Call, SMS to Win…A Gambling?

It is noticeable the explosive wide spread notion of “Call to Win…” and “SMS to Win…” sort of contests envading the world; through TVs basically. While this could be normal or familiar to many cultures, it’s real core is somehow concealed in a culture like the Middle East due to many people’s ignorance. In the Middle East, people normally do not gamble for religious or cultural reasons yet you would see many of them participating in this sort of call/sms answer to a question (usually a silly one) to win a certain prize. I ask that person isn’t this a gambling? That person would answer surprisingly, of course it’s not! To this type of people, they have known gambling as a table, cards, and a rolling ball. But that’s not the only form of gambling. Let’s see what’s wrong with doing something while its core or reality is not realized; when you do and don’t think of the truth behind things.

Let’s start by a necessary foundation.

How Gambling Works:

There are many forms of gambling. The familiar form that we see a lot in movies and to which our minds mistakenly associate gambling is the table with those cards, coins, and a rotating wheel with numbers written on it where a ball is pushed to roll in the opposite direction of the rotating wheel. This famous image our minds use as a synonym for gambling is called Roullete and is spread in hotel places called Casino. This is just one game in the family of gambling, but gambling has many other forms and many other games. Another famous form of gambling is playing cards where there is no rotating wheel or balls; just cards. In this form of gamble, each card has a value of points. The player with cards worth highest points wins the game. Cards are withdrew from a deck of cards; that is, players are not sure what type of cards will come to them; and hence, like the other forms of gambling, players are unsure of what will come to them. A third famous form of gambling is Lottery. In lottery form of gambling, players buy a lottery with a certain number for an X amount of money; then, they remain in the hope that the number they have bought wins. This foundational illustrations are aimed at giving you a sense that gambling has many forms and gives a base now to talk about the main concepts behind all gambling games:

  1. Randomness.
  2. Uncertainity.
  3. Independence of results & Unpredictability.
  4. Something called, House Profit.

WhenI searched the different gambling games, I could enlist the above four concepts that are visibly common to all gambling games. The first concept pertains that a player’s win is based on some random events. Meaning that, when the ball rolls around a rotating wheel, each time the ball would fall on a random sequence of numbers. One time the player would get it on number 14, the next X amount of times, he probably won’t. This gets us through to concept two; where the player is uncertain whether he will get the ball on the X number or not. The probability of getting the number you are gambling on is 50/50; like the probability of tossing a coin. You have 50% of getting a head and 50% of getting a tail no matter how tosses you do; and even if you could win a head 6 times, still each time you will play, your chances of getting a head will remain 50/50. Concept three states that the gamble game is independent of any previous games. For example, a beginner gambler myth is that since the rolling ball falls on number 14 many times; then, placing your money on 14 would increase your chances of winning. Gambling is totally unpredictable no matter what strategies are employed in a pursuit of increasing chances of winning. Fourth concept is important here. House profit is the money the place hosting the gamble for you would make out of your playing. How a hotel casino would benefit from players? The amount of money the casino or the place offering you the gamble game would make is called House Profit; not only players win, the game provider must win as well. In a casino setting of gambling, the casino would usually charge players for placing a bid. For example, for you to bid on number X with X amount of money, you will have to pay the casino a factor X. This is not the only way for gambling houses to make profit; some place a charge per hour…etc.

With these main concepts enumerated and the different forms of gamble games examples I have provided above, it is worth noting that such games are also available online; players don’t have to go to Casinos to play. But this drives us to an important question; if players don’t have to go to gamble houses like a hotel casino, how can the house or the game provider make money? Well, online casinos make money the same way; players must credit them with the bid cost through their credit cards online…But there is another way for making the House Profit; that will be illustrated in the next section.

