America, The Big Freeze, almost half the population dead.
While a nation struggles to rebuild communities, religious extremists with a sinister WMD set out across a lawless, nightmare wasteland to destroy one of the few populated cities.
Haunted by strange visions, only a teenager and a veteran know where they are heading and set out to stop them
America, The Big Freeze, almost half the population dead.
It’s true, I’ve seen it work. Music Therapy is a powerful resource that is rarely used.
I’ve seen the difference music therapy made to children refugees traumatized by the horrors of war.
I’ve seen how music therapy can help children get through awful times in hospitals.
There are a lot of big, money earning charities out there. This is not one of them, help out if you can.
A chain of terrorist attacks has struck scientists in Mexico since 2011. Similar actions were taken in Switzerland in 2010 and in Italy in 2012. The Mexican attacks have been claimed by a group called Individuals Tending Towards Savagery ITS. Their texts are littered with references to Theodore Kaczynski the Unabomber and expressions including “fire on nanotechnological development and on those that support it”. Nanotechnology is portrayed as the cause of a future ecological catastrophe, generated by the self-replication of lethal nano-robots.Experts say that the response to these attacks should be severe. “The answer should not be debating the terrorists on the intellectual ground, but on the moral ground: that kind of violence is simply unacceptable,” says Chris Toumey, a researcher in cultural anthropology of nanotechnology at the University of South Carolina.But where does the violence come from? The authors of the communiques are reportedly “anarcho-primitivists”, a subculture that arose in the 1990s when anarchism crossed with radical environmentalism. It calls for overthrowing of industrial civilisation and a return to a primitive lifestyle. One of its references is writer Derrick Jensen, who called for “deep green resistance”.
Read the full Guardian article here: A luddite link to nano-terrorists | Michele Catanzaro | Science | theguardian.com.
The novel ‘Nanopunk’, is set twelve years after the Earth has plunged into a persistent winter known as the Big Freeze. Cyber-activists have formed an alliance with veteran soldiers to protect isolated and vulnerable communities living outside the cities from marauding gangs and corporate plunderers that control the world’s scarce resources. In the midst of this dystopian future, an orphaned teenager sets out to find his sister,
Scientists working at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which is a collaboration between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the University of Bristol, have developed a novel way of charging mobile phones using urine as the power source to generate electricity.
The project has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Gates Foundation and the Technology Strategy Board.
News that the US government’s national security agency has been allegedly tapping into the phone records of Verizon customers quickly escalated into reports that it also had backdoor access to the major technology companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook.
The so-called Prism programme tapped into the servers of nine internet firms, according to leaked documents obtained by the Washington Post. The leaked documents, supposedly supplied by a discontented spy, claim that the project gives the NSA access to email, chat logs, any stored data, voice traffic, file transfers and social networking data. While it was primarily aimed at counter-terrorism, the scale of it meant huge swathes of citizen data were also sucked up, according to the Washington Post.
The NSA will one day be taken for granted as the default global ‘Big Brother surveillance system monitoring pretty much everything we do and picking out what it considers to be the most suspect communications, monitoring patterns of behaviour and profiling people. No doubt one day the NSA will have a dynamic changing profile of each of us as we go about our daily business; tweeting, sending emails, updating Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ etc. etc.
So should we really care?
Probably not. However we will really run into problems if we unknowingly know someone who knows someone up to some nefarious deeds. And the problem is with the hundreds of people we follow or are followed by, the chances of being associated with some dodgy characters increase significantly. Just think about it, S/he posts a picture with some controversially critical comment about government policy or action, you repost it or comment on it and the next thing you know the NSA up your level of association with the character and upgrade your risk level.
So what can we do about it?
Follow and ‘;friend’ people we actually know?
Censor ourselves to stay off the radar?
The Point I’m getting at is that the very pervasiveness of NSA intrusion affects the way we think about our behaviour and communications. The broad and persistent invasion of privacy by NSA, GCHQ means there’s an increased chance of a niggling voice in the back of our minds saying, “How safe is it for me to do this? What will the NSA make of this?”
It’s not that you are all suspect but why should you care if you are innocent.
It’s that you are all suspect and it’s affecting the ways you think in very subtle ways. That’s the real invasion of privacy, your freedom of thought.
A short Extract from Science Fiction Novel ‘Nanopunk’
Nine years earlier – The whole story.
