Thursday, December 28, 2006

Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation

How closely related are the physiological and biological formation of a being with the language being used? Does instinct directly or indirectly influence the language that being formulates? This is a question worth investigation, but my personal conviction is YES, physiology and instinct do influence the language. I will try to investigate my position in this part as well as part 3.

Assume that you raise some pet at home. Say, a cat. Isn't it curious that a home-raised cat meows?! How does a cat grown at home know that it is supposed to meow?! What is even more interesting is that a home grown cat can make mating calls that other cats can respond to. To explain this phenomenon, I guess that the physiology of the cat's throat is adapted to the simplest forms of "cat language". I am not sure if cats can develop more advanced forms of "cat language", but even at that simple level it is interesting.

An interesting hypothesis that I have once read about is the "Critical Period Hypothesis" (read more). This hypothesis suggests the existence of biological constraints on the language acquisition in humans. The hypothesis states that language acquisition would be at its best before the age of 12. It is suggested that language acquisition is a function of the left-hemisphere of the brain whose functions decline after the age of 12.

In the study of the critical period hypothesis, feral babies (babies raised in the wild) are taken as examples. Unlike what Hollywood would like us to believe in films like Tarzan, it is believed that feral babies have NOT developed any kind of "animal language" [anyone who has knowledge of a contradicting story, please inform us]. This is an interesting finding, as it gives a direct hint that humans are NOT adapt to develop non-human lingual abilities, even when they have lived among animals a large period of their life.

As an additional note, the feral babies that have been found before the age of 12 have been able to develop human language, while those found beyond the age of 12 had failed to properly acquire human language (which is in accordance to the critical period hypothesis).

In this series:
Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion
Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation
Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities
Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation
Language Acquisition - Part 6: Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 7: Possible Applications For The Investigation

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Anonymous Posting

I think turning off the anonymous comments option should not be a choice taken lightly. The position I am trying to support is that: The information contained in a post or comment is what matters, WHO made that comment should NOT be prioritized consideration.

As a blogger, I surely would prefer to know who made a certain comment, YET I wouldn't mind if all the commenting readers decided to post anonymously as I think "what is said" is more important than "who said that".

Some might raise the point that anonymous posters cannot be held accountable for their own comments and therefore are likely to make malicious posts. As much as that might seem reasonable, it has to be noted that -at times- there are legitimate concerns for privacy that a blog owner has to keep in mind.

Finally, from a practical perspective, if someone who does not own a blogger profile (or whatever service being used) has landed on a blog, the blog might miss a valuable comment due to the overhead required to post that comment. In this view, it becomes clear why blog owners should try to make it as easy as possible to post comments.

It has be noted that, whatever has been said above doesnt necessarily apply to all bloggers or types of blogs.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Individualism In Its True Light

Individualism is the position that holds that individuals (rather than society) responsible for their own good. The basic claim is that Reason is an individualistic property. No person can think for another; thought is an attribute of the individual. Since cognitive rationality implies that every cognitive unit seeks its own good, and since the individual is a cognitive unit, then the individuals seek their own good.

The opposite view of individualism is collectivism. Collectivism views the society as a responsible unit for its own good. Collectivism does not hold individuals accountable for the choices they make. Failing to save for retirement, having children one can't afford, making bad investments, becoming addicted to drugs or smoking --- These actions are called "social problems" that "society" has to deal with. On the other hand, individualism holds the individual responsible for their actions, and hence entitled for the consequences of those choices; The individual has the right to enjoy good outcomes, and the responsibility to suffer bad outcomes.

In this view, it is evident why individualists are not so keen to implement compulsory "safety-net", where individuals are required to provide help to those who made bad choices in their lives. Nonetheless, opt-in safety-nets might still be viable.

One of the common misconceptions about individualism is the concept of a loner. Social isolation is by no means synonymous with individualism. Individualism is a philosophy of how one person perceives their relations with other peers, and their role in their social group. An individual perceives each person based on their own merit rather than the collective value of the social group, and sees their relationship with their society as give-and-take compromise, rather than an altruistic duty.

Finally, it is important to note the high resemblance between Capitalism as an economic philosophy and Individualism, as Capitalism views the person responsible for their financial and social status.

PS: Based on this article [recommended-read]

Monday, December 18, 2006

Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion

Language, what is language?! Language can be roughly defined as a set of conventional signals that are used to suggest or convey information (or just data). Those signals can be in any form: Phonetic signals as in spoken language; Hand motion as in sign language; Electrical pulses as in computer communications; Numerous other forms exist. But the keyword in the definition of language is "conventional". Without conventions there are no languages. Consider how internet protocols are created: Certain dedicated committee of professionals meet in order to come up with a "standard", these standards are then published in either electronic or printed forms; From that point on, developers are expected to follow the conventional standard.

But what about human spoken language? Two highly interrelated questions arise: The first one is, how was first human language made? The second one is, if a person (say, a baby) has no knowledge whatsoever of the conventions used in a certain language, how would he develop an understanding of it? As an answer to this second question we can say that the combination of our pattern recognition abilities and continuous observation enables us to acquire language. Still the question is worth further analysis.

One of the main influences of creation of language and consequently understanding of language are the environment and experiences. In one discussion about language acquisition (here), I argued about the inherent difficulty for humans to analyze extraterrestrial languages. My position can be summarized that: Language experts have long been in the analysis of prehistoric languages (say, ancient Egyptian languages), their job is relatively easy because they are analyzing human languages - made by humans just like us. The real challenge would be to analyze and understand languages of beings that share neither our environment nor experiences.

