Thought

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Things that make you go, “hmmm…”, or at least made me mentally think it, and write about it.

Thought

This is about a torturous mind-fuck in George Orwell's book about Socialism (1984). In it, there's a perverse exchange between the victim (Winston) and his tormentor (O'Brien), where O'Brien is being a good progressive socialist, is trying to force Winston into accepting non-reality as reality. Torturing Winston until he admits that 2+2=5, even though he knows it's not true. He must not only say it, but truly believe it. And that's what the Politically Correct movement today is about, how mentally compliant you are, and how to bully and torment everyone who is not. more...
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Some folks idealize science and give it a credit for objectivity and integrity that it doesn't deserve. But like politics, business, industry, school, and research, it’s made of people. People have egos, frailties, emotions, blind-spots, bigotries and so on. So if someone is claiming that science is pure and that scientists follow the scientific method, they're in denial... or so deep into a belief system of faux objectivity in science, that they might as well belong to a cult.

The 4 stages of scientific discovery are:

  1. Denial in its existence
  2. Denial in its significance
  3. Misattribution to who did the work
  4. Refutation more...
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Confessions of a recovering atheist. I used to call myself an Atheist, because I don't believe in an anthropomorphic (humanized) "God". But most of the atheists I heard talking or writing, were kind of douche's, so I was almost embarrassed to be associated with them. Plus there's always doubt: we don't know what's out there beyond our comprehension, so being too definitive is being close minded. I think it's highly unlikely there's a temperamental deity out there who cares where I put my penis or how I often I gratify myself, but the idea that our reality or existence was tampered with seems reasonably likely. So I had to put so much prefacing or qualifications in my atheism, that it became easier to say, "I'm agnostic". more...
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Apes in a cage will remember lessons, long after they're applicable. An allegory about how Apes are victims of systems-memory, and that they will remember to follow rules, even after they've forgotten why they were doing them in the first place (and why it might be OK to stop). Humans fall prey to the same false assumptions. more...
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This was created by Plato to help people understand that "perception is reality". The allegory can be paraphrased as:

  • Imagine people locked in place to only see shadows cast on the wall (and not the actors behind them speaking and doing a puppet show in front of the fire), and that was all they knew their entire life.
  • Then you freed them to see truth, and the light of the sun.
  • The fire's light would burn their eyes, the sunlight even more, and returning to the cave they'd be blind for a while (while the eye's adjusted back).
  • After that, they'd all agree to not only not leave, but stop anyone that tried such a journey for everything about it was strange and painful.
  • After that, you could remove the shackles, but from that point on, none would leave (or allow others to).
Many books got their theme from this thought experiment (think Fahrenheit 451, Room, The Matrix). It's the idea that the longer a human gets used to something, the more comfortable they become with that reality and the more resistant they are to change. Pretty much, Stockholm Syndrome is just a manifestation of this phenomenon. People prefer confirmation bias and the known to the truth and complexity of the real world. more...
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Whether you call it an Emergency Kit, Zombie or Bugout Bag, Prepper Pack, or SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan), it is all the same. Everyone should plan for contingencies, and the likelihood you'll need one is far more likely that you might think. So the question isn't whether you should have one (you're being sort of irresponsible if you don't), the question is more what fits your needs or expectations, and what is best to put in it. more...
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There is a true story about some South Asian Islanders (Melanesians) that sort of sums up a lot of human behavior for me. During WWII, Americans used small islands as airbases to launch various attacks against the Japanese (and vise versa). When they war ended, they left. Later, someone went back, and found that on one of the islands the landing strips hadn't grown over. And when they got there, they found that decades later the natives had built a whole religion around the airbase. They had made mock-up planes out of straw and bamboo, had kept the strips clean, and had various relics and artifacts that they used in their rituals.

When the westerners talked to the natives they learned that the natives were trying to lure back the planes; because the planes held mana from the Gods, called "Cargo". Cargo was all sorts of magical things that the islanders didn't have or understand, but they wanted. They didn't know who the men were that tended to the planes or who were the priests of this Cargo, but they knew that if they mimicked them, that maybe they could lure the planes and Cargo back. The Cargo-cult, as they were named, built a religion around things that they didn't understand and on the fables of the people that had been there but couldn't accurately describe what they had seen.

