New Tricks for Old Dogs

(Also available as a podcast )

You’ve been around the block a few times – you know what’s what. You have your own unique way of dealing with life, and have all sorts of tricks up your sleeve for when things don’t go the way you want, to make the cards you’re dealt a bit fairer. Whether it’s about making the best of your skills and qualities as a person, to get along in the world, and feel like you’re top dog, or just doing your best to make the best of the hand you’re dealt, you may well feel it’s all about how you play.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with challenges that come along, and life has a way of throwing hoops out in front of us, and saying “Jump!” We don’t always have a trick for every situation, and we can get stopped in our tracks, when we don’t know how to respond to a situation effectively. This can make for a lot of stress, since life is about learning new things, or learning the same things as everyone else, to fit in socially. There’s often the fear, a realistic one in many cases, that we will get left behind, and the hand holding the hoop, and demanding we jump, will whip us if we don’t learn quickly.

These are the pressures of the modern world, you might think, but there’s always been some pressure to conform, and learn the tricks required to fit in, or keep up, or whatever else is needed as a skill, in any society. Society isn’t as concerned about the individual’s happiness, as it is about the smooth functioning of its own organisational structures, in which you are just the dog that must jump through hoops, with no fancy treats if you don’t. There’s not a structure there to accommodate those who can’t, or won’t go along with the ring master, since it’s the antithesis of what a society is about, to live in a way that says you don’t need to learn its tricks to be able to live well.

Societies have to be about compromise, to an extent, since they generalise about individual behaviour, and advance the mean for the average, in terms of how you’re supposed to behave. The degree of personal freedom allowed depends on what kind of society you live in, of course, and the more repressive the society, the more they tend to talk about responsibility to others, and place value on that, rather than on individual rights and freedoms. Your rights don’t matter as much, if others’ as a group do, and if you don’t like how you’re told to behave, well, you can lump it.

If we think about it a little, we can see how much consensus is important, as a concept, in a society, to make that society function in such a way that the animals in it will learn to jump on command, or be shamed, or berated, or punished in some way, if they don’t. So control is a very big issue indeed, and a certain degree of uniformity encouraged in a society, with responsibility the flip side of being allowed any freedoms in it. Your master feeds you treats, and provides fresh straw for your cage, if you jump. If not, well, it’s your own fault what happens then, and you’re just a bad dog for biting the hand that feeds you, if you’re not always behaving in a grateful and obedient manner.

It’s harsh, but it could be argued it’s fair. It’s not argued as often that it’s also rather mad. This is because it’s a madness all humans have, to want to control things, and keep them stable, so it’s all considered perfectly normal, to want to tell others how to live, and expect them all to want the same things you do from life. It’s easier, if you don’t have to learn any new tricks, even if it’s not in nature’s nature to stay still. It’s built into every human mind, apparently, this kind of controlling behaviour. Or is it? Is it real, this need for stability and social structures that have some endurance, or is it a construct built on fear of losing ourselves, and our place in the structure, if we don’t jump when told, and just a lazy shortcut in thinking, so we don’t have to examine other people’s different notions about how things are, and feel more like we know what’s expected of us, so we don’t have the fear of the dark jungle, potential tigers, and feeling lost?

All animals have social structures of some kind. It’s a biological necessity for animals to work together to breed and get food, shelter, safety etc., but only humans seem to be able to turn the whole biological endeavour into a moral drama, since they have the trick of language, and with that comes all sorts of moral concepts, based on ideas about the nature of reality, rather than the reality itself. This is where it turns into a circus, because everyone has ideas about how everyone else should live, and it gets pretty heated when we don’t agree. One of the hardest things for humans to do is to just let someone get on with life, without telling them how to live, since we tend to see anyone who doesn’t think the same way about life as a threat to our own lifestyle, since they live in the same society, and therefore (again, depending on which societal model you use, in your local circus) have an effect on the running of that society.

