ARTHUR DAWN

 

Arthur Damn

Arthur Dawn

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THE ME TOO MENTALITY

August Issue 2020

The “Me-Too” movement had shaken up the entertainment industry to its core, and it had grown way bigger than what all the Public Relation departments could sweep under the rug.
I think it had mixed results, but it was something that had to happen; people in charge who could’ve had it resolved, gracefully have chosen to pass it down until it was forgotten, like they usually do, rather than fix their despicable behavior.
This month, I would like to address the recently surfaced news about the allegations and evidence of sexual harassment in the video game industry. In many ways, if it was not the movie industry, it would have been the video game industry.
The main difference is that the big wigs in the video game industry tend to be quite tech savvy, and as such, are able suppress the information much more than their movie counterparts. The news from the video games industry is important, not only because the video game industry is now larger than movies and music industries combined, but also because the video games industry has always been the vanguard of the latest money squeezing schemes that companies cook up.
For the past 20 years, the news of worker abuse through crunch and constant use of working people, to complete and exhaustion to simply replace them with the next naive exploitable college graduate, have become commonplace. However, finally the dam burst, and more and more people have been coming forward with even more insidious allegations. Most recently from the French originated video game giant, Ubisoft.
These have become so numerous and people have been coming forward with evidence. Recently, 3 top executives were forced to resign as a result. For those interested, I would suggest you view the most recent video report from a consumer advocate, Jim Sterling, a long time, established independent journalist in this field, , in a video titled: “Ubisoft spent years protecting mental and physical abusers.”
They are the same people who have been cutting themselves multimillion dollar bonus checks while firing 800 people in the same breath. Under normal circumstances, these people would simply go unpunished as they are simply too big to fail. Thanks to their vast resources they can win the legal battle of attrition in court thanks to our “justice” system.
As more and more of these stories surface, it becomes harder and harder for these people to avoid punishment; eventually the outrage becomes too great to suppress. Thus, where the court of law has failed, the court of public opinion begins to form.
As the public, we must also remain vigilant against, all false accusations and listen to evidence. As we have seen in the me-too movement, a lot of opportunists have come forward to accuse their rivals of a variety of reasons and this is equally unjust, despicable and would only lead to real accusations not be taken seriously.

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A Productivity Nightmare

July Issue 2020

Working from home is a dream come true, for some, but for others, a productivity nightmare. It is understandable considering we are creatures of habit and context. If we have subconsciously designated a space to work, we will feel uncomfortable to play, and, if we have designated a space to play, then we will have a hard time concentrating on the work.
One of my biggest criteria for any job I have ever done has been how close it is to home or can it be done from home. As a result, I have ended up doing quite a bit of work from home and have noticed the phenomenon being a huge factor in productivity. I would like to share my tips and tricks for maximizing productivity and show you that, just like I was in the 2 months I was working 100% from home, you can be more productive at home than at the office.
Clear your workspace: When you are working from home it is quite common to get distracted and sometimes, we need distractions to maximize our performance. However, those distractions must be on your own terms and not that of the distractions. What this means is, clear your workspace of any books, unrelated notes etc. This includes your computer desktop. Do not keep your Facebook or YouTube open on the same window as you do your work, which brings us to the 2nd tip.
Use an extra monitor: The best way to prevent distractions is for them not to be in your face. You should have an extra monitor only for work activities, preferably at an angle where you cannot see your entertainment monitor. The benefits of this may not seem major now but it is fascinating how much simple compartmentalization can do for you.
Write Reports: Have you ever wondered why reports have been instrumental in any workplace for thousands of years? They are great for letting others know what you did but they also keep you accountable. Accountability reduces the willpower load on you and helps you develop habits. More importantly you can always go to yesterday’s report to make sure you completed your routine tasks.
To Do Lists: Simplest and perhaps most effective productivity tool, make a list of the things you wish to accomplish during the day but here is the twist: ALWAYS KEEP IT IN YOUR FIELD OF VIEW. Even if you are not focusing on it, it should be in your line of sight. This way when your eyes inevitably start wandering off, you will encounter your notes and will remember what you need to get done now.
These are the time-tested major tips I have heard from the experts and applied to myself. I have achieved a quantifiable increase in productivity in all types of work that I have done and would thoroughly recommend to everyone. Remember, willpower is a limited resource, so use it well.

