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Fact or Fiction

Posted 24 April 2003, 8.43 pm by The Green Mamba

Consider this for a moment … everything we have been taught to date is based on assumptions, made from observations, expanded into theories and published as scientific facts. Our entire so called understanding of the Universe is based purely on what we perceive as a logical explanation for something we are in fact completely clueless about.

PROBLEM … Who’s logic?

There is absolutely no proof that the logic scientists apply to the translation of data gathered within the confines of our perception is at all relevant to whatever subject they are attempting to understand. Take for instance religion. Hundreds if not thousands of different religious organizations read the same scriptures from the same book, but each one has their own views. If you join one of these groups it’s purely because their spokesperson tends to be more convincing than the other one down the street.
Science is exactly the same. We tend to believe whoever has the ability to convince us that their interpretation of the events they have been observing is right compared to someone else who has a completely different view, but struggles to communicate it correctly.
I recently read an article on Black Holes. It starts of by blatantly admitting that there is to date no proof that black holes really exist, but then, just a few lines further they start rambling on as if everything is tried, tested and vacuum packed for freshness.
The rest of the article is very cleverly written as well, with just enough “we believe” and “just as would have been expected” to cover their asses if anybody should ever decide to question their theories. The whole article rests on what would happen if light were to enter the event horizon surrounding a black hole. This is pretty radical, in that they go as far as to say that by definition only a black hole can possess an event horizon. Says who? Shit, they’re even afraid to call it a black hole outright, instead referring to something called “black hole candidates” and then they have the balls to say what may or may not have an event horizon.
Anyway that theory already out the window lets look at the facts. This guy randomly studied about six hundred miles of printouts from a chart recorder that came off the Hubble telescope and found somewhere in the millions of dots and whatever, 0.2 seconds during which, according to him, light actually fell over the event horizon into the black hole … Not only that, but he also refers to how the light stretches before it disappears due to the distortion of space-time by the black hole’s intense gravity. Fuck yeah, lets break out the Champaign … This is conclusive proof that anybody can be a scientist as long as he can combine enough unproven theories in one paragraph. Seriously, everything he used to prove his initial theory was just more theories. Consider for a moment that if any of these theories are proven wrong, then his whole argument goes to shit.
The whole problem is that nobody actually bothers anymore to spend his or her times disproving what we have been told are the facts. We simply accept other people’s word because, at face value, they sound like they know what they are talking about, but in reality they know just as little as we do.

ATM Illiterates

Posted 22 April 2003, 9.43 pm by The Green Mamba

End of the month, 9AM on a Saturday morning…
Everybody’s excited because we all just got paid and were standing in the queue at the local Automatic Teller Machine, ready to raid our newly filled up accounts.
It’s already getting hot and the guy behind you is standing so fucking close, you can almost smell his breath. You move a little forward, hoping he’s stay where he is … No luck.
Finally, you reach the front of the queue, now more relieved that you’re almost out of there than excited over the idea of finally having some money in your wallet again … The fucking moron behind you still doesn’t have any regard for your personal space, but you know you only have to tolerate it for a few more minutes … Then lightning strikes …
The fucking piece of shit excuse for a modern member of the human race who busy at the ATM in front of you gets lost. He tries to stick his piece of shit plastic card from some obscure bank you’ve never even heard of before into the fucking slot, upside down and he can’t figure out why the hell it doesn’t want to go in. Looks at the card … looks at the machine … looks at the card … tries again … looks at the card … and the fucking asshole behind you is still breathing in your neck.
Finally, dickhead at the ATM figures out that the only problem with his fucking card is his stupidity and finally gets things going.
Now comes the really tricky part … entering your PIN. Despite the fact that the keypad is almost exactly the same as any push button telephone this idiot takes another flipping minute just to punch in the code. This could be due to the fact that he’d apparently forgotten his friggin glasses and has to virtually press his face against either the keypad or the screen just to see what the fuck he’s doing or supposed to do. Aside from this he is having further difficulty in understanding that the keys are touch sensitive, using maximum force all the way.
This goes on for about ten minutes, and he eventually has his fucking money. Please note that these dumb fucks normally draw the minimum amount and will attempt the same procedure in the same painful fucking slow motion manner the following day …
He then spends another two minutes in front of the ATM counting the money, folding the slip and tucking it neatly in his wallet, before he finally waddles of to buy a box of matches at the nearest tuck shop.
At last you get away from the neck breathing freak behind you and approach the ATM with newfound vigor … armed with your trusty piece of plastic, you aim for the slot … You try to insert your card, but for some mysterious reason the fucking thing won’t go down … You check the card … Try again … no luck … glance at the screen and then lightning strikes … OFFLINE.