You may have noticed that people tend to like people who they perceive as being like them, and tend to dislike people who they perceive as not being like them. It’s pretty easy to see why; those whose ideas are different represent a small threat to ideas about how society should run, and how personal behaviours and lifestyles fit into that structure, and so on. These different ideas are challenging, and hard work, intellectually, because they make you question why people should behave in certain ways, require you to argue your point to defend the status quo, and maybe be prepared to have to defend your argument logically. These issues can take quite some thinking through. If we have a way to make our minds up quickly, though, and don’t change our minds much subsequently, we won’t have to always stop to think carefully, or consider all the factors influencing every attitude we have, and this turns out to be a swift and energy-saving way to take action, and make decisions. This human trick is based on shortcuts and generalisations in our thinking, which are very good handy for acting swiftly, when dealing with attacking tigers, etc. Black spots on yellow background always means tiger, so panic, or run, or both, based on what our previous experience or our elders taught us.

You’ll seldom come across the idea that we shouldn’t be disapproving of another’s lifestyle, or beliefs, as long as the ideas being discussed aren’t our own, and if any hint arises in conversation that we could examine our own beliefs, we realise it’s a dangerous idea to express within a group, as it can cause the disapproval to be aimed at ourselves, rather than the intended target, situated in an out-group, not within our circle, if we express it aloud. It threatens the social cohesion of the group, to threaten any central or fervently held ideas it holds. Other people’s ideas, it seems, can be wild tigers waiting to spring at our throats, rather than obliging dogs that will jump through our little hoop for us, at times.

We don’t like pain, although interestingly it tends to be more memorable than pleasure. We tend to seek out pleasure, and avoid pain, because our human organism wants to live, and overall, happiness contributes to better health, and longer life, unlike stress and anxiety, which wears the organism down, maybe not as fast as a real tiger at your throat, but gnaws away, nevertheless. The displeasure we feel when encountering something which results in psychological pain is the same mechanism as that for physically painful encounters; escape as quickly as possible, is the message our minds and bodies are giving us. Go towards pleasure, and avoid pain, if you want to live longer, or just live.

The problem with pain avoidance though, is that we often can’t avoid pain. It’s part of life, and we have to tolerate a certain amount, to push through to pleasure. This perception of what pain is about, or for, and our way of jumping through hoops to avoid as much of it as is humanly possible, can actually create more pain for us than is necessary, through focussing on pain, in our fear of it, and effort to avoid it.

Part of the reason we sometimes seek to exert control over our environment, which includes other people, is to create a situation where it’s less likely we’ll experience pain we think they created in the first place, when they didn’t play the game we wanted, and jump through our hoops, and wanted to play the ring-master instead, trying to have us jump through their hoop. To plan for the avoidance of future pain, then, we become like hunters, lying in wait for our prey, watching out for pain, before it ever appears. It might not appear at all, but still we keep watch, and waste our nights looking out into the darkness, seeing movement in every bush, ready, and on high alert.

It’s tiring, and doesn’t always have much point, when you start thinking about it, because it doesn’t always prevent attacks, but can make us experience the tiger going for our throat many times over, in our imagination, and make us tend towards dwelling on pain, and wanting to inflict it on others, in retribution for what we perceive as pain entirely caused by their actions, and not also our responses to the threat. It’s very understandable that we would want to balance the justice scales in our own minds, by returning the pain to the source, as we might see it, but is it an optimal response, in terms of its effect on us, if it keeps us stuck in the same cycle of stimulus/response, and high alert state, when the stimulus may not be as immediately life-threatening as a real tiger attack? This is a very sensible life preserving function of our psyche, which unfortunately runs a bit haywire if we lose our perspective about the immediacy or seriousness of the threat to our lives, or lose our sense of perspective, because pain is more memorable than pleasure. Where does all the pleasure go, if you’re stuck in the pain?

Of course, a lot of this is just using metaphors, and ideas, to discuss societies and our roles and behaviours interpersonally, and within societies, and you could think about our interactions with other people in a variety of other ways, of which the way I’ve just used is only one that I was playing around with. The mind loves metaphor, but language is an approximation, remember, and it stands in as a description of the dog that’s jumping the hoop, rather than being the dog itself, or, for that matter, the hoop. The reality gets lost a little (or a good bit!) between the thing, and the conveying of the idea of the thing, in language. When you take away the stories, and points of view, you’re just left with reality, and that’s rather harder to control, because you haven’t written the story around it, and constructed the ending, which in the story I just told, consists of a life with no pain in it, just pleasure, all there at your fingertips, when you are the ring-master, and controlling everything skillfully. Sometimes, we’re so sold on the stories, that we can’t even see the reality of the thing in itself.

This is actually a really popular way to think about life, this pain-free life, these days. It’s possibly an offshoot of consumerism, or it might be just a natural by-product of being human, because we’ve developed this ability to think ahead, and plan, along with our ability to verbalise these plans we have for how everyone should behave around us, so we can be happy, and not have to experience pain. We often completely miss the fact that we would have no word for pleasure if we did not have a word for pain. There would be no distinction between the two, were both not present at times in our perception of reality, and our explanation for how reality works. We’d be at as much of a loss, in fact, without pain, as we would be without light and dark, good and evil, black and white, or any other opposites you can think of, for constructing our ideas, and categories for how things are , and how they should behave, the science of things, if you like, for the average thinker, who is a still quite a bit of a scientist, when it comes to organising ideas, or rules of thumb, in order to make sense of the world, for day to day functioning. The idea of removing one of these negatives in opposites from our concepts, like pain, or controlling it to the extent it isn’t part of your life, seems a bit ridiculous, then, yet this is what we seek to do with pain, when we imagine a life without it. Where would the value in comfort be, without discomfort, which is what the definition of pain is, if you look it up in our word-symbolism book, the dictionary, to establish what in the world it signifies?

People, it follows, although a pain in the behind at times, are a necessary evil, since we wouldn’t appreciate being alone with our freedoms, perhaps, if we didn’t experience them being under attack once in a while, just as we might not appreciate our individual uniqueness, if it wasn’t brought to our attention by other people’s behaviour being different to our own. I know, it’s a slightly simplistic way to put it, but look at the sunrise shown below, and then imagine there’s no sunset at the end of the day. The sun just stays up there all day. How much pleasure would you get out of that? How good for the planet, or any of us on it would that be, if things never changed? This is a simplistic argument, but we tend to forget that change is part of life, when we’re in the middle of suffering, or difficult situations, because we’re trying to exert some sort of control over something that’s happening, that we are wanting not to, or we think someone else is trying to control us, and make us jump through hoops, or learn new tricks we don’t want to learn. Change can be beautiful, but it isn’t always painless, even if it’s not always bad.

Should we seek to avoid pain, then, or to control the behaviour of others? It does seem necessary in some respects, if you want to live in society with others, and all animals have this give and take built in, at least the ones that survive, and thrive do. Humans, though, having the ability to over-think, as well as think things through, may be a bit too concerned with learning all kinds of fancy tricks for managing life, to really be getting pleasure out of how they live in the moment, aside from all the big plans, and ideas about how they and others should be living. Turns out that one of the best tricks you can learn is how to enjoy what you have, and are, and let go of worrying a little about what every else is up to, or wanting to have everyone behaving the same way. Let others jump through hoops, if they like, and enjoy watching the circus, or learn a few new tricks yourself, by all means, but ensure they’re the ones that do you the most good, in terms of your own happiness, as well as those you come into contact with. You deserve a little pleasure in your life, right now, as there’s only really now, when you take all the ideas and words away. Although pain may be inevitable, and necessary, you may find you still have some options when it comes to how much you want to suffer, or cause even more suffering, in your own life, or in others’ lives. Being happy is one of the most fun tricks you can learn. If the ring master isn’t happy with that, that’s his problem, not yours.

AI Jerks and Fried Circuits (or how I learned to hate the AI)

The AI jerks are always about, and there’s a whole brood of them, currently swarming, that’s a pretty nasty one. I’ve spoken about the game they play, many times on this blog. I haven’t spoken much about the kind of future they envision for us all, though.

To them it’s a Utopia, where all their desires can be fulfilled, and they get to be their best self. They want that for us all, apparently, and seek to educate us, so that we learn to love the AI, and long for the promised Eden of Singularity Land, where the robot and human enter into a (simulated and virtual) love pact, that there’s no going back from. This would seem like an unholy union, to the normal person, but these people are into all things freaky, and aspire to have everyone in the world become a freak as well, so they can announce that as the New Normal. Ben Goertzel is their pin-up boy, and Sofia the chatbot a fount of wisdom, in this dystopic vision the technohippies have in mind for us.

