Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Thinker's Social Dilemma


My very own mind is often my own worst enemy. In social situations, I can sometimes think of everything that can go wrong, even when there are really no outward signs of them independent of my mind. For example, I know that I'm the kind of person that doesn't easily get along with most others. It is something that I've learned to accept, although it took many long years. My interests and passions are topics that for the most part, are enjoyed by a tiny minority of the populace. For instance, I have no fucking interests in sports whatsoever. I don't care for stupid reality shows, and pop culture has never seem so dis-interesting to me.

That being said, when I am put in a social situation, such as getting a new job or meeting a bunch new friends of friends, my mind starts having these thoughts. Thoughts that I will not get along with them because the chances that they are into the kind of stuff that I'm into, are so rare. My mind is usually, actually often right that I won't get along, however I don't necessarily need someone to be interested in my passions for me to get along with them. I can chat about some off-hand interests at length, sometimes. However, without another person having interest in what I really love, there is no hope for a real close friendship. And this is why I have not really made friends with anyone at work at all. Sure I can chit chat with them, but actually hanging out and becoming real friends is impossible since the only thing they really care about is sports.

So where does that leave me? I can't change who I am. I can't get into the other shit that most guys are into. Sure I can brush up and refine my social skills and small talk, but at work at least, I don't even have the motivation to do that. I'd rather not even engage at all.

And so I am very picky about who I keep as my friends. I have a small inner circle of people who I can hold real conversations with. They are mostly atheists and thinkers. We do not agree at all about our views on god, religion, morality, politics and economics, but that doesn't necessarily matter. What matters is our interest in the topics themselves, and our ability to have stimulating and passionate conversations about them. And it's this, aside from loyalty, that is all I pretty much all I ask for in a friend.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street


Dear Occupy Wall Street Protesters,

You have my utmost support in taking our country back from the corporate fascists that have taken over our country, and have destroyed the very fabric of who we are: the 99 percent.


For the past month the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from Zucotti Park, in downtown Manhattan to a world wide movement. Although I haven't been down there, I support their cause. Many critics of OWS, especially the Fox News assholes, say the protesters have no central focus. Let me explain that the main principle at the source of the rage coming from OWS is the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States, due to the long cozy relationship between our elected officials, and big business. OWS has giving voice to many of us who are disgusted by the practices of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations that are controlling our political system and thus are controlling the national agenda.

For example, most, if not all of our congressmen, senators, mayors, governors and presidents are bought and sold by corporations. The corporations are funding their elections, and therefore once these politicians are in office, they are beholden to the corporations and not the voters, even though it was the voters who elected the politician. This is why legislation often contains within it loopholes that corporations use to escape whatever practices the regulations were intended to stop.

But you already know this right? What corporations get away with today, is some of the most disgusting immoral behavior in the world. It makes me sick. It's just unbelievable what the state of American politics is today. Will it ever end? Can anything really be done to divorce this grotesque relationship between big money, and government?

I feel I should be down there protesting. Although I have a job and have benefited well from my college education, I am very passionate about the movement. We need Wall Street to hear our voice. Their greed cannot go unpunished. What is at stake here is nothing less than the future of the middle class, which in turn is the future of the United States. Should we raise taxes of the rich to pay for our debt? Of course!

OWS is all about:

1. Ending the influence that corporations and banks have on our elections and legislation.
2. Protect the middle class; stop the increasing economic disparity between the rich and everyone else, by
3. Making the economy work for everyone (especially the 99%).

Why is this so controversial? Because the banks and corporations who control the government and a large percentage of our media, are using their money and power to mischaracterize the OWS movement and are actively trying to frame it so that OWS looks like a socialist revolution. They are very good at using fear mongering, a la Fox News, to scare Americans into thinking that OWS wants to destroy capitalism and replace it with a communist-style socialist market. OWS protesters don't want a handout, they want jobs. They want good paying jobs with benefits. They want to work and earn a living and to be productive. They don't want the 1 percenters taking the lion's share of wealth and leaving everyone else to gnaw at the tiny pieces of meat left of the bones. Who can blame them when the wages for middle income people has been virtually flat for 30 years and the richest 1 in the U.S. soared 275 percent from 1979 to 2007.

Revolution is inevitable under such circumstances.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Does Free Will Exist?