An interesting interpretation of Star Wars

Posted 21 April 2003, 10.29 am by Alexander

Just to prove people see more than one meaning in any piece of popular culture: Click Here.

THE RATIONALITY OF OBJECTIVE REASON

Posted 16 April 2003, 9.27 pm by The Green Mamba

Think about it for a while. Think about objective reason means and then try and find a practical example. It shouldn’t take very long to find many countless of examples of people in professions ranging from journalists to your manager grading your performance over the last year according to a seemingly objective questionnaire. Now mimic what one of those people do and apply it to something similar and you will soon discover that no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t remain entirely objective.
Why is that … why is it that somehow we always end up stamping our own psychological signature onto everything we do?
Simple … we are not machines. Machines are designed to perform a specific task without any external or internal variables governing its actions whereas humans are continually influenced by a countless number of variables. Our mood at the time of performing a specific task … our predisposed opinion towards the person or the task based on the information and emotions that are stored in memory (first impressions so to speak).
Ultimately the results of any task performed, designed or interpreted by humans can not be objective and since machines can not think for themselves yet, objective reason is nothing but a myth to mask our own opinions.
Some people tend to think of themselves (and the human race) as rational beings … who have the ability to rationalize their thoughts and their actions in accordance with a specific set of laws as determined by nature and proven by science.
History however suggests that humans are everything but rational. We act in accordance to our own personal set of rules (morals) and enforce these with passion upon anybody whose morals contradict our own. When we’re in a good mood for whatever reason we tend to apply that to all our decisions for that day … things that would normally invoke anger of even violence would suddenly go by unnoticed or with slight regards. And when our day starts off on a bad note … the opposite becomes true.

This is even evident in complex mathematical equations. Mathematics is supposed to be the most rational method of thinking since it is supposed to have only one correct answer. 1 plus 1 equals 2 or 1 x 1 equals 1 etc. With this in mind I once asked my Maths teacher if 1 x 1 could ever equal anything other than 1? To my surprise he said yes and continued to prove it through an elaborate mathematical equation covering the entire black board. I then realized that the only reason he was able to do so was because he wasn’t applying common reason to the equation.
Now, when looking at more complex equations I soon discovered that there is more than one way to solve a problem. The reason for this is that different people look at things from different angles. Whereas I might start dissecting the problem from what appears to be the most rational starting point, someone else would tackle it from a completely different angle, thinking that his or her approach makes more sense. Should we arrive at different answers (which is quite possible) without either of us having made a mistake along the way, then how do you determine the correct answer? Simple … you cant, because neither of us nor any third party mathematician is capable of objective reason. Sure, we could punch it into a computer and see what it spits out … but even then the solution to the problem will be based on the method of calculation that was coded into the program … by an irrational, subjective human being.
Therefore, due to the lack of objectivity in the human blue print, rational thinking becomes somewhat obscured and even though at times our ideas may seem perfectly rational to ourselves and to others we continually find ourselves in situations where we feel like hitting our heads against a brick wall.
We like to think of ourselves as rational beings and subsequently of society as being rational … but in truth everything we are and everything we struggle so foolishly to maintain is not based on reason at all … but rather our personal beliefs. Human consciousness … our ability to look at things differently than any other species on the planet is not the end result of thinking rationally. If that had been true then any of the millions of other, older species could have out-evolved us at any time during pre-history … because instinct is a much more rational way of thinking than anything the human mind can conjure. If you’re hungry, you eat … tired, you sleep … horny, you fuck. Unfortunately this is also the reason for the many flaws in our society. Instead of building rationally, we have built emotionally … sometimes angry … sometimes happy … sometimes for the better … more often than not, for the worse.

Your eyes, ears and mouth

Posted 14 April 2003, 4.24 am by Winter

To begin with, an argument against the senses:

Anyone who has witnessed an optical illusion or seen a piece of trompe l’oeil cannot trust their senses. Fooled once, and recognized as fooled, the eyes become potential conveyers of false information; they must be regarded with the same degree of suspect as a habitual liar. The same goes for the other senses, having burped and tasted food not eaten for decades or heard a noise whose source could not be present (feel free to drop acid if these effects have never been witnessed but you desire them to be). At the very least, the eyes will bring about the down fall of the others, if you cannot believe what you see wholeheartedly, you cannot know that what you hear is caused by something there. (on a side note, Descartes can get fucked with his ‘clearly and distinctly’ bullshit)

This seems to be an unquestionable point to me, though I would love to hear any argument against it as it would likely keep me from weeping myself to sleep every third or fourth night.

