Hardcore Quotes #001: Mr. Robot

These are quotes I’ve collected from USA network TV show Mr. Robot, one of my favorite TV shows. Its about a computer security engineer who is recruited into a hacktivist group known as fsociety by a mysterious fellow referred to as Mr. Robot. It deals with issues of mental disorders, the gray area of computer hacking (whether ethical or not, or as a means to the greater good), the ever expanding world of multi billion dollar technology, drug use, altered reality, etc. I could go on all day. Photos courtesy of Mr. Robot on tumblr.

Mr. Robot : Is any of it real? I mean, look at this, look at it! A world built on fantasy! Synthetic emotions in the form of pills! Psychological warfare in the form of advertising! Mind altering chemicals in the form of food! Brainwashing seminars in the form of media! Controlled isolated bubbles in the form of social networks. Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven’t lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century! We turned it off, took out the batteries, snacked on a bag of GMOs, while we tossed the remnants into the ever expanding dumpster of the human condition. We live in branded houses, trademarked by corporations, built on bipolar numbers, jumping up and down on digital displays, hipnotizing us into the biggest slumber mankind has ever seen. You’d have to dig pretty deep, kiddo, before you can find anything real. We live in a kingdom of bullshit, that even you have lived in for far too long. So don’t tell me about not being real: I’m no less real than the fucking beef patty in your big mac. As far as you concerned, Elliot, I am very real. We are all together now, whether you like it or not.

Elliot Anderson : Is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man, even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children? Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit. The world itself’s just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our running commentary of bull**** masquerading as insight, our social media faking as intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new, we all know why we do this, not because Hunger Games books makes us happy but because we wanna be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards. F*** society.

Elliot Alderson : How do I take off a mask when it stops being a mask, when it’s as much a part of me as I am?

Elliot Anderson: This is the world we live in. People relying on each other’s mistakes to manipulate one another and use one another, even relate to one another. A warm, messy circle of humanity.

Elliot Alderson:  What I’m about to tell you is top secret. A conspiracy bigger than all of us. There’s a powerful group of people out there that are secretly running the world. I’m talking about the guys no one knows about, the ones that are invisible. The top 1% of the top 1%, the guys that play God without permission.

Elliot Alderson:  Is that what God does? He helps? Tell me, why didn’t God help my innocent friend who died for no reason while the guilty ran free? Okay. Fine. Forget the one offs. How about the countless wars declared in his name? Okay. Fine. Let’s skip the random, meaningless murder for a second, shall we? How about the racist, sexist, phobia soup we’ve all been drowning in because of him? And I’m not just talking about Jesus. I’m talking about all organized religion. Exclusive groups created to manage control. A dealer getting people hooked on the drug of hope. His followers, nothing but addicts who want their hit of bullshit to keep their dopamine of ignorance. Addicts. Afraid to believe the truth. That there’s no order. There’s no power. That all religions are just metastasizing mind worms, meant to divide us so it’s easier to rule us by the charlatans that wanna run us. All we are to them are paying fanboys of their poorly-written sci-fi franchise. If I don’t listen to my imaginary friend, why the fuck should I listen to yours? People think their worship’s some key to happiness. That’s just how he owns you. Even I’m not crazy enough to believe that distortion of reality. So fuck God. He’s not a good enough scapegoat for me.

Mr. Robot:  The world is a dangerous place, Elliot, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
Tyrell Wellick:  Power belongs to the people that take it. Nothing to do with their hard work, strong ambitions, or rightful qualifications, no. The actual will to take is often the only thing that’s necessary.

Antara Nayar:  A guy walks up to a woman at a bar. He flirts with her. He makes small talk, but the woman insists she isn’t gonna go home with him. Guy says, “What if I offer you a million dollars to sleep with me?” The woman’s never had a million dollars in her life. She stops and considers the offer very seriously. The guy changes his mind, says, “What if I change my offer to a dollar instead?” Woman is aghast. “What kind of woman do you think I am?” Guy says, “We already figured that out. Now we’re just negotiating.”

Phillip Price:  In my life, as I was making my way, I always asked the question: “Am I the most powerful person in the room? And the answer needed to be “Yes”. To this day, I still ask that question, and the answer is still “Yes”. In every room in the entire world, the answer is “Yes”…with exception of one…or two. And that drives me. I intend to leave a legacy, the standard of which was set by God when he created the Earth and man after his own image. Anything less is not worth mentioning.

Romero : I’m too broke to be superstitious.

Elliot Alderson : I do see the beauty in the rules, the invisible code of chaos hiding behind the menacing face of order.

Darlene : Trust me, in this day and age, it’s sicker not having panic attacks. Since when did pretending everything’s okay suddenly become the almighty norm?

Mr. Robot : Think about it, Bill. If you died, would anyone care? Would they really care? Yeah, maybe they’d cry for a day, but let’s be honest. No one would give a s***. They wouldn’t. The few people that would feel obligated to go to your funeral would probably be annoyed and leave as early as possible. That’s who you are. That’s what you are. You’re nothing to anyone, to everyone. Think about it, Bill, ’cause if you do, if you let yourself… You’ll know I’m telling you the truth. So instead of wasting any more of my time, I need you to go call someone that matters, because Bill, you don’t.

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Random Stuff #017: Atheism as I know it.

Atheism is an antithesis for theism. Theism which is belief in a god or gods is opposite to atheism which is absence of belief in a god or gods. The “a” in a-theism is basically a translation to no-theism. So long as you have a god who you believe in, you are a theist. But if you don’t acknowledge or believe in the existence of a god you are an atheist. If you grow up with no theist belief you become an atheist. 
Most atheists have become atheists after opening their eyes to the effects of childhood indoctrination done by religion. I like to call these the enlightened atheists. I’m one of them. I was going to church just because others were. I was praying to a nonexistent entity instead of doing something better with my time. I refused to be sold the fantasy that is religion. Quoting this statement from the Declaration of Independence to describe what it felt like abandoning my religion:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more predisposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms they are accustomed.

If these words are not inspirational or motivating to do the impossible, At one point, I was going through mental torture, psychological torture because I thought my doubt was bad and I felt it was too hard to run away from religion. I was more predisposed to suffer in my religion because those evils are sufferable than to go against the beliefs which my society is so accustomed. And whenever I have read this excerpt, I have always gained the courage to abolish the forms that I deemed insufficient to satisfy my skeptical mind.

What is light?

Warning: Extremely scientific and highly technical article.

What is light? What is this thing that helps us visualize our world and why is it so goddamn important?

From what I’ve learnt, light is an electromagnetic wave, part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and also a particle. It goes both ways (what is actually known as wave-particle duality). Renes Descartes was the first to suggest that light is made of a stream of particles. He showed that by simulating wavelike disturbances in a universal medium, the behavior of light could be replicated. Isaac Newton theorized light travels in a perfectly straight line and since particles have the capacity to behave that way, light could be a particle. 

As a wave, light is classified in the visible spectrum which is basically the range of wavelength of electromagnetic radiation (henceforth EMR) that is visible to the unaided human eye. The wavelength of light ranges between 400 to 700 nanometers. With the variations in sight among humans, we have also variations in ranges of visible light; some sources recording light as short as 310nm being visible to children (which is  basically infrared). The ranges also differ from one source to another. 

It’d be possible to see infrared light but the light photons at this level don’t have the required energy sufficient to cause an “excitation” change in molecules in the human retina long enough to trigger our sense of vision. For certain animals like snakes, they use some sort of natural thermal imaging that causes molecular vibration and heating in their eyes dependent on their sense of sight. As for ultraviolet light, it is invisible to the human eye because most of it is absorbed by the cornea and the internal lens before reaching the retina which can’t actually detect UV light at 360nm. UV light is actually dangerous to the human retina.

Random Stuff #016: Einsteinian Religion

We all fear what we do not understand (Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol).

The great physicist (and philosopher) Albert Einstein transformed the world with some of the most mind-bending scientific discoveries of modern times. He was heralded as one of the pioneers of modern physics and is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and most influential scientists of all time. Even though he was arguably the smartest person at that time, he had his faults. No one is perfect. Like he dismissed quantum physics in an analogy of God playing dice. He endorsed a book based on pseudoscientific geology albeit unknowingly. 

Like all students of the cosmos, Einstein couldn’t help but watch the depths of space with awe and a sense of enlightenment. When you study the cosmos, you are engulfed in this loop where you start to ask questions about our existence, the seemingly  infinite universe, the possible existence of aliens, what looms in the vast darkness, etc. These kinds of big questions make you become poetic and/or philosophical about the infinite cosmos in a way that whenever you speak about the cosmos, you sound like a religious theist. Yet in actual sense, you are just sounding religious. Being religious doesn’t mean worshipping a deity or acknowledging an invincible supernatural being as your creator. Its about that special connection you have with things that transcend the normal world. If I feel overcome with emotion when listening to Mozart’s concerto as performed by the NY symphony, it doesn’t mean that I worship Mozart as a god, I’m just religious towards his music. Quoting Einstein himself on what he thought religion was:

To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our minds cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, that’s religiousness. In this sense I’m religious.

