Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Archive for June 2008

Simple Political Philosophy : Change

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Edit: Added One Video.

changepx7 

 

The casts – Number 1 Japanese heartthrob actor Takuya Kimura and number 1 supporting actor Abe Hiroshi (my personal favourite japanese actor. extremely funny and witty. i never miss any shows he is in).

So as usual, i will throw in some cool philosophies from the TV series mixed with my own philosophy (just like how i did several post ago with the manga Pluto).

Plot:

Asakura Keita (guy in middle of picture) is a well liked school teacher who lives in a simple and contented life. One day, his father pass away and he was pressured by his family to succeed his father as a politician. Initially Keita has no interest in the world of politics. However, at Miyami Rika’s (second from left in the picture) persuasion and the pressure of his family, he reluctantly decides to announce his candidacy. Nirasawa Katsutoshi (second from right) became his main election strategist to help boost Keita’s PR (public relations) ratings and popularity. From there on, he became famous (due to this youth and looks) and is well-liked by the ladies, kids and younger generations. He was then voted in and became a representative for a district in the parliament.

Not long after he holds the representative post, the Prime Minister of Japan resigned due to allegations of sexual harassment and corruption. Citizen of Japan is starting to lose confidence with the ruling political party, Seiyu and starting to support the opposition party.  An extremely influential and cunning senior minister Kanbayashi-san (far left) decides to install the amateurish minister Asakura Keita as the succeeding Prime Minister of Japan. This is due to Keita’s celebrity popularity which is seen to be effective in gaining back the confidence of the citizen with Seiyu which reputation is eroding. Kanbayashi-san thought he could make Keita as a puppet with him pulling the strings from behind and kicked Keita out once the time is right to self-crown himself as the new Prime Minister.

Asakura Keita make decisions by using common sense and human value which contradicts many established thoughts and ideas in politics.  He is a modest and humble man who do not understand the value of power and shoe-polishing relations. Kanbayashi-san has underestimated Asakura Keita’s ability and is proven to be more capable than anyone thought. Once Asakura Keita seems out of Kanbayashi-san control, he has decided to reform the cabinet in order to overthrow Asakura Keita by force.

Philosophy:

1. Asakura Keita was pressured by the cabinet not to admit a mistake made by the government of a dam construction which has killed many fishes in a fishing village. If he admit mistake, there will be a few problems – One the government has to compensate a huge amount of money to the village. Two once they admit their mistake, the ruling party will risk to pay more compensation in the future to other similar cases and Three Asakura Keita will make many enemies with other senior ministers for opposing their views.  Onoda-sensei, a senior minister ‘advised’ Asakura Keita not to fuss about a small problem.

Asakura Keita then said, “28 out of 35 fishermen are already unemployed. For them, it’s already life and death. I think it’s a problem to ‘fuss’ about. Isn’t it common sense to pay for our own mistakes? Is the State greater than the citizen who lives in a normal life? Are the Ministers greater?”

The government is supposed to represent and serve the citizen. However,  many ministers have lost such aspirations once they join politics because of over-indulgence in politics blinded by fame, money and power.  Not only that, many times the government also lose their directions by focusing only on big billion dollars mega-projects such as infrastructure, constructions and technology. Asakura Keita on the other hand insist that human welfare should always be the main priority because human life itself is the most fundamental aspect of a country.

As the story develops, Onoda-sensei became a staunch supporter of Asakura Keita because he reminds him of his younger days.

2. Asakura Keita engaged in a debate with two other candidates who threw in many complicated jargons, amendments and complex scenarios which confused Asakura who does not really understand politics.

Asakura then asked “Can you explain it to me like i’m a fifth grade student?”. He was laughed by the candidates.

“It’s true that i don’t know much about politics. But i’m closer to the people who are watching on the TV. And I don’t think they can understand the content of the debate.”

A minister should have a normal citizen’s perspective to see from their point of view. But many ministers have separated themselves from other normal people and see themselves as one level higher. Once the common point of view is lost, people no longer feel connected with the government.

