Random Stuff #024: Homo Ignoramus

The most educated person in the world now has to admit – I shall not say confess – that he or she knows less and less but at least knows less and less about more and more.   – Christopher Hitchens 

The more man learned, the more he realised he did not know.                                                   – The Lost Symbol 

It is utterly jaw dropping what you can learn in a lifetime. Many people live in a wonderful beautiful world that they will never know. A friend, who is a third year engineering student, recently confessed to me he came to terms with the spherical shape of earth just last year. In other wards, he thought the earth was flat. So much for studying Newtonian mechanics. In a chilling moment of clarity, I realised almost everyone I knew probably thought the earth was flat, or if they thought it was a sphere (not a perfect one at that), they didn’t know anything more about it. Infact there could be a correlation between what the scientific community claims we know for sure about this pale blue planet and what the general public actually knows about it. Case in point, I told another engineer friend there are mountain ranges under water in the mid-Atlantic. He was shocked and couldn’t believe it. He laughed and said, “Are you kidding me?”

In short, people know next to nothing about their world. They leave these matters to academics and intellectuals. Does one even need to know about the shape of the earth when they are struggling with Third World poverty or illness? Do people in refugee camps see any sense in a crash course on earth? I doubt. But even the people in the comforts of the First World fare less better. With better resources and the best education systems, people still can’t visualise the earth is spherical and even those who do, I have seen accounts of a few making the outrageous proposition that the earth is the centre of the universe. Imagine what to calmly say to such people. Neil Degrasse Tyson was as gentle as ever when he said scientific facts are true whether you agree with them or not.  I only wish intellectual discourse pours into both the literate and illiterate public. We need to cure this disease of ignorance. At least basic ignorance like the place of earth in the grand universe. 

Yet as I have studied and read, I keep learning something new. I have realised there’s a lot more knowledge out there than I need. I’m comfortable with a little here and there. Being a Jack of all trades but master of none. ( Aziz Ansari comes to mind). I’m also guilty of ignorance. To that end, I don’t blame people for their ignorance. Thus the more I have known, the deeper my desire to know more. And in that search for knowledge lies the defeat of ignorance. 

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Random Stuff #023: The dilemma of existence

I exist. You exist. We exist. But how do we exist? What is existence? What does it mean to exist? To me, existence is being self aware. Knowing that you are because you exist.

French existential philosopher René Descartes posits in his famous Discourse On Method that by virtue of our ability to think, we exist because how would you think if you didn’t exist. The phrase cogito ergo sum translates to ‘I think therefore I am’. Our ability to think about our existence, whether in acknowledgment or denial of it, is sufficient proof that we exist. 
So what if we being self aware of existence is just a design flaw in our code? What if all we have been thinking is after all an illusion? What if its an evolutionary trait that aids self aware individuals to survive? 

Psychological horror/thriller on the small screen

Note: This is not an exposé on psych genres in recent years

I have been an avid fan of horror dramas for years. Right from The Ring (which was the first real horror I watched) to Chainsaw Massacre to I know what you did last summer to classics like Psycho and then more recently TV shows like American Horror Story, Harper’s Island, etc I have watched numerous different horror dramas. Full disclosure, I can’t name them all. 

Do zombie shows qualify as horror? Yeah some do. The Walking Dead was a horror, in my opinion, only for the first season. The latter seasons are just mostly “survivalist thrillers”. They have walked away from the horror genre. Its more about the people than the zombies. But still so awesome, ain’t it? Arguably one of the best shows right now. Though I don’t classify The Saviors vs Rick’s group as horror. Its just highly intense survivalist thriller. 

Now that I’ve painted a picture on the little I know about horror, I can go forward to a fascinating subgenre, shall I say, of horror – psychological horror. Ever since I started watching Hannibal, I’ve been wondering why there aren’t many TV shows in that subgenre. To elaborate abit, Hannibal is about a psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who basically murders people to cannibalize them. In layman’s terms, he eats people. Imagine the main character being a serial killer. That’d be epic. That’s what this show was doing until, for reasons beyond my understanding, it was cancelled after a game changing third season. Dr. Hannibal and a patient of his, FBI agent Will Graham, were locked in psychological warfare. Basically, psychiatrist vs insane patient. Though the patient instinctively knew what he was up to, Hannibal always used psychology and manipulation to cover his tracks. At the end of the second season, Hannibal has been outed as a cannibal. He runs off to Italy. The main theme of this TV show was you couldn’t tell what was real or fantasy half the time. There were layers of illusions, stunning visual art, and a masterpiece of blending sound effects. When Noah Hawley, one of the creative geniuses in show business, was making Legion, another psychological horror/thriller, he described Hannibal as “a great example of something that had this almost fetishistic beauty to everything that you saw, whether it was food or violence.”. The unique concept of Hannibal with its unorthodox yet seductive audiovisual art should, in my opinion, be considered one of the most TV redefining shows ever. Bryan Fuller did really great work on Hannibal. Just like he’s doing on American Gods. I think he’s a visual art genius. Attaboy. 

