From Peter at Embrace Serendipity, the truth about lies –

Embrace Serendipity

‘The Truth Coming Out of the Well’, by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1896.

“According to a 19th century legend, the Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: “It’s a marvellous day today”! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well. The Lie tells the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!” The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing. Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back.

The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt…

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Facebook Anti-Propaganda Propaganda

On January 8, 2020 an article appeared in Teen Vogue titled “How Facebook is Helping Insure the Integrity of the 2020 Election” followed by “With the company’s huge platform comes huge responsibility”. The article interviewed five women who work on Facebook’s misinformation team. It read like a press release – Facebook has your back, we’re so wonderful, totally dedicated to eradication of misinformation, go team! The piece went to great lengths to illustrate how Facebook is tackling misinformation.

Several hours later Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg posted – “Great Teen Vogue piece about five incredible women protecting elections on Facebook. Since 2016 we’ve worked to stop the spread of misinformation, fight foreign interference and voter suppression, improve transparency, and encourage people to vote. There’s more to do and I’m so grateful we have this team – and hundreds of people across the company – working every single day to do it.”

Astute media watchers weren’t swayed by Facebook saccharine. Why no byline? Who wrote this? Something smells rotten. Rotten indeed – seems Facebook paid for the article, but rather than admit it, a line appeared on Teen Vogue reading “Editors note, this is sponsored editorial content”.  Facebook stayed the course, admitted nothing, apologized for nothing. Facebook paid for propaganda about how they’re combating propaganda! That’s not normal, or is it the new normal created by social media behemoths like Facebook?

Over the past few years work has allowed glimpses into hallowed halls at Facebook. Security is intense, it takes 15 minutes to secure visitor credentials. “Wear your lanyard at all times, stepping off concrete onto carpeted areas is forbidden, do not discuss Zuckerberg – it will be heard and not taken lightly. WTF? Beyond entrance formalities a bubble of extravagance erases any doubt Facebook has power and money to do what they damn well please. Motivational slogans of empowerment ripple seamlessly from futuristic team building hives to ping pong tables, $10,000 fresh squeezed orange juice machine, thirty foot wall of yours for the taking employee snacks, light meals, fresh produce and beverages. Who are these people?

In my opinion that’s the million dollar question. By all appearances Facebook culture embodies a young techno savvy millennial’s wet dream. Geek chic unleashed without cognisance of immense power and influence along for the ride. In a nutshell – Facebook wasn’t equipped to fathom a leap from social media army to commander in chief of global perspectives. That said, there’s absolutely no excuse for paid propaganda used in a anti-propaganda campaign.



Phonebots clog city streets. Tenacious, impenetrable and defiant, they march catatonic to the glow of their hand held device. They invade crosswalks with self absorbed surety of army ants, oblivious to crossing signals, traffic flow or common decency.

Wanting to scream “what’s wrong with you!” never goes well when driving a company vehicle. Self centred numskulls always take offence. Sometimes they snap a photo of our company logo/phone number, calling to express outrage over the employee who almost ran them down. Propriety dictates polite restraint. I take a deep breath, waiting patiently for phonebots to cross the street. Every so often my inner prankster honks the horn, if I’m lucky a phonebot jumps and scurries. One time a phonebot dropped their device, I laughed out loud.

Do phonebots know how infuriating they are? Believe it their right to cross intersections with flashing “Don’t Walk” signals? Create gridlock by stepping off the curb seconds before a light changes preventing vehicles from making turns, then dawdle along with kaleidoscope eyes fixated on their cell phone? Do the self absorbed little darlings care? Absolutely not! So I sit, and I wait, and every so often I shake them up with a strategically dispatched blast of the horn. It’s hysterical, phonebots hate it when you interrupt social media dribble in the middle of an intersection at rush hour.


29 Cents And Counting

Drove home at 2 am, couldn’t say what day it was and didn’t care, work wasn’t expecting me back for 11 luxurious hours. Eleven hours reminded exhaustion there’s more to life than work. Noticeable layers of dust cloaked my laptop, all I wanted was time to catch up on WordPress. Forcing hindsight to explain how I let work topple my love for daily ponders could wait, I had eleven hours – two at my laptop, one to wind down and fall asleep, seven at rest, another to wake, shower and get myself back to work.