3. Harry Bingham, the Trade and Commerce Representatives of United States has pressured Asakura Keita of agreeing with US’ demand to increase Japan’s import of American agricultural by 20%. Asakura Keita refused because the import will affect the local farmers income. Harry Bingham then intimidated Asakura Keita by saying that his answer could be an invitation to conflict with USA.

Asakura Keita said, “I have to protect this country’s interest. But you’re also thinking of your own country’s interest, aren’t you? Of course, we’ll clash. But i don’t think fighting over this agreement will benefit either country. If you’re determined to do this, i won’t step down. I am the Prime Minister, and i have the responsibility to protect Japan’s citizen.”

“I’m sorry for being arrogant. I used to be a grade school teacher. I was in charge of the fifth graders and they fight quite often. When those problems arise, i would always tell them … ‘Let’s Think’… You’re in the same class, so when there’s something you don’t like or not satisfied of, then tell them properly. When we think thoroughly, we will realize that …” said Asakura Keita before being interrupted by Bingham, “That we are the same and should understand each other?”

Asakura Keita continues, “No. We will realize that we’re Different…. Since we think we are all alike, we get mad when we get contradicted. When someone acts differently, we will think ‘what the heck?’. That’s when fighting and bullying begin. But no two people are alike. Everyone thinks differently and has different situations. That’s why i wanted them to understand that they’re different from each other. After that, think of what words to use so that their feelings will reach out and convince each other. I think political diplomacy is like that too. Like you’ve mentioned, we are all allies, but US and Japan are different.”

At the end, Bingham was impressed with Asakura Keita and called him ‘an amazing boss’.

4. “Our society has rules and you must follow these rules. And all these rules are written by intelligent people. What does it mean? These rules are written by intelligent people and they make use of them. Since ignorant people can’t understand these rules, there will be hidden things. That means, these rules will continue to serve these intelligent people well. For example, taxes,  salaries, insurance, law and allocations. All these intelligent people will continue to make them incomprehensible. And ignorant people will only have to try to understand the meanings and get cheated not knowing what’s happening in politics. Ignorant people will continue to believe that only intelligent people can handle politics.” Sakuragi from Dragon Zakura.

5. In a political world where two opposing political parties clashes, there are many disagreements just for the sake of disagreeing. The ruling party will disagree with the Oppositions views and vice versa. Conforming with other side’s opinion is a taboo and is seen as weak.

Asakura Keita wants to set an allocation budget to raise more pediatrician but meets a lot of resistance from his own party because the Opposition party has a similar agenda. Since his own party refuse to support him, so the only way the budget to get approve is to have the opposition to support him and vote for the draft. In order to get a supplementary budget draft approved in the parliament, Asakura Keita pleaded with Noro-sensei, the Opposition leader, to vote for his draft.

Noro-sensei asked  “Are you betraying your own party by joining hands with the Opposition? Or are you trying to win us over? Our goal is a political power shift, so why should i support you?”

Asakura Keita replied “You said that the lack of pediatrician is an important issue that should be addressed immediately, right? I also want to solve that. Or were you lying?”

Noro-sensei : “Prime Minister, you don’t seem to know much about politics, do you?”

Asakura Keita : “Yes, you’re right. I still don’t understand it. But i know that right now, this country lacks pediatricians, and because of that, kids are hospitalized due to their illness being discovered late. I also know that if i don’t do something now, it will never be solved. Somehow, i understand the importance of political and party faction, but if that becomes a hindrance for the cooperation between people who share the same idea …. then that’s simply strange and not right.”

At the end of the episode Noro-sensei grown to like Asakura Keita because they share the same vision.

6. It’s amazing that all these ‘common sense’ is not applicable in the real world of politics which is already diluted by human’s greed, desire and intolerance. Anyhow, i think the number one issue is always – Trust.

7.

 

PS: This series is still on-going, so i will add more soon.

PPS:  You have to  watch this TV series to truly appreciate the essence of the inspiration behind all these, because the Japanese translations alone is not perfect.

Written by elan85

June 24, 2008 at 2:24 am

Posted in Philosophy

Subconscious Survival

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A MEGA POST! Combining several scientific areas into one! In writing mood! RaWR~

Often, male tend to judge a female based on her outer appearance. What is the usual criteria of a beautiful woman to a man? They are usually long healthy hair, smooth and good skin texture, and nice curvy body. There’s always a reason behind this. But before we get into such psychological situation let’s look at the basics of how our biological body works first.

