The Ring of Gyges

I always interpreted this story a bit differently than what most appear to (on the internet). Granted I suppose I should read it again (the actual story) as opposed the piecemeal version I have in my mind through uni courses years ago and from various conversations over the years. This how how I've always seen it:

The ring of gyges is a very powerful artifact. It gives the user the power of invisibility (Tolkien's one ring?) Apparently the story gets into the idea of justice and injustice, but I saw it a little more simply - the ring is a metaphor for power.

A person who has power, whatever it may be - maybe you're a beautiful woman that leverages that beauty for personal gain (hello 'softcore' twitch streamers who earn upwards of $60,000/mo, or your typical Kardashian equivalent, or whatever other pop culture icon you can think of) - maybe you're a born brilliant whatever, maybe you're especially charismatic and find a place in politics. Whatever it is, that power is yours, and the problem of such power is that, inevitably, there are people who will hate you for using it.

But if you had such power, and didn't use it - lets say, again, you're some stunningly beautiful model whose fitness and aesthetics put you in the top tenth of a percentile - you would still draw the ire of other people who don't have such power. They might make assumptions about you - that you've taken advantage of said power in the past - or they might berate you for not using such power . . . "If only I had your looks, I'd certainly be a model or an entrepreneur or whatever."

The ring of gyges, then, leads to a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario. The nature of our world and our own species is that some of us are born with innate gifts, powers, talents, and we are judged on whether or not we use those gifts according to whoever happens to be doing the judging at any given moment. There's no way to 'legislate' these gifts out, to equalize our own capacities. They are part of the fabric of our existence.

One might argue that the true injustice is the world we're born into - that it could be so inequitable by its very design - and not that people benefit or are disadvantaged as a result of such inequitable circumstances. Admittedly, we compound such natural injustice by unnecessarily reinforcing it in our social and economic hierarchies.

It was obvious even a century ago.

"But neither Europe nor Africa can show such desolation as America. The proudest, stubbornest, bitterest peasant of deserted Spain; the most primitive and superstitious Arab of the remotest oases, these are a little more than kin and never less than kind at their worst; whereas in the United States one is almost always conscious of an instinctive lack of sympathy and understanding with even the most charming and cultured people."

Aleister Crowley, Tao Teh King

Longest Personality Study Ever [or the Ship of Theseus]

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/you-re-a-completely-different-person-at-14-and-77-the-longest-running-personality-study-ever-has

Olivia Goldhill

Look at a photo of yourself as a teenager and, mistaken fashion choices aside, it’s likely you see traces of the same person with the same personality quirks as you are today. But whether or not you truly are the same person over a lifetime—and what that notion of personhood even means—is the subject of ongoing philosophical and psychology debate.

The longest personality study of all time, published in 2016 in Psychology and Aging and highlighted by the British Psychological Society, suggests that over the course of a lifetime, just as your physical appearance changes and your cells are constantly replaced, your personality is also transformed beyond recognition.

The study begins with data from a 1950 survey of 1,208 14-year-olds in Scotland. Teachers were asked to use six questionnaires to rate the teenagers on six personality traits: self-confidence, perseverance, stability of moods, conscientiousness, originality, and desire to learn. Together, the results from these questionnaires were amalgamated into a rating for one trait, which was defined as “dependability.” More than six decades later, researchers tracked down 635 of the participants, and 174 agreed to repeat testing.

This time, aged 77 years old, the participants rated themselves on the six personality traits, and also nominated a close friend or relative to do the same. Overall, there was not much overlap from the questionnaires taken 63 years earlier. “Correlations suggested no significant stability of any of the 6 characteristics or their underlying factor, dependability, over the 63-year interval,” wrote the researchers. “We hypothesized that we would find evidence of personality stability over an even longer period of 63 years, but our correlations did not support this hypothesis,” they later added.

The findings were a surprise to researchers because previous personality studies, over shorter periods of time, seemed to show consistency. Studies over several decades, focusing on participants from childhood to middle age, or from middle age to older age, showed stable personality traits. But the most recent study, covering the longest period, suggests that personality stability is disrupted over time. “The longer the interval between two assessments of personality, the weaker the relationship between the two tends to be,” the researchers write. “Our results suggest that, when the interval is increased to as much as 63 years, there is hardly any relationship at all.”

