Numa Numa

In December 2004, 19-year-old Gary Brolsma uploaded a webcam video titled “Numa Numa,” featuring himself lip-syncing to the Romanian song “Dragostea Din Tei” by O-Zone. Hosted initially on Newgrounds.com, Brolsma created the video after watching a cartoon about Japanese cats.

Even before the existence of YouTube, his video exploded one night after Newgrounds featured it on their front page. A couple days later, Brolsma woke up to find news vans from all the major networks parked outside his house, forcing him to explain his sudden Internet fame to his surprised mother.

A group of red arrows on a black surface photo. Each individual arrow is pointed to right, but they as a whole shape a big arrow that points to left.

Behavioral paradoxes!

I think it was first on Joe Rogan’s podcast that I heard someone saying “I don’t believe in ghosts but I would never spend a night in a haunted house” and that made a lot of sense! Me too, actually. I don’t believe in ghosts either but I’m still sometimes scared of ghosts or evil beings.

A month ago I watched the Nun II (2023) movie and later that night I felt scared. I knew there’s no nun waiting for me down the stairs in the kitchen but I still was somehow scared that there may be an evil being there waiting for me. I know that’s ridiculous but I felt it. That feeling was real for me. I even forgot about it the next morning but I know that fear was real.

When I heard the sentence (the one on Joe Rogan podcast), I came to realization that there’s a lot of behavioral paradoxes in our lives without we even noticing them. My fear of the nun was one example but there’s a lot more. For example, we know fast food is bad and it hurts us but we still eat them. We know cigarettes will cause cancer but we still smoke them. We’re afraid of roller coasters, that’s why it causes excitement in us, but we still ride them.

Isn’t that fascinating? We know, deep in our hearts, that something should not be done but against all of our instincts and understandings we do them. What makes us do this? I believe it’s because we enjoy the paradox and we enjoy the feeling of excitement we get from those activities.

Well some activities may not excite us. Smoking, for example, causes real damage on our neurons, that’s why it’s addictive, and we are somehow forced to do them more and more but one who spends a night in a haunted house is not an addict, well unless he does heroin in the house.

The hormones we get from these activities are so strong that we get eager to do them again. Eating at your favorite restaurant may not be an exciting activity but it certainly gives you a joy you don’t experience at other places. And we remember these joys and we repeat them so they become more and more strong.

I used to walk the rain and I always got sick afterwards but the joy I felt from those walks compelled me to do it again. I knew I most-probably will get sick again but I did it anyways. It felt good and I would do it again.

But how does it happen? I know about the hormones and stuff but how does it really happen when we know for a fact that something unpleasant will happen next? When a child decides to disobey parents, while knowing a punishment awaits, what forces him to do it? Why we can’t control ourselves to avoid these situations or practices?

Life would become joyless, robotic. “Equilibrium (2002)” is a movie that shows a world in which having feelings is forbidden, against the law. Even in that movie the main character does against the rules. What made him do this? If I could choose between a joyless yet perfect or an imperfect but joyful worlds, I would definitely choose a joyful world. A world full of excitement, ups and downs, even if it’s imperfect, is much more desirable.

One of my hobbies is to watch football, the real one not the American one. Persepolis and Iran national team play too bad and they are far below the standard. They’re not even average players yet they get paid thousands or millions of dollars to play. In an economy that most people are struggling to afford their basic needs, they get hundreds of thousands of dollars to play football so bad even their greatest fans boo them.

I’ve stopped caring for these football teams long ago and I wish them lose their matches every time, so maybe there will be some reform if they lose a lot. They get paid by the government. Meaning I,  a taxpayer, am paying for these terrible players. That’s one of the things that angers me. However, I still watch them. I follow the matches, I follow their news from time to time and sometimes I get excited when they score.

I even follow the rivals of my favorite teams. I get upset when they win and get happy when they lose. I joke around with fans of the rival team and sometimes discuss the matches, the referees, club situations, and trash-talk each other. Yet deep in my heart and mind I know I wouldn’t pay a dime to these teams. I’ll vote for destruction of these clubs for a penny.

