thedailyinquisition

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

How Cellular Technology Lost its Voice

Depending on your age, you might remember the colossal cellphones of the early 80s. You didn’t need to carry around mace back then. If someone threatened you, simply beat them senseless with the brick of a phone you were carrying.

Martin Cooper of Motorola was the pioneer of the cellphone. Together, with Bell Laboratories, they created the first ever non-vehicle cellphone. The phone weighed 2.5 pounds and its dimensions were 9 X 5 X 1.75. Cellular infrastructure started in Chicago in 1977 and then progressed to 1G by NTT in Japan in 1979. We have been making leaps and bounds ever since.

Obvious technology limitations were the reason for the size of the phone, however, by its standards it was a technological breakthrough. A screen didn’t exist at first, just several gargantuan keys, a speaker, receiver, power switch, and a couple of lights indicating if the line was busy or if it was currently dialing.

As processor, circuitry, and general electronics technology increased, the phone started slimming down. Additional to this was the appearance of the LCD screen. Phone users had been complaining that they needed a visual representation to ensure they were dialing the correct numbers and that they could see who was calling them. It was at this point that the second age of the cellphone came into view.

As years progressed, the phone got smaller and the screen got bigger. Eventually, the phone branched out into two categories. Its earlier bar-style still remained but in 1996 Motorola again stormed the gates of technology and introduced the flip (or clamshell) form factor (although GTE held a trademark on its flip phone since the 70s). Motorola’s design was deemed the StarTac.

Oddly enough, if you look at human evolution and that of the cellphone, you notice a similar pattern. The same mechanism of natural selection that takes place in nature also applies to technology. The flip-phone held its ground for over ten years, but in 2009 it started being phased out as two other branches emerged; the slide-out keyboard phone (popularly known as the QWERTY) and the touchscreen.

These two were actually mutations, like the flip-phone which is a hybrid of GRiD’s laptop design and cellular technology. The slide-out keyboard was an adaption of the flip-phone itself and the touchscreen an improvement of the original LCD bar-style phone.

The slide-out phone was brought about do to a lack of support for efficient typing when web services and texting became popular. The QWERTY pattern was actually developed over a hundred years ago for a typewriter and remains one of the most efficient keyboard layouts to date.

Touchscreen phones were introduced for a completely different reason. As technology advanced exponentially, it became possible for larger screens to appear in smaller confines. Screens actually stayed relatively small until the explosion of mobile applications came on the scene. There were a few random exceptions for this such as Nokia’s N-Gage which was introduced in 2003. Additional to the applications, the introduction of beefier and more reliable network infrastructure allowed streaming of mobile media which also contributed to the need for larger screen size. In 2011 a new line of tablet-touchscreen hybrids started hitting the market, taking the phone a step farther.

What we see here is a transition from a vocal device to a full-blown multimedia computer. It wasn’t just consumer demand that forced the progression. There was certainly a strong push from media and computer moguls, application developers, and the phone companies themselves who could now charge new and higher rates for different services.

At present day, the QWERTY phones hold the low-end market, with touchscreens carefully trailing, and the touchscreen-tablet hybrids by far dominate the high-end market. Phones have went from brick-like devices only capable of voice, to handheld computers with calling capability. Voice has become the secondary feature.

One of the biggest sign of the times is the fact that we don’t talk about phones in the same light that we used to refer to them. The three main categories are iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. Only two of these are actual brands. What this tells us is that the operating system on the phone has come to define the phone itself, with carriers and brands taking a backseat.

Looking forward we will see more touchscreen-tablet hybrids with accompanied keyboards. Not only that, but their prevalence will, in my opinion, surpass the need for full form factor laptops, especially with the introduction of projection technology to offset screen size. Cellphones will become our multi-tool of the future.  They already are in some sense and I think that most of us have an idea of their implications, but to reiterate, voice has become a distant alternative option while monetary transfers, social media, scheduling, navigation, and virtual media become frontrunners in a new digital age. The age where computers and cellphones have infused with one another and become a mobile powerhouse. They have already killed the watch and camera.  Soon they will be coming to finish off wallets, claim remote control of all your devices, and possibly even alert you to health issues.

While I’m not entirely sure Martin Cooper could have imagined the future of his product and the way it would change the world, I am certainly glad that he had enough vision to produce one of the greatest inventions of the modern age. We may all be captive to these devices, but they have become a part of us in a way. Our destinies are intertwined.

