Category Archives: Philosophy

Philosophy by definition is the study of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. While I am not religious or endorse Buddhism, I think there is a valid reason why the ethics, moral and self discipline of Buddhism has taken an important role in modern Western clinical psychology and even clinical physiotherapy (physical therapy).

Ordinary tech heroes

The dictionary definition for the term hero reads; a person who, in the opinions of others, has heroic qualities or has performed heroic acts and is regarded as a ideal or model for the rest of the community. The classical definition implies that you know the person well enough to identify the hero. If you research any civilization, almost all heroes are popular characters with very unique social statuses. In this Information Age, not all leaders have the desire to be famous. But all great heroes from the history to the present have similar stories to tell.

..it is hypocritical for organizations like FoxNews, CNN and even BBC to criticize the lack of education and/or high moral backgrounds of people like Edward Joseph Snowden, while at the same time the workers in these media giants use iPhones made by a college dropout, Mr. Steve Jobs and Microsoft Windows OS made by Mr. Bill Gates who never passed a programming course.

They haven’t changed

In modern Information (technological) Age, often we disregard our history because we think the history is irrelevant. From my opinion, it is the opposite.

In 2013, most of the news in Canada has been dominated by privacy issues. Our increasing dependencies on technology has lead to redefining the term privacy. The key players in this privacy wars have both supporters and opposers. Just like in World War I or the French Revolution, a hero to some may be a villain to the others. Bradley Edward Manning and Julian Paul Assange are examples of modern day heroes or villains. Regardless if this is the 1800s or the 21-century, there is always a conflict between what is considered good and what is considered evil. The history has repeated itself and nothing much has changed. The only difference between the war lords like the Alexander the Great or the King Asoka and the modern tech world lords is the medium in which they fight. Unlike in the old days, it is not always clear what we are fighting for because the causes are often complex and dynamic. I think this is why most people are unaware of the growing problems in the modern world.

Birth of the IT heroes

Today in 2013 a Computer Engineer or a student with access to a network can cause more damage to a country than a nuclear weapon. From stock markets, educational systems, banking system all the way to the private family databases have been digitized. While it provides faster access to information, it has also significantly altered the way we fight. The same network and database that provide information on your family history like ancestry.ca can also be used to track you down by your enemies. The same fail proof DNA evidence is used in trials have been linked to wrongfully convicting innocent people.

You could be a 10 year old or a 90 year old with access to a high speed Internet connection. You could have no friends or lots of friends outside of the “networked world”. You could have Facebook and Twitter accounts or you may never had one at all. You could be formally educated as a network and computer specialist or you could be someone who never passed a single high school course. It does not matter who you are, we all can be tech heroes. I came across stories in which 90 year old using a mobile phone took pictures of a bank robbery in progress and called the police at the same time. The group of unorganized individuals known as the “Anonymous hackers” includes people as young as 10 years old.

Side note on the background of people. I found it is hypocritical for organizations like FoxNews, CNN and even BBC to criticize the lack of education and/or high moral backgrounds of people like Edward Joseph Snowden, while at the same time the workers in these media giants use iPhones made by a college dropout, Mr. Steve Jobs and Microsoft Windows OS made by Mr. Bill Gates who never passed a programming course.

To some this is a great opportunity to be a hero while to others this is a great time to be a criminal. It all depends on how you use the technology, for what purpose and what is defined as “good” and “evil”.

What is good for the society?

Who should decide what is good for our civilization? The Governments run by handful of people? The tech heroes which include people with hidden evil intentions? The large data mining companies like Google or Amazon? These are valid philosophical and logical questions we should ask ourselves. Even if we answered them who will keep these in checked and balanced? In my opinion, this will be a never ending war. Unlike the French Revolution or the World War I and II, this tech war will have much larger impact on our civilization. While you could argue that this is not as fast and violent as “traditional wars”, I can counter argue with the increased dependency on technology, we would only need a single mad person to push that button to explode a nuclear missile.

