Your Legacy on WordPress.com

There seems to have been a lot of changes to WordPress.com this year. With the closing to new potential customers of the now old ‘legacy’ type of plans which my present Personal Plan being no longer available to new customers. So they can no longer be attracted to take on a plan like the one that I opppened that still really appeals to me. Surely this means its only a matter of time before they shut down such a plan for me too.

Up until now the personal plan has suited me down to the ground and I have really enjoyed the creative freedom that it has given me to have my own website domain name and publish my views on issues on the site. Some people have even found what I had to say of interest which has been great outlet for me and really enjoyable to find a voice here.

I am concerned though that wordpress.com might be destroyed before its time, if it struggles to attract new creative people into the wordpress.com community and try’s to offer our pages as a product to display marketing materials on or so expensive to have your own page that individuals no longer see meaning or purpose in having a page and it is mainly businesses that try to make a page work for themselves on here instead. It all feels like the potential to be a shrinking market space no longer a growing community of creative people.

All business worth their salt have an agenda and wordpress are coming across as being disingenuous about what their real agenda is. Do they not like their current customers? Are they not making enough money from them? Are they trying to remove the customer base and replace them with one that has more disposable income? For those that remember the social media platform MySpace there is a lot to be learned and that lesson is you should not try to change a product that is successful and if you try to change it too much from what it was to what you think you want it to be you risk destroying that internet space completely. I would argue that the workdpress.com is still growing and needs nurturing and developing from the base that it has already developed from and should not try to force itself into being some kind of money stream sales pitch of a product that it is not.

There is a new type of account that has been announced recently too called a New Starter Plan For $5/Month possible £4 in the UK. But this plan still means you do not have ownership of a creative space as there will still be adverts on your page and those adverts might be completely incompatible with the views or opinions that you are promoting on your site and the only other option is so far wordpress pro for $15/month.

If you want a social media blog platform to play and develop that is not facebook and therefore unlikely to ever have something to make money from then $15 a month is a large amount to pay just to express yourself. It’s almost like having a gym membership which although is important to have and you could get so much value from but ultimately a few months in it becomes an expensive chore rather than an affordable hobby or interest.

I am interested to grow my network of people I could follow on wordpress at the moment and not sure exactly how to go about this and was wondering if anyone had any hints or tips on that subject that might be reading this post, please leave any advise you might have in the comments section.

Munford & Sons – Blind Leading the Blind

The Matrix has you!

When they learn how to plug you into a digital world, you might not ever know how to unplug and come back to the real world or even the reason why you should. They will probably start plugging in the old, disabled and poor into a new matrix of control as an act of kindness, in order to save us from ourselves.

My mum has finally sold her home in Cornwall and due to move to Devon next Wednesday; we are all really looking forward to it. Though moving during an energy crisis is not the easiest time to move if you’re trying to save money on your energy bills. Mum has spent hours over the last week on the phone to utility companies, banks and council officers trying to update her home location status with them and there are very few people left in those organisations to take her calls due to the reduction in customer services employees and a push to do everything online.

One of the key roles that I have to do in my job at the council in Exeter is answer the phone and speak to customers and as such my job is also under threat due to long term restructuring aims seeing this role as a money saving cost effective form of progress to get rid of. This so called progress has forced me to bounce in and out of work for the last 26 years of my working life, sometimes choosing to apply for new jobs prior to an organisation or role being shut down or sometimes being made redundant due to restructuring issues and businesses closing down while I am still employed at them.

I can honestly say I am a very good hardworking and dedicated employee in an area of employment that people no longer wish to employ. I know for a fact that the work that I do is hard work and still needs to be done. I solve problems that are presented to my organisations, I am always busy there is always something important that needs to be done. By sacking people like me that need to answer phones and work with customers it does not make those customers problems go away it just means those customers are either ignored now or processed via a different channel.

This job is one of the many work roles in the UK that has been rapidly phased out by many companies there is a money saving exercise to increase profits by not enabling customers to speak to staff in business and government agencies.

First that sacked the face to face staff and I did not speak out, although I too was made redundant.

Then they came for the staff that talked to customers over the phone and again I did not speak out and again I was at risk and at times made redundant or moved on.

Finally the aim will likely be to digitise the workings of staff customer service roles so that there will be none left to hire, and likely none left to speak out too!

I strongly disagree with the digitising and outsourcing to computers of employed roles within any organisations and my main reason for this is that is businesses do not need to hire people and people do not have money from working to afford to pay to put a roof over their head and feed and clothe themselves then the state will not hand them those resources on a plate.

Either so called wealthy societies such as ours learn to adapt to look after and resource their most vulnerable members of society be they pensioners, disabled or the out of work or there will be a considerable amount of damage and ongoing suffering in society to these vulnerable individuals people claim to care but often money and actions or even lack of money and lack of action speaks louder than words.

No mainstream political party in the UK grasps this nettle at present as both Labour and the Conservative parties consistently want to chase the right wing element of the voting public in this country which is why the labour party do not have my vote in the upcoming council elections and it is a labour party that is presently facilitating my next round of redundancy at the council.

