Category: aleks krotoksi

“Why Should We Hide Our Faces?” Hong Kong’s Voices on the Ground|Across the Strait|2019-09-02|web only:

Q: How often do you join the protests?

A: As a working professional, I try to go on weekends when I have time. At most legal protests, I try not to wear masks. It’s about exercising our legal right of assembly and showing our support for this movement. Why should we hide our faces?

You don’t really know if a demonstration will ultimately be legal or illegal. It might start out as a legal assembly in a designated area, but then it spills onto the street because so many people are joining. If that crowd walks down the street and deviates in any way from the original route, it can technically be interpreted as an “unlawful assembly.”

The police are supposed to inform protesters when an assembly has been declared “unlawful.” However, protesters may hardly be aware when this happens—officers may put up a sign, in a place not within our eyesight.

If the police start shooting tear gas, you will know the demonstration is now considered illegal. This is when I put on a mask. The surgical mask I carry is not a chemical mask, so it’s not effective protection against the tear gas; but when police deem things an “unlawful assembly” and charge in, it’s better not to have your photo taken.

Many protesters are concerned about photos being taken, no matter if the assembly is legal or not, since China is renowned for using face recognition technology to monitor its people. A sense of “White Terror” is increasingly felt in Hong Kong, and we are quite worried that such images could be used against you later. Look at what is happening at Cathay Pacific and TVB—staff were laid off because they posted pro-protest messages on Facebook.

Digital Human, Series 18, Episode 6: Faceless

Ancient prophecy: oracles and the gods:

An oracle was a gateway to knowing the will of the gods, a cosmic information super highway for understanding what lay ahead. The most famous oracle was the priestess of the temple of Apollo at the sanctuary of Delphi.

So important was this sanctuary and its oracle that Delphi even became known as the omphalos – the belly button – of the ancient Greek world. Individuals, cities and kings would come from across the ancient world to put their questions about their future plans to the Delphic oracle and wait to receive a response about what the gods thought of them.

Delphi became so busy that long queues would form on the certain days of the month on which the priestess could be consulted and, in later times, several oracular priestesses would operate at once. But consultants had to be careful how they interpreted the, often unclear, answers of the oracle.

King Croesus of Lydia (modern-day south-western Turkey) asked the oracle whether or not he should go to war on his neighbouring kingdom. The oracle replied that if he went to war, a great kingdom would fall. Croesus interpreted this as being his enemy’s… it turned out to be his own.

But Delphi was not the only site of oracular consultation in ancient Greece. In north western Greece was the oracular site of Dodona, where consultants wrote their questions on small lead tablets, which still survive today. In the deserts of Egypt, at the oasis of Siwah, lay the oracle of Ammon, which Alexander the Great make the journey to visit during his conquests.

And if a long journey wasn’t an option, then the ancient Greeks could consult one of the many ‘chresmologoi’ or ‘manteis’ (‘oracle-sellers’ and ‘seers’) who lived in the cities or travelled with armies, and who promised (for a fee) to translate the will of the gods by reading the signs of animal entrails, the flight of birds, the ripples of water or by using books of prophecy amongst a myriad of other mechanisms.


The Digital Human, Series 13, Episode 6 – Oracle

There’s an Evolutionary Reason Humans Developed the Ability to Feel Shame:

In order to be treated well, others in your community had to value you enough to protect you, share food with you, and help take care of your children. If they found out you were diseased, physically weak, stealing stuff, acting sexually out of the mainstream, etc., they might not deem you worthy of their help — they would “devalue” you.

As far as biologists can tell, organisms on this planet have one job: to make more of ourselves before we die. The behaviors that go along with that — finding food, selecting mates, figuring out how to not die today — are all just ways we all support this one biological imperative.

But from there, things get complicated. It’s pretty clear, for instance, why a cheetah would have evolved lightning speed. But why would a panda, who at one point evolved the gut of a carnivore, sit around eating bamboo all day? And it’s fairly obvious how living in cooperative social groups has helped humans claw their way to the top of the pile, but a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at why we evolved one human behavior — feeling shame — that, at first glance, seems to do us more harm than than good.

Shame doesn’t make intuitive sense. It causes pain — a feeling usually reserved for helping us avoid damaging our physical body tissue — and often makes us act against our own best interests. Shame is an emotion responsible for the lies we tell, the paranoia and depression we feel, and can sometimes lead to dramatically self-damaging behavior.

But researchers at University of California Santa Barbara claim to have discovered an evolutionary root of human shame, and argue that it’s necessary for the complex navigation required by living in a tight-knit community.

“Our human ancestors in the African savanna lived in a world without nation states, a police force, supermarkets, social security or savings accounts,” says study lead author Dr. Daniel Sznycer, of the UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology. “Because of this, your reputation was even more important 100,000 years ago than it is today.”

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

From The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, author and psychologist Deirdre Barrett examines how “supernormal stimuli” have caused primal urges to overrun their evolutionary purpose.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

Your mind is a victim of Stone Age instincts:

Supernormal stimuli could be produced for all major areas of animal behaviour. Instincts weren’t coded for a complex shape of what to nurture or mate with or attack. Animals responded to just a few simple characteristics that could easily be exaggerated. Territorial male stickleback fish ignored a real male to fight a dummy with an underside brighter red than that of any natural fish. Male butterflies ignored a receptive female to straddle small cardboard cylinders if their vibrations and stripes were more intense – the cylinders didn’t even need wings. These animal behaviours look funny to us… or sad. But just how different are they from our modern habits?

People sit alone in front of a plastic box streaming Friends instead of going out with their real buddies. They tend Farmville crops while shirking their real duties. Men have sex with two-dimensional screen images when a willing partner may be in the next room. Research finds the cutest babies – those with the largest eyes and smallest noses – get the most attention, but Hello Kitty beats any baby’s proportions.

Supernormal stimuli are a driving force in many of today’s problems, including obesity, addiction to television and video games, and war. The key is that supernormal stimuli reverse the natural relationship between instinct and object. “Trust your instincts” works only if we’re out hunting and gathering, not when we’re bumbling around shopping centres. Becoming aware of supernormal stimuli does more than alert us to how these unfettered instincts fuel dangerous excesses. Once we recognise how supernormal stimuli operate, we can craft new approaches to modern predicaments. Humans have one stupendous advantage over Tinbergen’s birds – a huge brain with an especially well-developed prefrontal cortex. This gives us the unique ability to exercise self-control, override instincts that lead us astray and extricate ourselves from civilisation’s gaudy traps.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable