This week I got temporarily banned, again, for 30 days on Facebook after someone apparently reported a comment I had published below a friend’s post. Much has been said about this ‘feature’ on Facebook, but I have more to add to the ongoing discussion on the Internet.
The product team and engineers at Facebook seriously need to look into this functionality because it’s being abused — or used, depending on your perspective — to harass, silence and censor people, and is a serious violation of every individual’s natural right to free speech.
Not long ago I had published a post here on my blog where I discussed some examples of “coincidences” happening in my life. In this post I want to share another very interesting case concerning the above picture.
Ever since the recent price increases I’ve been closely monitoring the power consumption at my house; from time to time I check the electricity meter to record the date and amount. It’s important to note that I don’t have any fixed intervals that I do this on. As far as I know it’s completely “random.” I check the meter whenever it’s convenient for me, for example, whenever I happen to go out of the house. Sometimes an arbitrary number of days go by without checking it too.
What you see in the above picture are crops of two different photos I took of the electricity meter. The photos were taken after I published the aforementioned previous post, and are cropped to show just the usage display. The chances of me randomly walking up to the meter once every few days and seeing these exact number patterns are very slim.
A few days ago I watched a CppCon 2016 presentation by Dan Saks titled “extern c: Talking to C Programmers about C++” and was pleasantly surprised by the information and insights he shared. I wouldn’t have expected this kind of information to be shared at a C++ conference, let alone a talk about C and C++. Even if you’re not into software engineering, keep reading because the concepts discussed below regarding human behavior and psychology apply to many other areas in life. You can watch the presentation on YouTube (embedded below).
The presentation is essentially about Saks’s experiences with trying to convince C programmers to switch to the newer and more modern C++ language. The C++ language is an improved version of the older C language (it’s a superset of C), adding many features that we’ve come to expect from more modern programming languages today, such as type safety, object oriented programming etc. It also has performance benefits, which Saks also mentions during his presentation. But despite the benefits Saks found that it was still very difficult to convince C programmers to acknowledge that C++ was better, and to eventually migrate to using C++.
In fact, Saks found that quite often logic, facts and the truth were simply not sufficient enough to convince people. Instead, people reacted in a very irrational and emotional way, and kept sticking to and defending their beliefs. People’s basic reaction was “show me all the data you want, C++ is still undesirable.” Instead of confronting reality, people instead resorted to making up all kinds of reasons to justify holding onto their beliefs — beliefs which are at odds with logic and the truth.
Is the prevailing reward and punishment style of raising children beneficial for them and for society in the long term? In a recent article by Larken Rose titled “Raising Human Livestock” he writes the following:
If you happen to command your children to behave properly, after having used reward and punishment to train them to obey you, you still didn’t teach them to be good; you taught them to be obedient. If they didn’t actually acquire a sound moral code—which coercively controlling them does not give them—then once you are not there to punish them for what they do, what would their motivation be to behave “properly”? If you taught them to behave a certain way in order to avoid punishment, then the moment there is no longer a threat of punishment, why would they keep behaving that way? And if at some point they find themselves under the control of some different supposed “authority,” and it commands them to do bad things, what do you think they will do?
Back to the point this article started on, if you were spanked as a child, and you grew up to become a cop, or a soldier, or a tax collector or other government bureaucrat, or even just a proud “law-abiding taxpayer,” then no, you didn’t turn out okay. You turned out to be human livestock serving a malicious, parasitic, violent ruling class. And the worst thing you can do is pass that on to the next generation. If you teach your children to respect and obey “authority,” you are training them to be amoral, unthinking, compliant subjects of whatever thug, gang, crook, tyrant or ruling class they happen to latch onto as their new “authority,” after you no longer control them. You’re not helping your children, you’re not helping yourself, you’re not helping humanity. Stop it.
I completely agree with Larken; like I wrote in my post “The All Seeing Eye”:
If we have to rely on laws and the fear of punishment in order to do good, then we are a sorry lot indeed. We have to build our own understanding of why it’s better to do good (wisdom), so that eventually we’ll make the best choices ourselves. It’s a longer path towards enlightenment but a wiser one to take for the long term.
Reward and punishment only teaches children to become obedient drones who will acquire a fear for whatever they perceive to be “authority” for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t help them to develop a natural, healthy and rational sense of morality via self-regulation, and doesn’t encourage them to become independent and to think for themselves.
Canon recently announced their new camera in the 5D line — the 5D Mark IV (5D4). My first reaction to the announcement, after having gone through the specs, was a facepalm. And I’m not the only one, as there’s a lot of disappointment to be found everywhere on the Internet, especially when it comes to the video features.
