Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Meaning, morality

The only objective meaning to our lives is to make sure we continue to have one; that we continue on as a species in this indifferent universe that we find ourselves existing in. Given the complexity and wonder of this plane of existence, it's easy to feel that there MUST be something that intricately, knowingly, and deliberately intertwines us all to some greater purpose in this world.  I am not a religious person, and I consider myself an atheist when it comes to the abrahamic god. Any god with a distinct human-like personality is usually just a by product of the creator him/herself (a person). Societies often have jealous, angry, vengeful, and all too human-like gods.
I don't have any convictions. I don't believe right and wrong exist, only our ability or lack thereof to empathize with others. When we see something happening to someone else, their expressions register in our minds, and depending on whether a certain area of the brain (it's been thought to be the anterior insular cortex) functions properly, we may or may not see ourselves in their position; we may feel ourselves being subjected to the same action that evoked their expression. Laughter is contagious, sad movies make you cry, the torture of another human makes you uncomfortable...this is nothing new to us. This is the principle behind our ideas of what's wrong and ultimately comes down to what you do or don't want happening to you (assuming you're not a masochist or have a damaged a.i.c.). That is why I believe in the Golden rule as a moral guide.
Other than avoiding jail time and adhering to my own conscience, I don't pretend to know or do what's right or wrong. There are reasons why people do things, and all those reasons stem from a brain that they have little control developing (due to genetics, epigenetics, environment, etc).  Your brain is  what controls your life and the life of others. When you know that, when you know how little free will you actually have--you begin to doubt things like morality.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Supernatural Season 8 finale

Here's my prediction about the season 8 finale of supernatural: Crowley will open the gates of hell and release every condemned soul unto the earth. In other words, if hell is to be closed, he'll let everyone out first so that the Winchesters efforts will be in vain. And since there's no God to stop him (will Chuck reappear?) I don't see a reason why he can't do this. This makes me wonder if Naomi wants to do something similarly devious, like releasing all the good souls in heaven unto the earth. If she wants to appear good (but still have alterior motives) she can tell the Winchesters that the right thing to do is to release the souls of heaven so that they can come back to earth and fight this horde of demons and evil people. While everyone is distracted by this war on earth, I think she may try to retrieve the angel tablet, and close the gates of heaven so that only the angels she wants to be in heaven will have access. The pearly gates will slam shut, and angel Sam and Castiel (yes, I think Sam is turning into an angel due to the trials) will go demon slaying on a massive scale. This presents a problem, because if the gates of heaven are shut, where will the good souls go when they're killed in battle? I'm thinking either their souls remain dormant until the whole afterlife problem is solved, or they will go to Purgatory or hell.  I think Dean will be tasked with protecting Kevin and some other burden (he'll also fight in the war), but I'm not sure who or what that will be. In the end, I believe Sam will have to kill Crowley, rescue the innocent souls (if they do indeed go down under) and close the gates of hell. If the innocent souls are sent to Purgatory, Dean will be the one to rescue them.
The angels always seem to rag on the "hairless apes", so it would be no surprise to me if they wanted humans out of heaven. They also didn't mind when the apocalypse was coming, they were more than happy to see humanity wiped of the map. That leads me to believe that Naomi doesn't care if chaos is happening on Earth. But I think realeasing the heavenly souls back to earth to be killed viciously by demons and condemned souls (with the righteous souls having no where to go) crosses a line. I think God will eventually have to show him/herself (pretty sure it's a guy in this show-that guy being Chuck) if this scenario is correct.
However, I think I'm reaching pretty far here, and considering that I was certain that Meg was to be the demon rescued for the 3rd trial; but saw previews for "Clip Show" that suggest otherwise, I'm not confident this is how it's going to play out, but it's fun to speculate. So, what do you think will happen? Either way, I'm looking forward to these last two episodes of the season, and I'm more than ecstatic that Castiel will be returning as "a regular cast member" for season 9. What would you rate this season as so far? Right now I'd give it about a 7 out of 10, just because there were so many "breaks", filler episodes, and lack of Misha screentime. I hope they'll at least stick to the main story line for the last two episodes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

We have the technology!

