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Youtube and Time

We are all largely familiar with two things in this information and digital content filled world: Time and YouTube. There are lots of other platforms and web content providers, but none as accessible and universally rated as YouTube. So what does YouTube and your time have in common? Well, it turns out that your time and YouTube’s money are inversely proportional. More specifically; the money earned by the producers of content, such as those addictive videos made by so-called “Youtubers”, the ads made and distributed by marketing companies and good old Google himself (who facilitates it all like a big broker), is inversely proportional to the time you spend watching the videos on YouTube. As your time dwindles, their earnings grow. You may already perceive what I’m getting at here; ‘hey! You’re stealing my time to benefit yourself and line your pockets with money!’ – said a peeved user who had an assignment to hand in but wasted all of his time watching cat videos while subjecting himself to the over the top commercial ads, failed to complete his assignment on time and got fired from his job, lost his livelihood and now walks the street hungry at night.

Ok so that last bit was a bit of an exageration, but the general treaty is not. YouTube is a platform for the benefit of content creators, which pushes “free” content to users, at the expense of their time and productive potential. Yes, the producers invest time, labour and money into producing the content, but the ultimate consumer is still paying the price with their time.

Traditionally, a product or service is something we buy to save us time and energy or satisfy a need or want, or to have a professional solve a problem we couldn’t otherwise solve alone. We traditionally pay money for the benefit of these products and services; money in that case is the price of the time and energy others have invested to produce the products/services. 

Whenever I watch a YouTube video, by the end I can’t help but feel robbed. I could have spent that 15 minutes doing something productive, like writing about how watching videos is a waste of my valuable time. I ask myself, “Why did I just spend all that time watching videos? Now I just feel used!” Indeed I do feel used, but why? Why do I feel the compulsion to watch a video, seemingly against my own will? I’ll have to do some digging and see if I can figure it out.

For now I believe it’s enough to be aware that when one consumes YouTube content as a means of entertainment, there is no payment of money so it seems to be free. Unlike a traditional transaction where one pays with money, here we are paying with our time!

Depending on what you normally use your time for, you may or may not be getting value for your time. We are normally, and rightly so, very judicious about how we spend our hard earned money because we expended our time and energy to earn it. Should we not act even more judiciously when cosidering what to spend our time on? We should be sure that what we spend it on is actually worth the price; 5, 15, 60 minutes you’ll never get back-sunk costs!

How much would you pay in money to watch those videos? Probably not much. If we think about time being equal to money then it shouldn’t be too hard to work out how much of it we’d be prepared to spend. 

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The sunk cost fallacy and utility in religion.

Religious people are religious and some are extremely religious, to the point of dangerous fanaticism. They are religious because they have been convinced of the Utility of the religion. The concept of utility is one from economics; a subject that has taken my fancy of late. Religious people gain from religion something that satisfies a desire. In my opinion they desire meaning: the meaning of life, the meaning of death, the meaning of each day or the meaning of suffering. All of these things that humans seek meaning in are valid parts of human existence. The problem I pose is that their is a fine line between personal meaning and dogma. When many people agree on a set of definite meanings for certain ‘articles of faith’ (e.g. A holy book) – thats’s religion!

The Meaning is the thing that has the utility. People derive happiness from having meaning, and will protect their religion and even fight violently for it because they are in possession of something they don’t want to lose. They fight because they are afraid of losing the meaning they derive from the memeplex of whatever religion they ascribe to. The meaning has utility, and the meaning flows from the memeplex of religion. This makes religion an asset with a value measurable in the interest others pay it. The more people pay interest, the more valuable the asset and therefore even more people are drawn to invest in it. 

This brings me to the idea of sunk costs. When a human has invested a significant portion of their lifetime and energy in a religion, they feel that by saying goodbye to it and moving on with a more rational and less meaningladen life, they will effectively lose their investment and never recover from the loss. The fear of loss is a powerful force of stagnation, both in human behaviour and the general economy. It paralyses people who wish to break free of a particular set of circumstances but feel apprehensive of the associated losses. By no means can we say that any such losses would be trivial and petty, there are very significant losses indeed. The problem with fear of loss is that it holds people back from gaining something they want. They probably want the new thing more than the old, because if they didn’t then they wouldn’t want it at all. 