Advertisements

An Attempt at Life

I tried not to, but there I was, eyes fixated on the pulsing light, reminiscent of an angler fish to his prey. Cold, barren steel ran down the length of my body. In the background I could almost make out faint noises, whispers perhaps.

My eyes tried to focus. I attempted to shift them around in the methodical way a rebellious teenager would.

“Relax. You will need time to adjust.”, a voice softly said.

When I tried to express my concern, I was alarmed. It’s not the loss of control over my vocal system that was alarming, but rather the fact that I could not find it. I was like a drifter staring at a previously unseen map, looking for a destination.

“I’ll fix that. One second.”, the same voice announced quickly.

Suddenly, I felt pressure, and in an instant the map was revealed to me. The sensation of my lips returned and I could feel the rhythmic breathing gesture, although no breath was coming through.

“I…I can’t breath…”

“Ha. They told me you were a funny one.”, the man chuckled.

With all my effort, I tried to adjust my eyes so that I could see him. Vague splotches of white and brown muddled through the air. I blinked.

“…and something is wrong with my vision…”, I said in a panicked tone.

“Don’t worry, just some adjustments. It always goes like this. Before you know it you’ll be up and around just like before.”

Like before? What happened before this? I couldn’t remember a damn thing. All I remember was darkness, darkness and…wait. Images floated just beyond my reach.

“How did I get here? Am I injured?”

“Injured? No, you’re not injured. Look, just quiet down and let me finish these tests. I’d like to get through one more…”

“Where the hell am I!?”, my voice rasped angrily.

Just then I felt a sharp electrifying click in the back of my head. My eyes focused suddenly on the stainless steel table underneath me. The reflection was of the same quality. As I strained my eyes beyond their peripherals, I saw the pulsing light again. My thoughts came to a screeching halt, confused by what was staring back at me. They were my eyes. They were pulsing with vibrant greens and reds.

My fingers twitched. For the first time I realized that I had no sensation in my lower body, except for the few fingers on my right hand.

“I can’t feel my legs.”, was all I could say. My mind felt frozen, like it had sat through a thousand winters and was just now thawing out.

Another sharp, electrifying snap at the base of my skull.

“Shit. Hey, hand me that soldering iron. The damn thing broke off again.”

Soldering iron?

Another  ambiguous shape floated through the air to the first one. I strained my eyes again. This time I was able to make out a young woman in a lab coat, glasses, blonde hair, holding a soldering iron. I watched as she reached down and handed it to the man, who I could now see was in his forties, also wearing a lab coat, and donned with a magnifying apparatus.

First my left and then my right eye went out of focus; so out of focus that it caused a sense of vertigo.

“I think something is wrong here! What are you doing to me?”, I protested.

No reply.

The warm sensation of heat projected from my neck. Shots of darkness sprang forth claiming my sight. I could hear the man now cussing, frustrated with something. I tried to protest again but I found that I could not speak. I tried to adjust my eyes, but they were immobile.

“Shit, circuit board is toast. I’ll have to get another one. Let’s turn him off.”

My mind wildly raced as I tried to grasp for reasons and answers. Then, I felt a soft click. A warm, inviting abyss surrounded me on all sides calling to me.

I Don’t Want to Be an American Idiot: Understanding the Educational Chasm in the U.S.

This blog has been written and re-written by me several times. At first my approach was to study, in-depth, all the educational leaders; China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and Finland. After much analysis and reading I came to the conclusion that most of the education models that are implemented in these countries simply are not applicable in the U.S. This will come as quite a shock to my mother-in-law, who is not only a teacher but also a French, America hating, American. She’s always yammering about how we should be like China or France and corruption this and corruption that. I politely respond that corruption, greed, hatred, pride and all the other dirty little imperfections are part of the human condition and exist across all regional and racial barriers. But I digress…

The reason I feel that, as a whole, other country’s educational models are not applicable to our system is because the ideology, government, and cultural aspects are unique to those regions. All these factors work together to supplement their education system. We can take ideas and examples from their model, but as a complete package it will not function properly.

That being said, lets discuss some of the main issues of our school system. Twenty years ago the U.S. was number one in education. Our country has evolved greatly in those twenty years and, unfortunately, the education system was not able to adapt as quickly as we were changing. I attribute this largely to the complex divisions in our education system. America separates its education into federal, state, and local levels.Each level has different mandates and requires a certain finesse and authorization as well as having different ideas about how to properly educate.