The small tables on the pavement outside the restaurant were vacant apart from one by the entrance, where a man in a slate grey overcoat sat drinking a coffee. He glanced from a phone in his hand below the table to a line of schoolchildren in green duffel coats tramping through the snow past a hotel across the road. There was a ping and a message flashed red on the screen.
‘Priority NSA Instruction. Graham Anderson. Re-enable agent location app immediately.’
The message masked the satellite video feed of the van speeding past a cemetery and the blinking countdown at the bottom of the screen.
ETA 15 seconds, 14 seconds.
Graham snapped the battery out, stuffed the pieces into his pocket and checked his watch.
When the black van screeched round the corner, he downed the espresso in one and glanced at the roof of the building opposite where the sniper was camped. “Lock and load, Phil.” He placed the empty cup beside a half full one on the table.
“Copy that, sir.” Phil’s voice and the click of the M110 rifle was crisp in Graham’s earpiece radio.
The van skidded along the kerb, the side door sliding open with a loud crash. Two Lycus mercenaries jumped out. On this side of the van, they’d be out of Phil’s line of fire.
Graham slammed his palm against the curved edge of the small table and it spun up over the wet pavement, sending two espresso cups arcing into the air leaving a trail of curling black liquid.
The mercenaries swerved; Graham leapt to his feet, pulled the gun from his shoulder holster and fired. The rear man crumpled to the ground. Sidestepping the nearest man, Graham grabbed the arm holding the gun and yanked down hard. The man slewed sideways on the melting snow. Graham pumped his knee in the man’s chest and brought his pistol down on the base of his skull, knocking him out. Chaos exploded around him.
Surrounded by the rush and shouting of people desperate to get away, tables and chairs crashing to the ground, cars screeching and swerving, Graham calmly looked across the boulevard to where two other Lycus men had emerged from a white saloon car.
“The two back-up goons are in the frame. One is six-two, bald, black leather jacket, blue jeans. Second is five-eight, cheap grey suit, gun in his left hand.”
The bald man darted across the road.
“Got the slap-head boss.” Phil pulled the trigger.
The man pitched forward, hit the wet road with a heavy splat and lay motionless, a red pool spreading under him.
A small car squealed to a halt in front of the goon, reversed, crunched into the car behind, jolted forward around the body and sped away. The second man fell back against his car, looking around. People scattered in waves as he swung the pistol left and right with his outstretched arms.
“Other guy’s at too sharp an angle to see, sir,” Phil said. “I’ll have to wait.”
Traffic quickly jammed in one direction. “Here he comes,” Graham said.
The man leapt forward, swerved around a cyclist and vaulted over a cab’s bonnet the same time a bullet from the M110 hit him square between the shoulders. The pistol flew from his hand and cracked the windscreen. The goon crashed across the warm bonnet and slid onto the road, leaving ugly streaks of blood on the yellow paintwork. The wheels of the cab thumped over the body and stalled.
“Okay, Phil, pack up and get down here asap,” Graham said. He turned and shoved through people streaming around him, stepping over upturned tables and chairs to enter the restaurant. He strode downstairs and past the smoke filled kitchen where busy cooks were oblivious to the chaos above and fleeing customers. Graham pushed through a door into the manager’s office and slammed it shut behind him, pausing in the silence to catch his breath.
A world away from the havoc he’d just left, the quiet, dull little office contained nothing more than a chair and table with a roll of receipts beside a large account book.
He pressed a button over the top frame of the door. A concealed entrance behind the table hissed open to reveal another room where a tall, Afro-Caribbean woman sat in an old brown leather armchair, still wearing her long grey raincoat and holding a glass of water.
An elderly man in a smart black suit sat against the edge of a small desk, holding a menthol cigarette in front of his wrinkled face. A walking stick leaned beside him.
He put the cigarette between his thin lips, took a faint tug and pointed it at Graham.
“I warned the Agency years ago Lycus would be trouble,” he said in a gravelled Spanish accent. He reached out and grasped his walking stick.
Graham nodded. “Thanks for this, Louis.”
Louis shook his head and slowly crossed the room. “I retired from the secret service to get away from all this,” he said. Stopping at the door, he turned to the woman. “Don’t worry, he’ll take care of you.”
“Thank you, Louis.” The woman put down the glass of water and turned to Graham. “Who were those men in that car, Graham? Why did you send me down here?”
