Archives for category: Trust

Some of my right-of-center friends maintain that political correctness is a leftist aberration while some of my left-of-center friends are convinced that most conservatives are bigoted male chauvinists cum white supremacists cum LGBTQ+ haters.

I’m afraid both are mistaken.

The way I see it, none of this has anything to do with left nor right and everything to those on each side of the divide driving themselves into self allocated and mutually exclusive corners.

Otherwise said, this dichotomy is a consequence of populism.
People residing in each ideological corner are constantly barraged with messages telling them exactly what they have prepared themselves to hear.
People residing in each corner are constantly barraged with messages deemed appropriate by those who reckon there is something to be gained, by ‘them’, from keeping those people as far apart as possible.

Maybe now, that Cambridge Analytica has just hit the fan, we’ll start to understand how fake this whole thing is.

And I can’t wrap this up without mentioning something which really bothers me.

“As I said in my How to Fail book, if you are not familiar with the dozens of methods of persuasion that are science-tested, there’s a good chance someone is using those techniques against you.

Scott Adams,

The ‘run of the mill’ populism is directed towards the ordinary people. Which have a valid excuse for not knowing what’s happening to them.
Political correctness is a self sustaining bubble which was generated and is maintained  inside a supposedly more sophisticated medium.

Intellectually more sophisticated medium….

political correctness zizek

Hopefully, Zizek’s arguments will help us puncture this bubble!
Click on the picture above and see for yourself.


Recent developments connected with some people having used Facebook to manipulate the public opinion have led me to understand something absolutely trivial.

Almost everything can be used as a resource.
And it’s us, all of us, who are ultimately responsible for how these resources are being used.

For no other reason than it is us who will eventually bear the consequences.

Having said this, I’m now wondering about the wisdom of our ancestors…
And the nearsightedness of some of our contemporaries!
the golden rule

A bunch of ‘well intended people’ had somehow laid their hands on a ‘trove of personal data’ and used it, commercially, to influence electoral processes.
The data was gathered by exploiting in a ‘creative manner’ the ‘opportunities’ put in place by the very existence of Facebook and the manner in which so many people chose to use the said ‘social network’.

And most of us blame it on ‘Zuckerberg’.

OK, I can understand the psychology of all this.
I can also understand those who put the entire blame on anybody but ‘Zuckerberg’…

Let’s gather some facts.

“Facebook has lost nearly $50 billion in market cap since the data scandal”., Mar 20, 2018
In one day, Zuckerberg’s net worth fell $5 billion”.,  Second day it had fallen a further 4 billion…
Anyway, some 31 ‘missing’ billions used to belong to some other people but Zuckerberg.
Weren’t they supposed to take good care of their property? Weren’t they supposed to check what Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, was doing with their money?


“In Hidden-Camera Exposé, Cambridge Analytica Executives Boast Of Role In Trump Win”, March 21, 2018
CA’s CEO wrote that the firm had “teamed up with Leave.EU” — then furiously backpedalled”
Impossible to say how much influence Cambridge Analytica’s efforts had over Trump becoming the 46-th American President or Brexit. If any at all.
Yet who bears more responsibility for these developments?
The guys who came up with those ideas in the first place? Trump and Cameron?
The guys who made them possible? The Republican Party Convention who had nominated Trump to run and the British House of Commons who had voted 544-53 in favor of the “United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016”?
The guys who had campaigned above the board, in any direction?
Those who had exerted their influence ‘under the radar’? ” “We have already helped supercharge Leave.EU’sial media campaign by ensuring the right messages are getting to the right voters online, and the campaign’s Facebook page is growing in support to the tune of about 3,000 people per day.

Or those who, through their daily decisions, had created the premises for so many people to convince themselves that Trump was good enough for President and that it would better for Britain to ‘leave’?

Yeah, it’s only normal to blame others for our own mistakes.
But how sustainable is it?

As most other words, loyalty describes a ‘multidimensional interval’ rather than the ‘precise something’ most of us usually expect.

What kind of loyalty?
Loyal to whom/what?
How far would it go?
How is it affected by the passage of time?/How does it change the passage of time?

I’ve been mulling over this subject for more than 10 years now…

For me, this is closely related to the famous “Prisoner’s dilemma”.
You now, where two guys break the law together, get caught, are indicted for two felonies and the prosecution  has solid evidence only for the lesser charge. The two guys are held in separate cells, with no way to communicate, and are pressed hard to confess of the higher charge and/or to betray the other guy. During the interrogation each of them learns that:
– If both betray, each of them gets 2 years in prison.
– If one betrays and the other stays mum, the snitch walks and the ‘mute’ gets 3 years.
– If both shut up, each of them gets a year for the lesser charge.