I've always felt the Cargo Cult, and other religions were the exact same thing; Mans need to describe things that are beyond his comprehension. more...
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"Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up"
~ C.K. Chesterton more...
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A common mistake I've seen businesses repeat, over and over again - or more accurately I've seen many companies do once or twice until they go out of business or the idiots doing it are fired, is to "drive by watching the review mirror".

Instead of analyzing and thinking, learning technology (and markets and customers), they decide, "someone else is doing it, and since it worked for them, it'll work for us".

I want to head-smack them.... and then point out the first rule of Italian racing; "what's behind you, is not important". You're not them, they're not you: different timing, resources, talents, markets, culture, personalities, and so on -- so crushing brilliant new ideas (e.g. my ideas) because that's not what someone else is doing, is just stupid. I have no problems being told "no", if you have an intelligent reason for it, and can back it up. But "that's not what everyone else is doing" is called a bandwagon fallacy, and isn't intelligent or support. So, "everyone else does it that way", makes as much sense to me, as driving while watching all the cars behind you. By the time they slam on their brakes or swerve (and you notice and react), it is already too late. I prefer to keep my eye's on the road, and not try to lead by following. more...
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What amazes me is that one of the most important things in a beings life, their own ego and sense of self, is one of the most ignored areas of their lives. People often run on autopilot of their emotions. To me, to be consciousness means to be aware of your surroundings. You, your body, and your personality is your closest surrounding. Thus people that aren't aware of their own motivations and actions, are ignoring who and what they are, and are by definition subconscious (below consciousness). This is probably far greater than half the people most of the time, and too many people all of the time. more...
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Earlier this year, I saw Phil Hansen speak in person (at Adobe MAX). His speech hit me profoundly. It’s a fantastic speech/story about how limitations can expand us. Definitely worth the time to watch (the video). more...
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Ends and the means: which justifies which?

Many people believe that the ends can justify the means. That if you are doing a really good thing, or stopping a really bad thing, that you can use any means to achieve or stop those ends; since the ends are or so severe. Sounds reasonable; but they are wrong. What that really says is that they want their goals so bad that they will compromise their beliefs to get there, or don't have the right beliefs in the first place. They'll probably only succeed in achieving the wrong end in the process. more...
There's many that are victims to what I call the “Envy Up” phenomenon. You can either envy people that are richer and have more things, or envy people that have less "things" but a richer life or life experiences (envy down: in economic status). more...
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Ethics of a fight: know yourself, and know others. Since nobody wins a fight, the best way to avoid loosing one, is by not getting in one. To avoid doing that you should understand your motive and theirs, understand aggression, escalation and take responsibility for your actions and even reactions. more...
Fascism is overloaded (means different things to different people/groups), with a brutal history, so no one wants to be associated with it. Thus the side that it came from is going to do everything they can to obfuscate and pretend it came from "others". But fascism is more than an ad hominem attack: we can clarify conflicting meanings, and look at real history and motives. Just know that while some of us can handle the truth, reasonable intellectuals aren't usually found on internet forums or Facebook feeds. more...
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Fights are often more mental than physical. It is a battle of wills, and an important factor is who has the most to lose. This is a reason that you don't want to corner wild animals, or wild humans. If they have no path out, then they are much tougher combatants. more...
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I tend not to think in the world as black or white, where big issues are absolutely right or wrong, good or bad. Most people are trying to do the right thing, and selectively looking at evidence to support their view (with the best of intentions). But there's still quite a few issues that are more clear -- where if you know the topic and you aren't offering the best counter-points, you either don't know them (and are a fool on the topic), or you're intentionally omitting them (and you're a fraud as an honest person). more...
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I.Q., E.Q, A.Q., and B.S.