A metro train rumbled past somewhere beneath them and the pictures on the wall shuddered.
Graham followed her gaze to the rippling in the glass of water then returned to her. “Lycus agents, Ma’am,” Graham replied. “They’ve found out you destroyed your work and have come after you. Lycus wants your work at any cost. You’ll be arrested and disappear into one of their remote labs and if you refuse to recreate the particles, well,” he paused, “there’s no telling what they’ll threaten to do to you, or your family.”
“My family?” She stared at him. “What are you saying I thought we’d come her to explain to Centarui, the project partners and its main funders?”
“Professor Cloud,” Graham said, “Lycus is merciless. I’m afraid you can’t go back, It seems they’re willing to kill to get their hands on you.”
“No, I have to go back, for Alister.” Professor Cloud shook her head. “He’s only seven years old, I can’t leave him, I promised mother. Our father is an alcoholic and mentally unstable.”
“I’ll get someone to watch over Alister until I can fetch him to you,” Graham said.
Julia stared at the ground for several seconds then nodded. She produced a phone from her bag. The image of a young boy wearing a cowboy hat stared back at her from the screen.
Graham watched her emotionless face. Professor Julia Cloud, hyper-logical, barely any emotions, passionate about her work. In the two years he’d known her, Alister was the only person he’d seen her get emotional about.
“You won’t take long? You’ll make sure he’ll be safe?”
Graham nodded, “I have a good friend in our London Office, one call to him and Alister will have protection second to none.”
Phil stooped in through the low door. He folded his tall frame into the other armchair and dropped the case containing his rifle beside him. “Uh, that roof was really cold,” he said.
“Phil?” Professor Cloud said, “What, what are you doing here in Paris?”
“Please, Mrs Cloud,” Graham said, “we don’t have much time. Phil’s one of our top agents, he’ll take care of you until I return.”
Graham turned to Phil, “I’ll be back in a couple of days, take Professor Cloud to Paolo’s house and wait for me there. Don’t believe anything you hear about me in the news.”
“Yes, sir, Mr Anderson. I’ll call Paolo now, tell him we’re on our way, get the all clear.” Another door opened behind Julia and Paul disappeared through it with his gun case.
Graham took a deep breath. “I’m sorry it has to be like this, Ma’am, but it’s the only way to protect you and your family. Paolo has a safe house in the Sentier Quarter, large black population there, easier to hide you until I get back.”
Sighing deeply, Julia nodded and dabbed a hanky to her eyes while the picture of Alister faded away to be replaced by the blank screensaver. “Graham, there’s something you should know about Alister, it concerns the nanoparticles. It’s serious.”
“I destroyed my work because it was the logical thing to do. There were traces of Alister’s DNA in the beaker and evidence he was controlling particles he had absorbed. Several laws and rules about human contamination and experiments had been broken. Alister was behaving strangely when I took him into the lab after the presentation and I ran some quick test on the particles. They had been altered by Alister’s DNA signature.”
“I don’t understand. You destroyed all the work and particles.” Graham stared at Professor Cloud. “Didn’t you?”
Professor Cloud shook her head. “I couldn’t.”
A momentary expression of shock flashed across Graham’s sober features. “Okay,” he said slowly, toning down the order he was giving her, “hand it over, I’ll put it in a safe place.”
Professor Cloud took a bottle of cologne from her bag and passed it to him.
Graham sat down and leaning forward turned the bottle in his hands, watching the liquid curl and rise in tiny slow waves.
“Alister’s DNA,” he said. “What does it mean?”
“Cross contamination, Alister has the particles inside him,” Julia said, “He can link to technology, control it. I’ve seen him do it.”
“He can what?” Graham shot his head up.
“The particles allow him to control anything with a microchip in it. By direct contact if it has no wifi connection.”
“Hang on.” Graham stood up and looked around the room in silence, his brow furrowed. “Does Alister know?”
Julia nodded. “What he’s done? Yes. What it enables him to do?” She paused and bit her lip, staring into empty space; then with a sigh added. “He’ll find out soon enough.”
“This changes everything.”
“What do you mean, Graham?”
“The dangers have increased,” Graham said. “This is a real mess.” He fell silent again.
“Please, Graham,” Professor Cloud finally said, “just bring Alister to me. We can go into hiding. Dad can join us when we are safe.”
“No.” Graham shook his head slowly. “Your father stays, along with Alister.”