Interesting enough for somebody who was never in such a situation. And it gets even more interesting if you start reading what the ‘pundits’ have to say about the whole thing.

The ‘cold rationalists’ maintain that it’s only logic for both of them to betray, simply because this is the only sure way to avoid the longer sentence. You never know what the other guy might do in a pinch, right?
The more down to earth, specially those with a more ‘intricate’ knowledge of the ‘underworld’, will loose no time to point out that something like that won’t happen if the the pair belongs to the mob…
Those with economically biased minds will be quick to point out that both of them should shut up simply because this way the team would ‘minimize the aggregate cost’.
Last but not least, sociologists will consider that it’s a good thing, for the society at large, that the criminals tend to be more disloyal than the law abiding citizens – otherwise crime would be even harder to fight than it is now.


Then let be present the situation from the ‘loyalist’ point of view.

The ‘what’ of the matter has to do with the proportion between ‘blind’ and  ‘willingly/knowingly assumed’. A mobster will be loyal because he has no other alternative – he’d walk into a self-sprung trap if he’d snitch on his partner while a true friend/brother would be loyal for completely different reasons.

Loyal to a person? To a ‘moral value’? To a ‘time honored tradition’? To a ‘local custom’?
If both guys were loyal to each other…
If both were loyal to ‘do no harm unto others’ they wouldn’t have got here in the first place…

As far as ‘distances’ are involved… In the standard example, as ‘formalized’ by Albert W. Tucker, there’s a relatively small difference between what both of them ‘get’ if both of them snitch and what the ‘mute’ would get if the other one would choose ‘the easy way out’. It’s only fair to presume that the pressure for both of them to betray the other would be far bigger if the ‘betrayed mute’ would be ‘rewarded’ with ten years instead of three while ‘mutual betrayal’ would remain at two each.

Time… isn’t this the most interesting dimension? Where you can only look, but never actually go, back and where haze always increases with distance …
Time, where the ‘good’ kind of loyalty helps those who ‘practice’ it and where bad loyalty constitutes an extremely heavy dead-weight …

How to tell ‘good’ from ‘bad’ in this case?

Consider the long term fate of the provinces/countries controlled by organized crime or by any-other form of dictatorship. No capo/dictator/authoritarian figure would ever be able to impose his will over the rest of the population, absent the loyalty of his supporters…

OK, loyalties are what defines us. What keeps us in one piece. What keeps all of us together.
In fact, the few of us who have no loyalties are nothing but sociopaths.

“Joseph Newman argues that the sociopath has an attention bottleneck that allows him to focus only on one activity or train of thought, to the exclusion of others. Researchers, including Howard Kamler, say that the sociopath lacks not “moral” identity but self-identity altogether.”

Hence, it’s up to the rest of us to spot them and to protect ourselves against them.


By not extending misplaced loyalty towards them, of course!

Sociopaths are people who have little to no conscience. They will lie, cheat, steal and manipulate others for their own benefit. They know exactly what they are doing, they just don’t care because they don’t think that way. If you are naive enough, they will brainwash you into doing exactly what they say and what they want which is the only time a sociopath is truly happy.

‘They know exactly what they are doing’…

What’s keeping us from doing the same thing? From keeping at least an eye open for those who demand undeserved loyalty? Under which ever disguise and under which ever pretense?

According to various theories, history is cyclical.
Meaning that we keep doing more or less the same things – or ‘errors’, until we figure them out for what they are.
And then we do them again, under a different guise…

“In China, people must use identity documents for train travel. This rule works to prevent people with excessive debt from using high-speed trains, and limit the movement of religious minorities who have had identity documents confiscated and can wait years to get a valid passport.

While this is the first time Chinese officials have used glasses to implement facial-recognition, the technology is widely used by police. China is also currently building a system that will recognize any of its 1.3 billion citizens in three seconds.”

We’ve spent most of our previously mentioned history living in closely knit and relatively small communities.
We made huge ‘progress’ during that time.
The period had started when we had climbed down from our ancestral tree – or had been made by God, take your pick, and had ended – for most of us, anyway, when we had moved to what we presently call ‘cities’.

Win some, loose some.

Apparently, ‘city-slickers’ are more ‘advanced’ than their rural cousins.
More people living together allows for a deeper division of labour, hence a higher specialization. Productivity increases faster and accumulated knowledge becomes simultaneously deeper and wider.
Unfortunately, all these come at a cost. At first for the individuals and, ultimately, for the society at large.