I think that in the (perhaps near) future, we'll have the option to clone ourselves as a way to reproduce. We might also be able to bring back every creature on our homo line. Can you imagine what it'd be like to talk with the past? To see our own evolutionary reflections and be able to interact with them? But that's a topic for another time...
 If I had the option to clone myself, I would do it. People often imagine stepping into a cloning device, and having a fully grown person with all the memories of the original individual step out, but in reality a clone would have to born just like a normal infant. Like in the movie Aeon Flux, this clone baby would be like my own child. And is it really so weird to imagine? Regular children are basically clones of their parents. Jamie has her dads eyes, her mothers dimples, etc. Of course, children aren't carbon copies of their parents, there is some genetic diversity and random mutations that occur, and this is my only concern with cloning. I don't think that people should solely rely on cloning as a way to reproduce, since this lack of genetic diversity can (and has) cause a whole species to be wiped out due to a certain illness or physical weakness. Oh and, this offers a great opportunity for scientists to see more clearly how much nature influences a persons development, versus nurture.   

Assuming the technology is perfected, what is the main problem with cloning? Most people would say it's the morality of it. Here are the usual worries:

1) You're playing god. 
-Well, I'm an atheist so that doesn't really bother me. Besides, we "play god" all the time. Fertilization methods used by doctors to help couples who can't conceive children are playing god. Doctors who save someone from the brink of death, isn't that a slap in the face to "fate" or god? I could list countless examples of how science plays god every day, but I don't want to get into a theological debate. 
2) It won't have a soul. 
-Why? Because it's not "created" by god? This leads us back to the previous question. Also, if two negatives make a positive, will ginger clones be the only ones with souls? 
3) It's aint natchy. 
Well, yes. Cloning is not natural. But neither is the flavoring/coloring in your food, or the airplane you take on business trips, or birth control, or most of modern technology. Plus, nature hasn't been exactly kind to us. Nature isn't this loving being that nurtured us from the time we were split from Adams's a cold bitch that has forced us to adapt, or die. Countless species have not survived because mother nature was having a bad day. Don't get me wrong--I try to buy natural foods when I can afford it, and I am grateful that nature has unintentionally created a species as smart and unique as us...but that doesn't mean I have an all-or-nothing attitude. Plus, our brains are a product of natural processes, so would it be a stretch to say that whatever unnatural feats made possible by our brains are a natural bi-product? I think not. 

That's all I have for now. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Personal Identity: What makes me who I am

While I believe that peoples likes and dislikes of certain things (broccoli for example) change over time, what makes an individual remain as the same person on a fundamental level is their genetic makeup and the environment in which they were raised. However, it is only when we reach adulthood (and every area of the brain is fully developed) that we can accurately say we are who and what we are. When a building is under construction, we don’t assume to say that is how the building is meant to be and how it will remain.

Environment is important in shaping a person’s sense of identity. Someone who is genetically pre-disposed to depression may still enjoy a productive and healthy life, so long as their environment as a child was a supportive and loving one. Someone who (as an adult) hates dogs could have had some sort of traumatic experience when they were young, a dog might have knocked them off their bike or bit their hand. This person didn’t choose to have a certain characteristic of their personality be altered by a single incident; nevertheless it changed a core value of who they are. Our upbringing and our genetics determine a great deal of what we consider to be “us”. It would be nice to feel as though we had complete control over who we are, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Is a serial killer objectively responsible for his actions if scanners show that his brain is abnormal and similar to that of an epileptic? What if he was terribly abused as a child? Or both? It’s difficult to understand exactly what makes us who we are without looking at these factors.

How can I describe what makes me, me? If you were to make a clone of me, send that infant clone back in time to 1992, and make sure it experienced every single thing that I have now until this point; you would have a perfect replica of me. But can I honestly call it a replica? Will it act in the same way that I do? Will it have the same interests…likes and dislikes? I have no basis to argue that I am the real me, since this clone has every memory that I do, and every physical feature.

