The Golden Dream – The Golden Cage

The Golden Dream, known in Spanish as The Golden Cage is an observational film that follows three teenagers as they travel to Guatemala along railroad tracks north towards the United States. During the journey they need to work to make money, face attacks from the police, immigration police and gangs. When one of the characters finally arrives in the US he works cleaning a slaughterhouse after the workers have finished their shift.

Trump supporters and Brexit voters need to watch these films because the trip from economically less developed countries to economically more developed countries is not an easy one. It requires the taking of risks. In this context they face organised crime, heat and other challenges.

I watched this film at the Graduate Institute yesterday night. It was shown within the context of the Global Migration Film Festival. During the discussion at the end of the screening the panel spoke about some of the other challenges that people face such as human trafficers and more. Two aspects we do not see are the injuries that people sustain falling off of trains and rape is alluded to rather than shown.

The Invisible City [Kakuma] – Trailer (ENG) – Lieven Corthouts from Cassette for timescapes on Vimeo.

People need to watch these documentaries and films. Awareness of these issues needs to be endemic to the Western World. Yesterday they said something to the effect that “This is not a crisis, this is a norm.” They said that because this was a situation that has been going on for decades changes need to be made. Permanent solutions need to be found to improve the lives for all of those that are affected.

It is a shame that rather than see a growth in compassion and cooperation we are seeing people like Trump elected and ideas like Brexit adopted. The trend needs to be reversed and that is where documentaries and films can help open peoples’ eyes. Society needs to move away from populism and fast.

The Global Migration Film Festival
The Global Migration Film Festival

The Frankfurt School of thought and blaming social media.

When we were at university studying the media we learned about the Frankfurt School of Thought. We studied Adorno and others. We learned about the public sphere and more. I see a lot of articles today discussing whether we live in a post-fact and post truth age. Social media are given the blame but this is over-simplistic. In the Frankfurt school Knew Trump was coming Facebook is blamed for the proliferation of fake news when it is an aggregator rather than the source of disinformation.

For years the American news industry has shifted increasingly towards entertainment and audience rather than fact and context. As a result of that shift mainstream media in the Anglo-Saxon world has been dumbed down. Through putting commercial interests ahead of hard news mainstream media have lost some of their authority. By authority I mean trustworthiness and fact based reporting.

Rather than look at social media as the culprit I would look towards Fox News, Sky News, the tabloid press and right wing propaganda. Assange, Snowden and others wanted to undermine the democratic party and in so doing undermined Democracy as a whole. As a result of that undermining they encouraged people to shift their media consumption habits from hard news sources towards opinion news sources where facts were optional.

Lies have long legs: they are ahead of their time. The conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power, a process that truth itself cannot escape if it is not to be annihilated by power, not only suppresses truth as in earlier despotic orders, but has attacked the very heart of the distinction between true and false, which the hirelings of logic were in any case diligently working to abolish. So Hitler, of whom no one can say whether he died or escaped, survives.

If Adorno were to look upon the cultural landscape of the twenty-first century, he might take grim satisfaction in seeing his fondest fears realized_

We see this as a key discussion point today with Trump, Brexit and the defeat of the Si vote in Italy. Lies are spread and reinforced so that empty promises win campaigns, rather than logic and reason.

_The failure of Facebook to halt the proliferation of fake news during the campaign season should have surprised no one; the local hirelings of logic are too enamored of their algorithms—and of the revenue they generate—to intervene_

Social media did not fail. The Fourth Estate failed. We have two choices. We can read the over-simplified sensationalist crap or we can delve deeper to the content that is based on fact but may put us to sleep. Not everyone is reading news for entertainment. Some of us switch between media sources to avoid being narced (pardon the diving term). We see certain sources are anti-European on a daily basis so we switch source, we switch language. Social media is not the problem. Blind belief and trust is the problem.

I hold a strong belief that the study of history and the necessity for people to study current affairs are essential. I also believe that educational systems need to encourage people to think critically and to understand the media landscape. They need to understand how propaganda works and how disinformation can go into a positive feedback loop whereby lies become truth. “positive feedback loop” in this context is a term taken from environmental science. It describes how a small negative change, over time can gain in amplitude and feed into itself.

_Fake news is an extension of the same phenomenon, and, as in the Napster era, no one is taking responsibility. Traffic trumps ethics_

For years people have worried about privacy but from what we see today privacy is not the problem. Disinformation is the problem. Mainstream media and their audiences need to be more critical. They need to read numerous sources and use ethics and morality to see which sources they trust and which ones they disregard.