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CABIN FEVER

June Issue 2020

Here is a story from my college days I like to tell my friends. I feel it is relevant for a lot of people these days considering quarantine issues and a record amount of people never leaving their homes due to the Coronavirus.
You might have heard the term “cabin fever” and if you have seen the Stanley Kubrick Movie “Shining”, you will know what I mean. Cabin fever is a mental affliction that develops due to long term isolation. It can first start as irritability and often escalates into various other forms and symptoms. So, let me tell you a summary of my first real encounter with this affliction.
It was our sophomore year of college and we came from Turkey to study in the United States. There were four of us, three (3) in Computer Science, and one (1) in Psychology. The first few weeks we explored the area and familiarized ourselves as best as we could. The classes were different, the culture was hard, the expectations and stress levels were high.
At the end of our first semester, our friend in Psychology announced he was dropping out because he could not take it anymore. We all understood, from my friends looks, I could tell they all considered it. We would regularly keep in touch, but we were not close. Our friend John started showing up less and less to the classes and had no friends to speak of.
We did not suspect anything for weeks, but he became more and more obsessed with something that happened in his past and he started getting paranoid like Jack Nicholson’s character in the film. Eventually it led him to being hospitalized after trying to assault another student he thought was conspiring against him, while in truth he was trying to help him. Naturally, he dropped out of the program the following semester.
This article would be exceedingly long if I were to include the details. Therefore, it does not have the emotional impact I would like to convey; but it is more relevant than ever. If you, or someone you know, are in isolation, recognize the symptoms and recommend professional help. It can make a huge difference for you or someone else.
Quite frankly, in most circumstances, all the people starting to get cabin fever need is a friend and human interaction, something they do not even realize they need.
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FASCINATING CONCEPT OF
“SAVING FACE”

May Issue 2020

Initially, I was going to write about the quarantine protests, but there is an interesting cultural phenomenon which is very alien to us, but also very counter-productive by any measure, known as “saving face.”
For one reason or another, Eastern cultures are quite obsessed about “saving face.” This concept does not even fully translate to English, for it is counter intuitive and alien to us. It is the exact reason why no one really questioned the Covid-19 cover-up in China. We just chalked it off as protecting their investment, but we all know had they acted sooner they would have garnered much more sympathy from the world community. This is not a uniquely Chinese problem either. In Turkey, I encountered “Saving Face”, and it has been a topic of quite a few comedy skits and sit-coms. I also heard of this in the past from other cultures as well.
How does this “saving face” work? It is surprisingly simple in thought, but quite difficult in practice, the reason why it makes such great comedy material. It is basically a country or person trying to hide their defects or mistakes through any absurd tactics necessary. Should anyone want to speak about those things to solve it, they will only speak about it in secret among their “in groups.” If you have ever gone to any website where the topic of an Eastern country comes up, almost any time, and without fail, some people will defend that country with whataboutism, and will chastise the people who brought it up, not realizing that the discussion of that topic is part of the solution, and it is much more dignified to own up to it and work to address and solve it. That is always the case in the end.
We have stories where such owning up to it was rewarded and is seen as a strength of character. On the other hand, those who do not realize or possess this awareness, will instead humiliate the person with the fault. It all depends on the how the owning up is done, and to what end.
In the West, we consider it to be a strong and right thing to admit to one’s mistakes and to fix them, but in the East, it is considered weak, and instead, not making mistakes is highly praised.
They always fail to realize that the only way to not make mistakes is to take extreme precautions when trying something new or taking risks.
In this Coronavirus crisis we have seen what happens when countries try to save face. This should be a lesson to everyone. Honesty is the best policy

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F E A R

April Issue 2020

“There is so much blood pumping through your brain, it is like rocket fuel. Right now, you can run faster, and you can fight harder and jump higher than ever in your life! You are so alert that it’s like you can slow down time! What is wrong with scared? It is a superpower! It is your superpower” –  Doctor Who S8E4
Fear is a superpower, but with great power, comes great responsibility. Without wisdom, strength is less than useless, and it can become very destructive, and it has…
These past few weeks, due to the reality of the Coronavirus, that is exactly what we have seen. People with purchasing power, going to the extreme, buying all the toilet paper (for some reason), even some going as far as price gouging. Fear, however, has an important place in the human psyche. It’s as the Doctor said (above), it is one of the great superpowers that humans have — but we merely need to learn to use it.
As anyone has witnessed, someone under the effects of an emotion will react in an unpredictable or specific pattern. The individual who is afraid is more likely to run or fight, however, the person who is angry is more likely or certain to fight. Their rational judgement is suspended during this fear process. The actions taken during these states are much more effective due to altered state of mind and the hormones going through the individual; they are pre-programmed.
The state of fear can last up to when the source of fear is gone, and the individual may not even be panicking, but just anxious enough that they do not ask the simple questions.
This is exactly how people lose money on the stock market. Stocks are falling, so they run and try to “cut their losses.” That is, of course, a topic for another time; this is just to give you an example of how this creeping “fear” can damage a person while they may not be fully panicking.
Fear has a time and a place. It is a superpower that unless controlled, will lead the person to jump off the cliff.

