that would have a relationship to the context of the lookup, but provide no real clues or information that would be useful for someone attempting such lookups. Such a person would require the association to be flexible enough to change it on the fly so as to accommodate associative interpretation of experience when it would be beneficial and switch back to dissociative interpretation in order to remain hidden. Computer software could most certainly help in training someone to gain the ability to switch between associative and dissociative thought so that contextual pattern could not be derived from the results of such lookups by an invasive person.
We will explore some other possibilities in this paradigm in order to understand the hypothetical risks there are if such a theory were proven true.
© Copyright 2012 Brian Joseph Johns
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Yesterday my fridge and cupboards were running low and I needed to make something at dinner. Enter into the fold the greatest library since The Great Library Of Alexandria aka the internet. Using it I searched for a cheap and easy meal. Ultimately I found the Canada Foodgrains Bank, a web site with some very simple recipes that people from various parts of the world eat for the need of survival. It was a great learning experience and I got to try a food that is eaten in various parts of the world just for its sheer simplicity. What if I didn't have a choice though? That was what I had to eat day in and day out, as do many families. A little bit of a humbling experience.
This is also the case locally in Canada as well with organizations such as Food Banks Canada, The Daily Bread Food Bank and Various Community and Church, Synagogue and Mosque run programs providing the slack that Canadians need to meet their weekly dietary needs. Just about everything we need to interact with the world in a functional way is dependent upon our diet especially if you`re growing up. A healthy diet is at least in part responsible for a healthy body and mind.
While you're at it, you may want to take sign a petition to help bring attention to a humanitarian crisis in Sudan and spread the word. You might bring attention to this in a way that could make a difference.
Being the adventurous person that I am and coming from a family where just about all of the men cook, I decided to try my hand out at improvisation with next to nothing (I mean these are the exact ingredients I had to work with, and nothing more). Here's what came out of it.
Wanna know what I ate? A simple healthy cheap meal.
Follow the recipe for the simple flatbread and prepare the following after you prepare the dough.
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Salad Dressing
- 1 Can light flaked tuna
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped or crushed
- Lettuce (Romaine, or any other kind you like)
- Mix the tuna, salad dressing, chopped onion and garlic in a tupperware container. Season to taste with oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper.
- Chop the lettuce into thin strips enough for bite sized pieces.
- While you are letting the dough from the flatbread recipe sit, allow the tuna mixture to marinate in the fridge covered for about two to four hours.
- Break the dough up into pieces a little smaller than a billiard ball, roll them into a ball and flatten them with your hands or a rolling pin.
- Cook in a skillet, with a light layer of olive or cooking oil until browned on either side.
- Cut the cooked flat bread into pie piece sections and layer the outer rim of a plate with them.
- Put the chopped lettuce in the center of the plate.
- Put the tuna mixture in the center of the lettuce.
- Eat it using the simple bread wedges as utensils.
Monday, August 20, 2012
In the story Moving On, I talk a little about the environment that makes all the Evelyns in western life possible:
"A whole economy had evolved to support this little mess. A system of dropping people to the depths of it's pit. A system of hiding people and keeping them hidden. People on the run from the law, the bank, creditors, loan sharks you name it, they were concealed there somewhere. A system of keeping anyone who had something that could be stolen or syphened from them, like a talent or an ability were kept there, often unknowingly against their will, while others around them would take credit and notoriety for their efforts, even pretending to be them. There was even an addiction for some to the theft of the notoriety of others. Thieves of a kind that the rest of society didn‘t even have a name for. Some had the choice, some didn’t and some didn’t want the choice at all, or change for that matter. All of this created a market for girls and hard drugs. Anything that somebody needed to escape for a time and a price. As rare as they were amongst all of this, there were still diamonds in the rough."
Unfortunately there are a lot of people whose goal it is these days to separate one from their past and present accomplishments, whose goal it is to steal them and give them out to others. So if you're not consistent with what you what you create, then they give credit for that to someone else. The same goes for your family and friends as well. If you can't defend all that connects you to what you care about, then they take it and give it to someone else. Its a shame really. Don't let it happen to you.