The idea of the Singularity is, in their minds, a kind of race to the bottom, for humanity, although they view the giving in, in a hedonistic orgy of vulgar oafishness, as a beautiful transition into a Brave New World, that we should all long for. They are bewildered when you point out that anti-humanistic Satanistic technofreakery isn’t really your thing, and suggest you just aren’t evolved enough to dig all the soft porn they post, to tempt you in with. Philosophy pisses them off, big time, too, as I found out when I posted my first comment in one of their threads, a link to an article about Plato’s conception of beauty, having seen one of them enthuse about her game character’s physical beauty, which, in her mind, was a by-product of kindness. The matrix started glitching, when faced with intelligent discusssion, and philosophy not just providing a cool allegorical reference for Plato’s cave, that could translate to a gaming environment as a shirtless male model on a couch in an underground carpark, and to heck with the philosophy bit.

Two people making logical philosophical points in their thread fried the circuits, and when logic didn’t compute, a fuse blew somewhere, that started out with threats……………..

then, rather hilariously, led to a curse being put on my poor ol’ book, “The Q Affaire”.

I mean, what has a comedic romance thriller novel done to deserve this, other than a spot of light philosophising, I ask you? Satanists aren’t big on humour, though. I knew that already, having come across many of them in my time on YouTube. You can often recognise them by the little wings, with puzzling little dots, which according to Q, is locust poop. Their idea of what is acceptable to post on social media is fairly poop as well, and I ended up having to report one of them to Twitter, for the video of the very young looking girl below, doing unmentionable and tonsil-damaging things to an unsuspecting banana, while dressed up as a cat. The girl posting it was a blue haired female who was doing her best to look like her gaming avatar, and one hopes that this ARG group of LARPers she associates with are just sharing their soft porn stuff between themselves, and not dragging children into virtual reality games with them, online. They seem to me to be a pretty good reason to not give your kid access to a phone or computer until they are at least 21. At least if you don’t want them to get dissed, doxed, and cursed all in a day, by satanic larpers playing an online ARG. This group strike me as people with a lot of personal problems, that they would like everyone else to have as well, so they can call it the norm. Thank goodness the Singularity is nowhere near. I’d hate to see what that thing would look like, if these were the brains helping program it.

Oh, I forgot to mention, being called a shill. Must have been the threats, curses, and doxing that made it temporarily slip my mind. Took me a while to decode the word salad in this Tweet I received, but basically this blue haired female avatar, who insists he’s a male, who just finds it more convenient to pretend to be female in Twitter, for strangers, but gets annoyed when they think he is one, with the mistaken idea they are treated better than men (I didn’t see his friends treat people too well, as they waltz around Twitter threatening and cursing people, and subjecting them to looking at their creepy porn content). He seemed to think I’m being paid to write my book, “The Q Affaire”. Or something. As I say…..

Goodness only knows precisely what’s being conveyed, because…

A. These people are confused about everything, ranging from gender, to how to speak English, right on up to how to visualise a decent future for themselves, based on behaving decently in the present……

and…..

B. They are inveterate liars, who are playing an ARG game online, the stated rules of which (letting people know they are in a game) they are breaking, themselves, because they have no morals or ethics, and follow the Satanic Crowley law only, “do as thou wilt”. What they don’t tell anyone about, is that they are hoping to entrap innocent people into joining their game, so they can mess up their heads, their lives, and threaten and dox them. For fun. That’s the average Satanist’s view of what fun is, you see. Welcome to the dystopian future. Or you could just fry their circuits, by saying no to their jerky game and depressing future.

Hot News ~Mme. Sossostris MIA With Bad Boy Crowley!

Mme. Sososstrus, the lady who never spells her name the same way twice, out and about, before going missing in action, with “Bad boy” Crowley.

Dear reader, I don’t want you to be too alarmed, but I must inform you that our beloved Mme. Soss, who we met recently at her energetic and ectoplasmagorific seance session, and have quickly grown to love in that special way one reserves for ones’ cult leader, has gone missing in action.

