General

General interests that may or may not fit anywhere else.

70 Year Anniversary of V-J Day

2015/08/16:
Just to clarify something. Japan’s surrender was not an immediate action (perhaps this isn’t surprising but you’ll find references to different days as being the day, but it was a many day process to be completely accurate). The official signing of the surrender was September 2. August 14th was the beginning of the surrender (more conflicts occurred between these dates). The speech below took place on the 15th. If you pay attention (which this year is probably much harder to not do) to current affairs, you’ll see references to V-J Day prior to September 2 (e.g. the 15th perhaps because the nation was addressed) but in the end, this was not an overnight event – it is – and always has been – a complicated war.


 

(Note: This most likely – I’m quite certain this is the case – includes some structural and/or disorganised flow of thoughts and as a result it might be harder to follow. I would delay this for another day but the day itself is significant enough to not consider this, at least for me.)

Earlier this year (May 2) I wrote about the end of the Battle of Berlin (and its surrender) which was shortly (May 8) followed by the surrender of Nazi Germany, resulting in V-E Day. I intended to write something about V-E Day but I never got around to it – which is unfortunate because I think there is a lot I could have written about. I also intended to write about ‘Little Boy’ (the name of the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945) and ‘Fat Man’ (the name of the bomb dropped three days after Little Boy, over Nagasaki). But I felt a loss of words for the bombings that – along with the Soviet Union declaring war on Japan – ultimately led Emperor Shōwa (more commonly known as Hirohito) of Japan to order an immediate surrender of Japan (a coup that followed was foiled). Perhaps silence is the best way: the utter devastation and suffering these bombs inflicted upon Japan – and the world – is hard to fathom to this day. I think Emperor Hirohito’s speech holds significant value to this day, and even eternally:

To our good and loyal subjects:

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our Empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the
present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union that our Empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well- being of our subjects is the solemn obligation that has been handed down by our Imperial Ancestors, and we lay it close to the heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self- preservation and the stabilisation of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandisement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone– the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the
diligence and assiduity of our servants of the state and the devoted service of our 100 million people–the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s  advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilisation.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers. We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, and those who met with death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude. The hardships and suffering to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.

We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable. Having been able to save and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, and of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its
heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of
rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

All you, our subjects, we command you to act in accordance with our wishes.

There is criticism – both legitimate and illegitimate – on all sides, and the Emperor – perhaps more so after his death – receives criticism to this day. But the fact is Japan did not want to surrender (which I will discuss below), but they did. He took responsibility of the situation and if only everyone would heed his warning about nuclear weapons. Nuclear warfare exemplifies some of the worst of mankind (and this includes the only known uses of it in wartime) and it does so extremely well. His warning is 100% accurate. Of course, the atom was split and once done there is no going back. The Cold War worsened this with its nuclear arms race. But it also brought some good: the predecessor to the Internet – the arpanet – which was meant to be a network that could withstand a nuclear attack (which means that if a host is down, it won’t receive or send data, but other hosts will still be able to communicate with each other); and it brought the good out in some people – for instance, it motivated a woman called Lynne Cox to risk a dangerous swim across the Bering Strait between the United States and the Soviet Union in an attempt to bring friendship instead of conflict. At this time, we are in another cold war, even if it isn’t recognised as such. While a cold war is better than a real war, a conflict is a conflict, and there comes a point where any significant outbreak of war, will become a third world war, and that will likely be an apocalypse. Yet despite this, there are politicians in some countries that have no problem with war, and I dare say they even want war. That is a sign of extreme weakness and is the exact opposite of what a real leader should strive for – peace.

Japan didn’t want to surrender but neither did any other country (and there is the story of a soldier – Hirō Onoda – who thought for 29 years following the war’s end, that it was still going on; it is a fascinating story for those interested in the war, and it really shows just how much they wanted to win and could not lose). I personally feel that not giving up is a positive, productive and noble thing. There are no victors in war (which is ironic when you consider what the V stands for in V-E Day and V-J Day) but this goes beyond war; those who give up might never have what they could have, they might never accomplish great things (that they could otherwise accomplish), and they might be at a great loss. Winston Churchill himself stated that [we] will never, ever surrender. But imagine if the Allies had surrendered – the world would be very different. Imagine, also, if the Axis Powers surrendered earlier – the world would be different in another way entirely. But imagine still if Germany didn’t invade Poland on September 1, 1939 (or for that matter, take over and annex other countries prior to this).  How different would the world be today?

