Parking tickets, ticket inspectors, and why I tore my ticket up and threw it in the bin.

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Important note! this post purely refers to non-local authority (council) tickets. And it also refers to statute in England and probably the United Kingdom. If you are not from here you should check your local laws.

In 1961 a psychologist known as Stanley Milgram began a series of seemingly barbaric experiments, but they served a purpose. The world had begun to try Nazi war criminals and the question of how the German people could have for the most part been so complicit in what was regarded as some of the most heinous acts of evil since the French reign of terror, was raised.

The experiment paid ordinary people to participate in the experiment with the experimenter, Stanley Milgram, an actor playing the recipient (learner), and the teacher whose job was to obey the instruction passed down by Stanley. The learner was asked several questions and if he got an answer wrong, the teacher was ordered to shock him. The shocks were administered in 15 volt increments.

The actor would yell in pain in a display of agony as the voltages increased and when the teacher would question the experiment or express a desire to check on the learner, Stanley would say the following in this order;

  1. Please continue.
  2. The experiment requires that you continue.
  3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
  4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

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65% of all the teachers administered the 10th shock which was 450 volts, often trembling, biting nails, having laughing fits or seizures. In all cases they stopped if the learner started banging on the walls and demanding to leave. At this point I should point out that the learner was an actor and the volts were not real, but the teacher was totally unaware of this.

So what is the point of mentioning this experiment in the context of this blog? Am I trying to draw a parallel between the Nazis and parking wardens? No not at all, the point I am trying to illustrate is that as humans we have an innate need to comply with those we perceive to be in a position of authority.

So I got a parking ticket at my office a while ago from my friends at OPC, the ticket in its bright bumble bee theme colouring, a natural symbol of danger with various threats about the £50 fine doubling if payment is not made within a specified timeframe, the ticket issued by a man in a nicely pressed uniform carrying expensive equipment and probably brandishing some kind of identity card as an aegis of authority.

If I purchased a parking inspector outfit from ebay and slapped a ticket on a car parked in the private road outside my house, legally speaking what would be the difference between me and the OPC parking inspector? Absolutely nothing.

That’s right, they are civilians working for a private enterprise subcontracted on behalf of the land owner to generate revenue and prevent people from parking when they have no right to do so, they work on a commission so are therefore incentivised to attach a ticket to anybody who breaches their rules regardless of whether it would be morally questionable.

Take my situation for example, my company rents the office and are allocated a number of spaces. The company therefore has defacto permission to allocate those spaces to a member of staff as they see fit. One day my permission slip falls off my dash without me realising so it is not on display and I get a ticket. Despite me emailing them directly explaining that I was authorised at the time of the alleged contravention they insist I have to pay them.

So I told them that they were welcome to start civil court proceedings against me and let a judge decide who was right and who was wrong, funnily enough I never heard anything about it ever again. Even the figure they come up with is ridiculous, did someone just put their finger in the air and come up with £50? Or did they hire an actuary to calculate a figure that was as high as possible before the total income generated would be offset by people challenging the tickets? A nice goldilocks zone where they slip under the radar and people just think ‘well I’m pissed of and it’s unfair… but sod it…’.

My friend got a ticket the following week and that is exactly what she said, when I tried to enlighten her she said she didn’t want to get a CCJ. Not only that but then it backfired on me when word got about that I had snubbed my own ticket and everyone tried to assure me that my credit rating would be ruined and I would never be able to get a mortgage because of the CCJ.

Lets backtrack for a second, I am not allowed to challenge what I think is an unfair ticket because of the risk that it will ruin my whole life? surely such a ridiculous system couldn’t exist…. could it?

No it couldn’t. What actually happens in a civil proceeding is that a judge decides who is right or wrong or in what proportions etc and the loser has 30 days to make payment otherwise it is recorded as an unsatisfied CCJ on your credit file until payment is made when it is changed to satisfied. However it is a moot point since the parking company has to take you to court in the first place and then win, and in my situation they would almost certainly not even if they argue that a contract was pinned up somewhere in the carpark, not only would they lose money from the time and legal expenses they would also lose face in the light of an underdog humiliating them in court making the headlines. And even if they do win they would have to prove that the damages were equal to the sum that they are asking for, otherwise they will be awarded less,.

