Sunday, January 30, 2005

etumon + logia

Homo sapiens means wise human while homosexual means same sex. The reason for the different meaning of the word "homo" is that the former is Latin, while the latter is Greek.

Latin: homo = man
Greek: homos = same

Friday, January 28, 2005

Check it out

A friend sent a link to a wicked game! It's like 2.5D pong.
(There goes my masters.I made it to level 8. Challenge!)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Gay

On Canada’s political scene, there is currently the contentious issue of whether or not to allow homosexuals to marry with the full rights and terminology of heterosexuals. Why is this contentious? The very thought that some Canadians do not want to treat other humans with equal rights is shocking to me.

Harper et al. seem ‘happy’ to provide the rights, they just want to preserve ‘the traditional definition of marriage.’ While that is better than nothing, why give homosexuals official rights but not treat them with humanity? I tried to think of why it is so important that the word ‘marriage’ be kept sacred. The last word of that sentence is likely at the root. Religion, once again, is being used as a defence for disrespecting and mistreating others. It is fascinating that seemingly all the major teachers/prophets upon which religions are based are usually thought of as peaceful, kind and wise, yet the followers prefer anger, violence, hate and stupidity.

Homosexuality is not a disease, it is not a virus that will spread, and it is not something your child can be ‘recruited’ to join. Read something other than ‘hate’ literature, really think about the issue and you just might come out with a reasonable opinion.

The best thing about this issue is that the bigots come out of hiding. Often, one cannot see the true level of intolerance around, but some issue force bigots to stand up for their bigotry. This way, one can avoid them or intellectual harangue with greater ease. I suggest the latter.

I usually prefer calm questioning of those whose views I disagree with. The reason for this is twofold: (1) To gain insight into the thought processes (or absence of them) that are involved in such a stance, and (2) People are more likely to change their mind if there is less hostility and aggression involved in a challenge.

Yet, I keep feeling the urge to change my tactic.

Someone: I support preserving the traditional definition of marriage.
Me: That’s a stupid thing to say, and you’re a stupid person for saying it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Always look on...

Life is never so bad that it can't get worse.
Life is never so good that it can't get better.

Both of the aforementioned statements are true, but your existence will likely be improved if you think of the former more often than the latter.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Mostly Harmless

The following is an excerpt from Douglas Adams' Mostly Harmless (Chapter 3, first page).

"The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has, in what we laughingly call the past, had a great deal to say on the subject of parallel universes. Very little of this is, however, at all comprehensible to anyone below the level of Advanced God, and since it is now well-established that all known gods came into existence a good three millionths of a second after the Universe began rather than, as they usually claimed, the previous week, they already have a great deal of explaining to do as it is, and are therefore not available for comment on matters of deep physics at this time.

One encouraging thing the Guide does have to say on the subject of parallel universes is that you don't stand the remotest chance of understanding it. You can therefore say `What?' and `Eh?' and even go cross-eyed and start to blither if you like without any fear of making a fool of yourself.

The first thing to realise about parallel universes, the Guide says, is that they are not parallel.

It is also important to realise that they are not, strictly speaking, universes either, but it is easiest if you try and realise that a little later, after you've realised that everything you've realised up to that moment is not true.

The reason they are not universes is that any given universe is not actually a thing as such, but is just a way of looking at what is technically known as the WSOGMM, or Whole Sort of General Mish Mash. The Whole Sort of General Mish Mash doesn't actually exist either, but is just the sum total of all the different ways there would be of looking at it if it did.

The reason they are not parallel is the same reason that the sea is not parallel. It doesn't mean anything. You can slice the Whole Sort of General Mish Mash any way you like and you will generally come up with something that someone will call home.

Please feel free to blither now."

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Earlier today I was injesting some grease at McDonald's and I started to think about how people eat. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I think other people likely have some preferences about their consumption of food. I alternated between eating the big mac, the fries and imbibing the drink. While I was eating, I thought about what I would prefer to eat when and in which order. As well, I also thought about what I would want to 'end on.' I chose fries and then the drink. Afterwards though, I felt I should have left more drink than I did. It didn't ruin the meal, it just would have been a little better if I just a little more drink left.