It is too easy for

 

Steep – A Snowboarding, skiing, Parapente and Base Jumping game

Winter is coming and snow has fallen on the local peaks and then melted again. The temptation to go snowboarding in real life is back. While waiting to go and do sports in the real world Ubisoft give us the opportunity to simulate the experiences of snowboarding, skiing, base jumping and paragldiding.

I know three of these sports. I ski, I snowboard and I recently tasted my first paragliding flight.As I watched the trailer above and Jack Septiceye’s video of the game it reminded me of so many of the extreme sports videos I have watched. It also reminded me of the FIFAD event as well as the Montagne En Scène events. It pays a nice tribute to the culture of snowboarding and extreme sports that many of us have grown up with. It also harkens back to the days when I would edit the events that are mentioned in the trailer to this game.

This would be a good game to have in the chalet while waiting for the snow to fall or the conditions to improve.

I understand why the game filled me with passion. I liked seeing places that we know. It’s because the game developers are in Annecy so they’re playing in the same landscape as us. They’re snowboarders and skiers so they understand the sensations and they’re trying to emulate them in the game. When watching the paragliding sequences I like that we hear the flight computer’s beep as you ascend at different rates. It’s one aspect that you really notice the first time you try paragliding. That’s a nice touch for the game.

From the videos I have watched so far it looks as though they have managed to capture all of these sensations in the game. This looks like a really enjoyable game to play. The game should provide people with a nice amount of escapism. As they get used to the controls and as the community for this game grows so the ties that bind this community will grow. It looks excellent.

Learning about Tiny Houses

Learning about Tiny Houses is interesting. There are a number of features/documentaries online where people build their own tinyhouses either from shipping containers, trailers or other structures. The aim of these tinyhouses is to maximise space and reduce costs. Some of these homes are entirely off the grid. They collect rain water and solar panels provide power. The bedroom is often built above the kitchen and climbing wall holds are used instead of ladders or conventional stairs.

One home folds out from a truck to become a castle. One tower serves as a toilet and the second one serves as a shower. The space above even features a bath.

Another Tiny home is designed as a tree house providing a beautiful 360° panoramic view of the landscape around.


This tiny home is interesting because it’s built out of half a shipping container. For a change the bed is below and the living room is above. The kitchen and office are next to it and there is a shower from which to watch birds.

I have seen a lot of people speak about minimalist living, living off the grid and living out of cars, campers and other vehicles. By watching videos about tiny houses you begin to understand that there are certain basics that you need to have and that these basics fit in to small spaces. If you have a van, a caravan or other vehicle then you can live as comfortably as these people.

This last video would make for a perfect summer home for recent university graduates or high school graduates. It’s small, light and mobile. You’re self sufficient to a great extent and as long as it’s warm you have your own space. It’s amusing that in at least three videos we hear about people learning to be neater through living in such small spaces.

As a scuba diver, rock climber, cyclist and geek the biggest challenge for someone like me would be to find a place where I could store my diving gear and especially the scuba tanks. They’re bulky. Diving gear also needs to dry properly to avoid the smell of the lake (as I used to dive weekly in the lake).

My view of living in a tinyhouse has changed through the watching of these documentaries. It shows you that what you want is functionality rather than size. You want “gadgets” as these maximise how you use available space.

Black Mirror – A television series

Black Mirror – a television series

Black Mirror is a television series that was broadcast by Channel 4 a few years ago and made available to Netflix audiences recently. The series explores a variety of topics and issues to do with technology from death to crime and existentialism. It also explores themes like family and friendship.

We spend a lot of time thinking about technology and how it has changed our lives. Sometimes it’s fun to watch 80s series to see the world as it was before computers and the internet and sometimes it is fun to watch dystopian essays or short stories exploring facets of modern life.

In modern society we see that social media is affecting the discourse that is taking place between politicians and normal people. We see how social media and the lowering of the barriers of entry to the fourth estate have created a golden age for propaganda and disinformation. We see in The Waldo Moment that a CGI bear can mock the political system. It could be directly related to what we have seen happen recently.

Be Right Back deals with online identity and how a person can be emulated once they have died. The question is an interesting one. The more active we are on social media the more our character and personality can be understood and reflected back. This is limited. We are not entirely ourselves online. There are some things that we hide from the online world.