So does it make business sense to pursue every ticket especially the ones that are completely unjustified? of course not. These companies are like a cancer, and when people chuck money at them, they grow and thrive, perhaps its time for people to take a stand and say enough is enough so that our resources can be better spent on things that allow us to prosper.

Don’t want to take my word for it? there are several online sources of information to check out, here is one I checked out to add to the end of this blog but there are probably better ones out there.

Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

© Ed Briscombe. daedalusblog and the contents therein, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ed Briscombe and daedalusblog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 

Parking tickets, ticket inspectors, and why I tore my ticket up and threw it in the bin.

Is consciousness simply an illusion?

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So this is something that plagues my mind from time to time, it usually branches out from an internal debate in my mind over the existence of God. Are we real? Is our perception of life real? Are we just biological computers? I would like to challenge your thoughts using some pretty wacky but hypothetically possible scenarios.

Before I explore this though I would like to clarify, what is meant by consciousness? Well in this context I am referring to your ‘first person experience’ it is the subjective experience you have which you are intimately familiar with, yet cannot prove the existence of to anybody else. Some people may refer to it as your soul. It is what you have that computers which perfectly emulate human behavior do not.

So I think that people just generally go along with it, everybody regards themselves as an individual entity, imbued with something special which separates us from a bundle of atoms or a simple biological organism like a bacteria. ‘Cogito ergo sum’ – I think, therefore I am. A somewhat familiar axiom originally propositioned by Descartes, but is this really enough to constitute proof?

One of the things that triggered this question was watching the transporters in the next generation of Star Trek. The principal behind transporters is that they disassemble you to create a map of where your atoms go, store you in the ships pattern buffer, and use the blueprint to reassemble you using elements available in the destination (for the most part I assume it would be carbon, hydrogen and oxygen).

 

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So this begs the questions; are you not just being destroyed and a new you created to take your place? How could your first person experience be transferred in this fashion? And how does this challenge the traditional perception of consciousness? Some of you may be thinking that this is a moot point since the technology does not exist. Well in regard to the last point it is a hypothetically possible scenario, true the tech does not exist but the laws of physics do allow it to happen if the tech were developed. So if the universe says we can do it, I believe it is worth thinking about. The other questions I will try to answer after another hypothetical.

So I was driving my Co-worker/friend home and somehow got onto a similar topic. I warned him that the question was a little strange but intriguing nonetheless. The first question I asked him was this, “have you ever heard of a Hemispherectomy?” to which he replied “no”, I told him that it was an operation whereby they remove half of your brain. I told him that you can still function albeit with some personality changes and maybe blindness in an eye opposite the side removed, he was curious about it but that was about the limit of my knowledge. So then I asked him, “what about if they performed this operation on both of us, and swapped over each half of the brain, and reconnected them at the corpus colosum, the bridge between the two halves, what would happen to our first person experiences, would your ‘soul’ become one? He struggled to answer the question but tried to speculate. The mere fact that this is hypothetically possible certainly raises philosophical and religious questions.

I had my own theory but I decided to keep it to myself because I wanted him to be able to think about it himself, and also I didn’t want to sound like a mad scientist. So what do I think about all this? What I think may actually be pretty horrific, or mind boggling, it may even change the way you perceive life, the universe, and everything, or it may just sound like the nonsense ramblings of a mad man. It does I believe tie into the understanding in physics that time is also an illusion though I will try not to digress. It is quite simply this, ‘our first person experience or consciousness is always replacing itself with every infinitesimally small division of time. you are not the same person you were a second ago, you associate yourself with that person because of the formation of memories. There is a new entity of you with each division of time’.

This theory comfortably accommodates my previous two hypotheticals because if with each progression of a unit of time your first person experience is being replaced by the you which is in the present, it wouldn’t matter if you were blown up, reassembled with an atom re-assembly machine, merged with another brain or transported, the idea of a single soul going along with you is not conducive to the mechanics of the universe as my hypothetical show, so on that basis one could argue that our understanding of ourselves is totally incorrect.

Does any of this matter? well I guess for religion it doesn’t look good, but then again there are deeply profound concepts that support the idea of a prime mover. I guess the short answer is, have fun thinking about it but don’t let it worry you, there are many forces at work in the universe that we have barely scratched the surface of, so it would be terribly arrogant to assume we had all the answers now.

© Ed Briscombe. daedalusblog and the contents therein, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ed Briscombe and daedalusblog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

Is consciousness simply an illusion?