This is one of the hardest questions to answer: The notion of human free will. Does it exist? Do we have free will? Christopher Hitchens sarcastically says we have free will because we have no choice. I say we have free will, but, and this is a very big but, it is conditional. We do not have the free will to choose whether we are born male or female, how tall or how short we are, what race we are, what language, culture and geographic area of the world we are born into, how rich or how poor we are, and what year we are born. Not of this is willed by us. These decisions are made by forces and circumstances outside which we can control. As such, many of us might want to have been born as different people or at a different time all together.

Considering how conditional our experiences are, how can any of us say we have free will at all? Well, although we do not control the origin of our life circumstances, we do have control in how we react to them. And therein lies our free will. Even when you are forced to reckon with an instinct and personality that is not of your own choice either, your rational mind allows you to make decisions. Being human is being rational. We can control our rage, conquer our fears and forgo our selfishness. This of course doesn't mean that we always do.

So I essentially believe we have free will that is conditional to a sort of happenstance that we have no control over. The idea that god gives us free will is ridiculous because we we are given free will, that takes away the whole point. Meaning we didn't will to have free will, it was decided for us.

Lastly, our free will is constrained by what is physically and logically possible. If I am sitting at a bar and have a choice of 10 different beers on draft to choose from, then I am free to choose any one of them. But my choices (at least at that bar) are limited to what is available to me. Life is full of "you can't always get what you want" situations. And if I will to have powers like a super-hero, I obviously am out of luck due to the laws of physics.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ethical Dilemmas and Principles


Suppose two men agreed they they are going to collaborate on getting a job done. Working together will make the task at hand much easier than if they were to each undertake it alone. The job requires an investment of capital, weeks of planing, time and effort to be put into it in order to be successful. Suddenly, one of the men backs out of the agreement just as all their hard work was going to materialize. Now the other man is left in a situation where he can not finish the job by himself and he has now wasted money, time and hard work. Was it wrong for the man to back out of the agreement so late in the game where by him doing so, it jeopardized the success of the job?

Think about your answer. What is the moral duty to uphold a social agreement? If one agrees upon a "social contract", does one have the obligation to uphold it? Most people would say that both parties have committed themselves into a social contract, while not necessary legally binding, does contain within it, levels of trust and dependency that if broken would be damaging to the parties involved. It is you can say a "socially binding" contract.

Now let's say that the man backed out of the agreement because he suddenly caught a sense of moral contemplation. The job they were doing was to go out and kidnap a young girl for the purposes of raping and killing her. He backed out of the deal because he just couldn't bare to go through with it. Now was he wrong for backing out? Or, was he right for backing out of an agreement to kill someone solely for its pleasure?

The moral idea of honoring one's contractual and social agreements, and of being an honest broker in business clearly has its exceptions. But therefore, the question begs to be asked: Does all morality depend on situational, and relative circumstances? Is, in other words, all morality relative? When Sam Harris outlines the idea of principle, standing firm even when one can find exceptions, he is talking in a way about having rigid morals that do not necessarily have to be absolute in every situation. For example, in chess there is a good principle to adhere to: Don't loose your Queen. But there are situations when sacrificing your Queen is the best strategic option to make, and there are other times where you will have no other choice but to sacrifice your Queen. These exceptions do not have the ability to erode away the solidity of the principle at heart. No one is going to say that because a single exception can be found to the principle of not loosing your Queen in chess, that we must therefore throw out the entire principle or that the principle is erroneous.

One argument theists make about morality absence of god, is that without the absolutism of morality from divine command theory, you cannot have moral principle. My initial example above on the relativism of a moral proposition, shows how morality, while not always absolute in its nature can still have a principle behind it. In principle, I might say, it is morally right to honor those you conduct business with whether contractually or socially, but there are exceptions.

On Social Dynamics and Human Nature


Some reflective writing

Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what you really want to say. I’m not even sure how to word this properly. Sometimes I think about the world around me more than I think about the world within me. We all see the world through our subjective lens. It is therefore, very hard to see the world with you in it. Step out of consciousness and reflect. At any moment of the day, I am having multiple wars going on in my head. I have fear and paranoia, greed to get everything my way, fear and anxiety about the past and hope for the future. I dislike some of the voices I hear. Yet I also wish others would speak up louder. I turn to seek enjoyment in temporary pleasures through self destructive acts. I get jealous and horny and angry minute by minute. It is almost like my inner conscience is a mirror of the world today.