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WHAT MATTERS MIGHT NOT MATTER

March Issue 2020

In the past two decades something very peculiar happened. As we have gained access to people, at just about any time we desire, via internet or phone, we have had the pace of our lives quicken very subtly. Now when something happens, we do not wait for the next day to inform people. We tell them immediately. When an emergency or something relatively major occurs, we notify others. I think this reality has intervened with the psychological rhythm of how process and handle problems, and quite a few people have been taking advantage of that.
Please allow me to elaborate.  President tweets X statement, that statement hits news immediately with all the other great tragedies occurring around the world. The news naturally is not reporting advancements or good things — after all those do not sell. That makes sense! Why panic about something that is good? Then, the said news reports it as the world is coming to an end; they need the ratings! The viewers, you and I, instantly think it is a huge issue, while in truth, it has no bearing onto anything. This is clear to anyone who can think, but unfortunately, that is not the case.
This instant and perpetual state of panic makes for people who are compelled into watching and hearing more; how can they protect themselves from a threat they do not know? Thus, they watch it, but at the end of the day, the news never mentions what this small thing means in the big picture, or in the daily lives of the people. Think of the whole debacle that was created by Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats new it would never pass without a miracle, it ended up being nothing but a drama, and very little was accomplished, if anything. Then again, one can say the same thing about our politicians or elected officials, however there is a lesson here.
Do we ask the question, what does this ultimately mean? That is the question we must always ask. Not to shirk responsibility but quite the opposite. What is the point in panicking, or even wasting time on something that ultimately does not matter? This can certainly be applied to any aspect of a person’s life. It is of course good to be on the know, but it is important not to be emotionally invested in any of this news. In that way we will be able to look at things calmly and rationally.
Simply ask the questions, does this has any bearing on me? Can I somehow influence it? If not to both of those questions, then why worry to begin with? Save that energy to things that truly matters.
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MILLENNIAL COMMUNICATION & CASUAL CHATS

February Issue 2020

Do you remember the first scene in the Godfather, where Don Corleone was talking with his old “friend” who has a request to make at his daughter’s wedding? Upon the request, Don responds, and I am paraphrasing: “What have I done to earn such disrespect? You never invited me for coffee, asked how I was, and now you ask for a favor on my daughter’s wedding?” This scene has never made sense to me. It is a very powerful scene, and I get it; but how does mafia Don Corleone have the time for such trivial things? I always have put this to my social awkwardness, but as I have discussed this with other people, I have found that at least in my generation, this thought is surprisingly quite common. As such, I would like to explain my hypothesis as to why.
I think this mostly comes from the upbringing of a sizable portion of the millennial generation. Millennials have been brought up with the availability of the most advanced entertainment and stimulation technology that has been thought impossible just a few decades ago. This is important because when your main source of stimulation is that of a challenge in the right environment, a tea party with your friends seems even worse in comparison, except to break the monotony and do something different.
This R&R (Rest and Recuperation) activity becomes much more important when one accounts for the increased work hours, and drastically reduced work-life balance most millennials now have grown accustomed to. Thanks to the cell phones and the economic system that has been squeezing every penny out of both its workers and customers without providing more value. It has become common place to work as a contractor with no regular hours, no benefits, no regular hourly pay, etc. The gig economy, becoming normalized, has the effects of people becoming less human, who would have thought? It becomes a very reasonable question how can anyone prioritize regular social meetings and casual encounters with friends? It becomes a much greater investment than it used to be, naturally. This is, of course, not an excuse but goes to show that the cost of something we take for granted, has changed, as the balance of life has changed.
Naturally, this is not all millennials, but a section of those who do share this view on social gatherings, which I am sure many think is unhealthy. This is one of the few reasons why, perhaps, a sizable group of the new generation does not view social events in the same way. After all, with all the social media around us, staying in touch is easy, but quality relationships are harder than ever.

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THE JUNGIAN PSYCHOLOGY

January Issue 2020

I had the chance and the energy to catch up on some reading, and a section in Dr. Murray Stein’s book, where he is surveying the Jungian Psychology, caught my attention. In one of the earlier chapters about energy, and how the mind uses it to adapt to its environment, gave me an idea for an experiment to boost one’s own control over themselves and be influenced less by their mental constraints by feeding their inner world less energy.
The book talks about how when a person is in the process of adapting to his or her environment, they use their mental energy (or as the book calls it, ‘psychic energy’ but that can be confused with less scientific terms)  from a pool of energy, and while generally that energy is used to adapt to one’s own environment, when that adaptation is complete, the energy does not just go away but begins to sip into their inner world.  This is described as a form of introspection etc., but one thing that we also observe, is that after the recovery from the last challenge, a person goes into a stagnant state and begins to regress. This makes perfect sense if you consider that now this person is adapting to their new environment of less challenge. Hence the Roman saying, “comfort breeds complacency and weakness.”
I also have a hypothesis, in addition to this adage in the light of, when you are not expending energy to push yourself that energy that goes inwards will feed persons complexes, make new ones and will feed mental problems. The way I like to imagine it is, if the mind is a factory,  sending too much energy or resources that is not designed to receive so much will lead to leakage or breakage which will cause it to drain even more resources until it is fixed.
 Now that the holiday season is over, it is the best time to remind ourselves — that if we are not moving forward, we are moving backwards. Not pushing ourselves to achieve our goals, no matter how trivial, will keep us healthy, and should, hopefully, prevent the problems inside ourselves.  During this time, we need to pick our battles and priorities, but just keeping ourselves fighting, can be a victory in/on itself.
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INDIVIDUALISM