I didn’t need hindsight wagging her finger to know I’d stretched myself too thin. I might have happily opened WordPress and left it at that, but no, I had to open Quora and ruin my life.

For perspective, WordPress is my first love, Quora a dangerous affair. WordPress feeds my soul, Quora delivers esteem building strokes, strokes in the form of Top Writer affirmation and more views in a day than WordPress musters in a month. I hate myself but can’t stop. Trouble is, there aren’t enough hours for WordPress let alone Quora.

Back to eleven hours and a dusty laptop. I wanted to ponder October meteor showers on WordPress. Opening my laptop for the first time in days created a maelstrom of conflicted direction. Best guess being checking Quora stats before settling into WordPress stemmed from innocent desire to get it out of the way, who knew a private message would ruin my life.

Quora moderation invited me to enroll in the Partners Program. What Partners Program? I only have eleven hours and you’re choosing tonight to personally invite me to enroll for paid content? Register a PayPal account, keep asking great questions, blah, blah, blah. What fresh hell is this? I don’t have time!

Cosmic ponders went unspoken, my laptop slammed shut, I crawled into bed. One week and 72 work hours later I dusted off the screen, what choice did I have but to play along with Quora? Enrollment took a few minutes, my first question took a few more. As of tonight I’ve earned 29 cents, 29 convoluted cents awarded to an overworked caterer who only wants to ponder the cosmos. I need my head examined! Sigh.

Pondering Social Media

The average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. In 2000 social media analytics credited humanity with a 12 second attention span, in 2013 that average fell to 8 seconds. Scoff if you like, but I tend to believe statistics culled by social media marketers.

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Ponder this from

  • Close to half the world’s population (3.03 billion people) are on some type of social media.
  • 64% of online shoppers say that a video on social media helped them decide on a product to buy.
  • Only 43% of online stores receive significant traffic from their social media pages.
  • Acknowledgment is key: 77% of Twitter users appreciate a brand more when their tweet is responded to. It takes about 10 hours on average for businesses to respond to a tweet, even though customers want a response within four hours.
  • Content marketing is a top priority of B2B businesses after brand building and social media engagement.
  • 59% of adults between 18 and 29 are using Instagram.
  • The average person spends about 20 minutes on Facebook or one in every six minutes a person will spend online.
  • 1.57 billion YouTube users watch about 5 billion videos on average every single day. Of the 2.1 billion total accounts on Facebook, 270 million profiles are fake.
  • 86% of women will look at social media before deciding to make a purchase.
  • People are accessing 69% of their media on their smartphones.
  • 89% of people on smartphones are using apps, while only 11% are using standard websites. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the most popular app at 19% (measured by time spent).
  • Pinterest is number one for mobile social media, with 64% of referral traffic being driven by smartphones and tablets.
  • 57% of all mobile users will not recommend a business if their mobile website is poorly designed or unresponsive.
  • 40% of all mobile users are searching for a local business or interest.
  • Mobile websites that load in 5 seconds or less will end in a viewing session that’s 70% longer than their slower counterparts.
  • 92% of American teens accessed the internet on a daily basis, where 56% claim to connect several times a day, and 24% are connected almost constantly to the internet.

Lets talk selfies, next to tediously boring photos of mealtime “nobody cares what you had for dinner” fluff, selfies are a blight more annoying than hot sidewalk gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Stalwart aversion to catatonic postings of selfies on social media and subsequent refusal to validate self centered media content with likes, solidifies my place as a middle aged dinosaur. Every week over 20 million selfie posts are immortalized on social media, who am I to bemoan the erosion of civilization?

Social media is a business. It knows precisely how vain, inattentive, malleable, financially sound, politically inclined and impulsive every last one of us is. It knows who we are, where we are, what we eat, where we shop, how we vote, our views on abortion, gay rights and immigration. Prospective employers, financial institutions, property management companies and law enforcement routinely scrutinize social media footprints.

