Sunday, September 2, 2012

Logic and Religion

Organized religion: what is it doing here? How does it fit into our modern world? Does it even matter? (Note: the following paragraphs may contain gross generalizations. Also, for the purpose of this writing, i'm leaving the various cans of religion flavored worms closed - violence, corruption, oppression. I realize every sin that exists has, at some point, been committed in the name of religion, but you can read about that anywhere.)

Let's take a moment to consider why religion exists. Think about this: it's the middle ages, you're born in a small village, you grow up among adults who were born in the same small village. They haven't seen the outside world, and you probably never will either: there's too much work to be done at home - work upon which your very survival depends. That's right, no going to Paris for the weekend, no vacations in Iceland - Paris is weeks away by foot, and there are too many Vikings in Iceland.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zombies and Vampires - Why we love them

In recent years, we've seen a deluge of undead on our screens: from the (more or less) biologically explained 28 Days Later, to the more supernatural True Blood. Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Zombieland, Let the Right One In, and many others have swarmed all over our screens.

Let The Right One In - The sweetest vampire film i've ever seen.

Why are they so popular?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spiders and Snakes

Australia: The land of deadly spiders and snakes... everything wants to kill you! Or does it?

Redback Spiders

Look at that huge abdomen; the telltale hourglass shaped red marking; those spindly legs - that is one evil motherfucker. Sound pretty damn dangerous?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

I'm going to get straight to the point: the internet is a magnifying glass for the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Many of you may know what this is; basically, it's an effect observed in a study conducted by Justin Kruger and David Dunning at Cornell University. Basically, the idea is that incompetent people will overestimate the level of their skill, and underestimate that of others. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fate and Opportunity

Something that i seem to hear a lot is that something was "meant to be". The idea is that fate, or some other guiding force, has caused a positive event in your life. I can certainly see why this idea is so appealing, but i don't really agree with it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Opinions are so hot right now

Who doesn't have an opinion?

Maybe it has something to do with the company i keep, or with the fact that anyone can post anything on the web (it's like a giant global conversation where people can say anything they like and not worry about looking stupid), but it seems like everyone has strong opinions on everything... lest they be called a fence-sitter.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Knowing what we don't know.

Ok, so what do Aboriginal dreamtime stories and the theory of relativity have in common?

Both come from Man's desire to explain the world we live in.

It seems that humankind has done this since we developed language, at very least. An Australian Aboriginal dreamtime story tells of how the sun came to be, fulfilling a need to explain day and night. Many cultures developed their own various theories of a flat earth, feeding a desire to know more about the world around us. Leeches were once commonly used in medicine, as humankind tried to discover how to maintain and heal our bodies.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Miswanting and (Misfearing)

What do you want right now? What would make you happy?

Think about it.

According to a study by psychologists from Harvard, the University of Virginia and Princeton, it might not make you as happy as you think.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dolan and Dadaism

There's a meme-based webcomic floating around the internet called Dolan. It consists of poorly drawn Disney characters speaking broken english (possibly because it originated on a Finnish image board). It's generally centered around Donald Duck, with his named misspelt as "Dolan". In these comics, Dolan is often seen raping, murdering, and defecating in peoples' food. Below is one of the more tame comics.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Good evening folks. Now sometimes i hear people say that they're not enjoying their life, or that they don't really enjoy living. I don't really agree with this because i think they're focusing on the wrong thing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Weird Phrases

Good evening chaps and chapettes. There's an old, but still commonly used phrase that's been eating away at me for a while, and i need to get it off my chest:

"To have your cake, and eat it too"

I know what it means; something along the lines of having the best of both sides of a decision, and none of the negatives; but it just seems so... inappropriate. For one thing, what is the point of having cake, if not to eat it? It would have to be a really beautiful cake for me to enjoy possessing it as much as i enjoyed eating it. For me, to have cake IS to eat it.

I suppose the rebuttal to this would be "ah, but then you won't have the cake anymore, hence the benefit of the 'have your cake' half of the phrase". At the risk of sounding like Marie Antoinette, JUST GET MORE CAKE! There is a finite supply of cake in the world, but you would never be able to eat that much without getting sick of it.

So in summary, it is a stupid phrase because cake holds very little value except when eaten. Perhaps a more appropriate phrase would be "To have your cute baby lamb and eat it too".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Money is Time

I was doing my tax last week, and i mentioned daily budgets. My tax preparer said that when she looks at what she's spent on a given day, she can recall exactly what she did that day. I offhandedly remarked that our lives are punctuated by transactions. She laughed and said "that's really sad, isn't it?".

I didn't go into any further detail because 1) i was shocked at how much tax i had to pay, and 2) neither of us had alcoholic beverages in our hands. However, i don't think it's just buying things that punctuates our lives, it's everything. That may seem like an obvious statement, but let me explain...

