Tag Archives: economics

Halloween is Calling



Given the current economic state of most of the people I know and the fragile condition our nearing-shut-down-for-good government, I would have supposed that Halloween spending would show significant declines, but that is not the case. As 2012 revealed, our American culture seems to be quite attached to the macabre.

Wake Forest University English Professor Eric Wilson says it is more than just an interest in the macabre, however. He writes in his book Everybody Loves a Good Train Wreck, that the tougher the times, the more our desire to escape and seek to become somebody else. Halloween presents one of the most socially acceptable times to do just that.

When we put on a costume, a part of us at least, becomes somebody else. And we are more than willing to spend time and even money that is not so easy to come by on that opportunity.

According to phys.org, last year’s National Retail Federation Survey showed 170 million Americans planned to spend a whopping $8 billion dollars on their Halloween celebration. It will be interesting to see if we surpass that this year.

As someone who has spend many years in the mental health field, I am not focusing on the economic and marketing aspects of these findings, but more on the need that so many of us have to escape from our lives.

Halloween Costume

Halloween Costume

What is it, that we are failing to do for ourselves, in our own skin, that makes us look so longingly toward being someone else, even if it is only for one night out of the year? Are that many of us truly that unsatisfied with our own lives? These thoughts frighten me much more than Freddie Kruger or Mike Myers.

I wonder how many of us actually find the time to do at least one thing that we love to do every day. Before I began writing on more of a full-time basis, I was one of those people who would go through every day doing basically what needed to get done with little or no time for to do what I enjoyed doing or what nurtured myself.

Even if I managed to make it to the gym or walk for my health, it was crammed into my day in such a way that it became another thing I needed to make sure I did, rather than something I enjoyed or took the time to fully experience and take in.

Carved Pumpkin

Carved Pumpkin

And I wonder, how many of us are caught in that trap without carving out a 20-minute segment of time to just melt into ourselves. Speaking of carving, I bet we all have our pumpkins carved for this Thursday!

Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

Game Theory in Society: Playing Not To Lose

Game Theory in Society: Playing Not To Lose

When you are 16 there is no fear whatsoever. As you get older you play in more important games and that is when you start thinking about what will happen if you win or lose. ~Wayne Rooney

Current educational systems within society work to divorce the child from his or her natural will, whether that is curiosity or wonder or innocence. An educational system structured on nurturing and nourishing these aspects of humanity work to reunite humans with their connection to nature, animals and their mammal-ness. To become again a human being, rather than a “cog in the wheel” or “gear in the machine” felt by many in current society, and what was beget by the likes of John B. Watson, Frederick Taylor, Ayn Rand and Edward Bernays.

Chess PawnThe educational system does not seem to be interested in providing paths inviting introspection or comprehension of theory of mind or even learning as a means to understanding. Education seems to have only a vested interest in preservation of funding, rote and memorization, grade fulfillment, bicameral thinking (linear grade promotion, success or failure, pass or fail, etc), homogeneous conditioning, etc. Frankly, this does not work and merely churns out workers, rather than evolving society/humanity as a whole. I mean, with current access of technology, shouldn’t this system be a lot farther along; instead, today’s educational system, for the most part, works against technology, rather than with it (however, this is slowly changing).

The educational system is but one part of the systematic deconstruction of human will, therefore, it becomes naturally normal humans will treat one another with impunity come what may and never change because such level of rudeness and offense is now hardwired into the human brain (socialization). Can this be changed? Even if an educational system built upon nourishing and nurturing, self-efficacy rather than self-esteem, ultimately, the change lies in the receiver of the tool (in the student), but that the instruments exist in the first place, that they are available to be utilized freely is an element of that change. In this way, the means to evolve can pass into legacy, can pass into the collective consciousness, if you will, available to any found wanting. Today’s child, even if he or she takes but a little from such teaching, may trigger a subtle reverberation within that causes him or her to behave differently in an otherwise routine circumstance. In this way, the “gene” can be inherited, and then improved in the next generation.