Valuable as it is intrusive, pondering social media asks only that we understand how it works, personal footprints we leave behind and magnitude of this marketing tool.

Yanny or Laurel?

This post is SO STUPID. That said, watch before reading another word-

Started the vehicle to make my way home from work. CBC Radio filled the air, first thing I heard was “Laurel”. Drove off without a second thought. Radio announcer said “we’ll play it one more time. What do you hear, Yanny or Laurel?” Yanny? Are you nuts? What’s wrong with you people and why does it matter to CBC?

Apparently “Yanny or Laurel” deserves mention for trending above all other social media froth. For the next five minutes, rush hour traffic stuttered belligerently to the cadence of Yanny or Laurel uncertainty. Blah, blah, blah. Half the newsroom heard Yanny, the other Laurel. I wanted to scream “nobody cares!” Pretty sure I flipped off the nincompoop who cut in front of me. I need a vacation. Sigh.

Death By Selfie

Earlier this week Prabhu Bhatara left a wedding near Pharsaguda, India. Compelled by a full bladder he pulled off the road to relieve himself in the forest. Bhatara spots an injured bear, moves in for a moron with wounded bear selfie. Amateur video captured his mauling and death. Had Bharta stopped posting selfies long enough to watch the news, he might have known barely a week had passed since a Indian taxi driver succumbed to an eerily similar bear maul selfie death. Truth is, 60% of all selfie deaths occur in India, that’s 76 of 127 recorded global selfie deaths between March 2014 and September 2016. A statistic alarming enough to prompt government intervention. Mumbai has banned selfies in 16 high risk locations.

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Death by selfie begs the question, why India? Temptation to reason proportionate population only goes so far. During the same period only 8 Americans died by selfie. China admits to a paltry 4 selfie deaths, not one of them by bear. Ponder death by selfie the next time an injured bear finds you watering the forest. Death by selfie is far from epidemic. That said, it’s worth noting that statistically selfie death is more likely than death by shark.

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What drives selfie obsession to pepper social media with still life caricatures? Social media created a generation of me-bots. “Look at me, look what I’m eating, look where I am”. Me, me, me. Happy face, goofy face, glamour pose. Look, I’m having fun, don’t I look pretty, don’t hate me for being fabulous. Hate to break it to you me-bot, but nobody cares. If you’re so fabulous, hand your camera to someone else and let them capture how the world sees you. Trust me, death by selfie extends beyond a handful of accidental screw-ups. Don’t be a me-bot, put that selfie stick down.


Rolling Coal

Testosterone fueled chest thumping is hardly new. Historically, displays of human bravado aren’t that different from the animal world, the strongest of all species prevail. Evolutionary wiring made mankind possible; competition always has, and always will be part of what we are. Revered are those exhibiting mastery of combat, weapons, physical superiority, strength and strategy.

Rolling coal came from such a place – pick-up trucks in “truck pull” competitions held at County Fairs modified diesel engines, pumping extra fuel to the motor, increasing speed and power. Extra burnt fuel resulted in bursts of black soot – soon the biggest, baddest blackest smoke bombs became  important as payload. Rolling coal – a macho crowd pleaser, one guaranteed to satisfy any desire to  “strut your stuff”.

Human nature being what it is, the practice naturally moved from Fairgrounds to city streets. No different from a couple of guys reeving engines at stoplights or staging impromptu pissing matches on the highway.

All fine and dandy until Elizabeth Kulze posted an article last month on vocativ, dubbing it “pollution porn”. Overnight the term and concept became a social media phenomenon.

The article “exposes” a sub-culture of redneck “meat-heads” spending thousands of dollars to modify pick-up trucks for the sole purpose of suffocating symbols of “Liberal” sentiment. Pedestrians deemed left wing, drivers of Japanese cars, and the big prize – bleeding heart environmentalists who “ask for it” by daring to drive a Prius or electric car.