Many philosophers have recognized this limitation, one such recognition is Wittgenstein's quote:
"If a lion could talk, we could not understand him." (source)
Other instances -say, the title "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus."- seem to suggest that even humans may be incapable of understanding eachother due to different physiological and psychological needs. All those instances seem to suggest that understanding of language is highly dependent on our familiarity of the concept being suggested.

A consequence to the "pattern recognition" method for acquiring language is ambiguity. Take two example nouns: "Knife" and "Love". The word "knife" can be easily recognized through observation, the concept is mainly unambiguous and not open for interpretations. On the other hand, the term "love" is highly ambiguous -each person has their own interpretations- since diverse patterns are attributed the same word "love".

An extreme view of the above two paragraphs, considering individualism and since every person has different experiences in life, then the meaning of words each individual perceives is different! We might say that no human really understands another, and we are merely deluded to think otherwise.

In this series:
Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion
Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation
Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities
Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation
Language Acquisition - Part 6: Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 7: Possible Applications For The Investigation

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Figure Of Satan Before Torah

Satan is a symbolic figure that existed even before Torah was made. At that time, Satan was a figure for curiosity and thirst for knowledge. It was a very positive figure connotated with people of science, including among others: Mathematicians and Physicists.

In the Jewish (and later on Christian) mythology, when The Lord of Moses (God) created The Garden of Eden (Heaven), he created many trees. One of those trees was the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Some clergies refer to the tree as an "apple tree", which strips it from its symbolic meaning).

The Lord of Moses has forbidden Man to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan (which represents thirst for knowledge) has raised curiosity of Man to know what that tree tastes like, and thus Man has defied the will of The Lord and eaten from the tree.

Thus according to Torah and the Christian mythology, Man's curiosity for knowledge caused him to be expelled from The Garden of Eden, and thats why Satan according to Torah is a negative figure. And Man is now being punished for his curiosity.

Satanism (and Satanists in general) carry the old tradition of thirst for knowledge, and Satan still represents that thirst for knowledge, and the Satanists admire the knowledge being gained.

Some people might wonder why The Lord of Moses has forbidden Man to eat from that tree. It is simple, knowledge (in general - as well as that of good and evil) is considered a Godly attribute (Don't all Abrahamic religions state that God is all-knowing?). The Lord of Moses (and almost all Gods known to mankind) didnt want Man to attain such Godly attribute.

Biblical References:
Old Testament: (PDF)
Genesis 2:16-17 [God forbids Adam to eat from the tree]
Genesis 3:1-5 [Satan convinces Eve to eat from the tree]
Genesis 3:7-11 [What happened when Man has eaten from the tree]

Monday, December 11, 2006

Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 3: Public Nudity

As I explained in Part 1, people are usually more honest about issues relating to physical attributes rather than emotional attributes. Exposing one's physical or emotional attributes makes them feel vulnerable. This feeling is completely understandable and justifiable. Nonetheless, we need to understand that dealing with our fears and points of vulnerability makes us more mature and stronger in general personality. As humans, we need to learn to accept ourselves whether in terms of physical form, or emotional build.

The more important issue, that we should recognize such acceptance and exposure as a point of strength, and something for the good of the individuals and the society as a whole. It might not be the choice of everyone, but it should still be recognized. Since it is tough for people to open up emotionally, many societies recognized their capacity to open up and accept their physical attributes. Such step can be recognized as an intermediate step to open up both physically and emotionally. What I am talking about here is the nude societies.

Public nudity is deemed unacceptable in many societies, and down right offensive in others. It is pathetic that such societies find themselves helpless next to the idea of exposing their physical attributes. What is even more dangerous, that such societies impose on others to follow their policy of denial. It can be understood that some people might feel uncomfortable exposing their physical attributes and feeling vulnerable at the possibility of that happening. But they cannot setback those who feel strong enough to accept their physical forms. It is no wonder why such societies are so emotionally locked up, as they are unable to unleash whats even more basic form of honesty.

I believe this deep rooted dishonesty, which is even enforced and strengthened by the social norms, is part of the reason we fail in building up straight and honest relationships. Please don't confuse the reason with the effect. People are dishonest by their nature, and that's why social norms are the way they are now. People created the social norms for their own convenience (and the inconvenience of others).

In this series:
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 1: The Premises
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 2: Elaboration
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 3: Public Nudity

Friday, December 08, 2006

University And Education

"A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education." (source)

George Bernard Shaw

Could that get any more forward?!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Time-Space Energy-Mass Equivalence

Nowadays, it is a generally known that mass is a form of energy. Einstein has pioneered this view with his time-space modeling. Within Einstein's view time and space are equivalent quantities, and time is only a fourth dimension where existence resides.

Following with that view came the inevitable conclusion: If time and space are equivalent then energy and mass are equivalent.** Below is the reasoning for that:

E = Energy equivalent to the mass (J)
m = mass (kg)
c = speed of light in vacuum (m/s)

E = m . c2
E / m = c2

If energy and mass are equivalent then the value of [ E / m ] is a unitless constant. This concludes that c2 is a unitless constant as well.

Now, say
K = positive unitless constant

Since energy and mass are equivalent, then a Joule equals a kilogram within a constant.