A while ago, i had a class on a Russian film maker by the name of Tarkovsky. We were talking about the way he uses motion in his shots to give them a rhythm of their own. This led to discussion about what guides our perception of time. I think there are so many ways in which this can influence us, that it's hard to talk in absolutes. For example, if we have a day at work where different tasks are constantly being thrown at us, it can seem to fly by - both at the time, and in hindsight. On the other hand, if we have a day off work and sit around all day, that time can also seem to fly past. However, if we're anticipating an event, that is when time can seem to drag on forever.

So basically, our perception of time is punctuated by things happening. Anything at all. This seems to apply over the long term as well. Many people say that, as you get older, the years go by faster. I think this is because you stop doing new things. When i was 22, i worked at a supermarket and drank a lot. A couple of years went by just like that. I spent another couple of years after that doing a Masters degree. This also involved a lot of drinking but, because i was learning new things, those 2 years seem so long in my memory.

The conclusion i get from this is that we need to keep doing new things if we want to feel like we've had long lives. The day in/day out stuff doesn't count is hard to avoid, but it's important to mix things up whenever you can.

And if it's the spending of money that helps you measure your time, it's better than nothing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In Between

Have you ever had a really profound thought in that spacey area between wakefulness and sleep? Here's one i had:

I was walking up some stairs with some industry idols of mine, but once we got near the top, i was unable to pass the top few stairs. So i was left there, and became one of the top stairs.

I woke up with this thought: some of us are bound to be top stairs - not quite at the level we want to be, and constantly walked over by others on their way to the top.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"I don't know" is an answer

This is something that bothers me: when pressed for my views on religion, i have to describe myself as agnostic. This bothers me because i feel that people have a general view of agnostics as fence-sitters unwilling to commit to one side or the other. When i examine my beliefs however, i don't find any kind of indecision or non-committal.

This my point - Christians believe in God; Muslims believe in Allah; Buddhists believe in Nirvana; Atheists believe there is no God or other higher power. Personally, i don't want to believe, i want to know. All of the above mentioned religious/non-religious demographics can offer up arguments of various degrees, but can any prove themselves to be 100% correct? While many would say Atheism, with the help of science, can; i would say that it may come close, but there's always that miniscule degree of uncertainty. Do Atheists know there is no god? Or is believe a more appropriate term? I am just fine with anyone believing what they want; but i think it's arrogant to assume others will take up your beliefs over their own.

I don't feel the need to believe or disprove anything to anyone. Personally, i'm happy to try to discover the best ways to live, and to appreciate people regardless of what they might believe. And my rejection of the need for belief is anything but indecisive.

New York City

I moved to New York City about 3 years ago and i've since noticed that, amongst people you meet, there seems to be a general sense of self centred-ness. I know this is the stereotype for New Yorkers - fast talking, no bullshit, opportunistic survivalists. I don't like stereotypes, so i tried very hard to disprove it for myself. However, after these 3 years, i have to say that the stereotype is fairly accurate in general. I do realise that there some lovely New Yorkers who will go out of their way to help you, but the "me-first" attitude is still very common.

I was wondering why this is, and i was reminded of a wounded animal. A wounded animal can growl and snap at anyone who comes near, out of a basic instinct for survival. I thought, perhaps, the chaos, noise and immensity of this city is threatening to us humans, on a subconscious level. Maybe the selfish New Yorker stereotype is a kind of survival instinct. Maybe we're all just wounded animals walking around with our defenses up.

On the other hand, maybe New York is more like the Amazon: a vast and complex eco system, highly dangerous for anyone who doesn't know their place, where a naive newcomer can easily be eaten, poisoned, or go hungry.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Time and Sleep

Good evening chaps and chappettes. Tonight, my topic of thought is time.

If our perception of time is determined by individual events that happen within that time (more, and varied, events making time seem longer), then sleep is the enemy of feeling like you've lived a long life. However, lack of sleep will take away the quality of your waking hours.

So, is there a ratio of waking:sleeping hours that is an ideal balance? Maybe it's the old 8 hours that we're always told about. Maybe it's less. I have had some terrible days on 10 hours' sleep, and some hilarious days on 5. Perhaps the key is variation, although we're told that our body doesn't like that.

Tonight, i believe, calls for at least 10 hours. It's been a long week.

Good night folks!

Junk Philosophy

Hi there! I didn't see you come in.

Sometimes i think things. Well, actually i think things most of the time. Although sex does tend to be better if i'm not thinking things...

Anyway, what better place to air my weird and mundane on-the-spot ideas than the world wide web? Where strangers can heckle me, worship me, or post links to sites that earned their brother in law's wife $3000 last month doing 30 minutes of work a day.

That's all i have time for now, but i'll be sure to post some more whenever that little speck of gold shows up in the dirty stream that is my mind.

You take care now, and enjoy your afternoon.