I think everyone can relate to the above passage at least at some point in their life. Isn't that absurd!?!? Of course, by 'everyone' I don't actually mean everyone, but the privileged part of the planet that has the luxury of thinking "what flavour do I want to end on."

You know, it's funny because it isn't at all.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (last night)

From Bush's Inauguration:
Bush on TV: I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear....
Cuts to Jon Stewart: At which point, 49 percent of the country, solemnly swore.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Everyone gets a vote, eh?

T. H. Huxley

“The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land.”
(tip: say it aloud, wonderful euphony)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


This made me laugh :) And I couldn't help but think "Luke, I am a potato!" :P

(for more intellectual stimulation, see comments to previous blog)

The Rebel Oversold

(I just finished reading The Rebel Sell by Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter, this blog is about my thoughts)

Overall, I found the book to be filled with fallacious reasoning that led to specious argumentation in numerous points.

Fundamentally, they seem to be more concerned with consumerism as regards to a capitalist angle than human rights. They address counter culture more than counter consumerism. I felt No Logo was about raising awareness of how advertising is used to persuade your desires and inform people of the issues of job loss and the terrible working conditions of people making our junk. This book is not a response to that. I found many of their arguments quite unnecessary, but that could be because I’m not aware of the stupidity of others and their activities. All too often though, I felt they would pick an extreme position on an issue and argue against that. Bravo guys, you showed extremists were wrong. *clap clap*

The fear is that once some illogical arguments are made, how does one know if the others are sound (especially when the authors are your source of information)?

Another major point is that nearly all of their arguments are based on inference or observation. How about actual evidence? If describing someone, it is best to match self-report with behavioural data. If you just guess at what something is, it is just conjecture and other opinions are just as valid. (Not a good way of doing things.)

The following are thoughts while I read. Some of points are specific, some are only intelligible if you’ve read the book, and for some of them I just didn’t think it worthwhile to put in the energy to show how illogical something was.

I found their coverage of Freud confusing. They mention Freud’s theories, say they are mainly discredited, then keep mentioning Freud’s theories. Additionally, it is hard to separate what are the logical implications of Freud’s theories and what their interpretations of them are.

Whilst I understand their analysis of American Beauty, I disagree with it.

In their discussion of Fight Club, they slightly misreport a scene. It wasn’t a businessman, but it was a priest. I probably remembered it so well because it was such a great scene.

“Being Normal” was actually decent. I didn’t know it had to be said that “some rules are good” but if so, congrats boys. Anyone who supports the statement, “no rules” is an idiot.

They also misrepresent our economic system and don’t seem to realize some facts about consumption. Why is it important not to buy Nike’s? Not to be cool, but because of human rights! And if you follow with, that’s just cause caring about human rights is cool, well then so what? That’s what will make the world better.
They manage to discuss the prisoner’s dilemma and competition without any mention of evolution (used the word once, but it was the layperson’s definition). That is saddening, because the evolutionary framework would have been wonderfully useful here, having much greater explanatory power and evidence to support it. Ah well.

They don’t give enough credit to the criticism of mass society. How do you explain boycott’s? How about Pepsi moving out of Burma?

Extreme Rebellion (page 154) – When you just use observation, it can go both ways. Here is a more ideal (equally valid) version of such an analysis.
· You don’t just buy organic to be cool, it is because it might be healthier, and the companies that force GMO on you and your crops are hurting farmers.
· You might give up a gym membership so you can spend time with a loved one.
· Living in the moment is also about appreciating what is in front of you and not letting thoughts of the past and future ruin the present.
· Repairing one’s own things brings a sense of accomplishment and worth, as well, one is not dependent on someone else (contractors are late and might overcharge)
· Making your own clothes might be so that you know someone wasn’t beaten or mistreated to make it for you.

“Uniforms and uniformity”
It’s not the uniforms that are the problem, it is how we are taught. There is too much recycling of info and not enough critical thinking. If people are actually saying uniforms are evil then they are just dumb. People don’t always know what is best for them.