 -Part 3-

(December 2019 Issue

Last month I talked about individualism, in as many aspects as I could without writing a 500-page book reiterating myself. It is not that this is not a very important topic, it is just that I am big believer in concise writing.
This month I would like to talk about the importance of hobbies for an individual, something I have noticed which is very American, something I have not seen in the rest of the world, at least not to a large extend. Hobbies are a wonderful thing, not only do they help us relax and recharge, but how people choose their hobbies might be a major indicator of individualism.
The way hobbies were perceived in Turkey was different There were no hobby stores or local game shops. No places dedicated to skateboarding or riding a bike. All the people who were interested in these things would have to in private. The biggest reason I think is that the culture in Turkey was so rigid, anything outside of going out to drink and watching TV or maybe playing football, was usually seen as something far out and pretentious. In the west, if you are not hurting anyone, you can have any hobby you like and consensus to the strange ones is… “Whatever makes you happy.” This freedom is important for an individual’s growth; after all, by having your options limited on an irrational basis is objectively sub-optimal. This freedom allows for people to form their own sub communities, and not only make friends outside of their already existing group, but also lets them grow in the direction they wish to grow – if they wish.
One example that comes to mind is how Henry Kissinger and John F. Kennedy’s favorite game was a very niche game called “diplomacy”, which has a sizable following – even to this day.
In conclusion, we should realize how in this culture, day and age, we are much freer to pursue hobbies that support our self-growth and self-development with little resistance. We have the freedom to select and participate in these hobbies with these privileges in mind. We pursue them with full confidence, as individuals, to grow and not succumb to peer pressure. That is one of the important cornerstones and uniqueness of what makes someone a member of the Western Culture.

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IDENTITY OF SELF – Part 2

November 2019 Issue

Last month we talked about how important it is to diversify both your community and a general idea how to reduce friction in a diverse group on an individual level. Our cultures’ obsession with labels comes with some quite dangerous drawbacks, as we are seeing today in politics. In time, not only has it made individual’s opinions easily written off as they were part of “x group”, the individuals becoming less of individuals but pawns of their ideology/group (hence making the group 1’s view pretty valid), but has diminished the greatest advantage having a diverse community which is diversity of thought and perspective. The fact that we are no longer coming up with effective and efficient solutions today is certainly an indicator that not only our basic competence as society has gone down, but also our individualism has been diminished.
We can talk about the macro solutions all day and accomplish nothing, but I would instead suggest a radical personal action that has got me some weird looks, but has been a positive trade off. Simply reject labels. You are an individual – first and foremost. Why? Because it makes you no longer you, a safer, a part of an overarching identity but less of you, less independent, more of a prisoner of your own mind; Less stressed about being wrong and less vulnerable but less effective and more scared to stand for what is right and thus, making you less inclined to learn to what is right.
How? When you get labeling statements such as “but you are X, X loves Y!”, respond to them and to yourself ” They may love Y, but I am not myself and not just X.” This often happens to me in following format, Friend says, “But you are Russian, how come you don’t drink?” I say something along the lines, “Well, drinking is not a good thing to begin with, why should I hurt myself for it?” From what I have seen, the expected response is to jokingly say “I am not a very good X”, but that simply reinforces the surrender of individuality even if it is a joke. Instead, take it up a notch and double down on the comedy by adding, for example, in the case of drinking and Russian, “Well then comrade, maybe they are not very good Russians, because in Soviet Russia, Vodka drinks you!” In this way, I think not only do you make fun of the stereotype, but also get to redefine what that label is afterwards.
At the end of the day, I think what separates an individual from a herd is what they answer to the question of why? Why do they think this way? Why do they believe this thing? Why do they think that? The answers given is what determines who that person is after all. A good person will do that thing because it benefits most people, a lawful person will do it because that is the way it must be done according to the rules. Efficient person does things, or says something because it is the easiest way to achieve their goal.
These may seem like basic things but as Lao Tzu says,
“Simplicity, patience and compassion are the greatest treasures.”

