Is Social Media Anti-social? I’m More Convinced Than Ever (Part II)

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As a veteran of the computer industry, lover of technology and all things robotic, perfectly prepared to worship our all-mighty robot overlords when they spring up from the A.I-verse, I still haven’t changed my perspective on social media. See: Anti-Social Media (Part I). It is the bane of the First World’s existence.

Social media is believed to lead to shortening attention spans, reducing our ability to read, analyse, and comprehend longer works, reducing our ability to gauge emotion, it’s reducing our empathy to our fellow man and increasing narcissistic tendencies all over the developed world. It might even contribute to global warming.  Just wanted to get that out there so if you are a standard social media user, you’ll understood where I was going before your attention…waned.

Social media is the scourge of our century the same way rock and roll affected our grandparents in the Fifties. And like Rock and Roll, it isn’t going anywhere soon.

Response to The Shut-In EconomyYes, I know the benefits of technology. I recognize it allows us to have friends outside of our geographical area. It lets us connect to people who share our ideals and beliefs. It can also allow us access to publishing and more permanent forms of information manipulation bringing us closer to people who we might not have ever met in the flesh.

Technology has brought us drones that deliver packages to our doorsteps or hellfire missiles to our enemies in whatever third-world nation managed to piss off Fox News and the government this week. Technology has also put people out of work, caused the Uberfication of the modern workplace where once highly employable folks are driven to desperate measures working as Uber drivers, Task Rabbits or Alfreds for overworked, overpaid yuppies who live in overpriced apartments while carrying too much educational debt and having nothing resembling a social life for all that money.

(NOTE: if you don’t read anything else, read the article linked also linked above “The Shut-in Economy.” It paints a picture of the modern workplace and economy of workers that investors are wanting to create more of almost certainly ensuring society spins further out of control as economic inequality escalates.)

However, Social media, for all of its potential benefits, including its participation in world shaking events such as the Arab Spring protests and subsequent uprisings and the Hong Kong Protests, still strikes me more as a tool for addiction development than a benefit to society as a whole. A wide array of opinions around social media addiction exists.

“Any application that provides variable and strong rewards and is regularly accessible is potentially addictive,” Dr. Olif Turel, an information systems and decision sciences professor at California State University at Fullerton, said in a statement. “With social media, you never know what friends have posted, so it encourages regular use.”

Be with the friends who are here.But this is just some over-educated scientist’s opinion. You know how oppressive science can be when it comes to opinion. But if your dinner table looks like our opening photograph or you have a basket at your front door insisting your friends drop their addiction at the door, with a note saying: Be with the friends who are here!  You know what I’m talking about.

No matter what we may think of social media overall, we cannot deny its increasing intrusiveness, its crushing of personal creativity and potentially devastating effects on our economy. It’s estimated social media may have cost as much as $650 billion in lost revenue nationwide just from the two largest social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter.

Why do I mention this at all? Most of you will not change your habits, no matter how much you know about social media’s ill effects on you, your friends, the world, your pets, your health and your life in general. This article is for those times when you find yourself wondering if you are spending too much time online, whether your social media may be affecting your life in a negative way, when you look around and wonder if anyone has ever warned you about the potential detrimental effects on you or your business, the answer can be: Yes. You were warned. Now get up. Open the blinds, behold the sun, squint, take a shower, put on some clothes. Go outside. Say hello to someone without using your fingers. Who knows, you might even make a friend, in real time, locally who might actually go with you to the movies…together.

Watch the incredible animated video that follows. This video puts social media in the light I believe it needs to be seen in. Done to the tune of Carmen, no less. Enjoy!

Enjoy the awesome infographic: Thumbnail image courtesy of iDream_in_Infrared.

estimated cost of social media

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth (the science edition)

“Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”
― Jules VerneJourney to the Center of the Earth

Jules Verne’s famous classic postulated the center of the Earth was filled with fantastic monsters at the fridges of the Victorian Age imagination. The scientific truth of it removed the more romantic nature of a lost world filled with dinosaurs, giant plants and super-volcanoes but the core of our planet revealed new wonders, barely even imagined a century later.