There's diamonds out there, I've been with a few and that's what makes this all bearable.
Speaking of diamonds:
I'm leaning towards the Imax 3D ones as I love that aspect of the movie going experience, although if it was a date movie I'd have to lean towards light hearted comedy or action adventure. Of course performance, plot, direction, art direction and music are pretty big points for me. Any recommendations? Please feel free to comment (or flog me if you`d like).
Thursday, August 9, 2012
The initial draft of the story was inspired by and meant to shine a light on a part of society that just doesn’t get enough of it, mostly because it doesn’t want the attention. In that part of society, there are group(s) of people that fall casualty to this, finding it nearly impossible to get away from. Especially vulnerable to this situation are some of the women who get lured into it and are victimized at the expense of their innocence.
The incredible courage and dedication that it takes for one to get away from such a life and get onto a different track is superhuman. This courage and dedication is exhibited by everyone who takes part in that process and is especially true of every Evelyn there is.
This second part of the story is not based in real life in any way although the person(s) that inspired Evelyn, the support workers are very much there and always will be. This is new territory for Evelyn and her story. It is her chance to face her demons head on, but whether she ultimately triumphs in her effort remains to be seen.
Evelyn paused, taking in the situation while her gut twisted in both anxiety and withdrawal. The front desk attendant at the Rehab Centre printed some forms that would need Evelyn’s signature. Evelyn’s story could have ended right there at that counter, just like any happy ending. But this wasn’t one of those stories. Some problems don’t leave so easily, and some monsters do come back.
Evelyn finished the paper work for her sign up to the program feeling better than she had in a long time. One of the councillors took her on a tour of the facility, showing her everything that she needed to know about the program and the building. The last point on the tour was her dorm, which had four other beds in it and a shared bathroom. She had been given permission to sleep for the rest of the day, which she did without even getting her bedding in place.
Her dreams were a crazy mixture of memories that crossed over into each other. She seemed to be walking through the lecture halls at the University, where there were lectures were in progress. Girdy, another addict she knew from the Loop was making giant hand puppets with the overhead projector in lecture hall A, a small audience shouting requests to the makeshift performer. Evelyn walked down one of the hallways and into a lab, where there was a classroom lecture going on. This sight startled her. It was Lacy, at the front of the class, giving the lecture. It seemed to be a sociology class, with five of the regulars from Credit Street sitting and taking notes, and showing genuine interest in the subject and the lecture. They listened intently, fascinated by the subject. She smiled at the sight. She continued down the hall and turned into the medical theatre. There laying on a gurney was Tripper, his body lifeless. The medical lecturer, fully clothed for dissection a mask covering his face. He approached the gurney with Tripper’s body, a scalpel extended like a weapon. Evelyn screamed a soundless scream. Unable to wake her self she turned away.
“Young lady, you’re going to lose grades if you don’t pay attention in this class.” the medical lecturer stated in a condescending tone.
She forced herself to look and saw that the medical lecturer had been replaced by the body from the valley, John Doe. His wounds still apparent across his front, his head still slightly arched back, eyes grey.
“Young lady! Young lady! Are you hearing me?” said John Doe, turning his whole body to face her rather than craning his arched neck.
She became aware she was dreaming but was unable to wake herself. Focussing herself, she reached with one of her hands, clasping one of her eye lids by her lashes and pulled it open. She awoke with a start, her chest pounding as she caught her breath.
She tried looking around the room though the sun had set and the room was dark. She stumbled in the dark towards the bathroom, stubbing her little toe on the door way. She cursed again, sitting to use the toilet only to find the toilet seat up. She cursed under her breath a third time, scrambling for the light switch and flicking it when she found it. A clock sitting on a shelf in the bathroom read 2am. Feeling a little stuffy despite the air conditioning in the facility, She had a long shower, cursing yet again when she realized she had left the towels they had given to her with her bedding, out in the dorm. She threw her t-shirt on, still soaking wet and retrieved her towel, retreating to the bathroom again. Occasionally she awoke with a little pain and anxiety from withdrawal. She spent a short time drying off, then cleaning up after herself, leaving the bathroom spotless. She put her bedding on the bed and settled in again, this time not dreaming at all, or at least not remembering her dreams if she had them.