J = K.kg
N.m = K.kg
kg.m/s2.m = K.kg [divide both sides by kg]
=> m2/s2=K =>m2=K*s2 =>m=K.s


** A more descriptive claim would be: Time and space are equivalent if and only if energy and mass are equivalent

Fix: Removed references to unitless constants

PS: The scientific validity of claims is NOT asserted

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Perception Of TV-Shows

People's reception and perception of TV-shows varies greatly. In this entry I will be focusing about my own view of some TV-shows as well as opposing views of two of my friends.

Lets first consider the comedies: My personal favorite comedies are Becker and Seinfeld. One of my friends argues about Seinfeld: "Seinfeld is merely a series of unfortunate events, thats not comedy, thats annoyance." Apparently, my favorite kind of humor is defined as a series of unfortunate events!! I love Seinfeld because it has a strong connection with reality. The show is about the life of Jerry Seinfeld and his friends. Each one of his friends has a unique and interesting character. The show doesnt introduce unnecessary spice, everything is plain. I also love Becker because Becker's character is a realist with negative attitude. So just like Seinfeld, Becker has a strong connection with reality. Its negative attitude only adds to the irony and sarcastic perspective of the show.

Other comedies that I love include Ally McBeal. This show includes way too much irony that appeases my taste. Numerous references to the LGBT culture, and the unisex bathroom adds spice to the show, and shows that the makers of the film are more open-minded than the average.

Another controversial comedy show is the standup comedy of Russel Peters. If anything, that show is practically one racist remark after the other. Its too fucking hilarious!!

Now lets consider horror movies: I think horror movies are a disappointment. I think that a horror movie should instill horror in the hearts of those watching it. It fails to deliver that feeling to me, and thus it is generally a disappointing experience. A friend of mine disagrees. He argues: "Think of the director as your mentor. Horror movies are supposed to entice your imagination, to help you create your own little scary world. With the help of visual aids, and ideas that the directors suggests to you through the produced movie, that would become an easier task." I really miss that here. I think of the director as my enemy, a person who is trying to instill fear in me. I think of the movie itself as a challenge not a hint. My friend elaborates: "Don't just watch. Learn. Don't just watch. Use your imagination. I once watched a film where in one scene, there was a little baby about to cry. Once he cried a Meow sound came out of him. If you were just watching, that event would be meaningless. The point is, people are afraid of what they dont understand, what they are unfamiliar with. We are used to babies crying with human sounds, not those of a cat. From this point use your imagination to instill fear in yourself. Its not the director's responsibility to instill fear in you. Its your responsibility. The director is only giving you hints how to do it."

Finally, lets consider teenage romantic comedy movies: Arguably my favorite genre of movies. It deviates from the boring classical genre of romance, although has its own set of cliches. It includes many comical references. My favorite ones also include references to use of drugs, alcohol, sex, and vice in general. All of these factors add together to make a whole movie. Examples include: 40 days 40 nights, Euro trip, Dorm Daze, Not another teen movie.

Other TV-shows that I like are teenage cartoons like: Futurama, South Park, Drawn Together. South Park for example introduces ideologies in a sarcastic manner, and conveys those ideologies through elementary school kids. The concept is similar to stories that use animals (or otherwise) as tools to convey ideas. This kind of use makes it easier for the viewer to digest those ideas since animals\kids are usually denoted of as neutral agents.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Funniest Geeky Tale

Sometime ago, one of my university colleagues come to me for advice about his slow going computer acting funny at discrete times, so I suggested to him that his PC might be infected with a virus and suggested that I would send him a really good antivirus - Mcafee Enterprise 8.0i - over msn and advised him to install it.

Now keep in mind that this guy is a third year computer engineering student, who supposedly should have minimum computer skills. The thing is, few days later he came to my friend Ghaith telling him that Zaid (ie. me) is such a jerk! Although I am a self-proclaimed jerk, yet Ghaith found the declaration quite shocking, so he asked him about the reason he made that assertion. The guy tells Ghaith that I sent him a virus over msn. Ghaith knowing that I'm not really a virus kiddie was suspicious of the accuracy of the claim and asked him to elaborate. So he explains that after I sent him Mcafee over msn, he installed it and the computer gave him a message saying "Virus Found".... What an unfortunate event!!! I really must have been such a jerk!

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Right To Discriminate

With all these anti-discrimination movements it becomes necessary to assert the importance of discrimination and our basic right to discriminate! I am not saying that anti-discrimination is inherently violating our rights, but these anti-discrimination measures have introduced what is called reverse discrimination!!

In short, we have to understand when discrimination is acceptable and when it is not. Our basic premise is that people are equal in the eyes of the law. Which is a good practice that reserves the rights of people. BUT people are NOT necessarily equal in the eyes of other people. People have the basic freedom of thought and freedom of opinion. Dictating what other people think of each-other is violating these basic freedoms! If someone hates another simply because he has black skin, its within his basic freedom of opinion. Maybe judging someone by the color of their skin is an illogical thought, yet he still has the right of having illogical thoughts and opinions. One cannot be an elitist and deny others their freedom of opinion simply because it is (according to them) an illogical one.

The idea is similar to that of secularism. Secularism says that the government and the law have to be impartial to religion. That the law shouldn't include laws that are religiously charged. Yet, it is acceptable that people within a secularist country to follow religions. Its within the freedom of religion (where the freedom of religion itself is part of the freedom of opinion), right? Same goes for any-other kind of discrimination. It is unacceptable for the law to discriminate between people, yet it is perfectly acceptable for the people themselves to discriminate. Its their right to discriminate!

