Showing posts with label essays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label essays. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Why people cheat in academia and life

This is an essay I wrote either in 2012 and 2013 illustrating why people cheat:

It is commonly said that “most people are virtuous, but a few bad apples spoil the bunch”. This pseudo-proverb reveals a truth that many of us try not to notice but is nonetheless a reality that has been empirically observed and fact-checked. The vast majority of young people (and adults for that matter) believe that cheating is wrong. Yet, by nearly every poll, most young people cheat at least once in their high school career. So, the most important question is why do young people behave in ways that are inconsistent with their stated beliefs? Two of the major reasons behind cheating are: the survival instinct and the easy way out.



First, cheating is in one’s self-interest and increases one’s chances of survival. As Ariely said: “Everybody has the capability to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats – just by a little” (2012, p12).  I am not a psychologist, but I believe there is a mechanism within each of us which triggers a need to "save face." Saving face can mean a desire to save oneself from the angry assault of a parent or teacher; it can mean avoiding embarrassment; it can mean economic survival or a perceived pressure be it self-inflicted or inflicted by some other extraneous force. Although I cannot excuse it, I understand why an educator imposes unbearable testing pressure on his students in order to better ensure the results of the State official exams. If you tell a school administrator that his school's existence or employment might hinge on his students' performance on a test, I believe you are tempting him to cheat in order to achieve a better outcome. Most human beings have a breaking point and when anything threatens a person's livelihood, income and/or social status, you put them in a survival mode. In other words, as you threaten that individual's existence, you tempt them to reach their moral breaking point. What lies at the heart of cheating in any avenue of life, whether personal, academic or career, is self-interest, which most would argue is a particularly vile human attribute. To sum up, there may be nothing more fundamental to human existence than self-interest which, at its foundation, is an expression of our most basic instinct to survive.

Second, cheating offers an easy way out.  Cheaters break the rules to gain an unfair advantage in any competitive situation.  They do not have to cheat all the time, but once faced with a challenge that they do actually want to win, they will go back to their cheating strategies. For example, cheating in high school means better grades and likely admittance into better colleges. Cheating in college provides admission to better graduate programs and more job opportunities. Cheating in graduate school results in better job offers. Cheating among athletes with performance-enhancing drugs provides a performance advantage on the field that can start as early as high school and continue into the professional and Olympic ranks. Cheating in the financial industry results in a bigger paycheck and a faster and higher advancement. Cheating by corporations ensures continuing market share and profits (and survival) when companies are dying daily. Some people simply like to pick the easy way out. Why bother studying hard and doing all those term papers by yourself if you can use somebody else's work? Seriously, why bother? What's the point of studying, working hard, and going to college? Can't you skip all the hassle and hard work and just cheat?  After all, you’re only concerned about money or accomplishing anything “great” in this world. Unwilled to do the work, or just plain lazy, some people don't want to put the time and effort into studying and learning. They take the easy way out by cheating. This may go hand-in-hand with the belief that cheating is "easy" and "no big deal," and "everyone does it”.


Ultimately, cheating is an omnipresent phenomenon in human society and is a behaviour that we can find in the lives of the majority of any population. The reasons, however, for such a human trait seem to be more complex.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thoughts on the sentencing of sharebeast.com's owner

I have recently learned that the owner of sharebeast.com has been sentenced to 5 years in prison for copyright infringement. The domain name has been seized by the FBI as well:
Copyright infringement crimes are increasingly common and it seems the operation of sharebeast.com was a blatant case of copyright infringement. The owner of the website uploaded copyrighted music and refused to take it down. It feels odd though because the owner lives in the US and has a chosen a domain name that is seizable by US Government agencies.

This is no different than websites pirating movies and streaming them to users. There are currently thousands of pirate websites, however rare are the operators who reside in the United States and use a '.com' domain name which is seizable by the US government.

As said previously, hundreds of thousands of websites exist worldwide with the intention to pirate. Some are 'rogue' sites, they pretend or do take down copyrighted content but it finds its way to the platform again. Example sites include "openload.co" (Alexa Rank: 134) and many others. A solution to that would be offering a service to fingerprint the content and automatically block it on re-upload. Also, a repeat infringers policy taking in place would be very appropriate.
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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Why You Shouldn’t Care What Others Think About You

This article was written by Micheal Miles. I read it in 2012 and really like it. You may get his new book 'Thirty Days to Change Your Life' and support him by clicking here.

