Contradictions…

 

On occasion, I’m asked how could I hold seemingly opposing viewpoints on similar subject matter. One such area is on the value of life, specifically human life. I support the death penalty but oppose abortion. Some people, let’s be honest… liberals, see no difference between taking an unborn baby’s life (‘a clump of cells’… their words…) and capital punishment. They think my support of capital punishment is contradictory to my opposition to abortion. Through their very narrow world view, and skewed sense of ‘morality’, they think they occupy the moral high-ground.

My response to their assertions are two-fold, 1) From an ethical point-of-view, the biggest difference between abortion and capital punishment can be answered with a simple question. ‘What crime did the unborn commit to warrant it’s destruction?’ And 2) it is my view that no living thing has an absolute right to exist, that includes human beings… nothing. As much as we humans would like to think highly of ourselves, we’re statistically insignificant.

‘How can you say that?’, they ask. Well, let’s think about this for a moment from differing perspectives. From the standpoint of being a conscious human, I realize that life only exists to perpetuate itself. It really serves no other purpose. That said, I do believe that once a human life has been conceived, those responsible for its conception have an obligation to care for that life.

We’re human, and humans are full of contradictions…

Miss Baker

 

On my recent trip back ‘home’ to Huntsville, Alabama… I visited the Space and Rocket Center. I had lived in Huntsville previously for many years but never got around to actually paying a proper visit to the museum. I guess when something is so convenient, it’s easily put off until a later date. So, I took my son with me to see the museum. Amongst the many statues and tributes leading up to the space museum, was a small marker just outside the main entrance. Curiously enough, there were several bananas placed atop the marker. Upon closer inspection, this small marker bore the name of ‘Miss Baker’.

The younger generation may not know who Miss Baker was, but growing up in Huntsville, my generation was privileged to be front and center witnesses to the nation’s space race. Miss Baker was an icon of the ‘space race’ between the United States and the U.S.S.R. (the former Soviet Union, to you millennial crumb catchers). Miss Baker was one of two animals launched into space by the United States in 1959. The other was Miss Able, who expired 4 days after her flight, while having electrodes removed from her head.

Miss Baker survived her flight and went on to become the oldest living squirrel monkey, passing away due to kidney failure in 1984. She spent her last years living at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The marker is her tombstone, and one can usually find a banana or so placed upon it in her memory. Rest well, Miss Baker.

Quantum biology

 

Quantum biology is the study of how quantum physics interacts with biology. It has its origins dating back to the 1920’s, when the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, delivered his influential lecture on his theory of atomic structure.

The use of quantum biology can help scientists explain certain phenomena within the plant and animal kingdoms.

Migratory birds

Migratory birds use of the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate. Scientific studies have found, if you cover one eye of a bird, you can ‘turn off’ the magnetic compass to the opposite side of the bird’s brain. This is accomplished because their eyes are affected by the protons entering the eyes and activating chemical reactions.

Imagine energy molecules having peaks and valleys, and the bird’s chemical compass delicately balanced at the peaks, slight changes in the Earth’s magnetic field can push the molecule into one of the valleys. This is where quantum entanglement plays a part in the bird’s ability to navigate.

Quantum entanglement refers to the states of two or more particles being interdependent, regardless of the distance separating them. It’s one of many counterintuitive features of the subatomic landscape, in which particles such as electrons and photons behave as both particles and waves simultaneously, occupy multiple positions and states at once, and traverse apparently impermeable barriers.

When a photon enters the bird’s eye, it creates a pair of entangled electrons. Each of the electrons have two possible states. Let’s refer to these states as ‘red’ and ‘green’.  Like Schrödinger’s cat, until it is observed (measured), the electron is neither red nor green. The electron is both at the same time. If the entanglement is based upon the color of each electron being the same, the entangled electron will always be the same color as the first. The entanglement could also be that the second electron is always the opposite color of the first. Confusing, right? It is as if the first electron is dictating the outcome of the second. This is why Einstein called quantum physics ‘spooky’. This is ultimately the key to the bird’s ability to navigate. The direction of the Earth’s magnetic field can influence the outcome of the entangled electrons.

Near the equator, the combination of electrons may be the same color. The farther away from the equator, the colors may be more likely opposite from each other. The bird is able to detect the tiny variations in these color patterns to know where it is located in relation to its destination.

Sense of smell

Why do some things smell like something else? For instance, why does cyanide smell like bitter almonds? The prevailing theory (the lock and key mechanism), dating from the 1950’s, is that scent molecules fit certain receptors, thereby triggering a unique smell sensation. But the compound structures for almonds and cyanide are very different and obviously cannot fit into receptors correctly as the lock and key theory suggests, yet they both share a common smell. What’s going on?

Quantum biology proposes that scent molecules vibrate the bonds that hold chemical compounds together. The bonds of almonds and cyanide resonate at the same frequency. A study was conducted using fruit flies to determine the validity of this theory. In the study, the smell of orange blossoms was recreated with a different form of hydrogen atom (deuterium) that vibrated at a slower frequency than a regular hydrogen atom. If the vibrations are different, the smells should also be different. The fruit flies were trained to avoid the modified version of the orange blossom molecule. In a maze like test, the fruit flies had to choose either the true orange blossom molecule or the modified version. They always chose the true orange blossom molecule.

This is not to say that the lock and key theory is incorrect, but rather that it works in conjunction with the scent molecule vibration theory.

 

 

Before and after…

Did people treat you differently after they found out you were a Mensa member?

First of all, I’d like to say that I do not think my personal experiences are unique. I do get reminded on a regular basis that I’m viewed and treated differently in certain situations. On occasion I can quite readily spot when the ‘atmosphere’ changes when interacting with people. I’m referring to how you’re treated when others don’t know you’re highly intelligent vs when they find out you’re not the fool they thought. This kinda goes to the heart of my post, ‘Before and after’.

Several years ago I approached an engineer where I was employed at the time and asked about an opening in programming. This engineer was highly respected and had been with the company for a long time. So, I knocked on his office door and was invited in to take a seat. I asked about the job and his thoughts about me applying for the position. I was taken aback when he actually told me ‘I don’t think you’re smart enough to do the job’. Wow! That was totally unexpected. Never mind that I was hired into my then, current position by this engineer and had worked for him too. I didn’t respond to his comment. I just politely thanked him for his time and walked out of his office. I formed a few opinions about the engineer that day, 1) I would never seek to work for him in any capacity, ever again, 2) the engineer was obviously not a good judge of a person’s abilities, 3) he must have either not read my resume, or had forgotten that I once owned a CNC machine shop and wrote programs for all the parts I ran through my shop. So, my qualifications should not have been in doubt… but it was. A few years later I happened to be working on a project he was involved in. We got to talking and he noticed that I was wearing a shirt with the Mensa logo emblazoned on the front. He looked at me and asked if I was in Mensa. ‘Yes’, I responded, ‘I’m also the current president of San Diego Mensa’. If ever there was a time that I could read the facial cues on another’s face, it was then. I could see the progression of realization from our previous conversation to then… when he figured out that he had made a gross assumption and he now looked like an asshole. For my part, I’ve never reminded him of his ‘I don’t think you’re smart enough to do the job’ comment. But, I will admit, he did change his approach to me from condescension to more or less as a peer. Some people just have much too big an ego to ever apologize. I respect the guy professionally, but not personally.

This same type of story happens to me constantly with a few twists here and there. The assumptions are that I’m somehow less a person to them for whatever reason. Maybe they look down upon me because I chose a blue collar profession… it could be that they’re just egotistical cunts. Who knows? Once these people find out that I’m not the dumbass they thought I was, I’m treated in one of three ways. Their treatment towards me becomes courteous and mutually respectful, they try to prove they’re smarter than me, or they simply try to avoid me. The third option confuses me. Those are the ones I go out of my way to engage. Their discomfort amuses me to no end.

At times, I’ve had people challenge me by either kidding around, or to ‘show me up’. Two examples… one time I was cutting through the warehouse when a forklift driver and his coworker crossed my path. The forklift driver slowed down and said, ‘I bet that I can beat you in a game of chess!’ To which I replied, ‘you probably could. I don’t play chess’. He looked at me blankly at my unexpected answer and continued on his way. Another time I had clocked out and was on my way out to my car. As I walked down a hallway towards the parking lot, some engineer said, ‘Quick! What’s 2 plus 2?’. Without thinking I responded, ‘4, and it smells like gasoline!’ He smiled at first and then asked, ‘Really? It smells like gasoline?’ I just smiled and kept on walking.

I do think people tend to judge others based upon their appearances, their educational background, etc. I had posted an earlier thread that had to do with implicit biases. I think this can roughly explain my experiences. Here is that link… https://patrickyepes.com/2021/04/confronting-our-implicit-biases/

Social media, the 5th estate.

 

When we speak of ‘estates’, we’re referring to the societal structure of the Middle Ages. That structure was broken down into three distinctive groups… the clergy (1st), the nobility (2nd), and the peasantry (3rd). In the United States, we sometimes refer to the press as the ‘fourth estate’, alongside our version of the first, second, and third estates (executive, legislative, and judicial branches). The role of the press, as it pertains to our system of government, is to provide a ‘check’ on the other three estates. The fourth estate functions as a watchdog, so to speak, and plays a very important role in keeping an open society informed.

Since the 1960’s, another estate has existed that encompasses the ideas of the counter-culture movement. Where once this counter-culture movement had little voice outside their respective communities, the advent of social media has given this group access to a worldwide audience.

The fifth estate, which are filled with conspiracy theorists/social bloggers and similar fringe media outlet types, attempts to persuade others on social platforms by using half-truths and innuendo. Until the last twelve years or so, this has been only a minor problem.

The American public is used to mainstream media (the 4th estate) being politically biased in their coverage of the news. But now the American public is bombarded with biased news reporting and a plethora of conspiracy theories pushed by both the 4th and 5th estate. This has blurred the lines as to what is truly factual vs merely conjecture.

Many people rarely read beyond the headlines or listen to more than snippets of soundbites. Their views and opinions are shaped by purposely skewed information and their own confirmation biases. Ultimately, this has the negative effect in producing an uninformed and easily manipulated electorate.

Confronting our implicit biases

 

 

Q: What is implicit bias? 

A: The term was coined in 1995 by psychologists M. Banaji and A. Greenwald. Simply stated, it is a social behavior, largely influenced by unconscious associations and judgements. 

Implicit biases can cross over several categories…not limited to, but including race, gender, and sexuality. One’s culture, religious upbringing… or lack thereof, and personal experiences, may also shape biases.

Below, is a video link which takes six individuals, and asks them to rank themselves and each other according to who they think are the most intelligent. They then give a brief explanation as to why they’ve come to their rankings. Afterwards, they are all given an IQ test to definitively place each, in the order of their results, from 1 (highest IQ) to 6 (lowest IQ).

I would like for you stop the video at 10:06. At this point, having heard each person’s educational level and why they’ve ranked each other the way they did, take a moment and rank each person too. As you’re doing so, think about why you believe each person’s ranking is justified in your mind.

Ok, so you’ve completed the video. How accurate were your assessments? Were you surprised? If you were way off on assessing a few of these people, why? Did the way they dressed, their educational level, etc., play a role in your first impressions? But most importantly, did you learn something by watching the video about implicit biases?

The Dunning-Kruger effect, psychological sets, and the bottom twelve percent.

 

Some of the things I’ve been contemplating recently…

What is the Dunning-Kruger effect? What are psychological sets? And, who exactly are the bottom twelve percent?

Dunning-Kruger

Simply put, the Dunning-Kruger effect is when someone has a lot of confidence and over estimates their limited knowledge about a subject… whereas, a knowledgeable person would tend to underestimate their own knowledge because they realize just how much they do not know.

The polar opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect is the ‘imposter syndrome’. This term was coined in 1978 to describe high achieving individuals who felt that their successes were a matter of luck or fraud. These individuals feel as if their successes are undeserved.

Psychological Sets

When discussing ‘sets’, it is important to take into consideration the many types of sets a person may undertake. A set is a group of expectations that can be shaped by the experiences of a person, which in turn, makes that person more sensitive to specific kinds of information, which can lead to what is known as ‘cognitive entrenchment’.

To avoid cognitive entrenchment, it can useful to consider, and to think about things from people who have a differing points of view. Not only will they tell you things you may not already know, they may also give you a new perspective on a subject matter. People who are fixed thinkers have the tendency to only see solutions that have worked in the past. This can best be described as having a ‘mental set’.

A perceptual set (perceptual expectancy), is a predisposition to perceive things in a certain way. An individual’s perceptual set is influenced by their life experiences, beliefs, motivations, education, culture, and core values. They can, in turn, impact how the individual navigates new experiences and problems, and can predispose the individual to interpret situations and new information in a biased way, based upon that individual’s perception.

And a mental set is the framework in which a person approaches or thinks about a problem. The tendency is to use the same method or solution process that worked with solving previous problems, while purposely or subconsciously, ignoring alternative solutions. This is essentially a very real cognitive block that impedes their ability to correctly, and quickly, solve the problem at hand.

How do we keep an open mind and not fall into perceptual and/or mental sets? One way we can try to overcome sets is to abstract the problem. Simplify the problem down to its essential elements. Do not pass judgment on ideas early on in the problem solving process. Listen to alternative perspectives and possible solutions.

The bottom twelve percent

This is a particularly controversial subject, but I do think it must be addressed. Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, roughly stated that someone with an IQ of 83 or lower, would be barred from joining the U.S. armed forces. Supposedly, with an IQ of 83 or below, there were no occupations within the U.S. armed forces that would be worthwhile to train that potential soldier to do. In other words, that person was not cost-effective to induct.

I’ve done a little research to determine the validity of this assertion. The best I could find does correlate, to some extent, his basic statement. But I do not think that’s the important take-away from his point. The real point in the statement is about the IQ score of 83, which translates to about 12.8% of the population. Twelve point eight percent out of a population of 331,000,00 people in the United States (2020 estimate), equates to 25.86 million people. Think about that for a moment… nearly 26 million people are not intelligent enough to be of much use to our armed forces… in any capacity. This is alarming for several reasons. 1) our armed services are an excellent way to propel service members up the socio-economic ladder, from lower to middle class and middle to upper class, 2) modern capitalism postulates that, with hard work and diligence, any person can raise himself/herself up out of poverty, 3) With each subsequent generation, Western society becomes more sophisticated and technologically advanced. Realizing that nearly 13% of our population hasn’t the mental ability to be economically useful, even as cannon fodder, for our armed services… what hope do they have functioning in modern society? How does society deal with that problem?

 

Credential harvesting RFID Badge Readers

 

Most modern office buildings utilize RFID badge readers for employee access. While these badge readers offer long-term reliability and convenience to their users… they can also offer a plethora of information about employees, as well as relatively unfettered access to those seeking to gain access to secured buildings and areas.

To understand how this is possible, we must first know how an RFID badge access system works. RFID readers work by broadcasting a very limited power field that activates the coil embedded on a nearby RFID card. The coil on the card then powers up a chip on the card that transmits repeatedly, the information stored on the card. This information is then read by the RFID reader and checked against its database, either granting or denying access.

So, how is this technology susceptible to hacking? 

Well, in order to create a duplicate RFID card to bypass an RFID system, you must obtain valid credentials and know what RFID system is being used. A picture of the target RFID  reader is useful for the hacker to identify the system and model. RFID readers located outside of buildings are not usually protected and fences around such buildings offer a false sense of security. It takes just a couple of minutes to gain access to the reader unit and to install an ESP tool (approximately $30 USD). An ESP tool is a WiFi enabled tap for the Wiegand protocol, which is a very common protocol for RFID reader systems and this device targets 26-37bit HID cards. The tool is used for data logging (recording) and can transmit that data to a smart phone or nearby laptop. To the authorized user, everything functions normally. The hacker now not only has the ‘key’ to the compromised reader, but he effectively controls the lock.

Why would a hacker need to capture many credentials instead of just a few?

A hacker can look at the information captured to see when a large amount of people enter and leave at given times and can then deduce scheduled start times, lunch times, shift changes, etc.  If the same badge ‘hits’ the RFID reader at regular intervals throughout the day, it can indicate that the badge belongs to a security guard. Security guards tend to have greater access to restricted areas and their card access codes are of greater value.

Does the hacker need to make an RFID card to gain access?

Yes and no. The hacker can simply transmit authenticated RFID badge information from their smart phone or laptop, to the ESP tool inside the hacked badge reader to gain access. If the hacker wants to bypass additional RFID readers inside the building, he would need to create a cloned RFID card since the other badge readers would not have been compromised by the ESP tool as previously described.

How much do these tools used to bypass RFID readers cost?

An RFID card reader and programmer of RFID cards costs around $300 USD. RFID cards are a couple of dollars each. ESP tools cost about $30 USD. The cost of the ESP tool program app on the smart phone is $80 USD.

 

 

 

 

 

Questionable Relationship Advice

A couple of friends thought my previous Man Club Tips article was hilarious and wanted advice on what to do once they started dating a person more long-term. Really??? They’re asking me? Ok, but they probably would be better off reevaluating their life choices.

So, now you’ve found yourself in a relationship. How do you manage expectations while maintaining a certain amount of freedom? Admittedly, if you’re still worried about your freedom, are you sure you should be in a relationship? Whatever! Here are a few pointers from Uncle Patrick.  🙂

 

Lower expectations

Simply put, keep ’em guessing. If you’re punctual, your significant other will come to expect you to always be on time. Work on the premise that schedules aren’t ‘set in stone’ and are always subject to last minute changes.

Another tip on lowering expectations has to do with chores around the house. If you really don’t want to do a particular chore, put in a little extra effort into fucking it up. If you pull it off correctly, your significant other won’t let you do that chore again.

‘Forget’ important dates. Focus instead on surprising your mate with tokens of your ‘love’. A random card, flowers for no reason, a dinner date out of the blue… these things should be done with enough frequency so as to mitigate any ill feelings for ‘forgetting’ those aforementioned important dates. You have to replace one with the other.

 

What’s for dinner?

What guy hasn’t asked his woman what she wants to eat and was met with ‘I don’t know, what do you want?’ And then, when you tell her what you’d like to eat, she replies with something like ‘I don’t like that’, or ‘I want something else but don’t know what.’ It’s enough to drive you mad! But, all is not lost. Here’s a trick I learned many years ago. When she asks you ‘what’s for dinner?’, you respond with, ‘guess where we’re going for dinner?’ Now, pay attention to her responses! She’ll tell you what she really wants to eat by trying to ‘guess’ where you’re taking her.

 

Dealing with past relationships

Inevitably it will happen. That moment when your significant other mentions a former partner. How do you handle the moment? Sure, you can be mature about how you choose to handle this situation, but what fun is that? Try associating a negative idea or feeling when he or she mentions a former lover. Every time that person is mentioned, associate a sad story or insinuate that the person was/is stupid, mentally ill, etc. This places your significant other into a position to either defend the former lover or to repress commenting in the first place. If she values your relationship, she would be very hesitant to defend the former lover. Either way, you win.

 

Anti-social behavior

It’s been said that marriage is an anti-social behavior. All of your male friends are now considered ‘bad influences’. On the other hand, her female and male friends aren’t. Not exactly a fair situation, right? The solution is to level the playing field. This calls for finding new friends that are a lot worse than your original friends. By comparison, your old friends will look like saints. The hope is that she relents somewhat and ‘tolerates’ your old friends on the condition that you get rid of the new ones.

Another tactic is to thin out her group of friends. If she has a girlfriend that you find completely annoying, this is your opportunity to get rid of her. Be sure to compliment her girlfriend by saying things like ‘she’s really cute in that outfit’, or ‘if anything ever happens to us, I’d like to go out with her’. There’s nothing like a jealous wife/girlfriend and her paranoia.

More to follow…

 

Specna Arms SA-E11 EDGE™ M4 CQB rifle

 

I recently picked up an M4 to add to my collection, a Specna Arms SA-E11 EDGE™ with Mosfet X-ASR installed. This particular M4 is a CQB suppressed version AEG airsoft rifle. I outfitted the M4 with a 2.5 – 10×40 (Red/Green) illuminated scope and a side mounted laser.

 

The specs on this rifle are as follows:

Length: 685mm – 770mm / 26.97 to 30.32 inches (Adjustable)
Weight: 2465g (5.434 pounds)
Inner Barrel: 310mm (12.2 inches)
Magazine Capacity: 125rds
Muzzle Velocity: 310~380 FPS (Measured with 0.20g BBs)
Thread Direction: 14mm Negative
Gearbox: ORION Ver 2 Metal, Fully Upgradeable
Motor: Long Type
Fire Modes: Semi/Full-Auto, Safety
Battery: 7.4v / 11.1v Buffer Tube LiPo Battery Recommended (Wired to rear w/ DEANS connector.)
Hopup: Yes, Adjustable