Living in smallish, and necessarily closer knit, groups provides a lot of ‘natural’ social solidarity. Individuals feel that they belong somewhere and, by sheer necessity, give relatively much to the community. Effort as well as attention.
Lost in the city‘, individuals are simultaneously freer to experiment/innovate and also more prone to growing alienated. So alienated as to become a danger to themselves and/or to those living around them.

On the other hand, small communities, where everybody knows everybody else, necessarily generate a lot of social conformity.
Individuals enjoy a lot of (relative) security and psychological comfort but don’t have very much lee-way.
Innovation, technological as well as social, is slower in this circumstances.
It took us some 130,000 years to ‘invent’ speech, another 65,000 to ‘invent’ writing and then, after no more than 6 short millennia we invented the printing press.
Less than another 6 centuries later we have the Internet.

Writing was invented by the Assyrians – an ‘imperial’ people who lived in cities and who needed a ‘technology’ to keep track of taxes due on the commercial trades which sustained the whole civilization.
Basically the same thing was repeated in many other places. Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, etc.
Written records and favorable geography had allowed the imperial administrations to control relatively vast tracts of land, relatively huge amounts of people and marshal considerable resources to whatever goals considered worthy by those who controlled the flow of information.
Writing down ones thoughts/discoveries also made it possible for humankind to better store its knowledge about everything. ‘Hard copies’ travel better through time than oral traditions.

Until something went wrong.
We all know that all those ancient ‘imperiums’ had crumbled, despite having been the most advanced civilizations of their times.
Other, more nimble, competitors were able to outmaneuver the older behemoths.
Maybe because the old behemoths had exercised too much social control?
‘Written’ central administration was able to marshal enough resources for the ruler to be able to impose stiffer rules towards his own personal safety. The most immediate consequence being that increased social conformity stifled innovation and, hence, created the conditions for the others to catch up, outmaneuver and eventually leave the behemoths behind…

The printing press had a relatively smaller impact than the mere pen.
OK, information was more readily available to those who wished to learn – hence the boost in science and technology, but was ‘useless’ as a ‘coercive tool’. It doesn’t make much difference to someone who wants to control a system whether the information used to do such thing is hand written or ‘pressed’. The small number of ‘insiders’ need to keep that information under tight control so…

The latest ‘gizmo’, the internet, is a totally different development than the printing press.
While the latter is unidirectional – from the author to the wide public, the former goes both ways with equal ease.

Each of us can, almost instantly, become a ‘shooting star’ and, simultaneously, all of us can be monitored by whom ever has the necessary means.

As if we’ve backtracked to a ‘Global Village‘.
In more ways than one.

In a traditional village, everybody knows more or less everything there is to be known about everybody else.
In the Global Village everybody can learn considerable amounts of information about almost anybody worth following while those with enough means can learn almost everything about everybody. Then analyze that information to whatever depth they are able to.  And store it for as long as they find any use for it.

20 years ago, very few people were talking to (by?!?) themselves while walking around the city.
And most of the passers-by were tempted to call 911 because they considered the ‘talkers’ had forgotten to take their medicine.

Nowadays, when quite a lot of people walk around speaking blindly – to a naive onlooker, nobody cares anymore.

As in nobody cares to check whether the ‘speakers’ have any ear-plugs stuck in their ears…

It was Hegel who first noticed that how much of ‘something’ was available at some point in place and/or time was determining the evolution of things.
Later, Marx and Engels ‘hijacked’ the idea and then corrupted evolution into revolution but I’ll set aside that subject for the time being.

“It is said that there are no sudden changes in nature, and the common view has it that when we speak of a growth or a destruction, we always imagine a gradual growth or disappearance. Yet we have seen cases in which the alteration of existence involves not only a transition from one proportion to another, but also a transition, by a sudden leap, into a … qualitatively different thing; an interruption of a gradual process, differing qualitatively from the preceding, the former state”

Georg Friedrich Hegel, Science of Logic

According to Ernst Mayr, evolution is a process which weeds out the misfits.
Which ascertains that at any given moment only those individuals/species who can survive the present conditions continue to enjoy life.
Regardless of who’s responsible for any changes in those conditions, of course…

And did I tell you that evolution is an impersonal process? Which has no goal, whatsoever?