Who’s in control of your life? Who’s pulling your strings?

For the majority of us, it’s other people – society, colleagues, friends, family or our religious community. We learned this way of operating when we were very young, of course. We were brainwashed. We discovered that feeling important and feeling accepted was a nice experience and so we learned to do everything we could to make other people like us. We didn’t want to be singled out by the crowd for being different because this wasn’t such a nice feeling. We learned this way of being so well that, as adults, we continue – mostly through mutual peer pressure – to keep each other in check. Like sheep without any need for a sheepdog, we keep each other in line.

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”  – Oscar Wilde

It works both ways. First, we are afraid of disapproval. Am I dressed right? Will people laugh at my accent? Will I look stupid? Will I make a mistake? When we feel that others think badly of us, it makes us feel bad and so we try to avoid this.

Second, we all want to feel important and so we crave the positive attention of others. This is one of our basic needs, according to Dale Carnegie, author of the multi-million best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And so when people stroke our ego and tell us how wonderful we are, it makes us feel good. We crave this good feeling like a drug – we are addicted to it and seek it out wherever we can.

We are so desperate for the approval of others that we live unhappy and limited lives, denying huge swathes of ourselves and failing to do the things we really want to do because we’re worried about what other people will think. Just as drug addicts and alcoholics live impoverished lives to keep getting their fix, so we impoverish our own existence to get our own constant fix of approval.

The drug is so addictive that most people will not give it up – they will keep looking for approval because the hit is so intense. But, just as with any drug, there is a price to pay. The price of the approval drug is freedom – the freedom to be ourselves. Do you want your drug or do you want to be free? You cannot have both. If you want to pull your own strings, you need to stop giving away your power – you need to genuinely stop caring what other people think about you.

The truth is that it’s all an illusion anyway – you cannot control what other people think. People have their own agenda, they come with their own baggage and, in the end, they’re more interested in themselves than in you; in fact, they’re thinking about themselves ‘morning, noon and after dinner,’ as Carnegie wrote.

If we try to live by the opinions of others, we will build our life on sinking sand. Everyone has a different way of thinking, and people change their opinions all the time. The person who tries to please everyone will only end up getting exhausted and probably pleasing no one in the process.

So how can we take back control? If we are truly ready to give up the drug of approval and importance (which most people are not), I think there’s only one way – make a conscious decision to stop caring what other people think.

This doesn’t mean that you should start to treat people badly, step on them or use them. Why would it? I read somewhere recently that the world would be terrible if nobody cared what other people thought of them. But why so? We all know what’s right and wrong. I have written before about guiding your life by means of a set of values – not values imposed from the outside by others, but innate values which come from within. If we are driven by these values and not by the changing opinions and value systems of others, we will live a more authentic, effective, purposeful and happy life. We will be actualized and successful.

Only one question remains – do you really want to be free?
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Monday, October 30, 2017

Leon: The professional (1994) [Review]

This evaluative essay for the movie Leon: The Professional was written by my friend Elie Tom and has been modified to be displayed properly here. I like it a lot so I decided to post it on my blog.


Léon: The Professional is a 1994 thriller film starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, and Gary Oldman and written and directed by Luc Besson. The film received favorable reviews from critics and is one of the best action/drama films of 1994. It pivots around an unusual relationship between Léon, an Italian hitman, and Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl living in a dysfunctional family. The fresh thriller plot, outstanding acting and role performance, and a one a kind script earned Léon: The Professional it’s spot as one of the best drama films of its time and up to this day.


The plot is straightforward compared to most movies of the same genre; the movie is not driven by a plot-driven movie but rather driven by characters. There is no particular plot twist, although there are a few spectacular action sequences like the climax’s police shootout. The film mainly revolves around the relationship between Leon and Mathilda, and how they change each other’s lives.  Mathilda's abusive father draws the attention of corrupt DEA agents, who have been paying him to hide drugs in his apartment. Although Mathilda is young, she becomes interested in Leon and his job, seeking revenge for the horrific acts committed upon her.



