Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tracking Our Anestors

There is an intensely interesting documentary floating around (perhaps Discovery channel) that traces the lineage of residents in Queens, NY (presumably because it is so diverse) and it is truly shocking what it reveals. In a nutshell, whereas many of us might intuitively believe our ancestry to be linked predominantly to physical features like skin color, a distinctly African, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, European, or far east-Asian look etc., this is not necessarily the case.

Because all of humanity originated in present day Ethiopia (or thereabouts), Africa actually has the most distinct and diverse populace. But they are mostly black? Yes, but many people (presumably including many racial supremacists) are closer in relation to the very people they despise and view as inferior than they are to the people they erroneously believe to be close in ancestry.

I see 2 possible ramifications that this relatively new-found knowledge will eventually have on society. 1) It will humble any feeling of racial superiority and supremacy and give us less reason to hate those simply because they are different (or at least appear so) or 2) it will so humiliate and infuriate the supremacists to learn of this that they will eliminate themselves from the gene pool!

Either way, racial superiority in the not too distant future should (my use of should as opposed to will is very deliberate because I am very cynical) become a thing of the past.

Just Damn!

I read an article by a technology guru (CEO of Nvidia) and he predicts GPU + CPU processing power (graphical processing units and central processing units together) will increase by 570 times in the next six years! Mind you, not 570% which is a tad under 6 times. 570 times! Do a search on GPU 570 times if you are interested!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oh Mighty One, Who Is The Fairest Of All?

Suppose 10 lonely guys faithfully seeking God are pursuing the same female. If the female's chosen suitor is in any way orchestrated by God, on what basis could He possibly make this decision? If God bases it on anything other than the fact that the chosen suitor is the best match for her, we might suggest He is personal to him, perhaps because he is the most God-fearing of the lot, something or other.

But by being personal to him, it seems His decision becomes less than ideal and potentially even disastrous for the poor girl. For God has chosen this suitor not because he is the best match for her, but because he is the most faithful to Him. Thus, God's personal act bestowed on this suitor creates an inferior relationship because they are not properly matched. And all this at the behest of wonderful God!

On the other hand, if God bases His decision on the fact that this suitor is the best match for her, then this will create a healthy relationship sure to last a lifetime. But this decision does not seem personal to anybody. God simply orchestrated the best possible match based solely on compatibility. One would obviously be wise to question why this would not just as easily happen without God?

What is my point in all of this? That it seems to be a silly waist of time asking God to intervene in a personal way in our affairs. The proper suitor will, or at least should, find his soul mate based purely on compatibility, not by praying and pleading to God relentlessly. Project this onto countless other circumstances in life.

For instance, take job hunting. One will, or once again should, get a job based on qualification and personality, not by praying and pleading to God for a job that a bunch of militant atheists are much better qualified for. If God is in the business of discriminating against much better qualified atheists simply because they are atheists, many companies will be left to deal with faithful yet less than ideal employees. I fail to see how this would make God good except possibly to the faithful that are ill-equipped to get a job based on qualification and personality alone.

I now feel compelled to ask God a question from one of my most beloved movies which He is no doubt familiar with (Office Space). "You should ask yourself...for every decision you make, is this good for the company? Am I helping with the company's strategic vision?”

What If All Of Society's Leeches Got Jobs?

What might happen to our capitalistic society if, as its most vociferous followers steadfastly desire, all the “low-lifes” and other dregs of society were to get their acts together by focusing on education and vocation as opposed to idleness and mischief? It would create a more competitive landscape placing downward pressure on wages and pay, all things being equal. So the trade-off might induce lower welfare outlays but this in turn would create decreasing wages and pay. So there might be little effect on net pay.

For instance, if one earns $80/hour and is taxed for $25 of it, his take home pay is $55/hour. However, if the “low-lifes” and other dregs involved themselves in the civilized affairs of society (i.e. got jobs), perhaps taxes could decrease by $10 (due to decreased welfare outlays) but the downward pressure put on wages and pay due to the “low-lifes” and other dregs getting involved in the economy would likely drag the hourly wage to $70/hour. In which case, the net effect on take home pay is $0. Taxes are lower but so is gross pay.

Perhaps psychologically people feel they are being “cheated” less if their take home pay is closer to their gross pay? Apart from this, however, there is no quantitative difference. $70/hour is $70/hour. This is overly simplistic to be sure, but the point of my argument is that a balanced and well functioning society seems to necessitate 3 distinct classes being present, this being a high, middle and low one. We should never hope for anything but this.

To many this seems unfortunate and depressing. But I did not author the nature of reality. I am but one of its messengers! To summarize, all 3 classes complement the functionality of the whole. One must remember that when attempting to “perfect” something as complicated as a society comprised of millions and billions of citizens, there will be innumerable unwanted and unforeseen consequences. This is why from a very reflective perspective, I think it wise to accept many things just as they are.

This comes across very pessimistic to many, understandably, but not heeding this principle simply gives the “advocates of change” something to feel self-righteous and superior about of which in actuality there is no superior method of dealing with complex issues like this because they are all of them fraught with difficult and oftentimes painful trade-offs! This will not be at all obvious to those that identify with one and only one perspective.

However, it becomes readily apparent when one looks beyond his single perspective. Remember, truth is not a product of one perspective. It is an amalgam of oftentimes opposing perspectives!

Adversity Is Bad, But Good Too

“We finally did it, dammit! We finally found the long sought after cure for cancer once and for all!” Then a look of sheer terror overcomes Dr. Rosenberg as if he just shat in his pants. “Oh no! How can I ever expect to pay off my $500,000 in medical school debt without a cancer-stricken patient to treat?”

This seems to be the inevitable ramification of a world no longer vulnerable to calamities such as cancer. Extrapolate this onto every ill of society. Where would we be without them? This is hard to accept, especially if you or perhaps one of your beloved is stricken with some hideous malady. But it is an unfortunate necessity in a reality where the greatest of all needs revolves not around any particular individual but around a collective One, that which we might call Life.

Those that succumb to the most cruel tragedies are what we could call “collateral damage”. If one were to imagine all of life's ills forever eradicated, how would we bide our time? Twiddling our thumbs? Is this activity not pathetically below humanity's untameable spirit? How would we ever satiate our penchant, nay our lust, for victory and accomplishment without continual opportunities to defeat adversity?

Selling Ourselves

As we “progress” technologically, it seems we are forfeiting our individual identities. To what? An enormous, impersonal “pattern” of collective behavior which capitalism preys on with reckless abandon.

On the one hand, this seems to lend itself very well to efficiently and effectively addressing consumer demands thus maximizing each individual's utility. On the other, it seems to relegate us to that of mere machines whose only purpose is to produce and consume "stuff", lacking a distinct “human” element of individuality and identity. 

One of my concerns with regression analyses to determine consumer preferences deals with free-will. If a given analysis determines that it is likely I will make a certain choice and interferes in my life in such a way as to test this prediction, might this interference itself compel me to choose it*? In this case, it seems this prediction becomes self-fulfilled prophesy.

If so, is my free-will really free?

*Perhaps this is a nice corollary to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle?

Extremism's Different Faces

What typically becomes of so many “centrist” viewpoints? They become extreme in themselves within a supposedly moderate viewpoint.

In other words, because what is thought to be “moderate” can entail innumerable views, oftentimes people become so identified with their moderate view(s) that they fail to acknowledge other moderate views in turn creating the same kind of extreme views of which extremists are accused.