How The Body Maintain Itself.

Our body constantly self-rejuvenate by repairing and maintaining cells in our body. For instance we change our stomach lining every week once and we change our kidney every 3 weeks once (basically, every single cells in the mentioned organs will be totally replaced by new cells every few weeks). Our body usually rejuvenate perfectly for the first 25 years of our life but things will start to slide down once we are beyond 25 years old. That’s basically when we start to age or get old. Why do we age?

There’s a component called as ‘Telomeres’ in our cells which get shorter every time a particular cell splits. In other words, it will someday reach a point when the cell can no longer divide itself anymore. When we reach the age of 25-30, that will be the equilibrium stage where cells rejuvenation is balanced with the demand of the body. However, once you pass this age stage, the demand will start to overwhelm supply and gradually, certain part of the body will have to be neglected from being 100% rejuvenated. As more and more years pass by, more and more cells will not be able to be maintained and rejuvenated.  So, imagine if your skin is not rejuvenated properly, that’s when you will wrinkle. Imagine if your heart is not rejuvenated properly, that’s when you will be vulnerable to heart diseases. Same goes for other organs. Combine all these factors together, that’s the reason why a person’s body gets weaker as we age.

(The irony – if you exercise a lot, you will live healthier but not necessary longer because you damage your body faster when doing heavy workouts which will push your body to replace more cells. People who lived beyond 100 years old are usually the ones who have healthy diet and do not do much heavy exercising, hence explaining why most of the oldest people around the world are usually females.)

If a person has a disease, let’s say kidney or heart disease, the body will automatically focus all its attention on the damaged organ and repair it to prolong the life of the victim to ensure a possibility of survival. Since the resources of self-rejuvenation is limited, hence the lesser important organs will be neglected which are .. you might guess it right – the hair and skin (some sort of priority hierarchy. The vital organs are the primary priority while skin and hair are secondary in priority). In other words, when a person has a disease, his/her skin or hair will not be in top conditions due to the way of how our body works.

The Subconscious Trick

Many times, we ask ourselves, what is life’s ultimate goal or what is the purpose of our life. According to science, especially from biological point of view, our goal just like other animals and plants, is to reproduce or copulate to pass on the genes, creating offspring and ensuring the survival of species. Therefore, subconsciously, we will want to have the best partner to share our genes with each other to create offspring. It’s not surprising, we will always want to look for a healthy partner.

Hence, if a girl has a beautiful skin and hair, that subconsciously will tell the man that she is a healthy lady which in turn, make him consciously to be interested with her. If a girl does not have healthy skin, it subconsciously implies that either she is not really healthy or she is old, and a guy will less likely to be consciously interested because she will not be an ideal partner to create an offspring together.

(It’s common that a guy sometimes can’t explain why he is interested with his girl. It’s an unexplainable feeling. The reason is simple – because it has all been worked out by the subconscious mind.)

Needlessly to say, a guys obsession with a girls body (breast, hip and butt) is subconsciously due to her ability to carry the baby for 9 months (and beyond).

From here, you will get the idea that our subconscious and conscious mind are speaking two different languages yet they are still strongly linked with each other. (Freud and Jung said that dream is basically a way of how the subconscious mind try to communicate with us albeit in a semi-conscious way. That’s the reason why we have to interpret them properly.)

If the subconscious and conscious mind do not share the same form of language together, wouldn’t it be easy to fool our subconscious mind? For example – girls using make-up and push-up bras. We consciously know that girls ‘enhanced’ themselves, yet we are still attracted to them. That’s because our subconscious interpreted things wrongly, hence – fooled. I will illustrate to you another example of how our subconscious mind is fooled.

The ‘Healthy’ Food We Eat

Imagine you are living thousand years ago searching for food in the jungle. How do you know which food can be put into your mouth and eaten especially when you come across unknown fruits? You do not know, but most likely you will want to taste it first. Instinctively, you know (subconsciously) that an edible and healthy food is usually have some distinctive characteristics. Perhaps it will be sweet or fresh or crispy or juicy or tender. Whatever it is.