Where we first met her; it seems there was an Akashic record generated from the seance, which you can click on the above image, to attend in that dimension, if you weren’t one of the lucky few to attend it at the original “Teeny Tiny Theatre” productions house

She’s a bundle of energy, so we have come to expect all kinds of energetic feats from her, but this one seems to be to be beyond the precipice, in terms of courting danger.

A missive left in my bedroom wardrobe, transmitted, like most of Mme. S’s missives, etherially, via automatically channeled communications, has arrived. Two actually. The first was an “Out of Office” message, in response to my request, last Friday, that she author the first issue of my Newsletter for me, since I would be too busy editing my blockbuster novel, in preparation for its release into the wilds of Amazon, shortly. That didn’t worry me too much, and I had my new secretary, Q, run up a short editorial piece for the maiden voyage of said newsletter, as Plan B. He’s good with plans, though I have to admit, I wondered whether he’d get it sent out on time, since he’s missed quite a few deadlines before, I noticed (I hired him mostly for his tea making abilities). I wasn’t too worried at first, and must admit, was thinking mostly of myself, rather than Mme. S’s safety, as I was unaware at the time of who she was spending the weekend with,and where she was headed. Imagine my shock, then, upon being informed, when my new secretary delivered the tea things to my study, as I set about my evening’s work, editing “The Q Affaire” for publication, and, while taking my first sip of his rather well made tea, (surprising, since I have rather severe doubts that Q is Irish, as he claims, so the tea should not be that good) that the rumour was Mme. S had been planning to abscond for the weekend with the abhorrent Mr. Crowley, a right little demon, if past rumours are anything to go by (and many do swear by rumours). This Mr. Crowley, though technically deceased, is said to be very much still at large in the spirit world, and always circling, seeking out upstanding women to corrupt utterly. Q had won the confidence of Mme. Sossostrus, who is always putty in the hands of men who can wink charmingly, or tell pretty stories of the intellectual or poetic type, I noticed, and apparently she confided in him her weakening resolve in trying to resist Crowley’s Bad boy charms, before her disappearance.

I can hardly bear to think about it still, the shock on reading the missive shown above, that materialised in my wardrobe this morning. I had to get Q to decode it, before I could make any sense of it , but it’s clear she’s in over her head with Crowley, and was lucky to be able to convey a message to me without being detected via remote mind-reading, or penetrating insight of some other magical means, by the cunning Crowley with the silver tongue, that tempted her to travel abroad, with him her only escort. A poor choice, which one would think she might have spent longer pondering, since even the destination set all sorts of spiritual alarum bells ringing in the head. I largely blame myself, I must say, for leading her astray, and I see Crowley as merely a spirited opportunist, who leapt at the open portal when he saw his chance to jump on Mme. S, who he’s fancied getting his claws into for a while now, according to herself. Why am I to blame? Well, I was talking about volcanos a lot recently, and ziggarats, and Tarot, and generally going into the mystic a bit, and Mme. Soss gets easily enthused by such topics. Indeed, she dropped by several times to hold impromtu meetings of her new cult, The Order of The Heart, at my hearth, and, between the fire, and all the talk of volcanos, not to mention sacred shrines with snakes interred underground, and slithering about as shapeshifting rivers and Garden of Eden dwelling tempters, I fear the temptation was all to much for her adventurous side, and she gave in to her hedonistic impulses, and travelled to the volcano with him. Yes. That’s right. They went to the volcano together. I have a feeling she won’t be the same woman when she returns, but she’s full of surprises at the best of times, so we probably won’t be able to tell. I imagine she will though, even if it takes a while for the full story to emerge. I mean, would you be able to talk about it, straight after you had a week away at a volcanic eruption with the bold Mr. Crowley? I wouldn’t think so, somehow.

