Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meet the Robinsons - The Disconnect of Cause and Effect

Wilbur, a child of the late 21st century, raised in an eclectic, creative, and tolerant family, leaves the garage unlocked resulting in one of his father's time machines being stolen by a nefarious character.  Wilbur, fearing parental repercussions, sets off on a time traveling journey to set history straight before Dad gets home.

This is an adorable premise for a fun family film.  It is unfortunate however, that this premise is loaded with a brain melting paradox from its inception.  A paradox that if resolved in the script, would result in no movie plot at all.  The problem is not that the family has two time machines. (I mean really, how many do you need?)  No, the sad truth, is that this child can not exist.  This child is out of place in time and this purposeful displacement shadows a great mental plague in our modern thinking.

Beautiful Freedom - An Inspiring Video about a Spectacular Future

The topic of a truly free society is an exciting and uplifting proposition.  The discussion of life lived with truly consistent values and morals, where there are no loop-holes and no escape clauses, brings a restful calm when considered.  This topic also forces one to consider the dirty, manipulative nature of the business of politics as the inevitable result of a system based on a monopoly of the "virtuous" use of force.

The topic of a free society is of course a delicate, emotionally charged, subject.  When the idea of a free society of humans, all with equal rights, is proposed, the vast majority of individuals will attack, defend, or fog the issue.  At all cost, the moral rules (which by definition must be universal) governing the current state system will be avoided, bent, or twisted.  When an argument based on morality can not be refuted, arguments from effect will surface.  When arguments from effect fail, individuals will return to arguments from morality.  The conversations often go in circles, with no reference to previously established truths or facts.

The company in which you, as a free thinking, creative, curious individual, can discuss ground breaking ideas free from manipulative attack is limited to small pockets of intellectually honest individuals.  I sincerely hope you have a group of people with which you can talk honestly and critically.  If you are looking for more honest thinkers, I highly recommend participating in the Freedomain Radio discussion boards

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Drive to Blog as Noted by Calvin & Hobbes

I think Calvin's attitude may sum up my drive to blog, if somewhat sarcastically.  Thankfully, I don't ever seem to have a problem finding stimulating ideas on which to write.

By the way, when did you find out that Calvin and Hobbes was a strip specifically created to talk about philosophy and art?  If you have not yet read up on this; I highly recommend this wonderful article: 

Strip Philosophy: Calvin and Hobbes

I did not find out about the depth of the content until just this year after having enjoyed the content for over two decades!  (That is a hard commentary on how little I was exposed to critical information regarding philosophy while growing up.)  I now have a whole new light shed on exactly why I was drawn so much to the strip when I was younger.

Reaction to Contradiction - The Power of Empathy

This morning I was struck by the power of the following thoughts laid out by Stefan Molyneux at Freedomain Radio.

In this narrative, the speaker lays out the two types of reactions individuals can have when they face a contradiction or inconsistency of ideas: acceptance, or rejection.  He goes on to link one's reaction to contradiction to ones level of empathy for both oneself and for others.

In a later part of the discussion (not quoted below) the speaker goes on to posit an intriguing theory for the fundamental basis of depression.  He lays out that depression arises when an individual realizes the falsehood of a story which they hold dear, but at the same time forces themselves to continue to believe in its truth in order to avoid the inevitable resulting knowledge to be found upon the dissipation of the story.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Systems vs States - The Dark Knight Rises

After hearing coworkers discuss The Dark Knight Rises at lunch on Friday, Sharon and I decided to see the latest Batman movie while it was still in theaters.  (I had some free AMC tickets lying around from my incessant collecting of Coke Reward Points.)

A Movie Rises - Thinking Descends

This film was a tour-de-force of modern american cinema.  Hundreds of professionals worked together for thousands of hours to produce this two hour extravaganza.  Their efforts show in dramatic lighting, exquisite costumes, and numerous extended action sequences.  With all the calculated effort put into the film, it becomes starkly evident what is specifically screwy within the work:

  • Chaotic and Inconsistent Morals
  • Avoidance of Character Development and Motivation
  • Pandering to Symbolism to Evoke Audience Emotions
  • Embracing the Worship of Mythical Benevolent Power
  • Slander Against Anarchy While Demonstrating a Dictatorship

Each of the above items could each warrant a multi-page blog post in in of themselves; but there was one topic where the film completely blanked out which I thought was more powerful than each of the items above, and as such deserves detailed investigation.  There was no use of the concept of systems at all in the entire film.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Most Thrilling Conversation I Have Found!

Freedomain Radio is home to the most exciting conversation in which I have ever engaged.  It's thousands of podcasts and hundreds of discussion board participants delve deep into all topics relating to being a thinking, feeling human.

The conversation starts with philosophy, logic, and rationality which are used to discover the difference between truth and falsehood.  From there these rational methods are used to rationally evaluate many abstract things in the world including politics, economics, art, environmentalism, religion, and family.  The conversation then turns back inward to delve deep into truths about self, empathy, emotions, history, relationships, choice, myths, stories, and psychology.

The exciting and new thread which follows through every discussion is the fact that every one of these topics is springing forth from the same place: the human brain.  The result is that, with a little rigor, we can see parallels and connections between and across all of these subjects and disciplines.