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IDENTITY OF SELF

October 2019 Issue

I am certain that I’ve written about this before, however it is something that is part of our culture that people with certain motives tend to exploit.
I will argue why the fact that our culture makes a big deal out of a person’s ancestry, is not only detrimental to the individual on a daily basis, but also is very dangerous on a macro scale, due to how exploitable it is by our politicians.
First let us frame the problem at hand. The first question we will address in the larger whole, America is a ‘salad bowl’, that at least on paper, celebrates our differences and encourages us to use them to achieve a common goal.
Too much difference results in abrasion, and is detrimental to productivity and to the quality of life. Too little difference results in “group thinking” and ineffective problem-solving due to members’ inability to use different skills to contribute to a solution.
For example, if you have an engineering problem but all your team members are engineers, great, but when you encounter a sales problem, your team will falter. Or when you have a too diverse team, not only will you have problems managing the personalities, but also you will not have enough members to solve the problem that requires more people in a certain department.
This is exactly why teams and companies tend to lean towards the abundance of a few departments based on the challenges they face regularly as well as avoid the specific challenges their groups cannot overcome. This is not due to lack of skill or will, but it is just not what their team is built around. This, with few exceptions, applies to any group.
The solution to that problem, as it always has been, introducing a bit of agreeableness and individualism into who you are. Sure, that identity, and in this case, national/racial identity can be a part of an individual, but when it becomes a person’s main identifier, all they become is a ‘stereotype.’
When a person becomes anything but themselves, or accept a label, another person can attack that label and discredit the individual.
When we talk about labels that others like to attach without a person’s conscious choice, such as race/gender/sexuality, the person who has the label attached to them can easily be smeared in public eye at least, or be  the target of attacks at worst.
Generally, we avoid this by offering the person doing this kind of action, a reality check by pointing out they are an individual first; however, when one is having a one-sided conversation, such as in a rally, that is not possible, and the speaker’s words become the only thing left.
Next Month I will propose a potentially radical however simple and applicable solution on individual level so stay tuned.

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INSIDER’S VIEW:

CHAN CULTURE/GAMERS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO MASS HYSTERIA

September Issue

It is human nature to seek culpability in times of tragedy, however, as the Turkish proverb says, “He who gets up in anger, sits back with loss.”
In recent news, I was quite surprised to see the topic that had been discussed during the 1990’s and which was basically concluded in 2008 but being fetched back up again in 2019. Namely, do video games cause violent behavior? Now, however, there is a specific internet subculture thrown into the mix. While the topic of video games causing violence being debunked many times, something new has been introduced into the mix.
In the past few years, a specific website/s, has been thrown around: 4chan or 8chan. You might have heard of these websites as “being associated to the mass shooters in recent and past incidents.” We will discuss to see if they are indeed the ones to blame, or is it just another attempt, especially by media and politicians, to shift the blame to protect or line up their pockets.  For those not familiar with 4chan, it is website which emerged during the early 2000’s, and characterized by its loose moderation “a site where anyone can speak anonymously.” In time, more control was instituted when there were literal crimes being committed in some of their boards. However, the idea that anyone can say whatever they want and start discussing in their threads and share images, turned into a cesspool — the meme treasure trove of the internet.
4chan had always been the counterculture; when being right wing was hip, they were extreme left, and when being left became hip, they became extreme right, and to the level where to some people, Hitler is revered, holocaust is denied, and quasi facts and very strong propaganda is spread; it is perhaps the largest social experiment of our time in anarchy.
As for 8chan, it was created as a response to what they have seen as a tyrannical censorship, and consequently a lot of 4chan users migrated to 8chan. 8chan’s selling point was that every board would be moderated by their own group of people not affiliated with any organization, unless the people who registered the board elected to. This of course ended up being completely ‘wild west’ of actual discourse, and on multiple occasions, some of the boards had to be shut down due to criminal activity.  Having said that, it is also a place where I have seen the funniest internet cultural artifacts being born, the said criminals being brought to justice, not by an external authority, but by 8chan members themselves, not to mention the freest, and at times, quite influential movements in the making.
In conclusion, these places should be allowed to exist in moderation, if not, they will continue to exist in underground systems, and we would not be able to monitor them. If we are to control and eliminate these deplorable ideologies, we must do so in the form of debate first and foremost not censorship, not violence.
After all, ideas are supposed to be bulletproof, but nothing is factproof.
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INDOCTRINATION (Part II)