Any military strategist can tell you that to divide an opponent is a major advantage. Two reasons support this: a longer decision-making processes due to lengthened communication and authorization time and discord among the divisions. What I propose is that if we operate individually, we can never be unified and will spend our time regulating and comparing instead of progressing. The logical solution would be a centralized authority to govern education. Finland shows us a perfect example of how this can be effective. The issue I see with this is that our society is based on competition. Right now schools across America are competing with each other when they should be cooperating to achieve a single agenda. Additionally, our students are competing with one another. Each student should be graded based on their own strengths and abilities, not compared to millions of others which skews the value of that student.

Stripping the infrastructure and creating a single core authority and vision is not something that can be done overnight nor is it something that is necessarily plausible. The system we have wasn’t forced upon us. Years of litigation, partnerships, and planning went into creating it. I suggest that we work with the resources that we already have. Migrate education criteria away from state and local faculty and place the judgement of educational standards at the federal level. The core agenda can then be passed down to the states which will not make individual decisions on education criteria, but will support the federal agenda and process the monetary support to ensure the success of the mission. The local level will be responsible for reporting back issues, voicing concerns over monetary and educational restrictions, and the application of the overall vision of the federal level.

I can already hear the concerns about a communist-like school system with one central governing body. In truth, China has been so effective in its goals due to its centralized infrastructure, but to this I say, the federal level is only supplying the agenda, not enforcing nor doing so without repercussion or input from the other levels. It is simply at this level in which the amendments and solid foundation get put into action.

I believe this addresses the core issue. Then we have to address the peripheral issues: the quality of education, the structure of the school environment, and the funding.

As far as quality of education, it has been noted that we have been less aggressive in our attempts to teach certain subjects at various levels. We are setting the bar too low because of the high rate of attrition. I used to hear the motto, “Shoot for the stars”. I feel like our motto had been reconciled to read, “If you can’t reach the stars, we’ll pull them down a little bit so they’re easier to hit”. At an early age we should assess which students are of a sound mental facility. Those should be progressed through primary and secondary schools. The others should be taken to individual schools where their special needs can be met, full-time. Our educational standards should be supported despite individual performance. We should evaluate each student based on their individual progression, ability, and performance.Our children will no longer be statistics such as 20 out of 500, they will be judged pass or fail based solely on themselves.Of course this all is based on the fact that we are getting a challenging, modernized, and sound education referendum at the federal level and that our teachers are competent.

Teachers are to be compensated accordingly, required to hold a four year degree in a related field, held with higher respect, and given more responsibility over the students. If a child becomes a problem, the teacher holds the decision to expel the student from the class or admonish them accordingly. Those children who are repeat offenders will receive counseling. If the counseling is unsuccessful, they are to be sent to alternative education facilities. These children should not be allowed to influence or distract the ones that want to learn.

Funding will come from taxes, much like today. In my opinion, education is the number one goal of the country. All taxes will have a certain percentage automatically withheld to be passed to the state level to distribute. Schools will not incur any taxes. Distribution of funds will be based solely on the population of students. As mentioned before, it will then be up to the state to compensate the funding to areas that need supplemental enhancement.

I’m sure my limited experience and knowledge in the entire system has left out some core principles and maybe overlooked some currently existing ones, but at this point, it’s the best I could do.It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than this. The more complex you try to make something the more fragile it becomes and the more restructuring you have to account for when changes appear.

As a side note, I’d like to add that it is our individual responsibility as parents to ensure the educational achievement of our children. If you simply sit back and trust that the school system is going to take care of your child, you are failing them. Don’t be afraid to challenge what is being taught and to require your children to supplement their studies with additional work you feel is pertinent. The difference between success and failure is a parent who cares.

 

 

 

 

 

Homo Mechanis:The Philosophy and Ethics of the Future

This is the follow-up to the previous article where I discussed the implications of exponentially progressing technology in the future, specifically the philosophy and ethics of melding man and machine. I will warn you, this blog will be a bit in-depth and lengthy, perhaps even offensive to some. I feel that introducing any forced brevity will be detrimental to the central message.

As a point of reference, I’d like to state that this is not a debate on possible future outcomes, this is a response specifically to Raymond Kurzweil’s vision of the future.

Raymond Kurzweil was a child prodigy. I actually saw a clip of him on a game show in 1965, when he created a computer that wrote its own music. He has since invented the flatbed scanner, optical character recognition, speech recognition, and a slew of other devices. He is called the Thomas Edison of our time.

All that in perspective, Ray has a vision for the future. To explain all of his visions, we have to look at what he calls the six epochs that will lead to the singularity. The singularity, as discussed in my previous blog, is the point where man and machine are no longer distinguishable. All of these Epochs are taken from his book, “The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology“.