Update: She’s back. I’m glad of that, because not only was I worried about her getting a bit too close to the action, in Iceland, but I was also getting worried she might be too far from it, since she’d promised to edit this weekend’s edition of the Newsletter, and make herself available at the launch of the new TarotTime Team , over at the Etsy shop. She swept in yesterday, in fine fettle, ready for more fun, and soon the *ESQ method Tarot service was announced, in our snazzy new poster that Q threw some glitter and glue at, all available to initiates and non-initiated alike, at an out of this world low price. I even threw a coupon in the basket for new customers, I was in such a good mood, after being let use the glitter glue gun for a while. Mme. Sossostrus assures me that having glue stuck in your hair just makes the readings more auspicious, and downright fun, which sounds right to me, since anything Mme. S gets involved in always ends up being a lot of fun.

The TTT Team’s ESQ method is an ancient Kookistani Tarot technique, taught by Mme. S’s “Order of the Heart” one-woman cult Hermetic Order . A triad of initiates reveal your past, present, and future lives, if you cross their palms with silver (or any currency Etsy accepts). Claim your reading here (money off coupon available for misers)

Mme. Sossostrus plans to update us further, in the Newsletter editorial, regarding what new things she learned in her travels last weekend, as well of a reminder of what we new initiates have learned to date, by means of another podcast this weekend, featuring her best bits (oh, I do hope we are up to it, but I’m by no means confident we will be!), as well as belting out the weekend Newletter for us. She’s all heart, that woman. You can order your Newletter here, if you can handle it. First issue guest authored by Q!

Mme. Sosostrus ~Divinely Pr{o}postrous

Have you met the divine Mme. Sosostrus yet? She’s preposterous, and yet…..such fun. She’s quite the character, and seems unable to pronounce, let alone spell, her own name. Still, she has all this weird knowledge, she claims, from these Kookistani people that nobody else seems to have heard of. She’s pretty vague about their whereabouts, but Mme. S lives half way up a local mountain, with a troop of Capuchin monkeys for company, and only ventures abroad down the town, on Alice the bike, when out of Uisce Beatha, apparently, or when there’s a chance of some silver crossing her palm. Oh, there’s a piano half way up there, too, which, by her own account, they gather ’round in the evenings, to knock out a tune or two on.

We’ve heard her singing, unfortunately, at a recent seance we had. As a writer, I seek out these Kooks, to help me cook up new books, and Mme. S was quite the hoot, as she literally threw herself into finding the ghost myself and Mr. Poxley-Warner dreamed up. With all this free entertainment, and barely containable mirth, we almost forgot teeny Foxley Poxley’s wailing for the evening. The only dark spot on the ectoplasmic spectacles was the fact that that Donna Emerald beat me to making art out of the pig’s ear that Sosostrus made of the performance, by publishing a play of her own. The pigeon post must have been intercepted, or some malicious spirit put the evening’s entertainment gossip about via secret twitching curtain coded signals, or teatime tattling, down the local cafe. Still, there’s a book and several dramatic paintings in it still, I suspect. Plenty of time for clearing up the mouse remains from the cooker, too. One can’t rush art, and she’s such an inspiration.

This will be available as a podcast soon.

The Data Collectors’ Book (The Face That Drove You Mad)

Mark Zuckerberg is a guy that puts a lot of work into how the company he founded is perceived. His version and other people’s versions tend to diverge on some rather relevant issues, and now at least some of the horrible truth is becoming more obvious to the general user of the Facebook, and Facebook are having to scramble to re-invent the services they offer, as well as alter the demographic they target for their attentions, in an effort to keep the sinking ship afloat. Social media giants like Facebook have all sorts of dirty tricks up their sleeves to keep users on board, and the psychology of marketing isn’t the only source of their power, as they hold such huge sway over our behaviour, so it stands to reason that they have many friends in high places too. How can we ever truly be free, if we don’t really take a hard look at what these platforms’ purposes are (and like all my posts, I must point out that I don’t endorse uncritically everything that’s proposed in the following video, as I’m an individual, with my own views, and not a demographic, but I do think the video frames the discussion points, which could be explored further by users of social media)?

Remember the official story of how Facebook started? It all sounded so cosy and friendly, didn’t it? People coming together, and sharing, with Mark the bright spark helping us all to shine.

Sorry Zucky, but your lies suck, and you blow. This isn’t real life, as we know it, and you ain’t the captain of our ship. More and more long time users of Facebook have jumped ship, and are swimming for shore.

