Category Archives: Topical

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

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

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

of course it’s cold

The streetcar slowly passes through the city, things are quiet as I am running later than usual. A man talks in another language on his phone, people pass me as they board the train. The bell rings, someone has pulled the chain. We slow down, the man and some others depart. A girls wearing shorts complains that “it’s so cold”, I think “of course it’s cold, you are wearing shorts.”

Ready my short story: Korean Affair

The 1153

The 1153:

Live extremely well and infinitely better than everyone else. Own multiple homes and estates in exclusive neighbourhoods. Whats work? Education is of no concern. Forget about everybody else.

Everyone Else:

Lucky to live comfortably. Could own a home.  May get two weeks of vacation a year, and hopefully a decent retirement. Will hope their kids get a good eductions and a good job when they are older without going broke. Expected to have a job for most of their lives.

Ready my short story: Korean Affair