“From status-seeking to cool hunting.”(page 207). A lack of conscious memory for ads does not mean they don’t work! That entire paragraph was one of the most spurious arguments of the entire book. Again, they pick the extreme and argue against that, bravo. As well, Starbucks sees their stores as advertising.
On page 213 they say, “Consumers are extremely savy…” No, they aren’t! There are so many psyc studies to indicate that people have irrational beliefs associated with products they value, possessions, and the influence of those in their environment.

They actually mention Daniel Dennett (the smartest thing in this book), but then they soon use the word “guarantee.” Why? That’s just silly. One of you is a philosopher!

Free-range chickens aren’t free range. That was the most interesting thing thus far.
McDonald’s is the problem because it is not good for you. Consumers do choose things that are bad for them. Smoking, drinking… etc. As well, franchise operators still follow orders from head office so there isn’t as much independence as they think.

“Thank You India”
“Many listeners found the level of self-absorption implicit in this remark positively breathtaking. Did she imagine a billion voices in the sub-continent rising up, crying out as one, ‘you’re welcome, Alanis. Whenever you need us, we’re here to help?” (page 252) What the hell are they talking about!!! This is so presumptuous and likely highly inaccurate. How about reading the lyrics? Or how about presenting actual support for your stance on Alanis?

They say Japan and Hong Kong represent a new form of commercialism. This is a recent development. Post war Japan has been so Americanized that there isn’t much of a difference. But by talking to the older Japanese and watching their movies and themes, one sees a sadness because nature is not being respected. The gods in all living things are being pushed aside for concrete and development.

As for the Native coverage, I know things weren’t as rosy as they are made out to be, but there is likely more reverence than anything the white man has had. Columbus’ thoughts on greeting the peaceful ‘Indians’ is that they would make great slaves. And they keep dismissing Alanis, doesn’t help guys.

Page 278, “in the end, it may be that the only ‘authentic’ form of travel is business travel.” So dumb.

“Spaceship Earth”
On page 297, they say “the sewing machine soon begat the sweatshop.” No, it didn’t! Bastard people who exploit others ‘begat’ the sweatshop. Do they think there were no sweatshops before sewing machines?

Page 325, “but the fact is, an enormous number of people don’t care about the environmental consequences of their actions, and they’re not going to be talking into caring anytime soon.” What does this mean? Don’t bother trying? Don’t do anything? They unjustly criticize Naomi Klein for not doing enough, and then provide little in the way of a thorough plan to change things. (As an example of what one should do, see E.O Wilson’s The Future of Life, chapter 7 titled “The Solution.”) As the aforementioned sentence indicates, it sounds like they have given up hope in some areas. Thanks for the inspiration guys. I’m not ready to give up yet.

Decent points are made, but I think they failed. My main concerns in life are critical thinking, human rights, and the happiness of the world. They were not the main concerns of this book.

General Criticism
It would seem that I am used to a different style of argumentation. In well-written science books, there are numerous experiments to back up any argument and there are multiple footnotes or end notes on every page. Books like The Rebel Sell (and even No Logo a little) do not use much experimental, referenced data, nor are they thorough in their coverage. In The Rebel Sell, there are only 9 pages of notes. They don’t even have their endnotes numbered!?

For comparison, Daniel C. Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life has a 25 page bibliography; Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature has 19 pages of end notes, and 29 page of bibliography.
These books are wonderfully well written and provide intelligent analysis of complex issues with specificity and experimental data to back up their viewpoints. I recommend them to everyone.

Lastly, if you had to choose between No Logo or The Rebel Sell, pick No Logo.

Monday, January 17, 2005


On January 14th, after "its seven-year journey through the Solar System on board the Cassini spacecraft, ESA’s Huygens probe has successfully descended through the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and safely landed on its surface."

Saturn is 1.3 billion km from us! That's 1 300 000 000 000 meters! The technological achievement this represents is incredible. Often I hear people say "what do we really know?" Well, we obviously know enough to send a huge craft over a billion kilometers and then release a smaller craft during a seven year trip! People have different views on the world, and some like to say "who's to say which one is better?" Obviously, it depends on what you measure, but NO other world view can achieve what science has done here.

I think it is amazing that you can actually hear sound of its descent through the atmosphere!

