Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Answer You're Looking For

When you go out into the world you know you're going to see something clever, funny and inventive. What you don't expect, however, is to see a remarkably intelligent treatment of the most complicated and confusing philosophical issues of them all: the self. 

Are you still the person you were yesterday, last year or twenty years ago? What about fifteen minutes ago? How do you plan for a future you you don't yet know? Which one is the real you? Does the self remain constant over time and place, or is it something fragmented or fluid? Can you claim yourself as property? A number of anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and neurologists have the answers to this question. But how do you go about answering it? Or, have you even bothered? 

Maybe you're not into reincarnated Lamas. Maybe you spend more time thinking about what you've got to do today, or how you're going to spend your weekend. Maybe you just spend your time in pompous pontification, before arriving to the point. Maybe then things make sense. Thereon is a beautiful enlightening thought. But I have to be honest up to this point here I was ready to throw the whole post away or use it as a sleep aid. 

What do your emojis say about you?

 πŸ˜Bright eyed & Cheerful

Bright-eyed & cheerful people are the nicest complex people you'll ever meet. They have already ridden the rollercoaster of life and they're going for another ride. 

πŸ˜‚Goodnatured People Who Are Willing to Laugh at Your Joke & in so doing: LAUGH 

Goodnatured people are humorous. They like to laugh, especially with others. When they come upon something funny, they laugh instantly. The random juxtaposition of concepts makes them laugh. Instant laughter is easier to summon when people wear disposable ego filters. The beauty of a manufacturing lite filters or "Absolute Filters" (as we call them) is the welcoming of all novel airborne filters and the ability to direct them towards a special shelf where they are later curated and displayed as objets d'arte. These objects are housed in archives. People delight in the idea of building archives. The delight produces a smile. People who dress themselves in smiles are known to laugh more often and more easily, and in general, end up having a pretty good time of it. 

πŸ˜…You are Excitable!

You readily admit that you were intensely engaged in a given experience and that your heart is still pounding, in a relaxed, playful, giddy way. You're like, Whew! This type of individual is also game to jump in the pool at the annual Halloween Party. 

πŸ˜‰You're no Dummy

You don't wink. You are a smart, high-achieving go-getter! You're Reiki teacher taught you to embrace the holistic mind-body-emotion-intellect-action-spiritual approach to unleashing your power as you summon the creativity of the Gods.

😌You Genuinely Care About People 

When you ask someone how they're doing, you actually stick around to hear the answer. 

😏You are that person that will never ever tell ... 

You are the friend that shows up. You even stick around and help clean up after the party. 

😘You Love Your Friends 

You love your friends. You're the friend that still gives dorky high-fives. You post funny memes. You care about people and try not to notice your own limitations in the presence of their awesomeness! You are comfortable expressing joy and pleasure. 

And then, 

😎there's always that 1% ... 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Passionate Little Dinosaur

Hi, I'm a dinosaur. I'm the friend you never had, probably because I'm gonna tell you what I really think if you ask me. I may have a lazy opinion on many topics, but on that which I have an opinion, I would be remiss not to share. To this I readily concede. 

In business parlance it is what's called a bottom line approach. Either I see it, or I don't. Deep down, I think most people are the same way. If we like what we see it is entirely a matter of taste if we pursue it, or as Descartes calls it, it hits upon the passions. 

But what is it that inspires the passions? 

Wonder has a special feature: alone among the passions it doesn't involve any change of heart. The reason for this is that wondering at x doesn't involve value-judgment on x; ~it doesn't prompt one to seek x or to avoid it; ~all it involves is "curiosity about x"; a desire to know more about it. Hence it doesn't involve the heart, on which the whole well-being of our body depends, but only on the brain and the sense-organs which are used in gaining this knowledge

This doesn't prevent wonder from having a considerable impact because of the element of surprise, i.e. the sudden and unexpected onset of the impression that alters how the spirits move. This kind of surprise is exclusive to this passion: it normally occurs in most, having a strengthening effect, but only because wonder is intertwined. 

The strength of wonder depends on a movement that starts weak and gradually strengthens. It continues and grows and comes to life, while the original wonder was nothing but wonder. The proverbial snow-ball effect. The enthusiasm from which is steeped in novelty, which the brain likes very much. The strength of wonder and its corresponding effects depends entirely upon one's relationship with novelty. 

Novel objects are soft, less firm, than parts that have been hardened through frequent agitation; the effects produce in them by movements are that much greater. Typically we walk with confidence, upon terra firma without a care in the world. Hard surfaces are familiar. When our feet are met with feathers, the lighter and gentler contact of being tickled on the soles of our feet is almost unbearable to us, simply because it's not part of our ordinary experience. 

A stone and a feather can exist in harmony, so long as they remain independent. A stone will crush a feather, and a feather will tickle the stone until the stone can no longer take it. Anguish arises. This is the second step. 

Anguish is met with astonishment. This surprise has great power to steer Descartes' spirits in the brain, it contains the impression of the object of wonder - so much power that it sometimes drives all the spirits to that place, and gets them to be so busy preserving this impression that none of them carry on through to the muscles ... the upshot is that the whole body remains as still as a statue. A permanent smile etched for all of eternity

This is what we commonly call 'being astonished'. Astonishment is an excess of wonder, which is less than enjoyable. When one's tastes and passions are not represented, immobility arises and the person can perceive only one side of the wondered-at-object, namely the side first presented to him or her. If she weren't outright astonished  she could turn the object over, walk around it, or the like, thus learning more about it. 

Unearthing rocks should be handled with great care less they explode

It is good to be born with some inclination to wonder, because that increases scientific curiosity; but after we have acquired some scientific knowledge we should try to free ourselves from this inclination to wonder should we feel doing so is clouding our judgment and imposing upon our understanding

For excessive wondering there is but one cure: to acquire knowledge to deal with things that seem unusual and strange; ~not by wondering about them but by examining them. 

For excessive wondering there is but one cure: to acquire knowledge 

Therein lies the cool water that extinguishes the explosion. The outcome a measure of good timing, correct understanding, and self-understanding in relation to other. It sounds simple enough but even those equipped with good common sense have no external opinion of their competence. This is what makes it hard to cure "blind curiosity", a disease whose victims seek out rarities simply in order to wonder at them and not in order to know them. They become so full of wonder that things of no importance are as likely to grab their attention as things that it would be actually useful to investigate. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

How Much Energy Does It Take to Eat Ramen Noodles?

Most of everything in our universe is energy. Fortunately, a small amount of matter survived fourteen billion years ago, during the “Big Bang”, when the hot, dense speck that was our universe quickly expanded. Instead of life as we know it being annihilated, leaving us with nothing but energy, we ended up with a world filled with particles, including the particles that allow for human life.


Approximately 99 percent of our bodies are made up of atoms of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. While our cells may regenerate every seven to 15 years, many of the particles that make up our body have existed for millions of millennia. Consider the hydrogen atoms in our body, they were produced during the big bang. The carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms were made by burning stars, and the heavy elements were made when stars exploded. It’s a wonder Hallmark doesn’t make birthday cards for 14 billion-year-olds.

Cosmic rays and high-energy radiation from outer space, constantly pass through our body. These cosmic particles can disrupt our genetics, causing subtle mutations, and may even be a major contributing factor in evolution. Other cosmic visitors such as the neutrinos that the sun releases, constantly zip through our body at a rate of nearly 100 trillion every second. Many of these neutrinos have been around since the first few seconds of the early universe.

Working from the theory that our body is a fourteen billion-year old small-scale mine of radioactive particles, it makes sense to classify our bioenergetic system, including our emotions, in terms of particle physics. Take for example the sensation of feeling creative. Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas, in the production of an artefact or experience. Imagination is a cognitive process in mental functioning that involves thinking about possibilities and weighing them against alternatives. Imagining uses up our energy reserves. If you’ve ever spent much time creating art or music, or coming up with new ideas for a thesis, you know first-hand how exhausting it can feel to exercise your brain. By the end of it, you’re probably pretty wiped out. Not only do you need a snack to replenish your energy, but most like you just want to relax and recharge.

If you look to the physiology that is our brain (100 billion neurons, forming 100 trillion neural connections – more connections than stars in our galaxy – igniting as you read this sentence), despite only accounting for 2% of the body’s weight, our brains use a whopping 20% of our body’s energy (infants use 44% to process a thought). In other words, a healthy adult brain uses 2-3 times more energy than the heart uses. If the body’s basal metabolic rate is 1500 kcal/day, our brain is using around 300 kcal/day, or 0.0035 kcal/second.

Let’s say it took around 5 seconds to read and think about that last sentence. At 0.0035 kcal/second, it took about 0.02 kcal to process that thought. If you are a person who dreams of someday harnessing your brain’s power to do other things, like cook ramen noodles, let us consider that there is 400 kcal per block, and 150 noodles per block, giving us 2.67 kcal per noodle. Assuming the average noodle is 33cm long, there are 0.08 kcal/cm of noodle. Thus, every thought burns about 0.25 cm of ramen noodle. The future of cooking might lie in unleashing our brain’s energy.

Whether we live to see the day when we can cook our ramen soup just by thinking it so, we probably agree that it takes a good deal of energy to move from one thought to the next – even if all thoughts are created equally. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Did Anybody See That?

Let me just start by saying, I think we've all had moments like this; when we do something that falls short of our hope for ultimate coolness in all that we do, which in itself isn't so bad, so long as no-one sees it. 

In Philosophy discussions of hope have rarely been considered "hot topics" -- though, most philosophers acknowledge that hope influences human motivation, religious belief or politics, the latter relying heavily upon hope for votes. 

The standard account of hope is that it involves a compound attitude, a desire for a positive outcome, and a belief in that outcome's possibility. 

Popular beliefs lump hope in with optimism. But hope is more like an attitude, enabling people to direct their thoughts and actions towards the hopeful possibilities they envision. Independent of whether or not those hopes are realized, such as life after death, these adopted attitudes lead many people towards behaving in more virtuous ways than the lack of hope would otherwise inspire.  

In the scenario of why hope is funny, illuminated in our 'hoping no-one saw me' quip, we might argue that human beings inherently view hope as gullible (Timaeus, Plato), as a type of false pleasure - and that false pleasures and gullibility are funny in that they defy rational logic.  The incongruency associated with something being false, while simultaneously bringing pleasure, makes us laugh. 

When we enjoy the pleasure of anticipation what we are enjoying is only a thought. 

This is why the act of thinking can be considered as funny. One could argue that thinking "thinking is funny," is what's funny. One could also argue that writing about philosophy and humor together is a virtuous act of courage and that every courageous person is by nature hopeful. 

Happy Thoughts Travel Fast is directed towards the pleasures of the mind, such as those written about by Thomas Hobbes in the Leviathan, in which he associates hope as a matter of appetite. Associating appetite with "personal taste," we can, therefore, consider most phenomena as a direct result of personal taste. If we resonate with a concept, sensation, or outcome, acting in accordance with it becomes a matter of personal taste (rather than a validation of its authority). 

Nietzche and Schopenhauer weren't so keen on the notion of hope. Schopenhauer thought that animals experience less pleasure than humans because they lack hope and therefore the pleasures of anticipation. I think possibly Schopenhauer didn't have a dog. Anyone who has a dog knows they experience anticipation. They wait for us to return, they wait for their treats, they wait for the ball we're going to throw. They know something good is about to happen as they excitedly sit, doing their best to be good until the moment arises.

Nietzsche is a famous critic of hope. In the third preface to Zarathustra, he writes: "do not believe those who speak fo you of extraterrestrial hopes!" SPOILER ALERT: He goes on to completely debunk hope in Beyond Good and Evil (1886). When Nietzsche considered Pandora's myth (Human, All Too Human), he referred to hope as "the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man." Neitzsche lived a rather peculiar, depressingly self-indulgent lifestyle. Even though one could defend his theories, they too would have to resonate with depressing thoughts (in their personal tastes). 

Is 'hoping no-one saw us do something we consider ridiculous and therefore not ideal' a matter of prolonging the torment of judgment we made about accidentally pushing the pull door? Or, could it be a matter of faith in our own ability to covertly move in a way that no one saw us? You know, Ninja-like moves. The later inspires pleasure in recognizing our cat-like reflexes and covert abilities to avoid detection and the subsequent relief that follows thinking that we got away with it. In other words, people laugh out of relief (theory of humor). 

Whether or not hope is an overestimation of our ability to achieve positive outcomes, many people still agree on hope's value in living a good life. This desire-condition captures the experience of being attracted to positive outcomes. In this way, hope has an intrinsic value because mental imaging is pleasurable, it increases one's self-understanding, and it inspires love towards others and towards oneself (Luc Bovens' 1999).

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Warmest Congratulations on your achievement

Dear Humanity, 

Congratulations on doing such a great job of harnessing the fire I gave you. 

The extra time you've been putting in evolution on this has really paid off, and I believe that you have presented an ambitious and attainable set of goals for your species. I couldn't be prouder. 

Oh, and by the way, 

Your Fire subscription is an unlicensed product. Most features will be disabled because the other gods think your gift hasn't been yielded in a way befitting the nature of combustion. To use the free fire app, sign in and use the Web version.