Einstein’s passion for the infinite cosmos clearly turned him poetic, philosophical and utterly religious (if we are to consider this passion as such). He is almost describing his fascination with the infinite cosmos as a religion. Indeed if that’s a religion, I’m a deeply religious nonbeliever in this sense, just as Richard Dawkins describes in The God Delusion (which was also derived from one of Einstein’s quotes). Referring to my earlier posts, I wrote about the ABC of organized religion. Clearly the absence of all 3 identifiers means Einsteinian religion isn’t actually a religion at all. There is no conversion of nonbelievers, no promise of salvation or life after death or believing in a supernatural deity. Its just plain religiousness stemming from the poetic infinite cosmos triggered by the human mind’s ability to process aesthetics. 

Quoting the great physicist once more:

I don’t try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.

It seems pretty obvious that Einstein thought a personal God restricted him from enjoying his fascination with the cosmos. He thought a deity was the stumbling block to appreciating the “structure of the world”. I think its because God was thought of, at the time, as the infinite unknown super creator of this earth as something special. Yet Einstein had realised God wasn’t special, the cosmos was something truly way more extraordinary and coaxed religion out of him in the process. Conclusively, to Einstein, the cosmos was more infinite, more mysterious than a highly improbable hypothetical God. And there was evidence to support it too. So why be religious with a God when you can be religious with the infinite cosmos (that your God never predicted)? Why be religious about anything anyway?

Random Stuff #015: The story of literary art

Many times people think they understand me when they have no basis for their opinions. Outright judgment in court with hard evidence. I’m talking about the mental court of law that passes the verdict based on hearsay or rumors. The best you can do is ignore everyone’s courts and keep them in suspense. Now you see me, now you don’t. Now you know me, now you don’t. Now you understand me, yet you never did. 

The journey, to the living, is long and tough. Don’t be disheartened, my friend.  Only the strong will survive. Remember people keep mistaking strength to be physical yet its the most formidable mental trait. A mentally strong person is worth more than a Goliath-strong one. Instead of going to the gym, go to the library where strong minds and character are fashioned. The war zone of intellectuals. That’s exactly where I am. The consequence of reading is developing the desire to write as well. So it is with this pen and paperback I’ll tell you my stories. 

Please focus and give me your utmost attention because if you don’t, you might as well not read at all. Plus the stories will be great. Choose a way forward; to read or not to read. Take a single decision and don’t turn back. Be the decisive one.

As always a story or stories begin in a library. Not its beginning as such. I’m talking about where the story meets the reader. A story or a novel begins to take effect and captures one’s attention while still on the shelf in the library. Thats why I think every story begins in a library. In this context, let’s take library to mean wherever you find the book; be it the internet, or a study or a friend’s place, or a bookshop et cetera. Put that aside, every author/writer will tell you they started writing the day they started reading. Intrigue and fascination with literary art is the captivating seductive lure for all wannabe writers with naturally ingrained talent. In the end, all writers were once readers in a library. 

Most writers have a style, which is usually reminiscent of the time and place. Books from 3000 years ago have less humor or wit and are more rigidly written. They definitely aren’t 21st century page turners. Case in point, The Analects of Confucius is difficult to read but contains wisdom of the ages. I call it that because it can be found anywhere in any place. Wisdom is inborn. As a consequence, philosophy is innate. Confucius was a moral teacher, a philosopher and a genuine man. Though I learnt his sayings were written down by his followers years later which is coincidentally the same with Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Muhammad, and others. The problem with ancient literature is it’s rigid and robotic and conformist or it’s antithesis but in extremes. These books also contain fiction accounts dressed up to look real. That’s the same with the Bible. Hitchens says in his excellent book God Is Not Great that he doesn’t care if Socrates never lived at all, but he cares that someone advanced his method of testing evidence against experience, of valuing philosophy, of putting morals on a higher pedestal than belief. No doubt the pages of Plato’s The Republic are filled with mind boggling moral conundrums and the beginnings of Western philosophy and science as we know. I’m avoiding Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius and other thinkers of the time since I haven’t read them yet. But I’ve read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Another good example of rigid inflexible writing. Same with On The Shortness Of Life by Lucius Annaeus Seneca. They are quite books which I will detail more in reviews in later posts. Seneca’s book is more liberal and logic and inspiring for it’s time. Even in the 21st century, there’s hardly a page turner on life and generally self-help books, that writes so simply and precisely as Seneca. The book is more like a short essay on life that my only regret is Hitchens didn’t write one himself. Sun Tzu is about war. It’s not about the battle. More like a manual on how to organise an army for war. How to use strategy, tactics, manipulation to win. When and how and where to do what in the course of leading an army. It gives extensive details on battle tactics, leadership skills, mentality, discipline and other subject matter. It is not an exaggeration to say that the advice given by this war general can be applied to modern society by any leader and will produce the results as he predicts. Again this is wisdom of the ages. You don’t need self-help books to tell you how to do things as a leader that Sun Tzu was doing 3000 years ago in China. 