ESA said, "This composite was produced from images returned yesterday, 14 January 2005, by ESA's Huygens probe during its successful descent to land on Titan. It shows a full 360-degree view around Huygens. The left-hand side, behind Huygens, shows a boundary between light and dark areas. The white streaks seen near this boundary could be ground 'fog' of methane or ethane vapour, as they were not immediately visible from higher altitudes. As the probe descended, it drifted over a plateau (centre of image) and was heading towards its landing site in a dark area (right). This dark area is possibly a drainage channel which might still contain liquid material. From the drift of the probe, the wind speed has been estimated at around 6-7 metres per second. These images were taken from an altitude of about 8 kilometres with a resolution of about 20 metres per pixel."


Below is part of a response I made in a little debate regarding religion and morality. While there is much greater context not exhibited, I think there is still some worth to the excerpt. Enjoy.

Ideally, we use compassion and rationality to condition/teach children to behave in certain ways. Soon, they don't have to think about it, it is natural and useful. They do good because "they" want to. The problem is many people receive 'improper' conditioning, and what they feel as 'right' is actually doing more harm than good. This is why one cannot definitively say "do what feels right," but must specify the intentions/behaviours that would make a 'good morality.'

It is true that we have a need to belong and feel loved/desired, I think that explains much of religion (fashion, advertising… etc).

I have to say I cannot agree with "a belief in god is a good thing," but do agree that organized religion is not helping things out. A belief in God MAY allow some to have greater morality, but this is not necessarily true, and I think there should just be more critical thinking involved. I have yet to hear a convincing argument of why I should believe in God, if you have one, please share. To be clear, it isn't that I think there is no God, it is just that there is no evidence for one.

Maybe I'm just being picky, but instead of believing in the "good of mankind" I prefer realizing that humanity is at a place in history in which it has the potential to see the inherent rationality of a system in which understanding, reciprocity and compassion will allow for the greatest amount of happiness for all those involved

Sunday, January 16, 2005

American Beauty

I guess I could be pretty pissed
off about what happened to me...
but it's hard to stay mad, when
there's so much beauty in the
world. Sometimes I feel like I'm
seeing it all at once, and it's too
much, my heart fills up like a
balloon that's about to burst...

And then I remember to relax, and
stop trying to hold on to it, and
then it flows through me like rain
and I can't feel anything but
gratitude for every single moment
of my stupid little life...

You have no idea what I'm talking
about, I'm sure... but don't

You will someday.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

God Bless Gluttony (and Ignorance and Consumerism and Stupidity and...

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Two days ago I finished reading No Logo by Naomi Klein. The book was originally published in 2000 (I’m a bit behind the times) and went on to become an international best seller and gave momentum to a ‘counter-culture’ movement already in place. As I’ve mentioned previously, I think everyone should read this book. Why? Because it directly relates to your existence on numerous levels. This is not abstract; this is about what you eat, what you wear and how you live. To not be exposed would be to remain in ignorance; sometimes that is okay, but here the consequences would affect more than just your life.

The saddening overall theme is that some people value financial gain more than humanity. Not the discovery of a new trait of humans mind you, but disgusting to read about when it is so thoroughly researched and well communicated. I don’t think she ever makes that point explicitly, but I believe it is likely the root of why multinational corporations will continue to outsource their manufacturing needs to sketchy companies that violate human rights. When you start to look around and see Nike, Pepsi, The Gap, Wal-mart et al. using the blood, sweat, tears and lives of people just make our junk a little cheaper, one begins to feel ashamed for being a part of it all. Mostly young women are working 10-14 hour days at less than a country’s minimum wage: a number that is usually less than a living wage (3 meals/day…etc) in that country. Most of these companies have no qualms about doing business with brutal dictatorships (in Burma, Nigeria…) and only sometimes leave when they receive news coverage about it. If left to their own devices, I think that as long as they made money, it wouldn’t much matter to them who they deal with. “It’s business, right?” Bastards!

We’ve been fed a lie. The whole damn thing! All around is the taint of mistreatment and human rights violations. Nearly all of the wonderful amenities of your life only exist as they do because of the oppression of others.