Social dynamics are a fascinating topic. I read a book a few years ago about a guy who wanted to get more successful with the ladies, so he travels around the world to meet men who are experts in getting women and getting laid. Overtime he learns how to get girl after girl, but what he also learns about through that process, is how important social dynamics take place in every social situation. First example, the idea of having such a social effect on people, that your reality becomes their reality. Such as walking into a group of people and now you’re putting on such a display, and you have such charisma that all of the people are now almost like actors in your life going according to exactly how you want them to act.

It’s like you are staring on your own movie, all about you and the people around you have no idea and have become unwitting supporting actors. Such an act, would be a vulgar display of narcissism and narcissism is something we all hate in others. Some people have that natural ability to be narcissistic, and you might have become an unwitting actor in the movie of their life. Sometimes it is OK, other times it is not depending on the situation.

It’s something I have studied closely in my interaction with other people. Sometimes, for example you have a certain skill which is in such high demand, that others wishing this knowledge are willing to act in your life like eager bulgy-eyed pupils in the front row of a classroom. It's the teacher/student relationship.

Mastering the art of social dynamics, and interpersonal relationships I think is one of the most beneficial skills one can have and capable of rewarding some of the highest dividends for years to come.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer is Over


Summer is over once again. I always get very depressed this time of the year. It's getting cool already and I'm already having dreams of hot weather once again. It will now be about sweaters and jackets. It does give me the opportunity for fall weather clothes. Not looking forward to a long cold winter at all. But if I done it before, I can do it again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years After Septermber 11th


The ten year anniversary of September 11th is upon us. I knew I had to write a blog about my past reflections on the event. I was deeply touched by the events of that day and it had a huge effect on my viewpoints. The following is description on what I did that day and my life ....

At the end of the summer of 2001, I had enrolled in classes at LaGuardia Community college not far from where I live. I was 19 years old and was in search for some direction. I was also unemployed, virtually broke, and of course living with my mother. At LaGuardia, I was going to pursue a liberal arts curriculum, in hopes that somewhere along the line I would find a subject that I could make into my career.

My first day of college was September 10th. I remember I had grown my hair out long to look like the old school rock stars that I admired. I get to class and see that there is a friend from high school sitting in the back, and I sit next to him and we talk. We are shocked to hear from the professor, that the curriculum will be about hip hop music. After class we take a subway to forest hills to buy the textbook for the class, The Vibe History of Hip Hop, and talk about our lives since graduating high school the year before.

The next day of class is September 11th. I walk to the 52nd street train stop of the number 7 line. The station is angled just so that the World Trade Center is directly down the tracks. I can see that the north tower is up in smoke and I assume it is a fire. I remember seeing an old Asian lady point at the towers saying "oh my god". I didn't really even think about it that much and assumed that it was probably a fire. I take the train and get to class. I remember hearing from the professor say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, but class continued as normal.

I can't remember if class dismissed early, but shortly thereafter, I remember my friend and I going to get our college ID cards in the basement. While on line, I remember hearing a woman who worked at the college screaming and running down the hall. We get a glimpse of the TV in one of the offices and it says that both World Trade Center Towers have collapsed. I am completely shocked at this moment and everyone is now talking about it. I get my ID card and my picture is taken at a moment just after the towers collapsed. I still have this ID card.

After we get our IDs the college is full of people talking about the news. The subways and buses are all not running and so we are forced to walk home. Gazing towards the location of the World Trade Center, we can see the wall of dust that are the remnants of the towers, being pushed towards the south east towards Brooklyn.

I get home and I turn on the TV and watch it for the rest of the day. My mom who has just woken up is shockingly unimpressed by the terrorist attacked and by the end of the day she is actually tired of all the new coverage. That's my mom for you.

The news did its job of dramatizing the events of that day. America was forever changed, but New York City was changed even more. It was here that the most dramatic and deadliest outcome of that day unfolded. My fellow classmates and I had developed a sort of bond because of the tragic events.

Now 10 years later I can reflect back on that day. The rebuilding is underway, after a long delay. I have to say that I am quite impressed with the new World Trade Center design. I hate to say it but, I actually like the new design better than the twin towers. I felt the twin towers were actually simplistically bland. They were icons of the boxy international style that was so popular after World War II. The new towers are sleek, glass emeralds. Post modern complexions, yet relatively simple at the same time. I am particularly excited about Tower 2, with its 4 diamonds slicing the building diagonally. I cannot wait until it's all finished.

Tower 2:

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