Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Humility (Kamran K): A "gut check" on Modern Hubris

(1) No matter where one turns one finds almost universal consensus that we now live in a modern moment representing astonishing advancement from the "way things were" a mere 30 or 50 years ago. When the comparison is extended to the early 1900 or 1800s, the descriptions of our collective "advancement" from these more primitive times expands to include even greater exaggeration.

(2) Quite little of this modern hubris has been earned and remains justified. The next four paragraphs will discuss the main reasons why the modern moment does not- in fact-represent any meaningful advancement whatsoever from humanity's condition in say 1980 or 1950 or even 1900.

(3) Access to most modern advancements remain outside the economic "reach" of the overwhelming majority of the globe's working men and women. With the exception of cheap smartphones, internet, and TVs, almost all modern advancements of note involve the expenditure of large amounts of money that working men and women simply don't have. At best, working men and women must dig deeper into debt to have but limited access to a modern advancement (of generally inferior quality) here and there. Fueled by deceptive and often false marketing, working men and women have (for decades) been chasing the dream that these "revolutionary" products supposedly offer only to discover that they've been left deeper in debt for doing so.

(4) Many modern advancements are, simply put, pains in the neck when the matter is considered honestly and in its totality. Consider, for example, the oft-cited example of the miracle of modern airplane travel. One can, it is put, "miraculously jump" from one part of the globe to another in 14 or 17 hours. This is true but does not "tell the whole story." this process not one HUGE pain-in-the-ass? Does it not involve a whole slew of fees and expenses one would rather not pay, and literally hundreds of inconveniences that one would rather not encounter? Does anyone enjoy getting to the airport three hours early, sitting in a cramped airline seat for hours upon end, jostled about in this tiny seat by air turbulence as one smells the body odor of a total stranger, waiting in a standing position at baggage claim for one's luggage, paying airport prices (read 3 times normal prices) for dull and unremarkable chicken salads and turkey sandwiches, enduring various delays and transition flights in airports that are confusing in their layout and chaotic in their freneticness?

What about the marvel of modern medicine? How easy is it to access these marvels? Even if one does achieve access, is it not the case that one usually has to bear a whole host of burdens to do so? Do not many drugs involve side effects one would rather do without? Do they actually cure rather than simply band-aid things over for a few days or weeks?

(5) Many modern advancements are simply advancements in size and technical power without corresponding enhancements in aesthetics or overall product design. Today's McMansions and huge SUVs are no doubt bigger and more powerful than the cars that roamed the roads in the 1950s and 1960s. But most artistic professionals have condemned these creations as lacking any artistic value or sense. From an overall design perspective, there is hardly anything in these things that represent a material design advancement from the way cars and large homes were made 30 to 50 years back.

(6) The evidence is absolutely overwhelming that modern advancements of all types are not generating higher order values such as human happiness, human cooperation, and human solidarity and enlightenment. Whatever the cause, the advancements are not delivering the types of experiences and achievements that the best human judgment over time has deemed to be of the greatest value. It does not matter how many supercomputers are churning away gathering billions of units of data, analyzing the info, and collating it into usable form. It doesn't matter how many millions of people will post pictures on social media attempting to portray themselves as happy by virtue of access to one of these modern advancements. The collective data never lies and the collective data is failing to show any meaningful abiding progress in human solidarity, happiness, justice, and enlightenement in the past 30-50 years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Courage (Kamran K): Maintaining Personal Taste in a Sea of Conformity

"I call it 'design by checklist'
Step 1: Real Estate agent makes a list
Step 2: Marketing convinces people they need all the things on the list
Step 3: Build a box as cheaply as possible, fill it with the stuff on the list
Step 4: Sell people the box with the stuff"
tduds 2016
1. Tduds' excellent observations quoted above are generally correct but still could be supplemented on the margins. Step 1 should read "real estate agent makes the list with the sole goal of making as much money as possible from the future sale of the box." Step 2 should read "Deceptive fanficul non-fact based advertising and marketing convinces people they need all the things on the list and that any substitutes to the stuff on the list will not be tolerated." Step 3 should read "fill it with the stuff on the list purchased from 'Third World' factories paying subhuman wages to workers and violating numerous international environmental standards and treaties in the process." Step 4 should read "Sell people the box with the stuff @ the highest price possible. Afterward, convince them they got a great deal, usually by some comparison to some other sale at an even more ludicruous price." 
2. Supplemented or not, tduds' observations detail a process that effectively eliminates personal creativity, personal aesthetic choices, and personal functional preferences in the design not only of homes but all other major purchases (mainly cars and appliances). Whether because they are too busy to care or too duped by advertising and group-think to sensibly evaluate things on their own, people keep purchasing homes and other things that were never designed in line with one's true creative impulses and aesthetic needs and preferences.  
3. With but a few exceptions here and there, the things born from "design by checklist" are total eye-sores, largely devoid of true creativity and aesthetic charm and value. This is not surprising; no other result can be expected from the process tduds captures and titles "design by checklist." The entire process of design by checklist is one driven and focused on economic profit, modern marketing, and cost-effective manufacturing. The aesthetic values discussed above are not the focus of this process; if any aesthetic value results from this process it is accidental and a "gift from the Gods." 
4. Free persons focused on achievement of the human good will generally shun products resulting from design by checklist, particularly large-scale items such as cars, significant furniture pieces, and most-of-all expensive "cookie-cutter" homes resulting from this process. This does not mean that they will automatically reject these items all the time. Occasionally where the price is low enough they may gravitate toward these products as opportunities for creative enhancement with the addition of color, new materials, reconfigured design, etc. Or they will purchase these products when the product is mostly a functional item that is not in need of creative enhancement (e.g. trash bags, garden rakes, ladders).
5. All persons should realize what the truly free already know. One is free almost all the time to chose to reject some pre-configured conformist configuration of things in favor of some altered configuration that does justice to and allows the expression of one's creative impulses and personal aesthetic needs and delights. One is totally free, for example, to reject each and every "standard" configuration/color of modern home design in favor of some other configuration/color that appears to one to "work better" or be more pleasing to one's aesthetic sense or even simply offer additional convenience or reduced maintenance.