Despite these thoughts, too much blame is placed upon nations for their past. Punishing Germany at the end of World War 1 was an incredibly stupid decision and some recognised it then (basic logic explains why and how it was so stupid). Yet to this day some think that Germany is responsible for great harm in this world; I say that those punishing Germany at the end of World War 1 are equally responsible for harm. But that should not be the focus; consider this instead: the actions of Germany (and many other countries) might have caused great harm, but the world should learn from the past and not dwell on it.

70 years ago marked the end of a very dark chapter of mankind but the many lessons are still not taken to heart and that is equally as dark – if not darker – than the war itself. We should not only remember the impact of the war – we should also remember why it happened and what could have been done differently, to prevent it. Lastly, attention should be shifted to the present. If this is not done – and I’m afraid that history shows it isn’t – mankind is doomed to ultimately destroy itself (it already destroys the treasures of the world and that includes wildlife that has become endangered if not already extinct).

Windows 10: An example of DOA (Disaster of Automation)

I have to admit, when Microsoft first announced that Windows 10 would be the final release of Windows, I raised an eyebrow. Then, because Windows 10 was offered for free (as an upgrade for the first .. month?), I was more suspicious: if it is free, are they simply baiting the customer to upgrade, hoping to make a profit by some contract (literally or figuratively) of some kind (pay for some sort of subscription or otherwise future software or updates)? After all, some corporations (maybe even Microsoft?) have subscriptions for technical support and software, so how else could this work? I truthfully do not know but given that they are a for profit, there has to be something at play. But there is more to the story of Windows 10. When I first found out that Windows 10 Home edition would automatically be updated, I shuddered.

The fact remains that humans are not perfect, programmers are humans, therefore programmers are not perfect. If you remember, Microsoft at one point pushed out an update that was required in order to receive further updates (therefore encouraging customers to update), only for that update to prevent updates working (off hand I don’t have the information but it definitely happened and there are articles about it). That is scary when it is manual updates but it is even scarier when it is automatic. Yet, even without that mess, automatic updates is what will lead to what conveniently shares the abbreviation of Dead on Arrival  (DOA which is often used to refer to computer hardware – probably other things too – that failed quality control and therefore is ‘dead on arrival'[1]): Disaster of Automation. There are several things to consider.

Firstly, even an experienced system administrator can apply a patch (in binary distributions it would be an update to the package but the end result is the same), only to find out what was updated no longer works. I know in the past I have updated BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) – which is a critical component given that it includes named (name daemon) and therefore is a DNS server – only to find it failing to start or having warnings upon restart (i.e. the postinstall script reloads the configuration file or restarts the service). What happened is as simple as ownership of files being changed. The administrator (a friend) of my slave DNS servers (second, third, fourth) has in the past had this exact same problem on his servers, and DNS failures can cause many problems.

But even if it didn’t cause problems, consider this: the update failed for some reason or another. What happens if it was automated and you’re not at the system? I won’t even get in to the problem that Windows installer is brain dead enough where you have to reboot for almost everything (or last I knew it is and I can’t imagine it is different now). Hopefully it only updates and waits for you to reboot manually.

The astute reader would point out that I’ve not given any examples so far (and Windows 10 is quite new, which makes what I’m about to show, even worse) of updates going afoul with Windows 10. For that matter, I’ve not pointed out Windows 10 problems at all (besides being created by Microsoft, that is). Well here goes.

Since Windows Updater also now considers drivers not optional, and since Windows 10 automatically installs updates, and since an Nvidia GPU driver has a bug (or bugs, maybe), people are having all sorts of problems as described on their forum. Problems like flickering (which is not at all good for eyes!) and even multi-head (more than one monitor) not working correctly (if at all).

Then there is ‘Windows Update Delivery Optimization’. What does it do? It theoretically allows you to not have to download updates from a remote (out of your network) server more than once. So for instance, you can update all your Windows 10 systems without having to download the updates more than once. Well, that is excellent that Windows has a concept similar to local repositories. Unfortunately, though, their method is presumptuous, arrogant and irresponsible. Here is what their FAQ says:

Download updates and apps from other PCs

In addition to downloading updates and apps from Microsoft, Windows will get updates and apps from other PCs that already have them. You can choose which PCs you get these updates from:

PCs on your local network. […]

PCs on your local network and PCs on the Internet. […]

You would like to believe they have a good design here. But the very fact they have on the Internet is disconcerting. From what hosts? My understanding is they now have update verification. But that should always have been in place. If they already have it, why bring it up (aside from maybe reminding people of it)? If they don’t, why the hell didn’t they have update verification?! I’ll return to this in a moment. The problem is worse, however:

Send updates and apps to other PCs

When Delivery Optimization is turned on, your PC sends parts of apps or updates that you’ve downloaded using Delivery Optimization to other PCs on your local network, or on the Internet, depending on your settings.

How is my PC used to send apps and updates to other PCs?

Delivery Optimization downloads the same updates and apps that you get through Windows Update and the Windows Store. Delivery Optimization creates a local cache, and stores files that it has downloaded in that cache for a short period of time. Depending on your settings, Windows then send parts of those files to other PCs on your local network or PCs on the Internet that are downloading the same files.

It would be one thing if it defaulted to off as it should be. Opt-out means you have to know it is enabled and it is poor design to assume the user knows everything about the system (or can remember what they know, even). Yet so many corporations (Google and Facebook to name two others with delusions of grandeur) are arrogant enough to make things opt-out instead of opt-in. But in this case, it is worse still! Not only is it defaulted on, it defaults to share updates to the Internet!:

Delivery Optimization is turned on by default for all editions of Windows 10, with the following differences:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education: The PCs on your local network option is turned on by default.

  • All other editions of Windows 10: The PCs on your local network and PCs on the Internet option is turned on by default.

Yes, great idea, Microsoft. I’m sure your grandeur justifies it all, but did it ever occur to you that most homes don’t have high upstream rates? Did it ever occur to you that they might be capped or even throttled? Did it ever occur to you, in your complete brilliance, that when [you] download content from another host, the other host is uploading to [you]? Did it ever cross your mind that many homes have asynchronous connections (and fairly slow upstream specifically), and even if they didn’t, not pushing upstream to its limit is important for – irony! – optimising connections? Even more important, did you ever consider that not everyone will want this enabled and fewer still would want it being uploaded to the Internet (or downloading from servers other than Microsoft repositories)? As a vendor you shouldn’t burden the customer any more than is necessary, and clearly this idea is not necessary.

Going back to update verification. Microsoft insists the following:

Delivery Optimization can’t be used to download or send personal content.

Yet this claim has been made before and it has fallen down due to a variety of reasons. I really, really, really cannot wait for this to be abused; some of my demons actually want it to happen sooner than later. It isn’t a matter of will it be but instead when will it be. I’m eagerly waiting.

Finally, I have one more update issue to share. The one where Windows 10 update KB3081424 (which includes security fixes) is causing some computers to enter a reboot loop. Indeed, this really is a disaster of automation and it is a fatal design flaw, courtesy of Microsoft.

[1] Some times the product is fine but the user (‘builder’) makes a mistake (e.g. there is a short that prevents the core components of the computer to boot) and assumes it is the product rather than a mistake on their part. But there are times when it truly fails to .. well, deliver what it should.

Nostalgia and Perspective: Arcades, Books and Record Stores

I’m not one to dwell on the past; I don’t find it healthy at all. It is a powerful coping mechanism for me. I can generally control my thoughts, in that I can empty my mind of all thoughts, at will, and I can focus on something specific, if necessary (the latter is perhaps somewhat fraught with peril because I’m unfortunately most familiar with negative thoughts and emotions). I can’t generally filter out other distractions but I can filter thoughts. But while I don’t dwell on the past, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss certain things. I’m just writing about some things I miss from the past, because one of those things is on my mind, and I have nothing else better to do. Some friends miss these things, too, as do people I don’t know, but this is – like always – first and foremost for me.

I’ll go in the order of the title, but I’ll also throw in some other things.

Video Games and the Arcades

I’ll not get in to my favourite type of game of all time (text adventures) because these still exist and arcades don’t (and I have no idea what happened to some of the old video game consoles I had).

The first video game console I played was the Atari 2600. I have many fond memories of the console and its games from Breakout to River Raid, to Outlaw to Adventure, and everything in between (Donkey Kong, Pac-man, Space Invaders, Frogger? Hell yes!). Next I went to the Nintendo Entertainment System, where perhaps my favourite game there would be Ninja Gaiden. That game is a true classic; it was the first game to introduce cinematic cut-scenes to progress the story. I loved the music of the game and I found it a lot of fun. Many seem to think the old games were hard but I never thought that; sure, there were some games that were harder (Ninja Gaiden wasn’t hard for me except the very end, right outside of the final boss The Jacquio; Ninja Gaiden II I beat and Ninja Gaiden III I won’t even discuss) than others, but I beat almost every game I played, repeatedly. Indeed, I knew some games better than the back of my hand (including the puzzles, mazes or whatever they might be). I spent many hours playing video games (more than the two consoles listed) at home, over the years (the last console I owned was the Sony Playstation 1), and also at what is mostly an artefact from the past: the arcades. I spent hours and hours at the arcades, and I have nothing but fond memories of the games I played, among them: Mario Brothers (note: what is on the gaming consoles is Super Mario Brothers; Mario Brothers was an arcade game!), Street Fighter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game, Mortal Kombat (all of them), Pac-man, and perhaps especially pinball (and its Sonic the Hedgehog spinoff Sonic Spinball, although that was for the Sega Genesis/Mega game drive). There were many more I thoroughly enjoyed, far too many to mention (let alone remember). But I’ve not played a single arcade game in years. I miss that a lot. Nowadays games are connected to the Internet somehow (which I have no problem with, in fact, multi-user dungeons, aka MUDs – predecessors to the MMORPGs of today – are very much a part of me to this day) and otherwise are far superior in graphics (yet I’ve always felt that with all the hardware advances, the effects are far less impressive exactly because the hardware is so advanced; there isn’t nearly as many limitations to the hardware, and some games had rather decent graphics when you consider 8-bit versus what they have nowadays).

Book and Record Stores.

This is what inspired me to write this, actually. This past week I went to a real bookshop, something I hadn’t been in in far too long. It was wonderful. I always loved (even when I buy online I do, but it is different at a bookshop, at least for me and those whom I have talked about this) the smell of the books, the feel of the cover, the binding, the pages, everything about bookshops. You could sit down and read a book (or part of), you could browse different types of books (and genres) whether fiction, non-fiction (whether textbook or something else), and lose track of time (the same was true for record stores except there you might listen to some of the music and you would be browsing records, tapes and eventually CDs; I’ll return to this later). But mostly they are gone today. However, I want to point something out. Something I’ve long believed and now I have proof. See, many people (including employees and owners of book and record stores) believe that the world wide web (or as they would erroneously call ‘the Internet’) is the reason these stores have either gone out of business or have had to change their business model (or otherwise have drastically reduced profit). There is just one little problem with that theory. Amazon.com sells books for cheaper, even if you combine shipping costs. Meanwhile, when you buy in person, you don’t have shipping costs (which means you have less to spend). For instance, I finally got around to buying The Silmarillion (of course by J.R.R Tolkien). I buy hardcover where possible and it was possible for The Silmarillion, too. I spent 40 USD. However, earlier today I saw it at Amazon for 22.66 USD. That is a 43% difference! So here it is: if bookshops would actually change their pricing, they would be able to more easily compete (granted some don’t have the memories of going to an actual shop, but those who do, I know many miss them). Do I mind that I spent 43% more? No. But that is because it was an enjoyable day and I miss the older days here. Otherwise, yes, yes I would mind it.

As for other things, including the fact you don’t see records and tapes as much (I’m ignoring the revival of the vinyl scene because I’ve always thought records were better, more real and more collectible, than tapes and CDs, although nowadays tapes are far more collectible than CDs, DVDs and Audio DVDs; I’m deliberately ignoring bluray and other HD video and sound – I can’t see or hear the differences, anyway). There are many things I do miss. I have really old computer parts that I used years ago but I can’t throw out. The things that we had of yesteryear would surprise the youth of today. If they had any idea of how small hard drives were (in capacity) and how expensive they were (in comparison to what they are today, and considering the capacity differences), they would probably be floored. I still to this day have a hard drive less than 1GB. In this case it is at the ~540MB barrier (which some will remember it as that was as high as they could get it due to limitations that at the time they could not overcome). I also have a HDD that is ~2.5GB. I probably have other drives that are (guessing here) 20GB, 80GB, 120 or 200GB.