The inner core of our planet Earth is filled with mysteries still beyond our understanding and far beyond our physical access. The deepest we have managed to penetrate the Earth’s crust before our technology gave out on us is the The Kola Superdeep Borehole which is 40,230 feet or a mere 7.619 miles (12.26 kilometers) below the surface.

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne – Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

The intrepid Professor Liedenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet’s primordial secrets, the geologist–together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans–discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne’s imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.

Project Gutenberg’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org.


			

What the hell IS Net Neutrality?

15 Facts About Net Neutrality

Net neutrality has been part of the Internet language for years now. But recently, discussion of the sometimes difficult to grasp idea has ramped up significantly. What exactly IS, net neutrality? Why are people so worked up about it? (And if you aren’t you should be.)

John Oliver will help you understand what is really at risk. Yes, you will laugh, but he is deadly serious. But go ahead and laugh.

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Net Neutrality: Being Neutered by the FCC

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IF YOU AGREE, I give you permission to send this letter to every Congressman and government official you can think of. Put your name at the beginning and the end and let them know how you feel. Go to the FCC site and make them aware of your feelings as well, while there is still time. Here is a link to finding the name and email of ANY Congressman:  http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.

GO FORTH AND FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE!

TO: Federal Communication Commission
FM: Thaddeus Howze

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has come to my attention you propose to alter the arrangement of internet delivery for the entire nation based on the presupposition that corporations such as Comcast and Time-Warner Cable have the best interests of the citizens of these United States.

Nothing has been further from the truth for quite some time.

Both of these companies have had nothing but contempt for the common user of their services, treating them as little more than a $200 a month bill that can neither be negotiated for (offering smaller bills or ala-carte services giving users the option to pay ONLY for what they want) nor providing them with bandwidth comparable with other nations where the US is considered not only the slowest, but the least technologically innovative of the developed countries.

Singapore for example:
In January 2001, the Broadband Media Association was formed to promote the broadband industry. By April the same year there were six broadband Internet providers, with the total number of broadband users exceeding 300,000. Pacific Internet introduced wireless broadband services in October 2001.

In December 2006, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) introduced a programme named “Wireless@SG”. It is part of its Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure initiative. It offers everyone free wireless access in high human-traffic areas, including the Central Business District, downtown shopping belts like Orchard Road, and residential town centres. The access speed has been doubled to 1 Mbit/s since 1 September 2009 and the free service will continue until 31 March 2013.

In early September 2010, internet service providers in Singapore rolled out the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN) service plans. The Next Gen NBN is Singapore’s nation-wide ultra-high speed fibre network. It offers pervasive, competitively priced broadband speeds of up to 1 Gbps at comparable prices to ADSL and cable connection. Deployed 75% nationwide as of August 2011, Next Gen NBN is on track to achieve its target of 95 per cent coverage by mid-2012.

Singapore has NINE major cable company providers and the average internet speed is 100 Mbps. Citizens of this nation can get wireless communications for their technology almost anywhere. For free. They have some of the fastest connected services in the world for every citizen who has a place to live.

And just about anywhere outside of the US is faster than we are:

Net_Neutrality_US_MySpeed

Comcast is lucky when they can provide speeds at 1/10 that at anywhere near the same base cost. The government of Singapore ensures that internet monopolies like we see with Comcast and Time Warner (and their supposed merger) DO NOT HAPPEN, without giving the people of the nation an alternative. As government workers, it is incumbent upon YOU to protect the best interests of people in this nation from predation at the hands of corporations acting in collusion to exploit the vulnerability of a nation unaware of how corporate entities are able to buy access and control entities such as the FCC using lobbying.

From the point of view of common folk, it would appear that lobbyists have more say than citizens. More than 2 million citizens have spoken for Net Neutrality and yet it remains an issue for DEBATE, as if there was a MERIT TO EXTORTING THE CITIZENS OF THIS NATION for the profit of already fabulously rich corporations who act in collusion and are effectively a monopoly providing their services.

Let’s pause while we take a message from our sponsors:

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In the case of Time Warner and Comcast, both companies act as monopolies on their separate sides of the country, strangling out innovative smaller firms by tying them up in court until they can no longer compete with them. These companies have managed to lobby their way into the Congress preventing even basic intelligent discourse about the nature of the services they provide and the people who are unable to effectively voice their concerns regarding this issue.

