The pandemic is just the start

I have been looking at the brighter side of things but also been pragmatically thinking about the future.

Its been a while since I heard from Noam Chomsky and this speech with additional footage is powerful I have been thinking a lot about the near future beyond this pandemic.

First of all, I do think we are talking about a long run on covid19, I suspect it will be Q3-4 when the vaccines actually become available to everyday people (people who are not at high risk, on the front line or anything like that). Pinning our hopes on things going back to the old normal is not going to happen. Heck even my mum the other day said this to me on our last family call! We already prepared ourselves to not spend the festive season together.

The festival season also brings to the UK, the harsh ramifications of Brexit. Something a lot people have blocked out of their mind as they focus on Covid19. Don’t even get me started about the this as its deeply upsetting and really encourages me to just leave this country.

However as Noam talks about in his speech, the elephants in the room (I would say blackswans but they are not because we are very aware of these, or at least we should be!).

  1. Global nuclear war
  2. Environmental collapse

Its clear if Trump wins another term as president of America, the countdown to both global nuclear war and environmental collapse will be so much closer than we can imagine. The election is a concern for many reasons but nuclear war and environmental collapse is something we should all be aware and thinking about; and I don’t mean disappearing into our escape pods.

We already passed the point of no environmental change but we are actively increasing accelerating things including future pandemics. Imagine pandemics are simply a side-effect of our environmental impact. That I feel gives it the real scope of the challenge in front of us.

This can all be a harsh reality kick in the teeth. But honestly see it as a kick up the ass for us all. Together we can do it but we all have to acknowledge the reality and look beyond the current pandemic.

Could it be that Trump has dyslexia?

I have been thinking about this quite a lot over the last few years. I choose to say little simply because of the negativity I will get. However I want to make one thing clear… Regardless of Trump’s politics, lies, sexism and racism (for this post) I have been considering my own experience of dyslexia and also helping others with dyslexia.

I’m pretty sure Trump has dyslexia…?

There is a growing number of incidents which are very common mistakes for dyslexics. The latest one being misreading from a tele-prompter. I recently had to read something out from a screen to be recorded – It was Hell! I almost just gave up at 2am but with some audio editing handed something in. Reading from a tele-prompter  would be a real problem and its a common problem for some people with dyslexia.

Theres a real question about how much he reads (lots of dyslexics read a lot but its not usually for pleasure in my case) and its interesting to see how he acts under pressure to read out-loud. As person with dyslexic I recognise its the kind of thing I do a lot and its a common trait. My brain tends to change the words I see when they come out my mouth.

Its also clear a lot of people with dyslexia are charming for example Steve Jobs, Keira Knightley, Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise, etc. This doesn’t excuse the way people are treating him as a person with dyslexia. Its highly likely he does and his daughter even says it.

GO: Is Trump illiterate?

NC: He is severely dyslexic, and has been his entire life. Ivanka would joke about it off camera.

Although its not directly from the source, so its still not confirmed

If he does have dyslexia or any other learning disability. Its says something positive that a person with dyslexia could be the president of America. But like Jobs there is a dark side which masks the hidden disability which he might not want to admit to himself, and certainly not anyone else? The best thing to do is to be honest but its not going to happen.

So till that moment, expect much more…

Part of the reason I don’t watch much TV news

While major news networks have struggled to figure out the right way to cover the Trump administration, political satirists like Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers have demonstrated why comedy can be such a powerful antidote to bullshit.

I was thinking the other day, I don’t really watch much TV news. Ok I don’t watch any live TV anyway but News would be very low in that tiny percentage.

However I do watch a lot of Comedy news from last week tonight, the daily show, realtime with bill maher, etc. That backed with reading news from credible news sites makes up most of my news. News sources which take a longer view on things, rather than whats happening right now.

Boris Brexit Bus
I will never forget the Boris Brexit Bus

The nonsense from our politicians is alarming and theres only a certain amount I can personally take. The only way to cope is to laugh at how stupid the whole system is and not breath in too much of it.