Even the Koran is a mundane read. Not so quite intelligible. Definitely not written by a literally genius or a moral one for that fact. But that’s towards the end of the first millennium which probably holds the record for most revealed holy literature. 

Fast forward to modern Europe. While texts like the Bible have an archaic feel to them, Shakespeare (Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo And Juliet), Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer)  or Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield) or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ( everything Sherlock Holmes and Hercules Poirot) seem less modern but more readable and relatable. I thought for a long time that George Orwell was part of the 19th century literary world. I suppose the teacher wasn’t compelled to or well informed enough to detail the background behind Animal Farm or 1984. I’ve always wanted to read Down And Out In Paris but never got around it. I recently went through a thousand pages of Russian literature. Fyodor Dovstoyetsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I had been searching for it since my days in school when I was fascinated by philosophy and ideas. I also gained a brief passion for Russian books when I read Bourne Deception by Eric Van Lustbader writing under the name of the deceased great Robert Ludlum whose spy thrillers I haven’t seen any author better. Here we find a character called Leonid Danilovitch Arkadin, if I remember correctly, who went through hell in Siberia during his youth and early adulthood which spurred him into becoming the most dangerous assassin ever. I would consider Robert Ludlum to be a hardcore spy thrillist I’m the same sense that Peter Watts in the space thriller Blindsight or Cixin Liu in the sci-fi  bestseller The Three Body Problem, are considered hardcore sci-fi authors. Personally, as a sci-fi junkie, I feel a little guilty for not having read Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein. I’ve seen the video of Clarke basically predicting the modern age of phones, portable computers and phasing out of post, fax and other modes of communication. Though the stain of having read none of their books hangs on my conscience. Another author who I feel guilty is the elegant stylish Ernest Hemingway. If there was ever an inspiration to writing and reading then it was Hemingway. His travel fiction book Fiesta or When The Sun Comes as its known in some places, was probably the biggest influence on me while growing up. For the first time, I could travel to Paris to Mexico for the bullfighting events to many other parts of the globe just by reading. It was liberating and captivating. It was a well written book that, try as I may, I have failed to find a better travel writer. Probably for a lack of trying. No wonder Hemingway was awarded the Noble Prize in literature in 1955. Shortly after which, he is said to have committed suicide. He was known to have some mental issues. One biographer claims he was bipolar. There has always been a strong link between creative genius and mental disorder. Even Virginia Wolff was a victim.

Most authors I have read and continued to do so always seem to be writing more realistic than fictional books. Case in point, Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, Cory Doctorow, David Iglesias, Sidney Sheldon. A few exceptions to this are J. K. Rowling, a few others who I can’t remember as I type now. I mostly read nonfiction or fiction tending towards nonfiction. The best book to illustrate this is Michael Crichton’s global warming fiction book State Of Fear or his other anti-Japanese imperialism book Rising Sun. Dan Brown’s books dwell on the edge of truth and fiction too. David Iglesias is more political but quite insightful too. His book, The Director, is an excellent book about a newly appointed CIA director who tries to fix the wrong things about it his way. All these authors have a way of blurring the lines between reality and imagination. That’s a quality I admire and I also one only modern authors have. It’s hard to argue against a personal who does this sort of thing. Because as a reader you’re most likely not sure where the line is drawn. This is my story of literary art. 

P. S. It is by no means complete. 

Random Stuff #014: Is God the infinite energy in our universe?

Before I start I’d like to clarify what God is in this here context. One, the energy that exists in our universe is God. Imagine it as interconnected. Like every ray of light energy or radiation exists as part of an entity I’d call God. Two, the God that most theists worship relentlessly and who is the protagonist (and at times the antagonist) in the Holy Bible. I’m talking about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God who sent Jesus to “die for our sins”.

Newton’s laws are paramount and rigid and hold supreme power over everything. There are exceptions. But let’s stick to the third law. Tit for tat is a fair game. Scratch my back I’ll scratch yours. Those are just layman explanations or statements of Newton’s third law; every action has an equal but opposite reaction. 