Epoch 1: Physics and Chemistry

This is the beginning of the universe. All information is held in sub-atomic structures and do not increase in molecular size or complexity. Basically, these are the raw building blocks upon which our universe was built.

Epoch 2: Biology and DNA

Here starts life on earth. At this point we have more complex organisms and DNA is stored in molecules. These are basic organisms compared to today and evolution will not happen for thousands of generations.

Epoch 3: Brains

With the rise of even more complex organisms, brains are needed to control central functions. These organisms can adapt to their environments and learn from experiences. Evolutionary information is stored in neural patterns.

Epoch 4: Technology

This is the epoch which we are resting so comfortably in. Now that we have been given brains, evolution has given us vast creativity in which to create technology. Like us, technology evolves. This evolution is stored in the designs of hardware and software.

Epoch 5: The Merger of Human Technology with Human Intelligence

Kurzweil announces that we are on the verge of breaking through to this epoch. Here, technology become so finely tuned and compiled that it approaches the confines of Biology. With similar structures, an integration can take place which will give rise to new forms of life and intelligence.

Epoch 6: The Universe Wakes Up

Finally, we reach the beginning of a new era. In this epoch inanimate substrate is actually turned in to a sort of fuel for intelligence. Nano-bots will live in our brains and increase cognitive abilities. New cybernetics will out-evolve our current form and a super-intelligence will emerge. Eventually, we will not be able to keep up with technological evolution and technology itself will be responsible for its own evolution. This is truly where we become one with Machine. As we have created artificial intelligence, we have also learned to pass our consciousness into devices and virtual worlds where Kurzwiel imagines we will spend most of our time.

 

Now back down to Earth.

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that Kurzweil has many opponents arguing against his thesis. Obviously this vision of the future does not fit in with most modern ideological institutions and the actual science of quantum computing is in debate. Kurzweil is more of a prophet than a realist in his book, some say, but is it so far-fetched? Four out of six of the epochs have already occurred, and we are possibly on the verge of the fifth. What if it were a reality?

If the events, as Kurzweil sees them, came to fruition, it would be hard to imagine that we would not draw some borders and instate some fundamentals surrounding the change. Reason tells us that the definition of humanity would be called into question. As a higher percentage of people have cybernetic replacements and enhancements, they would become less man and more machine. My thought is that at first we will seek to define humanity as having an organic intelligence regardless of other enhancements or replacements. But what happens when our intelligence becomes enhanced, and even transfers to machine? Is the consciousness in the machine the same as the consciousness that was in the human?

At this point something amazing happens. The definition of humanity would have to completely change, or more specifically branch out. Now we are looking at the quantifiable digital information that used to be a brain becoming human; not only that, but becoming a previous or already existing human. In essence, you could have several copies of yourself, even stored as back-ups in the event of your demise.

Please don’t misunderstand me. None of this would come without vigorous religious and political debate. I think the world, although more accepting at this point and time of technology and evolution, would be in panic. This reminds me of a similar situation years back; cloning. You couldn’t turn on your TV without seeing Dolly the sheep’s wooly face on it. However, if you look around today, what do you see? No matter what the opposition to it, there are still full clones and cloned organs being produced in laboratories globally. Progress cannot be stopped, it can only be diverted momentarily.I think the main reason it will not be successfully abolished is due to our overwhelming curiosity and the fact that the people making the decisions about technological, medical, and scientific progression are mostly analytical in nature. They do not stop doing what they do because of ambiguous reasons or philosophy. They do what they do because it is what they know. Supplemental to this, is the fact that we are already incorporating technology in our bodies and striving for artificial intelligence. What other alternative is there?

Back to my original point. With the change of definition comes a new species. We are no longer just Homo Sapiens at this point. We are also Homo Mechanis.

I foresee a lot of argument and fear in store for us, but I have no doubts that progress will take it’s course. This doesn’t mean that the events will play out exactly like Ray has envisioned, but I can’t see any other eventuality than technology and man becoming one.

What does this mean for the soul? I cannot begin to comprehend how an intangible quality that means so many different things to different people could be incorporated in this scenario. In truth, the new consciousness would not be the original consciousness. It is impossible. It can be exactly alike in every way, but it will never be the old consciousness. Given this, the illusion of eternal life is just that, an illusion. We can create a completely new being but we cannot transition a being into digital computations without destroying it or just simply copying it.