“Why? Graham, you know David’s not capable–”
“Ma’am, If Lycus do catch up with us, chances are Alister will do something to protect you, or draw attention to himself in some way and expose us all.”
“Yes, I can see that is a reasonable hypothesis.” Julia said. “But he needs me, mum wanted us to stay together.”
“We can’t take that risk, professor,” Graham said, “and I know about your father’s problems. I’ll make sure there’s always back up and support for him.” He shook his head, “I dread to think what Lycus will put Al through if they find out what he can do. The only way to keep you both safe is to keep you separated and him out of Lycus’ radar. They want you, not him, we have to keep it that way. You have to leave all your clothes and belongings, here. We’ll take some hair and blood to plant DNA evidence and fake your death, you will disappear.”
“Can I at least call him, explain?”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, his protection starts now,” It wasn’t easy watching Julia cry. It was so out of character for her to show emotion. He sat down and put an arm around her shoulders. “I promise you Alister will be protected and kept safe. He’ll be looked after by the best people, trust me.”
There’s more action where this came from: Get the eBook or paperback from Amazon here; any of the clicks on the right and all major ebook stores.
We look around and experience the world around us and think, ‘well, this is just the way things are. We live in a 3D world and see it as it really is.’
Of course this is not the case. What we take to be reality is limited by our biology and perception; a biological subjectivity.
The real miracles of life are our imagination and inspiration; without them we would still be prey and picking berries. Our imagination allows us to think beyond our perceptions, to consider the possibility of Truths beyond our current knowledge and awareness. Combined with Inspiration, we have the ability to discover and create new ways of thinking and understanding beyond our natural horizons.
The data gathering activity of the NSA is only one and the simplest function the agency performs. Their real skill is in the analytic tools they apply to the Terabytes of data they collect on a daily basis. All this data has to be analysed; critical data identified and reported upon.
Take data from phone calls and tracking organised crimes from street gangs as one example of a simple excercise in data grouping and reporting on group information behaviour. This model is applied to all forms of formal and informal social networks including sports, hobby and religious groups although it is particularly useful for individuals residing in a particular geographical location.
Of course there are other forms of ‘virtual’ or ideological communities who are tracked in similar ways; including child and young people friendship groups. We are not just tracked as individuals.
Think about it, each of us are members of a wide variety of formal and informal groups. The NSA will classify and rate your level of integration and active involvement in each of these groups. The key issue is the analytic tools used on individual and group data, not simply the data gathered from your information activity.
XKeyscore (XKS) is a formerly secret computer system used by the United States National Security Agency for searching and analyzing Internet data about foreign nationals across the world. Xkeyscore is run jointly with other agencies including Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate, and New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau. Its existence was revealed in July 2013 by Edward Snowden. (From Wikipedia)
A Guardian article states
A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.
The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian’s earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight.
1. use (a) voice recognition software, (b) call location analysis, (c) call patterns, (d) keyword detection and text pattern algorithms (including detection of ‘replacement’ keywords.*
2.a Apply a range of algorithms and analytic tools to build activity and behaviour profiles on an individual and group basis.
Once an individual is identified other algorithms come into operation to trawl government and social network sites for more information on specific individuals.
2b Of course this identification process goes both ways. A person may be picked up by the NSA system from data on the internet which may lead to broader data tracking that might show them to be gang members.
Street gangs are the easiest to track and monitor. Their geographical location; the ease with which it’s possible to identify members and track their movements using mobile phone signals and usage make gangs extremely susceptible to NSA profiling. Adding voice recognition, keyword detection (voice and text) gives the NSA a good ‘Report’ on their activity
Given the high number of gangs globally, the NSA need a second level program to filter out those they may need to look at more closely.
You may wonder why the NSA would be interested in Gangs. The answer is twofold.
Firstly the dynamics and communication behaviour of gangs is an ideal testing ground for (a) data mining (b) information patterns in human behaviour software and (c) a new breed of Artificial Intelligence “Agents” Virtual spies who ‘read’ the reports produced by the various analysis tools. The aim is to lower human resource costs.
The second answer as to why the NSA are interested in gangs is that their communication behaviour can often lead down the tree to more powerful and dangerous criminals who are better hidden and protected by having superficially conventional lives.