  • What is sanity? It basically means, "being reasonable" and "normal", as judged by the masses (or "in accordance with how the majority think").
  • What is Genius? It basically means an abnormal IQ, to the point where the person is ≈1.5 times as "logical" as the average person, or basically testing beyond the 98th percentile (3rd or 4th deviation).
Do you notice any conflict between these two definitions? If you are that much smarter or different in how you think, what are the chances that you will think and perceive things the same as the "average"? The answer is, "not bloody likely". more...
This is a rambling life lesson, that I once learned, and often ignore.
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My Karate Instructor used to say, "keep the tiger behind the bamboo". The lesson being that if no one knows you or how you think/feel, it's far easier to keep the business professional and not lose customers (since they can't disagree with you, and can only imagine what you do/are). Their imagination of you, is likely more grandiose than any mundane realities, so their ignorance (and fear of the unknown) plays to your benefit. more...
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Chicken coops and society. In a hen house (chicken coop), chickens set a "pecking order" (who is the king of the roost), and who is beneath them. They also can get weird, and will see any "difference" from the norm as a "bad" thing. Weakness not only means attack by one, but sometimes by many. And any weakness or uniqueness is often responded to by a gang attack. Often chickens will not stop until the "deformed" or injured are killed, and genetic normalcy is safeguarded.

Humans are not so different. more...
Malevolent liberty is better than benevolent tyranny. A lot of this boils down to the Trolly Problem: a thought experiment in ethics that goes like this: a runaway trolley is going to kill five people tied to one set of tracks, or you can flip a level where it will go to a side track and kill one person. Which is more ethical? For me, the victims not having a say in what you do, is where much of the problem is. In Liberty, they choose. In Tyranny, you choose for them. more...
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Pacifism: when is fighting is better than the alternative? These are my thoughts. To me, the aggressor is not the one that throws the first punch, but the one who insists on fighting -- and it is not the person who won't fight because they can't win, but is the person who tries to avoid fights and exhausts all alternatives despite knowing that they would probably win. more...
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Here's a simple resolution for the new year (and every New Year): World Peace (or at least heading towards it).

While, "no war at all" is a near impossible, we could certainly strive to make the world (or at least our part of it) a better / more harmonious place. And contrary to what many will tell you, this isn't even that hard of a goal.

Q: How?
A: First, think about what causes conflict: then stop doing it. It's not rocket surgery.

Q: So what causes all conflicts?
A: One individual or group, trying to tell another, what to do and/or how to do it.

That's kind of it. You can't stop them from resisting your rules, but you can stop making them (and trying to enforce them). And if you don't try to force them into doing something they don't want to do, there's almost no conflict. more...
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There's these different meme's about perspective -- and some are true, some aren't (or are true to only a point). Yes, what angle you look at an issue, can alter what you see. But that doesn't always make it right. In the image, one sees it as a circle, the other sees it as a rectangle, and since neither are seeing the bigger picture, they mess that it is a cylinder. So many will take away the message that both are correct from their view. But both aren't correct -- both are incomplete and wrong -- the truth is bigger than either of their views. Often there needs to be room for more than one perspective, but ultimately, on many issues there's also a right and wrong. more...
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Iraq was the first preemptive war, other than the Revolutionary war, Civil War, Spanish-American, Mexican-American, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Bosnia, the first Gulf War and so on. Every war is preemptive by one side or the other, and there were almost always multiple opportunities for either side to deescalate that they chose to ignore. So "he started it", denies that you did too. The question of morality in a fight isn't who threw the first punch, but why it came to blows, and generally, one side is more justified than the other (no matter who threw the first punch). more...
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Someone dumped a large bunch of these refrigerator magnets on a white-board wall we had at work (in front of my office). For a week or two, people would put up a sentence or quip, daily. It was an amusing distraction. Then one day, I had an incredible mind moment, and wrote out a poem with the words available. It sort of spoiled it: as no one ever touched the magnet words after that. more...
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Religion is a mirror on out soul, it tells others who we are, and what we believe. more...
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Socialism have been the most tried, and most failed government system, next to it's older brother (Tyranny). There have been many, many communes (cults, utopias). Some were small (like Zoar, Ohio), others were large (USSR, China, Nazi Germany, etc). Virtually all of them ended poorly. more...
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The Broken Window Fallacy is a fundamental concept of economics (and logic) about seen advantages versus unseen costs. Henry Hazlitt summed up the art of economics as not merely looking at the immediate consequences but the longer effects of any act or policy, and tracing those consequences not merely for one group but for all groups more...
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People will tell you to "think outside the Box". I learned early on, they don't mean it. Or more often they mean "not too much outside the box". more...
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In 1949, George Orwell wrote his cautionary book titled Nineteen Eighty-Four, positing what a world would look like by the year 1984. After all, he’d seen what the trends of Socialism had done to the world around him (in England and the U.S., USSR, Germany, China, and so on). And I'm not talking about just the economic devastation, but the broader cultural intolerance, purges, revisionism and demanding conformity that is a prerequisite to enable Social ownership (and the resulting loss of individual liberty). So he just imagined and documented where the current cultural trajectory would most likely lead, if unimpeded. Sadly, while his timing was off, we're still heading in that direction. more...
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What I use to demonstrate Chi (internal energy) is called "the unbendable arm".