Consider that the law imposes on you who your friends are?! Is that acceptable? So what if all your friends happen to be white-skinned? Does this give the law the right to force you to have a black-skinned friend so that the collection of your friends is "politically correct"?! - The law has not gone this far concerning imposing your friends, but in some other fields it has, this phenomenon is called reverse discrimination.

Reverse discrimination is when the law includes policies that gives extra rights to historically discriminated against groups. For example, women in history have been known to be victims of discrimination. Now in many countries there are quotas for the minimum number of women participating in the parliament! Now, isn't that just another form of discrimination?! Why do we solve discrimination, by similar discriminatory acts?! [I am not against women quotas in parliaments but I think better solutions have to be formulated]

In a similar fashion, laws have been there to regulate employment issues in the private sector... Just like the law shouldn't impose on us who our friends are (even if we were not politically correct), the law shouldn't impose on the private sector who their employees are or what salaries do the private sector give their employees.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Abolishing Age Discrimination

One of the common forms of discrimination is what is called age discrimination. Age discrimination is as what its name suggests, treating different age categories differently, and giving them unequal rights under the law. Most commonly, age discrimination has two forms: Discrimination against the young (referred to as "minors"), and discrimination against the elderly. The basic driving factor for discrimination against the young is what some people call "age of consent", where young individuals are considered under the law as non-consenting individuals. Similarly, the driving factor for discrimination against the elderly is their general disability and incompetence. Here, I will argue against discrimination against the young, as I believe that all people -including minors among other- are consenting individuals. Discrimination against the elderly mostly falls under the acceptable forms of discrimination. (PS: acceptable forms of discrimination has its own post here)

Discrimination under the terms of the law is a seriously bad practice that has to be addressed and abolished for good. All individuals should have equal rights under the law whether they are white-skinned or not, males or not, heterosexuals or not, adults or not, whatever or not, anything or else!! Within this view, it becomes absolutely necessary to grantee the right of consent to all individuals... In practice, we find numerous examples where those generally referred to as "minors" are denied their basic right of consent: Minors cannot obtain a driving license. Minors cannot vote. Minors cannot participate in the parliament. Minors cannot buy tobacco and alcohol. Minors cannot join the porn industry. Sexual contact between minors and adults is banned in numerous countries. Some clubs are 18+. Its even minors have special treatment when they commit a crime or something of the like under most legislations. All these forms of discrimination have to be abandoned.

Some people argue that minors in fact dont have the capacity to give consent. First if all, we have to agree that consent is a basic right, no individual should be given the power to undermine the consent of another. This basically means that one cannot withhold another's consent even when they feel its not within their capacity. This might seem like theoretical discussion that isnt practical. NOT REALLY!! I agree that we might find that most minors of our time do in fact lack the minimum skill required for giving real consent, but this issue can be solved. Maybe solving this issue will need more than one generation, but it can be solved. The root of this issue lies in parenting. Lets face it, the parents of our time suck big-time!!! Parents dont raise their kids with the consent issue in mind, but instead, they use the ban-it-if-it-is-controversial mentality, and raise their kids accordingly. They dont raise their kids thinking that its their (the parents') duty to empower their kids with the knowledge required for them to pass judgments. Parents have to teach their kids how to make sound judgments instead of making decisions for them. Practically, not until parents learn to raise their kids to these standards that age discrimination can be safely abolished. And YES, even a toddler has the capacity to make sound judgments, and its is the parents' duty to learn how to empower their kids with that skill!

The problem remains that even when parents fail to raise their kids properly, we still cannot deny any individual their right to consent - this should be out-of-question. I am sure that one day humanity will abolish age discrimination, but for all I can hope, I hope that day would come sooner rather than later.

Another issue worth mentioning is the difference between "consenting" individual and "misguided" individual. Consent is only legitimate when the individual forms their decision based on full account of truthful information, otherwise that individual has been misguided. The difference should be noted when taking the issue of consent into account. This topic is equally valid for all ages, and not specific to any age category. (see my comment on Jameed's Blog for extra information)

I have discussed the issue of age discrimination in numerous occasion, check the comments to see how others have (negatively) reacted towards the issue:
-Jameed's entry regarding a NAMBLA-like association (here)
-Black Iris's entry regarding smoking laws in Jordan (here)
-And, on this very blog, when I posted about the .xxx domain proposal (here)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Windows Experience Index - New Windows Vista Feature

On November 8th, Windows Vista had been released to manufacturing. The general (retail) availability of Windows Vista is scheduled for January 30th. Windows Vista includes numerous new features, some of which are really interesting. One of the most useful new features is the Windows Experience Index (WEI for short); Its basically a number that can be used to compare the performance of two computer systems. For example, my personal computer has a base score of 2.6. The base score is the minimum of 5 other sub-scores (with few exceptions).

Here are details of my computer's sub-scores:
ComponentScore
Processor3.1
Memory4.0
Graphics3.1
Gaming Graphics2.6
Hard Disk Speed5.2
Base Score2.6


These scores will increase the ease of upgrading computer's hardware in general. Taking my personal computer as an example, we can see that the "Gaming Graphics" category is the one diminishing my base score. This would give a direct hint that the most needed upgrade would be a better graphics card, as it is the part with the lowest sub-score indicated by the base score.