I have just written to my local MP Ben Bradshaw asking him if he wholeheartedly endorse the new planned restructuring of employment roles that are going to take place at Exeter council by a labour council and merely blames the Conservative for the cuts that will be endorsed in customer services roles and can he explain to me why I should vote Labour in the next council election and vote in my own potential redundancy at the hand of a Labour lead Exeter Council?

Though I cannot stop the world from spinning even when it appears to be spinning out of control, I can at least look to make sense of the madness and express my disapproval in my own way to my political representatives at the very least.  

Aleksandr Dugin, Putins Philospher?

Aleksandr Dugin is a Russian political analyst and strategist known for his nationalistic views that are totalitarian in perspective in other words the concept of universal suffrage giving the right to vote to all adult citizens, regardless of wealth, income, gender, social status, race, ethnicity, political stance, or any other restriction, subject only to relatively minor exceptions is seen as a western American view that needs to be actively opposed and he see’s the Russian state as being at war with the US and democracies of the world in order to dictate his own world view.

 According to Aleksandr Dugin the Russian philosopher and key ally of Putin. Truth does not exist as we see or believe it, but is a matter of interpretation. He states that because no one has monopoly on the truth this then means that truth is relative. Well he is right that no one has a monopoly on the truth but truth is not merely relative when you start to deliberately mislead and misdirect and define the lies you are dealing in as truths. The Russian state cannot even confess that it is presently at war let alone have the ideological conviction to confess what its actual global agenda is. If Putin is the fist of Russia then this man is its heart and soul.

Russia  is being driven down a very dark path and is determined to drag the rest of the western world with it would still consider victory to this being left deep within any nuclear bunkers, where it sees any potential type of victory as being an outcome that destroys the west even at the expense of destroying itself. when you lose sight of the value of humanity and the importance of life on earth, it just becomes a numbers game where even a no score draw is far better than any perceived victory by the west. My enemies defeat at my hands is a victory for me is how i read between the lines with the fascionalistic philosophy that really is chilling and should have us all deeply concerned.

The democratic soverign nations of the world are not trying to start this mans world war 3 that he thinks has already begun but moving to try to prevent it.

Aleksandr Dugin: ‘We have our special Russian truth’ – BBC Newsnight

The fall of the Soviet Union left a huge ideological vacuum inside Russian institutions—including the Russian army—that was partly filled by his ideas, Dugin explains.

“From 1991, he started to fill this vacuum by spreading my views among the officers and the decision-makers, explaining the reasons why the US and the West were still pressuring Russia despite the Cold War having ended. He told them about the importance of developing a new idea of Russian geopolitics that should be diametrically opposed to the goals of the Western think tanks and that should stretch towards the creation of a Eurasian bloc. The rapid spread of his ideas in Russia deeply influenced Putin, even though he was the successor of Yeltsin. He is not an ideological person—he is a pragmatic realist— but he understands that Durgin’s vision is the proper one if Russia is to face challenges head on in the coming years”.

Putin’s opponents accuse Dugin of being a right-wing extremist, thus confirming the charge that the Russian president is promoting fascist ideas. These accusations are based, among other things, on the authors that inspire Dugin’s thought. His intellectual journey began at the very beginning of the ‘80s, when he was just a student from a middle-class communist family in Moscow.

Russia plans to fight to the end (the end of what I am not exactly sure neither am I sure of whome it will fight to the end with either.  

Decent dissent within Putins Russia

If your Putin you try not to worry about the power of your opposition from within your own country you can always criminalising any that oppose your point of view and threaten all that oppose you with a 15-year jail sentence. The west finally has a cause worth uniting and fighting for whilst Russia on the other hand looks to legislate, dictate and indoctrinate those that are forced to watch and listen to why it thinks the invades of Ukraine is wrong.

While the west will not put boots on the ground or planes in the sky over Ukraine, Putin claims his war is not even a war and his occupation and bombing of civilians is not even taking place. One super power says it cannot commit, whilst another claims’ it has not committed to a war in Ukraine and the atrocities it clearly repeatedly does for Putin are not actually happening.     

Thousands of people have been arrested in cities across Russia for protesting at the bloodshed in Ukraine. New laws have forced the BBC, CNN and other media organisations to suspend their reporting from the country. They are not allowed to describe Russia’s assault on Ukraine as an invasion.

In a Russia, the truth of the war on Ukraine is available. The risk comes in sharing it. Putin’s Russia has brought a new intensity to its crackdown on independent news.

As mentioned it is now a crime — punishable by up to 15 years in prison — to publish “fake” information about the all-out attack on Ukraine. The government has blocked Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and news websites aimed at Russians, such as Latvia-based Meduza. It is a crime for the average citizen to publicly post information that contradicts the government line.

In a meeting on March 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of a “necessary self-purification” and called on Russians to cast out any dissenting voice. 

“The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out like a bug that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin said. 