There is something else, here, though. It always greatly amuses me when kids tell adults things like “you don’t understand what it is like growing up these days .. it is so different now; we have social media, mobile phones, and we have the Internet!”. It amuses me because they wouldn’t really know anything else, so how would they know that it is so different? Of course, they wouldn’t. I’m going to elaborate just because I want to show how yes, things are different because of evolution (of technology and in general) but no, they aren’t any more complicated (with what we have and don’t have) than before. (Furthermore, things change for both better and worse. But realising this changes things significantly.) Indeed, the Internet is older than they are. For that matter, if you consider its predecessor (arpanet), it might be older than their parents (probably it is)! Certainly the arpanet is older than I am. Depending on what part of the Internet (it developed and extended itself over time) you think of, it is older than me; other parts of the Internet are younger than me. That brings me to social media and the Internet more generally: First, many erroneously believe that the World Wide Web IS the Internet but the Internet is much more than that. The WWW is a small part of the Internet, and without the lower layers, the WWW wouldn’t be ‘world wide’ at all (it might not even exist, we wouldn’t have email and we wouldn’t have many other things that people think of as a single technology). But no, the Internet isn’t new at all, and so this is not something that is all that different (the IoT – the Internet of Things – is another issue entirely, and one that has serious problems, but one that won’t be going away, unfortunately; still, this is technology evolving). As for social media: there were other ways of communicating with people. Let’s start with BBSes (bulletin board systems) and later on web based forums. Then you go to UNIX and you had the talkd (‘talk daemon’) which allowed to users (on the same system or different systems, as I recall) to ‘talk’ with each other (writing messages where one user was at the top and the other at the bottom; it showed characters as sent to the system, so you would see the actual sequences for backspace and the like but this was a matter of getting used to and then it wasn’t really a problem). Then there is IRC (‘internet relay chat’ which worked for the Internet and an internet; the latter simply being a network of networks but not necessarily connected to the global Internet). You also had (later on) ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Instant Message (and others). So no, social media isn’t all that new; it is only an extension of what we had before. I will point out some irony, though, something others have thought of individually, but something that I’ve thought of for a very long time:

Despite the ‘social media’ and the phenomenon of people looking at their bloody phone instead of where they are walking (or with whom they are eating with, sleep with, and who knows what else) and even more ‘connectivity’ (network connectivity only), we are more than ever disconnected. I’d like to say I was ahead of my time (because I wasn’t one who really socialised with peers) but I know I’m not in that way. I was (and am) just… different. I never identified with anyone (in person) and I never really associated with many people (and when I did it was only because of school; I didn’t spend time with them off campus).

Yes, I miss many things that are very different today (different is very loosely defined). But does that mean that I wish I lived in the past? No, absolutely not. It isn’t healthy to dwell on the past; you can’t change it either and the only way to stay somewhat sane (…if that is possible for me – but others can go mad by dwelling on the past, too) is to focus on right now. Even then, there are some things that are better; accept and learn from your mistakes and they aren’t mistakes. Continue to learn, evolve, grow, and you have more to experience, more to understand and more to appreciate. Similarly, if you look at what is here now, you can realise that while some things might be worse, other things are better. It can always be worse (this especially goes for your own health.. and yes, this is what it took for me to understand this though it took many years for me to do so). Always. It might not seem like it to some people but if they ever have long term hardships they will understand this (not to say you can’t understand it without hardships!). Not only will they understand this, they will be thankful for it, and it will give them strength and some sort of peace and acceptance of the world (and others).

Perspective is incredibly powerful; it changes everything!

The Facebook Law and Ethic

Fair warning: I’m in a mood and this is by its very nature going to be touchy (and there will be some bias but the points I’m trying to make are still valid). While I don’t at all find my points out of line, I know many would, especially with the amount of obsession if not outright lust for Facebook that many have. You could call this post somewhat unusual for here although I diverge slightly in to another issue – privacy. This post is motivated by something I saw yesterday, one of many other things I’ve read about before, that makes me think that Facebook truly believes that they can do whatever they want with impunity and no regard to any ethics that they clearly violate. I have a strong ethic, and while I am certainly not perfect, I find abuse and destruction unacceptable. But then there’s Facebook policies and what they allow.

Where to start? Right, we’ll start with what the BBC reported. It is a well known fact that child abuse is a huge problem in this world (much like abuse to the environment, to humans in general, to animals, even the air we breathe). It is also a well known fact that it unfortunately goes to the extreme cowardice (which is sadly cyclical – abuse leads to abuse, there’s some psychology behind it but I’ll not get in to that) of physical abuse including sexual abuse (and frankly it doesn’t matter what age but children is relevant to the discussion). It is also well known that it is illegal in many countries, definitely the country Facebook’s premise is (I’m not sure they live in it, though – some of them certainly don’t act as if they believe they do), to have videos, photos or any example of paedophilia (whether hard copy, on a computer or anything else) As it should be. But one would like to believe videos of child abuse in general is illegal. Let’s assume it isn’t though. What Facebook allows is unethical, it only adds to abuse and frankly it is an utter disgrace in general but especially when their age requirement is just 13. But how do they enforce that? Something like what year you were born in, probably (because it equates to less privacy and more ‘important’ information) your date of birth. Yes, that’s definitely going to be accurate, I’m sure of it. In any case, I dislike kids a lot. That is putting it quite nicely, to be blunt. But I dislike something more: abuse and neglect. Both neglect and abuse makes matters worse for everyone – the victim as well as the people the victim (when older) victimises because they are emotionally/ethically/morally damaged. But here it is, Facebook has what? A video of a baby being repeatedly dunked in to a bucket of water (upside down with arms twisted). Unsurprisingly the baby was crying and one would assume terrified. But what isn’t surprising, either, is that Facebook truly believes it doesn’t break any of their rules, and they only added a warning to the video after a complaint was escalated by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The following from the BBC:

“While the welfare of this child is naturally paramount we would also urge you to look at all available options which will ensure UK citizens, including millions of children, are no longer exposed to this kind of dreadful and disturbing content,” the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s chief executive Peter Wanless wrote.