The next few days were spent getting accustomed to her new surroundings and schedule. She had kept to herself for the first few days. Still very cranky and occasionally sick from withdrawal symptoms. Her one on one sessions with the councillor would not start until the following week. Until then she kept herself busy with her chores. She enjoyed that part of the day, and spent her time doing as good a job as she could. It kept her busy and her mind from going astray. At other times, she would make plans as to what she was going to do with herself when she was done. How she was going to finish her schooling, get her career and life back on her track. She had already envisioned her home, how it was going to look, what she was going to buy for it. These details were far down the road, but it gave her a sense of direction even if she was biting off more than she could chew.
Evelyn had been having trouble with mood swings and anxiety attacks which were related to emotional stress and the pressure of abstinence. Her first one on one therapy session went well. Jana, her councillor, a soft spoken lady, whom had miles of patience was very encouraging, and helped alleviate much of her fear. They just talked. Well not really. Evelyn talked and the councillor listened. It was strange at first. Evelyn felt like her own therapist, asking the questions that she had wanted answers to and then answering them herself. The therapist cleverly guided her to the right questions. The ones that were barriers to her progress and the ones that were part the path that she wanted to take. She had felt as if a great load had been taken from her, though it was more like somebody had taken the time to help her organize her own load into a more comfortable arrangement, maybe removing something here or there.
These therapy sessions quickly became the highlight of her week. Every week they would talk. An hour at a time, a couple times a therapy session would go over the one hour mark ten, sometimes twenty minutes. She had noticed her nightmares had receded as well. Her group sessions were the same except that there were six people all together and one councillor. Questions would fly between client and client and councillor and client. One client’s answers would help the other five clients. The group session resolved issues as well, but she preferred the one on one sessions. Evelyn had always preferred her own personal time for her growth. The time in the program had flown quickly. Many of the people present were dedicated to making progress, so there was almost never conflict. This enabled the clients to let their guard down enough to feel safe, and open up to the councilling. Evelyn was always still a little bit guarded in that sense. Her life experiences had taught her to always be on guard, especially when she wasn’t expecting anything.
She had been in a meeting regarding the results of her physical examination and was talking with her counsellor when the counsellor’s phone rang.
“Nancy Wellens, how may I help you.” she answered with clinical detachment.
She paused, listening to the voice on the other end, then hanging up the phone.
“You’ve got a visitor. We‘re just about finished here anyway.” Nancy smiled to Evelyn.
“Thank you Nancy.” Evelyn got up, a little excited and curious as to who it was. She was happy to learn that she was in great health, no sexually transmitted diseases or any other associated health risks that were common in the world that she had just emerged from. She was having a great day and she felt healthy and full of energy.
She saw Detective Grady standing at the front desk, having some papers signed by the receptionist. She smiled as she approached.
“Detective Grady! How are you?” tears trickled down from the corners of her eye.
“Why hello Evelyn. Aren’t you looking strong and healthy today.” he smiled to her, winking.
The receptionist returned his forms, signed and he tucked them neatly in the inside pocket of his blazer.
“Do you feel like taking a little field trip today?” he asked her, already knowing her answer. He was a Detective after all.
“Uhhh sure. Where are we going?” She responded, trying not to look confused.
“We’re in a bit of hurry, I don’t mean to be rude.” the Detective said glancing to the receptionist and then back to Evelyn, masking his thoughts well enough.
They left the building and Evelyn instinctively walked to the back door of the car. The Detective looked at her, a little sympathetically and responded.
“Hey, things are different. You’re in the front seat now.” the door clicked unlocked and she opened it getting in without a pause.
He remained silent on the way out of the neighbourhood. He drove the unmarked car onto the highway southbound for the downtown core. Evelyn held her gaze ahead of her, glancing to the left in an attempt to draw him into conversation. He was deep in thought weighing in on some information that had recently come to him from an outside source.