First without Chi: Stand upright. Extend your dominant arm out, palm up (but in a fist). Have your partner put the back of your fist on top of their shoulder, and they can rest both hands at the crook of your elbow. With every muscle in your arm tense, when they slowly pull down, they will be able to bend your arm.

Next with Chi: Stand upright. Extend your dominant arm out (on their shoulder), fingers extended, hand vertical (palm to the side), close your eyes and relax. Say, "go". Stay relaxed (only resist whatever force they're pressing on you). And as they push down, imagine your arm is steel rod extending in the distance, or a hose with energy flowing from the earth out through it. Imagine they can not bend or budge it. If you're both doing it right, they'll be unable to bend your arm. (Or at least it'll be MUCH harder).

What happened Easterers call Chi, Westerners would call body mechanics, technique and visualization. But it doesn't matter if you believe in their explanation or not, we just proved it though demonstration. more...
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People love to focus on how smart we are, and what we know. And that's fine and all. I love what we do know. But to keep one humble, it helps if you remember that there's stuff out there that we don't really know, some we understand what happens but not why it happens, and some stuff we may never really understand. A lot of this is just stuff we can't test, so can't understand. Some is stuff we can test, but still don't understand. The scientific method is great and all, but some things might be bigger than us. I'm OK with that. I'm just not OK with pretending we know things that we really don't. more...
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Every action causes a reaction. Some reactions are pleasant surprises, many are negatives, some are counter productive (perverse) and make the problem worse. Since consequences matter more than intentions, we have a social obligation to plan for them (and avoid them). The phrase is used as either a wry warning against the hubristic belief that humans can control the world around them, or more often against a really bad implementation of not-so-smart ideas or implementations. more...
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What is God? Why ask an atheist/agnostic? My short answer is going to be, "No Virginia, there isn't a God"... but my longer answer is more tolerant and agnostic. I believe in the absurd notion that "first there was nothing: then it blew up". With a view like that, I believe I have no room to criticize others beliefs. Science and Religion merge in astrophysics (since you can't run experiments or prove anything). Heck, like 90% of the Universe is supposedly (dark) matter and energy we can't see, hear, touch -- it's just variables that make our equations balance out. So I'm not trying to claim I have the only answer, just an answer that works well enough for me. more...
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If you haven't read it, I suggest you read my article "Ends and means". The point is that humans have the ability to rationalize anything, for the sake of the greater good, but it their actions are how we measure them, not the ends they achieved. That gets us into this article's point; my personal belief that "you are what you do". Your actions, and your persona are inseparable.

It doesn't matter what you think you are, or wish you were, it matters what you are doing. If you steal, for whatever reasons, then you are a thief. If you assault someone, or intimidate someone, then you are a bully. If you lie, it doesn't matter why; you are still a liar. We will always have reasons and rationalizations for our actions; but what matters is what our actions are. Your actions define who you are at a given time in your life. more...
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"You broke it, you bought it" is a bullshit (a fallacy) from the start. It makes society worse, and guarantees failure for both sides (outsiders and insiders). more...