My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.

Twitter

12/13/2007

Art Fossett on SL

Yesterday I attended a very fun and immersive Second Life talk by Art Fossett, the in-game avatar, accompanied by his on-earth alter ego, Andy Powell of Eduserv. It was fun mostly because he'd organised it to take place on Eduserv island, in the conference room, and invited friends and colleagues to attend online. They kept chuckling like a misbehaving class, turning into dinosaurs, cartwheeling around, and calling him Chubster behind his back (on the projection screen, but he could spy them from his laptop so he caught them out). All very innocent fun though and it complemented his talk quite well.


The presentation was organised as a series of t-shirts, which took a while to res the next topic name on the avatar's chest. Interesting for the links it turned up, although they kept mentioning something called slideshare, (which I guess I should google!) where the slides will probably turn up soon enough.


There are a lot of mailing lists following Second Life activity in higher education, SLED being the main US one, from far fetched to down to earth discussion, and very US centric. More UK wise though was the
Facebook UK educators group, among a large amount of facebook groups popping up on this topic all the time.


Most importantly for me was the getting started stuff, although I've been a member for more than a year, I've only had about 3 memorable experiences there - going to the anarchist area and chatting with someone there about their online black block actions - invading virtual reuters etc. All a bit useless to me. Or the first time I went in, when I befriended someone who showed me how to build, resulting in lots of squares and circles left lying around like I hadn't housetrained my pet mini-me. And the other time was in a starting place like Orientation Island where I met an imperial stormtrooper, who tried to get me to join his multiplayer sub game thing with the bribe of a free jetpack suit and stormtrooper armour. Oh and once I found a sweet, closed up cottage on a hilltop playing irish music if you got really close to the windows...


Andy/Art explained that the best way to start is actually by arranging to meet a real life known person online and have them take you around. I will try this... He also said to try out the Berkman Sandbox Area or the Glidden Sandbox area for some impressive in world artwork.


He mentioned a growing trend of producing Machinima with SL, and the
Theatron project - I think a reproduction of ancient roman or greek theatres with costumes avatars and staged re-enactments of old plays. There's also the globe theatre somewhere I think. And to top it all a colleague lent me the book Second Lives, which is really brilliant - about people with disabilities and their use of it, or what's happening with gangs and real street violence in Korea...


So armed with all this new knowledge & inspired by the book, I went home to try it all out, and was dismally disappointed when my linux client managed to get in far enough to tell me I needed a new version of the client, then crashed so bad even X wouldn't start, and my windows client, after a few seconds, did the same thing and although the task manager worked, it was unable to remove the client's instance, or get anything else to work, and after a while I actually had to very drastically pull the plug out of the machine. So in conclusion, virtually pleased, in other ways, not.

12/11/2007

Planning for dream machines

Workshop is in 2 months, have found http://www.ventrilo.com/ and http://forums.facepunchstudios.com/forumdisplay.php?f=24 and above all discovered Garry's Mod, a modification of half life 2 that allows you to position characters from the game, and the many sci fi characters that forum users have created and posted online, can be used to create situations, poses and scripted movements or multiplayer acting environments. The link I gave above was for a forum where people post the videos they're making, or making calls for actors to be in their movies.


But I have to remember that we aren't making movies. Maybe we're making archives, personal archives or documentation about things by encoding it in a three dimensional space. Or maybe parody star wars re-enactments?


Garry's mod costs 10 dollars, so I'm tempted to use it to create characters in the workshop on the second day, although that would mean windows machines again, and some of this is so limiting because it's all for the one platform and the software just isn't hasn't been ported yet, or has to be really open source etc...


With crystal space I've found the community to be very inspiring, involved with the Brazilian movement of estudio livre, doing work with puredata and 3d, or kitchen appliance instruments as the case may be.


It would be cool to play with the video projection by scripting a dialogue between live and video characters, but maybe if narration had to take place live or you could have live acting there, or how could we make it seem like it could be real or a game maybe, or ask people in the forums to join in with the workshop supplying skills in directing to help figure out a script that will be feasible in the time we have. We can choreograph a run through a map as well, and this might help create cinematics. The bluescreen might be valuable and we can offer to film sonething scripted by a machinima author. But I don't want to get too Machinima-centric. We're just looking at the whole idea of being in a 3d world and of using media from it, so the software etc isn't really the issue, except that a multiplayer creative environment like gmod, is not run by linden, it's a free play area...


