All posts by Sandy Copeland

Men and Women are Seen Differently in the Same Situation

I was reading this article on CBC. Long story short, it talks about men not going into what would be considered traditionally female careers. The conclusion, or the point that is made, is that men are not adapting to the changing job markets. This is a reasonable observation and is probably partially true.

However, there is major framing in this argument that seems dishonest. In particular, calling it a failure of men to adapt.

Considering a similar issue, there is a common thread in talk about STEM industries. It is often said that they are male dominated and females are excluded. From this side of the argument, it is often believed that the problem is that woman are discouraged or blocked from participating. From this idea of the cause, programs are set up to encourage women to participate and take part in STEM industries and education.

For these two similar types of situations, we have two different approaches. With men, there is a failure to adapt, with women, there are barriers and impediments that are blocking them. If we are, to be honest about these situations, wouldn’t we need to assume that the causes were similar? If that was the case, we should be reducing the barriers for men and women to the respective careers they’ve been avoiding. Even better, should we rely on personal responsibility and say that both groups are refusing to adapt?

I’d suspect that while both sides are seen differently, i.e., treated differently. The real cause of the framing is rooted in very traditional views of men and women.

The traditional gender roles would see women as needing to be protected because they can’t do things for themselves. Men, on the other hand, are seeing as strong, and completely responsible for themselves. Of course, these are brash, incomplete analogies, but my intended meaning should be clear.

This is to say, that while these issues are seemingly similar on both sides, the way they are approached comes down to mythologies about our different views of men and women. It curious to think that while these issues are happening today, in modern times, our approach to viewing them comes from stories many thousands of years old.

With this said, it’s hard to believe that our approach is going to change anytime soon. So how do we solve these problems if we can’t be honest about them? Why is it that while we try to breaking with tradition, we still cling to it? We wish to abandon the past, but still, want to be able to use it to explain our problems.

If we want equality, there needs to be equality everywhere, but equality doesn’t mean denying reality, at least it shouldn’t.

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

End Times End Now

We live in an interesting age, a time where we are unable to predict what will come next and yet at the same time are totally sure that we know exactly what will happen next. That is an interesting contradiction, to say the least, and it is leaving us extremely vulnerable for a surprise.

Us humans with our oversized brains and books of ideas seem to think that we know everything about the world, we think that if we find ourselves in a situation that needs a solution we will be able to jump to the task. Yet, all the time we prove to ourselves that that isn’t the case, we show ourselves that we are mostly just guessing, thinking we are headed in the right direction.

A great analogy for the times we found ourselves in is to consider a car speeding down the highway going way over the speed limited. The driver is stone sober but thinks he can fly and that no wrong will ever come to him, so he doesn’t have a seatbelt on. Our collective humanity is that person driving that car, we are sure that we know what we are doing, but one surprise or one mistake could be our almost certain death.

It could certainly be true that things are bad and that they are getting worse, we hear every day about global catastrophes lingering around the corner, waiting to be discovered and seen. We hear that our planet is melting down and will extinguish us in time. That our antibiotics are becoming useless and that there is nothing we can do. There are wars all around the world, and somehow we are all responsible for them, to the same point, something is going to spark and bring the whole world down with it.

The problem, which might be hard to believe is that we believe all of this stuff, we walk around all day, looking at the world around us but aren’t quite convinced, we believe it anyway. How can we really know what is happening in the world, we can only see what is happening around us, we can only look at screens to see what they have to say. But the screens don’t really know anything either, they are filled with faces of people who have been mostly wrong about everything they have said for the last few years.

And so we grow more cynical, what is there to do otherwise, it is not like we want to go to these terrible places in the world and see the destruction that is actually occurring. It’s not that we can look up at the sky and know what is going on with the environment. It is not like we can know anything at all.

The screens and their sources, the media want us to believe that it is the end of time, that things will end and the end is right around the corner. At the same time, they are sure that we will have a solution to all the problems. The message is really one of someone who doesn’t believe in anything at all, and that is how you should take it. Rather than taking their word for it, just a assume it is a lie, or more of an elaborate fiction meant to amuse you. That is the industry, entertainment and fear.

So rather than assuming that what they say is true and that the end is near, take a look at the world around you and see that it’s not so bad, in fact, it might be amazing. You sort of just need to believe it, you need to accept while at the same time deny what is being presented to you.

The end times end when you accept that we really have no idea what is going on, we really can’t see ten feet in front of us, and we really will be surprised at every turn. The end of the world is waiting for us, but it isn’t now, there is no end except the final one.

To be true to yourself and to really embrace the world, you need to accept that it isn’t the end of time and that what you seen on your screens can’t possibly be true.

The End Times End Now.

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

Facebook as Neo-Feudalism

Feudalism was a system of nobles and workers. In exchange for the fruits of the workers labour, the nobles provided protection and the use of land.