Hopefully, new hardware and software productions will take advantage of this benchmarking system. For example, newer graphics cards would provide WEI score for its graphics subsystem. So I might go to any hardware selling point, and check the WEI to have an idea how much better or worse that graphics card is compared to the one I already have, or maybe compared to another graphics card displayed on the shelve. Also, when buying a new computer, the WEI score would be the easiest way to determine how good or bad that computer is. Moreover, newer softwares might reduce complex minimum and recommended system requirements to a single WEI score. This would make it much easier to decide whether a certain game will work on my system simply by looking at its WEI rating, instead of detailed computer specifications (still details would be a good supporting consideration).

The WEI score works in a logarithmic manner. One unit of score is almost double the performance, so a computer with score 4.0 is roughly twice as good as one with score 3.0. As of this date, all vista-capable computers fall in the range of 1.0-5.9. 1.0 is the score of the minimum requirements for Windows Vista, while 3.0 is the recommended score for it. Topnotch computers have ratings of 5.0+. Scores of 6.0 and above are reserved for the computer specifications of the near future. Most analysts agree that computer's performance almost double every two years, so we can expect WEI maximum score to be updated almost every two years.

Read more about WEI here

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 2: Elaboration

Honesty is the opposition of fear. People hide what they fear, what exposes their weaknesses, and what they cannot handle. On the other hand, once the information in question is well-understood, its complications are manageable, and its exposure doesn't threaten their holders, that information become a candidate for publishing. The motives for any party to publish any piece of information varies greatly according to the field and type of information. For example, scientific advancements (that doesn't pose dangers on security of countries) are published so that other scientists can use them in other scientific researchers to form a kind of scientific collaboration. It is even sometimes businesses are established upon publishing of information, like journals and newspapers.

On social and personal levels, honesty comes as a balance of self-acceptance and expected acceptance of others. That is to say, people are usually honest about issues that they themselves have accepted, and (when applicable) how accepted that would make them among their peers. The harsh fact is, our societies lack honesty at serious levels. People in general are far more accepting of nicely wrapped lies than facing honest truths. While some might find that to be totally unalarming, it is in fact a problematic issue. Don't misunderstand what I am saying: It is perfectly normal for people to hide information, and maybe it is wise in certain occasions. The alarming problem is when (legitimate) honesty is perceived as a criminal offense. When people go to trial for expressing their opinions, or they are being abandoned for stating what is an ugly truth.

This concern also extends to interpersonal relationships where lack of honesty is the overwhelming trend in most interpersonal relationships. The consequence of this lack is that most relationships are seriously shallow since they all lack transparent communication. It is a fact that all of us are emotionally hindered to open up about our personal issues to others, even our significant others. The matter of fact is: we fail to transparently communicate ourselves even when we intend to. This observation comes as an indication of our severe disabilities in self-growth, especially self-acceptance! Yes, that right, it all boils back to our failure to accept our own! Conventional parenting as well as the conventional path of developing relationships in our current societies leads to severe discouragement of self-exploration, self-discovery, and self-development... This impacts our egoistic selves in the first place, and the general society in the second place where the individuals are less advanced in counterpart open societies.

In this series:
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 1: The Premises
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 2: Elaboration
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 3: Public Nudity

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Internet Is For Porn

Don't ever allow anyone to delude you from the simple undeniable fact: The Internet is for porn. Thats the only legitimate use of it, and everything else is just a waste of time and money!! Check this video to enlighten yourself about what you should already know. The song was originally performed by Avenue Q.

My Theory Of Interpersonal Matching

The theory is simple, and states "The closer a person's belief system to the truth, the higher are his chances to find an exact match".... Thats in a nutshell, the reasoning for this bold statement is what follows.

It might be obvious that since i used the word "chance" then the basis of this theory originates from studying probabilities. To make the thought clear lets create this mock experiment that would closely correspond (although with some limitation) to real life matchmaking. The experiment is a multiple choice exam; 20 Questions, with 4 choices for each question, where there is exactly 1 correct answer to each question. The mark of an exam is defined as the sum of correct answers, obviously the maximum mark is [20/20]. Once we visualize this experiment its time for the tests.

What is the probability that two students who obtained [20/20] to have identical answers to all questions?! The answer is simple: It is certain .ie. the probability is 100%!! Since the two students answered ALL questions correctly, this implies that ALL of their answers are identical.

But what is the probability that two students who obtained [19/20] to have identical answers to all questions (assuming that the students randomly answered the questions)?! The answer to this question is a little bit tricky. We know that they have for sure 18 identical answers. We also know that each student has made exactly one mistake. In addition, we can find that there are (20*3)=60 wrong answers on the exam paper. The chance that they both made the same mistake is (1/60)=1.7%!!

Wow, what a difference one mark makes! Two students with [20/20] mark have 100% chance of having identical answers to all questions, while two students with [19/20] mark have only 1.7% chance of having identical answers. What about two students with [18/20] marks?! I'll save you the calculations the final answer is (1/570)=0.2%...

If we define finding an exact match to mean that two people have identical answers to life's problems then we can see that people with numerous wrong answers are much less likely to find that as compared to those with the correct answers!! But there is another complication to this problem: While most questions have only one correct answer, there are usually an infinite number of wrong answers...

Consider one atheist person, and another theist. If two atheists meet and discuss the issue of the anthropomorphic God, they would reach an understanding that no such God exists. But take the two theists, while they might agree that an anthropomorphic God exists, they most probably wouldnt agree on which God exists. Theism could mean an Abrahamic God, or a Greek God (or Goddess)... It could mean one God, or numerous Gods... It could mean virtually anything! The point is, when people are given the chance to create a belief system based on random events, the results are very likely to diverge. On the other hand, when belief systems are created with concrete basis, the results are likely to converge.