6. Within actual human communities, these choices require and demand the exercise of continual courage as "friendly" neighbors react with displeasure with one's non-conformist elections. One must have the courage to politely communicate to the whole world that one has every right and freedom to pursue one's aesthetic choices whether or not everyone else in the world "likes" or "loves it."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Humility (Kamran K): More on Trial and Error

"Always an elaborately careful worker, a maker of long rows of figures, always realizing the presence of uncontrollable variables, always a vicious assailant of what he considered slackness or lie or pomposity..." Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith

(1) Man's achievement of any sort of improvement- let alone perfection- must proceed through trial and error experiments. Many hundreds- if not thousands- of experiments must be undertaken week after week, month after month, year after year in ALL areas of life. The results of these experiments must then be carefully evaluated and objective facts confirming the success or failure of the experiment must be isolated and then weighed to determine the ultimate outcome.

(2) Arguably, for most men and women, the results of most trial and error experiments will end in error. Man is error prone and it is imperative that man take this humble realization with him everywhere he goes in whatever he does. Man's tendency to err is even greater when involved in trial and error experiments in areas of life outside one's comfort zone. Lest one think one can get away with not undertaking experiments in these areas at all, we submit that the undertaking of these experiments outside of one's comfort zone are the very foundation for the most meaningful sorts of human growth, dynamism, and perfectuation. Avoiding trial and error experiments outside of one's comfort zone areas assures with absolute certainty that one will not grow and develop into a mature dynamic human person. There is a cost to everything and inaction also carries a penalty.

(3) Lest one become dismayed at the prospect of having to conduct many trial and error experiments which will likely end in failure it must not be forgotten that man has many years and decades to conduct such trial and error experiments. And the good news is time is on man's side...

Let us assume in the average day some 15 experiments are initiated ranging from the most trivial to the most significant. Even if 12 of these experiments produce error or no positive result, this would still leave 3 successful experiments gathered from that day.

(4) Because man's life expectancy is fairly long, he has the chance to accumulate many hundreds of successful positive experiments- ranging from trivialities to the weightiest matters- as the years and decades unfold. Three successful experiments a day may seem puny but 1000 successful experiments in a year is impressive. Even more impressive is 10,000 successful experiments over the course of a decade.

(5) Man's mind is well-equipped to come up with ideas for new experiments, set up the parameters of the experiment, evaluate the information produced by the experiment, and then judge the ultimate success or failure of the experiment. All that is required is that one not become lazy and settled and continue- day after day- running more experiments.

(6) This is simultaneously the easiest and hardest of things.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Humility (Kamran K): Reflections on Orderly Ascension

(1) After the age of 20, men and women find themselves placed within reality with certain innate and developed talents, proficiencies, weaknesses (vices), or non-proficiencies. As the years and decades proceed, these positives and negatives may become greater, stay the same, or lessen.

(2) Whatever the cause, by the mid-to late 30s and certainly by the early 40s, men and women find themselves within reality saddled with many innate weaknesses as well as many developed-over-time flaws in character or weaknesses in proficiency. This applies to literally ALL men and women within reality. It is true that by this point a man or woman may have achieved spectacular success in some aspect of his or her career or some other aspect of life. Yet closer inspection of the totality of even these persons' lives reveal glaring weaknesses in proficiency or other malignant vices of character. Further, persons may arrive at this age simply having not developed at all some basic proficiencies or competencies. Many of today's youth- addicted from their early years to tech devices 24-7- now are unable to engage in semi-coherent face-to-face conversation with each other. They also struggle to complete basic chores of the simplest order.

(3) What is the path to ascension for such persons, for us all?

(4) Let us consider a "real world example" at this juncture. Consider the present situation of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns finished the 2017 NFL regular season 0-16. That's right. The Browns lost EVERY friggin game they played this year. 2016 was not much better; they won a single game. 2015 was also a terrible year with the Browns finishing 3-13. Thusly, the Browns have a 4-44 record over the past 3 seasons. Awful is over-used as a term but here it may be an understatement.

(5) Obviously the Browns should and are motivated to improve their performance in 2018. If they are not so motivated they are frauds and each and every one of them should lose their job. Assuming the Browns are fully motivated to improve next year, what does the Browns' path to ascension and eventual perfection look like?

(6) Would a Super Bowl championship in 2018 be a reasonable goal? Would a playoff appearance? Would a division title? Would a simple winning record be doable? Probably not as to all of these questions.

What instead would be reasonable is the Browns as an organization fully focused and fully energized on making the first incremental step-up from their current position: winning a single game in 2018. Until that goal is reached, no other goal should be the focus of the Browns as an organization. If and when that goal is reached, the Browns can  ONLY THEN alter their goal and become fully focused and fully energized on making the second incremental step-up from their 2017 position. That would be a second win. And so on.

(7) The human mind does not like being limited in this way. It wants to "dream big" and believe "anything is possible" within a short period of time. This is contrary to almost all fact and evidence as history amply proves HARDLY anything changes within a short period of time. Mind makes the terrible error of regarding the first incremental step-up from one's current position as too lowly of a goal for it to be fully focused and fully energized upon. This is a dramatic error mind commits to the person's detriment. Mind becomes distracted with illusions and fantasies of reaching far-out goals when the objective record is such that the person should be quite happy and quite pleased to reach the next incremental step-up. It is no shame on the part of the Browns to be thrilled with winning a football game in 2018. Their objective performance over the past three years is such that they are ENTITLED to regard even a single win as a great leap forward from their current performance. On the other hand, the Patriots would be considered insane to adopt the same attitude toward the winning of a single game. Everything is relative to your current position in reality and that position is a matter of objective record tied to irrefutable facts. You are what your record says you are. The reasons why you are what you are may sometimes not be entirely your fault; but you remain what your record says you are.

(8) Only as more and more positive results actually and objectively "come in" are persons entitled to revise their goals upward and set more ambitious goals. At each revision, the next goal selected should be the next logical step-up with no steps skipped in between. So for the Browns the following schedule of goals makes sense:
  • Win a regular season game. Once this is achieved, move to the next goal below.
  • Win 2 regular season games. Move to next goal.
  • Win 3 regular season games. Move to next goal.
  • Win 4 regular season games. Move to next goal.
  • Win 5 regular season games. Move to next goal.
  • Win 6 regular season games. Move to next goal.
  • Win 7 regular season games. Move to next goal.
  • Achieve a .500 winning percentage by winning 8 games. Move to next goal.
  • Make the playoffs. Move to next goal.
  • Win your division. Move to next goal.
  • Win a playoff game. Move to next goal.
  • Win two playoff games. Move to next goal.
  • Win the AFC. Move to next goal.
  • Win the Super Bowl.
  • Repeat as Super Bowl champions.
  • Establish a football dynasty.
For a person 75 pounds overweight, the goal should be to remain fully focused and fully energized upon the loss of a single pound. For a person unemployed for four years, the goal should be to secure a single job interview. For a person that is habitually messy and unorganized, the goal should be to organize and tidy a single section of that person's home or office area and keep it organized and clean for a week. For a couple that is always bickering and fighting, the goal should be to remain in peace with each other for an entire weekend. And so on. The goals selected are "realistically" reachable with some effort, non-trivial indications of progress, objectively measurable, and otherwise appropriate as goals for a human person. In baseball terms, what is being achieved is a simple single and NOT a game-winning grand slam.

It should be realized that each revision of one's goals upwards means one's performance and competence must improve to reach the goal. As goals get more ambitious, attention to detail and improvement in micro-areas becomes more and more critical to reaching the more ambitious goal. Ideally, this would mean at the revision of each goal one also sets some mini performance improvement goals which should naturally lead to the attainment of the goal. For example, the Browns could probably go from 2 wins to 3 wins by reducing the turnovers they commit in a season by 10%. The person dieting would lose the next pound by substituting sparkling water for Coke several times a week and so on.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Courage (Kamran K): Reflections on Persistence

(1) Over the past few decades, humanity has seen a catastrophic diminishment in the ability of persons to maintain attention span and persist in activities that require focused concentration. The causes are many but supreme among them is obviously the unprecedented addiction humanity has developed with their tech devices, gadgets, and "apps."

(2) One consequence of this loss is that so many persons now desire immediate results or profit from any activity they engage in. As discussed, human persons usually have no choice but to engage in trial-and-error experiment to successfully accomplish anything but the most basic of tasks (no trial and error is needed on whether one should stop at a stop sign).

(3) Immediate results are usually not "in the cards" for those engaging in trial-and-error experiment. What is much more common is the following sequence of events:

  • Trial and error experiment begins.
  • Failure or even no lack of observable progress is immediately seen.
  • Trial and error continues with some modifications to the original design or experiment.
  • Failure or even no lack of observable progress is still the predominant result but, for the first time, a ray or two of success is detected.
  • Trial and error continues even further, with many more intelligent modifications introduced to the original parameters.
  • Success now becomes the minority result, but a minority % that is now in the 30-40% range (rather than 3-4%). 
  • Trial and error reaches its last stages, with the final modifications introduced to the original parameters.
  • Success now becomes the dominant result, occuring most of the time. Only a small minority of outcomes from the experiment are of no value or, simply, failures.
  • One basks in the glory of one's achievement.
(4) Today many persons, particularly many young adults, believe that they can swiftly proceed from bullet point 1 to bullet points 8 and 9. They wish to completely skip and have no experience with bullet points 2 through 7. This is particularly because points 2 through 7 are not "fun" are not "glamorous" and do not yield material that one can "brag about" to one's friends and family.

The trial and error process imposes points 2 through 7 on persons as a test of their RESOLVE and overall character.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Politics (Kamran K): On the Prohibition of ALL Non-Fact Based Advertising

"there are certain things that only seem to be pleasures but are not so in reality and furthermore there are other things that have the appearance of enormous size and great variety but which are in truth commingled with pain..." Plato, Philebus

"if you take that portion of them by which they appear greater or smaller than they really are, and cut it off from each of them as a mere appearance and without real being, you will neither admit that this appearance is right nor dare to say that anything connected with this portion of pleasure or pain is right and true." Plato, Philebus

(1) As easy as it may be to demonize advertising for so many of modernity's woes, one must still grant some "space" for advertising in the modern world. Modern men and women are in need of all manner of goods and services to conduct their everyday lives. They are further entitled to obtain these goods and services at the best prices they can and at the highest quality they can afford. For this process to be as efficient as possible, businesses must be able to communicate their prices and types of goods/services to the public. At its most basic level, this activity is advertising and it is "good."

