Saturday, January 15, 2005


There and back again

What a terrible year it’s been so far. So what’s the death toll now? 160000 due to the big wave, 15000 or so due to GWB, and this guy celebrated by dressing like Adolf. On a smaller scale, my supervisor from THC quit last Friday due to depression and loss of hope. Why do I grieve for her resignation? Because she was the puppet in my plot of dominating the THC, and now I need to start building new relationships and chisel on the glass ceiling.

Now if only all the money spent celebrating the New Year was saved for the tsunami, would we really have fewer people dead? Sometimes I wonder why we celebrate New Year's anyway. Or worse, birthdays... Does anyone else find birthdays a vain and egotistical celebration? It’s like celebrating Christmas (let’s pretend it really is JC’s birthday for our purposes), but for ourselves. And we invite friends, effectively making it a Mass. I believe Saddam declared his birthday a national holiday (“Saddammass”) and its celebration was enforced.

Speaking of new years, anyone come across the document of predicted global trends by 2015? I’ve lost the link, but these are some of the predicted trends plus my own forecasts:

-Information technology will take over our lives, analogous to the industrial revolution. I look forward to this.
- The rising Middle Eastern corporations will go through changes and would see globalization as an opponent to its rise. Could Dubai be the next NYC? What if they run out of black gold? Apparently, oil is only a minor (less than 40%) contributor to Dubai’s income.
- Iran will have its own space exploration program and Iraq would carry out nuclear experiments. Nah, I don’t think Iran would make it. Unless the connotation here is that Iran would be blown off into space. Iran looks so much like the next target in GWB’s agenda, it’s uncanny. And how can Iraq have nuclear technology? Wasn’t it “librated” from the nuisance of it all? Oh, maybe what is meant is that Iraq would be the site of nuclear experiments. Yes, more plausible.
- Tension builds up between the US and EU, eventually leading to the breaking of their alliance. I don’t see the rationality here.
- Peace would prevail in the Middle East for some period, especially between Israel and the Arabs. There will be a period of “cold peace”, probably. But let’s look at the results of the “cold war”. Well, all the scientific and technological advancements were a side effect of the anxiety of the “cold war”. So one can only deduce that following a “cold peace”, there will be retardation, perhaps?

I think they should've put more thought into predicting future prison abuses. Oh, but somebody already did predict what happened at Abu Ghraib by the dispositional hypothesis.

I don't think it's egotistical at all. I don't want to sound like I'm just being argumentative, but why do you believe human actions are always rational and thoughtful? Did you ever consider that a part of human nature could be to do some irrational or illogical things? I mean, why do we buy flowers? A lot of art and aesthetics revolves around some pretty nonfunctional activities.
"why do you believe human actions are always rational and thoughtful?"

But I don't. Though I think they should be. Part of human nature is indeed to do irrational things, and they most probably derive from an element of ignorance. For example, most people who celebrate Christmas don't really know what it's about. This, in my definition, is irrational.
or rather one might ask, "why do all human actions HAVE TO BE rational, expecially the ones that dont affect surrounding human beings or the environment in an adverse way?"
If every human action had well defined causality and purpose, then what difference would there be between human beings and robots? (not to look down upon robots of course :P) (but thats a different topic altogether). I would argue that one of the resons why human beings keep on living healthy lives is due to some acceptable ignorance, that creates a cloud of uncertainity, or lack of purpose. If the result of every action was clear and predictable, what motivation would there be for human beings to live on. For, part of living on, is exploring new actions, new options and taking new risks, and anticipating new effects for those actions. While some of these actions might lead to unforseen mishaps, one can argue that part of life is this risk taking game, where we are constantly trying to learn things, so that while we are here, we have something "worthwhile" to do.
All in all, when it comes to petty events like celebrating Birthdays, it has found its way into the arsenal of human actions by the virtue of cultural practice, and if it has to go then it might very well go by the virute of new cultural practices.
Simplistic cost benefit analysis of birthday parties: benefits: enjoyment, satisfaction, rejuvination of relationships (important to understand people and reduce potential alienation, which could lead on to conflict), smile (smile keeps a person healthy and therefore more productive). Costs: time, energy, money and other relevant oppurtunity costs.
Christmas. Well, though one would argue that christmas has become more of a cultural festival than religious event, Christmas has a huge importance in this culture. In this, what seems to be like capitalistic, and selfish part of the world where people like to keep away from "getting involved" Christmas is arguably one of the most important time of the year. Its atmosphere allows people to reflect on their actions, on building and rejuvinatiing relationships, on spending time with the family. Even advertisements to sell stuff in Christmas beacon these feelings of family, closeness, and love, which, to me is a strong indicator that these simple good things have a value in people's lives. Though it has huge economic functions, these economic functions are essential to some people's sustainance. Some people get awefully rich selling simple stuff, but on the brighter side, at least they dont get filthy rich killing and persecuting people. However one can see Nab's argument when one considers that in the whole gift, magic, and love "frenzy", people often overlook those businesses that take advantage of the simple emotions of people to sell them crap for their hard earned money.
So all in all, I might not challange the festive practices of human beings, such as birthdays and christmas, I might challange the actions of those who are taking advantage of the normal people's genuine emotions.
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