A contradiction is present here in that once a distrust of the senses is established upon the evidence of memory, that evidence becomes untenable, as does any knowledge of the argument against the senses. This does not seem like a good reason to abandon the form of the argument, as this paradox will always crop up and the alternative is to ignore the issue like it were Arabs in front of an Israeli bulldozer. That any damage done to the senses is also done to memory must be kept in mind, the paradox must be allowed to exist as a thing to be studied, though it destroys our world.

Consequences (besides the madness of it all):

Expressing and acting become a matter of hope, not belief. Belief is impossible. Anything that is learned cannot be taken as wholly true, only as one possibility that happened to be presented. The self is the only thing that can be said to exist with certainty. Depression and drunkenness become a way of life (drunkenness as self-delusion, not the imbibing of liquor… though that of course works as well). The self becomes something that must be medicated against. Death, though uncertain, remains one of the few possibilities that seem to offer any hope of permanent escape. The desire to become the anti-christ, to seek freedom in meaninglessness, becomes ever-present. The possibility of an end itself becomes meaningless, it is no long sought. The self closes its doors.

Cures:

Possibility must be held onto, as even the possibility of an outside world can be seen as better than nothingness (I looked into the void and nothing looked back, for I was nothing at last). Because the self is known to exist, the aesthetic sense may be promoted above a faulty rationality, the world is datum that must be sorted. The real may not exist, but the false and experienced do. Selfishness develops. The world is inconsequential shit which must either be devoured for the benefit of continued existence and the vain hope that the world is at least partially inhabited or be avoided as something that is worthless.

Remaining Question:

Does it matter what is done? Even if there is an exterior, does the self matter? Can trying ever be worth it if time is endless and destruction inevitable (these are the products of our ‘real world’ so far)?

The Ontario Medical Review Committee

Posted 12 April 2003, 4.33 am by hoodedfreak

Welland, Ontario, 2002. Dr. Anthony Hsu is one of two pediatricians working a heavily populated region struggling to attract doctors. He works a 70-hour work week, has 7000 active patients, is on call at the hospital every other day and every other weekend and all the
while struggles to maintain the required paperwork for OHIP: Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

Sometime in late 2002 Dr Hsu is audited by OHIP, who suspect he is ordering too many tests and seeing too many patients. They look at his files and deem he is not taking enough notes during examinations. He is red flagged. The amount he is audited: $108,162. One hundred and eight thousand one hundred sixty-two dollars.

And no cents.

Dr Hsu appeals to the local newspaper who run his story. The local community is shocked and outraged when they hear he had no choice other than to cash in his RRSPs to pay the amount to OHIP. He joins other doctors around the province and attends rallies, protests, railing against the intimidation methods of the Medical Review committee.

Why didn't he appeal? Because he is guilty until proven innocent. Appealing the auditing ruling means OHIP deducts $108,162 from his billings during the next year. He has a family. 3 children. An office staff to pay. Taxes. Can he afford to take a pay cut of $108,162?

The chairman of the Medical Review Committee, Dr. Barney Giblon, believes it is a fair and just system, returning millions of tax dollars. Is returning millions of dollars to the heavily lined pockets of over paid politicians more important than a doctor's respect, livelihood, and most importantly, his life?

I quote Dr. Giblon, "I feel bad for those small numbers of people [who] feel so upset by having their records checked, but I would like to point out that 20 per cent of those investigated [aren't required to] pay anything back."

But those who are range in numbers from $200,000 to $800,000. A world-renowned specialist in Ontario was charged $800,000 in his audit review. That's his salary for 4 years. Every year they would take away 100% of his salary.

See you at McDonalds.

But this is fair. This is the medical justice system in Ontario.

* * *

8 am. Saturday morning on April 5th, 2003. Dr. Anthony Hsu leaves his house, despondent, and by 5 pm is reported as missing. The police ask the public for information.

By Monday morning, he's still missing, but by now they have found his car parked in Vineland, a small town near the shores of Lake Ontario. His car was unlocked, unoccupied, with the keys dangling in the ignition.

Late afternoon of April 10th, a fisherman finds a body in Lake Ontario.

This is a fair process.

Big Brother is Watching

Posted 12 April 2003, 12.26 am by marilee

Is Google evil?

Absolute vs. Subjective Morality

Posted 11 April 2003, 5.03 am by winter

By endorsing that notion that all morality is subjective and the result of uncountable (though not infinite) forces upon an individual and is therefore unassailable, one ends up endorsing the actions of human beings like Hitler, Kissinger and Pol Pot. This is something many people balk at. The idea that the philosophies, moralities and actions of murders are as valid as those of a bank teller or mid-western grandmother who enjoys baking cookies and going to church is rejected instantly by such people. This means that there must be some moral absolutes for them and anyone else who would wish not to condone Hitler’s morality.