(2) A businessperson's truthful fact-based and straight-forward communication of a service or product's price and basic features is good and should never be prohibited in any form. Having said that, the moment this communication becomes in any way false, non fact-based, and complicated it loses all of its social value and becomes either a nuisance to the overall society or an actual harm to its members. The primary harm is a pecuniary one but there is the further harm of time wasted on the good or service.

(3) Capitalism being what it is (READ AND UNDERSTAND....CAPITALISM IS CUT-THROAT), businesses can't be trusted to police themselves and abide by some sort of "honor code" with respect to the advertising they generate and distribute. The temptation is too great to cheat and distribute "juiced up" advertising that could generate millions in sales. Businesses have proven themselves to be weak in the face of this temptation. Put more strongly, businesses worldwide are in a collective race to the bottom with respect to their advertising. Namely, the advertising that businesses worldwide generate is increasingly false, non fact-based (preffering instead to appeal to human emotions using vague fluffy language ("Coke, the real thing") that usually means absolutely nothing)

Benevolence (Kamran K): Avoiding the Lifelong Penalty in Consciousness.

"And if anyone among us should choose otherwise, then he would do so involuntarily, in opposition to what is by nature truly choiceworthy, from ignorance or some unfortunate necessity." 
Plato, Philebus

(1) At all times, man's life proceeds on the level of physicality and the level of consciousness which may or may not become divorced from physicality.

(2) The most important observation to make about the differences between these two levels of existence is that of permanence.

(3) On the level of physicality, all sorts of phenomena are experienced by the body temporarily. Whether a flu, a common cold, a skin rash, a minor cut or bruise, an elevated heart rate, blood pressure, or temperature, the body encounters these phenomena, regards these phenomena as threats to its continued existence, and then somehow fixes or resolves the problem then and there. Once resolved, the problem quite literally goes out of existence and the body has many ways of actually riding itself of the problematic phenomena's substance. For example, one coughs and expels bacteria that the body had identified as problematic.

Ten years down the road, there is no trace of the problematic phenomena in the body. This is obviously not the case for all of the body's bumps, bruises, and illnesses but it is true for a very large portion of them.

(4) Consciousness operates somewhat differently. There is seemingly no way for the mind to simply erase some phenomenon that consiousness previously experienced or knew. The example of things we forget is besides the point. The mere fact that we cannot immediately recall something on demand does not mean that it has been permanently erased from the mind. One usually does remember the forgotten material at some other random time that (sadly) one no longer needs the information. This is a problem of mind accessing remote material; it is not an example of any erasure.

(5) Stated very simply, on the level of physicality very few things matter. Only a few very serious illnesses or injuries plague the body for weeks, let alone months or years on end. On the level of consciousness, everything matters. Things can't be erased easily, or even with effort.

(6) All of this discussion is not for philosophical reasons alone. It is the strongest intellectual justification one could make for why one should avoid intentional wrongdoing, criminality, theft, rape, and all other wrongs upon another. Consciousness can and will not ever erase these acts from mind and their effects will be there, felt by consciousness (in perhaps unknown ways) all one's life.

Humility (Kamran K): The Greatest Error of All

(1) The human mind is unquestionably a one-in-a-trillion creation of the unwritten universe. Its power, scope, and complexity is beyond question. Biologists and others will continue to explain to us how miraculous an organ the mind is.

(2) Yet for all that, mind's ability to make some spectacular errors is also readily apparent wherever and whenever one looks. For both humanity and individual humans to progress and reach some sort of meaningful enlightenment (which is contrasted with today's age of technological advancement which is not accompanied with meaningful enlightenment), we must all come "face to face" with the most common and most consequential errors of mind.

(3) One of these errors will be described below. We propose that it is not only one of the most common errors but also one of the most consequential errors to plague humanity, past, present, and (likely) future.

(4) This error can't be named or described simply and so will require some verbiage to elucidate. Each of us knows that one can make various errors in the short-term without serious consequences to one's interests. Day after day, one can engage in these small micro-errors and not "see" any major consequence as a result. Because human life is so long, these small micro-errors often can and often do COMPOUND such that over the span of several decades they become consequential errors that one can no longer simply shrug off. It is only at this too late juncture that mind recognizes this situation and recognizes the consequentialness of what had always seemed to be a micro-error.

Now mind was right to judge the error a micro-one over the short term. Mind made a critical error in failing to realize that the error was likely to COMPOUND to a consequential error over the medium to long term.

(5) This phenomenon is so common that literally any area of life one looks one should see it play out. We will not bore the reader with copious examples but will offer only one for illustrative purposes. A married couple both of whom work relatively long hours in a downtown office somewhere make the micro-error of neglecting BOTH exercise and face-to-face social activities with other persons after work. Over any one day or week period, this is a micro-error. Regarding the neglect of exercise, the health consequences are so minor, perhaps less than 1/2 pound of excess body fat accumulated. Regarding the lack of social interaction, again the social skills lost from failing to mix with one's fellow man or women over a one-week period are so negligble as to perhaps not even be measurable.
Obviously, the persons making these decisions recognize these facts and judge the corresponding situation correctly. Error comes into the mix when the persons fail to realize that the continued compounding of this error over weeks, months, years, and decades will have consequences that will be immense.

(6) Humility is a fancy word with lots of religious associations and connotations. What does it actually mean? Is it actually a virtue? Why should one be humble and how should one do it? All of these questions begin with the recognition that the mind is not errorless, and does not allow us to see its errors clearly in "real time." Once common predictable errors such as the above are isolated, named, and understood, humility may actually pay some rather big dividends.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Play (Kamran K): On the Perfection of the Seasons

(1) Each season has its own perfection and these perfections should be identified and appreciated. It is the mark of a mature person to appreciate the subtler blessings of all seasons rather than simply having a "favorite time of year."

(2) Winter: (a) lower UV radiation and less intense sun; (b) lower temperatures and the potential for snow; (c) in warmer climates, almost perfect temperatures of between 65-73 during daytime; (d) fresher air; (e) numerous holidays bringing friends and family together; (f) numerous sport leagues in session; (g) Black Friday and other promotions offered; (h) tax refunds secured; (i) in warmer climates, the best time of the year for running, walking, hiking, and other outdoor activities; (j) NO INSECTS particularly bees and wasps; (k) no need for weed-pulling, grass cutting, and other gardening busywork; (l) rain "waters" everywhere and reduces need for hose-time; 

(3) Summer: (a) longest days of the year; (b) sunny days a plenty; (c) even the coldest climates warm-up into the 60s and 70s; (d) flu season is over; (e) traffic is lower in many cities; (f) nights are warm and one can easily spend the whole night in a t-shirt exploring the city; (g) baseball season is in full swing; (h) THE BEACH!; (i) perfect weather for cycling; (j) holidays that are fun but don't involve endless pomp and ceremony (like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Yyear

(4) Fall: (a) a gradual release and relief from the worst of summer's seemingly endless heat stretches; (b) leaf colors come "alive"; (c) World Series and baseball's playoffs generate drama unlike most other sports; (d) presidential campaigns head toward deep stretch;

(5) Spring: (a) the garden awakens from its winter slumber and absolutely explodes with growth; (b) the worst of winter's chill has passed; (c) the days gradually lengthen; (d) the air is fresh with the smell of blooming flowers; (e) reunions are often scheduled in this season;

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Work (Kamran K): Getting it Right...

(1)    Information in its “raw” digital unwritten form is the most accurate but most complex to understand, evaluate, categorize (single persons face this problem continuously when forced to evaluate how a date “went.”)  The amount of total “raw” unwritten information available on even the simplest of human decisions usually greatly exceeds the mind’s information processing capability. Therefore, there MUST be attempts to make raw unwritten information written and therefore useable. Man has gotten better at this activity but tremendous work remains.
(2)    Attempts to make raw information useable judgeable understandable are subject to “error in translation.” Either the raw information itself is not appropriately captured (e.g. votes are misread or miscalculated or even lost) or the new category of information created is not properly understood interpreted or applied.
(3)    With respect to nearly any event or experience that unfolds within reality (e.g. the Super Bowl), the categories of information generated from it are virtually limitless. So not only is the raw information itself infinite but the categories of information generated from it are still too voluminous for normal minds to process and evaluate.
(4)    Human persons do generally make no serious attempt to categorize the raw information generated from an event or experience. Whether this is error or to someone’s detriment all depends on the significance of the event or experience being considered; one could hardly blame someone at all for making ZERO attempt to categorize the raw information generated from his or her last “routine” trip to the toilet. As decisions become more significant and the consequences of the decision last longer in one’s reality, the attempt to categorize the raw information become important and, sometimes, assume life-or death importance. For example, information related to one’s diet could be left at the raw level of unwritten information. Or it can be categorized according to simple rules such as “I drank 7 glasses of water today” and “I usually eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day” or “I usually eat 2300 calories per day.” Given the pervasive effect of one’s diet on one’s health, wellness, longevity, and quality of life, the effort to categorize diet information seems highly reasonable and justified.
(5)    Speaking at the highest level of abstraction, what man needs- and needs badly- is improved performance in his or her information processing. Throughout this process of improvement, man must not confuse getting better at information processing for actually being good- let alone great- at information processing. Man can delegate the “rote” aspects of these information processing tasks to a computer ONCE HE HAS HIMSELF thoughtfully understood and systematized the higher-level principles at work. In this regard, man must answer the following:

·         What categories of information most encapture the experience or event?
·         If more than one category is proposed, are any of these categories highly duplicative of another and therefore not producing enough valuable information on its own basis?
·         Are the categories generating random information or information integral to the unfolding of the event or experience? In this respect, categories that are elemental building blocks are much preferred over those that capture information generated from multiple individual building block categories. For example, a football game is better understood by its detailed team stats (including for example third down percentage, penalty yards, red zone percentage) rather than the simple naked final score.
·         Do the categories of information one currently have accurately describe or predict the experience or event most of the time? If so, is there any need for one to gather additional categories?
·         Do the categories contain sufficient underlying information such that they are not invalidated by poor (i.e. low) sample size?

·         How justified is one’s reliance on the accuracy of the raw data found within the categories of information one relies upon?

Humility (Kamran K): On the Three Knowledge Positions

(1) Three- and only three- knowledge positions a conscious mind can assume toward reality. These are:
(2) ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY is the most popular and common knowledge orientation. It is adopted by all religious persons and by all other persons whose beliefs are NEVER seriously open to revision. 

The pros and cons of absolute certainty are obvious. The pro is the suspension of doubt and anxiety and the air of confidence one naturally maintains while one believes one is in full possession of the truth. Cons of this orientation include that one could be wrong, and the social isolation generated where one's belief is at odds with majority opinion. Consider, for example, the social isolation generated for someone absolutely certain that smartphones are useless, morally harmful to one's maturation, and just downright soulless and silly devices. 

(3) At the other pole, we have the extreme of total ignorance or- basically the same thing- total openness. This is an orientation one maintains when one is totally uncertain and unaware of the truth and doubts whether such a thing as "truth" on any serious matter can even exist and be coherently articulated.This is also a very popular and common knowledge orientation. It is adopted by very large numbers of the youth of any era, but particularly the youth of today. It is the default orientation for all non-human animals toward all abstract issues (it is highly doubtful the author's dog Pluto has any well-formed beliefs of what justice or moderation would entail). This is also a common orientation of persons wishing to succeed in business and other jobs with high public visibility; adoption of this position is the least likely to offend anyone in the population because one remains open to all beliefs in the society and therefore remains open to maintaining profitable business relations with everyone regardless of beliefs.  The belief that diversity of opinion and behavior are the supreme goods of a society is basically an orientation rooted in total ignorance or openness. 

The pros and cons with this orientation are on full display in modern society. The pro is that one does not offend others' feelings because one never maintains any sort of dogmatic belief that could cause offense. The further pro of this orientation is it relieves one of the anxiety and torment associated with decision making on issues that are complex and emotionally deep. The con is one will not form a distinctive personality or character because character and personality formation is most formed by making difficult decisions on complex moral, social, and political issues. 

(4) In the middle is the position of relative certainty. The person does act and think and behave as if he or she is fairly confident of his or her worldview. Relative certainty is robust and it includes the concept of certainty. The certainty is not absolute as it is qualified by the word relative; but still the word certainty is there and it has the meaning one normally assumes it does.

The person within relative certainty remains confident his or her beliefs on an issue that he or she has fairly evaluated is the correct one. This confidence and security has been earned by the combination of reasoning, objective information, and personal experience over several decades.  

The relative modifier means that one does remain "open" to correction of one's belief but this correction must be forced by significant bona-fide evidence or (if experience) experience over an equally lengthy amount of time.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Politics (Kamran K): Fencing in Capitalism

(1) To date, capitalism is probably the best method known of organizing man's economic activities. Some genius someday may create an economic system that is many times better than capitalism. That day may come in ten years or 10,000.

(2) In the meantime, man has significant work to do to improve capitalism so that it can remain minimally functional and "alive." Meaning, if significant improvements are not made to capitalism within the next few decades, capitalism will probably implode through a violent world-wide mass revolution. People will see that capitalism is not delivering, is corrupt etc., they will not believe the politicians' promises that it can be reformed or "humanized" or made "conscientious," their backs will literally be against the wall facing starvation etc, and then the masses will revolt worldwide and risk their lives to overthrow capitalism.

(3) To avoid this fate, political leaders worldwide must take action. Read again: must take ACTION. Words, slogans, campaign promises, photo opportunities, and like trivialities are not enough. Politicians must pass laws AND ENFORCE them that directly address capitalism's defects.

(4) We have various sporting games worldwide where there is intense and fierce competition to be the best, yes, but this competition always falls under various enforceable rules. Football, baseball, basketball etc. each one of the sports all dish out significant penalties to those players that take it upon themselves to violate the previously agreed upon rules. Sometimes these rule infractions cause the players to be suspended from the game for several games or even months or seasons.

(5) Yet when we turn to capitalism, we see there are NO RULES. There really are not. While there are numerous civil statutes that arguably govern business behavior, these are usually unenforced or carry penalties that are mere slaps-on-the wrists for most businesses, particularly the most successful businesses. In the US, we now have a president hell-bent on loosing (read: eliminating) most or all of these statutes.

No, capitalism must be fenced in and proceed forward only upon a set of rules that all participants in capitalism previously agree to. A subset of these rules should involve massive penalties (e.g. suspension from business for lifetime or a decade) such that no rational participant would ever dare violate them.

Examples of these rules are provided merely as discussion starters:
  • No company may ever automate more than 20% of its workforce without approval of a majority of the company's employees.
  • Any company that willfully propagates false and deceptive advertising on a material matter will be suspended from all business operations for a 3 year period.
  • No company may ever remove by contract or otherwise any substantive right or remedy of a consumer.
  • No company may ever charge a customer an auto-recurring fee unless they have obtained (at least) electronic consent to each and every rebill.
  • No company may ever pay any executive any salary or other compensation that is 15 times greater than that paid to the lowest rank-and-file employee.
  • No website operator can make more than a set amount for any specific post (this would discourage fake news and other click-bait).
  • The amount of advertising any company can annually produce would be limited to a predetermined amount. 
(6) The enforcement of some or all of these rules by any one country may carry the short-term cost of relative economic non-performance compared to countries where none of these rules are enforced.We submit this is a small price to pay to maintain a civilized functioning society of any form going forward. A couple of percent GDP here and there must be sacrificed for other goals.

Humor (Kamran K): Prizes at the end of Lifelong Tunnels

(1) After many years, even decades, of continuous daily toil, in which one intentionally makes of oneself a one-dimensional machine oblivious to large swathes of human reality, experience, knowledge, and emotions, the winners in modernity's life sweepstakes can look forward to the following prizes at the end of the their very long lifelong tunnels. These reflections are half tongue-in-cheek exaggerations and empirical truths.

(2) For men that have pursued fashion and bodily looks and alpha-male confidence and bravado....there is the prize....drum-roll please....of numerous anorexic women that continually receive botox and plastic surgery, pay more attention to their smartphone than you, spends hundreds even thousands of dollars of OTHER people's money on clothes and vacations and pets, occupy many hours on end of one's time with recounting various banal and trivial details of their everyday life, are prone to affairs or at least "exploring the field" on account of the constant male attention they receive, have vanilla sex with you no more than 3 times a month for ten minutes max, never cook and clean, and so on.

(3) For men that have pursued political power, there is the prize of being hated by millions of citizens in one's own country, having one's statements constantly misinterpreted and mispresented, receiving endless criticism for personal foibles that are- at most- a small to moderate vice that affects most of humanity at some time or another, achieving rather small legislative victories which are later either overturned by courts or other politicians or simply never enforced, a fairly steep pay cut from what would receive in the private sector, the constant need to police one's statements to comply with the proliferating requirements of "political correctness."

(4) For men that have pursued fame in the creative arts, there is the prize of the types of women described above in paragraph 2, the loss of privacy and public criticism discussed in paragraph 3, as well as the necessity of performing one's two to three hit songs or roles several thousand times over, with peak enthusiasm and excitement each time over.

(5) For any and all men that have pursued money over and above their basic everyday living needs, there is the prize of the types of women described above in paragraph 2. These men also receive the added bonus of continuous and unrelenting monitoring of their wealth to make sure it is not squandered foolishly, money is not being devoted toward some scam or the other pitched to one by some overconfident alpha-male salesmen, the gnawing suspicion that most of one's friends seek monetary favors from one and would (more or less) disappear as soon as one's money vanished, the constant anxiety and fear that one's wealth will dramatically reduce from some market correction, tech innovation, or even far smaller micro-alterations in one's local economy.

(6) For beta-males that have no money, no car, no women, and no reputation, there is the prize of infinite freedom, appreciation of the infinite small blessings of life, a virtually limitless freedom to speak as one wishes and learn what one wants, and a loyal BIG BROWN canine that loves and adores you.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Work (Kamran K): Trial-and-Error Ascension

(1) The unscripted life requires numerous and continuous trial-and-error experimentation to locate the best behaviors, values, pets, friends, pleasures, emotions, aesthetics, wisdoms, etc. The scripted life- far less complex and demanding- requires obedience to what is commonly believed to be the best things.

Those opting for the unscripted life MUST not only regularly "do" trial and error experimentation but they also must get better at trial-and-error experimentation. Those who regularly engage in trial and error experimentation without getting better at it find that their life is a very long disastrous procession of experiments almost all ending in error and futility (even the blind squirrel occasionally locates the acorn). 

Many of today's youth take great pride in their care-free experimental ways; but their pride is often totally unjustified because the experiments they engage in (e.g. drugs, provocative selfies, endless dating, texting as the preferred means of communications) do NOT produce better life outcomes either for themselves or others. 

(2) The question needs to be posed: what does it mean to get better or even excel in trial and error experimentation? At minimum, the response must include these elements:
  • Experiments are regularly initiated to locate new and improved and better ways of doing things. One is almost always tinkering with a few new trial and error experiments.
  • Experiments are not selected at random "out of the sky." Instead, some compelling rational theory or perhaps even aesthetic intuition guides one toward the particular experiment in the first place. 
  • The only experiments that are attempted are ones that have some decent rational justification and support to begin with. As an example, one would never attempt a "dieting and health" experiment of 5,000 calories per day from McDonald's. This experiment has no rational support for its initiation and would be futile from the very start.
  • Relatively objective criteria are established at the outset of what would constitute success vis a vis the experiment.
  • The proper amount of time is allotted to gather results from the experiment. Results are gathered objectively, methodically, honestly, and with the utmost thoroughness.
  • In connection with the last point, experiments that are not profitable or appear to be error are promptly ended, discarded, and "moved on" from. That said, one also remains open to slight modification of the experiment mid-stream in order to produce a successful outcome. 
  • One remains relatively objective- as long as human nature permits- in gathering the results of the experiment. Prejudgment of the experiment- whether positively or negatively- is avoided at all costs.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Benevolence (Kamran K): @ the Peak of Benevolence= @ Human Empathy.

(1) There are many candidates for the "peak" moral or benevolent experience of man. One candidate is deep empathy for another person.

(2) Empathy itself is an impossibly vague and nebulous term. It could be defined simply as ADOPTING the mental universe of another LONG AND DEEP ENOUGH to fully experience (see, feel, and reason) reality from their perspective.

(3) From behavior of very primitive people and children and even other animals, it appears empathy is hardwired into human behavior and DNA. Loss of empathy is solely due to the MILLIONS of negative influences of modernity on man's moral, intellectual, interpersonal, and emotional consciousness. No long course of religious or ethical education is required for a child to mature into an empathetic adult. One must simply avoid or neutralize most of modernity's negative influences.

(4) Modernity's impediments to reaching empathy must be individually evaluated, removed, or counter-compensated for. The most serious impediments to the experience of even ordinary empathy, let alone peak empathy, include: (1) lack of sustained face-to-face time with another, (2) lack of serious attention to details of the other's life, emotions, and recurring thoughts and anxieties, (3) deception or lies between persons, (4) anger, jealously, or any other negative emotion between persons, (5) either sexual drive or monetary benefit or some networking advantage as primary motivation for one's interaction with the other, (6) lack of emotional intelligence and awareness of common human emotional patterns and tendencies, (7) lack of awareness of another's situation within reality, including things like financial burdens and limitations or physical disease and limitation, (8) conversations between persons limited to the level of superficial banality (weather, food and drink, sport team performance, pets' behavior), (9) the attempt to maintain too many friendships or connections with other persons, and (10) ego-boosting self-praise or masculinity-driven "alpha demonstrations."

(5) In reality, several of the above impediments could be operating on the relationship between two persons. The more impediments operate, the less empathetic the relationship between persons will be. At the extremes- and the extremes is what is becoming rather ordinary and common today- the persons might as well be machine robots exchanging witty banter and favorite food lists.  The complete lack of empathy has completely DEHUMANIZED them.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Moderation (Kamran K): Perfection in Long-Term Diet and Activity

(1) The world is now stuffed-full with copious amounts of contradictory diet and exercise "programs." This author has experimented with most of these approaches and is now approaching a "cruise control" approach toward these issues that can be sensibly implemented by most people for many decades of life. This is not a "beach-body lose 10 lbs before summer" approach but a long-term multi-decade, FUN, and DOABLE mindset toward diet and activity that will keep most persons looking and feeling great to the maximum extent their genetics otherwise permit.

(2) Diet VASTLY trumps exercise for the simple reason that most people will not be able to do enough exercise for the calories burned from exercise to matter. This is even more likely to be true in the long run of years and decades. It is only the extremely injury-free, care free, and motivated person that will be able to burn a relatively puny 450-500 calories from exercise day after day, year after year. So, stated differently, the path to long-term health, fitness, and beauty is to get your diet NAILED right and then use exercise as an extra-credit boost to accelerate/accentuate results already earned through proper diet modifications.

(3) For most persons, the proper diet will roughly follow the below parameters:
  • Three predominantly WHOLE-FOOD UNPROCESSED meals per day, spaced 4-5 hours apart. Snacking is discouraged as it perpetually spikes insulin.
  • Amount of calories consumed should be your ideal weight in pounds times 15 (for males) or 13 (for females).
  • Macro-nutrient mix should be relatively low-carb (35-40% total calories) with emphasis on high quality UNSATURATED fats and LEAN protein sources. Carbs should not be avoided or feared but it should be realized that many non-veggie/fruit carbs are VERY easy to overeat.
  • Majority of calories consumed in the first two meals of the day; last meal to consist mainly of fat, protein, and veggies.
  • Soda and other high-calorie liquid beverages should (usually) be avoided. This includes alcoholic beverages which should be consumed extremely minimally.
  • Breakfast to usually consist of some combination of eggs, oatmeal, whole grain cereal or bread, and some low-sugar caffeinated beverage. A fruit or two would be appropriate here as well.
  • Lunch to usually consist of a smoothie combining all the major food groups. A carbohydrate fruit base (preferably blueberries) should be mixed with skim or low-fat milk or greek yogurt, a scoop of whey protein, and a small amount of peanut butter. The making of the smoothie will have the added benefit of dramatically reducing food preparation cost and time, 
  • Dinner to usually consist of some lean protein source (turkey or chicken breast, pork loin, salmon, tuna, tilapia, carne asada) some healthy fat, a small amount (1 cup) of rice or pasta or beans, and a large amount of low-calorie nutrient-dense veggies. Healthy fats include guacamole, olive oil, balsamic vinegar dressing, and peanut butter. Nutrient-dense veggies include spinach, cucumbers, onions, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, peppers.
  • Supplement with fish oil.
  • To a great extent, foods should be made more palatable with the introduction of low-calorie condiments such as hot sauce and mustard.
  • Ensure water intake is adequate by drinking a few glasses in the late evening.
(4) In attempting the above diet, various trial and error experiments should be undertaken to determine the foods that best match one's individual taste bud preferences. The diet will be more sustainable in the long run if one likes or loves most of the foods one has chosen to eat. Within the caloric parameters above and other nutrient considerations listed, one should usually opt for the food one enjoys eating more even if it has a slightly less impressive nutrient profile than another comparable food. 

(5) Exercise should be incorporated gradually, and only after one has a firm command of nutrition basics and one's actual diet. Low-intensity aerobic exercise such as walking or cycling can and probably should be done daily for 30-45 minutes. More than this is usually not productive because the body's response to lengthy excercise is usually to spike appetite to such an extent that most everyone eats back all the burned calories and then some. Low to moderate intensity exercise done for 30-45 minutes usually does nothing to one's appetite. Unless one is extremely lean, no additional calories should be consumed to compensate for the exercise. This is both because this will help one get leaner and because rounding and approximation errors usually cause one to eat slightly more calories than one thinks anyways. Weight-lifting should be completed two to three times per week, and- provided one has a perfect command of one's diet- an additional 200-300 calories should be consumed on those days one has lifted. 

(6) I'm done talking.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Friendship (Kamran K): Lessons from Doggie-ship

(1) Man's best friend has many lessons to teach man himself with regard to friendship and general sociability.

(2) A trip to any dog park will confirm these truths with only slight attention to the details of the animal's behaviors.

(3) Unless the dog is somehow mentally off or unsocialized, he will enter the dog park with puppy enthusiasm, eager and excited to greet old friends and potentially make new ones. Granted one can never know what canines actually think but their outward behavior, barks, tail wagging, and overall "jumpiness" to enter the dog park are the best evidence we have as to their psychology.

(4) Once inside, most canines immediately begin making the rounds and greeting old friends and keeping an eye out for potential new ones. They do this without regard to time. Time is not a concern at all and so long as enough dogs are around dogs will usually wish to spend many hours at the dog park interacting with their fellow species members.

(5) The predominant objective of any dog in the dog park is to enjoyably interact with the other dogs and, to a lesser extent, the human owners of those dogs. There is no ulterior motive involved.

(6) Dogs typically do not discriminate on the basis of any exterior characteristic of another dog. Small dogs play with big dogs, brown dogs play with black dogs, males play with females, and vice versa. What does cause a dog to discriminate against another dog is usually only some display of violent or dangerous aggression displayed by one dog toward any other dog in the park.

(7) The actual content and conduct of dog interaction does not seem to follow any predictable script. While generally dogs chase each other around or simply run in packs, the actual specifics of the chasing, rolling around, barking, or running appears to be rather different every time.

(8) While certain dogs tend to predictably have favorite pals, they usually do not spend ALL of their time so engaged. They do make the effort to branch out from their favorites and see if there is more variety of dogship they can find and appreciate.