I guess because of this I sleep pretty well at night (especially with my new hours) I certainly don’t do the  doom scroll thing, worrying about what I saw on the news.

Climate disaster is just around the corner

I have nothing but respect for the people who are taking part in the Extinction Rebellion, its about time! I had hoped Al Gore’s inconvenient truth would be the start of this? But it wasn’t. You can blame the media, trump, etc but the fact is we are running out of time.

Extinction Rebellion - Rebel for life
Its unbelievable and downright scary to hear mainly older peoples views on “kids” truanting from school and blocking London. I understand the worry about legal and illegal protest, however each and everyone of them understand how much of a knife edge humanity is on.

I was listening to Episode 127 of TeamHuman “All Hands On Deck” Extinction Rebellion with Gail Bradbrook and Clare Farrell. Although I thought they were interesting its their pulling people together which is most important. Always reminded of Eric Nehrlich’s find the others post.

I found this cartoon quite powerful by the way.

 

The city mouse and the county mouse from Bill Maher

Bill Mahar’s piece about City, Country and Trump is spot on (it doesn’t seem to be geo-blocked in the UK for me). Funny, insightful and sadly true. You can apply a similar idea to the Brexit vote.

if you want to understand why America is so divided don’t talk about Republicans and Democrats or red states and blue states read the story the city mouse and the country mouse currently being sold under the new titled what happened but the original was about two mice who learn that you’re either one of the other city or country and the same really could be said for America when you fly over it you don’t see red states and blue states you see vast stretches of land where there’s nothing and then every once in a while a city.
Its also interesting to contrast this with City Boy and Country girl discussion had for the listening project.

Intersectional Feminism…

Don't forget white women voted for Trump

I can’t really believe I missed this term and thoughts around this photo.

Washington Post

New York Tines

I first heard about the term when listening to the podcast what mom never told you.

There is a great interview with the woman in the picture

TR: Why did you decide to create the sign “White Women Voted for Trump”?

AP: We need to be really honest about why we’re here. There was a sense for me of being at the march and in community with folks that were wanting to resist this horrifying reality, but also not wanting folks to get complacent.

TR: How did people respond to you and your sign?

AP: Most were saying, “Not this white woman,” or “No one I know!” I’d say, “[Fifty-three percent] of white women voted for Trump. That means someone you know, someone who is in close community with you, voted for Trump. You need to organize your people.” And some people said, “Oh, I’m so ashamed.” Don’t be ashamed; organize your people.

That’s why the photo was such a great moment to capture, because it tells the story of white women in this moment wanting to just show up in a very superficial way and not wanting to do the hard work of making change, of challenging their own privilege. You’re here protesting, but don’t forget: The folks that you live with every single day—and probably some of the women that decided to come to the march—voted for Trump, made the decision to vote against self-interests to maintain their white supremacist way of life.

Its something I’ve thought a lot about, especially when thinking about diversity and inclusion. Its one of the things which has bugged me when thinking about the numerous women in tech events. Not taking anything away from them but if all the women are white, middle class and went to the same university – then we got a long way to go.

Maybe it also starts to explain why a lot of the women (of colour if thats what you prefer) I talk to are unsure about the term feminist?

Rather than weight in to this topic with limited insight, I thought I’d share some things I saw and heard.

Want to Learn More about Intersectional Feminism? Watch Shows created by Black Women

Why feminism can’t ignore race

100 Women 2016: Is feminism just for white women?

A split in sisterhood

Are we still asking who pays?

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I have expressed my opionion on this for many years and it seems more and people are catching on.

Maybe Ngunan will catch on too… till then, here’s some sensible rules for those who are a little more liberated. The thing you should always do on a first date if you want a successful love life

  1. Leave gender stereotypes to Donald Trump
  2. Whilst it’s kind for someone to offer to pay the whole hog, for the sake of ease it’s always better to split or take turns buying rounds, regardless of who asked who or who has a nicer handbag
  3. Save champagne and caviar for another time, or at least until you know their last name.