If the fruit smells bad, or taste bitter, basically anything which is counter-intuitive to a good food, that’s when we will most likely throw the fruit away. That’s how our subconscious mind interpret things to ensure we only put in healthy food into our stomach and prevent poisoning ourselves. (Even if we get poisoned, we have another mechanism to remove the poison from our body which is having a Diarrhea and defecate. Great wonder how the body works.)

However, in the modern times today, many food producers has ‘fooled’ our subconscious mind by introducing various form of ‘delicious’ unhealthy food such as chocolate, ice-cream, soft drinks, junk food, etc.

These form of food work really well to satisfy our taste bud and fooled our subconscious mind by making it thinking that we are consuming good food. But as we know, they are not healthy if frequently consumed. The fooled subconscious mind is not aware of that and keep encouraging people to eat more of those food because it thought the body is consuming healthy food…. just like how guys are attracted to girls on make-up and nice little tight outfit.

This is the way how our minds work by default. Of course, the extent of defining what’s beauty or good food may vary different from environment to environment but .. i hope you get the idea how our mind and body work together.

Written by elan85

June 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Science, Intelligent Design & Anti Intellectual.

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Brian Greene on Colbert’s Report

Kenneth Miller on Colbert’s Report.

 

  • Anti-intellectuals deny Evolution not because of rational thinking but rather the fact that it threatens their pride and beliefs. If you are rational and not biased, you will realize Evolution comes very naturally and is the truth for origin of life. It is as natural as how physics and chemistry work. You don’t think gravity is a force exerted by a God hidden in the center of the earth. We know gravity is a natural force which govern the planets and stars in the universe. So how is Evolution not a natural force which govern the life of beings? It is science. It is all the same.
  • Charles Darwin was not praised blindly by intellectuals because he proposed an idea which against God. He was praised because he was the first person who accumulated huge amount of data and conveyed comprehensively on how Evolution works. That’s how science works. That’s not how (irrational) faith works.
  • Kenneth Miller believes that Evolution and God are compatible. So it goes back to the question – Does God exist? Frankly, i don’t know despite my inclination to believe that this is 100% a natural world. But the God’s existence is not the main issue here. It is Evolution. Forget the question about God for a moment … we all know Evolution is a Truth and it is happening all the time.
  • Faith is Dead. Rationality lives on.

Written by elan85

June 18, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Direct-Causal Link

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I take great interest in Evolutionary Psychology recently and spent some time thinking of this topic. It is basically about how Evolution and Psychology are linked.

One of the many Evolutionary behaviour we have is perceiving things in a direct-causal manner – to see Cause and Effect as directly linked. This behaviour is important as a part of human being’s mechanism for survival and also to navigate around the world. Imagine you are walking in the jungle and then you see a tiger. What will be your first instinctive reaction? Obviously, it is to run away or else you will be eaten up, your mind tells you. When we see the sky is looming with heavy cloud and accompanied by faint thunder, what does that tell us? We instinctively know it will rain soon and that means it is time to seek shelter.

This simple yet effective behaviour has ensured the survival of human being from many years ago until to this very day. But it has also its downside – our lack of ability to see the big picture or think deep.

When i was in my teenage years, i often watch animal documentaries on Discovery Channel and National Geographic Special. In one of the episodes which showed endangered animals, I asked myself, to what extent the extinction of tigers or elephants will affect us? Since our daily life do not revolve around these wild animals, so what if they go extinct? Humanity will live on and nothing bad will happen to us, right?

That was my mistake of seeing things in a direct-causal way. I was not aware at the time that i only have a simple mind while attempting to understand the world’s complexity.

Yes, everyone of us have a simple mind trying to understand the complex world. If you are not aware of that, you better do.

Back to the tigers, the potential disappearance of big cats will affect us… big time. If the tigers go extinct, that means their prey, whether it is deer, antelope, bull, wild boar, etc. will grow exponentially because there’s no natural predator to keep the herbivore population in check. Hence, sooner or later, these cute little creatures will flood the jungle and they will pose two problems.