Of course, you could transplant a human brain into a mechanical construct but in the end, the biological material would deteriorate and the brain would die unless there is some unforseen medical process which prevents such brain death in the future. This is one possibility, but it would not have the same mental capacities or flexibility as a digitally constructed brain. Maybe the longevity without the enhanced performance is worth it for some, or maybe the denial of actual destruction will console others to transfer their consciousness into the digital realm. Probably both.

So I do realize that was a lot to take in. I have been speaking in probable eventualities based on unforseen technological advances. Like I stated in the beginning, this is a reality based on Ray Kurzweil’s theory. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. That’s okay. The important thing to remember is that no matter what happens in the future, no one can replace you. They may be able to create an artificial likeness, but just like the replicas in shops today, it will never be as valuable as the real thing.

 

 

The Future: Apocalyptic Fury or Technological Fantasy?

I grew up in a house filled with superstition. My mother is a wonderful, devout, and cynical woman. For years I sat on the living room floor while she relentlessly watched the 700 Club. I remember a white-haired Jack Van Impe spouting off “anti-christ” revelations and how he targeted individuals and machines. There was a computer in specific that was called the B.E.A.S.T. and was located ,supposedly, in Belgium. Jack implicated it as the tool that would provide the “mark of the beast”. In reality, the computer did not even exist but was taken from a novel by Joe Musser. He even went as far as to call Juan Carlos, prince of Spain, the anti-christ. I imagine something similar lead to the crusades.

All this was amusing to me at the time, and I actually thought there was truth in it. I didn’t know any better, but in the end I embodied the destructive force which it created. As a result, my thoughts and opinions were shaped for years afterward. I would go around telling people the way the world was and there was no other alternative. Either believe or burn. What a fool I was, but luckily I opened my eyes one day.

The simple truth is that apocalyptic beliefs have existed since the beginning of time. Each generation comes up with a new way that the world is going to end and when it doesn’t happen, they pass the torch. Don’t get me wrong, we could be nuked tomorrow, but spending any amount of time worrying about or anticipating it is frivolous. The fact that anyone would try to incite panic over such an event is, frankly, cruel and causes undue stress and tension. Furthermore, it takes focus off of much more important issues. If this is your belief, I respect it and I will not put you down for it, but don’t force it on other people as I did.

I find it much more likely that the world will go on, just as it always does. It will be greedy, loving, cruel, kind, crime-ridden, and just all at the same time. The world around us reflects our nature as beings. I have no misconceptions that doomsday prophecies will go away at any point. They have always been, and they will always be. Now, there are even doomsday television shows. If you can count on the media to do one thing, it’s to exploit a general fear and turn it into a spectacle.

I propose that we instead look at our future as if there were no end. Where will we be in 50 years, 100 years, or even 1000 years? I think it’s fair to say that technology will be exponentially increasing. Ray Kurzweil has put out some postulation on where we will be at certain time periods. A lot of his message reveals an Asimov-esque quality, but I think his general idea is in the ballpark. It only seems logical that as technology improves we will steadily begin to incorporate it into our bodies.

You might think it completely bizarre, but it’s really not. We have been infusing technology and our flesh for years, although mostly for handicaps and medical conditions. We look at these with wonder and gratitude but look at very similar technologies as strange.

Let’s take for example a tattoo. You inject pigment into your skin with a needle and it becomes a permanent fixture on your body. A very similar procedure was envisioned for a health monitoring system. You would be injected with miniscule circuitry that would monitor things like blood pressure, heart rate, insulin levels, etc. Diabetics wouldn’t need to carry around testing kits, they could simply open an app on their phone and check all of their vital information.

Going even further, many optical receiving devices have been theorized. If we can enable the blind to see with virtual optics, why could we not then feed visual information to the ones with sight? You could walk around with live feeds of news, stocks, social media information, etc. Augmented reality is still in its infant stages at this point, but making progress. I know that a lot of people would say this is going too far and we might be playing God. My question to you is this, if God created us and we obviously have the capability to create on such a mass scale with such grand proficiency, why would it be so far-fetched to imagine that it was in the plans for us to one day use our god-given talent to improve our way of life. Technically we are already doing it, only with limitations. If you are an Atheist, then I don’t even need to propose this notion to you. Simply the fact that we can should suffice.

Kurzweil explains in his book, “The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Technology”, that the law of accelerating returns drives technology (specifically biology, nanotechnology, and robotics) toward the event called “singularity” in which man and machine become one. He literally talks about quantifying the brain and transferring it into machines to create a seemingly infinite longevity.

