Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Hey all,

This is it: the time to move on – from political tirades to actual creativity.

I have wasted too many hours preaching to the choir about politics, which truly mean nothing unless there is a discussion going on, so one side can defend itself. On a blog, there is very rarely any meaningful discussion going on, simply because of the disadvantages of the medium. Therefore, I will stop producing a good that no one wants, and instead produce a good that no one wants. But, as any good salesman knows, you can sell a customer anything as long as you do not give them the choice to not have your product; instead, you ask them whether they’d like a red or a blue product.

I am moving to blogging logic puzzles. No, not creating sudoku or kakuro puzzles (both of which I immensely enjoy), but word and number problems you all probably did when you were kids. I am a bit of a puzzle junkie myself and have been making puzzles for awhile, so that’s what I’ll do here on the internet, because I don’t know of any sites that continually produce logic puzzles on a daily basis. Yes, they do make daily sudokus, crosswords, and whatever else people do everyday, but they do not produce word puzzles or anagrams like I will. Creating and solving puzzles are what I like to do in my spare time (as well as read and write), so that is what I will concentrate on here in my corner of the internet (probably a different corner since I’ll be making a new blog to house my puzzles).

In the meantime, for my political (intellectual?) side, I will be reading. I currently have a list of 62 books that I will try to read before 2009 is over, spanning philosophy, political theory, and classic literature. I highly, highly, highly recommend that anyone who is currently a political blogger starts blogging less and reading more, for that is the only way to real thought.

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SPOILER ALERT!

There isn’t a universal meaning of life. We are born, we’re alive, we breathe, we eat, we sleep, we poop, we mature enough to procreate, we procreate, we raise our progeny, and we eventually die.

So, there are billions of religious people who think that the meaning of life is to serve their god(s) in the best way possible – in Judeo-Christian religions, this means being a nice good boy to your father (God) so he doesn’t burn you for eternity (though, if you are a good boy, your father decides to rape you anyways in some sects).

Some, particularly nihilistic academics, will point out that the meaning of life is to create more life – reproduce.

But I reject these ideas. While I will unabashedly admit that there is no higher “meaning” to life, we do have a purpose, though many seem to confuse the two words and use them interchangeably, which is understandable considering how “meaning” is used in reference to the divine, and “purpose” seems to connote a devotion to a religion. Our purpose in life, however, can be done and accomplished by anybody, and probably has been accomplished by everyone on the planet.

The purpose of life is simple: achieve happiness, however you want (within a few boundaries, of course).

You may think, “Leap, that’s so bloody simple! How could it be the purpose of life?”

It’s because that’s all we have to do on this planet, as far as I can tell. Pleasure is positivity manifested in our bodies, isn’t it? Well, let’s achieve pleasure all the time, then, because all we want is positivity in our lives (unless you’re of a particularly masochistic bent), or at least as much as possible.

Seriously guys, just think about it. And while you’re at it, go do something that makes you happy. That’s the step towards living a fulfilling life.

More on this later.

…particularly Michael Moore, who said:

An African American has been elected President of the United States! Anything is possible! We can wrestle our economy out of the hands of the reckless rich and return it to the people. Anything is possible! Every citizen can be guaranteed health care. Anything is possible! We can stop melting the polar ice caps. Anything is possible! Those who have committed war crimes will be brought to justice. Anything is possible.

Michael, I’ll tell you when absolutely anything is possible: when we elect an atheist for president. When that happens, I’ll certainly believe that anything is possible.

Yes, voting in a black man is an important step forward for this country, but it doesn’t smash all the barriers of prejudice in this country. Voting in a “godless” person will be a much harder task to accomplish than it was to elect a black man, simply because discrimination based on religion is in vogue, while racism is unacceptable in our society.

Think for a second, a minute, or more, on what your reaction would be if someone, be it a total stranger or a close friend, walked up to you, and called you intolerant. Nothing less, nothing more; merely intolerant.

Would you be offended?

I’m not so sure I would be. Yet, wearing the tag of being an intolerant human being is tantamount to having the words “sex offender” stamped on the back of your t-shirt everywhere you go (hyperbole, but close enough). How did the word “intolerance” and its derivatives gain such a powerful meaning and such a capacity to offend?

I understand that people, in this age of political correctness, are afraid of being labeled “closed-minded” and not open to outside opinions, declaring them wrong without giving them a hearing. Perhaps it derives from a fear of narcissism or even individualism, where, again, the individual tends to shut out other opinions and declare his to be right (after all, what is an opinion if you yourself can’t defend it?). The main thing that the word “intolerance” brings up, in my opinion, is racism. To be racist is to be intolerant of those of a certain skin color for no justifiably rational reason, and that’s where I think the word “intolerant” received such a powerfully and decisively evil connotation.

But, for all the politically correct folks who preach total and utter tolerance of all views, I ask this simple question: isn’t what you’re telling everyone to do simply intolerant of intolerance, and, thus, hypocritical?

Who is going to pretend that they are simply tolerant of anything — because, if they have, they have truly achieved nirvana. We are all intolerant of some things just like we have inadequacies; the chief difference being that, sometimes, our intolerance can be a very good thing. This is a very fine line to walk, because that sounds like I’m advocating racism and bigotry of the highest order — but the operative word there is sometimes.

Want to figure out what you’re intolerant to? It’s easy: just take your core, fundamental beliefs, and say the opposite of that belief. Example: I’m pretty damn close to being a rationalist, so I’m simply intolerant of those who take things that cannot be proved as the truth, hence my atheism (and before anyone says you can’t disprove that God X isn’t real, it’s a logical fallacy). I’m intolerant of those who are willing to take away my freedom to speak and act, unless I have threatened their rights as well: that is called justice. Those are just two examples; there are many more, I’m sure.

The final point is: intolerance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, an intolerance of injustice, equality, authoritarianism and religious persecution is what this country is founded on. And I’m thankful for it.

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The Sensation of Living

It’s really a shame that people don’t really think about the living. Or, rather, not think about, but appreciate what it is to live. Okay, maybe appreciate isn’t the right word, since that implies gratitude to a higher being, so I won’t even go there. Maybe, I’m just thinking, I wish we all could take a step back from everyday life and appreciate how bloody awesome it is to just… be.

There are things we take for granted — our senses, for instance. And out of all the things anything, anybody can do, just using our senses are the biggest testaments to just how wondrous life is. Just seeing, for instance, is unbelievable; think about how special it is just to see. Same goes for hearing. Same goes for touch, taste, and smell. It’s just, frankly, unbelievable that we can do such things. Again: I wish people would take a step back and analyze and just think about how extraordinary it is to live. To be able to taste. To be able to move. To be able to think!

And what about language? It’s amazing that we, as humans, have created infinite vocabularies of joined sounds and symbols (for the written word) just so we can communicate with each other and think. Imagine how you would think without language; you’d just be reduced to feelings like “hungry” or “thirsty” or “tired”, except you wouldn’t label it like that.

Go play some of your favorite music, tap your foot to the beat, and sing along. While you’re doing so, just think of how effortless it is to do so — how amazing that you can do that without thinking.

One of the greatest ironies ever — ever — is that, despite many ancient civilizations having well established religions (see Greeks/Romans, Egyptians, etc.), our modern culture labels their religions, in a loving touch, as “mythologies” — like they’re somehow less feasible than the monotheist (excluding hinduism, of course) religions that dominate the world today. The point is: what makes them sure that, say, Greek mythology is less valid, and thus earning the tag of “mythology”, than, say, Islam or Christianity? Is it because people believe in those things today and aren’t worshipping Zeus or Thor or Osiris? Whether people believe in something or not is not necessarily a good metric for the validity of a belief — shouldn’t they be lumped in the same category of “myth” because they’re based around things that cannot be proved to be true?

Now, now, I’m betting someone will probably get where I’m going with this and say, “Well, the Bible isn’t to be taken literally, so there!” Well, there are two things I’d like to say about that: the first being that, if certain things in the Bible aren’t valid and are figurative, who’s to say that anything within is valid at all, and, secondly, Greek myths were created to teach — they were parables in their own right. Again, who’s to say Jesus actually DID do all he did, and all the parables are true? They could be made up, which challenges the Bible as an ignorant man’s guide to human life and death.

So, again, what separates “modern” religions from the defunct ones? The fact that dead men tell no tales. A Christian society has dominated the West for centuries and centuries, which explains why ancient Greek religion, the main precursor to Christianity (I’m equating Greek religion with Roman religion here) has been labeled as mythology — don’t get me wrong, it deserves the tag of “myth”, but I’m simply making a point that Christianity does too. So what’s next? Will the big, bad West conquer the Middle East and, over time, label Islam a “mythology” as well?

Here’s the scary thing: I’d bet that if another religion sprang up and conquered the monotheistically dominated society we live in now, over the course of 4-5 generations, that too would be labeled as “myth” in an effort to persuade people to join the one “true” religion.

I’m breaking the oath I made to stop talking about Sarah Palin altogether in the name of writer’s block. The undoing of all writers and artists has crept into me, and I haven’t been able to shake it — I have no new ideas, it seems. My fountain has run dry, my mind has refused to produce any new ideas and it’s killing me. Maybe it’s the stress of writing Project Atlas. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m being squeezed by life and have less time to think about anything. Maybe… I don’t know what’s causing this — less sleep may be the thing at work here. I’m getting desperate, which is precisely the reason why I had to resort to posting a video.

For the past week, blogging has felt more of an obligation to me, and less fun for me to bounce my ideas off the wall. As a result, I feel like my content has been watered down in the pressure I feel for me to produce content every day. But that content hasn’t been very productive or insightful: look at yesterday’s Dihydrogen Monoxide post if you need an example of something that was shallow and ill-written. Maybe it’s just because (depressing) politics has gotten in the way the past few weeks — especially McCain’s veep pick who shan’t be named — which tires me out and lends me a sort of cynicism (though, to be sarcastic is my nature, I don’t like to be the most negative person ever — I ride my wave of confidence). To get over my writer’s block, I feel like I’ll have to stop providing daily content, and focus on quality, not quantity. That’s what I’ll really have to do — plan out every post and give myself enough time to edit and think about my writing, because I’m not really doing that enough now.

So, with that out of the way, here’s Matthew Damon lambasting McCain’s VP pick.
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Yesterday, I experienced my disgust for those who are incompetent, but aren’t done away with because they are the administrators. Today, it is not necessarily incompetence that I talk of, but competence.

One of the oldest adages ever repeated is, “Practice makes perfect”. The idea is, as we do something more, we get better at it: whether it’s muscle memory or whatever, it happens (if we use proper “technique” for those activities that require it). If you read a lot, you’ll become a faster reader (though most people peak). If you play the piano a lot, you’ll get better at it. If you workout a lot, you’ll get stronger (provided you do it properly). Again, the more we do something, the more progress we make, and the better we get at it.

So, since I’ve sort-of established that the more you do something, the better you get at it, I should ask what is the biggest incentive for somebody to do anything?

Liking it; taking pleasure and pride in doing something. The more you like something, the more likely you are apt to do it, are you not? So, perhaps, one can infer that the more you like something, the more you are likely to be good at it.

And maybe this is the root of incompetence: their lack of passion for whatever they’re doing makes them incompetent. They don’t have sufficient experience in what they do, or, perhaps, their apathy causes slowed progression in their job. The malaise for what their doing bleeds into their work, degrading everything they do. All because they don’t particularly like what they’re doing — and affecting everyone they’re working with.

Maybe it’s because people don’t know what they really want to do, chasing whatever they want on a whim. Or maybe it’s an obsession with the bottom line — the income — and they just pursue what they think will rake in the most money, not doing what they really want because they’re afraid that that line of work won’t provide them with enough money. Or they’re just not interested in anything and haven’t really found their passion in life. Whatever the case, the people who don’t like their jobs don’t just hurt themselves: they also hurt everyone who encounters them because of their sheer incompetence. Maybe it’s fair to say that some that don’t like their jobs are competent, but the vast majority are not, because of the aforementioned apathy and disinterest.

So, is the cause of incompetence an inability to find something that we love to do — and can get paid to do?

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Okay, so Obama clinched the nomination, and the evil Billary-ites did not turn the Pepsi Center on its head and kill all the Obama supporters, so I suppose we’re all going to take the fight to McCain, now, correct? There’s nothing more evil than an American imperialist like John McCain, a POW with an itchy trigger-finger, right? Well, it seems like we’re getting an imperialist from the Obama camp, the old Carter foreign policy sage Zbignew Brzezinski, a dusty (and angry) relic from the Cold War era. Make no mistake: if he gets his way with Obama, Brzezinski will have us spreading our empire further into the Eurasian supercontinent. How do I know all of this? It’s in his book, the Grand Chessboard. Some quotes…

“… But in the meantime, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy is therefore the purpose of this book.”

“In that context, how America ‘manages’ Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.”

“Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public’s sense of domestic well-being. The economic self-denial (that is, defense spending) and the human sacrifice (casualties, even among professional soldiers) required in the effort are uncongenial to democratic instincts. Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization.”

“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.”

“America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe’s central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and to America’s historical legacy.”

“The most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role.”

“In the long run, global politics are bound to become increasingly uncongenial to the concentration of hegemonic power in the hands of a single state. Hence, America is not only the first, as well as the only, truly global superpower, but it is also likely to be the very last.”

So, Obama voters, do you want the above to happen? An expansion of power by the US that will inevitably lead to the end of every developed nation on earth?

After confirming that the majority of those in administrative positions that I know personally are totally incompetent, and corrupt to boot, I’m wondering how people could ever get there — administrating with a total lack of skill in their work. How is it possible, that the people placed in charge are the worst? How is it that the corrupt overlords lean on the few that are competent, claiming their successes as their own?

How can this be fixed?