I’m more of a stills person myself, so I focused more on the specs in that area. In my review of the 5D Mark III (5D3), I had offered a list of possible improvements for the 5D4. While some of those have been addressed, some of them have not.
First of all, Canon upped the resolution from 24MP to 30MP on the 5D4. This means an increase in file size, makes the camera slower and sacrifices image quality especially at the higher ISO values. Instead of the 30MP, I would have liked the camera at 24MP, with an improvement in speed (higher FPS), lower noise at high ISO (and higher usable ISO), and increased usable dynamic range (less noise and banding issues in shadows). So far, it does look like Canon managed to keep the image quality at least as good as the 5D3, while apparently improving the dynamic range and noise in the shadows, and increasing the frame rate from 6FPS to 7FPS, but it could have been MUCH better if they had kept the resolution at 24MP.
I promised in previous blog posts that I would write more about the “strange coincidences” that happen in my life. I’ve already written about some of them, and you can find them here on my blog tagged under “coincidences.” In this post I’m going to write about a number of them that have to do with numerology. Call me crazy — and I know I myself would many years ago — but receiving messages and guidance via numbers in our reality appears to be a real thing. I speak from experience.
Larken Rose published an excellent article (“You Should Be Offended”) recently where he discusses his experiences with confronting people with the truth. This article really resonated with me because I deal with very similar situations almost on a daily basis, and I share much of Larken’s views on this. Here are some quotes from his article that I liked in particular:
It may seem a tad ironic that, as someone who advocates a society based upon voluntary peaceful coexistence, I think it’s a good thing that some people are capable of being confrontational, argumentative bastards who don’t mind insulting and offending others. […] I’m talking about people willing to tell the truth even when the truth is not popular, and even when telling the truth can earn one the scorn and hatred of the general public.
It is neither brave nor useful to go around loudly telling a truth that everyone already knows. What matters—what changes the world—is people telling the truth when the rest of the world doesn’t know it, and doesn’t want to hear it. Going around today and proclaiming, “Slavery is wrong!” doesn’t require any courage or fortitude. The time to proclaim that was back when much of the world still thought that slavery was proper and legitimate, even righteous. What needs saying today is whatever truths still make people uncomfortable.
Even in a free society, there will still be ways in which people are rewarded for speaking about “safe” topics that the majority will approve of, and punished for undermining people’s paradigms and going beyond their comfort zones. But if you want to see the nauseating results of what happens when someone tailors and waters down his message in the hopes of pleasing everyone—or as many people as possible—you need look no further than politics: a huge substance-free parade of empty suit puppets spewing whatever vague, meaningless, feel-good tripe might dupe the moronic majority into supporting them.
In the long run, there is an advantage to having such an outlook. Yeah, you may be broke, and possibly despised by everyone you know, but at least people will know that you are genuine, that you say what you think, and that your soul is not for sale.
I absolutely hate watering down or sugar-coating anything I have to say. When done “correctly” it’s essentially a form of mind-manipulation — something I despise and avoid as much as I can. And when it’s not done “correctly” it’s an ineffective way of communication, because it distorts your message and your message can lose much of its impact or meaning by the time it reaches your audience. This can cause a lot of misunderstandings. Not to mention that it’s a complete waste of any mental energy that you have to put into worrying and transforming your message so that it might be perceived in a more positive way by people. In my experience it’s a much better approach for the long term to keep your message clear, frank, direct and to the point. Lean and mean; no beating around the bush.
People often complain that I’m too direct, too sharp or come across too offensive in my communications. The earliest I can remember getting such feedback was when I was around 20 years old, and wrote an internal email to the management team at one of my first full-time employers. In that email I expressed my criticism with the way things were going in the company, while, of course, also offering my views on ways to improve things. The feedback I got later from one of the managers was that I was “very sharp” and that he “almost felt attacked” and that I might want to consider “choosing my wording more carefully” in the future. But choosing my wording more carefully has never been, and will never be, my style. So other subsequent employers had to deal with my frankness and directness as well.
And the reason why I choose to be like this, is because I know from experience that it’s the best approach. People might get uncomfortable, maybe even offended, but your message will have been received in absolute clarity, free from any noise and bloat, and will be precisely understood (eventually). And I like to communicate in this way especially if it concerns telling the truth to people and pointing out that they’re wrong, in the hope that they might change and improve themselves. Especially in such cases, sugar-coating or watering down your message will seldom motivate people to change in the right way. Even if you bring it to them as polite and respectful as possible, the truth will often hurt people, it might shock them when they first learn about it, and it might even completely shake up and destroy their worldview. But all of that is needed in order to leave a mark in their subconscious (or unconscious) that will eventually motivate them to change. Consciously they might (try to) shut themselves off from your message, but subconsciously it will continue to keep them busy — you can be absolutely confident of that. What has been seen/heard, cannot be unseen/unheard. You’ll eventually come to notice the effects. And sometimes change is a relatively slow process, so be realistic about your expectations and don’t expect results too soon.