Playing Not To Lose

Fan FlourishToday’s systemic educational system supports and reinforces human suffering (for the supposed greater good, and that greater good is really the continued protection of what has become an extremely insecure society). You see, it is a form of game theory. We are playing not for profit, or even to win, but not to lose. Not to lose is a third option, that is to say, not an opposite of winning. But a third option, along with winning and losing. To play not to lose, is to risk the possibility of winning and to avoid any chance at all of losing. Applied to society, we have become comfortable in not losing anything, which seems like a better alternative. This is an illusion. To play not to lose would beget suffering, as one becomes so intent on making sure the status quo remains intact that any opportunity to change one’s station in life (however that may be) is discarded due to fear that one may lose everything one has “worked so hard,” up until now, to possess (which of course would be measured in the value placed in things, or the value placed in being allowed privilege of access to things, i.e., money. That is money as social institution, rather than a utility). This can make us bitter, and leads to suffering, fighting, and acts of violence, etc. How to stop this kind of behavior? How to end human suffering? At least, breed it out? Realization, or a precursor, the means to embark upon a journey to realization. Social systems (the forefront, to be honest, for human conditioning—conditioning not in the indoctrination sense, but in the sense of humanity, the natural state of human being-ness) would have to reflect that kind of philosophy.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on NIKOtheOrb as “Education In An Insecure Society”]

*Image Credits (all work used with permission through CC license)–
“Chess Pawn” by Doug Wheller
“Fan Flourish” by Marcelo Duarte
“Dice” by Daniel Dionne


A Question of Altruism


My latest question has come from reading the book Freakonomics. It’s all about how people respond to incentives and can be made to do just about anything given the right incentive. It’s based on the idea that people will try to get things they want with the lowest cost. There’s a chapter on altruism and much of the book deals with the fact that people do things for their own benefit. Acts like giving money to charity are seen not to be 100% selfless, because things like the warm glow and how others see you play a part.


I liked the experiments of the Dictator where one person is given an amount of money and has the option of giving another person some, all or none of that money. If people were only about self-interest they would keep all of it, but most people gave about 25% of their money. Not necessarily out of interest for the other person, but so they will look good in front of the examiner or to have that warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

In a variation of this experiment, both people were given the same amount of money but only one person could choose if they would give some of their money away or take some of the money from the other person. In this case people often took money from the other person, so there goes any selflessness.

But when both people had to work (by doing some task) for the same amount of money and one person had the option to give or take the money, it was more likely that not as much was taken as in the previously mentioned experiment. This suggests we value it when people earn their money. 

Selfless or self-interested?

A real life example of when self-interest seems to rule over selflessness is when people don’t intervene when they witness abuse. There have been TV shows that show people walk right past a person being beaten up (staged by actors) or just stand round and watch instead of either physically intervening, saying something or calling the police.

Of course there are heaps of examples of people acting out of self-interest: cheating, stealing, murder, etc. And there are good acts that appear selfless, but I wonder how much of it is actually out of self-interest. Social pressure plays a big role in getting people to do the right thing as people try to avoid being looked down on. The advertising for giving money to charity often mentions the fact that anything over $2 is tax deductible, which provides an added incentive to give besides the warm glow of giving. A person can do a good act simply because they feel good when they live up to their own morals and can feel high and mighty about themselves. In this way selflessness leads to pride, which is definitely in the interests of self.

I wonder if it is possible when no-one is looking for people to take the selfless option. If there was a guarantee that no-one would ever find out that you stole a million dollars that was sitting on a table, would you resist? There would be no social pressure coming into the decision making, there would be no-one in the way of you taking it and no punishment. Who could resist? In a way you’d be stupid not to do it. Given those circumstances I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t take it and I’m the ISTJ duty fulfiller and reformer so my moral standards tend to be as high as they come.

That’s why I’m not sure if people truly are altruistic. But with more thought I do think it is possible not to take it. But I’m not sure it would be for selfless reasons. If I wasn’t to take it, it would be because of my morals, because I believe it is wrong to take it. Regardless of anyone else I still have to live with me and I want to live up to my morals so that means I can’t take it. But this is all self-interest reasoning; it’s all for me and what I want and for my peace of mind. So I wonder if that’s the best we can hope for: altruism in the sense that people do the right thing because they want to do the right thing and therefore do what they want, i.e. altruism with self-interest but self-interest that benefits others. 

Law of incentives

I wonder if there is anything that could go against everything someone wants and yet they still do it for the sake of others. If you believe in the law of incentives: no, because at some point no matter how small, you do things because you want to. Even if you don’t want to do it, you see a good reason to and that makes you do it or else you wouldn’t do it. 

I have no conclusion. These are just my rambling thoughts on something I’ve been questioning. Intriguing!