I like the idea of geolocation as well. Maybe it would help to do a mapping from google earth to a geolocated group of maps in kml or with links to ongoing games in multiplayer engines that had representations of them and other users wandering them too, and could some be used to buy and sell, in person and using some kind of standard software? Or how about a geolocation for free sound, so that we have so many media in the same form? (Software is available for Sony Ericsson's Java enabled mobiles that can feed back their cell-id - an approximation of their location).


I've just found a new form of forum game: http://forums.facepunchstudios.com/showthread.php?t=365269&page=3
- a user posts some images and offers choices which are then added a few days later, following reader's votes. The thread goes well for a month or so then goes through various problems and finally fizzles out more than a year later. I wonder if interactive comics will one day be all the rage? http://forums.facepunchstudios.com/showthread.php?t=445148 Maybe not.


The play between the game based social aspect - maybe putting an audience of 14 people in front of another audience of, say, 15 first person shooter players. We could storm a multiplayer server - a modern boy's game room to a chorus of UR MOM SUX etc, playing strange instruments in a chorus of voice speakers as they scream their disapproval, and as we thrash them in the game at the same time.

9/03/2007

Dumped, Channel 4

Yesterday's Dumped (new eco-reality programme on British TV where people are left at a rubbish dump for 3 weeks) was wonderful! Great mix: surreal post-cataclysmic landscape, lazy people having tea, and lots of more extreme eco-talk than I've ever heard on TV - like to what extent do we really need to adapt, where do we stop in our efforts, how far will we have to go etc.

The sad possibility I saw was that not only will we one day walk the mounds of rubbish in the dumps, but we'll also fight over them, as some have called them the treasure troves of the new millenium. When there is no other way to get that kind of stuff here from other countries, those will be the only places to get them...

So I was spellbound until I realised I'd sat through 1 hour of TV when I usually just catch the news for a second, in that time pondering how to word my letter to TV Licensing about how TV sucks and why I don't want to pay for it anymore.

8/26/2007

My Interpretation so far of the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings

This Sutra, handed down by Ananda, the Buddha's companion, then found and translated to Chinese by Kumarijiva, is part 1 of a trilogy consisting of the Lotus Sutra, The Innumerable Meanings Sutra and the Meditation Sutra. It is studied and known among others, by Nichiren Schools of Buddhism, and it's his interpretation that I probably share most with: http://nichiren.info/OngiKuden/text/Muryogi.htm


First of all, it is meant to be read by Bodhisattvas. Boddhisatvas are people who use what they learn to teach others about how to be Buddhas. When I think of Boddhisatvas, I think of people like Gandhi or Martin Luther King etc, people who fought beyond their own lives for the greater good or peace, perhaps even without knowing what the right way or right practice is.


The Innumerable Meanings Sutra says these people will attain the supreme enlightenment that the Buddha attained, eventually, although the short term effect will be that everyone is a lot better off. Laws, people and societies alike, can manifest the Buddha nature, and it will emerge as a huge success of their individual characters. So even if you are hopelessly out of touch, you can still be a Buddha too.


Most of the deep stuff starts for me in the second chapter, "Preaching":


A Boddhisatva, (...) should learn observe that all laws (...) are (...) in themselves void in shape and form; they are neither great nor small, neither appearing nor disappearing; neither fixed nor movable, and neither advancing nor retreating, and they are nondualistic, just emptiness.


This is where it starts being about all things described as Forms or Laws(the translator's note says "or all existences"), and their nature. For me this is about physical laws governing our universe, laws present day to day around us such as economics and gravity and deep wisdoms learnt only after strife. Or even today's green philosophies and their counterparts. But I realise this is out of context and it's just my interpretation. Laws are all around us even in the moments of the day and they rise and fall and have lifespans like living things. There is only one law that is beyond this: Nonform. I don't know what that is - but it's not "wonderful" because he translates another word as wonderful later, and here he just says nonform - having no form and being formless. I think it could be Myo as in Wonderful as in Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law - that trust we have to place in the unknown beyond any law.