The ethics and philosophy of such a transition will be the subject of a future blog, as they span too vast an area for me to cover in this one. However, the point I am trying to make is that we have already envisioned a point at which we become cyborgs and we are progressing toward that point. From what I’ve seen from human ingenuity, it cannot be stopped. It will roll over opposition with a smiting blow. I’m not saying that I think we should go that direction, or that we will even achieve the capability, but I am saying that it is within the realm of possibility as were flight, computers, and the wheel.

In conclusion, I am not trying to push any form of machinery or circuitry upon you, only advising that it is more prudent to keep your eyes on the future, aside from proposed catastrophes. Whether we are all cyborgs, irradiated nuclear mutants, or gaseous clouds drifting aimlessly, we will get there when we get there. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to arrive at the destination. The journey is what really matters.

A Look in the Mirror: How to Find Yourself

I found myself looking out on the ocean in complete abysmal darkness. The sea and the sky melted together beyond sight, but the stars stuck like diamonds across the backdrop. While I was staring admiringly into the void, I started contemplating who I was and why I was there at that exact point in my life. You see, I was about two thousand miles away from home, currently in the Navy, and feeling alone in a desolate landscape. I had been doing a lot of soul-searching, but at the time I was reflecting on the wrong things trying to gauge my life and I was driven by counterproductive motivations. Had I known that, the events that unfolded over the next few years would have played out differently. It was a long road, but I am thankful for every second because experience has taught me numerous things.

At the time I was trying to surround myself with affection. Unknowingly, I had built my life completely dependent on other people’s affection and care and was now going through withdraws. Now I was looking for affection in all the wrong places. Drunken one-night stands and over-developed short-term relationships kept my world in such an upheival that I couldn’t tell day from night, let alone evaluate where I was going. On top of that, putting myself in those situations made me lose focus and I started creating obstacles.

In understanding the future, you must always look at the past to investigate your trials, how you conquered them, and how to overcome current and future situations. If you are unwilling to honestly look at yourself with an open heart, you will never be able to evolve as a person. It’s frightening, but everything has to surface to be able to purify yourself.

In my case, I learned several things. One was, as previously mentioned, that I needed to learn to deal with affection. Probably the greatest thing I took out of this was how to love myself. I had absolutely no love for myself when I started. I never realized it because I had never taken an introspective look at into my own mind. My family issues as a child and my own poor integrity had left me feeling hollow and insignificant. Once I learned to love myself, it not only provided a fundamental source of affection but it also turned the quality of my life completely around.

The second thing I learned was that I had my priorities out of order. In trying to seize the day, I lost the years. Honestly, this is still something I struggle with, although on a smaller scale. I get so wrapped up in ideas that I go on a binge of hobbies, spending, collecting, building, etc. I’m getting better day by day, but what really is key to this is focus and setting your priorities at the beginning of each day. Now when I get to work, I look at what I need to do, I do it first, and then everything else after. The same goes for at home. When I come home I help watch the kids, make dinner/clean dishes, put the kids to bed, spend time with my wife, then I turn to my personal things. Learning to think about others first is paramount. I’m not just doing my job to get paid anymore, I’m trying to provide quality work for my company so that they can grow and prosper, which in turn will benefit me. At home, I’m doing all these things to be a good husband and father. This has improved my relationship with my wife greatly.

Also, I learned to ask the most important question of myself; why. Why am I doing this? Why don’t I just take my money and run off? Why don’t I do what I want regardless of other people’s feelings? The answer, in all cases, is that the universe is much bigger than me. While it is utterly important to have a sense of self-worth and confidence it is even more important to live with humility and with a profound respect for life. Every second that I spend selfishly on myself is a second that I am taking away from someone else. It’s easy to lose track of this insight and think the world revolves around you. When I’m driving to work I find it incredibly hard, especially when someone is driving slowly, or cutting in front of me.

The best advice I can give is to treat every being as if they were an extension of yourself. In fact, they are. We are all sub-atomically exactly the same as everything in the universe. Those subatomic particles may be arranged in different orders, but you are no different from the ground you are standing on. With that in mind, you can learn to be more understanding of people and events that take place in your life. Furthermore, you can do more than just understand, you can take an active role in bettering people’s lives. I don’t pretend to know all the answers in the universe, but I know one thing. If I die without having contributed to the health and happiness of the people around me, then I have failed as a human being.