Perhaps those who had impulsive character flaws as a teenager would be grateful that certain personality traits might even out later in life. But it’s disconcerting to think that your entire personality is transformed.

“Personality refers to an individual’s characteristic patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior, together with the psychological mechanisms—hidden or not—behind those patterns,” note the authors, quoting psychology professor David Funder’s definition.

If your patterns of thought, emotions, and behavior so drastically alter over the decades, can you truly be considered the same person in old age as you were as a teenager? This question ties in with broader theories about the nature of the self. For example, there is growing neuroscience research that supports the ancient Buddhist belief that our notion of a stable “self” is nothing more than an illusion.

Perhaps this won’t surprise you if you’ve had the experience of running into a very old friend from school, and found a completely different person from the child you remembered. This research suggests that, as the decades go by, your own younger self could be similarly unrecognizable.

Tales from Reddit

"Constructionist has to be a dog whistle. I don't think reading the tea leaves of some frat aged slave owners is really the way forward for society, and that can't be a coincidence."

""Originalism" is a lie that conveniently always sides exactly with what conservatives want."

"He [Brett Kavanaugh] was part of Bush's legal team in 2000 that wrestled away Florida, and the election from Gore. Counting him and Amy, that makes three now on the supreme court that also served on that team."

The Danger of a Post Information Society

Last Edited On: September 27th, 2020

Please note that everything presented here is, to one degree or another, factual. It may be exaggerated in some respects, but it is not uninformed, and certainly, it is a plausible version of the current situation we are facing in the twenty-first century. Those who would dismiss this as conspiracy are not paying close enough attention, and should look into and read about the following:
Operation Mockingbird
Cambridge Analytica
Facebook Emotional Contagion
Hybrid Warfare/Non-Linear Warfare

If high ranking military officials in the largest military on the planet tell you that there is a sixth dimension of warfare - the human social operational environment - you should probably start taking what's going on in the world with regards to information a little more seriously. The other five dimensions are land, sea, air, computerized (the internet) and space (satellites, so far.) All of these dimensions are, to one degree or another, managed by a branch of the US armed forces. Until now, I would imagine the CIA, NSA, and black book operations managed the human social environment (see Operation Mockingbird, also the following article may be of interest: Companies Funded by the CIA) They probably still play a significant role, while the military plays an increasingly larger one. To what end, I'm not sure we the public fully know or will ever.

I do know that when the Arab Spring occurred, there were a number of independent and primary news outlets that indicated it largely began as a social media blitz. The same can be said of a number of other major political or revolutionary upheavals, including when the former PM of South Korea was ousted on corruption charges. One might even argue career-ending 'cancel culture' could have its source traced to exactly this sort of information environment, pioneered to some degree by 'wikileaks' and similarly 'robin-hood' type stateless organizations who operated under the guise of presenting 'truth' (but usually presented it in such a way that, even if there was truth, it would have been difficult to systematically verify it.)

Social media has increased the velocity of information dissemination, and even if that information isn't factually correct or verifiable (dubious or no sources at all, foreign actors, stateless actors) it is having increasingly more critical and far reaching effects. The number of people who receive it and whose views are impacted by it has grown exponentially since the rise of global media and news, and of course, the internet.

The above acting as a primer, what then do I mean by the title? A Post Information Society is a society that has become so inundated with information, and at such a velocity, that it can no longer differentiate between truth and fiction in a reasonable amount of time, and certainly not before the next major wave of information, again not necessarily verifiable or factually correct, comes to pass before their eyes. In such a society, it is no longer possible, or at least, it is extremely difficult, to keep in check the widely prevailing perspective. No matter how educated, the people will eventually become so fatigued by the constant onslaught of information both wrong and right that even the most dedicated individuals won't be able to keep up.

Within such an operational environment, it becomes much easier to present over simplified and formulaic, calculated systems of thought and information constriction to control particular demographics and their perspectives. QAnon and the rise of Donald Trump may be one symptom; another would be that of Vladimir Putin, whose cabinet contained a member that coined the term 'hybrid' warfare to describe exactly the sort of information environment aforementioned.

