The Weather Outside

I was sitting in the gym after a Yoga class the other day watching the rain. I remember thinking that the weather outside was awful, then I stopped to think and remembered that it’s only my perspective that makes it that way. So I gave a little thought to the weather.

It’s easy to look outside at the weather and to get quite depressed if it’s raining, but if you look into what’s actually going on there’s quite a bit there. Consider that whilst you’re sitting there, you are on a planet that is orbiting the Sun at 65000 miles per hour. Then consider that the Earth rotates at a little over 1000 miles per hour, so you’re only sitting still relative to the surface of the Earth. Really, you’re moving very quickly indeed.

Now, consider that rain. It’s part of an ancient and immensely powerful system. I only discovered recently that in a single day, one hurricane can put out the energy to supply the electrical needs of the United States for approximately six months. The rain falling outside is part of the water cycle, and has in all likelihood travelled a long way (possibly thousands of miles) to be there; the weather is an immense system and our rainstorm is only a tiny part of it.

It gives a very different perspective to the rain; the weather isn’t awful, it’s amazing!

A Thought on Personal Information

I came to a point the other week where it became clear that the experiments I was doing with running OwnCloud on a Raspberry Pi were a dead end. Put simply, I lack time and would like to focus my energies elsewhere. Trying to lock yourself away isn’t doable without intense effort, I question whether it’s worth all that effort.

The commercial cloud offerings of companies like Google are ahead in terms of resilience and features and the time taken to setup, run and monitor your own system could be better spent if it’s your personal time. For a company with specific needs and sensitive data, I maintain that OwnCloud can make sense. But if you lack either the time or skills to run it, then we need a different approach. I think that the best approach is to divide your data into 3 areas; imagine yourself at the centre of 3 rings.

The innermost ring is data that is so precious (diaries, financial records) that it will never go near a cloud, it may never even go onto a computer! The next is data that you don’t mind having in a private cloud account, for personal use (like iTunes or GooglePlay Music). The outer ring is where you put things that you don’t mind sharing (like this blog, or a Twitter account). Of course information put into the providers is strictly need to know, so a degree of thought is needed here.

Freedom of Silence

This is going to sound like a strange position for a blogger to take, but from a Taoist perspective I think it makes perfect sense.

Much is made of our right to freedom of speech. Of course, we have the right to speak up and speak out; I once saw blasphemy defined as what you have when the voiceless speak. There’s no doubting the power of words in skilled hands, and the power of a skilled orator.

But, what of silence? Do we not have a freedom of silence as well? We seem expected to have an opinion on everything, and to be willing to offer it. We all know or have met people who won’t let you get a word in while offering theirs, it’s all sound and no listening; in our highly extroverted world this seems to be seen as a good thing for some reason. I disagree in my own quiet introverted way, as you might guess. Why be expected to have an opinion on everything? I was mulling this subject for a little while, but a piece appeared on the BBC today which made me put finger to touchscreen and write.

The article talks of the ever present background music which pervades our lives, it also worries that we no longer appreciate the power of music. I wanted to say something similar about speech and silence.

Words have enormous power, but not when over used. Consider swearing, it used to be quite frowned upon but now those words have lost much of their power. Film and television has often been peppered with them, they no longer shock. We also should not be rushed to speech, what use is a half considered opinion? It’s of little use, or worse it might even prove harmful. That brings me to a point made before on this site, though prior to the reboot. What of our responsibilities? We are responsible for the consequences of our speech. If a harmful diatribe caused a vulnerable person to self harm, for example, should the speaker be held blameless? No, they should not.

Silence can be the best option in a number of situations; speech could be politically unwise, people may not be ready to listen, you may not have your thoughts marshalled or all the evidence ready. The argument may simply not worth having. Sometimes your freedom of silence really is golden.