For me the thought of giving up on religion was not such a big deal because I never invested a great deal of resources in it. But that is not the case for everyone. I feel that breaking free from the moralising dogma and contradictory scripture has made me a more effective and ethical person. I attribute this to the rather ironic realisation that the universe does not have me, nor anyone else, at it’s centre. How does that make me better? I think it works because I no longer feel the need to perform for an omniscient and rather petty god. It’s liberated me to do things such as volunteering, where I don’t do it for the appreciation of a religious memeplex but for my own sense of justice and my appreciation of the fundamental humanity of other humans. 

I’ve learned so much about other people simply from letting go of the enormous baggage of religion. I’ve learned that humans are not inherently or fundamentally evil or loaded down with “sin”. We’re simply animals who have big brains trying to figure out how to make ourselves happy. I entitled this piece with regard to utility because I suspect that all religious people really want is something to feel happy about. Religion promises so much, as I have mentioned in another post, but really only hold us prisoner to abstraction and baseless meaning. The sunk costs of religion really are irrecoverable, but that isn’t a reason to stay trapped inside the memeplex. If someone asked me one day how they could be happy and break away from something they spent a good many years doing and investing in, I would say that: One should always abandon unhappiness and pursue happiness, even if it seems that the unhappiness is still full of invested time and energy it will never yield happiness for you again, if it ever did, because you desire something else -the thing that makes you happy. I hope that humans can one day break free from the shackles of religion and see that we humans are so valuable and so quirky and silly at times. Isn’t it enough to be simply free. Free and silly. 

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No transplant, no way.

A heartfelt piece. It hits right in the soft place that nobody wants to get hit in.

Her legacy, my life.

When I was told that my mum could not and would not receive a transplant I was heart-broken and relieved. I was heart-broken for the obvious reasons. My mum will die much sooner than she should and Cystic Fibrosis will kill her. I was relieved that we could throw the darn transplant phone into some river and not feel so edge every time it beeps or moves or anything. We could eat dinner without glancing at the phone every five seconds. It was a mixture of feelings. I thought ‘maybe this is good because if my mum was called for a transplant in the morning and she didn’t make it through the surgery she would die far sooner than I ever imagined but maybe now we can have a few more years together?’ But then I thought, ‘no, this is terrible. This is unfair. I am going to lose my mother…

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Religion is the Impedement of Peace

War and ReligionMachiavelli promoted the practical implementation of policies for the purpose of achieving a practical and stable outcome. This is opposed to the prevailing wisdom of his time that rulers and politics should focus on moral and ideological precepts. He supposed that ideology is the root of all corruption and dysfunction and I suggest that it extends well beyond the realm of politics and power that Machiavelli ascribed his treatise to.

Take religion for instance. Religions represent a whole litany of ideologies that propose a methodology of worship of a supreme being and even go so far as to say that there are ways of living that please this supreme being. If one assumes that such a supreme being exists then adhering to these rules seems pretty reasonable. But we must agree to be bound by them. There is an internal process of utility that must be satisfied or satiated or quelled before we would agree to follow them. Thus the idea of the afterlife is formed.

We hear that in the afterlife we will receive no end of rewards for our efforts to follow the rules of the arching religion. If a cleric can convince a lay person of the reality of this cornucopian afterlife then the lay person will be amenable to any set of rules in order to ‘earn’ this reward.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that the cleric has undermined the basic social principle that human life has value, by ascribing inordinate value to the dead and the afterlife and the utility therein.

In one fell swoop the cleric and his religion have stripped the human of their respect for their own human needs and wants and ingrained a disregard for human life. This and all the while gaining the human’s loyalty to an arbitrary and unsubstantiated set of rules. The crown of dysfunction now is in the nature of these rules.

Would this newly created fundamentalist do whatever it takes to earn the abundance of their afterlife? They would if they believed it and that is the true nature of all acts of terror and violence committed in the name of a deity and its roots in religion.

So it is true to say that religion does indeed promote war and violence and immense atrocities against other humans. All in the hope of earning vast rewards in their afterlives. There is no religion of peace.

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Treacherous Greek Situation

The European Union needs to be careful in how it deals with Greece and its new government. Greece’s new government is known to be sympathetic to Putin and the Russian regime.

Failure to resorb Greece to the European community by whatever means necessary could push the beleaguered country into the hands of the Russians who will most likely jump at the chance to capture the political consensus of the Greek people. 

It would be an expensive move if Russia were to lend financial facilities to the Greeks but it would certainly be a destabilising blow to the EU which is currently engaged in a political and social tribulation powered by growing anti-Islam and anti-immigration sentiment, and more significantly by growing economic inequality and poverty.

