social, health, political imagery through the lens of G J Huba PhD © 2012-2021

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I expect to see one, and perhaps more, best-seller books written by “insiders” at the two presidential campaigns on how they used (manipulated?) social media (especially Twitter and Facebook)  to gather many unexpected votes. There will be heroes who used social media constructively to help encourage all American voters to go to the poll, and those who tried to use social media as a more effective way to perform dirty tricks on the other candidate by untrue character or policy posts (all done via “no cost” advertising).

This is a much more dangerous game than it was in 1972 when Nixon’s campaign staff undermined confidence in the possibly successful presidential campaign of Edmund Muskie. Now just about anyone in the world with a knowledge of how rumors grow overnight in social media can attempt to manipulate campaigns, often for little or no cost. Remember that sometimes that big supporter of a candidate in social media is little more than a very smart troll.

At least one best seller in 2013. My suggested title is “The Troll Who Came Out of the Hole.” It will definitely not be a book for children.

Is there a “DNA” for the universe? It comforts me to think that there is and that the mathematical skills we have been given can help us to uncover it. Will we ever be able to know the “god equation?” I don’t think so as the complexity is undoubtedly beyond human comprehension. Can we approximate it? Maybe. At the most abstract level this is why we have “developed” religious beliefs.

In this era of super computing for even the most mundane problems, we have learned that there are alternate, acceptable algorithms for solving very complex equations through estimation. Different methods require different assumptions for the equation to “work.” Kind of like the assumptions of the Torah or the Christian Bible or the Q’uran or the many Eastern holy texts I have not studied.

Maybe we should all be studying a little more math and science and get over problems caused by some preliminary and perhaps faulty interpretations of the “god equation.” Math and science are not my god but they may help me imperfectly approximate the unknowable.

Fractals help me contemplate this.

In the USA, you do not have the right to yell fire in crowded theaters. And you shouldn’t. There are limits to free speech and the invasion of privacy. Somebody needs to tell Emperor Trump that.

It is now possible to data mine public information, the Internet, photos of my home from outer space, credit card records, records of what I read (from book purchases and Internet clicks), records of what I watch (from movie ticket purchases and Internet clicks and cable/satellite clicks), my family tree (and what they read, watch, buy, etc), my health insurers’ reimbursements, my pharmaceutical purchases, and once again what I charge to my credit card. Somebody knows that I regularly go to a Thai restaurant in Chapel Hill and the Panera in Durham (I never use a credit card at McDonald’s so no one will know I like steak and egg bagels) and get my prescriptions filled in Chapel Hill. In many real ways it is now possible for data miners to create models that are almost me by adding in routines that account for the fact that I am predictably unpredictable. And even more scary, they can use a computer model of me to infer things about my family (genetically linked conditions, personality proclivities, intelligence, potential problem behaviors, lifespan). Really sucks, doesn’t it.

WTF have we been thinking? If there was ever an industry in need of regulation it is the folks who are recreating ME as a computer model. Don’t feel left-out… they are also recreating YOU.

I predict that a new industry will arise to “fool” the data miners and make the computer models less accurate by adding random noise and random data to the information the marketers use. This can be done by a variety of techniques probably well-known to the CIA, FBI, NSA, Amazon, Google, health insurers, and Walmart. I currently try to manually introduce random information into my various computer profiles.

You do not have the right to be ME. In person or on the Internet. For any purpose.

To the data miners and marketers who are stealing ME and YOU and YOU and the next two generations of our families I say … “I wonder if there is a special corner in Hell for you.”

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The penalty for yelling fire in a crowded theater might well be fire.

PS. For those of you who do not like Obamcacare and universally covering pre-existing conditions, remember that current computer models are sophisticated enough to make a good estimate of the odds your own unborn great grandchildren will have certain serious medical conditions and behavior problems. Hell, we better cover pre-existing conditions for the next six generations before somebody decides to pre-disqualify my unborn grandchildren.

Those who follow this blog and my twitter account @DrHubaEvaluator know that I discuss mind maps a lot as I see these information displays as having the potential to improve learning and memory as well as to facilitate the quick and accurate transmission of information and communication among people with different types of professional training.

I have often written about the usefulness of taking notes in mind mapping programs and that the worth of mind maps is primarily a function of the validity-reliability-quality of the information-data-judgments they summarize as well as the ability of the note-taker to listen carefully and take summative notes in a few important words.

Yesterday I read the e-Book Chasing, Capturing and Spreading Ideas: Live Mind Mapping and TED by Hans Buskes, @hansbuskes on Twitter, blog, available on Amazon. The book is a series of beautiful, easily understood mind maps of highly credible material (a series of talks at a local TEDx event including speakers from many disciplines). Hans did “live” mind mapping of the conference as it was happening and the book is a compendium of these maps.

Yes, you can take exceptionally useful and informative notes during a professional conference (and college lecture, boring office meeting, PTA session, political campaign speech, or the SuperBowl). Buskes discusses and shows how this can be done in a very clear way. He discusses careful listening, summarizing, and mapping techniques. You can judge the results from the use of his methods for yourself; I rapidly learned a lot from his mind maps which I believe convey important information I will remember.

Highly recommended.  The small amount of time it takes you to read this book will have a return on investment of hundreds of hours saved in the future and probably an increased understanding of what you are hearing.

My own style differs about 10% from Mr. Buskes’ in that at the end I would go back and add a few images (perhaps cartoon-like art or snaps I made with an iPhone), but those are tiny differences in style. I think this is a must-read book for college students. Just Read It. Just Learn the Techniques. Just Do It. And ride the Little Engine that Could in the summer in Colorado for inspiration.

Colorado narrow gauge railroad engine. Narrow gauge trains were used in the Rocky Mountains and throughout the US to haul ore. Many small gauge trains ran in the 1870s through the 1930s. This is the Toltec Railroad, now a tourist attraction in southern Colorado.

When I retired about a year ago, I bought a MacBook Pro (the now-extinct 17-inch one) and gradually built the memory up to the max of 16B. I attached my three external hard drives (Larry, Curly, and Mo). I love my Mac.

From my previous pre-retirement life there are a few PC programs I used for years that have never been converted to the Mac. These are mainly technical programs as well as some data visualization apps that have special feelings for as I have used them so long, I know how to make comparisons to patterns I have seen in the past. I have also found some mind mapping programs that are only available for the PC that I would like to try.

What to do? Due to advances in technology, my Mac stays as the machine I use all day for fun, running my life, communicating. After 20+ life years in the PC world, I converted and life is good. There are many Macs for me in the future. And so I will get an inexpensive toaster only to run a few programs not available on the Mac. Pretty good toasters now come in small walk-away boxes for $299. Toasters are sold in the computer devices areas of most Big Box Stores. These toasters have more gigabytes and better screens than the Lenovos and Toshibas I used for two decades. I can even get a toaster in red, black, blue, silver, blue, pink, green. And the price means that if one gets broken you just throw it in the (recyclable) trash and buy another one. It’s worth it to have a little continuity. And I can put the thing away when I get tired of watching blue screens.

Why doesn’t every school child have a toaster (or even better an Apple version of the same or an iPad)? Toasters are the traditional present that folks give to the kids moving out, the bride and groom, and aging Aunt Tildie. The public school system should be buying every school child a toaster. The kids would learn more thus ensuring that our race survives, it would be cost effective to dump paper textbooks for computer versions, the toasters would warm the school room in winter, thousands of Chinese workers will keep their jobs while providing extra work for environmental clean-up companies, and world-wide peace will ensue. George Carlin and Bill and Ted understood this; why don’t schools? Be excellent to each other.

Click here for more about the names of my three hard drives.

Apple has an their usual list of Mac apps for college students on their web site (not to be confused with similar lists for iPad/iPhone).

The apps selection is very good. I use most of their suggested apps very often, many daily.

There are, however, many other inexpensive apps that are especially useful for college students and professionals. Here is a supplemental list in the form of a mind map. Click on the map to expand it. My selections serve to significantly broaden the overall range of useful tools and I personally find all 11 apps to be indispensable.

… you know that approximately three days have passed since you first started.

Heck, there are only 173,000,000 bloggers being tracked by Nielsen. I’ll leave it to somebody else to calculate how the blogosphere compares to various nations in terms of “worker hours” each week. The blogosphere is more productive than many countries. No wonder people get tired producing posts, reading posts, researching posts, complaining about posts, and making life decisions based on faulty advice contained in blog posts.

BT Barnum — the cultural icon who put Bridgeport, CT, on the map — would have loved the blogosphere. You know why.

Are the people you read really the people you read? Do they really know what they say they know and what you know they must know?

I think that we all know that there are not 173,000,000 people in the world capable of producing a blog that can be “trusted.”

Reader beware. For all you know I am just a dog sitting in his pajamas at the keyboard (although admittedly a pretty well-trained dog).

I have a tendency to get so into stuff I am doing on the computer that I lose track of time.

This results in being chronically late during times of peak computing activity (like all day).


So I programmed my Mac to tell me the time. Every 30 minutes a nice voice of what must be a very nice person (all of my life experience tells me that mellow voices like these belong to nice people) tells me the time. Usually I am shocked that time has passed so rapidly.

Then I just keep sitting there clicking the keys.

Where the heck is Joan Rivers when you need her? Is she permanently locked into a New York City taxi cab?

Suggested message: “Get your fat, lazy ass out of that chair.” Or something of the same ilk.

Joan, I love you. Don’t desert me.


PS: Joan, if you won’t work for Apple then I am going ask them to hire Dr Ruth, PeeWee Herman, any New York sportscaster, or someone who channels Mr Rogers or George Bush (41 or 43) to do the voice for “get off your ass” messages. Alternately Apple might want Bill Clinton to record “I did not waste time on that program, Microsoft Office.”

PPS: Audible reminders from a human voice are nice. But to cause me to want to pay attention they have to be more compelling, annoying, funny, or stoopid.

Klout and the other social influence indices are really trying to get at “when X talks, does anyone listen?”

Linkedin has initiated a new system where you can rate whether your connections are experts in certain areas. I like the idea of knowing who will vouch for the expertise of another professional. And that I can look at electronic CVs of each to what I think of both of them.

Nice. Simple idea. After all, it works well in the real world and has for a century.

Yesterday I downloaded a free demo copy of a mind map program. I made up a map and started to add clip art as I often do from the libraries provided in the download. I added some clips about things and thought that they were of very high quality. Then I went to add some clip art about jobs and school and professions. I could not find a single clip art file that portrayed a person of color although there were many that portrayed white people and many that portrayed “stick people.” This from a US company that claims that they have sold 500,000 copies into businesses.

The US Census Bureau estimates that of the 312,000,000 people living in the United States, 21.9 percent come from minority groups. One person in five is from a community of color. How about having some clip art in the computer programs — used to creatively portray knowledge, brainstorm for the future, guide decisions, and teach children — that represents this 21.9 percent of Americans who are productive citizens, workers, professionals, leaders, teachers, soldiers, and friends.

In this clip art set there only two pictures that MIGHT represent people of color. Unfortunately those are of women who might be Latinas working as a telemarketer and as a grocery store checkout clerk.

As a friend of mine often says … “Sometimes I am embarrassed to be a white American.”

Me too.

Even though I tend to vote Democratic [the Dems are really too conservative for me, not to mention pretty arrogant and not so smart but the best I can vote for], I think that this is a very smart statement by a very smart Republican physician about the absurdity of the current healthcare reforms. Unfortunately, Romneycare or doing nothing will be worse and Obamacare is all we have right now that could make it through a Congress of bozos from both parties.

The link above is to the viral version of the video (almost 2M downloads as of this morning). There is also a full 12 minute version. The viral version is taken from the first 2 minutes.

A link to the full version is given below.

In spite of our differences on healthcare reform, I would certainly like to see Dr. Beller at the table in further discussions about the national healthcare system. She has a lot to contribute.

I’ve voted in presidential elections since 1972 (when as a weird looking hippie I wore a few Nixon buttons on my jacket and would tell inquirers that I was going to vote for Nixon because he was going to legalize marijuana). Images of various campaigns over the years … Dukakis in a tank, Reagan with a Cowboy hat, Bill Clinton playing saxophone, Dan Quayle looking clueless, Bush I read my lips, Bush II my wife wants you to learn to read, Jimmie Carter (nuclear engineer) in the peanut field with the boots and el cheapo jeans. The streak of Yale-educated Presidents (Ford, Bush 1, Bush 2, Clinton) proved that an Ivy League education does not necessarily provide the skills to be a good president.

This year, I signed up for the campaign emails from Obama, Romney, their staff, a few super PACs, and some assorted hangers-on. Amazing the number of emails saying outrageous things about the other candidates you will get for a $3 donation.

The current email political campaigns have a degree of viciousness and lack of truth that greatly exceeds what you can say on TV or radio. Remember all of the ranting emails folks would send a decade ago? The folks who wrote those and honed their skills at being assholes now seem to be running the political campaigns.

A hippie wearing a Nixon button. That was nothing …

I find the email, Twitter campaign materials to be somewhat disturbing. All of the candidates are using strategies learned from porn operators, Ambassadors from Africa or South America with money to move to the USA, and offshore lottery sites. Given that the pols have let the US educational system erode to the point where college graduates can only write 140 character quasi-sentences or post pictures on Facebook from their smartphones, it all gets weirder and weirder.

This country needs a real Twitter, email candidate with a brain and a good heart. When she is 35, Lady Gaga is a cinch to win. Somebody should find out how much each party would have to pay so she will run for them. Green hair at the inauguration. Now THAT would be something.

Addendum March 2016.

Well, Lady Gaga is still too young to run for US President so the Republicans settled for another “celebrity” (in his own mind). I am 99.9% sure that Lady Gaga would be a much better President than Donald Trump. She does not use Twitter to send out hate messages. She appears to be less self-promoting than Donald Trump. By all observations, she is smarter. She has a real charitable foundation that makes significant donations for youth programs. She knows how to run a rally; compare her Super Bowl appearance with Donald Trump’s appearance spewing hate in a red baseball hat all over America. And wow, can she belt out the National Anthem and other patriotic songs. Gaga for President 2020.