This is where he first mentions his "expedient means" which means that basically, he's been lying for about 40 years of Buddhist practice and as a teacher to a vast amount of people in what is now Nepal and India in around 400-500 BC, by vastly adapting what he had to teach so it would fit with laws and existences of the time. That truth would be, he implies, contained in the Lotus Sutra which was to follow. All three Sutras in this trilogy go on and on about the benefits of preaching and reciting the lotus sutra, but never say what it is - and that's where Nichiren Daishonin comes in...


Still, that's not very nice to hear for any Theravada Buddhists, or any followers of earlier teachings, like basically all non-Nichiren or Tendai sects... oops... I bet that doesn't sit too well with them if you also know of the common belief that the Threefold Lotus Sutra is believed to be a forgery put together by Mahayana monks, or hidden by priests for hundreds of years because it was believed to be a secret text meant for the future? Could make a cool graphic novel...


Then in the third and last chapter (and that's what I like about it - it's quite short!), it explains how we can avoid war, disease and famine on a national level: by all believing in the Lotus Sutra. Although this might seem a dogmatic conclusion, you'd have to understand that belief in the Lotus Sutra is dedication to the positive forces in the universe(i.e. the universe's Buddha nature). I can see how even on a basic level that might guarantee something: if it even just meant that everyone, no matter how flawed they may be in character, or whatever weird set of laws they believed in, or whatever society they came from, were equal, because they all and you all have a Buddha nature. In a country where this pluralism/mutual respect took place, I can see the positive use of the Lotus Sutra's philosophy, and that of this Innumerable Laws Sutra as it's preface. But then you'd all of course become SLAVES to us Buddhists, and we'd get the mad whips out and our shaved heads would reign invincible!!!


So that's my own flawed, learning vision of that - if you have any comments please let me know - I'm open to debate on this one... Here's another explanation (I don't think I really understand this one).


Anyway so far it seems to carry an important lesson even without reference to the LS: a lesson in detachment from any one belief, be that environmentalism or racism, because we attach ourselves to these beliefs without knowing what is actually good. It says that a Bodhisattva should have "mercy" (old translation) to lead us from the path of suffering and should have compassion to see beyond the evils of those transient laws of the world and the effects those things have on the people who can't see beyond them, as well as a strong belief and support for it's Buddha nature. It says that a Bodhisattva should be a hero in their personal world and not knowing the supreme truth which was then revealed in the Lotus Sutra about the attainment of Buddhism, should still use expedient means on all around them to teach them the Sutra of innumerable meanings.


There's then the 10 merits of practising this Sutra, and two of these are quite interesting in that one is the merit of attending Buddhas - this is Ananda's Bodhisattva practice: He was the Buddha's attendant in his later years, and in particular while he was expounding these Sutras in the state of Magadha. And then right after is Rahula's boddhisatva practice - of being the son of the buddha. In the Lotus Sutra they receive predictions of the enlightenment they would achieve throughout the ages to follow - the supreme kind, the same way: one after the other, and as a mirror of the way they were now. Their nature wasn't changed.


There's probably a lot of depth to all this to which I can only see the beginning - that for example it tells you that you don't have to practice the 4 noble truths or various other older Theravada teachings. It's enough to practice the IMS to get the 10 merits. But it's incomplete: Each of the 10 merits contains an exception - those who practice won't know the supreme truth and won't be able to do anything for themselves. Only for others.


The true aspect of all phenomena is mentioned here and is defined as "formless", but also there is the mention of the path of teaching - to answer the question of why he taught them the 4 noble truths and all that if it was just an expedient means.


Expedient means I think, could be just anything: using the power of your own charisma to convince people, using rational thought turned into blog posts or emails, spiritual leadership, whatever, it's all kind of "tactful" lies really, but the point is they lead people to go through relationships with laws, through these beliefs then, to encounter problems and to conquer them.