You are part of the problem. No one likes to hear it, but if you are reading this it is highly likely that you’ve become a small part of this terrible situation.

Do you still want that new outfit if you knew it was made by young women working forced overtime while not allowed to talk, some workers are not allowed to smile?
Do you still want to play with a soccer ball that was made by kids in forced labour?
Do you want to fill up your car with gas from a company that easily does business with a murderer?
Do you still want that new Nike shoe if you knew young women working 11 hour shifts, 7 days a week were the ones that made it?
Do you still want a frilly dress for a doll if you knew how it was made?

Those are just major pieces of consumption, worse is that the little bits that go into everything else are also probably made in the same way. So what do you do? Chances are that if you go to a mall and buy something, you will be supporting a structure that treats its working people in a way that you would never want to be treated.

Things can change.
1) Buy less. Simply, buy less stuff. Do you really need what you just bought?
2) Buy from ‘made in Canada’ or other ‘human-friendly’ companies, if you can find them
3) Learn about where and how your goods are made.
4) Ask your newspaper to do a story on it. They care about what you think. It may be just to sell papers, but it can be used to your advantage.

Just to be clear, this is not an issue of comparatively low wages, this is an issue of companies contentedly paying less than minimum wages (which is illegal) and supporting contractors that oppress their workforce. Although, the fact that it would take a Haitian worker, making Disney stuff, 16.8 years to earn Disney CEO Eisner's hourly income is just ludicrous! Worse, Eisner’s not even one of the highest paid!

Please, just think about these things when you buy something. Even though it may seem like worlds away, when you buy something a connection is made between you and the manufacturer. If that manufacturer works in conjunction with those who oppress, you are (inadvertently) supporting that practice. That is a fact.

To good part is that it doesn’t have to be like this.

Your choice.

NoLogo excerpt

Background: Shell oil has been involved in numerous scandals because of their involvement with countries that violate human rights. So much so, there were many boycotts of Shell in 1996 and 1997. This means more contracts for shells competitors, like Chevron. But it seems even when you win you lose.

Try to realize how good we have it here in that we can actually protest, and even if we do so in violation of the law, we will (usually) be treated with a decent code of behaviour.

All of the following is an excerpt from pages 418-419.

Less than a year later, Bola Oyinbo, a thirty-three-year-old activist who led an occupation of a Chevron oil barge in Nigeria's Ondo State, would be writing the following report:

"Just as we were preparing to leave we saw three helicopters (choppers).They
came like eagles, swooping on chickens. We never expected what followed. As the choppers landed one after the other discharging soldiers, what we heard were gunshots and fire. In fact they started shooting commando style at us even before they landed. They shot everywhere. Arulika and Jolly fell. They died instantly. Larry who was near him rushed to his aid, wanting to pick him up, he was also shot. More soldiers came and more shooting followed. Some of my colleagues jumped over board into the Atlantic, others ran into the platform. There was pandemonium. They shot teargas. White men flew all the helicopters...We were defenceless, harmless."

The protest had begun peacefully on May 25, 1998, and it ended three days later in a bloodbath, with two activists dead. The circumstances were eerily similar to those that had prompted Ken Saro-Wiwa's campaign against Shell five years earlier. "Go to Awoye community and see what they have done," Oyinbo writes. "Everything there is dead: mangroves, tropical forests, fish, the freshwater, wildlife etc. All killed by Chevron.... our people complain of 'dead creeks.'" According to Oyinbo, the community attempted on several occasions to negotiate with Chevron, but its executives never showed up at the meetings. The occupation of the moored barge was a last resort, they say, and the only demand was for a formal meeting with Chevron.