How Call/SMS to Win Works:

TV contests that pop up to you on TVs with a question for you: “Send your answer or call number XXXXXX and win XXXXX amount of money”. Depending on the country rules for this, usually the prize value must first be deposited in the legal channel that allows this contest. For example, if I to make such contest on TV for a prize of 3000, at the time I register this contest (at the designated legal authority) to be presented on TVs and I am given a phone number for players to call on, I have to give them that 3000 amount for their Under Hold. Legal authorities franchising those contests enforces this as a guarantee that the thing is real and that the prize will really be given to a person (the winner). And that winner is the one who goes to that place to cash out the prize once declared as the winner by the contest maker (me). Now, how those contest makers make money. Like the House profit, you pay for placing a bid. Your bid is your answer…and for you to place it, you have to call or send SMS. When you do so, who gets the price of your call or SMS. That service when given, the contest maker is given a special phone number and a special SMS number. You will be charged by calling this number or SMS to it. That’s the charge of your bid; that part of it goes to the contest maker and part of it goes to the legal authority that franchises this contest. The difference here is that in the Roullete, the event is unknown and unpredictable but with the question/answer model, you know that your answer is correct to the prize. This makes the Call/SMS to Win more like the Lottery. You place your answer and pay the money with your call/SMS charge just to have a number…and that number is like the one that get printed on the rotating wheel and the prize maker is the gamble dealer who pushes the metal ball. If the ball falls in your number (that you gained by answering the question right), you win the prize. The one last point, how these contest maker make sure that they profit the amount they need? If the maker is offering 3000 for answering a question, he has to receive 7000 through your calls or SMS. He gives you the 3000 prize, the legal authority takes 2000, and the maker finally profits 2000 net. That’s why you can notice that those contests give really silly and tediously easy questions so that everybody can answer them; it’s like it’s a very easy question that I can answer with a small call fee that might get me the large prize. In this sense, lots of people place calls that worth money more than the the offered prize while only one gets it and the rest goes to the beneficiaries.

It’s like a Lottery gamble that burns down to a Roullete at the end; it’s just the mean to that Roullete is misleadingly different. You answer the question and pay for placing that answer through your call/SMS. Now you reserved a seat on the Roullete table with a number. Your number now is like the numbers imprinted on the Roullete wheel among the other players; with your all answers placed, you become number on the Roullete wheel. Now, the gamble dealer (the contest maker) sits and pushes the rolling ball. If the ball falls in your number, you win…and the rest hard luck next time.

It’s very sad to see a culture, a religion, and a society who prohibit gambling yet finding their sons and daughters falling in this trap with ignorace to the reality of what they are getting themselves into. It’s a pitty to see it offered everywhere in TVs and Radios.

Call or SMS to win contests…It’s a gambling in its full corners. Give it a sense of mind, if you call yourself a disbeliever in gambling…Or else have no shame visiting a Casino. Better doing it in its nakedness than doing it and fooling yourself that you are not a gambler.

Who You Are? (On Identity Crisis)

Your identity is something that gets shaped over the span of your lifetime from childhood up to adolescence and so forth. Many factors contributed to who you became now: primary socialization (parents), environment, friends, study, society, religion…etc. Going through these factors while you traverse your life timeline you interact with them; and it’s your interaction to these factors that shapes your unique identity. The unique identity is the perception you hold about who you think you are; uniquely as a person or collectively within a member of a community or group (our identity is not separate from belongingness).

Given the strength of factors and their enduring nature that shaped you all these years, who you are might be something that exist only in your mind. This has dramatic impacts on the quality of your life and its healthiness. Here are two types of life-led identity: 1) If you are convinced that who you are is really out there and reflected in your life while in reality it’s only existing in your mind; then, you will live an illusion and eventually you will discover the truth of who you were only on your death bed (or if you are lucky enough that life shocks you with the reality on the way so you wake up and revise yourself). 2) If you are aware that who you are is existing only in your mind and is not reflected in your life; then, you will be living depressed and tensed that your life is not aligned with what you identify yourself of being. However, this second one is better than the first because in this case there is always a chance that you actualize your mind existing identity. At any case, awareness is a God given capability a human being can have; that I believe, God did not grant for everybody in this specific sense, awarenss of one’s self and that self’s doings. Now let’s discuss what causes behind these types and what we should do about them.

The first type, a person living convinced that he is the one that he thinks he is; by ‘he thinks’ I mean he spends his life totally convinced that he lived doing and qualified in that doing during his life time. For example, how many times we hear singers talking in TV shows on how talened they are and how valuable their work to the human kind. You hear an actor talking on how his new movie has fixed a whole society and how his movie has discussed a societal case…that without his movie, people would have lived in the dark age! You hear those actors and singers while you can see that they are totally convinced that they are saving their community by discussing red-line cases in their movies. They live convinced of their doings which are representing values to the community. A less dramatic example away of celebrities, is university professors; for example. Some of university professors live convinced that they are educating students and how their doing is a sainted one. They live convinced that they are giving the science and enlightening knowledge to the generation. And many many many of these examples we see in our daily life when visiting a doctor, a lawyer…to hearing street folks talking about football matches as if they are the experts of it. The dangerous pattern is not talking or doing, the dangerous pattern starts to kick in when you see that the person is really convinced that he is really this person or he is really doing this while in fact he is not that person and he is not really doing it. In this regard, Prophet Mohammed says “God have given Mercy to a human who truely knew who he is”. Yes its a mercy granted by your self-awareness that God did not grant for everybody.

The second type is less dangerous, but unfortunately, very painful and unhealthy. This is the person who lives identifying himself as something or someone yet he knows that this is the identity he has for himself in his mind only but he is not actually doing that something or being that someone. For example, a person may live holding the identity that he is a scientist or an expert in something yet he is not doing research or providing knowledge in this thing. It’s like saying “I am a scientist”…but actually you are spending your life going to your ‘non-scientific’ employment during the day and watching TV or hanging out in the evening. You are not spending your daily life reading papers, doing research, investigating knowledge, writing articles, publishing research, communicating with like-minded scientists….etc. In other words, you identify yourself as someone and that’s the identity you hold for yourself in your mind yet your life is not reflecting this identity…but the difference here from the first type is that You Are Aware and Know very well that you are not living the person or the thing you identify yourself with. This is depressive and unhealthy because you will not enjoy your life; you go to the morning work not enjoying and you watch TV at night not enjoying…because deep inside you that’s not the life of the someone or something that you have in your mind.

About the treatment for those two types. In its straightforward sense, the first type treatment is to be shocked by a life event someday that forces him to see his reality in its nakedness. Now, that person will painfully discover that he is not who he thinks he was or was doing. That’s a type of mercy from God by which God confronts the human to a painful experience for him to wake up; it’s a mercy given in a type of a lesson. That’s why in front of painful experiences, it’s important to learn from them and see the lesson delivered by God instead of just whinning about them. There is still a second treatment for the first type that is less painful and is God given as well which is the person suddenly sees the reality. It could be through seeing some event not related to him or he just wake up spontaneously someday. How many of us got aware of something by seeing another person paying for a similar mistake and how many of us just happen to change their way of life because of a day in which you could see the reality in its truth for the first time. Secondly, the treatment for the second type. The treatment is simply human-will and discipline. For those who hold an identity that they are someone or something yet not exercising this in their life. Why what you think you really is not reflected in your life while you know it’s not? It because you don’t have the strong will to do what it takes for the identity you have or because you don’t have the discipline. For example, if you identify yourself as a scientist in Medicine, well that’s good, but you will need a strong will to work out through challenges, a will to pay the effort and stress, and a will to force that identity into your existence. You will need a discipline because you will need to spend lots of time reading research, writing, investigating, reading lots of books, and hard time thinking. The discipline is needed to tailor your life to this person’s type of living and give away some pleasures, which if you looked carefully, will find that you are not truely enjoying them because your identity is not in your life (if you are the second type). To conclude, for the first type of identity holders, you will need to look around you carefully and learn lessons delivered to you and to those around you; you will need to increase your awareness so that you detect illusions about who you think you are. For the second type of identity holders, what are you waiting for; work your will and discipline yourself in getting what you know you are into your life. Don’t leave who you are to be just in your mind…live it in every hour of your life.

All of the above are details; however, I would like to close this post with a quick and straightforward words that can be used and memorized for the above details that you can always remember as you go in the journey of your life: Who you are is what you spend your days doing. If you think you are an honest person, watch your daily life and ask yourself: Do I acted this day as an honest person? If you think you are a writer, watch your daily life and ask yourself: Did I spend some time writing or studying for writing or learning for writing? If you think you are a scientist in a field, watch your daily life and ask yourself: Did I read books in my area of scientific interest or did I read research papers in my field or did I spend time with scientific problems I wish to solve?

To be what you think you are or to be what you want to be, make sure that you do the things of that person or that something every day. You will be what you identify yourself to be and you will be what you want to be…

On The Death Bed (A Thought Experiment)

You are now laying on your death bed. What would be the things you regret not doing? What would be the things you regret doing? On your final destination in life, what would be the things that you would wish to be given time again to do?

I use this technique while standing on my living feet in order to grab myself back on track from the noisy illusions and distractions in this life. In doing so, I not only return back on track to what I really want to do, but to my surprise, it sometimes helps me discover that some of the things I am doing are not the things that I really want to do. Another beneficial vision I obtain from this exercise is that it teaches me how to use sacrifices. For example, one might feel reluctant or unwilling to sacrifice for the sake of something by giving away something I have or can have. This is because the something at his/her possession now might be giving immediate pleasure. But on the death bed, pleasures would fall and only real values and meanings remain.

When you imagine that your life is at its end, you can see clearly the things that you would cry hotly that you did not do or accomplish during your life time. All the time wasted becomes a dire regret that death itself becomes not the issue as much as you are facing it without what you were supposed to do. If you try this thought experiment, you will get to know how hard the feeling is to be leaving without doing what you really wanted to do. On the other hand, see whoever accomplished what he/she has taken to be his mission or message in life when laying on death bed; so peaceful, relieved, and satisfied that he/she seems to be welcoming death.

Death is not a problem as much as the question of what you will have done by the time it arrives to you. If you are the one who accomplished what he/she really wanted to do in this life in a correct and appropriate way, you will be very relieved. I stressed on “correct” and “appropriate” to exclude those who lived only to achieve wealth of money or unethical targets.

Learn how you should live your life by letting “On the Death Bed” technique teach you the sacrifices you should make or not to make, what you really want to do or should be doing in this life (discover your mission and message), and by letting it bring you back on track to what you really want to do or already doing when you get lost in this life that is full of distractions.

At the end of your life, you stand barely with no possessions; only what you were supposed to do by being once in this life is what matters to your condition at the moment you are on the death bed. Start with the end in mind and fix your everyday doings to that end you wish to be granted. Know what you want to do in this life according to the end you would like to see yourself into…and do it no matter what; because at the end, there will be no reasons, no justifications, and no excuses you would accept for yourself as a why for not doing what you wanted to do or be.

For life is too short to be little…

Computer Science…Is it a Science?

As Computer Science started to yield its own sons and daughters, computer scientists started to reflect on and ask whether it is basically a science. Over the past years, practitioner of CS and its educators were a collection of people coming from different majors that participate in the subject matter dealt with in CS. An obvious example of these is the engineering discipline. We didn’t start to have our professors as people holding a bachelor in CS until the past few years. Such shift is important because now we are more eager to think about the field itself rather than just its practice and work.

Some may ask: Why this question?; why they need to know if CS is a science or not?

What is Computer Science? What is a Computer Scientist? And more foundational, what is Science and the word ‘Science’?

—This is a snippet; if interested in reading more about these questions, please see my full article at the Philosophical Investigations society.