“The NSPCC believes we have now reached the long overdue point where it is time for social networking sites to be held to account for the content on their sites and pay more attention to their safeguarding duties to protect children and young people, whether they are viewing the content or appearing in it.”

Facebook responded as such:

“In cases like these, we face a difficult choice: balancing people’s desire to raise awareness of behaviour like this against the disturbing nature of the video,” said a spokeswoman for the firm.

“In this case, we are removing any reported instances of the video from Facebook that are shared supporting or encouraging this behaviour.

“In cases where people are raising awareness or condemning the practice, we are marking reported videos as disturbing, which means they have a warning screen and are accessible only to people over the age of 18.”

Whether that means they allow referring to it to raise awareness but not allowing it when it is being encouraged, or if they removed this instance but generally feel that raising awareness is acceptable, I do not know. What I do know is that they often state that others should have the choice to watch it if they want, and especially because it will raise awareness (even though the videos they claim are for this go about it in the exact opposite of what would be done for awareness).

Yes, Facebook, because showing videos of atrocities, cruelty and who knows what else, will raise awareness (typically when you raise awareness for such things, there’s something of an explanation that goes along with it, and that includes warnings where relevant)? I imagine also that allowing the videos in some instances won’t actually encourage others to do similar under the guise that they’re raising awareness? I suppose, also, that having these videos won’t be harmful to those who unfortunately and unknowingly watch it without realising what it is they are to see (something I will return to)? That isn’t how you raise awareness: you’re raising awareness? Of what? Why? What should be learnt? What went wrong? Of course, your way will discourage others from these things, too, I’m sure (try telling that to victims of hate and see how far you get). Of course not, all of it is for the good of mankind. Except it isn’t – what you really mean is it is good for you because you have less responsibility to manage and less to worry about. Yet other organisations wouldn’t get away with this. It is only your user base and repeated lies and misdirection – both of which are very easy to sniff out – that allows you to worm your way out of trouble. Indeed, if I were to have such content on my server I could be in serious trouble – as it should be! This isn’t the first time and it isn’t the last time, that you have allowed things like this. Why is that? Because you don’t concern yourself with responsibility, ethics and even if you get away with it legally, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily legal: there’s a reason that child protection services exist and they will actually go after parents simply because their kids enjoyed having a lot of fun doing things that caused injuries needing emergency care (for instance, my brother, myself) fairly often. I’m sure the child in this video was asking for it too, though, so I suppose all is okay, right? Somewhat ironically, though, there’s also a link here – if that video was paedophilia, it would land you in serious legal trouble (as it should) and I would expect far more outrage (as there should be). When is abuse acceptable? It shouldn’t be. But there’s should/shoult not be, and there’s reality, I suppose. Yet there’s a huge problem with being too accepting of others, of things, of surroundings, something that many of your users don’t understand (and/or realise), and also do the same as you. It is even worse, for you, because of your mentality that the information is necessary, that privacy is a bad thing (even if this has lessened over time, it still exists) – you ignore the reality here in ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy. So here it is:

If you’re too trusting, too accepting, you leave yourself incredibly vulnerable to harm and that means off the Internet (or is that ‘Facebook’ ?) and on. But people are this way and it is often to their peril. Lack of awareness is a real problem (an unfortunate part of being unaware of something includes being oblivious to the lack of awareness in the first place). No matter how aware you are, there’s more you can be aware of (and just like time, things change). Since Facebook has this requirement that you use your real name (although funnily enough, I once had a fake account with the name of a Disney character, one with a nose that grows when they lie – of course it was deliberate on my part), and since the default of many settings – as I’ve read for many different issues; I can’t say from personal experience – are opt out (instead of opt in, as it should always be), including those revealing what should remain private, a scary amount of information can be revealed and mapped (in what I’m about to explain it is literally). While many have probably been more public, I would like to note one that is a plugin to the Chrome browser (I’ll leave Google out of this discussion) and was called by the author the Marauder’s Map which is indeed a reference to the artefact in Harry Potter. You can find more information on how and why this works, what it does, and everything else the author reveals by following the additional links here (the link here is to a brief write up with some additional thoughts). For those who don’t know, in Harry Potter, the map plots out every person in any form (by real name) on the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry grounds, even if they are invisible, by location, with the exception of a couple places (there’s more than one possible reason and I don’t believe there’s ever been a confirmation on which of the reasons were the case though I would certainly like to know), even as they are travelling through the grounds (so it moves the person’s location on the map). Instead this is real and based on a feature of Facebook, that allows mapping out users – including those you aren’t ‘friends’ with – over time, to discover where they tend to be including where they sleep (so not over a period of time but patterns can lead to fairly accurate results). The problem besides it being scary? They could plot an attack even through social engineering (but otherwise too). This might be to rob your flat, your car, physically assault you, or it might be a cyber attack.