Combining the above two ideas together leads to the conclusion that to for one person to have a significant probability to find an exact match, they need to base their beliefs on concrete theories that are likely to converge, and have answers as close to the reality as possible.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Devil's Mind The Blog Enrolled In Jordan Planet

In an unanticipated event, this blog -Devil's Mind- has been enrolled as a Jordan Planet citizen. Almost a year ago, this blog was submitted to blogwise and Jordan Planet. Blogwise's response was pretty much timely, and the blog was being featured on this page since Dec 27th 2005. A year later, on Nov 5th 2006 this blog was added to Jordan Planet blogroll.

Good news? Bad news? I'm pretty much positive its not bad news. This leaves us with the other possibility: that its most likely good news to have a larger readers base that is expectedly generated through Jordan Planet. I hope this blog will retain its quality for its old-times readers (who are highly appreciated :D ), and hopefully for its new readers as well.

Lets just hope for best!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 1: The Premises

Complete honesty is probably not a feasible goal; Everybody is concerned about a minimal set privacy... Our egoistic nature implies that we wouldn't give unnecessary power to anyone, especially those we don't trust. As many people recognize knowledge is power, and therefore giving out information for free is an act of empowering others (possibly) against our egoistic purpose. The matter of fact is slightly more complex: Our social constructs implies that certain benefits are shared among the society, which implies that collaboration leads to a greater benefit that even extends to our egoistic needs. In short we can see that sharing of information leads to a case of "selfish unselfishness" that many people can recognize where sharing comes with a benefit.

As you might have realized I am an advocate of opening up the doors of information, because as I believe knowledge is the power that drives our lives to its ultimate potential, and that's when our societies will bloom with technological advancements we have not dreamt of. Those words I have spoke of before and wikipedia is one of the prominent organizations that recognize the supremacy of sharing of knowledge. Blogging also comes as an important anchor to the more profound goal of universal public sharing of information. It is for those reason this blog stands against all forms of censorship and withholding information. This post is meant to take that premise to further extents.

Information comes in many forms: It might be scientific fact, an idea, a proposition, even a sound or a shape!! As any satanist, we can recognize that even the most trivial pieces of information can lead to great discoveries. Consider the famous Newton's apple example: A really simple incident of a falling apple has lead Newton to reshape science with his famous gravitational field theories. So now it becomes clear why even the most minor or trivial information does make a difference!

Taking this discussion to a more personal dimension, we can add two premises to our initial premise. Lets first define "honesty" as the readiness and willingness of a person to share information. The first premise is the intuitive recognition that personal-level honesty has higher potential than public-level honesty, that's to say that anyone is more likely to share certain information with a select number of people rather than provide that information to the public. The second premise - that might be less concrete - is that material honesty has higher potential than emotional honesty, which is to say that a person in general is more likely to share non-emotional details rather than personal emotions-related details.

If we take the two above-mentioned premises we can reach the conclusion that for any person in general, that person has more potential to be honest about non-emotional issues with a select number of people than being honest about emotional issues with the public. Taking a quick glance at our daily life can verify those inferences.

In this series:
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 1: The Premises
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 2: Elaboration
Public Openness And Personal Honesty - Part 3: Public Nudity

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Psycological Dimension Of Sexuality

Could we really say that sex is a purely physical need?! I wouldn't entirely support that view. Asserting that, what are the main factors driving our need for sexual contact on various level. The answer isn't that simple: numerous factors come into play, and each person has their own views regarding sexuality and its role in the regular human life. Considering Freud, these sexual aspects are defined in the prenatal stage, or very early baby stage, but that's beyond the scope of the discussion. Darwinistic explanations are also beyond the scope of discussion.

The main areas -I can identify- that drive sexuality are: The ego, sociocultural values, distorted body image and related insecurities, emotional distress, tension release in relationships, and finally interpersonal acceptance. Lets try to take a glimpse at each of these.

For numerous reasons, the ego and sexuality develop a direct relation. It can be noted the widespread instinctive correlation created where even simplest forms of sexual contact can boost the self-esteem and almost instantly have a feel-good about oneself. This effect has two sides, the first is the instinctive weight of sexuality; The other side is the sociocultural weight. In almost every culture, active sexuality is equated with superiority - the best of the breed if we may say. It becomes vital that an individual being sexually active in order to be considered socially effective.

Taking the issue of the ego to more specific terms, the relationship between sexuality and the body image is generally quite evident. One of our basic needs includes coming into good terms with our physical attributes. Whether it's about being tall or short, ugly or pretty, fat or fit, even the size of the genitals... All of these physical attributes need to be feel satisfactory for the person in question. The fact that people fuck naked comes as an abhorred nightmare to anyone with problems in that area. I bet you've heard of people who would only fuck with the lights turned off! That only shows how sexuality is related to exposing your naked body allowing for the horrifying possibility of being judged. Rejection of your body by other peers come as a great nightmare, while the contrary of that generally comes as a great relief.

On a totally different note, sex has a relieving effect on emotional distress in general. Whether its a stressful job, unfortunate events, or even general frustration, a need to vent that frustration physically in one form or another where sex actually comes handy; This comes as a demonstration of the direct link between the physical effects of sex and emotional states.