Introduction to Modern Warfare

Israel use of banned chemical weapons
Israel use of banned chemical weapons

I do not think that I have to explain to my readers who are Bradley Edward Manning and Julian Paul Assange. They became famous for WikiLeaks which released large databases containing US Government’s criminal activities around the world. They have been viewed as enemies in some politicians (who probably couldn’t even connect a computer to a projector), while others have hailed them as heroes. Either way they are only two out millions of tech heroes.

Edward Joseph Snowden is another leader in the tech war. He exposed the NSA (National criminal Security Agency) operations involving spying on multimillion droller trade deals for American companies like Microsoft and Google and spying on US citizens. Too bad the modern media controlled by the few Zionist elites do not want to publish the US spying on trade deals eh?

The group of highly unorganized tech experts known by their umbrella name “Anonymous hackers” have been exposing corruptions in Governments and Private Companies. They have also forced powerful people (similar to A. Hitler) in modern companies to step down. They have also fought for the rights of civilian victims, which otherwise have no voice to promote justice. I am not going to say if they are good or bad, but if you would like to read their projects like Occupy Wall Street, Child Pornography crack down or Rehtaeh Parsons operation, ironically Google Search is your friend.

There are other small cases such as murders like Derek Medina of Miami posting messages on Facebook admitting to killing his wife or police officers being questioned (and often not changed) after digital video evidence recorded by civilians (and even their own other officers) indicate abuse of power. The best example of this in Canada is the Robert Dziekański Taser incident which created a ripple effect in the RCMP (Royal Canadian Male-only Police). How about those RCMP male officers groping female officers or even raping them by forcing them to have sex while on duty?

Aftermath Boston Marathon explosions
Aftermath of Boston Marathon explosions

Yes there are good examples from conventional type wars. The video and photographic evidence of modern wars such as the ones in Middle East have disputed the official accounts. The use of banned chemical weapons by Israel Army OR the use of lynching of Black men by Nazis are great example of conventional hate spilling over to the tech world. Let’s not forget about the the role of technological age in Abu Ghraib prison scandal photos. I did not know US Army had sluts until I came across those images. The Boston Marathon bombings civilian video surveillance is another example of bad guys being tracked using technologies.

Bangalore : Karnataka Cooperation Minister Lakshman Savadi seen watching porn.
Bangalore : Karnataka Cooperation Minister Lakshman Savadi seen watching porn.

With mobile devices ethics of using it also can be come in to question. The Women and Child Welfare Minister CC Patil and the Co-operative Minister Laxman Savadi (BJP) of India have been cought watching pornography during the Assebly in Benglauru. While this is nothing illegal in India or even in Canada, it brings the spotlight to ethics of technology and how we use it. The irony in this particular case is the abuse of technology is proven by another technology; the TV broadcast of political proceedings in India.

Back to the basics

May be the solution for those who would like to secure data is to going back to the old technologies. The reason Sub.-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle of the Canadian military was able to copy data from secure servers in Canada to a USB drive and hand information over to Russia, is because our data on military intelligence have been digitized in recent years. After the incident, I was researching on the history of spying and realized may be physically writing down non-time critical data is not a bad idea. Think about it, if you only keep the essential data and services on digital format, it would be at least bit difficult for someone to copy the data. While it is still not fail-proof, at least it would be better than the current system of digital encryption. In old days spies are trained to memorize information not copy information on a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant, now known as Smartphones or Mobile Computing Devices). This will completely eliminate the need for secure networks all together.

In my opinion, separating data networks from one another is another way to combat security issues. If you have a NAS (Network Attached Storage) with family pictures, why not simply separate the entire Internet LAN (Local Area Network) connections from the NAS connections? This will still give you the access to data on your home network while blocking all access from outside. It may not be an ideal solution for some, since you cannot access your data from outside the house, but still provide much better security than an encrypted password.

Democrazy to democracy

The point is the complications of tech world goes on and on…and in this technological age, it is difficult for anyone to keep secrets from everyone. After all, when even the authorities commit crimes, I do not see a problem in civilians taking actions to protect their community form crime and abuse. However the accountability knife should be able to cut on both ends. Both the criminals and the heroes should be held accountable for their actions. It is scary to say that it is difficult for us to keep track on who is watching whom. With billions of people with access to technology, the power has truly shifted from “democrazy” to true “democracy”.