August 2019 Issue

Last month we talked about “what is Indoctrination” and how to detect it as well as some basic methods of de-indoctrinating ourselves. I think it is worth expanding on that topic. I should also mention; a lot of this information comes from Yuri Bezmenov’s (*) lectures whose conclusions I do not always agree for the human mind is a lot more complex, and his conclusions apply on extreme cases which are sadly a sizable group. The methods that I will suggest are to help those who have been basing their world views on the ideas created through very intelligent, seemingly benevolent, however, fundamentally malicious purposes.
Mind you, while Bezmenov’s lectures in the 80’s were about the communist ideology, the very same methods are being used for the both extremes today. The methods are being used while are more refined, the way of disarming them remains the same because at it is disinformation and reformation of human mind. However, what has been twisted and broken can be fixed, the human mind is quite resilient like that. If there is a will, there is a way.
Firstly, something that can benefit anyone, how to protect ourselves against indoctrination. A quick recap of this topic in a way. The best defense is remaining rational. Never invest emotionally into an idea, no matter how right it seems. If you see evidence against what you thought was true, take that evidence and gather more until you can say, “Yes this fact was incorrect” otherwise just 1 or 2 cases should make you say, yes there are exceptions to the rule. Find out why those exceptions occur; is it due to a fundamental flaw in your view, or is it something rare and bizarre? Even in programming, we often have to resort to exception handlers as such be ready to accept that, that is what it means to be of open-mind and foot firm on the ground. Reality is complex and fundamentally incomprehensible to current the human mind, there will be flaws and some we must accept.
Secondly, ask yourself, Qui Bono? – or for whose benefit? If there is a pattern, be suspicious. Always be skeptical of everything, however trust axioms and fundamental evidence. The combination of healthy skepticism and methods of finding more for yourself should safeguard you against most methods. For more insidious methods and short hands against misinformation is knowing these tactics that will make you go “that’s a trap”
Now that we have talked about sound barriers for our own minds, let’s talk about those whose lives have been impacted, usually negatively, by propaganda and how can we help them. There is very little we can do but always encourage them to look at the facts. A lot of such people are sadly too far gone and just must wake up themselves. In family counseling, the most important lesson I’ve learned was, never try to help those who do not want to be helped. If you try, they will just repel and reject you, best case scenario, you wasted your time. For those who are still open minded, remind them that the world is shades of gray and is not black and white.
The things we think are absolute good or evil – are never so.
(*) Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov, journalist, known by the alias Tomas David Schuman, was a Soviet journalist for RIA Novosti and a former PGU KGB informant who defected to Canada.

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INDOCTRINATION

July 2019

As a follow up on our political concepts, this week I would like to talk about a word we rarely think about but should always be aware of:
Indoctrination…
What is indoctrination? Indoctrination as a noun is the process of conditioning someone or a group of people to think or behave in a certain way that they will not question. Unlike education which promotes critical-thinking, indoctrination actively discourages it and does so, often in very subtle ways.
The reason I picked this topic is as our country’s political stances get more and more divided with no end in sight. It is important to realize why some people might be so entrenched in their views that no evidence or argument seems to change or even question their stance. This of course makes any meaningful debate very difficult.
This is caused by various methods, deliberate or not, that made those views corner stones of who they are. Should those views be challenged, they take it a personal attack. You might have seen examples of this in the past, very nice or even very smart people turning most unreasonable when their ideology is questioned. This is a very dangerous and anti-intellectual phenomenon that must be cured. However, the only thing you can do is point it out to the person, as politely as possible, so that they can build themselves on solid ground, hopefully.
As Yuri Bezmenov, former KGB agent, told in his lectures, the goal of malicious sedition is to create these ideologues that he termed “Useful idiots.” These are people who have been so indoctrinated in communist ideology that they will not question it, accepting it even in the face of damning evidence or as he likes to call it, “until the new government puts them down to establish stability.” I would strongly suggest looking up his lectures on YouTube, it really gives you an idea on why all the turmoil in our college campuses today, as well as the rise of communist thought in the college or university campuses today.
However, not all indoctrination is deliberate. We sometimes, without realizing it, indoctrinate ourselves into certain beliefs and start defending the indefensible, and with no awareness. The first step is to realize this and shake out of it. The second step is to learn and develop new foundations for your worldview.
Never be afraid of questioning the most fundamental “truths” that we see, no matter how popular or unpopular they are. Of course, media has realized it is easier to indoctrinate groups over individuals. Just remember the words of Plato in this regard:
“It is a sign of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

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“The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them “ — Thomas Jefferson

STAYING CLOSED TO THE TRUTH

 June 2019 Issue

The current news trends in general are marked by societal division and draw into extremism on all sides, similar to what we have now.
The question is, how do we keep sane and close to the truth as possible in these times?
Today I will reveal the exact way that I have done it by combining the advice of people who have been through these before and applying it to the new age.
The advice is common and most effective at most times. Take your news from both sides, take out the differences and things in common and filtered by common sense is most likely to be true. Look at the extremes and the sources in the middle. They will all have bias and agenda however since those agendas clash, what is not in common, tends to be false.
The other advice is look to the newcomers in the media, these tend to be idealistic journalists, the dying bastions of journalistic integrity before they are squashed or acquired by larger outfits. Today we have a way to combine these two in a way that is easier than ever!
That is Youtube, you can always watch individual journalists and content creators on both sides of the spectrum however Youtube being an open platform you might still want to stay away from the very extremes and keep to those who try to uphold some journalistic integrity and reliance on facts even though those facts are usually cherry picked and distorted, with some experience of watching both sides you will be able notice the distortion in no time.
With that being said, the ones for left side i have seen being somewhat entertaining and informative were Contrapoints and Hbomberguy. These essayists tend to research their topic reasonably well and try to back up their point of view with facts. I should however warn you that this being YouTube, you will see more shocking content, mostly from Contrapoints because part of her platform is costumes and acting.
On the right side, we have Black Pigeon Speaks, and Sargon Of Akkad. while I may not always agree with their message, you can see they have done their research and are engaging in what mainstream media should have been doing, evidence, and then maybe, their point of view.
Lastly, I would like to mention Caspian Report for relatively Apolitical geopolitical analysis, as a way to balance the aforementioned relatively extreme content creators.
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COMPUTERS AND GENERATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES Part 2