I admit that even for me, the truth can be painful to accept sometimes, especially when I find out that I’ve been wrong, but I also know that it’s an opportunity for me to grow. The truth can only hurt or offend you if you’ve been living a lie. And I don’t want to live a lie. I want to be true to myself, and to everyone else.
If you think that dealing with (people like) me might be difficult, think about how painful it eventually always is to deal with people who have hidden agendas, who’re not being truthful, and who’re being hypocrites in your presence. How will you feel about them when you find out later what they really think? Wouldn’t you rather deal with people who are honest, genuine, and tell you exactly what they think? 😉
A lack of regular, good and fulfilling sex in your life can have a serious negative impact on your intelligence, especially in the long term. The more chronic this lack of sex becomes, the more serious the psychological (mental, emotional, intellectual) problems become. This fact has become increasingly more obvious to me based on my personal research over the years, and in this post I want to share some of my findings and thoughts on this with you.
In the past I had already discussed how the lack of sex can cause various physiological disturbances or diseases inside the body such as cancer (especially cancer of the reproductive system). In that post I had shown how a lack of sex causes tension to build up in the muscle tissue surrounding the lymphatic system inside the body. When this tension builds up and cannot be released, it starts to interfere with the normal functioning of the nearby lymphatic system (causing Lymphatic Congestion) and as a result starts to degrade the body’s immune- and waste disposal system.
Back in August 2010 I shot the official portrait for the president of Suriname. You can read all about it in a previous blog post titled “Photoshoot: President D. D. Bouterse of Suriname”. I used to be proud of this, but not so much anymore.
To be sure, it’s usually an honor for any photographer to be chosen to shoot the official portrait of the president of a country. Apart from that it’s also a validation of your technical skills and abilities, as generally people won’t hire a photographer for such an important job if they’re not perceived to be qualified for it. So in that regard, I’m still proud to have been considered an option and ultimately to have received the job based on my skills alone. I’m also still proud of the final result based on my technical and artistic abilities at that time.
But when it comes to the subject of the photograph — the president of Suriname — I’m not proud anymore of my work. I compare my taking the official portrait of the president with a slave on a plantation who gets asked to take a photo of his master. It’s difficult to be proud of that, especially if you’re fully aware of your situation, and have enough self-respect. And when I mention “the president of Suriname” I mean the institution of presidency, and not the person Bouterse. There’s a big difference between those two. In fact, I have absolutely nothing (personal or otherwise) against the person Bouterse. It’s the institution of presidency that I have a problem with.
All of my life I’ve wondered: Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? And I think I finally know the answer to both of those questions. In fact, I’ve had the answers for a few years now, and have already shared some of the fundamental information behind the answers on my blog in the past. I’ll have more elaborate posts on these subjects in the future, but for now I want to share some of my thoughts related to the purpose of life in this post.
A few months ago I saw a trailer released by Larken Rose for one of his projects called “The Mirror.” You can watch it in the embedded YouTube video below. If you don’t know yet who Larken Rose is, he’s the author of the book “The Most Dangerous Superstition” which I highly recommend reading. In that book Larken shows how the current anti-social system that we live in, better known as “Statism”, which is based on the belief in “authority,” causes much of the pain and suffering that we can find everywhere around the world today. He shows how it’s ultimately our own thinking — where we hold various contradicting notions about reality and how we should live our lives — that’s ultimately causing us to do harm to ourselves and to others. Quite often we’re not even aware that we’re holding on to beliefs that are contradicting to each other and to the supposed high morals that we claim to stand for in our lives. Most of the time this can be blamed on the brainwash that we’re exposed to starting at a very early age and that we grow up with. Once we’re adults, it becomes especially difficult to detect, let alone deprogram ourselves, from all the brainwash that’s working against us.
So like many others, including myself, Larken sat with the question on how to best approach this problem. How do we make people see and realize that they’re holding various beliefs and assumptions in their minds that are contradicting and counter productive, and are causing us all to suffer? Larken came to realize that getting into discussions and arguments with people causes them to become defensive and shut their minds off to anything that threatens their worldview, and consequently takes a lot of time and effort before you can convince them to change their minds. Not to mention that it’s not a very scalable and efficient approach.