Idc wh@t wrds r +ed 2 dic

Some linguistics would say OMG WTF (Oh My God What The Fuck) to words and acronyms that came out of the technological age. I asked an English professor how languages evolve. She told me the words are often added to a language in two distinct ways; through academics such as Shakespeare and through general usage. In the last ten years most words added to English dictionary did not come from academics, but rather from general usage.

Evolution of Modern English

Unlike in the old days we are heavily depend on electronic devices to communicate with each other. When the telephone was invented, some thought that it will be the end of “letter age”. In 1950s a unit called Pager was introduced to medical staff for faster communication with the hospitals. This trend catch on world wide and almost all hospitals around the world used (and still use) Pagers. The time it takes to transmit data from one client Pager to destination Pager depended on the length of the message being sent. This is because each packet of data (like a photon of light) can only be so big. Longer texts will be “cut in to pieces” transmission. In addition the Pager displays only used one line. Shorter the message easier for the end user to read. Why would you page, “There is a medical emergency. Come in as soon as possible” when you can page “ME ASAP”? I think this is the birth of electronic age acronyms.

AOL Pager: Message is too long? "Hi mom, How r u doing?"... would be better.
AOL Pager: Message is too long? “Hi mom, How r u doing?”… would be better.

But in 1970s Universities and US Government successfully establish a communication system called TCP/IP network (today we call it the Internet). With this the text age has rocketed in it’s popularity. Now the Pager and the Internet has effectively replaced most conventional letters of the “letter age”. This wide use has created the stage for not only modern languages.

Spread of English

English became a popular means of communication thanks to the British imperialism. After World War II, it was boosted by the American and “new world” imperialism. My dad said, “if German and Japanese won the war, today we won’t be speaking English. But rather German and Japanese”. He is right because English is now almost universal.

The popularity of English can be good and bad depend on how you look at it. It is good because compared to hundreds of dead languages, British did a good job in securing the future of their mother language. On the other hand academic institutions that safeguard the rules of English like the Oxford University has completely lost control over their language. In fact a lot of foreign English speakers (English as a Second Language) have contributed to a lot of new words. In July 2013, English-German dictionary now includes “shitstorm” often used by German Chancellor Angela Merkel(1). It is not just her but also a lot of Germans use “shitstorm” to describe out of control situations. While most of the newly added words are profanities, there are a lot of useful good words as well. For example, the phrase “friend zone” describes as “a situation in which a platonic relationship exists between two people, one of whom has an undeclared romantic or sexual interest in the other”(2). It was officially added to Oxford Dictionary in February 2013.

Even in the past

Did you know that Shakespeare invented a lot of words to describe emotions in his plays? British authors were (are) the inventors of new words. Later by the South Africans, Australians, Americans and Canadians also added millions of new words to English language. I find it hypocritical about some modern conservative academics argue against addition of new words. From what I understand, there are more English words originate outside of native English speaking countries than any other language on Earth. Which makes English stronger and better not weaker!

In case you still cannot read the title of this article; Idc wh@t wrds r +ed 2 dic = I don’t care what words are added to (the) dictionary.

References

1. Guardian

2. Oxford Dictionaries

It’s not the time to speak

If your ideas are not popular among your peers, it can be difficult to get your message across. Even if your points are valid and beneficial others, you may still have trouble convincing people around you. This occurs in almost all environments from home, school, office to in informal events.

While I am not very religious, there are some good points we can take out of almost all religions. In this particular case, an Indian philosopher (he never said he is a religious leader) well known as Buddha came up with several ways to improve how we speak and how to win an argument. The following diagram is based on his teaching which also later repeated by philosophers like Aristotle.

Chart is created based on the Buddhist texts titled, "Eightfold Path" and "Right Livelihood" translated by British and other historians.
Chart is created based on the Buddhist texts titled, “Eightfold Path” and “Right Livelihood” translated by British and other historians.