P.S: Bryan Fuller, if you are reading this, terrible idea to pitch Hannibal to NBC. Should have taken it to Netflix or one of the cable networks. 

Random Stuff #021: Fuck patriotism!!! 

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The fast time I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, I was captivated by the insanely good graphics and its semi-open world realism. The storyline gripped me and made me think like a soldier at war. Though the game induced a sense of patriotism within me, I was particularly hypnotized by one of the several war quotes.

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

— Nathan Hale

That is, without doubt, one of the most patriotic statements I’ve ever heard. Clearly, Nathan Hale was a soldier willing to give more than just his life for his country. But are you willing to give the same? Am I? Can I stare death in the face for my country? I doubt. In fact I can’t. I’m not willing to give my life for anyone or anything, be it a just cause, a patriotic cause or religious or whatever. Maybe at some point I’ll be pushed to the wall by circumstances and reconsider but not momentarily. Would I give my life for a Marxist ideology? Certainly not. Though the idea I postulate here may make me out for a socialist. Or an advocate for a New World Order. 

But I’m willing to give my life for something greater than just patriotism. I’m willing to consider giving my life for global unity and world government. The concept of global state is one that I like and think can be a success. That’s if we were to ignore the political side of it. If there were less restrictions about movement across borders, less attachment to tribal or religious  identity, the world would be better off for it. There would be less desire to go to war or fly planes into your rival’s buildings. But to achieve global unity, our general perceived culture and religions have to be sufficiently redacted to allow coexistence. For the future of humankind won’t be safe if we are still stuck to the same evolutionary motivation flaws as we had 3000 years back. It will take time to erase these flaws. It could be that the changing zeitgeist is in that particular direction already. There are less wars and less conflict than a few years back. People are less self centred and are more open towards other racially or ethnically different humans unlike in times before. A current youth is less likely to be racist or sexist or whatever phobia than their ageing parents. Maybe all that means the world is beginning to accept that we are all different, that we can coexist without shouting at each other or enslaving another race, that we can create relationships with people we don’t share an origin or race or religion with. Finally maybe we are realising we can live life to the fullest inspite of who we are, where we are or what we disagree on. So fuck patriotism. There are better causes to fight for than die for your country. And even then I wouldn’t die for this ideology. Life is too precious. 

Hardcore Quotes #002: The lost symbol

What a gripping novel it was!!

Littered with factual details and technical themes, this is arguably Dan Brown’s best written novel to date. The subject matter was once again different from the other Robert Langdon books but still as good. I still think Da Vinci Code set a really high bar for Dan Brown. He might have to look into how to raise the bar further than that in future books (although I don’t see how that will work judging with his latest 2014 release Inferno). But the less said about Inferno, the better (and I don’t mean that in the wrong way). The controversy surrounding these books is the main selling point for their readers and Inferno fails to deliver in that area. Its predecessor The Lost Symbol didn’t disappoint though. I remember first reading this book back in 2012 and I was stuck in imagination and wonderland for a few weeks. It is the kinda book that awoke the Socrates in me. I started asking myself complex philosophical questions about religion, politics, conspiracy theories, science, art, etc. Anyway I don’t wanna give any 

Since Prof. Langdon is the best character to quote, I’ll stick to only his quotes:

Great minds are always feared by lesser minds.
Sometimes a legend that endures for centuries… endures for a reason.
 The strange ideas we derive today will one day be our celebrated truths.
Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light.
Throughout history, every period of enlightenment has been accompanied by darkness, pushing in opposition. Such are laws of nature and balance.
The act of tattooing one’s skin was a tranformative declaration of power, an announcment to the world: I am in control of my own flesh.
Nothing is hidden that will not be made known; nothing is secret that will not come to light.
Google’ is not a synonym for ‘research’.
 To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.
The only difference between you and God is that you have forgotten you are divine.
Open your minds, my friends. We all fear what we do not understand.
The power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought.
Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity.
Knowledge grows exponentially. The more we know, the greater our ability to learn, and the faster we expand our knowledge base.
Imagine how different a world might be if more leaders took time to ponder the finality of death before racing off to war.
Knowledge is a tool, and like all tools, its impact is in the hands of the user.
The more man learned, the more he realized he did not know.
Darkness feeds on apathy.
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. …And if any of you care to join me, come to the Harvard chapel on Sunday, kneel beneath the crucifix, and take Holy Communion.
Even brilliant scientists Google themselves.
He thought about science, about faith, about man. he thought about how every culture, in every country, in every time, had always shared one thing. We all had the Creator. We used different names, different faces, and different prayers, but God was the universal constant for man. God was the symbol we all shared…the symbol of all the mysteries of life that we could not understand. The ancients had praised God as a symbol of our limitless human potential, but that ancient symbol had been lost over time. Until now.

Random Stuff #019: LGBT rights

Before I tackle this controversial subject, I just wanna repeat these are my views and mine alone. My views don’t mean I am any different from anyone else. Besides there are issues you may consider perfectly okay but they may seem unacceptable to others. Even to people in your own country. Right now, if you are caught engaging in homosexuality in my country, the locals can stone you to death before the police intervenes. So it might be a risk for me to even talk about it on social media but when the rest of my people are finally enlightened, I want the record to show I was way ahead of time.

First off, I think same sex relationships are naturally occurring and should be acceptable if not cherished. If a friend was to walk up to me and tell me they are gay/lesbian/transsexual/queer, I’d be surprised but I’d take his/her hand and tell them its alright to be different that way and they should be proud of it. 

Secondly, I condemn any kind of inhumane torture or discrimination unfairly cast on the LGBTQ community by fellow humans. All this injustice stems mainly from outdated conservative mindsets, religion, uninformed or misinformed public, politics, etc. People hate LGBTQ because their religion dictates so. Others hate because they don’t understand it. Some hate LGBTQ because they follow other people’s views and don’t hold any sensible opinions on such issues. Others, if they were more informed, wouldn’t tolerate LGBTQ injustice. 
To fully understand why I’m supportive of legality of gay rights and marriage, you must step out of your religious box, you must step out of your cultural box, you must step out of your political box. We live in a secular society where we can’t accommodate every moral absolute from every religion or culture into our politics. So what are you left with as a yardstick to judge LGBTQ people? Just science. 

So what does science think about LGBT people? In the 1900s, science thought LGBT people were mentally ill and so had to be injected with hormonal therapy treatment to ‘cure’ them from their homosexual tendencies. (One of the most important scientists in the modern era comes to mind – Alan Turing). Later in the 70’s, after years of compiling data and research, the scientific community came to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and also not a crime. Though it still remained outlawed in several countries until just of recent. I think there’s a new zeitgeist in place, where homosexual relationships are becoming more of the norm and family culture. 

We have seen evidence in several animals of homosexual tendencies. This is no secret. At a 2007 Against Nature? exhibition, over 1500 species were observed to have homosexual tendencies. From birds to sea anaps to primates there has been a lot of documented evidence. Take for example rams and ewes, during the mating season, rams not only compete with each other for mates, but also with ewes looking to mate with each other. Same thing with Japanese macaques. Turning to our fellow primates, the bonobos, which are highly sexed monkeys, exhibit the highest levels of homosexual behaviour of any species. About 60% of bonobo sexual activity is same sex. And mostly lesbianism, since they live in matriarchal societies. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of male to male sex. It still happens a lot. Bonobos perform homosexuality to solve conflict or please a superior individual. Among the observed acts include genital to genital rubbing, “penis fencing”, fellatio, some kind of fingering, etc. Bottlenose dolphins have also been observed performing anal penetration among males and beak penetration among females, where the female pushes its beak into genitalia of the other female. Though there are only two animals (just a minority of these) that have been observed to prefer lifelong partnerships of the same sex type. Humans and sheep. Other animals that engage in homosexual behaviour are elephants, giraffes, polecat, lions, black swans, spotted hyenas, lizards, fruit flies, etc.

So now we have established same-sex sexual activity/behavior is naturally occurring, why should we condemn it? Why should we be fighting against nature? 

This is where religion comes in. The Bible mentions people being burnt to death in Sodom and Gomorrah because of their homosexuality and highly sexual behaviour. There is no precise explanation why homosexuality is wrong in Christianity. Even the Bible says it is wrong but doesn’t, like most religious doctrine, mention why its wrong. You are not supposed to question why things are a certain way. Religion is religion. Culture is culture. You can’t change it. 

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.