The Machine

The Machine

Forget for a moment about consciousness—the conscious and the unconscious. For the moment, it does not apply.






GearsElements of The Machine – Imagine instead a machine, otherwise known as Labor Machine, an Economy. Imagine an assembly line: the parts, every person behind an ergonomically correct desk (ergonomically correct since it is important to keep the machinery operating as long as possible for the most value, the highest appreciation, even as it depreciates from the first day of service. The same way you oil your car, defrag your computer, or upgrade your cellphone). Every product, the papers shuffled and chased, faxed and scanned, keystroke logged and date transmitted across the aether. The fuel, every illusion in the guise of ambition, promotion, education, salary increase and wage increase, health care benefit, and credit of disposable income (and all income is disposable). The cling and clang, every depressed Enter key, every E-mail sent successfully, and every business call. The oil, every complaint lodged around the bottled water vending machine, every gossip, every rumor, and every Facebook status. The gears, every doctor’s office visit, every pill taken as prescribed, every weekend all-nighter, every vacation, every affair, every therapy visit, every porn film viewed in secret, every alcohol binge, every drug abused, every party, every fight over finances, and every spousal argument. Take a step back now and conceive The Machine, look at it moving, it resembles a pogrom, a laboring camp, intent upon operating unto final extermination.

Wicked LondonThe Production of the Machine – There is much this Machine produces and not all of it tangible. One of which is the so-called Underground Economy. How does this work? As drug deals performed with government supplied money, alcohol purchased with currency-exchanged food stamps, paperless jobs with federal money unreported as transacted, shoplifting and reselling outside of store walls, loans with unapproved, non-LIBOR based rates of interest, unacknowledged police forces, undocumented education, unlicensed practices of lawyering, doctoring, and surgery, unmarked graves and unreported deaths, unconsented fornication, crime never called and violations no law has touched or judged imagined, prisons without statistics, and new humans without names or birthdays. . .endless deception. A machine within The Machine; an inception. On certain levels, there are those who never notice or hear about the underground machine, but profit from its existence. Oh, its shallowed ills are certainly spectacularized by media, but even this arm of the pogrom does not have full access. Its vantage point is too contrived. Nevertheless, within the depths, in limbo of the machine only the workers (Worker Bs) know. Only those marked within the walls, incarcerated by its mentality, suffer sheep-like, the effects. Just wandering blank-eyed zombies with scientifically managed jingles on perpetual play in their heads. Does The Machine disgust no one? Does no one spy its black blood?

UntitledAugmented Reality as Deception in The Machine – Let us now return to consciousness. For it is only consciousness that can conceive of the aspects of the unconscionable; therefore, perceive the products of its creatures. But why deception (as mentioned in preceding paragraph)? Augmented reality:  “More Real Than Real Life” [NOTE: this phrase surmises the definition of augmented reality, which enhances reality by modifying the view of real life using computer-generated input]. Think about that statement. If reality were not merely “real” but also ultimately realized, a reciprocal relationship between subject and object becomes clear. A kind of seamlessness of Heisenberg’s Principle, which, I think, is fundamentally the [philosophical] idea that the external world is as much a component of the internal world as the internal world is as much a component of the external, or the symbiotic synthesis of inner space and outer space. Analogous to if the extrinsic and intrinsic were mother and child, or womb and offspring. As such, sharing molecular structure and genes, atoms of womb remain with offspring. Essentially, transcending the barrier (however, the barrier could also be said to be an illusion, that there really isn’t a between at all; this idea will be explored in subsequent posts, but is not altogether necessary or relevant to current post) of form; i.e., skin and skein, thusly applied to the idea of inception, a machine within The Machine. The Machine as womb, and the Underground Machine as offspring. Now, augmented reality supposes supernaturalism over real and realized, the real world. A kind of divinity, a god; i.e., more than itself than image of itself, like reducing the holy trinity to a hyper-coupling. Mathematically, three equals three plus two, or 3=5. In other words, inception of The Machine creates exponentially (much like the Fibonacci sequence relates to exponential grown) other machines. Not necessarily lesser or greater machines as to use smaller, lesser, or similar description would not adequately describe as size does not matter, only that there is reproduction, another level or subsequent dimension, i.e., the analogy of womb and offspring, with “genetic” structure like the mother, yet dissimilar enough to operate independent of the mother. Ergo, any inception of The Machine resembles The Machine (interdependency) yet operates under its own volition (independency). Exponential because The Machines fractalizes which creates an Underground Machine.