In Fifteen Million Merits we see a dystopian vision of the world where everyone lives in a small dark room. They get out of this room to go and peddle for a few hours to get Merits. Once they have 15 million merits they can “apply” for a different kind of job via a talent show.

Nosedive explores popularity and social networks. Everyone is constantly being rated based on what they share, how they interact with others and more. In such a dystopia people can progress or lose privileges based on reputation. In such a reality people are vulnerable.

A vertovian theme is explored in “The Entire history of You”. An implant called the Grain records your entire life and you have the ability to fast forward and rewind moments of your life. In so doing you can analyse what went well, what went badly and more. You can also see more than you were intended to see through other peoples’ recorded experiences. In this episode we see the Kino-Eye, the all seeing eye. Your life is no longer private.

I like some of the themes that are explored in this series and I recommend people to watch at least some of the episodes. I feel that they are relevant to our discussion about social media and online lives.

The New Mac Book Pro

Last night when I saw the new Mac Book Pro I was turned off by the lack of USB-3 ports. To me that lack of ports made the machine unattractive as I do not want to use dongles or pay a premium for thunderbolt drives.

Ingestion of data from fitness devices is by USB ports so I would need a dongle for that. I would also need a USB to Thunderbolt 3 adaptor to ingest from the SxS cards I use with the Sony PMW-200.

The Mac Book Pro becomes interesting when you look at the storage options of either one or two terabytes of internal storage. My current machine has about 250 gigabytes of internal storage so I only keep the project that I am currently editing. Once I finish I shift it to an external drive. With the new system I would have more headroom. I could easily have a number of projects on the machine and would need a thunderbolt 3 to USB-3 dongle for archiving that material.

It means that I would use my current mac book pro for my fitness trackers, USB-3 drives and more. The new machine would be a dedicated editing machine as my current MBP was until the Mac Book air stopped being a reliable machine.

As the investment for a new machine is so high I would wait until I have a number of projects to work on. At that point I might consider upgrading to the new machine. You might also remember that I posted that what I wanted was a dual screen editing laptop where the keyboard part of the machine would be for the timeline whilst the monitor would be for the playout monitors and more. With the touch bar we’re a step closer to what I wanted.

It might be practical.
It might be practical.

The Great Wide Open – Episode 5

The Great Wide Open is a different climbing video than I am used to because it discusses history, culture and American identity. It speaks about the American Independence day and watching fireworks from “Devils tower“, a laccolithic butte. This is an interesting rock formation. The rock has vertical cracks that are impressive to see.

There are many aspects that I like and enjoy about this video. I like the visuals and I like the discussion of history and opportunism and passion. The segment that I like less is about death. I associate death with scuba diving rather than climbing. Recently I have watched quite a few documentaries about climbing and death. The film Sherpa and one other explored the themes both of mountain professionals and the risks they take and the other looked at climbers and the risks they take. They’re interesting topics but exploring the lives of people who live their passions is more pleasant. One person said “I think too many people live their lives, five days looking forward to the two day weekend and they don’t look forward to their life on the small amount of time we have on this earth.” That’s why I enjoy watching documentaries about this topic. For brief instants we get to dream and to aspire to new things.

There is a lot of attention in the media today about how women look and how they are perceived. The focus needs to shift away from how women look and focus instead on what they can do. Climbing news and videos are one way to achieve this goal. We see women who excel at their chosen sport and this has a positive effect. It takes us away from the superficial and presents us with the concrete. In climbing we notice women for their prowess rather than their looks and this is positive. I appreciate them for their ability  to challenge and overcome their fears. I frequently climbed with someone who was afraid and I would not hesitate to do it again. Enabling others is a good quality to have.

Climbing in Bramois

Climbing in Bramois is a pleasant and practical experience. This is a climbing area with numerous walls and routes. There are single and multipitch routes ranging from 3-4 up to 7 and 8. The climbing area is within a gorge with nice rock on both side and a river running through the middle.  This area has over 150 routes from which for you to choose from. The routes vary in length from 10-40 metres for single pitch routes.

When I was there I climbed around the Africa wall. There are quite a few 5a and above routes. Some of these routes are more instinctive than others. There is one particular route where we had a tendency within the group to go too far too the right and then had to go left and then make it up to a crack. Once the complicated bit was negotiated the rest of the climb was easy. I am still getting used to climbing on rock rather than on an artificial wall or via ferrata.

I later went to another wall a few minutes walk away and that climb was more interesting because it was up a chimney and some bits were mild overhangs that could be negotiated with observation. That wall was fun to climb.