The issue of sex and relationships comes as a complex one and cannot be summed up in few lines. To touch on few points, we find sex to play some role in subsiding relationship troubles. The lure of sexuality in that regard comes from that sex is a low cost, redundant act that doesn't lose interest quickly. Its like, if we have nothing to talk about, nothing new to do, no event to celebrate, and no place to go then fucking eachother comes as the answer! This attitude although healthy as a discrete event, yet would demonstrate major communication flaws if it becomes a habit and lead to an emotional rot.

Finally -and maybe most importantly- sex works as part of acceptance. The psychological background that relates sex with acceptance isn't perfectly understood, but the symbolic exposure of nakedness, combined with the acceptance of the body, and even breaking some stereotyped social views all count up as an open and accepting mind to the other side. Sex can be interpreted as a very friendly gesture that clears the air and shows readiness for understanding, and a big hint to move at an accelerated rate.

Sex is widely viewed as an expression of love in relationships. While sex actually demonstrates simple forms of interpersonal friendliness - as explained earlier, this form of expression might fail more elaborate emotional states and intimacy required for well-defined interpersonal relationships. Although relationships that are based solely on sex exist and are healthy, but misdefined relationships that don't demonstrate real values of a relationship are signs of deep rooted miscommunication.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Web-Browser Usability Personal Ratings

Numerous web-browsers exist today each with their own ups and downs and their own set of users and fans. Personally, I am currently a Firefox user and find that browser to be the most usable browser in the market. Since Firefox has been released Microsoft lost some points for its browser known as "Internet Explorer" in the browsers market, and since has been working hard to re-establish its grounds. The three most widely used browsers under windows are: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera. Here I will give a rating for each of them in two conditions. The first condition is out of the box, which is the default installation that has not been customized or extended using any addons. The other condition is the optimized setup, with settings fixed and addons installed.

BrowserOut of the boxOptimized
* IE + Windows Live Toolbar
Opera 978
Firefox 2.069.7
Firefox 1.559.5
IE 757
IE 6sp234*
IE 6sp114*


As it can be noted, Opera provides the best out of the box experience. Yet, neither Opera nor Internet Explorer are customizable enough - not even using third party extensions. Microsoft earlier this year released MSN Toolbar that significantly enhances old versions of Internet Explorer for the modern requirements of a web browser. Firefox on the other hand provides a bare minimum of what a person expects in a modern web browser while giving the user a large collection of addons which enables the user to tweak it to their specific needs, hence I rate it as the best browser after optimization.

Microsoft should be applauded that its newest browser Internet Explorer 7 qualifies the minimum expectations for a modern web browser, and in fact competes with the out of the box experience of Firefox 1.5. It is advised that all windows users upgrade their Internet Explorer to version 7 - even if they use an alternative browser. As a final advise for Firefox users who are concerned about security, it is advised to install the noscript addon.

PS: Figures provided are based on my subjective experience with the products

Update: Firefox 2.0 final has been released

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Schools Of Hedonism - Part 4: Egoism VS Utilitarianism

Hedonism is usually connotated with egoism, but this is not really the case: Some altruistic philosophies recognize Hedonism, the most notorious of which is Utilitarianism. Although Egoistic Hedonism and Utilitarianism both recognize happiness as the ultimate goal and the highest good, they hold very different underlaying beliefs.

Utilitarianism recognizes one extra factor that Egoistic Hedonism does not recognize: The extent. The extent is defined as the number of people affected by an action. If an action will make a hundred people happy and upset only one then that action is viewed in positive light. Variations in the methods of calculation do exist within Utilitarianism the same way as described in the previous part.

One of the commonly known utilitarian systems is majoritarian democracy, where voting is used as a practical tool to decide the extent of people who are believed to benefit from that action, and those who are believed to be adversely affected by it.

On the other hand, Egoistic Hedonism holds that each person takes responsibility for their own happiness and views the side-effects on other individuals as a secondary concern.

In this series:
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 3: What Kind Of Pleasure?
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 4: Egoism VS Utilitarianism

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Points Of View: Relativism And Objectivism

Consider the sketch below, assuming all cars are on a straight line, and that all velocities indicated are in the +ve x-axis direction taken with respect to the parking car which is also the speed indicated in the speedometer in each car respectively... Lets further assume that each moving car contains the driver and a passenger next to him.



Now, we can see that the speed of CarB relative to CarA is 30 KM/H, yet the speedometer indicates 50 KM/H. Can we say that the speedometer's reading is wrong?! Not really, because the speedometer measures the speed relative to the ground not CarA!! The two values indicate the speed of CarB, but each one has a different reference, which means that speed is in fact a relative value.

So what exactly is the speed of CarB?! This question is unanswerable! You cannot ask about the speed without defining a reference object... The speed and the reference are inseparable. Is there any objective value of the speed of CarB?! YES!! We can objectively say that the speed of CarB is 30 KM/H with respect to CarA... As we can see, although speed has a relativistic property we can objectively state the speed. It is meaningless to say: "The speed of CarB is 30 KM/H", without qualifying the claim with its reference. Yet, once the reference is defined nothing is ambiguous!

Within this context we can define at least 4 points of view [POV as a shorthand]; one for each car. Each car has a different POV. From the POV of CarA, CarC has speed 80 KM/H. From the POV of CarB, CarC has speed 50 KM/H. It is evidently obvious that with respect to each POV CarC has a different speed value! One car with different speeds values from every POV!! Does this mean that one POV is correct and the other is wrong?! Not really. We cannot assign a truth value to a POV. We cannot say that the speed calculated from CarA's POV is correct and that of CarB is wrong. Somepeople may intuitively claim that the parking car's POV is more correct. As intuitive as it may seem, the last claim is flawed!