This is one of the behavioral paradoxes I have in my life. Not harmful so much but not joyful either. What makes this happen? It’s one of those paradoxes I can’t understand. How can I hate something so much yet follow it and get excited from time to time? I don’t even forget that I don’t like them. I don’t like fish and I sometimes forget why I don’t like it until I taste it again so I can understand if I have fish for launch sometimes but I don’t understand following my rival teams matches and sometimes even cheer for them. When they score a beautiful goal, or sometimes when they win, I cheer for them. That’s the magic of football I guess.

Humans are full of these behavioral paradoxes. I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences these and I’m sure there’s a good scientific reason behind all of these. Our body secretes hormones and these affect our behavior, that’s normal, but it still fascinates me a lot. It still makes me wonder about life and our decisions and human willpower.

Clickbait, clickbait everywhere

I’ve been too annoyed with clickbait titles recently that I have stopped visiting certain web sites. Particularly, my favorite sports news web site is now blocked on my computers since they started using clickbait titles. Titles that are designer or written to force you to click on the article.

Titles such as “I’ll leave football” are appearing on that web site and they are specifically designed to make you interested or psychologically manipulate you to click on the link. That’s hurtful. That web site is full of this crap, some like “Qataris printed photo of this defender!” will make you enthusiastic about what is happening.

This should stop. i know it’s hard or even impossible to regulate the Web or force publications, specially digital ones, to follow any instruction regarding how they should write or title their work but we got to do something about this. It’s been annoying me so much and I know I’m not the only one.

The problem is that many of these web sites are monetized using advertisements and more clicks and traffic they get, more money they make. Authors are now forced by their employers to write articles that make visitors stay longer and surf more. That will get them money. More we visit their web sites, more personal data they collect from us. Our Internet behavior, our interests, how we use web sites, and many more identifying information about us can be collected when we surf a web site and spend enough time on them.

When I see a title like “promise that calmed down this coach”, I get interested to see what was that promise and why this coach wasn’t calm, and will be distracted from my original intention of visiting the web site, to get an specific score or watch specific video. At least that’s why I visit sports web sites.

The main problem is how we monetize or commercialize web sites. Our data is so valuable to them that they try anything to get them. For us, it’s a matter of privacy and human rights but for them it’s how they make money and get rich. They don’t care about how you feel or how much you value your human right of privacy. They lobby for more freedom to violate your rights and they even pay billions to smooth the way because they make billions more by selling your private information.

The clickbait matter is just a way to force you spend more time on their web sites and surf more and more you do that, more data they can collect about you and it’ll result in more accurate advertisements towards you which will happen when they have enough personal information of you that they can use to train their machines.

The web site owners may not realize that. Most of them are just simple people who found a way to make money by placing ads on their web sites but it doesn’t matter to users like me, it’ll result in same old privacy violations we’ve been facing for years.

I’ve blocked and disabled some web sites on my computers and I won’t visit them even if I type their address out of old habits. Less privacy violation is always a win. I encourage you to do the same with web sites you know.

Stop building web with JavaScript apps

A not-so-new trend in building web sites is to use JavaScript and force users to launch applications in their browsers in order to be able to access a page. A benefit of that would be that a user who wants to surf different pages on a web site would spend less resources doing so but that’s not always the case.

Most of the times, a user simply wants to receive certain information from a web page. Sometimes we need some questions answered, see a photo, read an article, or download some media. That should be an easy task to do but since the web is now filled with this kind of web sites, that seems to be impossible.

Internet is now filled with web sites that are not simple HTML pages but annoying web programs. They particularly have endless scrolls, fail to show the real material while the program itself is loaded, are stuck on loading animations, fail to give you a universal or accurate URL to the page, and fail to deliver you the material you intended to receive and instead give you unwanted material you never asked for.

From my own experience, these web sites always prioritize their own interests and benefits above yours. You most-probably have visited these kind of web sites and if you ever disable your tracker-blocker, you’ll notice that the advertisements load alongside the program itself, using your computing power and resources, yet the material you wanted keep hiding behind the loading animations.

Quora, a so-called social network of questions and answers, loads a web program on your browser which the material will be loaded inside it. When, sometimes, I visit it to get an answer to a question someones asked it fails to load the full question and answer yet it never failed to show ads or useless parts of its web site.