Nostalgia is the enemy of progress and they know this?

Vinyl Night

Some of you might think, you wrote about this before? Well yes I did…  but I have even more to add.

I was actually listening to the wired podcast (which recently hasn’t been so great) and they mentioned the Nokia 3310 and a review of the retro phone along with other retro stuff. The later link is worth reading as it links the tech industries retro fascination with our need for nostalgia due to the current political climate.

Our love of nostalgic gadgets comes from the shaky political world we live and brands are using it to their advantage

Nostalgia is an increasingly popular marketing strategy. As consumers, we’ve enjoyed a resurgence of iconic brands and models such as RayBan ‘Wayfarers’, SMEG fridges, Nintendo consoles, vinyl and turntables, Nike Air Max, the infamous Nokia 3310. The list goes on.

“In times of uncertainty, people naturally gravitate towards nostalgic products and experiences,” says psychology professor Sir Cary Lynn Cooper at Manchester Business School. “It gives them a feeling of stability. With the likes of Brexit and Trump continuing the uncertainty of 2016 into 2017, people will be reminiscing about fond times in a more stable world. These times will no doubt have an affinity with certain experiences, brands or products.”

To be fair reading it, its more focused on price points than anything but I do find the amount of people getting into vinyl (although not getting into djing which seems a shame), hollywood remaking old films (although this has always been the case) and of course the retro gaming trend.

Its a interesting point and I’ll refer back to my thoughts previously and I even mention Brexit back then.

I do wonder if its a chicken & egg issue? Is the demand coming from companies or from the people? I think its the people as I imagine nostalga has always been there going way way back

I don’t like these electric light switch things, much prefer the smell of gas lamps?

I jokely imagine? But you only have to think about fireplaces and how people love them. I assume the companies just worked out this is a sure way to sell stuff. Be it retro trainers, 60/70/80’s clothes, 90’s phones, gas lamps, etc etc…

Trainspotting t2's living in the past

There is something Veronika says in trainspotting t2 when Sickboy and Renton are reminiscing about the past. Something like, in her country people think about the future not think about the past.

​Cambridge analytica: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda

cambridgeanalytica

I’ve been studying this area for a long while; when I talk about perceptive media people always ask how this would work for news?  I mean manipulate of feelings and what you see, can be used for good and obviously for very bad! Dare I say those words… Fake news?

Its always given me a slightly unsure feeling to be fair but there is a lot I see which gives me that feeling. In my heart of hearts, I kinda wish it wasn’t possible but wishing it so, won’t make it so.

It was Si lumb who first connected me with the facts behind the theory of what a system like perceptive media could be ultimately capable of. Its funny because many people laughed when I first talked about working with perceptiv whose mobile app under pinned the data source for visual perceptive media; I mean how can it build a profile about who I was in minutes from my music collection?

I was skeptical of course but the question always lingered. With enough data in a short time frame, could you know enough about someone to gage their general personality? And of course change the media they are consuming to reflect, reject or even nudge?

According to what I’ve read and seen in the following pieces about Cambridge analytics, the answer is yes! I included some key quotes I found interesting

The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine

Remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who “liked” the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was “liking” Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who “liked” philosophy tended to be introverts. While each piece of such information is too weak to produce a reliable prediction, when tens, hundreds, or thousands of individual data points are combined, the resulting predictions become really accurate.
Kosinski and his team tirelessly refined their models. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn’t stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether deduce whether someone’s parents were divorced.