Explanation

True or untrue is based on evidence. If you believe what you about to say is logically justifiable, then it is true.

Constructive ideas can either be beneficial to the society or improve the current conditions. Destructive ideas either can be beneficial, but at a great cost to humanity. For example, Hitler was a great leader to depressed Germans after World War I. But his ideologies popularized through his speeches were more destructive than constructive.

Great ideas come in both evolutionary and revolutionary forms. If a new concept is not currently accepted by a large supportive audience, a revolution may not be the best option to popularize it.

Why should you love Western Democracy?

atomic_cloud_japanThe human civilization is an irony itself. There are more smoke screens control our precipitation of what is “right” and what is wrong than ever before. The ideology of Western Democracy is the world’s largest deception take take precedence. The following list of items may sounds ironic, but this is the true face of Western Democracy.

We should love the Western Democratic values because…

  • …we can get away with crimes in the name of it.
  • …we can can attack any other country and kill it’s citizens and get away with it.
  • …we can get wipe an entire civilization in the name of it.
  • …we can can steal other people’s resources in the name of it.
  • …we can can blame others for our own wrongdoing.
  • …we can control media and present it as free media to outsiders.
  • …we can forced down our religion without the UN getting our way.
  • …we can blame other political parties for our own mistakes.
  • …we will be respected even when we are the one with wrongdoing.
  • …we will be able to pass any otherwise unethical ideologies as ethical.
  • …we will be able to practice imperialism without the negative definitions attached to it.
  • …it will allow us to promote “free market” while still protecting the interests of large cooperation.
  • …it will help control banks for the rich and diminish the distribution of wealth.
  • …it will provide power to the rich thereby nulling the workers’ rights completely.
  • …it is simply the greatest hypocritical deception that is successful at controlling masses without a revolution!

Communicating with the natives

Canada is a country full of immigrants. Even if you are not an immigrant, your ancestors probably came here not as far back as 2000 years. No matter how we spin our origins, most Canadians can only trace their family history in Canada to may be 500 years (with exceptions to the Canadian Natives).

In Canada, we have two official languages; English and French. Most Eastern provinces widely use both languages for communication while in the West, English is more dominant (although you should be able to receive all the government services in both languages). Compared to our neighbor United States, the quality and level of education is very high in this country. Then you would be surprised to find some new immigrants to have a hard time communicating with Canadians not because their language abilities, but because of the way Canadians speak.

I met few people from Britain (aka UK) who also found that they have to relearn English to work with Canadians. Britain is the birthplace of English and we use the same principles (if not similar) that the British use for teaching the language here. But the break down in non-formal communication occurs because of what we called slang language.

While the number of words unofficially added to a language have a direct correlation with its popularity, almost all languages have slang terms. This make it difficult for an “outsider” to be effective in communication even if study resources are available beforehand. Most recent influx of immigrants to Canada are either from English speaking countries or have well educated backgrounds. Hence, most immigrants can work with proper English. However, in a regular communication situations, they have to understand the slang terms. So, how do you overcome this problem?

You would not find most of the slang words and phrases in a general English Dictionary. Unless you are having very serious financial difficulties, today most people have access to the Internet. There are several websites and apps (used by mobile devices, Macs and Windows 8) with information on almost any slang term. One of the best websites out there is UrbanDictionary.com. Search Engine service providers like Google can help as well. Another option is to be social and get to know the natives. Your friends and neighbors can be very helpful. But let me warn you on improper use of slag is no better than swearing. For example, saying “that’s so cool” to a friend who just announced passing away of his pet is highly inappropriate. I have heard so many people with good intentions have created hostile situations just because they wanted to practice their new slang term. One of the funniest I heard is that when a driving instructor said to a South Asian student, “Oh my gosh, you almost kill us both!” the student replied “Oh really!”. This made the instructor mad but eventually he realized that his student was just trying to use Canadian social norms in conversations. Id you are new to a country, do not add a lot of non-standard terms in conversations. Never ever use slang on written/typed communications. After all, not using slang is better than using them incorrectly.