We are currently witnessing an accumulation of heat on our Planet.
I’m not going to argue whether we are the main culprits or not. I don’t command any expertise in this domain, except that I know for a fact that increasing the relative content of CO2 in the atmosphere does increase the retention of heat by the aforementioned atmosphere.
I also know for a fact that we’ve burned in the last three centuries fossil fuels which had been accumulated during God only knows how many millennia. Releasing a huge amount of CO2 ‘in the aforementioned atmosphere’
Was it enough to raise the level of CO2 to the present figure? I don’t know… Volcanoes are another ‘prolific’ source for this fateful gas…

„Then why are you writing this post? Only to acknowledge your ignorance? Why should we bother?”

Dead saiga antelopes

Dead saiga antelopes in a field in Kazakhstan. About 20,000 of the species were found dead in one week. Photograph: Reuters

„The scientists on the ground pinpointed blood poisoning as the cause, but were puzzled as to why whole herds were dying so quickly. After 32 postmortems, they concluded the culprit was the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, which they believe normally lives harmlessly in the tonsils of some, if not all, of the antelopes. In a research paper published in January in Science Advances, Kock and colleagues contrasted the 2015 MME with the two from the 1980s. They concluded that a rise in temperature to 37C and an increase in humidity above 80% in the previous few days had stimulated the bacteria to pass into the bloodstream where it caused haemorrhagic septicaemia, or blood poisoning.”

You see, this post is indeed about ignorance.
We just don’t know what will happen if enough of something accumulates somewhere.
Until it does, of course.

And to find out we’ll need to survive the ‘happening’…

Some of us loose our patience when in close contact with age related ‘peculiar behaviors’.

There are a few ‘real’ facts about this phenomenon and I’m going to list them before letting you in on what I feel about this whole thing.

We live way longer than our parents and grand parents. Statistically, of course.
Which means that everybody gets a fair chance at reaching well into their 80-ies, something which was ‘available’ only to those smart enough to navigate around the perils of life, rich enough to hover over them or both at the same time.
Most of the run-of-the-mill-s and the outright dumb-asses used to die long before that.

Brain is both an organ and a muscle. Like any other organ, it deteriorates with age. Like any other muscle, if trained properly, it keeps for longer.

People are lazy. Most of them don’t like to compete on their own. And, even more importantly, most of them stop training after reaching the top. Even a relative one.

Simplistically, one could say age is an opportunity each of us has to demonstrate their true nature.
Both the quality of our ‘natural endowment’ and how well each of us has treated/trained theirs.

A more comprehensive approach suggests that age might be something a little more complicated than that.

The present is a combination between whatever resources were at the disposal of our ancestors and the accumulated ‘consequences’ of our ancestors living in those conditions. Basically, a combination between nature and human decision making.

We live today in the world we inherited from our parents and our children will live in the world we’ll bequest upon them.

Yep, only living longer also means having to retire at some point.
It means having to give up calling the shots.

And this is the real litmus test.
How one behaves after they realize they can no longer call the shots but are not yet ready to die and how one behaves after being called to call the shots yet still having to care for the former ‘bosses’.

This is when people have to face the consequences of how they trained their brains during their life times.
This is the moment when people meet the real results of how they had interacted. Among themselves and with their children.
This is the moment when people meet the consequences of their former choices.

And, also, this is the moment when the children have the opportunity to prove themselves.

In a nutshell, one may say that humankind is like wine.
Both depend very much on terroir, are the results of collective efforts and age demonstrates their true nature.

Or, one could say that age is more of a social disease than a mental illness.

My close friends know that I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.

In a mature enough society, gun ownership promotes both individual responsibility and social cohesion. As intended by the Founding Fathers.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

At the time when the US Constitution was drafted, the American state didn’t have a proper army, nor any real need for one. The neighbors were few and very far away, in contrast to what was going on in Europe at that time.
It didn’t make sense, at that time, for a strong army to be mentioned in the Constitution but the Founding Fathers very aptly told their constituents to build up a strong self defense capability. You never know what might happen in the future.
Hence the “well regulated Militia” which was deemed “necessary to the security of a free State”. NB, for a “free State”, not for any random individual citizen who wishes to free himself from a democratically elected government…

In this sense, the Second Amendment should be primarily defended as a stringent need of the entire society, instead of being promoted mainly as an ‘individual right’.

And it should be enforced accordingly. Keeping in mind the needs of the entire society, not only those of particular individuals.

Periodically, we are reminded of what may happen when society forgets to actually ‘regulate’ itself. When rules which have been agreed upon are put in practice in a ‘creative’ manner.
One has to pass ‘back-ground checks’ if he wants to buy a gun from a store but he can also buy one anonymously from a gun show.
Assault guns have been forbidden yet until this very morning those who ‘needed’ one could legally  buy a ‘bump stock’. A “device” which “causes the gun to buck back and forth, repeatedly “bumping” the trigger against the shooter’s finger. Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic.