1. There will be a shortage of food – eg. grass, plants, vegetables because the demand overwhelm the supply. Therefore, it might force the herbivore animals out of the jungle and invade human areas (rural area or small town) in order to look for food. These animals will very likely to destroy human’s farm/garden/plantation and will cause a series of chain reaction (eg. shortage of food for village). And secondly …

2. Should these animals bear diseases with them, they may very likely spread it to domesticated animals (cow or goat). Hence, when human eat the meat of the infected animals, in turn, human will be the victim. And this will potentially turn into a global epidemic.

(Many years ago, Spain visited South America as part of their world conquest. When they first arrived, they spread a disease which wiped out numerous tribal groups in the region. The reason being – there are certain virus/bacteria which the Spanish have already adept over the years in their country but the South American tribes have not encountered it before. Hence, once the tribal people were exposed to these virus/bacteria, their body couldn’t adept to it and a local epidemic took place.)

So, you see, the point here is that the world do not operate as straight forward as we instinctively thought so. Nature work like a domino effect or a chain reaction. An event will trigger another series of unforeseeable events. That’s the reason why, not everyone is good at Chess or Sudoku which requires multi-step thinking (basically to think several steps ahead). Human being are only comfortable doing one or two steps thinking, because this the only thing matter to our survival. We don’t need to be an Einstein to survive the rough times. We just need to behave instinctively and life will go on. This is psychology… Evolutionary psychology.

Due to this very same ‘bad habit’ of human being, we often use divine power to justify world mysteries. How could something possibly happen from nothing? There must be someone who is responsible for all these mysteries, they believe. Thousands years ago, people could not explain lightning, hence they believed a God called Thor or Zeus were behind the cloud summoning it. Not surprisingly today, we are still using the same old divine power argument to justify higher level of mysteries such as the origin of humanity and universe.

This is because we are still engaging in one or two steps thinking or direct-causal mind set. A typical Jane or Joe do not ‘get it’ when you tell them that life and universe is a series of complicated chain reaction. They believe that God creating human being is common sense while life evolve itself is not because it is ‘unthinkable’.

Just because your brain couldn’t comprehend complexity, it doesn’t mean that simple answer must be right. And no, this does not contradict Occam’s Razor if you understand what i’m trying to say.

Life itself is a product of ‘scientific chain reaction’. Basically, chemical reaction … or convergence of physics + chemistry + biology + etc. I do not know how to describe it properly with words. So, you have to figure it out yourself…

Written by elan85

June 13, 2008 at 3:00 am

Posted in Evolution, Psychology

As Small As the Universe.

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As part of my daily thought exercise, i occasionally allow myself to think about some outrageous ideas of how things work. And i got a little thought of how a universe could work.

Don’t take this idea seriously as i don’t believe i could ever justify it.

I believe atom is made up of universe.

What is my body made off? Atoms.

What are atoms made off? Sub-atomic particles – proton, neutron and electron.

What is inside sub-atomic particles? Quarks.

And what is inside quarks? The most popular theory at the moment is string theory. It says atoms is made up of tiny strings, indivisible matter which curls up, hiding several dimensions that we could never see and measure. And these hidden dimensions could be the key to parallel world/universe.

But i have an alternative idea. I believe that instead of string, a quark contain a whole universe inside it. The universe is basically the basis of an atom.

Hence, i believe should there be a day when we could go beyond the boundary of the universe, we will only discover more and more universes. If we go further and further, we will discover billions and trillions more of universes. And all these universes work together in unison to form an entity, such as a human being.

Basically, my body and your body are the host for multi-trillions of universes at any given single moment. These universe will be the source of energy to allow atoms to behave as it is in quantum mechanics. And in turn, our universe will be part of other entity in another dimension.

It could possibly work just like rain. The cloud is condensed and water pour down from the sky, then the sun heat and evaporate water to form back the cloud. It has no start and end. Just a repetitive cycle of ‘reincarnation’.

PS: I got this idea while i contemplated the arts of the legendary artist M.C. Escher. A queer world which is ruled by infinite regression.

stairs

escher-waterfall

Written by elan85

June 9, 2008 at 1:23 am

Posted in Random