There can be many ways to arrive at these moral absolutes. Popular opinion seems the least credible of those that occupy my list, so I’ll ignore that except to say that most people are idiots (simply look at the US census figures for the number of people that believe in god).

Following Kant, we could formulate a rule or rules that generate maxims that any rational creature could understand the utility of. (BTW, ending sentences with prepositions is FUN!) Maxims generated by rationally founded rules would be universally understood (assuming that rationality is immutable and universal). For instance, “don’t act in a way that you would deny someone else the option of acting in” or “don’t make a special case for yourself” would be rules that would generate ethical maxims when confronted with actions and situations. So, if you were given the chance to lie in order to benefit in some way, you would have to say to yourself that you would not approve of someone lying about this matter to you, and that therefore you should not behave in this way. This requires the point of view that all humans are rational and all rational creatures should be treated the same because their differences are superficial.

Imagine an example where one was in a social situation in which lying about a future event (paying someone back for money borrowed or being someplace at a certain time) would seem to be better than being truthful. While this may grant you some sort of an advantage (it’s easy to concoct a story that sets up a situation like that) by lying you’re saying that it’s okay for any rational agent to lie and if this were true the institution of promising would fall because everyone would be ‘allowed’ to lie, the value of a promise would be nothing and you would not be able to profit from either lying or telling the truth.

There are plenty of situations where people would like to think that lying would actually be the morally correct thing to do (a la: the ax murderer’s example). The main problem with this argument against lying and it’s relation to the argument that one shouldn’t make an exception for one’s self is that it assumes that all humans are created equally. This cannot be so. Even if we start out tabula rasa social and economic forces differentiate each individual to such a degree that wild divergences are seen from this initial state. Besides which, we live in a world in which we can reject morality and rationality and lie freely and still maintain the practice of promising. Treating one’s self as an exception does not ruin the world, it’s probably the reason the world is at all interesting.

Another supposedly interesting maxim that can be generated by the ‘don’t make an exception of yourself’ rule is that murder is wrong because the killer does not wish to be killed. If an individual who truly supports capital punishment were asked whether he would support the state taking his life should he be found guilty of murder there’s no reason not to think that he would say yes, believing that if you kill someone, your own life is forfeit. Through this example it seems that as long as you support capital punishment, murder is morally sanctioned by the golden rule in that the murderer does not make an exception of himself when he kills, but admits his inclusion.

Of course this can be countered by the creation of a ‘precious life’ clause on killing, but that would dis-allow even state run executions and war and lead to a very dull world. You could say that if the state elects to kill you based upon your immoral act or an immoral act by the nation-state that holds you a citizen (assuming the state thinks murder is wrong, excluding when it kills) it is acting in accordance with the golden rule by treating you as you treat others. This weakening of morals to exclude certain acts of murder means that the absolutism of morality is already shaken.

Even if you maintain that all murder is wrong, there are well known examples and thought problems that seem to beg a moral person to be torn in two. Examples include killing to save yourself, loved ones, a thousand people, a million people, shooting Hitler or someone similar whom you believe to be a ‘monster.’

I’m sure there are other moral absolutes that can be generated in this way and that do hold up under scrutiny, but these seemed like interesting ones to me (and interesting ones to poke holes in).

A less powerful way to generate more absolutes is to take a personal opinion (such as ‘murder is wrong’) and justify it rationally through thought experiments and examples. This process is long and is bound to result in an incomplete list, not to mention one that is full of conditional clauses (‘murder is wrong unless…’ or ‘lying is wrong unless…’). If there are ‘moral absolutes’ they seem likely to be culture and class specific and conditional, and absolute only in a loose sense of the word.

Besides which, do we ever want to hold on to moral absolutes? Is killing to save someone else or in self-defense to be held in the same regard as the Zodiac Killer (one of the greatest, uncaught and famous serial killers ever) taking out a cabbie? On the opposite point, is it enough to say that Hitler was justified only in his own mind, just as everyone else is? Doesn’t that mean that no one can be condemned outside of personal opinion and that the whole notion of justice is fundamentally flawed beyond recovery? I certainly hope so.

If we don’t hold morality to be timeless and free of context, can we say that killing millions of people because of their religion or creed is wrong? Hitler certainly justified it, can we judge his morality to be flawed when he’s seen as a product of his times and environment? Is disagreeing with genocide the most that we can do, or does a physical, violent defense of a particular morality (and a violation of that morality in the same stroke) an acceptable answer? After Auschwitz can morality be defended?

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This is in response to the poem 'Business Girls' by John Betjeman. It's ink washes. I was attempting to depict the grime and toil of the subject matter by using a widely recognised symbol of business life - the train.


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Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?

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