113 Madeira Consorcio Meeting 25.7.2020

Jul 27, 2020 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the gallery again, with our new member SG who met most of the group now.

Our topic was Freedom of Speech and Section 230 – an American law that provides a shield to internet platforms so that they are not liable when a person posts harmful content on their platform. Prez Twitter spoke about it:

https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/trump-social-media-companies-alleged-bias

(To balance this, you could watch BBC Newsnight, which is a bit more sober:  How should the internet be regulated?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EjfqM1ka1Y

 

Trump is – he says – going to remove the shield from the internet provides so that they can be sued for defamation etc, if a person is allowed to upload hate speech and such. (Of course, he is only interested in the consequences for Himself.)

The new regulation will also force platforms like Twitter and FB to disclose the person posting the content. VPN Networks and dark servers can, however, disguise the original and identity of any post.

We think that in general, persons should stand by the content they post, and be accountable for it. But money rules the World, and advertising money compels the platforms to harbor as much content as possible.

Several countries ban harmful content by law, due to their history (Germany, Nazi)

Harmful speech: we have no means to talk to each other, to call the otter person and clear up misunderstandings.  Email is not a great means of communication; it does not convey the writer’s demeanor. Things we deem OK, may be offensive to another person, but feeling offended does not constitute a crime.

So if Twitter Prez goes through with it, the platforms could be more accountable. Claus thinks he may even break up the big platforms. They managed it with AT & T but will they manage it again?

M. said that on Madeira Island the DN has been sold by Blandy’s to the owner of Grupo Sousa (Transport). This may not be an improvement. The JN was re-branded, but both newspapers are very similar now. The DN claims to be not biased and independent, the JN, at least, does not claim that.

We also said that the public could very well influence these platforms with boycotts but as participants aren’t consequent in their actions, boycotts have no real power.

Younger generations should step in but they are apathetic, and their attention span is short.

Altogether, we couldn’t get a good grip on the topic, it is too difficult to draw the line between good content and harmful content.

We also spoke about Covid and flying in these times: without food & drink, but with masks and strong discouragement to use the bathroom, the airlines should give out Xanax pills in a nice tote bag to each passenger so that we can knock ourselves out until the flight arrives at the destination.

A thought experiment for us: In WWII some items were used for barter: cigarettes, nylon stockings, chocolate etc. If we were to get a new financial crisis, it would be good to ponder beforehand which items will be useful for barter this time around…

Cl. says that, with all that money-printing by the governments, there will be no inflation because the crisis is not coming from the banks, the states are causing the problem. If each of us were to personally get 4000€ out of the pot from the EU now, we would just own the 4000€ to ourselves. So there would not be any need to pay back unless inflation comes up again.

 

Covid:

The new see-through mask can be found here.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/21/mit-researchers-designed-reusable-n95-face-mask-for-healthcare-workers.html

and the article about the new Portuguese-made mask (unfortunately, without mention of the shops which sell them) here:

https://www.dinheirovivo.pt/economia/primeira-mascara-que-inativa-covid-e-portuguesa/Upconign

Upcoming medicines and vaccines:

Vaccines AZD1222 Oxford

Medicine: Dexametasona, Epo, Interferon (not so good) and others

Our next meeting should be on August 22nd.

 

 

Covid – we are almost there…

May 5, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

Our Madeira News with Covid Live-Ticker are here:

www.madeira-weekly.com

It is getting boring , we are almost covid-free!

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

5.5.2020

Quarantine after arrival at the airport:

According to new rules,  mandatory confinement can be done at home “in the case of people who have a residence in Madeira or Porto Santo and have performed a test for covid-19, in laboratories certified by national or international authorities, within 72 hours prior to disembarkation, with a negative result ”.

Tourism:

In the interview with Jornal da Madeira, President Miguel Albuquerque says he hopes that in September or October, the resumption of tourism will begin.

The President of the Regional Government argues that it should be guaranteed, at the departure destination, that the traveler is not contaminated. The President of the Government, who considers that the Region is ultra-attractive for Tourism, wants security, saying that it is essential that this guarantee be guaranteed from the airports of issue. “Destinations like ours will never be able to test 5,000 people,” says the Madeiran chief executive. Miguel Albuquerque affirms that the Government is in contact with the airline companies and tour operators.

Coffee – Take-away:

The Regional Secretariat of Economy announced today that the sale of coffee in a ‘take-away’ regime is resumed; it has to comply with the rules: the concentration of people outside the establishments should be avoided, keeping a minimum of 2 meters distance. There is also a ban on the consumption of coffee and other products at the entrance of restaurants and similar establishments.

112th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 15.2.2020

Feb 16, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment
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We met in the Gallery again; Our topic was Football /soccer

Albert Camus said:

“All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football.”

We saw the following TED talk:

Three-sided football  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W64ySTJg1j0

Three-sided football was “invented” by a group of philosophers, and is it being played at regular intervals (http://3sidedfootball.com/). The team that receives the fewest goals, wins in this game.

and

Al Pacino with a speech from a Baseball movie:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWKUoQfZg9M

Also interesting:

Philosopher’s football https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXPbKBo-KuM

Marc Barmuthi https://www.ted.com/talks/marc_bamuthi_joseph_what_soccer_can_teach_us_about_freedom

This topic was controversial from the beginning; many members don’t like football and/or do not know how to play it.

Cl. is an ardent football fan (Chelsea), and He. turned out to really hate it.

The Al Pacino speech was controversial because it shows that football (and similar) games are being saddled with martial language which express aggression against and separation from other groups. The fans identify with their team and “abhor” the “enemy”.

But Cl., as an insider, says that the aggressive language is only in fun, that the fans know that the game is a game, and not to be taken too seriously. On the other hand, fans can and do suffer when their team loses. The learn to live with disappointment, a good ability to have for their daily lives.

Cl. says the game is against racism, as many international players are being added to the teams, and adored by the fans because they play well. Fans develop a fierce loyalty to their team, also a good character trait for a human being.

The game creates a sense of belonging, being “in” the group, and group consciousness. Fans are not only single white men, but entire families. Children may be drawn to their team at a young age, and stay loyal to them for all their life. The “attacks” fans yell to the opposite fan group or to the coach of their team are for fun and not meant to be serious. It builds camaraderie.

Football (soccer) can be played by everybody, as long as there is a green and a ball. It is a popular game in all neighbourhoods. Cl. and his team used to be chased away for playing on a green somewhere (typical German attitude, the lawn is worth more than the children’s play), which is why he also learned to abhor authority.

Football at the community level is not corrupt, it carries the real atmosphere and connects strangers into a common interest.

Corruption sets in when money comes in, with ads, TV, sponsors and rich people buying the sport. Money leads to corruption in any sport.

it is difficult to fix a football game because too many people would be involved. Prediction experts can often unable to predict an outcome correctly, 6 out of 10 predictions (based on many factors such as weather, injuries etc) are false.

Vandalism, in terms of percentage, still is small phenomenon.

Politicians and politics should be forbidden to even show up. Salazar is said to have abused football in order to keep the Portuguese population quiet and obedient (Bread and Games in Rome).

Ce. said that the money spent on tickets (and they can be expensive when compared to minimum salary) could be used much better for other purposes. But community building is important as well. Nowadays, it is much harder to be part of a community because we are too many people, and community in the Internet does not have any bonding effect.

Football is a bonding system for a community, like festivals or concerts, and art festivals can create the sense of togetherness in a community.

Cl. says everybody should be obliged to support a football team (or a team in another group sport) as it builds character.

Women could choose a club with a female team. During WW2, a female league existed for baseball (seen in the movie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_League_of_Their_Own) , some team members  were later entered into the Baseball Hall of Fame

He. hated football because she had to play it when young, and she doesn’t understand why 11 men run after one ball: why not all give them one, so they can stop running about?

It keeps kids out of trouble, teaches them loyalty and channels their aggression (testosterone) into better behaviour.

Our next meeting should be in mid-March.

 

111th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 18.1.2020

Jan 20, 2020 at 10:33 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in the Gallery again; we saw the following TED talk about artificial intelligence (AI):

https://www.ted.com/talks/zeynep_tufekci_we_re_building_a_dystopia_just_to_make_people_click_on_ads

(You should also have a look at these two but they are scarier:

Peter Haas: The Real Reason to be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRzBk_KuIaM

Jay Tuck: Artificial Intelligence: it will kill us |

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrNs0M77Pd4)

The speaker is warning that AI cannot be controlled because AI Algorithms take decisions they cannot “explain”. AI is still being developed and is wrong often (recognizing a dog as a wolf, just by information about the background). Therefore, AI may make wrong decisions which can cost human life (self-drive cars)

Most AI algorithms cannot be checked anymore. The structure is too complex for humans to be grasped

AI has no ethics, it cannot solve the question whom to run over in an unavoidable car collision with either an old lady or 2 kids. In such a situation an AI driven car would not send the car into a tree because that would mean self-destruction, and that is not is program.

Even if we tried to switch AI systems off, they would stay online; they have ways of keeping connected to the electricity grid.

It is strange that in the US, the social security number is now supposed to be kept private whereas in other countries in Europe, we give them out freely, e.g. the tax number in Portugal. On the other hand, Portuguese tax office clerks are not allowed to enter a bank account in the taxpayers file, they are not supposed to receive such private data.

By now, Russian interference in several elections and in the Brexit referendum has been proven by journalists. The money came from Russia, and several companies in the world do nothing else but to create campaigns that manipulate well targeted recipients for elections. They may even try to keep certain groups of people away by dissuading them to go and vote.

S. said that, like under the dictatorship in Portugal, the state always obtained information about individuals and harassed and imprisoned them; the channel of information is just different now.  in China they did it to the Tibetans, now they are doing it to the Uighurs.

AI may decide that, if a person lives in a bad neighbourhood, this person might also be a “bad” person. It’s “decisions” may cause a person not to get a job or health insurance, just by misinterpreting data; this can ruin a person’s life.

We think we are free but we are being manipulated by AI already now. We may be more vulnerable now because we cannot detect the manipulation.

The “right to die in the internet” is also a farce: even if an account is closed down, the data live on somewhere else. If someone were to “die” and chose to “come back”, that person might well see that all the old data are still online. If we want to be undetected in our movements, we have to take the battery out of the mobile. Still, the state can “find “ us by face recognition in the airports and other public places. The surveillance system is never switched off.

We like the positive side of the internet, the fact that we have access to an enormous library, and that we can communicate better, it empowers us. Also, government abuse is more difficult to hide now.

But: Subliminal messages may not even be registered in our awareness. Clothing stores apparently use smell to entice the customers to come in and to remain in the store.

All citizens and children should learn to make good use of it. For example, look at page 99 in a Google search, not just on the first page.

We spoke about the “Wahl-o-Mat” in Germany, a system set up before an election in which each party has to state their position on specific topic. Then the voter can use the Wahl-o-mat to see which party reflects his preferences, and vote for this party. It is open and transparent. Unfortunately, parties in other countries do not have a party program which they can be nailed to before an election.

Basically, politicians are trying to win, they money to achieve their win. Money rules this.

U. said that individually, we can protect ourselves by

  • Not using Facebook, or at least, not “liking” anything
  • always logging out of secure systems
  • always closing the browser window before opening another one
  • using CCleaner to throw out cookies.

A good defence is to be in a position where we can say “I don’t need anything”

Even though we take such precautions, these Social Media companies can still see our activity, States get data from them, they also get date from other sources, and try to control and manipulate us, e.g. for elections

In the old days, people were targeted by ads in TV, Radio or by posters on the street and ads in the newspapers. The form of targeting has changed but still, each person has the option to not listen, read and follow the nudges in the ads.

Have a look on how to beat SPAM by James Veitch, very funny:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4Uc-cztsJo

Our next meeting should be in February.

110th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 16.11.2019

Nov 17, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

After our usual fight with technology, we saw the following TED talk about the new Story humankind needs to get out of the mess:

https://www.ted.com/talks/george_monbiot_the_new_political_story_that_could_change_everything

The Speaker was right that greed and dishonesty on the side of the state, the media and the bankers are the problem now. Communism, free market economy and other systems didn’t work. A new story needs to focus on the Commons idea.

We came to religion right away, and some of us have a problem with organized religion. C. said that she met some members of the Bahá’í faith and that a communication between the religious groups is in order. Cl. said that bridges need to be built between opposing groups. Most of the time, we all stay in our comfort zone, to be confronted with opinions we are in agreement with. Bridges should be between people of different views. One should be able to speak to alt-right people as well. Things are never black and white only.

Historically, people depended on each other to complete tasks, today we do not need other person to accomplish things, this isolates us.

The Social Media claim to create community but it is not true. Community happens between people who meet in person and really talk to each other. Although: some such “real” groups have their start in the internet, e.g. through Madeira Interactive  who created sub-groups who have meet-ups.

We spoke about the idea to pay for internet services, to regain ad-free lives and avoid being spied on. If these service providers do not need to sell us ads because we pay for the access, they don’t need to spy on us.

Things that are free are not being appreciated. One “old” internet nerd suggested to his colleagues that the ads-based model is bad and that the community needs to turn things around and start charging for the use if the internet.

https://www.ted.com/talks/jaron_lanier_how_we_need_to_remake_the_internet

The pricing of access to the Internet should be flexible because people poorer countries may not have, say 5€, to pay for the access per month. A basic package should be free, and above that, prices should increase incrementally for people in the Western world who can afford it. This way, a mixed calculation would work for the service provider.

J. said there is a custom in Naples where a person pays for 2 coffees in order to enable a poor person to get a free coffee in the same snack bar. (It is not known if the second cup is actually served to somebody). The idea is nice.

Also, if the Internet was not completely free, and if we paid for emails, the use of the system would decrease, and we would save a lot of energy for computer warehouses, electricity and cooling these systems.

An Internet we have to pay for is more valuable, slenderer and would likely deliver less rubbish.

The problem is that people are stuck in consumerism and they have strange priorities: H & J have a house in their neighborhood which has no window panes and a broken door; apparently, people are living in there (easy to spy on, no curtains), but they have a mobile phone in their hands.

The Internet joins people who have things in common but it does not create community.

K. & Cl. tried to create an Art Network online, offering “Art Walks” in the area around the Gallery but people are not interested to join up.

We came to the conclusion that people have lost their sense of purpose in life. Spirituality is not part of people’s lives but we all need such direction somehow.

C. is sure that she has/had a ghost in the house in Northern Portugal, and she has a good connection to God. She says that our life should be such that we, when we get into paradise, don’t mess it up like this Earth.

On the other hand, if there is a God, how can he permit the atrocities we see (Cl.)?

U. said that one answer to the question why we exist for us is “we represent the complexity and harmony of the universe”. Other, deeper meanings have to be worked out by each person him/herself.

Meditation and contemplation should be taught to the children in all schools; it has been proved that their learning gets better, and the aggression levels go down.

D. mentioned a TED Talk about plastic pollution in the third world but I haven’t been able to find it yet

Another TED talk about recycling in India:

https://www.ted.com/talks/mani_vajipey_how_india_s_local_recyclers_could_solve_plastic_pollution

We’ll have a Christmas Lunch or Dinner in Funchal but the dates/times have to be worked out yet (no workshop meeting in December).

 

109th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 18.10.2019

Oct 20, 2019 at 9:50 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

 We had an excursion to the IGA Water Treatment plant in Sta. Quiteria (very near the Madeira Shopping).

Engineer D.S. and his assistant gave us a three-hour tour and showed us every nook and cranny, they are very proud of their work.

Sta. Quiteria – one of 10 such paces on the island – is much larger than it looks from outside, it consists of several floors, and on the lower basement the water is in a big tank before it gets introduced into the public water network. Lots of pipes and tanks, and half of the system, built in 1976, is not even in use yet as it is not needed. The website is http://www.aguasdamadeira.pt/

The most important points we took away from the visit:

  • The incoming water quality has improved because the population stopped throwing rubbish and old electric appliances into the river beds.
  • The water is treated in several stages and with chloride gas, and this gas has to “last” until our water faucets. We can then let it evaporate by simply letting the water rest in a jar.
  • New products are used to flock out the organic residue in the incoming water (mind you: this is only about fresh water, not sewage)
  • The water quality needs to be checked and leveled out more than in the old days.
  • The water quality is very good, it can be said that is it’s of better quality than “Agua de Luz”
  • They have a great many security measures to make sure that the chloride gas doesn’t escape from the plant.
  • The new “telemetragem” oversight is in the station in S. Roque
  • The water we have in Sta. Quiteria comes from the North, via Encumeada and other ridges to Covão in Curral das Freiras.
  • There is a map which shows where the water comes from:
  • http://www.aguasdamadeira.pt/Portals/0/Documentos/Mapa_Madeira_interactivo.pdf
  • The water is also used to produce electricity and to produce energy for the pumps needed to clean the sand filters. Eng. Sousa switched this cleaning process on for us, it was quite impressive!
  • The best way to save water is for the municipalities to replace the old broken pipes, they are still losing a great amount of water!
  • If water becomes scarce in Summer, some of it has to be redirected to some private Levada water companies who have a right to receive water for their agriculture: there is plenty of politics in it as well.

In November, we are planning a TED talk/Discussion in the usual meeting place again.

108th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 14.9.2019

Sep 15, 2019 at 11:01 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in RESTOCK, again with a small group because some of our members couldn’t come.

The video we saw:

Universal Basic Income (UBI) Raf Manji

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EluxCgnQVzg  16 min, from Dec 2016

Raf is for the Universal income and thinks it can be financed through financial tools which are used to create more money for the economy by accounting.

He says that with a UBI, we could eliminate the entire Government welfare administration.

Several trials have been run in some European countries:

https://interestingengineering.com/the-15-most-promising-universal-basic-income-trials

Finland has stopped it.

Some arguments in the group for it:

it gives poor people the possibility to partake in society and in culture, to go to cinema or visit a museum. If the basic needs are met, people have the opportunity to express themselves as human beings.

Cl. suggested, that with the money drawn from buying back bonds, the German Government could support 100.000 people with a basic income of 2000€ net/month. They could be chosen by lottery, and as part of an experiment, the test would show what they would do with the opportunity.

Microloans in Bangladesh, India and Africa, show that money given to poor people results in a higher income not only for them but also for the whole community where the loans were received.

The discussion then veered off to the bigger problems of the world:

  • consumption has to be lower than now, to lower CO2 and promote sustainability
  • with automation, there should be less production of goods that are now foisted upon the consumer by marketing
  • citizens are not aware that they, when buying a cheap product, are buying a product that cannot be repaired later
  • producers build in break-point weaknesses into the products to ensure that consumers need to replace broken items later.
  • industrial design should aim at sustainability and recycling from the start
  • toasters, for example, should be built from a few, easily replaceable part

Japan has collected millions of unused mobile phones from its citizens and retrieved around 2 tons of gold and 400 tons of silver from them for re-utilization.

Cl. said that the western world, citizens are now producing an average of 11 tons of CO2, this needs to go down to 4 tons, if we want to stop climate change. Technology can produce goods with less CO2 output.

 

What we can do :

Following the discussion, here are two Repair/Maker contacts:

Repair guys (TV, Videos, household items)
in Arco da Calheta:

Electroeste , Sr. Antonio

ER 225, Estrada do Arco 17

Tel 291 822072, email somimagemcalheta@gmail.com

In Funchal

VideoMad ,Sr. Rodrigues

Rua da Velha Ajuda 47 (or in the bar next door, Sr. Rodrigues runs that as well)

Tel 291 761186, no email, people

In social Media, such info about Repairs/Makers, should be permanently available, and should not be swept away be the daily input of new info.

The good news is that citizens are waking up to the fact that consumption has to be lowered. Some big companies want to exploit the Lithium deposits in Portugal and public opinion is starting to be against it. Even the Portuguese are learning how to protest. If a petition is ignored – as can easily be the case – the protest organisations have to insist (as in the case of the fishermen’s houses on Culatra island). But some protests fail, such as the ones Gil Canha made against Quinta do Lorde and the destruction of Minas Gerais for the La Vie shopping complex.

Back to the UBI:

It should be accompanying, as said, in the video, by duties.

One proposal was to oblige recipients to do (and be able to prove) volunteer work for the society, as many women are going already for the family and elders. Such volunteering is an expression of the self and might lead to more work for others, restoring the “we” feeling.

K. found a good link which explains it well, by an association that advocates for it:

Unconditional Basic Income Europe (UBIE) is an international network of activists and initiatives.

https://www.ubie.org/who-we-are/

 

There are two other talks about it:

Marin Ford  – how we‘ll earn money

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swB7Ivct8d8 15 min

The Trojan Horse – by ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7sgv1VCRSs  12 min

We also briefly touched on Brexit – no surprise – and we did not talk about Trump – big surprise!

 

107th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 20.7.2019

Jul 21, 2019 at 11:32 am | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

Hello Team,

We met in RESTOCK again, again with a smaller group because some of our members couldn’t come.

We used a Gallery space downstairs for the viewing of the TED talk, and then moved to the breeze outside.

The video we saw:

Cesar Hidalgo- Augmented democracy with digital agents

https://www.ted.com/talks/cesar_hidalgo_a_bold_idea_to_replace_politicians

Cesar Hidalgo points out that very few people vote, and the voters are disappointed that their will is not being followed through by the politicians elected, he proposes an augmented democracy model.

In this model, each voter should create a digital assistant or avatar, who knows his/her preferences and will accordingly, whenever a vote comes up. Such a digital assistant can be controlled at will and if doing well, can be used to delegate the issues, also to other persons/experts who will have mote time to get into the details of an issue

There was greet skepticism that Cesar’s approach will change things because the politicians currently in power, once elected, do not have to listen to the electorate. But Cesar’s approach is disruptive, and if it is picked up from NGO’s and private initiatives and grows from the bottom up, the politicians may well have to listen in the future if they want to be re-elected.

The will to stay in power is the reason why politicians listen to polls, on the other hand, they mainly listen to their followers and try to ignore their opposition.

With the internet, Politicians’ actions become more transparent; more and more are being caught with misbehaviour and have to leave their posts. The internet gives more options to the citizens to compare what the politicians say before an election and what they follow through afterwards.

In this age, we have to curb the growth of production and the exploitation of the resources, otherwise there will be social unrest. This will also force politicians to change their minds.

Public referendums are a way for the people’s will to overturn the politicians’ intentions; this happened recently in Bavaria, where an initiative to save the bees was incorporated in law.

We ought not to look only on the big and well-known politicians, many politicians do a good job on a local level.

But politicians will always have to make compromises.

Switzerland has a law obliging the citizens to vote so they do get themselves informed before a vote comes up

Ce. said that the split between the main parties does not represent the will of the people.

J. pointed out that specialists are needed to decide on complicated issues.

We spoke a lot about the German political scene, and then tried to get away from it to a broader view. We also tried not to talk about Trump.

There used to be very few, big parties in the old days, nowadays the field is wider and more varied. Still the party decision on one issue can be against the will of a voter who voted for this party in general. Voting should be more to the point and more refined to give a better picture of what the electorate (at here: the people who think about these issues at all) think.

U. suggested a kind of excel file, which every citizen could fill out pre-emptively, to enter their preferences and votes in a block chain system (Claus sad that block chain system can be hacked as well).

A definition of block chain is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockchain

Another nice TED talk, but a dream not coming true: is to elect citizens at random to become politicians, here is the talk:

https://www.ted.com/talks/brett_hennig_what_if_we_replaced_politicians_with_randomly_selected_people

Another great idea is to make a law that states that laws and public documents have to be written in plain language; the Scots seem to have done it:

https://www2.gov.scot/Publications/2006/02/17093804/1

Maybe politicians in today’s world are people who didn’t like to work in the stressful private industry?

Other issues:

The “Participatory Budget” in Funchal doesn’t take place, probably because the Regional Government installed a Participatory Budget for the whole island to the tune of 2.5 Mio €.The budget process started in Ribeira Brava and will tour through all districts. It will probably be too late for the prep and voting in October. But it is a good sum, to be given into the hands of the citizens!

 

106th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 11.5.2019

May 12, 2019 at 6:34 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment

We met in RESTOCK again, a smaller group because some of our members couldn’t come.

The video we saw:

Carole Cadwallar – Facebook’s role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy

https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy

Later it was discovered that Russian Troll factories had produced the  “Leave” mis-information on behalf rich influencers.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/10/17/russian-iranian-twitter-trolls-sent-10-million-tweets-fake-news/

The journalist went to Wales to find out why the population voted for “leave”, although the area received a lot of financial support for from the EU. She found that Facebook had manipulated the vote with lying ads (“The Turks are going to join Europe” and the like), and that this is a criminal offense in Britain

Carol’s presentation was heartfelt, but also seen as weak because she attacked Facebook and not the Government which should be doing something about this. Governments are at fault if something like this happens.

The second thought some of us had was that the population is “dumb” and that these people should not be allowed to vote…

Although the place in Wales received lots of funds from the EU, one young man said that “the EU has done nothing for me”. Maybe it is really about jobs and money for the simple folks. Soccer stadiums or swimming pools are not it.

Ca. said that the British Government has not explained the advantages of the EU membership properly, and that the British still have an island mentality and still dream of independence from the continent. They think they can keep their resources to themselves and keep immigrants out.

Facebook was asked by nine Governments to report about the ad campaigns they ran in the respective countries. But the questions Mark Zuckerberg received in the US Congress showed that the Government is not capable of asking the pertinent questions so he could avoid any blame.

Cl. suggested that Facebook should be broken up to weaken its market dominance, like other big private companies; this has been done before. Governments have the power to do this.

Facebook has the wealth of 96 of the world’s countries combined.

Cl. said that the “people” have always been lied to by their Governments, it used to be lies in the papers, now it is lies in the Internet. We don’t know what effect these lies had and have, this cannot be measured. We are talking only about election fraud and manipulation because of the “Leave” vote, otherwise nobody would inquire about the manipulations which happened.

Ca. said that there is a tool to manipulate viewers, also in TV, hyper-information (sorry, no info in Wikipedia). Fast snippets of ads or statements are flashed to the viewer’s; this information is passing too fast to be recognized by the “conscious” brain. This way, the information goes right into the subconscious and is not being filtered by any brain control system. So people may not be dumb, they are just receiving information and statements without being aware of it, and they are taking wrong decisions based in this dis-information.

It doesn’t help that too much information is available by too many channels. The people don’t know how to choose a point when the variety is overwhelming; they resort to info they can easily identify with, and exclude the rest. Life has become too complex, slogans are easy to follow.

Politicians confuse us deliberately, to stay in power and get high salaries.

People distrust the politicians because most if them are well-off or millionaires now. On the other hand, they cannot hide their misdeeds nowadays as easily as before, Some are even kicked out if they seem to be morally corrupt (Iceland)

U. spoke about a working piece of democracy, the “participatory Budget” in Funchal. Unfortunately, the respective website http://op.cm-funchal.pt/ has not been updated, yet. U.  called the City Hall, they are saying that they are delayed. U. will write to the Jornal to have them ask the City Hall and maybe write about the delay.

Ca. said that the Greek theatre was a democratic tool in ancient Greece. Theatres were quite big in the cities, and plays, dramas as well as comedies, were used as metaphors to display and transport values, they were viewed by almost the whole population. The plays started discussions in the population about pertinent issues, and everybody was better informed because of this.

A philosopher said “the world is made up of stories” https://www.wisdompubs.org/book/world-made-stories

Freedom is not a given state for a country, we need to defend freedom and democracy against Facebook and the like. The EU is a strong group, only strong groups can resist the might that China and Russia in confronting Europe.

Politicians and big companies should be held to account. U.  suggested that, as in jury duty, citizens selected by lottery should be empowered for six months or so to check public administrations and politicians, accompanying the day-to-day business to see how they are working, with the power to administer changes and even fire people. This would give the power by to the people.

Our resumé: Democracy is about money.

 

Other info:

Another interesting video about the dangers to democracy:

Yuval Harari – Nationalism vs. fascism

https://www.ted.com/talks/yuval_noah_harari_why_fascism_is_so_tempting_and_how_your_data_could_power_it#t-1090412

Yuval says that governments are not in power anymore, the companies which have our data are now in power.

105th Madeira Consorcio Meeting 16.3.2019

Mar 17, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Posts | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

We met in the RESTOCK workshop room again, and the meeting went very well!

Do. came up with the topic for the evening“Social Media Addiction”. He chose two videos:

Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health? by Bailey Parnell   15 min

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czg_9C7gw0

Social Media addiction  13 min

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH5bC-SLvb4

Negative aspects of Social Media:

  • Social Media are addictive, as explained in the video, especially for younger people who are still insecure in their roles and tend to compare themselves to their peers.  They derive a false sense of belonging and importance from the excessive use.
  • Lonely people pour their souls out into the Internet, basically to nowhere, and hope to be “seen”.
  • Social media split people apart and replace real social interaction.
  • Many people us fake names and harass and insult others with impunity; they lose their sense of respect and decency because the attacked persons are far away.
  • The effectiveness of Social Media decreases with time, as more and more Fluff or Noise is put out there.
  • Mouth-to-mouth recommendations are much more effective that any Social Media campaign.
  • Nobody know how Social Media are going to develop from here.
  • 15% of the world energy consumption is due to the Internet.

Positive aspects of Social Media:

  • Websites such as Do.’s classic photos of Madeira, and the Dutch group which stays in touch (both monitored).
  • Long distance family connections work instantly and give a feeling of togetherness.
  • People can stay be in the loop with their friends and family but do not need to comment on just any photo that is posted.
  • It is a great tool to tell stories and present yourself, as long as marketing is not involved.

Here are some links to Do.’s sites, who monitors everything, he manages “internet etiquette”:

Madeira Quase Esquecida (Facebook page): https://www.facebook.com/MadeiraQuaseEsquecida/

Madeira Quase Esquecida (Instagram): https://www.instagram.com/madeiraquaseesquecida/

The story about the project ‘Madeira Quase Esquecida’ via AprenderMadeira (in Portuguese): http://aprenderamadeira.net/madeira-quase-esquecida/

Social Media in themselves are not intrinsically bad, the use can be bad or good, similar to cars or guns. But cars need a driving license and guns needs permissions (at least in Europe)

As for driving, there should be an education for parents and children, to warn about the dangers and refrain from addictive use. It should be made clear that the opinions of strangers on the internet are not paramount.

The definition of “friend” has been distorted by Facebook, but there are levels there that most people don’t know about: “acquaintances” and “good friends” also exist. If somebody is blocked from a site by an administrator because of bad behavior, they simply cannot get in anymore, they don’t receive a “justification”.

Social media are a necessity for businesses – like it or not – and can be a necessary evil for people with a public profile. C. as surgeon cannot avoid it, it would create bad will if he didn’t have a FB page, people might slander him for not having a FB page because they will try to contact him in FB (of course, he doesn’t answer any medical questions on FB).

Cl. thinks the Social Media in all (Do. says that they are many more than just the big Five) are evil. They are using behavioral science to manipulate the users and get their data to sell to other companies.

The fact is that emails are still free. If emails or tweets were to cost at least a cent (and people would have to log in to a payment system and show their identity to pay for it) then the amount of emails would drop drastically and the slanderous use would be curbed.

Ce. said that we used to get our information from journalists, philosophers, priests and teachers who put their energy into understanding the issues and explaining them to us. If the internet was had to be paid for, these groups would regain their importance and could again do a good job.

Social Media should be monitored at all times; we have seen with the events in Christchurch that attackers will post on the Internet to gain “fame” and “likes” bad content must be monitored and removed immediately.

Social Media should be used better, and everybody should have an education on it.

K. recommends a book on the topic, a novel by Sophie Kinsella” “My not so perfect Life” about a woman’s dive into Social Media and the way out of it.

Other info:

The Wikipedia Info for the European elections:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_European_Parliament_election

At the bottom of the page, there is a description of the coalitions/alliances which have been established; from there one can click on the coalition names and see which European parties make up this alliance.

 

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