“I run into a lot of people that don’t really like Obama at all,” one coal-roller tells Slate, which detailed the practice at length. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck – that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.

That paragraph says it all – rolling coal isn’t about who has the biggest stack – social media threw down the gauntlet – now any diesel-head worth his salt has to post a video of noxious soot fouling hand picked targets judged to care about the future. This quote from a campaigning Newt Gingrich at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa Oklahoma 2012 speaks volumes – “you cannot put a gun rack in a Volt”. Apparently America has more than gay and civil rights, abortion, Christian outrage and guns to worry about. Good Americans – those steadfast defenders of Constitutional freedom, loathe the environment.

Rolling coal entered social media’s arena, asinine encouragement of dim witted shenanigans has arrived. “Trending” makes no distinction between bat shit and reason – a equal opportunity curse, unfettered by conscience or consequence. Elevating and validating nincompoops, little more than hits and views.

Pondering isolated displays of bravado is one thing – wrapping my head around scores of socially unified jackasses, buoyed by the notion of strength in numbers, incapable of distinguishing attention from validation – depressing, the only description I’m capable of.

Rolling coal has understandable beginnings, social media making it a wing nut platform for protest – also understandable. Daunting as that reality might be, we don’t have to sit idly as these donkeys chortle. Come on America, enough of playing the whiny victim. A few days ago I never heard the term “rolling coal”. In the blink of an eye, I know more about it than I care to – simply because media took notice. Wake up America.


How would you feel about total strangers using facial recognition technology to access your facebook page, perform a criminal record check and learn where you worked or lived? Facial developed an app, currently being tested by Google Glass that does just that. Heralded as the most advanced facial recognition technology outside national security’s bag of tricks – NameTag asks “Why leave meeting amazing people up to chance?” urging us to “simply snap a pic of someone you want to connect and see their entire online presence in one place”. Forget informed consent and privacy settings – if you’ve put it online, all bets are off.

Why mess around with pedestrian snooping – quaintly innocent Google name searches are for sissies. Who needs a name when soon we’ll be able to creep into lives of unsuspecting strangers. Imagine the fun marginally stable stalkers can have – second thoughts and hesitation be damned. Think of facial “tagging” – data bases of hits bought and sold for marketing.

Consider other facial recognition applications – 115 Japanese stores use facial recognition technology to alert shopkeepers when a shoplifter, or my favorite “complainer” enters the premise. Complainers have no say in the matter.

Want a date? and Plenty of Fish can eliminate awkward first encounters – run your crush through the sexual offender and criminal data bases – false positives and mismatches needn’t concern you, mistakes happen all the time.  No skin off your back – tell all your friends, spread the name around, after all you have proof – your CreepSheild app told you so. CreepSheild takes the position all queries must give results; call it the “closest approximation syndrome”. Up pops a face and name – skittish users dismiss 45% probability as a minor detail.

As for NameTag – Google Glass says the program is only available for beta testers – Google announced this is where it stays (making it clear they felt it contravened privacy rules) That said, a little digging around produced numerous invitations to download NameTag.

A little ray of sunshine promises an option to “opt out” – so far all I can find are vague references to “soon” being able to scream no thanks by creating a NameTag opt out profile. Far from thrilling is the idea we have to give up personal information to supposedly dodge uninvited peepers.

Before long, no one alive will know privacy. Problem solving, mystery, discovery, patience, solitude – all lost to gimmicks touted as revolutionary. We don’t need to “connect” with strangers after peering in their dusty corners. Technology aimed at dysfunctional social media junkies doesn’t make the world a better place, all it does is eradicate foundations of human interaction.

Until recently, “big brother” was a concept with definable parameters. Disturbing, hard to digest, yet able to reside in well lit corners of my mind.  I recognized where it came from, how it was able to infiltrate, and why we shouldn’t take our eyes off it. Suddenly a rogue upstart arrives – disguising itself as salvation. The government at least tries to pass itself off as a necessary evil – NameTag only wants to make money. Pondering unregulated, profit driven privacy violations raises absurdity to a whole new level.