Not only that people kill themselves using their own guns. Not only that gangsters kill each others in turf wars. Not only that policemen get killed in the line of work.
Not only that from time to time individuals attempt a particularly murderous form of suicide – by indiscriminately shooting people and waiting for the police to shoot them back.
Time and time again students, some of them very young, are brought back from school in coffins.

And after each of such incidents, various ‘authors’ attempt to put things into ‘perspective’.

In 2017, with 300,000,000-plus guns in the hands of Americans, there were 15,549 gun deaths. This ranks less than half the number of automobile deaths even though there are fewer cars in existence than guns. In 2017, there were 253,000,000 cars in existence and 41,000 auto deaths.

It’s exactly this kind of warped perspective which makes it perfectly intelligible what’s going on. Some people would say anything which seems to prove their point. Only to make it obvious how wrong they are.

Cars are meant for transportation and are widely used by their owners. For the reason they were meant to. Therefore, death by car accident is just that, an accident.
Guns are meant to be deadly. Reasonable people use them for for practice and, only when they absolutely have to, to defend themselves. In theory, death by gun shot would exclusively be accidental or as a result of people rightfully defending themselves or their property.

So, should we compare those two numbers?

15,549 more or less intended gun related murders – this figure doesn’t include most suicides, with the 41,000 of more or less unintended car accidents?

Are these two figures really comparable?

gun violence archive

If we compare apples to apples, then yes, guns are less accident prone than cars. 2,015 shootings – let’s assume all of them were fatal, versus 41,000 death by car accidents.
We can also say guns are a little less deadly than cars. According to the CDC preliminary published data, in 2016 the total number of gun related deaths – including suicides, was 38,000. Almost 10% smaller than the number of car related deaths.

But then again, how many cars have been used to intentionally kill someone? Or to commit suicide?

And since it’s true that guns don’t kill by themselves, it’s obvious that’s up to us to solve the situation. For no other reason than ‘we are the ones who might get killed otherwise’!

culture of violence


Remember Midas, the character who, after being granted a wish by a grateful Dionysus, “asked that everything he touched would turn into gold“?
And who was happy as a pig in mud after his wish was fulfilled … only to find out that he was going to die of hunger since everything he touched did turn into gold? Including his beloved daughter who had enthusiastically embraced her father upon his return from the fateful meeting with Dionysus?

Under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the “Three Strikes” statute provides for mandatory life imprisonment if a convicted felon: (1) has been convicted in federal court of a “serious violent felony”; and (2) has two or more previous convictions in federal or state courts, at least one of which is a “serious violent felony” (the other offense may be a serious drug offense). The sentencing enhancements in this law can have a significant impact on a criminal defendant.

Now wait a minute! What has this got to do with anything?

Well, more than two and a half millennia after Midas had driven himself into a tight corner we continue to ignore his lesson. As a species…

And the key words here are ‘continue to’.

The axe.

Very soon after our flint knapping ancestors discovered that a shaped stone is very useful at chopping wood they tied it to a shaft and started bashing the heads of their neighbors with it.

stone axe

‘Corrupting’ tools into offensive weapons, strike one.


Articulated language.

Soon after learning to fight our fellow humans, we started to speak to each-other.
It might have started while hunters tried to coordinate their efforts or when strangers tried to barter things… Does it really matter?
For me, it’s enough that very soon after we learned to speak we were masters in the art of lying.

internet lies lincoln

Corrupting words into lies, strike two


At some point in our more recent history, we discovered that it was easier for each of us to learn a particular skill and to exchange goods among rather than each of us providing for all his (family’s) needs. Eventually we invented money and replaced barter with proper trading.
Soon after, some of us forgot that money was meant to facilitate trade and started to hoard it.

follow the money

Elevating money to stardom against all historical advice, strike three.


Are you wondering whether I’ve lost it entirely?
Neah… just came home from the movies…

All the money in the world

Since the movie ended on the bright(-ish) side, I’m going to remind you that Midas also found a way out of his predicament.
The ‘golden’ King begged Dionysus to lift the cursed blessing bestowed upon his head, was instructed to wash his hands and everything else he wanted turned back to its original state in the Pactolus River – in present day Turkey, and presto, everything was fine again.

There’s only one small problem left.
Where are we going to wash our hands…. or should we cleanse our minds first?

Hopefully, before experiencing the hunger pangs which had driven Midas to wisdom…



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