If you can, take a long hard look in the mirror today. Examine what faults and strengths make you who you are. Embrace that. We are all imperfect. It’s learning to love those imperfections, with the understanding that we have the ability to change that makes a difference. Once you’ve learned to love yourself, then start spreading the love to other people. A person without love in their heart is like a candle without a flame. Some unfortunate people see caring for others as a weakness, but it is the courage to do so in the face of scrutiny that distinguishes real righteousness.

Happiness and Our Infinite Idiocracy

Happiness. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Perhaps the deprivation of happiness could be contributed to this. I mean, why do people become unhappy?

From my observations, happiness (and lets skip the scientific explanation where I tell you about brain receptors) comes from feeling that all your wants and needs have been fulfilled. Of course, many bask in the momentary and partial happiness that can be brought about by alterations of consciousness an endorphin rushes, but that’s not real happiness is it? Isn’t it just a facade of illusion to mask the unfulfilled chasm stirring within you?

A major issue I see today is that people have let superficial constructs become their currency in which to purchase bliss; a car, a watch, a house that could probably room the entire philharmonic symphony. This detrimental process will never lead to sustained happiness. It’s not because the things aren’t enjoyable or because people don’t treat you differently when they know you have them. The reason such a process fails is because humanity is living in a state of emotional chaos. Emotion breeds impulsiveness which is fuel for desire. As you know, this type of fuel is not infinite. It burns intensely when first introduced, but as it fades we experience a numbness or withdraw that leaves us yearning.Furthermore, intangible things such as anger, obsession, pride, and vanity will quickly consume the void, rotting you from the inside out.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention that money was the root of melancholy. Money is a tool, nothing more. The lack of fulfillment that comes with being in poverty doesn’t come because of a strong desire for numerous pieces of paper, it comes from a lack of the items that the paper will get you. The tool is irrelevant.

True happiness is based on two things: insightful perspective and the willingness to stop gorging on consumerism and pride. Media definitely doesn’t help us do this. Companies make their money off of gluttonous people who flock to the best and newest because they equate that to self-worth.  Don’t get me wrong, a little self-indulgence is healthy for confidence but we have become addicts holding out until we can get one more fix; corporations lining us up while they plunge the syringe deep into our veins. Although, this is not an attack on corporations or free-enterprise. Structure has it’s own place to hold humanity together, but when the inner-workings become infected and caustic, they need to be addressed.

The first step to attain happiness is to look at everything with reason, understanding, and a cautious intelligence. You will quickly discern the malicious from the nutritious. In truth, I think we largely know this fact but are simply unable to pull ourselves away. We look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we will be better tomorrow and that we’re not as bad as the person next to us, but venom is venom. It doesn’t matter if you are perpetually seeping it in or sporadically indulging.

Secondly, we must simply give up. Recognize that we are powerless over our addictions and focus on the things we can do to to supplement healthy behavior. Realize your basic needs: food, water, shelter, affection. You may think it silly that affection is a basic need, but we all crave it. It is in our nature. Studies have shown that without it our mental state falls into a deplorable condition. If you don’t believe it, try living utterly alone for a year. If you don’t run out of your confines hugging every human being you pass, I’ll eat my words.

I’ll leave you with this. Although critical in my analysis and not subtle, I believe my words ring true. That being said, find your own happiness and don’t let the thoughts or writings of others tell you how to live. You are you, perfectly imperfect. Smile about the good things, laugh about the humorous, and embrace the tragic. All are subject to the human condition.

The Bird Man Hoax: Dealing With the Gravity of the Situation

So, sadly, I just got news from Wired.com that the “Bird Man”, assumed to be Jumo Smeets, is really a film producer and animator by the name of Floris Kayaak. From what I can tell it was all a hoax intended to draw attention to his real career and works. The announcement came today on a Dutch TV show.

What I witnessed during the last few days inspired me to write this article.

First, I noticed physicists and realists alike battling out the mathematics and possibilities. Various equations and video tracking programs to monitor if the camera shake were shown. Techies would state their opinions just to have trolls denounce them with cutting, sarcastic wit that was unfounded, yet oddly enamored.

What I noticed lurking under all of this, however, inspired me. Millions of dreamers were gazing at the video, hoping it was real, despite the science. I was one of those people.

We have always dreamed of flight, partly due to our need to dominate our environment but also, I think, because mastering gravity comes with a completely raw sense of freedom. I’m not talking about sitting cramped in an aisle seat on a 747, next to the obese sweaty guy who’s constantly playing elbow battle with you. I’m talking about an individual taking off into the air of his own volition, feeling the air rush beneath him and looking down on the exponentially shrinking landscape below. I suffer no illusions that I’ll soon be flapping to work with my own wings, no doubt made in china, while sipping on my morning latte and scoffing at the gravity-challenged below. However, I’d like to think that if I wanted to, I could; that I had the freedom and power to soar into the heavens.