The performance of the actors in the movie is unprecedented. Natalie Portman as delivers a brilliant performance a twelve-year-old Mathilda as she is able to portray childlike innocence and raw emotion combined with awareness and intelligence that are years ahead of her age. Mathilda is the star of the film, and Portman is outstanding in playing this difficult role. Jean Reno as Léon delivers a sharp character who sets all of his focus on his hitman assignments until Mathilda comes along. You really can sense what Léon’s character is about from the first few scenes; an extremely skilled hitman who is like a child in many ways. Jean Reno plays Leon perfectly. Danny Aiello as Tony makes you wonder whether he’s a bad guy or good guy. His minor role as Tony was excellent and fits the movie like a jigsaw puzzle. Last and certainly not least, Gary Oldman, as the corrupt DEA Agent Norman Stansfield, moves the story along and controls it with his actions. He plays of the most memorable negative role ever and mixed both fear and sarcasm in his actions at the same time. Oldman especially chews the scenery in a way that's both amusing and utterly menacing especially with his Beethoven obsession.


One issue that may arise in this movie is in the script, although it is one of the best scripts of its time. The love story between a twelve-year-old girl and a hitman would turn a few eyes, but Besson handles it in the most natural way by adding awkwardness in Leon’s script when Mathilda tries to bring up adult topics. There is a breathtaking and heartbreaking scene where Mathilda walks down the corridor past her apartment and knocks on Leon's door to evade the gunman standing at the door to her apartment. You can’t but emphasize with Mathilda. In another scene, a beaten Mathilda asks, "Is life always this hard or just when you’re a kid?" and Leon pauses only to respond with “always like this”. What really stands is the brilliant script and the straightforward direction of the action sequences. Portman, Reno, and Oldman deliver lines that would not be appreciated have they been spoken by any other performer.




Luc Besson's movie delivers an intense story that is amplified with the perfect-fit casting. Every aspect of the movie adds to the unique overall package. Leon: The Professional attained its success without special effects overuse or a large shooting location. Besson's approach provides it with a European look; Paris in New York. Portman, Reno, and Oldman along with Danny Aiello show us that great acting cannot be replaced. One impressive thing about the movie is how it’s basic story is maximized to it’s potential by the depth of the characters and outstanding acting and a one a kind script along with many other elements that go into the making of the movie.



The depth of the characters in this movie hooks you from the moment it starts. Matilda is played with great resourcefulness by Portman, who is required by the role to be, in a way, stronger than Leon. She has witnessed many violent things in her life most of which is through her dysfunctional family. She is wise for her age and this is seen when she makes references to movies: "Bonnie and Clyde didn't work alone," and "Thelma and Louise didn't work alone. And they were the best." Léon who has learned to repress his emotions in order to perform his job as a hitman. His world is changed when Mathilda turns to him for help and he learns about living a normal life, even if the circumstances which unite them are far from normal.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Hacker's Manifesto [Full Essay]

In few months, A Hacker's Manifesto will turn 31 years old. In honor of this essay, I will repost it on my blog. The Hacker's Manifesto is known as The Conscience of a Hacker. Date released is in January 8, 1986 and the author is The Mentor.

Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...

Damn kids. They're all alike.

But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him? I am a hacker, enter my world...

Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...

Damn underachiever. They're all alike.

I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."

Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me...

Or feels threatened by me...

Or thinks I'm a smart ass...

Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...

Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.

And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found.

"This is it... this is where I belong..."

I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all...

Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike...

You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.

I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Make one mistake and you might lose everything.

It is amazing how one mistake in this could make you lose everything. All it could take is a fraction of a second, and you would lose everything.

Get caught cheating on your wife/girlfriend/spouse only once after years of attachment, and you will lose your engagement.

Work 10 years with Google Adsense, make thousands of dollars with them, monetize your site, and violate their terms one time only, and you will get banned from Adsense forever without a possibility of getting back into the system.

Upload a nude picture on your facebook profile, and your profile would be disabled permanently.

Get caught cheating in Harvard university test or take-home exam and you will get kicked out.

Chat on whatsapp while you're driving at 200 km/hour and your life will probably end.

Drop your new iPhone 6 in the water, and it is dead.

It takes only one instant, one fraction of a second to mess up and everything would end, be careful!
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to respond to someone when they tell you to "Get a life"?

Sometimes, many insecure people tell a member of their family or their friends to get a life, implying that the person they're insulting does not have an interesting life or does not have a social life or even does not have friends at all.

The phrase get a life is pretty common, and many times you just want to respond back to them,  just for revenge or even to make them shut up. Here is a list of comebacks (or responses) I gathered online to help you shut the haters:

1) I had one before starting this conversation with you.

2) Can you tell me where you got yours so I know where not to shop for it?