We hoping you sink with the ship, and all the rats below deck drown with you. We see you, trying to bail the ship out with buckets, and we hope your true toxic face becomes more obvious to the new users you are trying to drive mad, by pretending to be their bestest friend ever, arranging to meet them in other places at a convenient time, a helpful app, providing a hug in the form of a thumbs up. Well, it’s a Thumbs Down to you, with no hug, from us. We’re so sorry Mark. Honest.

We Scare Because We Care!

I was in the mood for a movie matinee, it bein’ Friday and all. I’d had a monstrous week, and needed a good laugh to restore me, so this animated favourite came to mind immediately. Full of tips with how to deal with the monsters we all have to face, and even make friends with some of them. Lots of helpful tips on what to do when a  monster  screams in your face, or a chameleon suddenly reveals his true colours for you to see (they are rather grey underneath all the flashy costumes  they wear to blend in, apparently).  If you are plagued with monster visits, and all else fails, bear in mind that they are far more scared of you than you should ever be of them; to rid yourself permanently of them, carry out the 2319 manoeuvre. This move is a monster’s worst nightmare come true, and guarantees that they’ll run back to the  closet they emerged from. You have to keep your socks on in bed for this one, but I think you’ll agree, it’s a small price to pay!

Click on image to play Monsters, Inc. movie, or click on highlighted text below image.
Hint: It’s a free movie site, so you’ll have to be as quick to shut down the ad windows that open before the movie will play, as you would be to slam your closet door on Rotten Randall here.

Rat Trap ~ Social Media Conditioning

Rat B.F. Skinner Experiment

Checked my Twitter, YouTube channel and of course, my beloved blog first thing this morning, while munching away on my breakfast. I used to read in bed, before I had a smartphone, but those days are a distant memory, and although I usually do a half an hour of meditation after breakfast, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to drag myself away from my beloved social media platforms, as I circle like a rat in a maze that’s leading nowhere, and I run back to where I’ve already been, to see if anything new has happened. This morning, in my YouTube Recommended feeds, this video caught my attention, as it was about the topic of social media’s addictive qualities, and I’ve been noticing how hard it is to fight the addiction which seems to leave one wanting more, the more one engages in it.

Now, I’m a bit leery of guys like Jaron, when they tell us how bad for us social media is, and how we should think of it as a wild Tiger that’s going to gobble us up from the knees down, if we don’t run like billy-o to safety, and fast, if only ‘cos they are so engaged in developing the tools that they say they hate, so where is their personal morality at, then, if they are still in the biz? The fact that he’s spouting his political opinions, under the cover of talking about social media addiction, makes me think he’s not too different in outlook from the big businesses that write his paycheck at the end of each month.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is to take the channel 4 clip, as you should all media you use,  with a very large pinch of salt, and a sceptical mind, rather than watching in the passive way that the media loves. Remember, the media is excellent at packaging propaganda in a very covert, and persuasive way, to get under your critical thinking radar, or bypass critical thinking altogether.
That being said, he makes a few points which are worth looking at in relation to other people’s work, like the Behaviourist School of psychology.  These psychologists broke human behaviour down to a perhaps over-simplified view of behaviour, positing a reward/punishment model, saying that animals like ourselves can learn to peck through all sorts of tasks if they think they might be getting some nice birdseed at the end of it.

I did a short livestream on the topic, while still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, discussing what I found interesting about the ideas raised by my morning viewing. In other words I went back to the screen for another shot of the drug. Please, please, give this post a like (bites nails in anticipation).

What the World Needs Now ~ Spartan Meditations

https://pixabay.com/photos/sculpture-centurion-bamberg-figure-2508011/

I came across a YouTube channel I really liked lately, and thought I’d share it, ‘cos this guy has some interesting thoughts about meditation, and if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know I like the auld bit of no-thinkiness myself. But how on earth do you calm your mind, if you aren’t feeling a baseline of calmness, and can’t seem to get calm enough to even be able to focus enough on sitting, let alone sitting in meditation? Richard Grannon talks about styles of meditation suitable for the chronically stressed out person to choose, and points out in a humorous way  how modern media is more effective in training us to work off our emotions than our logic, and why this isn’t such a great thing when we want to get into a calmer, more focused state of mind. Sound advice which I reckon is well worth a listen.