The innumerable laws which always change are to be used by Bodhisattvas in this way because people are different, and have different understandings, which is why the Buddha used expedient means to teach the people around him until then. I wonder if "Non form" is a basic central law that all the other laws progressively revolve around?


I haven't been able to find the Innumerable Meanings Sutra posted online. If anyone has a link please let me know! Hope you've liked and not been too bored by this post!

7/02/2007

Section 4

Here are all the areas of the Section 4 open exhibition, with comments on how they were received and where they could develop:

  1. Symbolic Jumble Sale: This was a strong piece - as it constituted the full first week of the Pierian Centre exhibition on it's own and a lot of people saw it. It is basically all the items I picked up when my friends Cristina and family were deported, on display on a table. At first I thought it hadn't gone well because a lot of people looked very upset looking at it, but it's an upsetting thing to see. A visitor reminded me of this, and said it probably really affected people. I thought success would have been if some wealthy visitor had offered to buy for example, the extension lead or the phone charger for £2000 as a work of art, so I could send it back to Bolivia, but although I think this is viable as an installation, I need to do just that, and none of the other things, or it loses focus. Just each item, with a huge price tag. The fact that they are mundane electronic items makes it quite strong I think - you end up using it, and you end up remembering the deportation hopefully.
  2. Another idea coming from the jumble sale idea was to do an installation of a kitchen and living room that re-enacts a deportation, using audio recorded during real deportations. This would be incredibly powerful I think. A progression on this idea, although very complicated, would be to do an asylum seeker's live snakes and ladders game, from arrival via human trafficking or some eco or political disaster, to the court process and deportation.
  3. The actual jumble sale, collected via the Drop-in centre and Pierian Centre, didn't go very well - partly because some people thought it was also deportee items, and partly because I just couldn't always be there. I haven't counted the money but I doubt it's a tenner even. Originally this was intended to be managed by someone who did only that, so as to ensure it was run well and gave good returns, but I'm glad I did it and with a volunteer to man the desk it could work well in future. Probably this exhibition needs a large space, and maybe 2 volunteers there at any one time so as to ensure this kind of thing works.
  4. The 4 information boards. Great success. Divided into Stories, The State, Hope and What I Heard. Went down very well, both exhibition spaces asked to keep them a little longer. Ali Zalme and quite a few others suggested this is where we can get funding and input from refugee visual artists to make them more visually striking and easier to understand, although my friend Govinda said it makes it easier to add comments when there is not already a predefined aesthetic to it.
  5. Listening posts. Another time I need to frame the players somehow, so they can't be stolen, or even better, transmit from a computer as loops via fm to lots of old walkman style radios that people can hold up to their ears. Also, the audio material will be very good for internet dissemination. I need a better way of presenting the transcripts of the interviews.
  6. The Video Booth. This didn't work because the whole exhibition needed more of a participative edge: I think my failure was that I planned out in detail all the ways people could participate, so it didn't leave space for other spontaneous ways of expressing things - so it felt a lot like I was trying too hard to make people participate. Also with video, as we discovered at the Live Archives workshops , where this exhibition was partly concieved, there is a strong stigma to video recordings - people find it uncomfortable! Another time maybe it should be a microphone area, or an actual closed, provate booth!
  7. The Internet Cafe. This was one site: http://www.livearchives.org/section4/ which Paul Stapleton and Mike Fallows of UCL generously allowed me to use. Computers at the Pierian Centre were lent equally generously by Bristol Wireless. I didn't push this aspect too much as it didn't really work at the exhibition (see point above).
  8. The DVD. Amazing material, hopefully this material can be added to and edited further. Anna's interview is particularly striking, and I hope some of this content can be broadcast via radio, internet or tv! Lots of people sat through this. It could easily, perhaps together with a better organised video booth, form an exhibition of it's own.
  9. The printed information table. This went down very well, and lots of people spent a long time leafing through all the info. It's still at Kebele for another while. I hope to go there and take notes of the contributions so as to feed back to local councillors and our local MP.
  10. Snacks/Food. I arranged for Arts trail asylum seeker visitors to get free meals, and asked around lots of places, but in the end it wasn't possible to have snacks in the place itself and I cancelled that aspect. Problem with co-ordinating this on my own, but if I had help, it would be great to stage the exhibition as a community gathering, with food, drink, talks, discussion etc. As it was, a lot of spontaneous little groups formed and people started discussing the issues together.