In this analogy, Mark Zuckerberg is the king, the rest of the nobles consist of the employees of Facebook and some of the shareholder. The workers are the daily users of Facebook, they work the land by creating content for their ‘friends’ and follower.

Facebook by its position owns the land, they set up the infrastructure, built the applications, and store the data. They also provide protection, they allow users to block those they don’t like, provide safe spaces (groups) and protect content within their walled garden. Facebook protects users data and keeps the site online so the workers have a dependable place to go. Facebook goes to war to gain land, by building cloned products or flatout buys the competition.

Through this relationship, Facebook has come to be worth around 300 billion dollars, all of which belonging to the nobility (with some overlapping users). Most of the users have gained no capital for their work, though they may value the intangible social capital.

Something to consider: Facebook is a company that has created a web application. They work to build it and keep it online, but Facebook is nothing without its users. In fact, it could be argued that the users are the value of Facebook, without them it would be 1’s and 0’s on a computer. Facebook maybe a fun way to spend time, but by using it, you are working for free.

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

The Greatest Echo Chamber Ever Created

The internet is the greatest echo chamber ever, it is a place where one can find their niche and stick to it with the strictest precision. The original goal of the internet was to create a place where open communication could be facilitated and ideas could be shared. In principle this is a great idea, but when it comes to the practical application, it is the opposite of what happened.

People are drawn to others like them, in the real world we befriend the people around us who share our interests. Luckily we can’t find people who are exactly like us, so we are forced to intermingle with people who share our interests but don’t totally overlap. In real life you might be a Toronto Blue Jays fan while your friend is into the Yankees or even basketball instead. Friends may share a mutual interest in sports, but not so much on the specifics so a larger range of common interest overlap. In real life we find people who we share some interests with but at the same time aren’t exactly like us.

However, when interests are pushed to the internet, they transcend the typical geographic barriers to relationships and allow people with similar interests from all around the world to connect. The range of people who can share the interest is extended to the extreme, so anyone who has the interest can be a part of the conversation. Unfortunately these groups self-select and members who don’t share the ideas exactly can leave and find another group that does.

This means that over time any group on the internet, more easily than in real life, will consist of only the most extreme members, thus the topics of conversation will become stricter and more limited. This also means that exposure to different ideas and opinions will become fewer as those who don’t agree will leave while new additions will come for the ultra-specificity of the group.

Online groups tend to be formed around specific niches, thus their focus is by necessity narrow. In real life situations, as a group spends more time together a greater range of topics may come up in conversation. On the internet with a cornucopia of groups for specific interests one must be a member of multiple communities to get exposure to different ideas, which can be difficult.

Specialized group play language games where words gain specific meanings, this leads to the a difficulty in understand of the claims of another group. When the meaning of our words change, we lose the ability to understand contradictory views.

The internet’s great offer was the spread information, but our natural tendency is to stick with people like us. As a result our ideas become supersaturated and we lose touch with information outside of our group and ideas. In time we become intolerant of alternative ideas and the only views we hear are the ones we already agree with.

It is easy to get caught up in these games, we usually don’t even realize we are playing them until we take a step back, but even that is difficult. The internet was supposed to liberate our minds, but it has actually created intellectual prisons for our thoughts. Hyperconnectivity only makes this worse, not only have we lost sight of the groups we aren’t a part of, we have started to forget that they even exist while we become more sure of what we already know.

If we want to expand our mind we need to step back and realize the echo chambers we have become a part of and free ourselves. The worst prisons are the ones we don’t even realize we are in, if we knew maybe we would wonder how we got into them in the first place.

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

We really want people who look different but have the same ideas

There is a common belief among those who lean left or consider themselves progressive, that there is a lack of diversity in various positions of power in our society. It is easy to see this as an issue as it is so obvious, checking the Forbes rich list and you will see a collection of mostly white males. Looking at the heads of many of the fortune 500 companies and you will see the same demographic. This observation of course is very superficial, it is true that these people look the same, but they also think the same way, which I would argue is much more important.

Be it their privilege as white males, or their life experiences, these people have grown to see themselves as powerful, and thus have moved through the ranks of the various institutions they can be found in. The skills they possess and how they were acquired is irrelevant, but nonetheless determine their ability to float to the top. Certainly their race and gender may have helped them, but is that the cause or simply a correlation.

When people seek to increase diversity they suggest that things will be better or at least different if there were more women or people of colour in positions of power, they criticize the systems for being white male dominated. Ironically, the people who make these arguments believe that because someone looks different they will by necessity have different views.

However, if a woman or person of colour is to hold a similar position, they will need to hold the same values and opinions as the currently leading group. The basics of business don’t change, profits and profit margins determine the success of any business. Being able to fit in with the people already in power requires having the same views as them.

This is to say, if we banished sexism and racism the people who floated to the top could look different, but they will all have the same ideology. Which is to say, if there is more diversity in appearance, institutions will continue to be the same. Processes and procedures will not change, neither will values or morality, things will be the same, with the exception of the way some of the people look.