I am a 30 year veteran of the Information Technology Industry. From telecommunications to computer system network design, I have seen it all and I have watched the systematic manipulation of the technological infrastructure of this nation fall under the dominion of large corporations slowly and steadily, particularly as their previous means of making money (Radio and later Television) have fallen from grace as the primary sources of information retrieval for the average citizen. Every time the Telecommunication industry finds itself about to regulated as Common Carriers, they find a way to manipulate the system preventing this from happening.

I am also a speculative fiction writer. I have already written a short story where the world I am watching is playing out. The creation of a process by which companies are forced to pay to have their data accelerated while other data is slowed intentionally eventually causes an imbalance to the Internet.

Programmer rage across the planet is unleashed and eventually the large corporations who strangle the internet are thus eventually strangled out of existence with denial of service attacks and other such network shenanigans. I don’t even want to imagine how the rest of the world will respond to the idea of balkanizing the Internet for the sake of PROFIT.

In that future, eventually the Internet becomes a place of sterile corporate control. Small voices are left to revive older technologies because they simply cannot afford to connect via the Internet. The Internet itself eventually fades as the voices that made it vibrant and alive lose connection, lose money, and lose interest in maintaining a structure they can no longer afford to use.

How many resources are we dependent on that are maintained strictly by people who would not be able to afford to work with due to rising costs with the overturn of Network Neutrality? Use Wikipedia lately? Maintain a blog? Like Youtube? How much of the web’s content is maintained by volunteers who would have none of the financial access this future speed-lane version of the Internet network would require?

The internet’s core principle (at least in theory) was that everyone who used it had the potential to use it at the same level. No one would or could control or dominate how information was seen, distributed, accessed or utilized; this gave the same amount of priority to a young web designer in Australia as to a large media firm in London. What you are proposing now says ISPs and Corporate Providers will control, throttle and decide WHO SHOULD BE SEEN AND HEARD based on their income and willingness to part from that cash.

Aren’t Americans already paying FAR too much for cable services? The average cable bill in the US is at least $100 and in some places as high as $200 a month for lackluster performance at best, promoting the idea that in America, WE PAY MORE AND GET LESS. Why should you now reward corporations who are NOT performing at their peak AND charging an outrageous fee already, to further abuse users of the internet and increasing their fees even further because when the content providers who are using this network have to pay more to get seen by through the corporate chokepoints, they will pass their costs onto their customers.

  • $200 a month for Comcast cable
  • $15 a month for Netflix riding Comcast Cable
  • $15 a month for Hulu riding Comcast Cable
  • $15 a month for Amazon riding Comcast Cable

So we are looking at $245 right now. You allow this NETWORK EXTORTION PROTOCOL to take place and here is what happens:

  • $220 a month for Comcast cable (they have no competition and now they control the providers too.)
  • $20 a month for Netflix riding Comcast Cable (pay more or be left behind, spread costs)
  • $25 a month for Hulu riding Comcast Cable (huge library, need to compete with Netflix, charges more)
  • $20 a month for Amazon riding Comcast Cable (not making money yet, wants to appear competitive)

In a month, my bill will shoot to $285 and I will have receive NOT A SINGLE BIT OF IMPROVEMENT IN SERVICE!

Since Comcast/Time-Warner has no competitors, in the next year they can and likely will raise my bill again, WITHOUT A NEED TO IMPROVE ANYTHING. Since by definition, they are a MONOPOLY and don’t have any competition to speak of. In the area I live in THERE IS NO COMPETITION for Comcast.

So in less than a year I can expect to pay even more for cable than I do already, see no improvement in my services, increase the cost of my service providers who are being forced to pay more by a company that is already so rich it can afford to tie its competition up in court using nuisance lawsuits until they go out of business.

This has become the mantra of these United State: PAY MORE, GET LESS.

THIS IS NOT A BUSINESS MODEL, IT IS AN EXTORTION RACKET. Is this the business of our government? Because if it is, you are setting not only a poor example for business, you are perpetuating a crime against the American people by allowing big business to dictate to YOU, what laws should exist and how YOU BETTER ENFORCE THE ONES THEY LIKE. Extortion is the process government is supposed to PREVENT, not abet.