The danger of such a society I need not elaborate on. It would be nothing, should such an information environment become ubiquitous and well managed, to push a significant portion, maybe even a majority - even in a democratic society - to act exactly as desired.

This is not the world that Huxley or Orwell foresaw or warned us about. It is entirely different. It is a world where the people are unwitting participants in what amounts to systemic psychological warfare; having come under the influence of the social and psychological 'battlesphere', inundated with formulaic news presentations, algorithmic social media, military intelligence and else (all designed, or at least informed as such, to elicit particular emotional and psychological responses) the people will have a tendency to act as the special operators intend. This is like Hari Seldon's psychohistory, except instead of only predicting the future, it creates it.

Further supporting evidence and related information:
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/craigsilverman/facebook-ignore-political-manipulation-whistleblower-memo
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/future-propaganda-will-be-computer-generated/616400/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Dilemma

Faux News

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_News_controversies

"In June 2020, the Fox News website published digitally altered photographs of Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, to include a man armed with an assault rifle from earlier Seattle protests; also added to the photographs were smashed windows from other parts of Seattle. In a separate incident, the Fox News website ran articles about protests in Seattle, however the accompanying photo of a burning city was actually that of Saint Paul, Minnesota in the previous month.[96] Although the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone was peacefully occupied, "Fox's coverage contributed to the appearance of armed unrest", stated The Washington Post. The manipulated and wrongly used images were removed, with Fox News stating that it "regrets these errors."[97]"

Not really sure how you solve so many deep seated issues in a nation like the United States when tens of millions of its inhabitants source their information from a 'news network' that routinely does that sort of thing (and they probably aren't the only network doing it.) Winning hearts and minds, changing a culture, is the only real way forward, the only real way to make progress. That simply can't be done when large numbers of people aren't presented with the truth (and even if they are, are also presented with a hundred variations on the truth, most of which are twisted one way or another.)

Couple that with the fact nine times out of ten (probably worse odds than that, frankly) you aren't even budging another person's views if you argue with them, and we're basically locked into whatever world we're already in; with the only real progress occurring over the course of generations - and largely through natural, mostly uncontrollable processes like changing demographics or technological innovation.

In this sense, the only 'good' that can be done, I think, is practical harm reduction. You can't change anything, it seems, so the only available option is to try and lessen whatever damage is being done to people by virtue of the structural problems in our economy, political landscape, and culture. To understand this, and accept it, feels like a kind of defeat.

Behavioral Advertising

https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/20/dont-be-creepy/

I have over the years started including more and more ways of defeating targeting advertising, cookies, tracking, telemetry and so on into my computer and electronics use - and when that doesn't work, avoiding platforms entirely. This is a small part of why I'm not on facebook (or twitter.) Y'know, I, like many people, probably would've accepted this slow march of 'progress' on the tech giant front had I had a more powerful internet connection (as most people do) but I don't - and telemetry, and dozens of random port connections, and constant tracking, have an impact when you have as little bandwidth and latency as I do. That was the initial reason I started getting more serious.

Really getting sick of it, though. After years of being bombarded with this shit, I'm just totally fed up with it. I'm fed up with the fact that if I go on amazon (always knowing what I already want to buy, because that's how I use the platform) I have to see things I already bought, and things related to those things, presented in an entirely unavoidable way. All because their advertising algorithms have me grouped into some theoretical, sum of averages demographic, and because it's not enough that amazon sells and profits from products as middle men; they also have to sell advertising space. (As the article I linked at the start of this post explains, it's not even financially efficient advertising; which begs the question as to why the fuck everyone is still doing it. My guess is because there's far more reasons than just advertising involved with it.)

It goes further than just Amazon. I've used Reddit off and on for years, and I'm beginning to separate myself from that platform entirely, too. Why? Because of targeting advertising that even adblockers can't make disappear. I see the same ads, even after clearing cache and deleting my current account - presumably because they're tracking me by IP address (my address is relatively static) or through Verizon sold data (oh, yes - you thought your ISP doesn't sell your data, because you pay them too much for internet service already? Think again: https://www.verizon.com/about/privacy/full-privacy-policy#acc-item-30)

It's not like I do anything illegal or have anything to hide, or that I even care that some AI or algorithm uses my data to pigeonhole me. Because I really don't give a shit. It's more the fact that there should be platforms and internet service and places I can go and use the internet that don't fucking do that. That respect my natural right to privacy. Like the internet did twenty years ago, more or less.