All of the latter part could be somewhat summarised as: be very careful of who you trust, ask yourself why you trust them, and whether what you think is harmless is really harmless. The argument that Zuckerberg likes to throw – that you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide – is a dangerous viewpoint that is both hiding true intent and ignoring the things they wouldn’t share to others (bank account, etc.), something I’ve explained before. As for ‘friends’ I have this to say: I once mocked a friend (which means in another country, one I’ve never met in person and probably won’t because that’s just part of my personality) about Facebook when he finally caved and joined. He knew I didn’t mean offence but in any case, it was about his so-called friends. Well, some time after that he told me of an occasion where he asked his ‘friends’ if any of them would want to spend time with him in person? Not one. Yes, folks, it is interesting, isn’t it, that the more connected we are too technology, the more aloof we are in person as a side effect, not much unlike how I choose to be.

The unethical issue is hard to summarise and it is rather hard to imagine that a corporation, especially a corporation that is about social networking, would accept it (even though it isn’t surprising).

70 Years Ago Today at the Battle in Berlin

This is clearly an off topic post but when I looked at the calendar today, it occurred to me that on this day in 1945, Berlin unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. It was a significant moment in the second world war, and it wasn’t long before all of Germany surrendered. This is something I felt inspired to write in light of such a dark chapter known to mankind.

70 Years Ago Today at the Battle in Berlin: A look in to the heart of mankind, its past, present and future

The Battle in Berlin ended on 1945 May 2. It was a glimmer of hope for many, and would be a day that would begin the ultimate surrender of Germany in World War 2. Hitler (20 April 1889 – 30 April 1945), along with his newly wed wife Eva Braun, had committed suicide 10 days after Hitler’s 56th birthday – April 30, 1945; he knew the end was approaching and he was not one to surrender: he made sure he was not captured. Josef Goebbels[1], who stayed with Hitler to the very end, had also committed suicide – and forced his family, including his kids (the mother assured the kids everyone was using this drug – I believe morphine – and to not worry, therefore allowing them to be sedated while they’re poisoned) to do the same. Goebbels was, of course, the master propagandist of Nazi Germany, and this combined with Hitler being a very powerful speaker is a very dangerous combination (yet they weren’t the only powerful variables). Hitler of course was concerned that the cyanamide was not sufficiently potent, and despite him being close to his German Shepherd Blondi, a day before he committed suicide, he tested a dose of cyanamide[2] on Blondi; she would be buried and later excavated by the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Hitler ordered that his remains as well as Eva’s remains, to be burnt. I’ll return to the liberation of Berlin towards the end of this essay.

The fact Hitler was never one to surrender is quite obvious when you consider the end of the first world war – the war to end all wars: he felt it was an utter betrayal to surrender and was in disbelief that the war was finished; he truly wanted to continue after recovering from temporary blindness (from a mustard gas attack). The Germans (Hitler was born in Austria and was very much Austrian: indeed, over the years, as I recall more than once, many cities in Austria have rushed to make sure that he was not still an honorary citizen, after it was made known that a city still declared him exactly that) told him they no longer needed his service. This of course, was not the end: The Treaty of Versailles left Germany a disaster.

Germany lost a lot of land; the Rhineland was to be demilitarised; their military was limited to no more than 100,000 men; they were not allowed an air force; were to give up military air craft; they were not allowed to import or build air power for six months among other air warfare restrictions (yet ironically, despite all this, the Luftwaffe would later literally flatten areas in the UK during The Blitz, which caused many in England to use the tube stations as bombing shelters and led to utter devastation in areas – like North Ireland – that did not prepare if not outright ignore warnings); prohibition in the arms trade; limitations as to what the navy was allowed (battleships as well as number of men); they were to pay billions (marks) in reparations, something I believe they’ve yet to pay off (I would be surprised if they ever do, assuming that indeed they have not yet); and much more. Germany was not invited to the discussions. All of this paved the way for Hitler to eventually take over what would later become the National Socialist German Workers’ Party – or Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (abbreviated as NSDAP), more commonly known as the Nazi Party. It was originally the National Socialists party. It was Hitler who decided to rename it to what it is known as today. His idea was it would appease to the masses, essentially everyone but the communists and the Jews[3]. In addition, the victors also largely ignored the Japanese, despite Japan being a victor.