3) But what if I get one, and it's as screwed up as yours?

4) Get a brain.

5) When did you get a time machine? Where are you from? About 1996 right?

6) If your conversation is online, you can send them this meme:
7) Well, since you're not using yours, can I have it?

8) Oh, thank you. [Send a smile.]. Get a life too, you badly need it, trust me.

9) Sure. Where do you rent yours from?

10) I have one and it is better than yours.

11) Whatever.

12) What! Like yours? No thanks.

13) Get a better insult.

14) I have one, I'm just stuck arguying with your ignorance.

15) Get laid.

16) Pffft. Lives are for noobs. Real men sit at a computer all day and scream to eachother in text.

17) You mean like yours? No thanks, I'll pass.

18)

Yes, 18 is empty. You can simply ignore them. 
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Why college education is a scam

Sorry of this offends you. This posts targets American colleges and the american educational system only.

It’s ironic parents, teachers or even famous folks, are telling the children, “higher paying jobs are the way to go”. Point being, are we taught from a young age, “money = success" ?

The suicide rate of my generation (teenage) is the highest in the world and suicidal kids are rich for the most part.  The college mental health crisis is rising, it is severe. Why do you think is that?

If I had an honest conversation with college it would be like this:

University: Learn this stuff by heart.

Me: Why?

University: Because I told you.

Me: Will it be useful in the career I'm aspiring to get?

University: Not at all. You'll forget all of it 0.14232 seconds after you're done vomiting up on the exam.

Me: Why learn it this way then?

University: Because I'm an archaic system that used to have a monopoly on the production of knowledge but that has been unable to evolve with contemporary society. By the way your bill's ready. Pay up, sucker; you want that magical piece of paper at the end of your program, don't you?

Me: A magical piece of paper that will get me into a 9-5 job jive where it make someone else rich and lead to a path of mediocrity. Not to mention that you're taking the  most fresh years of my life, just getting sucked-up by lazy instructors and lifeless material that I will forget after one week of taking the exam!

University: Right! You need to have a certain kind of brain to understand the dead language that we write and teach you in textbooks, but we brainwash you form the little kid up, so that you buy into the system; and you get good grades, and you study hard and you become a member of the total system.

University: You don't know how to think because we told you how to think our way! It was a lie and we have let it dictate your life ever since.

----

During the first eighteen (highschool) years of our lives, we were given a set of beliefs that were rooted in prejudices, fears and illusions. It was never based in actual experience by any the above. They too were all lies. We fell for the spell. We were rewarded based on a punished based on meeting the approval of other's people standards not our own.


The educational system taught us, as we were growing up,  to be rewarded and punished based on meeting the approval of other people’s standards, not our own. Make good grades. Take advanced courses. Play on the sports teams. Score high on standardized tests. These metrics make for a productive workforce but not a happy workforce.

Let me explain, a kid who is excited about cars is going to have a hell much better time learning about math and physics if they can be put in the context that he cares about.

But if he isn't responsible for the why of what he is leaning, then he's not learning physics and math, he's learning how to fake it and make someone else happy.

According to surveys in U.S. News and World Report,  
80% of “high-achieving” high school students admit to cheating.
51% of high school students did not believe cheating was wrong.
95% of cheating high school students said that they had not been detected.
75% of college students admitted cheating, and 90% of college students didn't believe cheaters would be caught.
Almost 85% of college students said cheating was necessary to get ahead.

Do you know why?

Your system is performance-based and not purpose-based. It teaches mimicry and not passion.

It’s to satisfy somebody else’s standard. Probably, a future employer? It didn't evolve.


Cellphone evolution:

                     

College evolution:



How many times growing up did you ever hear students complain: 

This is pointless. Why do I have to learn this?

And, they would still learn it. And probably never use it in college. They get trained to become performance-based employees. Workers who don't think.

This will never lead to any one's self-satisfaction.  This is called spiritual suicide.

That's why academia completely and utterly is worthless for any person who desires to reach his or her full potential.

The emphasis on success as external performance is a vestige in this industrial age — it molded us, kids, teenagers, and adults into pliant worker bees, not happy individuals. It doesn't make sense anymore.

College nowadays forces their authority on students. 

Making the student dependent on authority, focusing on performance over purpose, is a main core foundation of academia. It kills thinking. It promotes mindless parroting and inane certainty. It keeps crap TV on the air.