For more information about the climbing walls you can visit this site. The advantage of this climbing area is that multiple groups can be present at once and climb without getting in each others way. You have a variety of climbing routes and experiences and getting around is easy if you don’t mind walking up and down short trails. I will be tempted to climb around this area many more times in future. The climbing season is coming to an end for this year but I do plan on climbing here again next year. With the people whom I drove to the site we climbed until the sun had left the valley.

Climbing 5C comfortably

Yesterday I was climbing 5C comfortably and consistently for the first time. I often climb 5a, 5b and sometimes attempt 6a and 5c. Yesterday I skipped the easy grades and went straight for the 5C+. I expected it to be hard and I expected to struggle. I expect strength and fear of falling to be issues but they were not.

I believe that three factors contributed to this. The first of these is that last time I went climbing I was also bouldering. I believe that bouldering got me to work different muscle groups and that these muscle groups were primed for use when lead climbing.

The second factor that helped is that I noticed that the door frames in the building where I live have tiny ledges that I can grip and pull on laterally. By making this lateral effort I was strengthening my grip for tiny holds. I was using the strength I developed on holds that I would not otherwise have trusted. Amusingly it seems to have worked.

The third and most important factor is that I took a one week break from climbing. In this time my body had the time to recover and so did my mind. It had the opportunity to absorb what it had learned and desaturate from the previous climbs. In effect I arrived to the wall with a clean slate (no pun intended).

I love to go climbing because it is a wonderful form of escapism from all of the stress of adult life. It provides you with a workout and with an opportunity to clear your mind. Some would describe it as a form of meditation. As a former diver I would call it desaturation. You have the opportunity to live in and enjoy a moment with no past and no future. That’s why people love these sports. It can be summarised to one phrase. Well being. Yesterday’s successful climbs contributed to mine.

Prison Architect – a game review

The leaves are going from Green to brown and are starting to fall. At the same time nights are getting longer and temperatures are decreasing. As a result of this the fun sports season is slowing down and getting ready for hibernation. In effect the prospect of outdoor sports is decreasing. This presents a perfect opportunity to play games like Prison Architect.

Prison architect is a good way to unwind after a week of work. You can familiarise yourself with gameplay either by watching youtube videos or by playing the game in campaign mode.

In Campaign mode you are in charge of a number of prisons with issues. As you resolve those issues you are trusted with a new set of issues before resolving these. It is an easy way to familiarise yourself with gameplay before moving on to creating a prison from scratch.

When you start a prison from scratch you have limited funds. You can get around this issue by applying for grants and completing tasks. Completing tasks gives you more funds. These funds allow you to progress quickly.

As your prison expands and as you take responsibility for more prisoners you can also research various aspects of prison management. This goes from prison labour to rehabilitation and more. You control the prisoner’s regime. You can choose the regime for low security, medium security and high security prisoners. You also assign patrols. These include normal guard patrols, dog patrols and armed guard patrols. Dog patrols can be used to detect weapons, tunnels and drugs. Armed patrols can be authorised to shoot without warning shots.

Prison labour can be used for making licence plates, carpentry, cleaning the prison or working in the kitchen. The bigger you make these rooms the more prisoners you can allocate to specific tasks.

With carpentry, kitchen work and workshops prisoners must first be trained. The more time you allocate to work the more groups you can have working at once. If you have two or more workshops you can get two to three sets of prisoners  to be trained at once.

Education and detoxes are also possible when you build common rooms, a medical ward and offices for psychologists. Prisoner ratings go up as a result of this. With the right regime prisoners can be rehabilitated and paroled. Parole is a desirable feature because every early release gives you 3000 dollars. It’s a nice and easy way of earning extra cash.

There is a prison scorecard which you can consult. On this card you can see health, security and other ratings. Reoffending rates are also visible. When playing this game I managed to get single digit re-offending rates.

The prison gains value as you expand. Avoid escapes and deaths as these prevent you from selling your prison for a period of 24 hours in game. When you decide to sell a prison you keep the money earned through its sale and can use it to start a new prison.

With this capital you can build bigger and better sells and you can expand the prison faster. You can also buy more land and choose the security levels for various sections of the prison.

As you play this game you have the opportunity to experiment with regimes, parole conditions and more. The more you play the happier your prisoners will be. As the prison expands you have to make sure to keep your prisoners happy to avoid riots, prisoner escapes and more. You can just as easily play this game for long stretches as short ones.