How is reality realized? One way is through sensation, the medium of the senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Imagining “real life” using this perspective begets a question: what senses, if any, are involved in the realization of Augmented Reality? Augmented Reality by formula conveys by way of transmission through the eyes and ears, subsequently realized in the brain (signal processing). However, Augmented Reality (and essentially the internet and current Digital Era) is actually an illusion. Simply data created about the external world, not information directly processed from or of the external world (the real world, reality). That data, therefore, as sole substance of the extrinsic. Does this not, ergo, effect and affect the intrinsic? Augmented Reality’s apparent boast (“More Real Than Real Life”) does not augment reality, but transforms realization and metamorphoses real life (that is a style of life based on what is realized). Essentially, Augmented Reality would actually purport to possess control over real life. As the senses become obsolete in reality augmented to such an extent, supplanted by steady streams of data. This is the deception.

Mechanical Rose HipThe Ghost from The Machine – The Worker Bs incorporating The Machine constitute a biological organism in the first degree. A biological organism as god, created in god’s (The Machine) image (inception). The manifestation of the trinity (the hyper-coupling mentioned above), more than the realization, quite a difference between manifestation and realization. Augmented Reality as data stream downloaded into the brains (the hive consciousness) of the Worker Bs and the Worker Bs employed, occupied, functioning as an organized body is the manifestation of the trinity; i.e., phasmatis ex apparatus (“ghost from the machine”). Worker Bs (or people, the inhabitants of the Machine as an environment) construct the “consciousness” of the Machine, that consciousness (consciousness in the sense of wisdom of the crowd, or cloud computing) composes the ghost.

Unfortunate EventsThe Machine as a Realized Environment – How does this apply to The Machine? What if The Machine were a realized reality? In other words, not real, only realized? If a biological organism were inhabitant of that machine, in what way does that environment (ex., the operation of The Machine as an environment) affect that organism? Wouldn’t the outcome result in an inception? Quite the inversion of its promises (reality augmented), perhaps a diminished reality (counting as an inception, recall that size or direction does not apply, only that a fractalization results). A dying under the auspices of vitality, a dulling disguised as quickness, a boredom masquerading as invigoration (ex., bureaucracy, employment, and schooling). That is how I see the underground machine, as an inversion. A 90° turn, a twist, a displaced and tangential realm. Clone of the “original” economy (The Machine), only the copy is not quite as astute so degenerates further into depravity (as a whole). The Augmented Reality as perverted, not as superior of nature, but as infranatural or a hyporeality. Not even a parallel universe (the fractalization does not occur linearly) but one tangential; therefore, an electronic homunculus, a monstrosity; albeit, unlike Frankenstein’s for it lacks awareness of its existence.

This originally appeared on my other blog I share with my boyfriend, EXPLORINGtheLATERAL as “Machine: Part One” (I am the original author of the post on that blog).

*Image Credits (all artwork used with permission through CC license)–
“Gears” by tim_d
“Mechanical Rose Hip” by rore
“Steampunk Beholder Miniature robot sculpture – Daniel Proulx – Canada . : Steampunk Exhibition at The Museum of the History of Science, The University of Oxford, U.K.” by Daniel Proulx 
“Wicked London” by Trey Ratcliff
“Untitled” by Jose Maria Perez Nunez
“Unfortunate Events” by ToNToN CoPT



Why care?


Best Of The Week


The most popular posts of the week both had to do with the saddening swell of violence and terror in Egypt this week: Violence Erupts In Egypt — Reactions & Analysis, and my follow up piece Egypt Quickly Descending Into Hell.

Other highly circulated pieces included Californians Use Less Electricity As Everyone Else — Here’s Why; our brutal and effective Photo Of The Day: “Not All Violence Is Physical”; and whether or not it’s time to mark The End Of The Art Gallery?

Just a few recommendations, in case you missed them: Is Washington In A Post-Policy Moment?; my thoughts on why Obama’s Economic Approval Rating is so terribly dismal; Here’s How Little The Public Knows About The Deficit; and a small defense of Edward Snowden, Time To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due.

For good measure, also check out Rep. Steve King’s latest racist rant. Good luck with that Hispanic vote.