Do you know how the American educational system work



According to my experience, I can safely say that:


  • College's traditional basic skills are out of date. Communication has shifted and now revolves around different technology such as the mobile phone, the internet, games playing. Student adept at understanding, interaction, communication, but in different forms; but college didn't! 

  • College forces a student at 18 years old to pick a future career from that young age. College expects that all teens know what they want to study in.

  • College makes students memorize page after page technical words and theories without having to understand them. Or worse, you make us have to use them in sentences and deduct points when we don't copy the textbook's phrases word for word.

  • College makes students  study and study and study so in-depth and so narrowly that they have we no context of how it relates to anything else.



Higher education today has become a money making machine for lazy professors and administrators.

Counter-argument: But, I don't want my doctor to be self-taught. Without a college degree, how can anyone be a doctor?

This also applies to teachers, engineers, accountants, architects, librarians, lawyers, pharmacists, medical technicians, IT professionals, etc... -  those are all jobs that typically require a college degree from the employers and the government.

But, you don't seem to be getting the point, that I'm not against education, I'm against the educational system. It has to be changed, because it is destroying education, and the evidence is showing.

While enrolling in a college education will give you a background about the profession, and give you a piece of paper showing you've been an academic slave, it will make it efficient for you to work, it will model you into being a worker bee, and besides most people get any degree for moneystatus, or making dad or mom's dream come true ; and you know that. Rarely, college students enroll or study a field because they're interested in it.

Besides, you really learn when you start practicing your profession.

The way that most of teachers teach, and the educational system makes students hate learning. Classes have turned into an extravagant, pointless, ugly desire to get the "A". Less social disapproval coupled with increased competition for admission into universities and graduate schools has made us more willing to do whatever it takes to get the A. The "A", that pointless letter.

Students are trained only to think inside the box, this is proven by the rigid architecture in our entire education system that forces students to take certain courses that most will never apply in their life or in their careers, ie. Physics, Calculus Algebra, Geometry etc.

Instead of focusing on a child's aptitude at an early age and pushing them toward a career path with courses that are tailor-made for their future careers, students are pushed into a 1,000 year-old anecdotal non-sense belief system that encourages students to waste time taking courses to be "become more well-rounded".

At worse, grad school forces a student to choose one topic to study in insane depth and to choose a topic that basically conformed to the topics people had been choosing to research for decades and decades already. And instead of coming up with grand new ideas,  they spend my time parsing out some tiny little angle on the same goddamned idea people had been writing about for decades.

They force them to specialize, specialize, specialize. It will drive the poor academic student batshit crazy. Rather than getting smarter and more educated, the student will be learning more than they will ever wanted to know (and more than anyone else would ever want to know) about one tiny aspect of something. They're not getting smarter. They're becoming an uber-specialist on something that’s so detailed that no one but you is going to care about.

That’s not important work. That’s pointless mental masturbation.

Doesn't this to relate why Millennials are unemployed, underemployed and headed for disaster?

Success, by today’s standard, has been defined as having lots of worthless degrees, money, power and fame. It's to appear happily employed when you're really not, it’s to drive a luxury car or a big SUV, it’s to live in a McMansion at a prominent address and to send your children to private schools, it’s to be members of the country club or the next best thing in your small mind, it’s to run with all the “right” people with worthless degree and big college debts who also haven't found their talents nor have they risen to their full potential and found their destiny. It’s all one big lie.

Our teachers are brainwashed and we need to do something about it.

We need real education instead of schooling, indoctrination where they you give a degree only for being an obedient idiot.

Quite everyone is interested in something, everyone is genius in something, but the "educational" system we have kills our creativity in early age and makes homogeneous drones, internally struggling all our life because of a fake education forcing lifeless education material. It's a control system that has been holding us back for ages. 

The question that we should be asking ourselves, students, is the more profound one: "Given that we do exist, what are we going to accomplish with our existence?" Right now, we are largely squandering our existence because we never ask ourselves this question as a species.

A common logical question one can ask is, "Why am I going to college?" Given these information, we can now answer the question definitively: There is no "reason" to go to college and pursue a degree. You can learn anything online. It's time we stop aiming for degrees and pieces of paper.

The question that we should be asking ourselves is simple: What is our goal as a species? We are, potentially, the only intelligent species in the entire universe. What are we going to do with our existence? Are we going to waste our time in college pursuing a degree and A's? Have you ever considered it?
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