The worsening situation in Ukraine instigated and prolonged by Russian demands for and ‘independent’ east Ukraine is driving apprehension of direct conflict with Russia. What has thus far been a proxy beligerance against the West is evolving into a true potential for outright war. The Russian incursion off the west coast of Ireland is indicative of an emboldened military under Putin that is keen to show off it’s capabilities.

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What is Data?

pURL-data-security1

What is data? It seems obvious, but the true nature of any thing is in the eye of the beholder. To you, data is something that exists on paper and in computer hard drives, held for convenience and to protect your interests, should anyone ever need it or should you ever need to prove something. But what do other people think of when they think of YOUR data?

That is a question for this era, I think. We have to ask; what is so great about data, and what is so great about MY data. Surely there is nothing as worthless nowadays as “Name, Address and Telephone number” but what about birthdate and family members? Indeed all of this information seems fairly innocuous until you actually think about what it all means.

Imagine a company that wants to know what you can afford. How on earth could they accomplish it? Easy! All they have to do is look at your address. Credit card companies have been doing it for as long as they have operated. Your address is as good as a sworn affidavit of income as far as retail companies are concerned. Armed with that information, they are free to market what they deem to be in your price range. And they don’t even have to wait until you get into the store. They send it straight to you using that email address you handed over. And in the era of mobile internet, they can market to you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, while at work, at home eating dinner and even while you’re on the toilet.

We’ve often heard of the phrase, “knowledge is power”. Well it has never been truer. The like of Facebook and other marketing… I mean; “social” networking sites have aggregated vast swathes of data on thousands of millions of people and if you think that they are just going to sit on that data then you are, quite frankly, deluded. The truth is, and they admit it in their own invasion…. Excuse me, “privacy” policy, is; they use that data to target advertising at you. That is if they are not selling it outright to their so-called partners. Remember when you first put your email on Facebook, and all of a sudden you started receiving junk mail trying to sell you Viagra. Well, that wasn’t a coincidence.

What will they do next? Data to them is as good if not better than solid gold. We already know they are selling data for billions. I mean who wouldn’t in fairness. You might be thinking, “Sure what harm?” Only time will tell. In the meantime, we should all be more careful about what we “choose” to share on the internet. The internet has become an important part of our civilisation. Let’s keep it civilised

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The Fallacy of Race; Born of Ignorance

Difference is Skin Deep


It is perhaps our society’s most pervasive fallacies, and indeed for most societies; that of race. Born several centuries ago with the European discovery of Amerindian peoples of both North and South America, and of course African peoples whose eagerness to sell rival disparate tribes’ people into slavery is quite astonishing in retrospect; perhaps Europeans can be forgiven for their delusion that these African people were somehow savage and inferior.

From a European perspective, they were a fractured and uncivilized with little in the way of advanced social organisation, common in Europe at the time. Interestingly, many Europeans are still, for some reason, failing to recognise that African nations are no longer as uncivilised as they were, many believing still that that the whole of Africa remains to this time; in a state of social disharmony and anarchy. This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to ethnic and international relations, however.

I would like to discuss this form of ethnic discrimination in the context of how Humans view many complex systems. Humans are in general, very slow to perceive changes, whether beneficial or detrimental, in any complex system, like a society. I call this Perceptive Latency. In my observations, I have noticed that many people lack the cognitive objectivity required to make judgments regarding improvements and disimprovements of large or complex systems. They observe the changes, but lack the skill or indeed the ability to integrate and make comparisons between these systems beyond certain parameters, of perhaps sheer magnitude or component/species/entity populations. This can be stated simply; they become overwhelmed by small details and thus lose sight of the “big picture”. For example, they get caught in a differential analysis of ethnicity and soon find differences where none exist in reality.

The problem with differential analysis is; it delimits components of particular systems or behaviours within those systems as being somehow separate from those systems. This leads me to conclude that differential analysis is unproductive for it does not allow us to understand these systems, but merely disintegrates them. The system I refer to in particular is that of ethnicity.

In light of this new understanding of our neuro-psychological inclination toward differential analysis; we may begin to explain prejudice as ethnological expression of human biology.

It seems then; we are biologically predisposed to discriminate, whether by ethnic differences or other environmental parameters. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it clearly protects us from harmful environmental and social conditions. However, motivated by primal fear and ignorance, this biological survival mechanism becomes counterproductive. When this ignorance is shattered, then we will see a fundamental shift in our perception of that fallacy that is “race”.

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