People in the 1950s didn't have a giant database entry with every thing they ever purchased, every word they ever wrote, every phone call they ever made, every friend they ever had, and have that database combed over by God knows who every so often (besides the algorithms and AIs that target advertising using it.) Seems like a really fucking worrisome trend, the kind of tool autocratic governments of the past would've dreamed of. And while even in the US we still have some privacy protections...from our government...they have collectively shrugged their shoulders regarding private business violating those same protections. Because there's a 'terms of service.'

(What would happen if a police officer gave me a 'terms of service' that violated my legal rights, but offered me something in return for signing it? Like...access to a social media platform that has 2.45 billion users and basically all of my friends and family using it, for instance? I think that police officer would've broken the law. But a private corporation? Seems perfectly fine...for some reason.)

Politics

There is only one group of people we have to blame for the current political situation on the 'left', and that's the voters that went out and voted for Joe Biden in the primary. As far as I'm concerned they're all complicit in this country self destructing - either because they're too stupid to understand why Biden isn't a good thing, or because they knowingly voted for a corporate shill. There may be some edge argument that "Sanders couldn't win so we went out and voted for Biden" but I don't really believe that - I think it's used as an excuse. Sanders is a far more popular human being (and Senator) than Biden is, he is far more consistent in his politics and ideals, and he was someone who we know the "establishment" really didn't like. All good things given the state of the Nation. So, yes. The people who voted for Biden in the primary...I'd say they might be worse than Trumpets. For the simple reason that their neoliberal agenda (or that of those they vote for) is essentially accomplishing the same thing the neo-conservatives are...with a few more concessions for the working people. Wolf in a sheep's clothing. I'd rather you be honest if you're screwing me over, you know?

Of course, what the motivations of these people really were, I don't know, and I don't particularly care. The reality is that Biden has been caught numerous times already backpedaling on his 'progressive' platform points, including things like major stimulus/financial aid for the most vulnerable people in the country (while the wealthy make record profits, even when our unemployment is higher than ever before - weird, right?) He doesn't support universal healthcare - like Obama before him, he seems interested in expanding private for profit insurance to "cover more people", but isn't interested in a not-for-profit option. Neither is Kamala Harris, as far as I'm aware - not that it matters, since Vice Presidents are basically ceremonial (while reaping some benefits in foreign policy, as Biden's son did - through Ukraine - during Obama's presidency.)

All over the internet boards and blogs and more independent leaning news outlets, the message is the same: we must vote for Biden because Trump will be a million times worse. Will he, though? Or are the claims of fascism overblown; a way to force many people who might otherwise sit this one out into voting for yet-another-corporate-candidate? I'm not even convinced there's going to be a fundamental difference between Biden and Trump as far as our economic landscape goes, and while Trump might throw more conservatives into the courts, I'm not convinced Biden won't do that either (you know, because Democrats in Power have this amazing history of picking 'moderates' to please Republicans, with the excuse that it will help Democrats get things done they want done...and it never works out that way, so really, it just looks like Democrats in Power are moderates or even conservative-leaning themselves!)

I don't think it matters who we vote for this time. Biden delays the inevitable and his presidency will be so fucking useless that the millions of white working class MAGA Americans will show up in even greater numbers come 2024 to vote in whatever insane neocon is on the ticket. Trump has permanently established an extremist wing of the Republican party, leading an electorate down a road they probably won't ever turn back from, and, according to some, will likely use this as a spring board into developing his own media brand (so even after he leaves the presidency, his bullshit will continue on in the airwaves.)

This might be the last political post I ever write in here; I can't waste what little energies I have remaining on this nonsense anymore. None of it matters; none of these politicians believe in what I believe in. They're all various incarnations of the same core concept, which is corporate power and money above all else, above even the very people they were elected to serve. I find it unlikely that there will be any positive change in this country beyond cultural ones that are of questionable value themselves (corporate hijacking of movements like BLM seems to signal that some of these 'progressive' or 'social justice' movements are not so progressive after all, but rather serve some purpose for capital; they seem pretty ineffectual regardless, about as ineffectual as the democratic party.)