May 2019 Issue

In my previous article, I talked about how technology, which is most mainstream at the time, is what makes kids of that generation the most competent at it, in general. We also briefly discussed some outliers and the important point which is: Just because you did not grow up with that technology, it does not mean you cannot be competent, or even one of the best people with that technology.
There is a sense of dread with how fast the technology has been advancing in the past 30 years. However, as it advanced in the tech industry, the question of ‘user friendliness and ease of learning’, became a major question which are even studied under the computer science subject, human-computer interaction. That is because, even for those at the cutting edge of the tech industry, struggle to keep up while end-users are completely left in the dust otherwise.
It was easy to discover that just because something is powerful, does not mean it has to be esoteric. In fact, those that are esoteric, are always taken over things that are much easier to use. We can thank the free markets for that. Fortunately, the popular technology is often passes this litmus test, and the main obstacle that the older generation faces, is often nothing more than a mental barrier against the new technology.
I have been fortunate enough to be on all sides of this situation. In the past, and when it comes to any technology, as soon as you figure out the logic behind the basics, there is really nothing stopping you from grasping it in full.
The kids of that age were not anything special. With your own life experiences, if you do not erect a mental barrier around the problem, it is much easier not to only grasp it, but to go even further and expand one’s own horizons through grasping that new piece of technology. Examples of this are out there, so go out and fear not the unknown, for there is no shame in learning, but there is shame in willful ignorance.

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“THE MAN WHO NEVER LOOKS AT A NEWSPAPER IS BETTER INFORMED THAN HE WHO READS THEM” — Thomas Jefferson 

April 2019 Issue

The current news trends in general are marked by societal division and draw into extremism on all sides, similar to what we have now.
The question is, how do we keep sane and close to the truth as possible in these times? Today I will reveal the exact way that I have done it by combining the advice of people who have been through these before and applying it to the new age.
The advice is common and most effective at most times. Take your news from both sides, take out the differences and things in common and filtered by common sense is most likely to be true. Look at the extremes and the sources in the middle. They will all have bias and agenda however since those agendas clash, what is not in common, tends to be false.
The other advice is look to the newcomers in the media, these tend to be idealistic journalists, the dying bastions of journalistic integrity before they are squashed or acquired by larger outfits. Today we have a way to combine these two in a way that is easier than ever!
That is YouTube, you can always watch individual journalists and content creators on both sides of the spectrum however YouTube being an open platform you might still want to stay away from the very extremes and keep to those who try to uphold some journalistic integrity and reliance on facts even though those facts are usually cherry picked and distorted, with some experience of watching both sides you will be able notice the distortion in no time.
With that being said, the ones for left side i have seen being somewhat entertaining and informative were Contra-points and Hbomberguy. These essayists tend to research their topic reasonably well and try to back up their point of view with facts. I should however warn you that this being YouTube, you will see more shocking content, mostly from Contra-points because part of her platform is costumes and acting.
On the right side, we have Black Pigeon Speaks and Sargon Of Akkad while i may not always agree with their message, you can see they have done their research and are engaging in what mainstream media should have been doing, evidence and then maybe their point of view.
Lastly, I would like to mention Caspian Report for relatively Apolitical geopolitical analysis, as a way to balance the aforementioned relatively extreme content creators.

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COMPUTERS AND GENERATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES

March 2019 Issue

In past few generations, we have had a curious phenomenon that many talked about individually but not as a whole and that is how a generation grows up with a certain technology  that defined their childhood-early adulthood and becomes very proficient at it and not the one next and last then proceeds to praise or complain about the next generation being so good/bound by it.
This is something that came to my attention when I would help the previous generation struggle with computers while myself having very little idea on how to fix cars and this tends to be the general trend for most millennial. Especially the ones who have not grown up in the States where the entire culture of people could be defined by cars they drove and got familiar with.
Similarly, to how the Boomers to Gen X generations grew up with cars, the millennial grew up with computers and since they were so exposed to them in their youth, they picked it up as their view into the technical world. This is absolutely no excuse not to understand either technologies enough to use it. For a while I believed the first half of the paragraph more than I should I have, as in this was the reason other generations did not understand those technologies but that was until I met one of the best system administrators i have ever seen.
A 65-year-old Linux wizard from Fredonia who taught us Linux commands and system administrating. He was originally an electrical engineer which is quite distant from computer science and got into computers when he was 45. Conversely my cousin who makes a living administering a popular game server gotten into cars as well as many millennial including myself after getting my first one. Turns out as soon as you drop the bias that “It is Generation (insert generation here) thing” it becomes much clearer that the technology we are talking about is simple because the principles of the systems stay the same, the best systems are the simplest ones. Sure, when you get into the nitty-gritty and combine them, they become complicated but after understanding the underlying principles they simple become just complicated instead of impossible.
Hence, I would like to invite everyone when you encounter a piece of technology you do not understand, do not be ashamed, for there is no shame in learning but there is shame in willful ignorance as says the Russian proverb.