Oyinbo and his comrades accuse the company of hiring the soldiers who raided the barge, killing two men and injuring as many as thirty others. Chevron says it is not responsible for the actions taken by police officers on its rig — they were simply enforcing the law against "pirates." Chevron spokesperson Mike Libbey denies that the company paid the security officers to intervene, though he admits to alerting the authorities and providing transportation to the platform [Italics added - DM]. "We think it is unfortunate that people died, perhaps unnecessarily, but that at doesn't change the fact that in order for Chevron to do business in ninety countries around the world, we must cooperate with governments of many kinds," he told reporters.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

W.M.A. - Pearl Jam

He Won The Lottery By Being Born
Big Hand Slapped The White Male American
Do No Wrong So Clean Cut
Dirty His Hands It Comes Right Off

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Satire at its best

Spend five minutes of your life and watch this (click SEE B.S, under The Daily Show Headline, Jan. 11th). Once again, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show provides wonderful entertainment mixed with intellectual jabs at the world of modern media.
(Of course, you are all watching the show all the time so you already saw this, right?)

Will you take a cheque?

Last week the CBC ran a story "UN promises audit to ensure tsunami pledges are paid" (of which I was informed by mBlog)

In the story, it was said that "Jan Egeland, the UN emergency relief co-ordinator, vowed on Thursday to have a full accounting of funds - now at $3.6 billion - promised after the Dec. 26 tsunami in the Indian Ocean."
Apparently this is required because of past events such as when "a total of $1 billion US was pledged after the earthquake in Bam, Iran killed up to 40,000 people, but only $17.5 million [had] actually been sent."

This shocked me. Governments actually state they will help people in catastrophic situations, but then never actually do!?!?! That's worse than not pledging any money in the first place!

I understand that the bureaucracy and administrational complexity of national governments and international groups must be vast, but that is no excuse for lackadaisical transferring of paper which undoubtedly would have helped make lives bearable, if not ensure their existence. Of course, that assumes it was accidental. Sadly, the likely reality is all the more heart-breaking.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Last week I watched a video on the topic of “The Development of Mind.” It was interesting and there were lots of cute babies. Some of the highlights:

A developing embryo is basically a mass of cells that keep dividing with some cells going to some parts of the body or brain and others going to other areas. There is a staining technique that allows an embryonic cell to be marked while it develops. The technique allows for later identification of that cell by marking its first division and no subsequent divisions. Consequently, a (monkey) embryo can be injected with various stains and the pathway of cells can be measured day by day. I’ve often wondered how they had the specificity of the information for developing embryos, but knowing this one technique helps reduce some of that ignorance.

By examining the brains of newborns that have died, scientists are also able to measure the rate of cellular expansion beginning deep in the brain and moving outwards. As it is known what the layers are mainly used for, this allows insight into the potential abilities of newborns and the early life of humans.

Lastly, I also found it interesting to see babies make walking-like motions soon after birth if held up. Additionally, at 7 months babies can walk along a treadmill. The main problem is they have too much fat and not enough muscle to walk earlier than they do.

Lastly (again), babies are so entertaining!!!! Watching videos of these kids in various scenarios was so amusing. Looking at a baby fail at a simple task is so funny. Put the toy in a clear box which has a slit at the side. What does the baby do? Goes for it through the top! Haha... stupid baby. :P

Monday, January 10, 2005


Beautiful flurries of white dance down an open sky
Swirling and swaying to atmospheric signals
The frozen flakes blanket the land in vast numbers
Creating a pure swathed magnificence.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

In the world of non-news, this just in...

The CBC recently reported that "Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, one of Hollywood's most glamorous and publicized couples announced they are formally separating."

I know we all find this shocking and that it will take days, if not weeks, to fully apprehend. As if the tsunami victims and children being abducted into the Ugandian army didn't have things hard enough... now this! It is a hard time for all of us though; thankfully, there will probably be support groups and depression/ice-cream-eating prevention hotlines, as well as a candle light vigil or two.

The story ended with "Pitt, 41, and Aniston, 35, met on a blind date set up in 1998. They were married in 2000 in a lavish wedding."

Has the definition of blind date suddenly changed and I didn't get the memo? I think it has to be one of the worst usages ever! I could just picture it, "Gee, I wonder what this Brad Pitt guy looks like," and "If only I knew more about her."