A very simple example is the case of the current american president, his whole campaign revolved around the idea of change. But if you look at the facts, the only real difference is the colour of his skin and a slight adjustment for his political affiliations. The cause is that positions of power are determined by the systems they are found in. The president’s role and abilities are defined by the position he holds and his similarity to the people who held the position before him. The same could be said if a woman were to take his place next year, she too would be limited by the constraints of the system and the fact that her constitution is the same as any of the white males who have held the position before her.

If we are to be honest we can look at this a little further, a likely presidential candidate in the US will have grown up in an upper middle class family. They will likely have attended an elite university, which will mean that they were surrounded by a certain type of people. They will grow up around these people who will influence their way of seeing the world, regardless of their gender or the colour of their skin.

It takes a certain type of person to be able to succeed at any type of leadership. We should not look at appearances, that is missing the point, what we should look at is ideas. If we do then we will see that ideas are a greater connector than the colour of someone’s skin or the shape of their genitals. If we really only want diversity in appearance, than what we really want is a bunch of people who think the same way.

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

The biggest problem with social media is….

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

What is important, such a strange questions….

Still thinking about determinism, what I should do with my life ad nausea, politically correct / status quo stuff, and my own intelligence.

Over thanksgiving we went to my mom’s house for a couple of days, I knew there was a psycho-analysis I got done while I was at college, so I wanted to take a look at it, I knew there was something in particular that I was curious about.

The analysis was about all sorts of different things and skills, the conclusion was that I was around average with all things considered, but I also remember quite clearly the day of the test, it was early in the morning, like 8, so I was tired (I’m not a morning person), …… and complained many times about how loud the room was and how hard it was to focus on the test. Given all those poor choice and external factors beyond my control, certain results were expected, especially those including short-term memory and focus…. But one stood out to me and that was fluid intelligence, you could look it up if you want, but the short of it, is the ability to problem solve in novel situations, or solve problems that don’t require previous knowledge…

If I think back there are lots of times when I’ve been able to solve problems that other people around me have given up on, even simple things like getting pinball machine to work, or opening a mouse to change the batteries. Also while doing some research on intelligence I found this article, obviously it is pop-psychology (there are better ones), but it is something I have a problem with… My boss commented and I agree that while I was working at home my efficiency improved greatly, and even my friend has commented often about my sensitivity to noise, which probably explains why I like staying at home alone when I want to get things done – yet right now I am procrastinating.

I guess the point, beyond the humble-brag is that I’ve always been aware that I am different, but at least part of that is caused by intelligence, additionally I’m becoming more aware of myself, coming to understand why I do things and behave the ways I do, like a sense of becoming aware of self…. Spinoza said that the key to free will was to realise that while your behaviour is determined you become free by understanding the instinct and causes of your emotions and feelings, which are related to those actions.

That said, I can’t solve the biggest problem in my own life, knowing what to do, one thing I did learn during the time was that writing is what I want to do, but at the same time I’m worried that I could fail or not succeed – which in turn cause procrastination and laziness. At the same time even if I was great that wouldn’t guarantee success, which then means I have to keep on working at a job, but I have no desires to improve my lot at work, cause it isn’t what I want, it’s like being stuck in a hamster wheel and not knowing how to step out.

At the same time, I watch at work and know I don’t have the skills to be successful in an office, I can’t pretend to like people or work that I don’t and I’m caution about answering work related questions with consequences. I’ve to notice that the people who spit out BS confidently get more respect than the contemplatively correct. I’ve also noticed that the types of people who take charge of situations and work (leadership types) often are the biggest maintainers of the status quo and aren’t often right or original, but just confident (most but not all).

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

There Are No Great Men

In these times we always focus on the actions of individuals, in some cases as a culture we even idolize them, but this seems to be severely misguided.

That isn’t to say that people are irrelevant, but that individuals are irrelevant. The way that things are is a result of the times and the aggregate of all the people.

If it wasn’t Zuckerberg, Jobs or Gates it would have been someone else around the same time.

These people acted in their times, which is to say they were a product of their times, they are the result not the ’cause’ of what they do. We always seem to focus on the actions of ‘one man’, but the reality is that that ‘one man’ was nothing without the times and the people who did what he asked.

Maybe in order to understand why things happen we need to create some kind of focus, some point of worship, some great mover. The reality is that ‘we’ are all the great mover and all the product of our times. If it wasn’t us or them it would have been someone else.

“You can rise above yourself, But never the times that you live in.”
– Sam Roberts

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

Intangible Value is Where All the Money Is

In our world it would seem that the people who create intangible value make the most money, while those who create tangible value seem to make less. Take the example of pro athletes, they make lots of money but most of their value is intangible (entertainment).

Investment banking creates derivative value, usually intangible and off of the value created by others, the heads of banks make boatloads of money.

From the second point, we can assume that those who who create value might not be the ones who benefit most from it.

Ready my short story: Korean Affair