God obeys these natural (or should I say Newton’s) laws. I think God is an infinite being with wisdom and knowledge that’s too immense for us, mere mortals, to fathom. God looks down on us the same way we look at ants on the ground. We know we are more intelligent than they can ever be ( in the short term pending evolutionary natural selection). You can’t explain the mechanics of a phone to an ant but you understand it. Hell, you can’t communicate with an ant. 

Ever heard this religious statement: God is a supernatural being that transcends both space and time. He was, he is and he will always be. Is it just me or does that sound like the theory of conservation of energy (which actually stems from Newton’s third law)? Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can be changed from one form to another. In the Bible, God says he just came to be, in other words, he was never built, born or created. These claims on God’s existence sound like we are describing the infinite energy that resonates in the universe. Or am I wrong in hypothesizing God is the infinite energy in the universe? Maybe or maybe not. Its the dilemma of probability. Flipping a coin. Fifty fifty chance of success. 

If we are to delve a little deeper into energy and physics, scientists have found reason to believe that everything that exists looks the same at atomic level. If you are to split your flesh into the tiniest possible particle (splitting the atom), you would realise you are basically the same as a tree or the sun or the air you breathe. So its just the arrangement of atoms or particles or electrons (even photons) that makes us different from other things. 

Yet with further development of quantum mechanics we are beginning to see that the particle is synonymous with energy. Meaning they are by default one and the same. I’ll delve into deeper details of how all this scientific theory falls in place but for now we are just panel beating.  I’m just drawing from existing scientific theory without boring you, the reader, with intricate details of what I’m talking about. So back to physics, we have discovered quite of recent that energy equals a particle. So we can also conclude that God is energy and is also the particle. So can we finally say everything that exists is part of God the same way we are considering the vast infinite energy (whose origin is unknown) in our universe to be Him?

P.S: I wrote this like 15 months ago when I still believed there was a God. In my self denial, this was one of the many philosophical ‘why’s/questions I was troubled with.

Random Stuff #013: The structure of organized religion

In Dan Brown’s bestselling thriller The Lost Symbol, he talks about the ABC of religion. Well one of the characters (Prof. Robert Langdon) does so. He uses the ABC formula to determine whether or not Freemasonry is actually religion. 

This formula is about what religions do that make them different from other organisations. So this is what ABC stands for:

A – Assure salvation

B – Believe in a precise theology

C – Convert nonbelievers

Take a look at those three unique identifiers, think about your current/former religion, figure out whether or not it does all the three unique identifiers. 

You have an answer? Good.

Religion is all about scapegoating. Whenever something happens we want to attribute it to someone. It is human nature. We look for the scapegoat. That’s why religion exists. In previous centuries we couldn’t explain our existence and how everything came to be. So we found the perfect scapegoat – a superior being.

Our existence and everything that exists, what happens after death, have all been scapegoated on a (highly improbable) superior being or rather God. The ABC assures us there’s life after death or that there’s a better future for us somewhere. It also tells us to believe in God or our ancestors or in unexplained natural phenomena (see God of lightning). You also have a self imposed duty of converting nonbelievers/pagans/heretics by virtue of being part of that religion.

This is what every organised religion is all about. The ABC formula. I’m stunned I never realised all these similarities about organised religions. Well its been years since I first read Lost Symbol but that ABC formula has stuck in my head. 

This is an excerpt from the book. I’m not sure how copyright laws will affect me publishing it on here but I’ll go ahead anyway;

“ Professor Langdon,’ called a young man with curly hair in the back row, ‘if Masonry is not a secret society, not a corporation, and not a religion, then what is it?’

‘Well, if you were to ask a Mason, he would offer the following definition: Masonry is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.’

‘Sounds to me like a euphemism for “freaky cult.” ‘

‘Freaky, you say?’

‘Hell yes!’ the kid said, standing up. ‘I heard what they do inside those secret buildings! Weird candlelight rituals with coffins, and nooses, and drinking wine out of skulls. Now that’s freaky!’

Langdon scanned the class. ‘Does that sound freaky to anyone else?’

‘Yes!’ they all chimed in.

Langdon feigned a sad sigh. ‘Too bad. If that’s too freaky for you, then I know you’ll never want to join my cult.’

Silence settled over the room. The student from the Women’s Center looked uneasy. ‘You’re in a cult?’

Langdon nodded and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. ‘Don’t tell anyone, but on the pagan day of the sun god Ra, I kneel at the foot of an ancient instrument of torture and consume ritualistic symbols of blood and flesh.’

The class looked horrified.

Langdon shrugged. ‘And if any of you care to join me, come to the Harvard chapel on Sunday, kneel beneath the crucifix, and take Holy Communion.’

The classroom remained silent.

Langdon winked. ‘Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we do not understand.

Dan Brown , The Lost Symbol