Of course our genetics and environmental influences are seated in the brain, which is required in order to be individual at all. A key component in self-identification is memory; without it how can you know who you are? If you can’t remember the experiences that help shape the way you think, feel, and act the way you do, you’ve become a “different” person.  Any external physical alteration done to the brain may also make you a different person. Therefore it is crucial to have a healthy brain in order to have a truer sense of “self”. Knowledge is also the driving force of what alters a person’s sense of self. If you never knew about something, how can you appreciate it? If children were never taught about religion, they could go their whole lives without knowing about something that often defines most people. 

I agree with the philosopher David Hume when it comes to our (general) belief of an underlying, constant self: "we are never intimately conscious of anything but a particular perception; man is a bundle or collection of different perceptions which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity and are in perpetual flux and movement". When it comes to personal identity, I feel that we’re always changing; there are no “factory settings” to which we revert to at the beginning of every day. However, there are limits to those changes; because certain core elements of our personality will remain the same as long as our environment continues to support those elements, and if our brains remain unaltered in any significant way. My dad is a big fan of rock and roll, and my mom is a fan of classical music. I enjoy both, and I believe I always will. But even though I enjoy both these genres, that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to acquire a taste for a certain pop song.  Additionally, I grew up in an environment that was supportive of both these styles of music, and perhaps it’s possible to inherit a certain taste in music as well. If I was exposed to rap as a child, and had a parent that enjoyed this genre; would I enjoy rap as opposed to rock n roll? I think the answer is yes. Unless of course (like in the movie “A Clockwork Orange”) I am physically, mentally or socially discouraged from liking a certain thing, and as long as my brain remains physically sound; I will continue to like it. This is why certain parts of me remain unaltered, and it is these pieces of myself that help to paint the bigger picture of “me”. The colors can change, but the outline remains the same.

Looking for new shows while I wait for old ones...

I've never really been into anime (avatar: the last airbender doesn't count), but man if boredom and a lack of good t.v. shows being on air hasn't pushed me to download "Bleach". And I'm not sorry I did it, this is a damn good show.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Quick thoughts on 2nd debate

As full of shit as they both may be, I have to give R and O credit for being on their game last night. O was very articulate and conscientious in his answers, and he seemed very relatable (side note: my browser apparently does not think the word "relatable" exists and has given it the red underline) friendly, thoughtful, etc. That alone might help him win the election. I felt like R was articulate and energetic, but there were points where he was being very rude (not the same as aggressive) and almost...patronizing. I don't know how to describe it, maybe I'm just biased but his voice was like listening to a snake. What I don't understand though, is that R keeps talking like he's a democrat (minus the big oil attitude) when discussing the issues. For example; he said he'll keep pell grant the way it is and make college more affordable, make sure women are represented equally in the work force, cut taxes on the MC and not lower the taxes of the wealthy, invest in some green jobs, and fix our immigration system so that it's EASIER for people to get in the US. Ignoring his stance on social issues, I'd actually like R if I thought for a minute he was genuine, but how can you believe him when his actions speak otherwise? How can you believe him when he's voted against the very things he claims he supports? However, how can I really defend O? O's own defense for why the economy is in such bad shape is the previous administration (I'll allow that, but if he gets re-elected that excuse expires) and that the Republican dominated congress is blocking his legislation (valid point, but he's forgetting one thing: the American people. We'll back him up and vote against congress if he brings the issues to us) I guess I'd have to say he's guilty of doing less than half of the things he said he was going to do, but at least it's SOMETHING. I respect the president just for the sheer responsibility he has to take on every day, but damn. Don't you think we deserve better choices? Can we get someone who really and truly represents us? And in fact, maybe it shouldn't be just one person shouldering all that responsibility, maybe we should have two or three presidents, or the VP should carry some of the load...but that's a topic for another time.

Side note: Did you notice that their tie colors switched? Red is the color of aggression and focus, and I think that may be why O wore one, whereas R wore a tie with white stripes in contrast to a blue background. I know I'm probably reaching, but "white" is the color representing independents and perhaps undecided voters. Blue is obviously democrat, and I think in this debate R was trying to address both.

I need a break from politics -_o