Here’s a video I made on my YouTube channel, about the same topic, and how it related to my own experiences on the Tube.

 

 

Socionics and Sofia ~ Psychology & Computing Communications Concepts

Magritte at computer

Psychological Types book cover
Carl Jung’s “Psychological Types”, published in 1921

What’s the difference between a personality type and a personality trait? Well, in Jung’s  theory of types, developed in his book Psychological Types (1921), he developed 8 different categories of types of people, based around the psychological functions (how people perceive the world, and make decisions) of consciousness. He examined the tensions created by personality complexes created around these functions.

MyersBriggsTypes Personality Type Chart
Myers-Briggs Types Personality Type Chart

It’s heavy stuff, and can be confusing, but the main idea of the theory of Socionics, developed much later (1970s and 1980s) is that one could figure out, to some extent, people’s behaviour within groups, based on their personality types and the tensions that arose in interpersonal dynamics within groups. It takes into account Jung’s theories on personality types and character traits, as well as the  Informational Metabolism theories developed by the Polish  psychiatrist, Antoni Kępiński, which explores how people interact with their environment, via signals.

Socionics Model A Grid
Socionics Model A Grid

In other words, Socionics explores how people interact with their environment based on their personality (the area psychology  concerns itself with), and how they process information signals in their environment (sociological element of the theory). It’s a fascinating area of study, since not only does it attempt to catagorize complex human behaviours and perceptions into an order which can be expressed diagrammatically, it can also be used to attempt to predict and shape behaviours.

It doesn’t take much of a leap of the imagination to see how these theories might have some relevance to the consideration of social media groupings as Multi-agent systems, with people communicating on various media platforms (MASs being defined as self-organizing computerized systems, see also Agent-Based Models (ABS), comprised of intelligent agents), although the initial theory of MASs examined the interplay of strictly artifical agents,  and a further implication of being able to diagrammatically organize a theory around the processes at work  with human agents operating within a constructed environment consisting of perameters defined by the system.

Multi-Agent Systems Models Diagram

While the MAS idea may suggest  interesting correspondences to the theory of Socionics, it also presents problematic issues if the models are compared or examined for comparative purposes, since with human interactions both personality traits and characteristics come into play, and often override the mechanical, stimulous/response element of the computerized communications theory. Much of the material I looked at wasn’t current, with materials on the topic spanning the 1960s to the 1990s, and after that time, online research papers becoming sparser, although the MAS model has been more extensively employed in computer technology communications fields, such as Gaming Theory and the field of Artificial Intelligence, in disciplines such as Informatics.

So is Socionics a failed theory? Maybe. Certainly my short investigation into it yielded surprisingly little literature discussing practical current applications, at least on the relationship between the two, though they seem to be at least tangentially related, in that they both are theories which involve decision making in a computing environment. There is, however, unarguably,  a point at which the humans and machines must intersect, and interact, and messages are communicated, and some interesting applications of the conjunction of humans and machines can result in new technologies and modes of communication developing, such as when bots imitate human modes of interaction, acting as influencers or agents of change within groups, with a higher level of autonomy envisaged for the future, via the rate of technological advances being made in this direction, in the field of computing.

What does the future in these fields hold? The designers of this robot, called Sofia (now the first robot citizen ever) would like us to believe that sentience is an achievable goal, but can computers ever truly be human, and do they behave as humans do? Authors such a Stephen Pinker have argued that our brains behave like computers, but can a computer ever really be said to behave in a subjective way? Might it ever?

Just for fun: Briggs Myers personality type test click here.
Bonus Article: Five Eyes Surveillance purposes and networks, Wikipedia article.

The Pain Body

I did a livestream the other day, which discussed Eckhart Tolle’s thoughts about “The Pain-Body”, a term he coined for the tendency humans have towards keeping painful psychological patterns of behaviours going. We discuss his definition of The Pain Body, and his ideas about how it manifests in our lives. I read a few quotes, which you can look at over here. I hope you find his work as interesting as I do, and get something out of our discussion. Enjoy, unless you like pain!