I got a strong feeling a lot of the time that I was preaching to the converted, although the converts didn't know quite how bad it actually was. In future, doing it in different kinds of places will probably work much better in terms of gathering more wide ranging opinions.


I learnt a lot about how space works in an exhibition space, and how personal space impacts (at least in the UK) on where people will go. At the pierian centre someone said "it looks like your front room!" and "I wasn't sure I could go in there" because the room was so small, and there was a sofa and a TV there too!

6/14/2007

Section 4

mp3 excerpt: Father Richard MacKay talks about deportation as practiced in the UK.

Here are my preparations for an exhibition on section 4, failed asylum. Feel free to join in :)

STILL TO PRINT:

Father McKay http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/bristol/somerset/3961289.stm

Labels for recordings

World Map (and pins)

Failed Asylum Snakes and Ladders

Letter for Co-op on the triangle.

Copyright document: The material in this collection is licensed under a Creative Commons By-Nc-Sa license. This entitles re-use of all material donated for further work, as long as it is attributed to "Section 4" and used for non-commercial purposes. Any other uses will require contact with the original author, via the exhibition organiser, Alejandro Fernandez, 12 Bruce Avenue, Bristol. By submitting material for this exhibition, you are agreeing to put your contributions under this license.

I agree [ ]

I wish to remain anonymous [ ]

Signature


Call montpelier health centre, ask for 192.com - Local Search for Health Centre in Bristol: "0117 942 6811" DONE, left message


Call NHS centre: CAMS. Phone interview with CAMS central sector knowle clinic 0117 9190330

Democratic writings will be small paragraphs on a topic (like soft lists, destitution, deportation, vouchers, work, health, signing on, community work, organisation, a graphic showing what the path is if you are a failed asylum seeker(listen to father mackay's interview to extract this info better).

Each of these 4 boards will have an "audio area" - an old audio player taped on, a pen on a string (sellotaped), and a title and very little info: little more than "Add your opinion", although individual bits might have pen or marker pen indication of what each thing is.


Testimonies VS Media: (Anna, Ali) 2 stories , 1 Poem - do better, Photos


Health: (Naomi, Mary) NHS asylum policy, Wikipedia post traumatic stress disorder. Audio interview to CAMS and montpelier health clinic

People who help: (Father MacKay, Sue, BDASC) Cube Asylum Policy, Cube Programmes, Bristol Defend the Asylum Seekers. Sue O'Donnell webpages, "democratic info sheet" on the need for co-ordinating body at local level, section of asylum act relating to community activities, timebank, sign up sheets, article on food for a million etc.



The State: interview sections on Immigration Department, Solicitors and Government (Father MacKay croydon lies, BDASC political will, Sue o'donnell) Migration Watch article, FOI legislation, Asylum act in full, Articles with Father MacKay (PRINTED).

Prepare Audio, Prepare Boards (get children to help!)


Maybe can bring some double headphone plugs to allow listening 2 at a time. Bring TV, DVD, Scart Cable, extension leads (2)
Buy: Cassette tapes, magic marker, fm transmitter

Take printed letters to Sweet Mart, Maitreya, Better Food, Co-op Triangle.

Thank you page print out:
Thanks to all who helped make this exhibition possible:
(cross out as needed)
Coop Community Fund
Bristol Sweet Mart (Food donations)
Cafe Maitreya (Food donations)
Bristol Wireless (LTSP computer suite).
Paul Stapleton, Mike Fallows (LiveArchives.org)
Siobhan McKeown (Video operation and interviews)
Barry Parsons & Sam, Mat Dalgliesh, Ivan Zverstvo (Sound editing)
Bristol Defend the Asylum Seeker
Drop in Centre, St Nicolas of Tolentino
Mel McCree (Audio, work with children)
Helen Grant (Video editing, testimonial recordings)
To everyone who gave an interview
To everyone who donated things for the symbolic jumble sale.
All of you who came and added to it!