The Joy of Visual Exploration: Evaluating Your Evaluations

While preforming a mundane task this morning I was struck by the depth of color and contrast in this tree canopy. Every minute of every day we each take in a giant breath of sensory information. It is up to Our conscious and subconcious mind to attach meaning and hierarchy to that which we perceive.

I have found great knowledge in reflecting on what people, things, and events traditionally hold meaning for me and conversely which experirnces I seem to gloss over or fog away. Often I am not be too pleased with how I have attached hierarchies of value to my perceptions. While this reflection can be frustrating or unpleasant, it has been key to my ability to work twards the life and happiness of which I know I am capable of achieving.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Team Dynamics: Advocating a Goal not a Solution

[UPDATE: This post has stimulated an engaging conversation on the discussion boards at Freedomain Radio.] 

In a recent meeting at work, I participated in a butting of heads over whether solution A or solution B was more prudent to solve a design concern on my current project at work.  What I only realized after the fact is that we had no conversation at all to define our goal. It was as if we were debating the ingredients of a recipe without any discussion as to what we were trying to make.

I find that this non-verbalization of goals is very prevalent across all aspects of my life with all types of people and all levels of interaction.  I find myself and others, leaving our goals in-explicit with each person assuming the goals are clear.  Tensions then rise as each person advocates for their solution for reaching their goal, never noticing that the opposite person does not share the same goal.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Someone Who Can't Stand...Themselves?

Today at lunch with a few coworkers, the conversation turned to one of the coworker's close family members.  It was noted that this family member "does not put up with wussies."  This individual was reported as an 80 year old who runs 30 miles a week, bikes, lifts weights, hikes.  It was also brought up that his current wife is 25 years younger than him; the only woman who could keep up.

The story of this man intrigued me.  Though we have never met, and I was only given a couple of paragraphs of description, the single mindedness described inspired me to drill further into the topic.  I was curious as to why he had such emotional reactions to "wussies."  (I understood he defined wussies as lazy, soft, or fearful individuals.)

I asked the coworker what caused this in the family member.  This coworker reacted with curiosity and mild shock of my shining a light on a door in her own room which she had never noticed for five decades.  She replied "I've never thought of that."

Insults - The Self Detonating Propositions

[UPDATE: This post has stimulated an engaging conversation on the discussion boards at Freedomain Radio.]

I think it is safe to say we have all been called many names over the course of our lives.  For most of us, we were called many derogatory names while we were children.  The list of names seems unending; some included: retard, stupid, bad, irrational, difficult, disobedient, and over-sensitive.  What was probably not identified for us is the common thread that connects all derogatory names; they are self detonating statements.

I would like to put forward the evidence that shows the truth of name calling. The person who calls you a name must be assuming you are actually the opposite of that name.  When a person decides to call you a name with a negative connotation, they must assume that you yourself have the positive qualities that are directly opposite of that name.  Let's take an example to work this through.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Empathy - Curiosity and Intrigue

In my recent blog post exploring the disparate emotions stimulated by a soccer ball; I used quite a bit of colorful language in an attempt to inspire the reader to have empathy for a great number of people.

Recently I have been exploring the topic of empathy as it relates to all aspects of my life.  I have come to the realization that throughout much of my past, I was not consciously aware that other people truly existed.  Yes, that may sound a bit over dramatic; let me clarify.  Of course it is true that I understood other people physically existed, in a similar way to a house, a plant, or an rock.  It is also true that I understood that others had thoughts and opinions which allowed them to make decisions and take actions independent of my own.  What I did not see is that their selves existed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Lesson of a Soccer Goal - The Source of Emotions

A black and white ball speeds by an outstretched hand and is captured by the straining cords of a net.  A singular event spawns a spider's web of emotional energy in the hundreds of individuals who are just now processing what has happened.

Some cheer loudly with pleasure, some groan quietly with anxiety.  Some feel the pride of accomplishment, others the fear of not meeting expectations.  A few feel almost nothing, having buried their emotions deep to ensure impartiality of judgement.

Many completely different emotions are felt by scores of individuals on the field, in the stands, and watching at home.  Each person's unique balance of emotional reactions being attached to their experience of one singular physical event.  Let that sink in for a bit.  Truly think of those individuals, not as a crowd, not as a team, not as fans; set aside the collective concepts and absorb the reality that every single person is an individual just like you.  They each have histories, families, favorite colors, preferred sleeping positions; they are each as dynamic, historic, brave, and deep as you are as you read this blog post right now.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Identifying Truth in Real Time - Is it Safe?

Identifying Our Experiences in Real Time

Do you identify truth in your conversations in real time? If you are talking with someone and you are disinterested, do you say, "I'm feeling disinterested in this conversation." What would happen if you did say that?

A. If they genuinely care about your interest in what they are saying (because they value your peer review and participation) they will thank you for the feedback and will try to empathize with your position such that they will be able to modify their presentation method to more deeply engage you.

B. If you are being used as a prop, and your interest in the conversation is of no use to them, they will inevitably get offended by your comment, and possibly attack you for speaking your mind.