One other annoying thing is those endless scrolls. Most annoying part of these web sites for me is that they always seem to have a footer where there are “about” and “contact” or “privacy policy” links on them but you can never reach to that. You always scroll until you see the footer but exactly when you want to click on those links, more material will load then you have to scroll down, again, to reach to the footer. Why bother with a footer if you’re not gonna let us use it?

Web is already gone to hell. With all the privacy violations, advertisements, misinformation, censorship, made-up useless standards, and forced designs onto it, it has already become a hell for many users. What we need right now is less programs and more plain polished web pages that simply deliver their material. There’s no need for us to load an entire program in our browser just to find out whether eating an apple is better when peeled or not.

Do something about the war!

While the war between Israel and Palestine is intensifying, I must say that the recent war will only result in more anti-Arab and anti-Semite racism around the world. It had not even been two days since the start of the war that a Egyptian cop shot and killed two Israeli tourists along with their Egyptian guide.

Needless to say the war itself is horrible. As of now more than a thousand people on both sides are dead and thousands more are injured. But perhaps death is not the worst scene we’re watching. Death from war has become something normal in Middle East. We’re used to hearing about war and bombs and military action in the region. The fact that it has become normal is the saddest part.

Nobody around me is shocked by the war. Nobody is terrified about the consequences. Nobody even talks about it. People just casually read the news to each other just like how they talk about the weather. It’s more terrifying than the war itself.

The first day of the war, I’ve seen some disturbing videos. Many people know that I’m not the biggest fan of the Israeli government and I’ve criticized their policies over the years but it doesn’t mean that I support what is happening there. I condemn illegal and inhumane activities of Israeli forces as much I condemn the savagery I see by Hamas.

The first day of the war I’ve seen a video of some Hamas soldiers who killed an Israeli woman soldier, stripped her body naked while carrying her around the city. That’s barbaric. Even in Islam, if we consider them Muslim, respecting the dead is much emphasized. I can’t support any soldier who does that, even if he’s fighting for his freedom.

Some argue that these behaviors are the result of too many years of oppression. But that shouldn’t be the case. A fight for freedom or a war against the oppressor can be justified but some of these actions, such as attacking a music festival and killing two hundred people from many nations, can’t be justified whatsoever.

As someone who is still critical of the Israeli government, I’m deeply concerned that if the current system is overthrown, what and who will replace it. Will we see some new oppressors in the region who will justify their barbaric acts in the name of religion or freedom?

My thoughts and deepest empathy are with Jews and Arabs around the world who most-certainly will be affected by the war whether it’s through the war itself directly or racism coming from angry people. That’s saddening. Many people have lost their lives, probably for nothing, and many more will lose their lives, and it won’t be over soon. Human life has been considered worthless for a long time in Middle East. We have become numbers and statistics. It’s been accepted the way it is inside and outside of the region and the only ones who get hurt are truly innocent people.

Indigenous people of Palestine have been oppressed for many years. Muslims, Jews, Christians, and many other ones are still hurting today, which is coincidentally Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and media and politicians do nothing about it. The importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day hasn’t been more. While the original holiday is celebrated in United States, it should be considered an opportunity to discuss and act upon the matter we’re facing in Middle East between two groups of indigenous people there, Muslims and Jews.

We must act fast and effective. Humans are not numbers, no matter how much we’re used to losing them.

Training to be less worried

I used to be very relaxed. I still don’t get angry easily or soon. However, lately, I realized that I’m getting worried about little things pretty easy and too much.

Contrary to how I was before, I’m now stressed all the time about little unimportant details or situations I got myself into. I came to realization that I must train myself to deal with what I can’t control.

The past two weeks were stressful for me. I got in some situations that were out of my control and I was mistaken all the time, day and night. It was so intense for me that friends around me were trying to comfort me and they were worried that I get sick from overthinking.

Deep down I knew it was going to be fine and no major disappointment will occur but I still couldn’t control my thoughts and get rid of the overwhelming pressure that I put on myself.

It was at my lowest point at that time that I said to myself I have to put an end to it. It must stop and it must be controlled.

I went to my favorite cafe, ordered my favorite cold-brewed coffee, asked the barista to put on my favorite music, and closed my eyes. I started my training.

It’s simple. It’s what I’m used to do when I can’t sleep. I close my eyes and imagine bright dots. Each dot represents one of my weaknesses or undesirable situations. Then I create an imaginary box and put all of those dots inside the box. Then I try to force those dots out of the box to empty my head from bad thoughts. It may take time but it’s effective, at least for me.

I did it while I was surrounded by my friends and it worked. Proving to myself that I can do it when I want and I can regain control over myself.

I’m back home right now, at the end of my vacation. I’m relaxed, not completely without stress, but not miserable. The amount of stress and pressure on me is back to normal but I didn’t stop my training.

I have to continue my training and I have to have control over what impacts me. I may not be done with the training but I’m already happy.

Bugs of social networks!

As I’m surrounded by my like-minded people, who care about software freedom and privacy, I’m usually questioned about why I’m not on social networks and sometimes get suggestions about what social network may suit me.

I have to explain to them that my problem is not with a certain network, no matter how ethical they might be, but rather is with the essence of social networks. My problem with social networks is that they’re social and they require some bare minimum that I’m uncomfortable with.

Social networks always have a system of rating and assessment of posts and people. They always have like or upvote/downvote buttons, they show following/follower counts and they rely on people to interact with each other and remain active to be able to keep up with the network and the people.

These are the bare minimum requirements of a social network to become functional for people. People love these and if a network misses these so-called features, people consider it broken. A social network with no follower/following count, no like button, no stats, and no kind of rating people is, in my honest opinion, a true “social” network.

My favorite social network will not mind-play people to compete with each other to care about the following/follower rate or how many likes their posts get; but rather tries to connect people solely based on their posts and favorite communities. My favorite social network won’t tell you that your post is good enough (so it got enough likes) or you’re not likeable (because you get few followers), it’ll tell you how beneficial or important you are for your community based on the interactions you have with other members and real communications, not by likes your post gets.

A social network should be about connecting people and members of communities, not about trying to make people compete in pointless mind-games. My problem with social networks is that they’re addictive and they somehow force you to remain active day after day but my favorite social network helps you be active whenever you need or whenever it suits you.

My favorite social network won’t exclude any people, however it moderates the communities and people. The network, which surely should be decentralized, will try to prevent any harms done to you both mentally and physically. It will protect you from privacy-invaders and it will protect you from harassment.

Networks we currently have are trying to show you more and more. That’s one way to make you an addict. Algorithm or not, the way timelines work, even in Mastodon, it’s an endless scroll; specially if you have a lot of following. My favorite social network won’t give you an endless feed, rather it focuses on giving you a feed which makes you aware of how much you’re scrolling or turning pages. This way it ensures that you’re not spending countless hours reading what you won’t even remember 10 minutes later. Of course it’ll also show you funnies or daily stuff happening to your friends but it will also make sure you’re aware of your scrolling.

My favorite social network will give you possibility to limit your interactions. It will hide you from everybody other than what you choose. You will be able to choose whether you want to be public or keep hidden for outside circles. It won’t make you public or show your existence to anyone other than who you choose. You may choose to be discoverable or not, but whatever you choose it will respect it.

My favorite social network won’t be owned by any corporation or a billionaire, it won’t be forced to implement anything because a player in network or a donor requires it, it will only implement what benefits the members of the network.

Of course not all social networks have all of these issues but they all have at least some of these problems. Sadly, there’s no social network, to my knowledge, that fixes all of these problems. And social networks create communities and not all communities are toxic for me. Federated social networks managed to create a network of communities. For example, in Mastodon, we have Fosstodon that is a FOSS community and we have SDF which is an art community all connected together.

And not all members of social networks actually care about my issues or even care about mind-games social networks play, but most people, I believe, have this kind of mindset and it has become the nature of participation in social networks. We should change that.

Ethics

A while ago I asked a question from some people about where they stand on torture. I asked whether torture can be ethical in any situation but then it wasn’t about whether it can be justified, rather I asked about an specific situation.

At first people told me that it depends on the situation. So I had to ask, can torture be ethical in any way? And if yes, where do we stand on methods? Tickling can be torture, as is punching the teeth out of someone’s mouth.

Most people replied that if it’s a matter of life or death of a lot of people then they believe torture is justified however unsavory the method is. But torture is not ethical, it’s just justified. Now let’s get to the specific situation.

Imagine a mentally ill person threatening that he hid a bomb underneath the city and if that explodes, hundreds of thousands of people will die. Now we won’t be able to find the bomb or even make sure there’s a bomb except with torture. The only way to find out if there’s a real bomb is to torture that person. Now keep in mind that that person is mentally ill and it could all be part of his challenges but it also could be real. What would you do? Will you torture (or let others torture) him?

Continue reading Ethics

Not a browser war but a Web war

Today’s invite to use Firefox and Firefox-based browsers is not about the browser war the Internet and Web community is typically involved in, but a war for open and free (as in freedom) Web. Since Google is trying to take away our freedom in Web browsing, it is now our duty to fight against Google and its plans.

One of Google’s power arms in this battle is Chrome. Through Chrome (and its base, Chromium), Google is enforcing new made-up standards that nobody wants except Google itself. Standards forced on users that are solely there to benefit Google and its partners. It’s now our duty to fight against them. It has always been our duty.

Any Chromium-based browser should be avoided. Doesn’t matter how the company behind your browser is removing Google’s DRM or how they advertise themselves to you, they should be avoided. I saw companies like Brave and Vivaldi protesting Google’s new war on Web but I think that’s ridiculous. They are some of the companies that are helping Google dominate in the Web browser war.

Using Chromium, which only results in Google winning the Web war, is a betrayal to the Internet and Web community and to all of us. There’s no excuse, there’s not “but”, there’s no good reason, it’s all false and hopeless justification of helping Google take away our precious Web.

Of course, I’m not saying Firefox and Mozilla are perfect but they’re now our only tools and power to fight Google. Our best shot is now Firefox and the cooperation of webmasters and sysadmins and an online civil disobedience against the Google’s efforts to impose its dictatorship on us.

Managed and controlled sleep: end of experiment

I’m super tired right now. Since I started my experiment, I’ve been trying very hard to keep up with it and it’s been 15 days since I started not sleeping well intentionally. 15 very hard days indeed.

At first I thought it becomes easy when I go with the experiment a few days. i thought it’s hard at first and I get used to it but as I was moving forward, it became harder and harder. I’ve become exhausted more and more and I tried to get energy with food and sleeping in quiet rooms to make up for it but it wasn’t working.

I tried to save my energy with limiting my movement and avoid hard work and drinking a lot of water for hydration but it also wasn’t enough.

More I went on with the experiment, more I got distracted and I became less and less focused. It was hurting my job and I couldn’t keep up with everything that was going on. After the first week, to better my work quality and prevent damages to my business, I changed the schedule to bring sleeping hours closer together but it wasn’t enough.

Sometimes I would suddenly come to my senses and realize that I had not been conscious for the previous minutes. But in the same moments that I was doing something, I was aware that I was doing it. I didn’t pass out, I just phased out for some minutes. Something like a muscle memory, you’re aware that you’re doing something but you do it automatically and without your control. For example, I did sell the products and did log the record on my computer but I did them unaware of myself. It was like looking at myself in third-person.

I didn’t have any problem driving or eating. Nothing was changed and I didn’t phase out or sleepy. I didn’t notice any change and nobody told me anything so I guess even if there were some change or inconveniences, it wasn’t that much for people to notice.

Communicating with other people was also good. Only a few people told me I look tired and I could keep up with people and conversations. I also faced no issue with remembering stuff. I thought my short-term memory would be affected but I faced no problem.

Sleeping became hard at some point. I had trouble going to sleep a few times but it wasn’t too much of trouble. I think it was the fifth day of the experiment. Waking up was also hard. It was the hardest part of the experiment. i thought about giving up a few times.

I could still go on with the experiment. I still have some energy left in me, enough to continue the experiment for at least another week but I stopped because I didn’t want to bother my business or people around me anymore. Sleeping hours and crankiness didn’t only affect me, it also affected those around me.

Anyway, I’m gonna sleep like a baby tonight and I’m gonna enjoy every second of it. It was a good experiment and I’m not regretting it. I enjoyed it overall.