Unfortunately, floating in a metal tube with wings is the closest I will be getting. Let’s not lose heart, though. If I’ve learned one thing from human interaction, it’s that when you limit someone and tell them something is not possible they only find more ways to prove you wrong.

Happy Anniversary

Today marks the 4th Anniversary for my wife and I, so I thought I’d write her a poem in dedication to her devotion as a wife, mother, and loyal friend.

1,460 Days

Each filled with individual, yet remarkable events

Lazy days, laborious days, and days much more intense

35,040 Hours

Each passing by with expectations of more to come

Watching the hands turn methodically until the course is run

2,102,400 minutes

Obliviously marching by

Repetitive glances, leading to a sigh

126,144,000 seconds

Blinking out of existence

Time moves on, continuously persistent

1

The only reason I count down these hours and minutes

Waiting to get back to you

One loving, caring mother

One loving, devoted wife

One thoughtful, ever-faithful friend

Thank you for being in my life

Thank you for existing as an angel among chaos

You are the reason the world is beautiful

You are the reason love conquers all

The Good, the Bad, and the Nietzsche

I stumbled upon an unlikely title on Netflix, “Nietzsche and the Nazis.” Well, unlikely to me as I had never really subscribed to Nietzsche’s school of thought and, therefore, never really read his works. The very poorly produced documentary was, seemingly, an attempt by a doctor to correlate what I suppose is the question of how much the Nazis were influenced by Nietzsche and if their influence was justified. Needless to say, it was not. While this is not the subject of the article, suffice it to say that his writings were taken out of context and blatantly contorted. This, however, got me thinking about some principle rules that Nietzsche postulated. One in particular caught my attention.

In Nietzsche’s Geneology of Morality he discusses, in his first treaty, the topic of “good” and “evil”. While I disagree with his logic, I commend him for challenging his predecessors. Two things I took away from this reading, was that he thought good and evil were perspective based on the specific nature/environment of the subject and that the term evil grew out of the resentment/aversion from the opposing party. Obviously, this is a loosely based generalization by myself. Nietzsche scholars do not step down from your godless thrones and smite me.

My argument with his logic doesn’t come from my inability to accept his ideas, my argument is based on the faulty path that he took to reach his conclusion and the limitations which he set on morality with his ideals. One of the examples is how a wolf considers killing lambs good and ,conversely, lambs consider this to be evil. That logic personifies onto animals traits which they do not possess, nor are capable of understanding. You might think this is missing the point, but you cannot use an equation with faulty variables and expect a good product. You first have to deduce how good and evil correlate to each other and by what vehicle they were brought into existence.

Morality is the binding to ones sense of right and wrong. Evil and good are metaphorical representations of right and wrong with a dash of consequence thrown in. If you say something is wrong, you are verifying that it goes against your moral code but placing no real weight on its action. If you say something is evil, you are escalating it to a stature of spiritual condemnation. To me the most logical vessel for the institution of these two terms would be by someone trying to cajole a populous of people into making certain decisions. Be this a religious organization or political, this further emphasizes the point that utilizing nature as an outlet for justification is faulty logic. Good and evil are man-made terms that do not exist outside of our species (with the exception of possible extraterrestrials).

So I’ve talked a lot about what good and evil are not, but what are they? As I said earlier, I agree in general that perspective plays a role in this. In individual instances people will see things as inherently good or evil where others do not. On the other hand, there is a general consensus about what is good and evil. Furthermore, the individual perspective is constantly changing and evolving as the human mind, and society as a whole are not static. With wisdom and understanding comes change. If you can count on one thing, you can count on the world of the future being of a different morality. Neither right or wrong, simply existing in the format that society gives them.

With the implication of judicial consequences, morality and the violation of it have to be judged based on the moral code of the jury, judge, or stature at that exact point in time. The alternative not to judge or condemn and to allow individual sub-moralities their own free will would be to invite anarchy and chaos into the realm of men. This, however, brings up the need to constantly modify the statures based on modern morality, which is a broken process at this point. I think that the point where our judicial system realizes the importance and the pace of moral evolution and can synchronize with that is the point where our species emerges from its cocoon and spreads its wings. Freedom is not the lack of chains, but the ability to impact the world around you.

Post Navigation