“How’s the program working out for you? Are you keeping your end of the bargain?” He asked, finally breaking the silence.
“I’m right on track, although it was hard for the first few months.” She replied, not giving up any extra information to him.
Although her nightmares had subsided, something still bothered her about the situation with the body she had discovered, and Tripper’s disappearance. She knew there was a common thread that connected the two events and was afraid that her hunches about that yarn might be closer to reality than she thought.
“Have you ever heard of Alicia Danvers?” He broke the silence again, suspecting that Evelyn may have more answers than she had talked about in their conversation at the station months prior.
“She was a backup girl.” Evelyn answered, thinking that her silence would be more harmful than helpful.
“A backup? What do you mean?” he asked.
“We had regular customers. We’d be on the street at a certain time expecting them. If we couldn’t make it, she’d be my backup girl.” She answered, filling him in on the business of pleasure, though it was not the way that movies would romanticize it. Dirty cars. Dirty clients in dirty disguises. Dirty in a way that it would take a lifetime of showers to wash away. It was usually very quick as it would be in any piece work related business. The faster they got done, the faster they’d have their money and the faster they were able to score a hit.
“How many other ladies did she backup for?” asked the Detective, changing lanes as he did.
“She had about three or four other girls that she’d cover for. She was hoping to get her own spot in the area. That’s how you put your time in.” Evelyn answered, remembering the life like she had read about it in a novel more so than having lived it. It kept her detached in a way that she needed to feel when she talked about it.
“How about some names?” He asked her, keeping an eye on the sparse traffic ahead.
“Suzy. I mean blondie Suzy. You know her I’m sure. Trish the dish. Shirley and Wendy. That’s it I’m pretty sure.” she looked at him, waiting for approval.
He kept his eyes on the road, momentarily glancing in the rear view mirror.
“Did she have any problems with any of those girls?” he continued, typing a name with one free hand into the comtech console in the car.
“No. She was always pretty easy to get along with. She never caused problems and none of my customers ever said anything to me about her.” she answered, trying to get a peek at the computer out of the corner of her eye.
“What about with the customers. Anyone ever mistreat her, argue over money?” He asked, changing lanes hurriedly and nearly missing the off ramp.
“Not that I could remember. Though she did have some problems one time with Tripper. She was in an argument with him about a month before he disappeared.” she arched her head hoping to get a better view of the console.
The Detective stopped talking as they merged into city traffic from the highway. Tripper had been a non-stop source of problems from the time he had arrived on Credit Street. He quickly took over small time distribution for crack cocaine and crystal meth, nudging some of the other dealers right off the street a few times. He had even chased a competitor down and pistol whipped him, leaving him curled up in a ball on the sidewalk. The Detective had questioned him a few times, only to get all attitude and no answers. This made Tripper a hero to the other Credit Street misfits and put him on the radar of some people who did not like the attention. Tripper had a notorious reputation to the women working the streets, and he often took advantage of their situation if he could somehow profit by it. On one particularly bad night, just after he had been busted for possession, he had taken out his anger on a new girl to the Credit Street tour, beating her senseless and leaving her in a bloody heap on his front lawn. The paramedics had whisked her off to emergency and the police had been notified but the poor girl was too afraid to “rat” on Tripper out of fear of the repercussions from the rest of the Credit Street denizens. Suzy came onto the scene, hitting Tripper solidly in the face with an unopened can of cola several times and swearing to him that if he ever did anything like that again, she would kill him. He didn’t dare hit her back as she had friends at a local underground establishment that had a reputation of having ties to the mob. One week later and Tripper had disappeared completely although the timing was a convenient set of circumstances. Legend had it that Suzy had put a hit out on Tripper and that he was in the bottom of the harbour now sleeping with the fishes. Suzy did little to put a stop to the rumours, as not a finger was ever laid on any of the girls ever again by anyone on Credit Street. From that point on, Suzy had become the den mother to the girls there.