It is possible you have forgotten what Net Neutrality was supposed to be doing. I have included a video in plain English of what you need to consider when you talk about this issue and its ramifications to the common man. The common man who is depending on you to PROTECT HIM FROM BEING EXTORTED UNDER THE GUISE OF BUSINESS. Watch the link, learn something you never considered and if you have, then why am I writing this letter? IT CAN’T BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.

What Net Neutrality means in plain language:

http://bit.ly/1hS66sD

I say to you as the men and women who will direct the Congress’ decision on the need for Net Neutrality: While it is easy for you to look at the words of lobbyists and hear the dollars they offer you (however indirectly they may arrive at your doorstep) and feel you are making a good decision. I say to you, NAY. You have been lied to, with the blandishments of people who know more than they are telling you, are certain they are making the decision that will make THEM the most money, while providing the least quality service for everyone ELSE involved.

It is incumbent upon you all to go outside of your circles and ask not just the citizens, but the ISPs who are the middlemen in all of this, how they have been mislead and misused by telecommunication giants who, flexing their financial muscle control who sees what and why. Is this your fight? You betcha. You, as the FCC, are obligated to watchdog the foxes who are trying to take their place in the henhouses of American’s homes taking every last egg they can find while you stand outside wondering why don’t you see any foxes.

To be honest, I am ashamed of the corporate behaviors I see being enacted. They are short-sighted because when you look at the internet, the bounty it has given to everyone who has grown rich on it, has been because it has been CREATED EQUAL. That everyone using it, provided they can get access, has the same ability to communicate across it.

To undermine net neutrality is to tell everyone around the world, the alphabet may have 26 letters but you will only get to use half of them. Unless you pay us for the rest of the letters. How does America compete against a world where they have the rest of the alphabet and we don’t because Comcast, Time-Warner, Dish Networks, AT&T and any other major lobbying contributor thinks they should make money before the rest of the world should.

You want to change the world, ladies and gentlemen? You want to be remembered?

Then the decision you make today, must be the one that enables EVERYONE to continue to compete on an equal playing field with the entire alphabet, armed with the tools and the knowledge to shoot the foxes who might otherwise undermine our very nation’s future for the sake of profit.

Those corporations are unsustainable. They need an ever-increasing amount of cash to grow. Are you prepared to risk all of our futures on a corporation who by definition MUST DIE ONCE THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO EAT?

Consider the future, just this one time and tell these companies, our ability to communicate with each other, equally without being extorted, is simply not for sale EVER. At any price.

Thank you for considering my proposal. I would be happy to testify at any time if it would make this last bastion of communication able to remain free.

Sincerely,

Thaddeus Howze

22456 Sonoma Street,
Hayward CA, 94541,
510-910-3912,
ebonstorm@gmail.com

REFERENCES: WIRED Magazine: 

Websites Throttle FCC Staffers to Protest Gutting of Net Neutrality: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/fcc-throttling/

 

John Oliver will help you understand what is really at risk. Yes, you will laugh, but he is deadly serious. But go ahead and laugh. I wrote my article before he gave this skit BUT he agrees with me on almost EVERY POINT.

 

The Inhumanity of Corporate Profits

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Thieves, the goddamn lot of you! Thieves and leeches! Fucking vampires sucking the will from people whose only goddamn crimes were to be frightened and tired! And you don’t help them! You don’t listen to them! They get no truth from you! All you do is scare them with stories of something that doesn’t exist! And you bastards are winning! Hundreds more of you every day!

Spider Jerusalem; Transmetropolitan

 

Corporations. Many people look at the corporation as one of the greatest inventions of modern civilization. Others will tell you they are a pox on all our houses. Journalist Matt Taibbi, profiling the bank, Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone magazine in 2009:

“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” 

Let’s review just a couple of things that look broken once you get past the basic erroneous premise that allowed them to exist today. That premise is they are necessary, they are providing a service and the market will bear what they do, no matter how they do it:

  • Corporate-run prisons: A prison system that works by insisting on a quota for the number of prisoners to be found within. Corporate prisons insist on an “occupancy rate” such that if the population drops below a certain number, the state must PAY THE PRISON for its lost revenue. This is an incentive for a state TO FIND SOMEONE TO ARREST, rather than putting fewer people in prison. America already has the highest rate of incarcerated individuals per capita than any place else in the world. Corporate prisons will NOT be reducing those numbers, only INCREASING them.
  • Corporate manufactured food: What if I told you all of the manufactured foods you ate were addictive. Whether it came in a can, was processed for a box or found its way into a fast food restaurant, they were designed by food scientists to BE addictive by taking manipulating your pleasure center and your body’s natural tendencies to seek out fat, sugar and salt. What if I told you, it was the very fact that foods have been over-saturated with these three ingredients which accounts for the current crop of debilitating diseases sweeping most modern countries today: Obesity, diabetes, and hypertension/stroke. Since China has embraced Western ideals, in the last ten years their number of diabetes cases has reached over 300 million people. (That number is almost the same in India.)

Are you surprised no corporations have chosen to pay attention to the rate of diabetes increase in those countries, in relationship to their fast food boom? NO? Neither am I.

“It is this very cognitive dissonance which should make you pay more attention to corporations when they tell you, they are concerned about the environment BUT not enough to do anything about it. If your kids die from starvation due to climate change, its not our problem. We are only worried about the next quarter.”

Would a bank launder money for a crime cartel? Would they poison entire ecosystems to save money on a part for a refinery? Would they pay into contingency fees, to settle, in case someone died rather than replacing a five cents part? YOU BETCHA.

Here are a few other things happening in your neck of the woods, wherever you live…

  • Does their product pollute groundwater which might be used for farming? YES. (hydraulic fracturing)
  • Does their product require millions of animals to live in poor conditions to lower their cost of production? YES. (Fast Food Industry)
  • Does their product contaminate plants downwind of where my product is used? YES. (Monsanto and other genetically engineered seeds companies)
  • Does their product produce coal ash, which is highly toxic and need specialized technologies for disposal? YES. (Big Coal)
  • Does their product have a chance for spills, causing catastrophic yet, never considered, damage to the environment? YES. (Big Oil)
  • Does their product have a list of side effects a mile long yet still advertise it on television, telling people they NEED IT? YES. (Big Pharmaceuticals)
  • Does their product cause unrest and wars in foreign countries by needing rare earths and special minerals? YES. (Any Tech corporation)

And the list goes on. I could do this all day. So why do I bring it up? For the simple reason that corporations are never going to tell you what they are doing is harmful to YOU or yours. They will list the stock exchange and its variables as if it were a way to judge how profitable Humanity has been that day.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Stock Exchange is an indicator of how much wealth is being made at your expense, how much of your environment is being destroyed, how much money is being made from the loss of lives in conflicts over raw materials in a foreign country. The Stock Exchange could just as easily be called the Murder and Mayhem Exchange because corporations have basically said they are willing to make profits OVER YOUR DEAD BODIES.

If they were being honest about it, they might make a video like this one:

So now you know. What can we do about it?

Get back to regulating these corporate fuckers. This video is a parody but the real corporations just haven’t been willing to say this as directly. But the harm they do to your environment is just as real and just as long lasting.

They don’t give a fuck about you. Don’t wait for them to say FUCK YOU in plain English. It’s only a matter of time.

We just got here and look at the mess…

ENVIRONMENT | PRIORITIES | COMMENTARY

Natural Beauty Wallpaper (2)

Planet Earth is 4.6 billion years old (give or take)

If we condense this inconceivable time-span into an understandable concept, we can liken the Earth to a person of 46 years of age.

Nothing is known about the first seven years of this person’s life, and whilst only scattered information exists about the middle span, we know that only at the age of 42 did the Earth begin to flower.

Dinosaurs and the great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the planet was 45.

Mammals arrived only 8 months ago; in the middle of last week man-like apes evolved into ape-like men, and at the weekend the last ice age enveloped the Earth.

Modern Man has been around for four hours. During the last hour, Man discovered agriculture. The industrial revolution began a minute ago.

During those 60 seconds of biological time, Modern Man has made a rubbish pit of paradise.

He has multiplied his numbers to plague proportions, caused the extinction of 500 species of animals, ransacked the planet for fuels and now stands like a brutish infant, gloating over his meteoric rise to ascendancy..

– GREENPEACE

The Future is Unsustainable – Tell everyone, the revolution happens soon, or not at all.

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