Thoughts on the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

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.

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Messages from the Universe

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.

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The Truth Offends; The Truth Hurts

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? 😉

How the Lack of Sex degrades your Intelligence

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.

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The Presidential Portrait; Looking Back

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.

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On Simulations and the Purpose of Life

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.

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Jesus help me!

Many years ago one of my colleagues played a gospel song in the office during a break at one of my previous employers. I generally don’t like gospel or any other religious songs, but this one caught my attention because of the nice melody and because the female singer had a pleasant voice. You can listen to the song in the embedded video above. The lyrics, as far as I was concerned back then, were just another fairy tale from the bible. But because of the melody and the voice, I asked my colleague a copy of the MP3 file so that I could add it to my collection.

Needless to say, I listened to it quite often back then. Afterwards there was a long period where I didn’t listen to it anymore, to the point where I had forgotten about it.

A few days ago I was going through my MP3 collection and found the song again. And now, after so many years of personal research behind me, the lyrics have a lot more meaning to me, and I want to share that meaning with you below.

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Swadeshi and Swaraj according to Gandhi

While reading the book “The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism” by Jeremy Rifkin (highly recommended), I came across a very interesting part where Rifkin discussed some social concepts that were being promoted by Gandhi during his time. First I want to quote the relevant parts from the book, and then I’m going to comment on why I think this is interesting. Here’s from Rifkin’s book:

Gandhi’s views ran counter to the wisdom of the day. In a world where politicians, business leaders, economists, academics, and the general public were extolling the virtues of industrialized production, Gandhi demurred, suggesting that “there is a tremendous fallacy behind Henry Ford’s reasoning.” Gandhi believed that mass production, with its vertically integrated enterprises and inherent tendencies to centralize economic power and monopolize markets, would have dire consequences for humanity.46 He warned that such a situation would be found

‘to be disastrous. . . . Because while it is true that you will be producing things in innumerable areas, the power will come from one selected centre. . . . It would place such a limitless power in one human agency that I dread to think of it. The consequence, for instance, of such a control of power would be that I would be dependent on that power for light, water, even air, and so on. That, I think, would be terrible.’47

Gandhi’s alternative proposal was local production by the masses in their own homes and neighborhoods—what he called Swadeshi. The idea behind Swadeshi was to “bring work to the people and not people to the work.”49 He asked rhetorically, “If you multiply individual production to millions of times, would it not give you mass production on a tremendous scale?”50 Gandhi fervently believed that “production and consumption must be reunited”—what we today call prosumers—and that it was only realizable if most production took place locally and much of it, but not all, was consumed locally.51

Gandhi’s ideal economy starts in the local village and extends outward to the world. He wrote:

‘My idea of village Swaraj is that it is a complete republic, independent of its neighbors for its own vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others which dependence is a necessity.’52

He eschewed the notion of a pyramidically organized society in favor of what he called “oceanic circles,” made up of communities of individuals embedded within broader communities that ripple out to envelop the whole of humanity. Gandhi argued that

‘independence must begin at the bottom . . . every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world. . . . This does not exclude dependence on and willing help from neighbours or from the world. It will be a free and voluntary play of mutual forces. . . . In this structure composed of innumerable villages, there will be ever widening, never ascending circles. Life will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose center will be the individual. . . . Therefore the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it.’53

For Gandhi, happiness is not to be found in the amassing of individual wealth but in living a compassionate and empathic life. He went so far as to suggest that “real happiness and contentment . . . consists not in the multiplication but, in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants,” so that one might be free to live a more committed life in fellowship with others.55 He also bound his theory of happiness to a responsibility to the planet. Nearly a half century before sustainability came into vogue, Gandhi declared that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not enough for every man’s greed.”56

One of the reasons why this caught my attention is because through my own research, some of which can be found in my article on The Cycle of Life, I had already come to the conclusion that the best way to develop and organize a truly sustainable social system was to do so around the individual, taking into account his basic natural needs, and proceeding from there. In fact that’s what true love essentially is — respecting every individual’s right to life, or in other words, respecting their sovereignty. So not only should “every village be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world,” but every individual should be able to do all of that as well. A strong society derives its strength from the strength of the individuals that make up that society.

Like Gandhi I also came to the conclusion that in such a social system, there can be no centralized authority, and that authority should be evenly distributed throughout the system:

Based on this, it’s very important to note that there is no central point of authority in our physical reality; the number 9 is distributed throughout the whole system. This is a very important mathematical fact that shows that nature is fundamentally a distributed system, a peer to peer (P2P) system with no central point of authority. The number 9, which is the source and authority of this whole system, is distributed everywhere throughout the system, in the parts and in the sum of all parts. If we want to create a truly prosperous and healthy human society on Earth for the long term, we’ll have to model it after this important fundamental understanding (so no governments and no central authorities whatsoever, but anarchy).