Sigh... I think if I shook my dismayed head any more my neck would wear out.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

A Sri Lankan woman whose two small children were killed in last week's devastating tsunami sobs at the sight of her wrecked house in Mulaitivu in the north of Sri Lanka on Jan. 2, 2005 (CBC, photos from Jan. 3)

Everybody In Denial

“Many of the zone factories are run according to iron-fist rules that systematically break Philippine labour law. Some employers, for instance, keep bathrooms padlocked except during two fifteen-minute breaks, during which time all the workers have to sign in and out so management can keep track of their non-productive time. Seamstresses at a factory sewing garments for the Gap, Guess and Old Navy told me that they sometimes have to resort to urinating in plastic bags under their machines [my italics].”
– No Logo, page 211.

What the FUCK!?!? Is this the world we live in!? Is this what we’ve chosen?! I hope everyone’s new fleece or jeans were worth it. Damn it!

I feel sick.

Friday, January 07, 2005

What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Cannot Prove It?

The Edge, an online group of the world's intellectuals recently posted responses to their yearly question; captured in the title of this blog. I recommend perusing the multitude of answers, but especially Michael Shermer's response, the beginning of which is posted below.

"I believe, but cannot prove...that reality exists over and above human and social constructions of that reality. Science as a method, and naturalism as a philosophy, together form the best tool we have for understanding that reality. Because science is cumulative—that is, it builds on itself in a progressive fashion—we can strive to achieve an ever-greater understanding of reality. Our knowledge of nature remains provisional because we can never know if we have final Truth. Because science is a human activity and nature is complex and dynamic, fuzzy logic and fractional probabilities best describe both nature and the estimations of our approximation toward understanding that nature.

"There is no such thing as the paranormal and the supernatural; there is only the normal and the natural and mysteries we have yet to explain.

"What separates science from all other human activities is its belief in the provisional nature of all conclusions. In science, knowledge is fluid and certainty fleeting. That is the heart of its limitation. It is also its greatest strength..."

Daniel Dennett

Previously, my blog has had some quotations from philosopher of science Daniel C. Dennett and I thought it was time for another (one just can't have enough). This is from Wikipedia that does a good job of communicating his core perspective. As I have been highly influenced by Dennett's work (see link on sidebar for more essays), this quotation also communicates my thoughts regarding brain/mind.

A quote from Chapter 25 of Brain Children that is fundamental to understanding Dennett's work:

"The first stable conclusion I reached … was that the only thing brains could do was to approximate the responsivity to meanings that we presuppose in our everyday mentalistic discourse. When mechanical push comes to shove, a brain was always going to do what it was caused to do by current, local, mechanical circumstances, whatever it ought to do, whatever a God's-eye view might reveal about the actual meaning of its current states. But over the long haul, brains could be designed - by evolutionary processes - to do the right thing (from the point of view of meaning) with high reliability. … [B]rains are syntactic engines that can mimic the competence of semantic engines. … The appreciation of meanings - their discrimination and delectation - is central to our vision of consciousness, but this conviction that I, on the inside, deal directly with meanings turns out to be something rather like a benign "user-illusion".

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

No Logo

I am currently reading Naomi Klein’s No Logo and it is fantastic. I highly recommend this work about consumerism, corporations and culture. It is concerned with issues of which awareness is critical. Below is an excerpt I thought worth mentioning.

Like so much of advertising, “Hilfiger’s marketing journey feeds off the alienation at the heart of America’s race relations: selling white youth on their fetishization of black style, and black youth on their fetishization of white wealth.” (p.76)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Far Side

I don't get it ;)

Sadness (and hope?)

The disheartening tragedy of the recent earthquake and tsunami has caused a devastating loss of lives. Fortunately, it has also yielded a great amount of kindness, with international aid already at a couple billions – Japan donating 500 million. As well, most people I know have done something to help those who can still be helped. The current death toll of this natural catastrophe is about 130,000. That so many people could die in such a short time is both shocking and sickening.

There is context though, as always. About 25,000 people die each day from hunger. No food… dead. The aforementioned disaster happened about a week ago. Simple math indicates that 150,000 people die each week from starvation.

Imagine reading about an earthquake each and every week!
Imagine is the wrong word. Comprehend is better.
This is happening, this is real.

There is a big difference though. Natural disasters cannot be stopped; they can only be prepared for (if a warning occurs). Alternatively, starving people can be helped; they just need some food.
You don't ever waste any of yours, do you?