Natasha Rastova, a former Russian journalist and author of two histories of Russian journalism, said the restrictions on free speech marked a turning point, even by Russian standards. 

“In a matter of days, Putin went from being the leader of an authoritarian state to becoming a full-scale dictator,” Rastova said.

Despite the new restrictions, Russians can still access news from outside. The risk comes in sharing it.

Russians who want outside news have to be adaptable. Facebook is banned, but with software called virtual private networks, users can circumvent restrictions. 

That said, special apps are not essential. Broadly, the internet still operates. Connection speeds might be slower after a leading internet service provider dropped its service, but Russians can read articles from the BBC, CBS News and other news organizations. They can watch videos on YouTube.

“Despite all the efforts of the Russian authorities to clean up the information space, alternative sources of information still exist in Russia,” said Viktor Muchnik, who ran the independent news website TV2 in Tomsk, Siberia, with his wife Viktoria.

We reached Muchnik in Armenia, where he fled after the government shut down TV2 on March 7.

Many younger Russians use the encrypted messaging app Telegram to follow Russian-speaking reporters they trust. They can see reports, photos and videos within the app, or open links they find there.

Russians know they might be stopped by police who demand to see their phones.

“In the event that someone is stopped and searched, even just having those apps on one’s phone could be risky,” said Paul Goode, the McMillan Chair of Russian Studies at Carleton University in Canada. 

Russians risk severe penalties if they are caught sharing banned information.

“Russians can be fined and prosecuted for facilitating the dissemination of ‘fake news’, discrediting Russia’s army, and supporting international sanctions on Russia,” Goode said. “This includes posts and re-posts made on social media, including even posts made by other people on one’s discussion thread.”

While younger Russians get their news from the internet, older Russians watch television.

“A lot of people still watch television, which is completely controlled by the state,” said  Anton Shirikov, researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “These people tend to be older, from smaller towns or villages.”

Television delivers the government’s message. When Putin made false claims about the people of Donbas facing genocide at the hands of the Ukrainians; of the U.S.-backing bioweapons labs in Ukraine; and of Russia having “no other option for self defense,” that is what Russian television reported. 

The massive bombing of Ukrainian cities and civilian deaths are minimized.

When younger Russians show their parents videos of missiles hitting apartment blocks in Ukraine, they face denial. Michnik said it goes against the message their parents have been hearing virtually every day for eight years, since Russia annexed Crimea.

Jonathan Becker, a political scientist at Bard College, shared a message he got from a friend inside Russia. The friend’s wife installed Telegram on her mother’s phone. The mother is a Putin supporter.

“She still thinks that all the videos she watches are Ukrainians bombing themselves,” the email said. “What can one say?”

The Russians we contacted all said that these intergenerational splits are common. 

They and other observers also raised the concern that international efforts to pressure Russia economically could undermine access to outside news. When Visa and Mastercard stopped processing credit cards in Russia, that affected some internet users.

“It is increasingly difficult for Russians to pay for foreign services like virtual private networks, so it’s conceivable that this escape hatch could be closed off eventually by the impact of international sanctions,” said Goode.

There is also the fear that some of YouTube’s restrictions on advertising revenues inside Russia could make it harder for independent journalists to finance their work.

Russian journalist Mikhail Fishman was an anchor for the independent station TV Rain until he left Russia on March 3. He said unintended ripple effects could become even more important as Russians begin to feel the sting of economic sanctions.

“The more impact the sanctions have, the more will be the demand for alternative sources of information,” Fishman said.

To Prep or not to Prep

Am I mad to consider prepping for a serious emergency or disaster or am I mad not to? It feels like thinking the unthinkable.

I have made some small changes to my life recently just in case there is nuclear situation that effects the Ukraine, Europe or the world, or a nuclear accident at a power plant in Ukraine which might risk people not being able to go outside their homes.

  1. I have empty water bottles in my kitchen stacked together that I could fill up quickly.
  2. I invested in a new pair of sturdy walking boots and thick pairs of walking socks in case I need to walk a long distance anywhere at any time for any reason.
  3. I have purchased a new first aid kit and first aid book as my old one was a number of years out of date.
  4. I have purchased a radio that can be recharged by a hand wind up and used in an emergency with no electricity. It also has a phone charger on it.
  5. I have a new windup torch again charges through a turning handle which does not need batteries or electricity.
  6. I have purchased a number of protein bars which I eat normally anyway but I have more than I would normally have just in case I am suddenly in need of food and shelter in my home.
  7. I am going to hopefully clean out an airing cupboard on the weekend too so that I could use it as a shelter if needed in an emergency.

This is stuff that I never thought I would have to do but I am fearful that we are potentially closer to  a nuclear catastrophe whether that be from a power plant accident in Ukraine or from the actual launching of rockets from Russia and it all feels so bloody unnecessary.

I feel guilty thinking and writing about this stuff. It’s easier to write down what I am up to on here than talk about this with others at the moment.  

Frank Turner – Be More Kind