Some insight into the connection between Dr. Michal Kosinski and Cambridge Analytica

Any company can aggregate and purchase big data, but Cambridge Analytica has developed a model to translate that data into a personality profile used to predict, then ultimately change your behavior. That model itself was developed by paying a Cambridge psychology professor to copy the groundbreaking original research of his colleague through questionable methods that violated Amazon’s Terms of Service. Based on its origins, Cambridge Analytica appears ready to capture and buy whatever data it needs to accomplish its ends.

In 2013, Dr. Michal Kosinski, then a PhD. candidate at the University of Cambridge’s Psychometrics Center, released a groundbreaking study announcing a new model he and his colleagues had spent years developing. By correlating subjects’ Facebook Likes with their OCEAN scores

What they did with that rich data. Dark postings!

Dark posts were also used to depress voter turnout among key groups of democratic voters. “In this election, dark posts were used to try to suppress the African-American vote,” wrote journalist and Open Society fellow McKenzie Funk in a New York Times editorial. “According to Bloomberg, the Trump campaign sent ads reminding certain selected black voters of Hillary Clinton’s infamous ‘super predator’ line. It targeted Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood with messages about the Clinton Foundation’s troubles in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.’”

Because dark posts are only visible to the targeted users, there’s no way for anyone outside of Analytica or the Trump campaign to track the content of these ads. In this case, there was no SEC oversight, no public scrutiny of Trump’s attack ads. Just the rapid-eye-movement of millions of individual users scanning their Facebook feeds.

In the weeks leading up to a final vote, a campaign could launch a $10–100 million dark post campaign targeting just a few million voters in swing districts and no one would know. This may be where future ‘black-swan’ election upsets are born.

“These companies,” Moore says, “have found a way of transgressing 150 years of legislation that we’ve developed to make elections fair and open.”

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

When it was announced in June 2016 that Trump had hired Cambridge Analytica, the establishment in Washington just turned up their noses. Foreign dudes in tailor-made suits who don’t understand the country and its people? Seriously?

“It is my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process.” The logo of Cambridge Analytica— a brain composed of network nodes, like a map, appears behind Alexander Nix. “Only 18 months ago, Senator Cruz was one of the less popular candidates,” explains the blonde man in a cut-glass British accent, which puts Americans on edge the same way that a standard German accent can unsettle Swiss people. “Less than 40 percent of the population had heard of him,” another slide says. Cambridge Analytica had become involved in the US election campaign almost two years earlier, initially as a consultant for Republicans Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. Cruz—and later Trump—was funded primarily by the secretive US software billionaire Robert Mercer who, along with his daughter Rebekah, is reported to be the largest investor in Cambridge Analytica.

Revealed: how US billionaire helped to back Brexit

The US billionaire who helped bankroll Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency played a key role in the campaign for Britain to leave the EU, the Observer has learned.

It has emerged that Robert Mercer, a hedge-fund billionaire, who helped to finance the Trump campaign and who was revealed this weekend as one of the owners of the rightwing Breitbart News Network, is a long-time friend of Nigel Farage. He directed his data analytics firm to provide expert advice to the Leave campaign on how to target swing voters via Facebook – a donation of services that was not declared to the electoral commission.

Cambridge Analytica, an offshoot of a British company, SCL Group, which has 25 years’ experience in military disinformation campaigns and “election management”, claims to use cutting-edge technology to build intimate psychometric profiles of voters to find and target their emotional triggers. Trump’s team paid the firm more than $6m (£4.8m) to target swing voters, and it has now emerged that Mercer also introduced the firm – in which he has a major stake – to Farage.

Some more detail as we know from the other posts previously

Until now, however, it was not known that Mercer had explicitly tried to influence the outcome of the referendum. Drawing on Cambridge Analytica’s advice, Leave.eu built up a huge database of supporters creating detailed profiles of their lives through open-source data it harvested via Facebook. The campaign then sent thousands of different versions of advertisements to people depending on what it had learned of their personalities.

A leading expert on the impact of technology on elections called the relevation “extremely disturbing and quite sinister”. Martin Moore, of King’s College London, said that “undisclosed support-in-kind is extremely troubling. It undermines the whole basis of our electoral system, that we should have a level playing field”.

But details of how people were being targeted with this technology raised more serious questions, he said. “We have no idea what people were being shown or not, which makes it frankly sinister. Maybe it wasn’t, but we have no way of knowing. There is no possibility of public scrutiny. I find this extremely worrying and disturbing.”

There is so much to say about all this and frankly its easy to be angry. But like Perceptive Media, it started off out of the academic sector. Someone took the idea and twisted it for no good. Is that a reason why we shouldn’t proceed forward with such research? I don’t think so…

Everything’s going to be alright

Brexit
Frankly 2016 has been pretty shocking… Brexit, Trump, Internet censorship, Data retention, the increasing divide between the working class and middle class. I’m not saying its the worst year ever or the worst I have ever experienced, just its pretty bad.

I think this sums up so much

The Brexit campaign was centred on the idea of taking back control. That is what it said in huge letters on the red bus – a slogan that went far beyond the demand for control of our borders.

The point was that people all over Britain were desperate for a democratic system that gave them some semblance of control over their destiny, in a globalised and interconnected world where decisions often seem to be made by anonymous elites a long way away.

To them, the European Union was one obvious villain.

Ok enough… I decided a long time ago that I can’t worry about the things I can’t easily change, I can only change the things which I have direct control over. Actually trying to change everything drives you slightly nuts.

I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me

I happen to read laura’s blog while on the bus back from Bristol and it seemed to fit perfectly here, as I start to deconstruct this years love life.

Its been a busy year but honestly not nearly as much love as you would have thought. I made the effort to date less and have more purpose about my love life. This meant less time on OKcupid, PoF, Bumble and being more selective when speed dating. I tried going more organic with dating aka through friends of friends, its been ok. You do start to wonder sometimes… but I agree with Laura on bad dates…

The consistent comment is that I have such terrible luck, and always end up on these really ‘bad dates’, but I can’t help but disagree. There’s no such thing as bad dates, just the opportunity for a good story, a page in the autobiography, and the more terrible the date, the better the story. In my opinion, the worst possible kind of date are the ones that aren’t memorable, and usually they’re so because nothing of note, either good or bad happened.

Some would say this sounds odd, cold or calculated? But honestly it’s not, the point is each interaction changes you and your outlook. A new story a new experience, a new view. Some dates are memorable and some you forget about. It’s worst to be non-memorable and one worst to be memorable for the wrong reasons.

This is always a tricky time to be single and for some of my newly single friends it’s a lonely time. I can only say this is a good time to take stock, be honest with family/friends and share. Its not the time for judgement. Its time to listen and enjoy each others company.

Think about what makes you unique and focus on that rather all the things which you should be (no matter what people, media, etc say). Theres a lot of pressure to be this, that or another. One of my new years resolutions was to think humanity, being human we are not perfect but we can only be the best we are. We move through life in the best we feel (hopefully not harming ourselves or others). For me thats being as honest, genuine and open as I can be.

For me, I enjoy meeting new people (I’m very much an extrovert) and tend to make things an experience worth remembering. Focus on the present as thats what you can change now; don’t dwell on the past and think about the future.

Enjoy the holidays and each other…

Don’t play the trump card… America

https://twitter.com/cubicgarden/status/753660985542672384

As American’s goes to the polls to vote for the next president, I along with many others urge americans to make sure they don’t get complacent about Trump not getting into office. Just like #Brexit which we thought wasn’t really a possibility, we were wrong (although it hasn’t actually been triggered yet and the recent court case could bring some interesting challenges). It can happen!

Don’t be leave it to chance, make sure you did everything you can to stop this thug? from taking one of the highest offices in the world. The rest of the world will thank you plus you can sleep better at night; knowing you haven’t just given a green light to a crazed dictator which will inflict endless damage to the states and the world as a whole.