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DIPLOMATIC HEAT, AND HOW TO MANAGE IT

February 2019 Issue

There is a hidden concept or a mechanic, if you will, when it comes to dealing with large groups of people.
Every action you take costs a degree of social currency, some more than others. However, the way that currency works, seems that it functions less as a currency as we know it but more as a steam pressure or heat build-up. You might have seen the effects of these in your work or in the news. When a person is seen doing anything too many times or just taking too many actions, they will draw the ire of the people regardless if it is good or bad.
Bill Gates and Elon Musk in the past fell into the same trap, that if we just do good things people will like us. That is simply not the case. People and the news will find a way to interpret what a person is doing in the most negative way. It is just a way of our social nature to balance itself, after all, if it was a linear transaction, we would have the same people stuck in the same positions, and it would all be very simple, however, as we all know, human interactions on a large scale is anything but simple.
This happens on smaller scale as well. Think about kids in the family, whether the news is good or bad, if there is a constant stream of events, it tends to be bothersome, so unless those are consistently objectively good, it begins to bother people. On a large scale, there are always people ready to interpret what you are doing in the worst way possible. Elon Musk tries to take us to the stars, dozens of news pundits slam him for not feeding the poor. Bill Gates tries to feed the poor and prevent epidemics, but dozens of news pundits slam him for not tackling bigger projects for  humanity.
So, what is the solution when you yourself have garnered too much heat? Personally, I never had that in real life but from my mentors who did, one way or the other, the solution has always been the same. Subtlety.
Go dark for a bit, lay low, let the dust settle. Keep doing your work but keep it subtle and never talk about it. One way that the young business people garner heat, even if they are careful, is through some “joking remarks.”
In today’s world with the “me too” movement, this has been made even more clear which I find most educational for humanity.
Yes, it is fun to joke around in a serious situation. Yes, people should not be offended because you said something that can be made sexual out of context. However, those things garner heat.
In conclusion, I would like to – very strongly – reiterate and take to the logical extreme the immortal words of Plato:
 “A wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something.”

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PROPAGANDA

September 2018 Issue

This one is, I think, would be the conclusion for now on the article of propaganda. I will unfortunately have to come back to it as our media keeps outdoing its own shenanigans every other month but until then I think this should conclude this series. I had some thoughts that I had concluded today, so wanted to put them in writing
Can Propaganda Be Good? If you have seen my previous articles, you know how much i like to reiterate that it is not the tool that is good or evil but the person or intent using it. So, lets for this one, i would like to share a thought i have been debating for quite some time. Can a tool as maliciously used as propaganda which i would argue has been more devastating than any weapon in human history, be used for good? So first thing is, can we think of a case where propaganda be a tool for the benefit of mankind, after all, if something has had such a destructive effect like allowing the rise of the third Reich and the razing of cartage, its constructive effects may also be great. I think i finally came up with a case where it can be.
The case where the propaganda, the methods used to make person believe or think in a way without questioning it can be a good thing would be if we had crucial information for a person to have that was simply beyond their understanding but it is crucial that they perform the actions towards that belief. Which I think was exactly the idea beyond all the religious dogma, it is hard to understand the reasoning behind it and it would be too long or difficult to teach a large group of people as to why this action is good or bad. This, I think, is the only condition for propaganda to be considered good. I will have to add caveat here that. In this case, the people who created it must leave tools and explanations as to why they have thought people to do the actions they taught. This is because as the time goes on, some will begin to wake up and realize this dogma has no rational basis, they will think this of course unless the originators of the dogma did not give their reasoning somewhere, in texts or in a way it can be passed on.
In a way, last paragraph also explains why there are still sizable group of religious people among scientists and even some of the greatest minds in fact. Were they too occupied to see the propaganda or did they see the benefit of society going along with this propaganda? I do not know but that is a topic for another day perhaps.
Any other case I can think of is simply too easy to distort and thanks to human nature and group think, it is also even more dangerous. I think that is why propaganda is so dangerous in the end. Just like cancer, it spreads not because it is strong on its own, but it is strong because it uses the existing mechanisms in the body to propagate itself. Just like that not only does propaganda spread but is also reinforced thanks to the social nature of human race.

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