Call the haven, montpelier health centre, 0117 942 6811

call and plead to print places (secured 4 a3 prints from Besley Hill on St Marks Road) Abandoned trying other print places...

buy boards from art shop DONE, print lots of flyers DONE

ask june if I can use their printer within reason at pierian

email freecycle about the jumble sale

call brian

text paulette asking section 4 contacts to come to exhibition, offer interview if wanted. DONE If so, cheeky question: ask her what she feels about the Respect Party being accused of using the asylum seeker issue to somehow further political ambitions, and would she, despite this, attempt dialogue with other people who help asylum seekers to solve these issues and perhaps coordinate services and information?

What does she feel about community activities for section 4 beneficiaries?

What kind of thing could be the best? Make example of Anna's love for growing own food: community gardens and meals.


Call immigration. Ask them if they can say a few words as a statement for a art exhibition on section 4.

What is your name, and function within the immigration department?

What is that like?

What contact do you have with the asylum seekers you work with, and what can you tell me about them?

What is your policy towards asylum seekers, in a nutshell?

And what is your opinion of the treatment of failed asylum seekers in the UK?

What are people's rights during this situation?

What can you tell me about deportation in the UK, how is it usually carried out?
Some have voiced accusations that the deprivation from work, money, medical services, friendship and family is a form of torture, designed to send the message to the world that Britain is not the country to seek refuge in.

Do you believe that the immigration department could be breaking human rights laws?

The law on asylum specifies community work. Is this something that any community group can apply for?

Wouldn't this lead to asylum seekers being known personally by the general public and hence possibly protected?

But then maybe the problem would go away if everyone liked them?
hello?


excerpt 2: George Speaks. More interviews and transcripts here.

2/05/2007

Poem for peace, from a pirate recording in a Cairo Museum.


My love
With peace I have placed loving flowers
at your feet
With peace
With peace I stopped the seas of blood
for you
Forget anger
Forget pain
Forget your weapons
Forget your weapons and come
Come and live with me my love
Under a blanket of peace
I want you to sing, beloved light of my eyes
And your song will be for peace
let the world hear,
my beloved and say:
Forget anger
Forget pain
Forget your weapons
Forget your weapons and come
And live in peace

These I believe are the words of a widow at the tomb of her beloved. I got the words from this italian website.


It was used in a seminal Italian anti-war song "Luglio Agosto Settembre Nero" by the band Area (although I guess they weren't called anti-war songs then) - whose vocalist Demetrio Stratos indirectly gives the name to this blog, and whose music is the inspiration for a lot of my mine. It's adapted in turn from a greek folk song, but no-one knows who wrote the original words, except that Stratos was probably the one who made this pirate recording when visiting Cairo.


By the way, I'll be playing this live at the open mic at the greenbank pub on my new Setar/Rabab. Rehearsing it "furiously", but I guess, peacefully.


(If that Italian site disappears before this one, here are the words:)


(Mio amato/ Con la pace ho depositato i fiori dell’amore
davanti a te/Con la pace/con la pace ho cancellato i mari di sangue
per te/Lascia la rabbia/Lascia il dolore/Lascia le armi/Lascia le armi e vieni/Vieni e viviamo o mio amato/e la nostra coperta sarà la pace/Voglio che canti o mio caro “ occhio mio “ [luce dei miei occhi]/E il tuo canto sarà per la pace/fai sentire al mondo,/o cuore mio e di' (a questo mondo)/Lascia la rabbia/Lascia il dolore/Lascia le armi/Lascia le armi e vieni/a vivere con la pace.)

1/31/2007

Ideas for a possible Ninjam front end


In my nightly jams with Ninjam I've recently found out loads about how it can be improved. Firstly there's now a linux client (there's always been one but this one is gui based). It's called gninjam. Best of all is that in doing this, Tobias the author of this first derivative, separated display from core functionality creating libninjam and a front end which he wrote in Glade.

Setar and Tabla improvisation on very cheap microphone


I want to write a new front end for it then, using libninjam and wxpython which looks simple enough, although this is all very ambitious, and I may never actually get to do it, but here's all the ideas meanwhile:


a last.fm-like client that is able to :


* Simplify the process of setting up audio: loads of ninjam users get in, but cant' hear themselves, some other player, or are coming through distorted etc and have to rely on the irc window to help them. For this I'd make a "testing room" - a room run on a standard server somewhere that everyone used then as a doorway to all the other servers(would show who is logged in, and allow people to register their own servers too). Also, visual feedback about sound setup should be much more detailed - such as graphical displays of the sound levels for each user connected (however delayed if this reduces performance).


* Another point of confusion is the way latency is handled - by slowing everyone down to the last beat. Could a display be made that showed where you were in the measure? Perhaps the sound level graphs would be enough for this, or a tutorial could be put together that played something set each time and asked you to play on time so you can "practice" this.


* Third, the stream that's recorded isn't available. This should be a toggle, so you can go straight in and hear how you sound.


* This is just technical stuff: a community would have to be formed, so "contest" stuff like on the ccmixter site - big jams or even popular flash-mob style events would bring people in and get them coming up with stuff. (I imagine a 30 minute session of keyboard typing in offices from around the world for example - not musical and not jamming but very inclusive and perhaps also interesting). Among other things, a community of users would then let you for example always have people on IRC helping people out in real time, plan times and slots on servers for specific styles of music etc....


* Also ways to define the music you want to do: setting a key, a beat, a style or whatever. Some of this would be helped by user logins allowing you to set a personal profile with the insturments you play etc.


* A screen with profiles could be linked with a "score screen" - so people tuning in to the jam or a set "conductor" could send timed, large font sized instructions that they could all see while jamming. Perhaps a separate, very low quality mic stream would let people have the option of headphone mics while playing, allowing them to exchange comments as they play too. There is software already for linux that does this kind of performance friendly prompting.


* Separating the editing from the jamming - what if remix artists could join in on a live jam and work with the samples as the jam happened? This is for the far future I think...


* integrating Raptor's drum machine features and making them simpler - so as to allow easy to make drum patterns.


* jesusonic for linux clients...?


Could Ninjam be used to aid a geographically distant but studio quality live performance/recording? Perhaps if 2 people were able to jam together with a high speed connection and low quality streams, the latency issue would disappear. After this the high quality tracks would be sent and mixed later, so you'd have a good telematic performance as well as a good recording of it.

1/23/2007

Asylum Seekers Violently Deported in Easton

Right under our very doorsteps, on the streets of Greenbank that have such lovely names, there are people who look like the rest of us but live under house arrest because they would not sign documents agreeing to leave this country for somewhere more dangerous. There are people being deported all the time. There are also some broken bin bags at the end of Bellevue Road, containing some of the lost clothes of a small boy who used to go to Bannerman Road Primary School. Up till Wednesday 17th January.


Felipe came home that day and barely had time to settle down after school before a helicopter pulled up outside his house, in the sky. Last time the police had come for them, on December 8th, they had been taken at 6am, out of the blue and in a very traumatic episode, to a detention centre with the idea that they would be deported as soon as a plane was free. But they were not together, the father had left the house just before they had come, and called with his lawyer and they were freed. But this time, this last Thursday they
were finally being taken: their leave of stay had expired. Until the end they didn't know if it was going to be the usual rigmarole of an appeal procedure, with lawyers and court hearings, followed by some tickets and times for departure.


Instead it was a Pakistani immigration officer, shouting at Felipe's mother that she could not say goodbye and she had to get 20 kilos of her belongings and get in
the van. No one was there able to stand up to this woman and her colleagues and just say the few words that could have changed it ("I am their lawyer" seems to work for example, but just anything that could help in breaking through the loss of responsibility for human suffering in such a horrible job). I spoke to their eldest daughter, 19 year old Lizeth, who we just saw pass by from the bus that day, but spoke to for the last time so far, the night before they left. I wish now I'd taken her email address down too. Intelligent and studious, she wanted to be a dentist and study here, but now with the growing idea that they were to be sent back, she
wanted at least to finish her studies, stay these last few months with friends or family so as to get a document that she could stamp at the embassy and qualify to go to university in Bolivia. Without this, she'll have to repeat the whole of her secondary studies, which doesn't seem likely as they go to stay with their grandmother in a poor city now.