2c. The problems arise when individuals who are innocent, law-abiding citizens are contacted by or are on the contact list of suspects. With current programmes, several days of data surveillance and monitoring may be required before an ‘associate’ can be eliminated as a ‘suspect’
This problem is further compounded by the fact the NSA contractor’s responsible for managing ‘associate behaviour’ has an imperfect method of scoring an individual’s risk factor. The scoring method has a tendency to keep an unusually high number of individuals on a ‘Continue Monitoring’ (CM) status. Subsequently more people are being added to the list; which has over time turned into a permanent chart of individuals who rise up and down the list according to the variations in their scoring based on their online and communication activity.
*replacement words for drugs or crimes or crime plans can very easily be spotted by using context and historical analysis tools combined with other more common data analytic methods.
in ‘Nanopunk’ the devastation of the Big Freeze has transformed London. After several years of virtually constant winter, the capital is still only slowly recovering. In this scene, Alister arrives in London and makes his way through North Finchely.
Alister drove to London down the bare motorways, hiding whenever he could behind the Centauri Community Service salvage trucks that moved entire house and office contents from collection depots to SCRAP; Sort, Clean, Repair and Prepare centres, then to department stores for reselling. He detoured off the M1 onto the M25 then turned off at Junction 23 to zig-zag into town through the patchwork of small lakes, urban ruins, campsites and small portakabin communities; avoiding the Lycus patrolled main roads into town. He relaxed when street lights, houses and stores lit up either side of the road.
It was early evening when the motorbike came to a stop at the red lights by Tally Ho Corner in North Finchley. Bright Christmas icons topped the lamp posts either side of him; snowflakes, snowmen, robins, holly. Similar decorations hung from cables stretched across the street and along the scaffolding and upper floors of shop fronts. This part of town didn’t look so bad.
The lights inside the pub in the fork on the road were on even though it was damaged. Protruding from its collapsed roof was a larger than life sleigh pulled by several reindeer and a Santa sitting on a seat in front of an enormous glowing sack brimming with toys. Alister smiled; scattered over the cracks and gaps across the building, glowing elves with various tools appeared to be busy repairing the place. His phone’s sat-nav, slotted on the multi-grip between the speedo’ and rev counter, began to blink yellow. Excellent! Claire had switched on his smart-map with all his tags on it and it had begun another short burst of synchronisation. What with the escape from the train and drive down often frosted and dark roads, he’d completely forgotten about it. Good thing it was now transmitting the Locate-me signal to his phone along with Claire’s user profile. He’d call in on the way to the Portakabin community and pick it up. He could do with a rest, somewhere safe and out of sight.
……… Alister zigzagged across the road through the traffic and ran into the busy market that curved round a vast building site criss-crossed with portakabins. Dodging through the crowds, he wove his way past bright stalls illuminated with lamps, lanterns, strings of bulbs and Christmas lights. Plumes of smoke rose from sizzling charcoal braziers, noodle bars, dumpling stalls and steaming pots scattered between the grocery stalls. It reminded him of the Barras in Glasgow. All around him, the chants of traders calling out their deals and offers punctuated the persistent hubbub of shoppers and swirling odours.
Falling in behind a group of teenagers, he passed under a wide entrance crowned with a large sign surrounded with Christmas lights, ‘North London Portakabin Community.’ No time to find his Aunt Yvonne who lived here. If MI6 knew about him, then they probably knew about his aunt. This was his aunt, who used to mind him when his parents worked late, play dominoes, tell him ghost stories. She used to time him as he raced her electric wheelchair round the garden, chasing his dog, Benjy. The law had no right to get in the way of him seeing family, not after all these years. He stopped by a tree. Maybe he did have time, maybe… The distant chopping of the helicopter drew him back. He had to keep moving.
While survivors struggle to recover from the Big Freeze, Alister Cloud is on the run for his life.
Wanted by MI6 & NSA, Hunted by ruthless Private Militia & heading for carnage & slaughter.
“Nanopunk is smart sci-fi action that slowly draws you in then accelerates into a story you just can’t put down. I highly recommend it.”
“Carries a lot of clout.” ”Smart and Sharp” “Pacey and compelling.”
“The plot moves along a pace and is gripping and exciting. The characters are sympathetic, full and realistic. The combination of a futuristic world…and warm human relationships — makes for a great experience.” (Amazon review of ‘Nanopunk’)
Paperback and eBook
Barnes & Noble Kobo: Smashwords Sony: