My glass slippers

Not many shoes fit me. Only two brands have never given me any problems. I owned two pairs of black Ferragamo’s Aubrey shoes a long time ago but never kept up with the ownership after they broke.

I own some flats which I leave under the work table. I wear sneakers and change into the flats if there are meetings to go to. Before the sneakers, it was vibram 5 fingers. An ex CEO use to be rather bothered by them. Being the perfect gentleman that he is, other than polite inquiries about their comfort he never said anything else.

How rich are they?

Gilmore Girls: How is it that that town has so many rich people slumming in there? They spend money like they own magical never bottoming out purses.

I believe that can be said of all television shows. Friends. House. Supernatural. All these television people have magical resources of never bottoming out purses. Even when they say they are broke, or are actually unemployed, or they have a serious inability to work with anyone, they never think, maybe I can only eat a single piece of bread today.

A pretense of personlisation, or how to keep those prying algos from targeting me.

In a Economic History class, 20 years ago, we had a topic on consumer goods from 1900s to present and I learnt the term, democracy of consumption. In that class, we also speculated a little the trajectory of consumer goods. One thing was that goods will become more personalised and more tailored. An example was a pair of jeans, in which the consumer’s body would be scanned in order to obtain an ultra personalised pair of jeans. The idea is that in the past only the very rich could get scanned for a personalised pair of jeans. As consumption is democratised, personalised jeans will be available at all levels of spending. Actual ultra- personalisation is never a question for the rich. For the rest of us, there is a pretense towards ultra personalisation. Machines at first listen in on our searches to to recommend advertisements that we may like. Then these eavesdropping applications tell other applications in their family and those applications perform the same recommendations. As we use the same ID to log into different applications, these machines build a profile of what we have seen across all facets of our internet life. They will perhaps accord weightage base on certain signifiers (Eg clicks, likes, supports) to determine if we like or do not like certain things that we are seeing to further tailor what we see.

Sellavision is no longer a canned message of “wait, there is more” to engage. If I were purchasing something off the shelf and am searching for reviews, the marketing message is getting personalised via influence in their areas of “selling”. No longer a TV message is crafted to be accepted by the masses but the same message is sold to me via the influencer whom I enjoy watching, listening, and, whom I believe is an independent consumer just like me.

With the technology I am no nearer to that ultra personalised pair of jeans but I am being marketed to in a personal way into buying that jeans. The privacy settings on social media gives the impression that my data is private. It only means, the marketer doesn’t know my name, email and telephone number. Does the marketer need that information to target me? No. They just need my habits, preferences and what sort of thing I click on. This data will help the social media company target marketers who target me. They are less interested in my chats with friends, status updates. They are interested in things that will be shared. So, the less that I am up in arms about on social media, the less information I am giving to the social media company. The more I am incognito, I am less likely to be campaign target.

In the old days, the search engines will rank if a page or a search is high on their list. To get listed you put all sorts of meta tags for SEO – this is free. With Google ads or Facebook ads (which is paid), these social media companies like any other business will favour revenue generating over free services. Ad buying is getting very complicated – on television, you get eyeballs, ie exposure. On social media, the buyer is buying on blind faith. The buyer has no real knowledge how the algo functions, if it functions at all. The argument for this could be, well, politicians are getting the results from putting in effort on internet advertising. Yet it is the sensationalists who are winning at social media. The ones who do not only woe and betide devastating calamity if the other side wins but puts in derogatory, inflammatory remarks against their opponents.

Where does that leave the consumer who would like ultra personalised jeans? It only exists as those ultra body hugging elastic material which looks horrible on those who have dimply knees.

The Crown

Marvelous!

If any further evidence were needed to prove that we are a changed country than this is it. It’s all changed so quickly. Within a generation. Just 15 minutes ago, the British government and establishment were up in arms about my joining this family. I was a royal prince from a royal house. My great-great-grandmother was Queen Victoria. My father was a prince, my grandfather was a king and everyone was mortified at how inappropriate I was and how low you were stooping. I mean this fella’s mother is a ghastly social climber. His father’s a common-or-garden contract lawyer who buggered off with an airline stewardess and everyone’s throwing their hats in the air, declaring its a victory. Pathetic.

Prince Philip, The Crown, Season 2 Episode 7

I

A long blather on Freedom of Speech and Information

On the internet, there is a total freedom of speech and information. The internet is so firm over its absolute freedom of speech and information that it is safe for the minority who wishes to engage in unsociable behaviour. I have never felt that it is unsafe before having children. Now I do.

Freedom of speech and information is not absolute in real life. There are principles to protect or prevent harm. There are social obligations which helps people within the group to avoid unsociable speech.

In a real life social context, those who are pro-pedophiles will not be last long with such an announcement. On the internet, this unsociable freedom might be taken differently. Perhaps even praised and the “news of the world” type websites will publicise such click bait praise.

Innocent craft videos coming out from Russia is an example of freedom of unsociable information. #2 started watching these craft videos and as a parent I get to listen to what they watch. (Joy! O, Joy!) The videos started out with innocent crafts and graduating to those that actively go against the typical school rules eg, hiding food, hiding makeup, etc.

Another channel that works almost the same way suggested a child might like to create a pregnant barbie doll. The way they have done it is to depict this as a lark. It is not a lark. They earn a lot of money obviously but they are sinister in that they encourage being mindlessly anti establishment from a young age.

This is not a BrilliantOriginalConceptTM by Russia. Disney did it first, introducing propaganda via the cartoon characters to target people who can’t read. Russia is now doing the same, by targeting children who can’t read. This is freedom of information. We get to decide whether to consume it.

How do we know without tasting some of it? How can we rely on youtube or facebook or instagram to police things that are of bad taste when taste is subjective? Freedom information does not mean freedom of useful or unbiased information. Just to continue to bludgeon to death this same point: without consuming the material, how does one discern its usefulness or neutrality?

If children are being politicised by youtube, adults are provided politicised content by facebook and instagram by content creators lending their name to the cause of the day. If you didn’t share, if you didn’t talk about it or bring it up, you are not with it and might lose followers. The desperate need to be with it brings the trending topic to a feverish pitch and dies down quickly like rapid change headlines. Yet they are just sharing without having to do a single thing in their life differently. They get to market a trait without having one.

Obama was the first to win at social media – not the first to use social media, obviously. He won because he was cool. He was talking to the voting adults via their medium when everyone else was doing television or pounding pavements – ie, the traditional way. (After him, everyone wanted to be cool. Except for the very old or the dead, every Singapore minister has to deal with social media engagement now. Okay, maybe even the dead.)

In this day and age, we should know by now that trending topics does not mean this is a topic that is critical to the place or the community we are in for discussion. We don’t. We can’t see the money and effort put in to generate those hashtags to push this into our eyeballs. If it appears innocent – like a 5 min crafts video, or the source appears legitimate (eg a newspaper), it must be innocent and/or legitimate. If it appears to be trending elsewhere it must also trend where we live – so that we remain cool and with it.

With the 2020 election in Singapore, I observed a strong social media pitch to sway voters to swing to an opposition. As long as it is to any opposition the swing is thought as good. New parties and new politicians can afford to gamble on taking bigger risks in their strategy. They can afford to concentrate on those with a mobile phone and a social media account. They can also afford to pay lip service to those who obtain their news to traditional media. In fact, they even perhaps ignore these medium due to barriers of entry and the bias in this medium (which is against them). (To that, I would say it is true in general but untrue in certain pockets. You really just have to know that space and win at it.)

Politicians are more fearful than ever of the loss of followers. The argument for this is that, well this fear will push them to do the right thing by us if they are so afraid of losing us. To believe in it needs bold faith. An example: innocuous talk over the state of global affairs is usually coffeeshop talk. On LinkedIn, it merits a separation agreement. It seems to me that to censor, punish and lynch coffeeshop talk is unjust like those terrible kings of history but this is what the public enjoys and it wants. (Has always been, I think.) It makes the normal censorship (nudity for example) in comparison rather tame, just and innocent. It is likely that in this climate of pursuing voters via social media, trade offs, laws (sometimes difficult) will be made with the focus on how can I hashtag this.

Noise to Signal Ratio

Every election there will be noise. I think this round we had less noise from PAP compared with 2015 and the debacle on the AHTC. I think the debate was more or less centered on the way forward – the immediate and the long future. It was sincere (more or less) and appealing. While I understand why – this is marketing talk – I found the discussion on mandate and the blank cheque unnecessary. Nobody is given a mandate to govern. Even Kings can be murdered in a revolution, or locked up, or overturned. (I am reading a lot of historical fiction lately.) Even staffers working inside the Trump administration can show their dissent by ‘accidentally’ losing papers. On the matter of the blank cheque, why did it erupt into a popular term? This is an election, not an exercise to pass over our collective purses.

Separately, why is the plumbing so lousy in certain circles around particular individual? That individual seem to need a better handyman. Or perhaps just damn suay.

Ikea’s Green Room

At Ikea yesterday to look for a mirror, I saw something similiar to this beautiful room. The one I saw had black bookshelves, black display cabinets, gold lighting with golden trays, books in gold letters, big fake flowers, black tables and gold photo frames. The solo armchairs were very dark green. The only floral was the Ektrop sofa and the fake flowers. It was marvellously restful. It was very manly. It was womanly.

It had no television. I love it!

I tried to figure out what it was that I liked about it (other than the TV). I realise that the hue is limited to four colours. (They had some white frames from the window and it was mirrored in the photo frames.) If they had variations to the colour scheme, it was too subtle for me. It would be impossible for anyone to re-create such a tight look at home without doing a whole lot of shopping.

I also can’t imagine any child would want to be here. For this room, children are a second thought at best. It is a room where the children tip toe in only to greet, hello, we are back and tip toe out to homework and bed. It is a room that demands that nobody sitting in the room will leave to earn a living, clean the home or pack a lunch or prepare dinner. It bosses the others to allow the sitter, endless tracts of undisturbed time. Truely, a room of one’s own.