She was put, together with her other brother, in a van that went alongside the van with the parents and two younger siblings. A van with no windows.


Treated like criminals, when they were part of this community for years and the parents had made food for many of the school children atBannerman Rd as well as participating in refugee week activities and personally helping many of the Somali or Asian refugees who speak much less English than themselves, but sometimes have no-one to talk to. I don't know them too well and I don't know what the full story is here but the immigration police had no right to treat that family like that.


The children shouldn't be treated like this because you have to see that these are a universal concept - they could be yours. And the adults shouldn't be treated like this because they left Bolivia escaping police persecution, of an extremely violent nature, so this treatment seems to have been given without first examining a medical history and so therefore putting them in medical danger as well. The trauma of being sent back was already noticeable when I went to see them the day before the big raid of Bellevue Rd.


On the couch, they told me of the way their son had scared the police, who told him to put his hands up, because he had a toy gun, and because he wouldn't wake up.
They were shaking him. They didn't let his mother go and wake him, maybe reserve the right to tell him that he was leaving the country or give him some words of strength for the journey.


He was playing when I went there the day before their deportation. He wanted 10 pounds his mother owed him. She wasn't going to give it. We nagged at him that those 10 pounds could buy a lot of meat and rice in Bolivia, or at least a lot more chocolate than what he wanted, but he really didn't understand.


They sent them off leaving their house abandoned, leaving all their Latin American
friends to call each other disgusted and upset at this news, and rushing to their flat to try and gather up and sort out the rest of their belongings, what they hadn't been allowed to take with them. The rest of it is still in the street or collected the next day when the house was emptied and presumably made ready for some new tenants. We took what we could. I have


  1. some computer speakers

  2. a mini hifi stereo system

  3. a DVD drive

  4. an old cassette tape recorder

  5. an ink jet printer

  6. some small toys

  7. a red rucksack

  8. A mountain Bike

  9. A multiple socket plug



And more, and my idea is to sell it, but with the idea that the money is going to go towards them getting their house back - they exchanged it for a loan when they put together the money to come to the UK. They called their sister, who lives in London, an asylum seeker who won leave to remain already I believe, and I'm about to get in touch with them, as I've just found their number at their mother's house in Santa
Cruz. They were coca farmers, a life lived against the state that came before Morales, and before the guy before him, but now I think they have gained only the English language and customs which they learned when they were here. I hope we can still teach them warmth, after failing them like this.


Since this happened, I've been shocked. I've not known what to do, whether to report it or what. And now I think I should get the word out. I've also not known what to do
in terms of my own life - to buy a house here, look for a job, or start making roots somewhere else. I used to live under the illusion that this society was respectful. Now I see how inhuman it really is, and that's disheartening. But I know life is much worse elsewhere, and I really really know why people risk so much in the channel tunnel to get here. This is really a privileged society.

1/19/2007

The racist within

There is a racist in all our hearts
And it has to come out and face reality
That's the ultimate reality tv - the people around us.

But no-one should be abandoned: we all have prejudices,
and great good can come from the worst person turning around.
Because they take with them their distorted environment,
and it gets to see it too.

Fitting that it happens to India from it's old decaying invader, when the Buddha himself tried so hard to make a change in the barriers between different castes in Brahmanic society, castes which continue to this day to affect society there. This means there is lots of Buddhist teaching to choose from when looking at this. I'm, I guess, now just a Nichiren Buddhist, so to name a few from my adopted tradition: dependent origination, the oneness of life and the environment, but mostly the possibility that all people being living beings intrinsically have Buddhahood within them, and no-one should be excluded, no matter what they believe, from the possibility of realising the positive nature they have. That seed may be there, but this is always going to be a struggle for individuals and societies alike. The moment you have a way of getting people to dialogue freely and resolve these things, you have a something which can become corrupt if institutionalised. It has to always be a struggle.

Still, that's all I want to say about this shit.

Label Cloud