When you think of all this, it would be absurd to even dream of there not being another major conflict. As far as I am aware, the Americans tried to some time later get some of these limitations removed, because of this fear. But they were too late and/or not successful. Essentially, the treaty would be to the victors’ – and indeed the entire world – peril.

Yet despite the terror of the time, despite the atrocities, mankind has not taken to heart all the lessons. There is no such thing as tolerance if it is not respected and considered 100%; therefore, tolerance is a dangerous lie: selective tolerance still discriminates and that is exactly what happened so many years ago and to this day still occurs. It is true that there were horrible atrocities with terrible consequences and to this day there still is. But war is war. While that does not justify what was done, it should always be kept in mind. The last remaining body guard of Hitler once said something that should be remembered because it is completely honest and 100% valid: there’s never been a war without war crime. I would extend this, and perhaps he meant this too, by adding: war itself is a crime.

Yet despite the Soviet Union liberating Berlin (and other Nazi occupied land), they were not above being horrendous, either. The Red Army looted, committed mass rape and mass murder. This affected many more people: rape and in general sexual – which is also physical, mental and emotional – abuse ruins lives (and a close friend of mine can attest to that, even though it should be obvious). Then there’s the murders. Is that better than the Nazis? The effect would not happen if it wasn’t for the cause; the cause is the lack of tolerance, the hate, vengeful, discriminatory and oppressive behaviour and mentality. Yet many Soviets earned medals for liberating Berlin. One hopes that none that participated in the deplorable actions were also rewarded, but as I’ve already noted – war is a criminal act, and it is inevitable that these things will happen, and in all likelihood many perpetrators were indeed rewarded.

It is interesting to note that two very significant things changed the war outlook (of course there’s others, including some that are because of these). First, Hitler regretted his pact with the Soviet Union, and he decided to break it by invasion. With the Soviet’s scorched earth tactic, combined with the climate and temperatures there, the German army suffered terribly. This also meant that the Soviets would fight the Nazis and ultimately would liberate much of Europe (it is also worth noting that other neutral countries – Sweden, for example – would not only remain unoccupied but also gain the Nazis trust and as such, many Jews were able to flee to Sweden). The other is that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and this, combined with Hitler shortly thereafter declaring war on the United States of America, would bring the US in to the war. The Americans were an important part of the victory, from D-Day (Normandy) and through the Pacific.

70 years ago today began the first part of a transition to the end of a very dark chapter in mankind. Never forget what happened, how many lives were lost, how many lost family, how many suffered. Never forget it could have been worse. But do not forget either that it could have been better if only there was tolerance, more peaceful cooperation (instead of aggressive competition) and if only more people remembered how their actions affect others. Ultimately, World War Two could have been avoided as could many other wars, including wars after World War Two. But they aren’t avoided. 70 years have gone by and mankind has still not acknowledged these things; there is nothing darker than this realisation.

[1] Just like it is commonly spelt Adolf Hitler (when his birth certificate actually shows Adolphus) it is often Joseph instead of Josef. One of the books I have on Hitler (as below) spells it Josef. Probably the common spellings are English.
[2] I always remembered cyanide. However, because I wanted to cite references to some of this, I looked at one of the books I have on Hitler. While some other Nazis did use cyanide, apparently Blondi was given cyanamide (and it seems that it was initially Hitler’s doctor that suggested this be the way to test it). Ironically, despite Hitler’s fear (he shared the fear with someone who had relayed the fear to Hitler although they had different reasons as to believe it) it was Eva Braun who took the cyanamide (although she tried to use something else; the name fails to come to mind). Hitler shot himself instead.
[3] There was no place for Jews as far as he was concerned. What made him hate Jews so much is likely a combination of factors but one theory is something the Nazis used themselves – spreading fear and hate by words and actions; certainly he mirrored some beliefs as others had already made public, and certainly he was influenced by others. I’m not certain why he hated the communists so much except that he supposedly railed against them in Mein Kampf in addition to the Jews.

While I have more books on Hitler, the one I have actually read (albeit a long time ago until some brief checks earlier today) is below.

Books
Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography by John Toland (Anchor, 1992)