This did little to help the situation with Alicia Danvers whose body was found just outside of the downtown core in a dumpster behind a manufacturing plant. Alicia was a little ball of energy and never a bad bone in her body despite the hardship she had experienced as a little girl. Her parents were small time scam artists who sought to support their lifestyle through a series of rip offs that left a trail of wreckage across the city. She had left her dysfunctional home when she was thirteen and lived with her friend’s family until she was seventeen, at which point she had become quite a partier and dropped the idea of being a student. Her and her friend left that home together and were working Credit Street three years later hoping to achieve the freedom twenty-five retirement plan, which of course was quite literally a pipe dream.
She had been an on and off regular at Credit Street for the years that followed, and had become a backup girl just before Evelyn arrived on the scene. She had liked it that way, as there weren’t as many commitments as there were for the other girls working the streets. That and it was easier to remain a stranger to the customers as you never had regulars. With regulars, the girls became a part of their customer’s life and this presented some difficulties and risks for the girls working in that trade.
The Detective pulled the car into the coffee shop driveway and ordered some coffee and lunch for Evelyn and himself, paying at the drive thru window.
“I’m going to need you for the next couple of days while we try put together some pieces to a puzzle, and maybe get Credit Street cleaned up for good.” He handed her a soft drink and a sandwich, which she accepted gracefully, consuming the sandwich in three bites.
“Cleaned up for good? You mean closing it?” asked Evelyn in shock.
“No. I mean opening it. We’re fixing an open wound in the city that has been left for too long. You‘re going to help out.” he looked to her, offering up some of his fries. She paused for a moment, grabbed a small handful consuming them in little bites.
“What’s in it for me?” she said like a shrewd negotiator.
“Closure.” he offered, his stern face hiding any details of what may lay ahead.
“Won’t that be bad for your business to do that?” she asked sardonically, a little smile rising from the corner of her mouth.
He paused looking at her, his poker face slipped just a little.
“It would be bad for all of us not to do it. My business will just move its focus to other markets.” he replied looking her square in the eyes and in all seriousness.
“Are you planning on running for office?” she asked, still smiling that she was able to keep him on guard.
“No, but I may be running from the office with you as my partner.” he said firmly, breaking his assuredness with a wink and a smile as he pulled out into the midday traffic.
© Copyright 2012 Brian Joseph Johns
Thursday, July 26, 2012
"You don't want to go there, its a lousy spot to go".
A little shaken, you write that off to coincidence and continue your reading. You come across an article that has a picture of the columnist, who reminds you of an ex-girlfriend and you reminisce about a provocative evening you enjoyed with her. Somebody walking by says:
"Way to go buddy, I thought you didn't kiss and tell. I can't wait to tell the guys at corner store about that".
Now you are feeling a little agitated, maybe even violated. Frustrated, you decide to try finishing off a sales presentation that has to be finished by the end of the week.
You start working on it and your neighbor yells out their window:
"You're going to try to gouge your customer with a 10 percent commission? That's highway robbery".
Your tension level rising, you think about your commission and decide that it might be a little high. You mark it down to 8 percent and the neighbor says:
"I made you lower your commission! Slap!".
You decide to give up and go to bed. You don't sleep as well as you usually do though you have an enticing dream involving the girlfriend you were reminded about. You wake up in the morning and your neighbor says:
"Whoa. That was some night you had. You don't mind if I give her a call, do you?".
You clench your fists, ready to explode and lay a speech on the neighbor about your privacy and then realize that you are dealing in an issue that would be impossible for others to know about unless they could read your mind.
Does this sound a little too far out? Well it is possible with a little bit of technology and psychology to add the finishing touches. Here's how something like that could work.
The technology enabling the transmission of information over wireless networks is pretty stable and secure. Even with some expensive technology it would be pretty difficult to turn the frequency modulated waves back into their originating information though it would be possible given enough time and resources, but let's rule that out and stick with a more simple possibility. Imagine that every electronic device that has a video display, such as a video monitor could broadcast the signal that it receives from the computer to other computers (or just video monitors) as long as the other computers (or video monitors) had the right kind of receiver.