So indeed, there’s no vertical distribution of power or authority, but lateral distribution; there are no hierarchies just like in Gandhi’s idea of Swaraj. And if you take a look at what Gandhi mentioned about “oceanic circles,” made up of communities of individuals embedded within broader communities that ripple out to envelop the whole of humanity, I’m sure you’ll immediately see the similarity with the Seed of Life, as discussed in my Cycle of Life post.

Seed of Life

The Seed of Life

This is how the universe is fundamentally organized, and I thought it was quite awesome to find out that Gandhi also came to the same conclusions long ago. I wonder if he also knew about the basic geometry that’s behind these ideas, and if this was also the foundation for his reasoning.

Ursula Haverbeck: A True Hero

Yesterday I came across the above interview with German historian Ursula Haverbeck. This interview was conducted in 2015 by Robert Bongen and was broadcast on German TV. In the interview Haverbeck explains why the holocaust never really happened as we’ve been told, and is in fact a big hoax. We’ve been intentionally deceived for many years. From here:

In one of the most amazing events to occur in occupied Germany since the second world war Historian Ursula Haverbeck made history in a defiant interview in which she openly trashed the very basis of the lie upon which all modern European social democratic states have been built. The elderly historian, brought into question the moral integrity of all Western political parties and academic institutions, exposing the official account of the second world war and the Holocaust for the lie it was on a television station which is the second largest in the world after Britain’s BBC.

Millions of surprised Germans sat on the edges of their sofas and gasped as for the first time in their lives the truth about the second world war was brought into their living rooms as the second largest broadcaster in the world took the risk of being shut down for the illegal offense of transmitting Holocaust denial by the criminal transnational Jewish financial occupation regime in Bonn.

If you’ve read my post “Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story NEVER Told” and studied the material provided there (including the notes), then you’ll already be familiar with much of what Haverbeck explains. However, there’s some new information that she mentions as well, citing from a book titled “Garrison and Commandant Orders” or  Darstellungen und Quellen zur Geschichte von Auschwitz: Standort- und Kommandanturbefehle des Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz 1940-1945 (SAP Excellence). These were the orders the SS commanders had to follow in the concentration camps, and they reveal some very interesting (and contradicting with the holohoax) facts. It shows, among other things, that they were especially concerned with the health and wellbeing of the prisoners in the concentration camps, and that the camps were indeed nothing more than labor camps.

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What we’ve learned from Tay, Microsoft’s Chatbot

Tay's got no chill, alright

Tay’s got no chill, alright

Microsoft Research launched a chatbot on Twitter called Tay on the 25th of March 2016 and had to take it down just two days after that because the AI (artificial intelligence) behind the chatbot had become very offensive. It seems that the chatbot was the victim of an “attack” carried out by the good people over on 4chan’s /pol/ message board. Basically they were able to teach the AI all of the offensive remarks that it made. I’ve included some examples below.

AI reflecting the human condition

AI reflecting the human condition

Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Research, apologized for the chatbot’s behavior in a blog post, and also had the following to say about this:

For context, Tay was not the first artificial intelligence application we released into the online social world. In China, our XiaoIce chatbot is being used by some 40 million people, delighting with its stories and conversations.

We stress-tested Tay under a variety of conditions, specifically to make interacting with Tay a positive experience. Once we got comfortable with how Tay was interacting with users, we wanted to invite a broader group of people to engage with her. It’s through increased interaction where we expected to learn more and for the AI to get better and better.

The logical place for us to engage with a massive group of users was Twitter. Unfortunately, in the first 24 hours of coming online, a coordinated attack by a subset of people exploited a vulnerability in Tay. Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack. As a result, Tay tweeted wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images.

Looking ahead, we face some difficult – and yet exciting – research challenges in AI design. AI systems feed off of both positive and negative interactions with people. In that sense, the challenges are just as much social as they are technical. We will do everything possible to limit technical exploits but also know we cannot fully predict all possible human interactive misuses without learning from mistakes. To do AI right, one needs to iterate with many people and often in public forums. We must enter each one with great caution and ultimately learn and improve, step by step, and to do this without offending people in the process. We will remain steadfast in our efforts to learn from this and other experiences as we work toward contributing to an Internet that represents the best, not the worst, of humanity.

Those are some very interesting remarks by Lee, and it reminded me of all the people — such as SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk and scientist Stephen Hawking — who often mention that we have to be careful with AI because it can be dangerous. These people believe that the kind of scenarios that we’ve seen in movies like The Terminator might become reality if we’re not careful with AI. Musk even called the prospect of AI “our greatest existential threat” in a 2014 interview with MIT students at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium.

I’ve thought a lot about AI and it’s implications myself, and so far I’ve come to the conclusion that AI is not the problem; the problem is human consciousness.

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