So now we have the technical means to keep an eye on what you are reading and working on right from your screen that doesn't require monitoring your internet connection. This kind of a configuration would work even if you didn't have an internet connection. Nor does it require a scary Orwellian totalitarian Government to make it possible, they would have better things to do, like having an interior decorator improve the visual presence of Room 101. It could be done by people in your neighborhood with ease for a relatively low cost and would only require one neighbor to act as a relay, that is if one computer receives the video signal from your computer, that could be relayed to fifty other monitoring computers if they have an internet connection or the right receiver.
Now imagine that one of the fifty computers keeping an eye on what you are checking out on your computer screen has someone that knows or knew you. They knew that the columnist you were looking at looked like one of your ex-girlfriends and relayed this info via text message to someone driving by your house.
This isn't really too far from the truth of what is possible. This sort of a scenario is the antithesis of data mining in relation to targetted marketing. The difference is that I see targetted marketing as a great thing. Based upon my web browsing habits, I will receive ads or search results that highlight the relationship of those browsing habits. That's great because the stuff that a person might want has a better chance of coming to them without them having to look for it.
Unfortunately the truth of the matter is that there are people that are using this kind of technology and they are using it to protect an underground economy. Finding those that may stand against this is the goal of such a group and the utilization of information technology to these ends has proven a benefit to them.
By doing so, they may have been tricking the public into thinking that it is the Government that is doing this when in fact it is just a group of well organized civilians. In doing so they would risk turning a greater number of people against the Government and creating civil unrest and increasing the number of people that would support their cause.
The problem and the extent of this situation makes it a very dangerous prospect if laws governing the unauthorized use of monitoring technologies are not reeled in and modernized to meet the risk they pose. If such technology makes its way into the hands of identity thieves, corporate spies, intellectual or technical property thieves the economic risks become monumental.
Imagine a civilian group being able to monitor your activities when you are filling out a bank funds transfer, or an online purchase, or the use of a Government service that requires a registered user. Such a civilian group would not have to be bonded in order to be insurable in case of liability. There would be no safeguards against the misuse of such information.
People monitoring in this way would literally be able to see everything a person could see on their screen. That is they could see the answers to your secret questions about account verification. Enough of those when combined with your name, address, date of birth, social insurance or social security numbers and the rest of your personal information would provide an identity thief with a smorgasbord that would keep them able to operate with your identity for years.
Another scenario involves the group being able to see who you interact with, send emails to, chat with. With that information if they were seeking to damage your reputation they could then use that connection to spam email the people you emailed, or send them damaging emails. They could start harassing the people that you chat with. There are a whole plethora of nasty things that they could do with access to such information.
Creative and Intellectual properties could fall risk to such theft at the hands of the people monitoring. People could literally take your ideas, and perhaps your creations and claim them for their own without you even knowing. They could then obtain a legal copyright against your works and be the legal owners of those works.
What about a corporate venture or deal involving millions of dollars. Having advance information about such a deal could have effects that would ripple markets world wide. What about a Government official monitored so as to compromise a bill proposal, or an amendment to an Act or Statute ahead of its presentation to the Senate.
The current hurdles that exist in the legal arena with regard to such activity is that the laws concerning the protection of privacy must be modernized to take into consideration that an internet connection between a provider and a customer is a private communication.
The Nevis Consulting Group Inc. conducted a study which was turned into the Department of Justice Canada on April 28, 2003. Here are some of the recommendations:
J. INTERCEPTION OF E-MAIL
1. E-mail should receive the same treatment by the Canadian government as first-class mail, affording it the same protection as any other private communication. Thus the statutory and common law rules of evidence would apply equally to e-mail as to postal mail.
2. The Criminal Code should be amended to clarify that e-mail, at least while in transit, constitutes a "private communication" under section 183. It would then be subject to the same procedural safeguards as all other interceptions under this provision.
3. The Criminal Code should define clearly when an e-mail ceases to be a communication subject to interception and when it becomes a document subject to search and seizure.
4. Canadians have a similar reasonable expectation of privacy when using e-mail as they do with other forms of communication. The legal treatment of e-mail should not be determined by technological capability but rather by our values as a society. If we wish to communicate privately by e-mail we should construct our laws to make it so.
5. Non-profit ISPs run by community associations that offer confidential e-mail lists to enable lawyers to consult with community advocates on difficult cases, law reform issues and other sensitive matters are concerned that the proposed legislation may violate the privacy of advocates and others using this service.
6. Although ISPs are private companies, they should be subject to state-imposed regulation because they are responsible for the essential service of e-mail delivery.
What this basicly states is that email should be covered under the same laws that protect postal mail and that a breach of a person's email would be the same as opening someone else's private postal mail. It also clarifies that the communication between and ISP and a customer's computer should be considered a private communication and protected by the criminal code by section 183 which covers laws regarding the interception of communications.
These laws should further be expanded to cover the scenarios that I have listed above involving the interception of display signals or any such monitoring that may occur independent of a network connection at all.
Another area of consideration should be the area concerning the offshore interception and collection of data. The dangers of such a practice pose risks outside of the legal jurisdictions of the originating countries. The risks are similar to the ones mentioned above except that the laws protecting one domestically would have little or no effect on those operating offshore. Combining the display monitoring technology with a computer receiving the wireless display information then relaying that information to an offshore data harvesting operation could be potentially disastrous personally and potentially politically and economically.
In closing, it is important to note that some of the aforementioned situations involve scenarios that are within the realm of possibility and are definitely in practice today. That does not mean that one should lose confidence in the great potential for business and communications that the internet and computers pose. Its does ascertain that one utilizing the technology should be aware of some risks so that they may recognize the warning signs of such a possibility being realized and further to understand the necessity of the Government updating these laws to cover these possibilities.
As of the report date of April 28, 2003, the following Canadian Government Departments and civil society groups are responding to the recommendations:
Alberta Solicitor General
Civil Society Groups
B.C. Civil Liberties Association
British Columbia Freedom of Information and
Canadian Bar Association
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Library Association
Civil Liberties Association, National Capital Region
Electronic Frontier Canada and
Electronic Frontier Foundation (US)
Electronic Privacy Information Center (US)
Internet Law Group - University of Manitoba
Privaterra - Computer Professionals for Social
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Vancouver Community Network
(c) Copyright 2012 Brian Joseph Johns
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
This short piece was written with a sort of Tim Burton atmosphere and a little bit of a Danny Elfman touch to it. It was created with Ableton Live and most of it was created note for note by hand without a keyboard or looped sample to back it up. Maybe even title music to a game or a TV show like Tales From The Crypt.
This song was written a few months ago late one night. I have retrieved a clavinet part I played with my M-Audio KeyRig 49 a few years earlier and had saved it as a section sample, so I could reuse it in future material. I put it all together with Magix Music Maker, a great program for working in audio and video. A good starter package for less than $100 with a lot of features. It features a funky clavinet line with some pretty hopping guitar reminiscent of late 80s early 90s club funk. Most of the other chops are either samples that came with the package or parts that I hand arranged in the built in midi arranger. I enjoy the energy in this one.
This song was written and produced during my stay at the Dixon Hall School House shelter in 2008. I had worked my butt off for three months and bought a cheap laptop and an M-Audio 49 key keyboard so I could write music to keep myself from going crazy. It didn't work. The laptop was a HP Compaq Presario, the keyboard was an M-Audio KeyRig 49 an awesome midi controller keyboard with a Virtual Synth package included.
It was recorded in two takes at about 3am in the morning on a February using the included Ableton Live recording software. Thanks to the great guitar sound which had effects like string noise and muted play based upon the velocity of your playing, I was able to get the perfect acoustic ballad sound and retain an eerie-ness with a great organ patch. I left the keyboard behind in storage when I left and it was quickly snatched unfortunately. I'm looking for another.
After a bit of searching last night, I found the letter that my Mother had written to the newspaper after I had been left for dead on a sidewalk in 1990 and decided to transfer it to the blog with a little introduction and long winded story that would bring people up to date about what had happened since it was published in 1990.
In my travels I have long since met the people who conducted the beating, although we never acknowledged it verbally. They are all good people in my opinion and I forgive them completely for it. Life goes on.
My introduction and the letter can be found here:
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