So does this mean that anyone claiming to know the speed of CarC is necessarily correct? Absolutely not. Consider the the driver and the passenger in CarA each make a different claim; The driver says: "From my POV, CarB is moving at 30 KM/H", while the passenger says: "From my POV, CarB is moving at 40 KM/H"... Both claims are initiated with the magic words "From my POV", yet the driver has made a truthful claim, while the passenger has made a false claim. The speed of CarB is 30 KM/H from the POV of the driver, and is 30 KM/H from the POV of the passenger as well since both are in CarA and moving with equal velocities.

A POV is different from an opinion. As in the previous example, the driver and the passenger in CarA each had the same POV, but with different opinions. Unlike a POV, an opinion can be assigned a truth value as being either true or false. A person may be wrong even from their own POV. We cannot say that the driver and the passenger had different opinions and both opinions are true. It is possible that two different opinions are both true - there is no contradiction, but nonetheless we cannot say that all opinions are necessarily true.

As a final twist, the driver in CarA may use this inference: "From my POV, CarB is moving at 30 KM/H. From my POV, CarC is moving at 80 KM/H. Thus, the speed of CarC with respect to CarB is (80-30) KM/H = 50 KM/H." - In this simple example, we see that the state from a certain POV can be calculated from other POVs, as the driver figured the POV of CarB from his own car.

Conclusions:
  • Some quantities are relative. eg. velocity
  • Relative quantities are inseparable from the reference.
  • Relative quantities coupled with their respective reference are objective facts.
  • POVs are defined on references.
  • POVs cannot be assigned truth values.
  • Opinions are statements.
  • Opinions evaluate to truth values.
  • POVs can be evaluated from other POVs.
  • Relativism and Objectivism DO NOT contradict.
  • Relativism DOES NOT imply all opinions are true.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Bag Tag - That Says Your Name

Since I have been kindly tagged by Tala with the BAG TAGTM, the tag that reveals your TRUE IDENTITYTM, I decided to face my demons and share with my readers the tag that I have been afraid to share!!


  1. Calculator: Mainly for my exams, and sometimes to help me make simple calculations.
  2. Pen: Obviously for writing my notes during classes.
  3. Papers: Numerous handouts given by teachers, including syllabuses, exam papers, homeworks, ..etc.
  4. Notebook: Also for writing down my notes during classes.
  5. Probability Textbook: Nah, I don't carry books with me, its just that I just bought this book yesterday at the university!
    Now to the most shocking item, the item which only the BAG TAGTM has ever been able to reveal, the item that speaks of my most inner demons, the item that reveals my TRUE IDENTITYTM and says my name!
  6. Lovely Green Dildo: Sometimes I feel kinda gay [as in right now!] and need to shove something up my butt!! It might also be used to give a chick an extra hand whenever -if at all- that comes handy...
Now, I pass on this tag to other gay fellows to help them come out of the closet with this incredibly gay tag, the BAG TAGTM! Now that you know my little dirty secret, I hope Tala can now understand my initial hesitation to answer her tag in the comments here!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Smart Funerals And The Not-So-Smart Ones

Why do people care what happens to their bodies after their death?! For example, Pharaohs in ancient Egypt created the Pyramids and stuffed them with jewelery and luxurious food... But, ancient Egyptians had some kind of excuse as -according to their beliefs- the bodies of the dead are revived in the after life and thus need food and luxury! What about our current societies?! Are we carrying on the tradition of ancient Egypt?! Most current religious systems admit that we don't live in the after life -if at all existed- in our earthly bodies....

Why do some people pay thousands of dollars on a quality coffin?! Why do we bury the dead in expensive suits?! Are people still confused as to where dead bodies are going?!

Personally, I think a perfect funerals goes like this: Put the corpse in a big black plastic bag, and throw the bag in the nearest dump - and maybe you will want to burn that corpse for hygienic purposes! And after some thought, I might strictly forbid anything more than that in my Will... But hey, a Will is a stupid concept as well, so lets forget about that too! Side-note: If any of my friends is listening: Don't expect a more sophisticated funeral if for some mysterious reason you die and It happens that I am the one taking care of the body!! [Big smile to all my friends]

Finally, on a side-topic, whats the fuss about people being wary of donating their body organs after death?! Why would anyone hold on to his liver\heart\kidneys\..etc when in few months his whole body would be dust and mud?! (actually, its decayed by fungus and other bacteria to be specific)... This is another issue worth considering on the whole fuss people make over the dead bodies of dead people!! I mean, if you are Michel Jackson and want your body frozen for the experiments of the future, one can understand... But if your body is going to the grave not the refrigerator, I really see no use of disallowing organ donations!!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Schools Of Hedonism - Part 3: What Kind Of Pleasure?

One of the most disputed aspects of Hedonism is whether the human's goal is pleasure or happiness... Pleasure is usually attributed to intense physical sensations like sex, gluttony, or euphoria. Happiness is usually attributed to the feel good state of the mind like tranquility, content, satisfaction, or the company of friends.

Some people argue that simple beings like pigs have easier access to simple pleasures as they are ignorant to higher forms of life dilemmas, and thus can indulge in their pleasures without spoiling that pleasure by other worries. Similar lines of thought recognize simple (rural?) life as being more fulfilling.

One of the Greek old-school Hedonists, Epicurus, (among others) claimed that the highest pleasure consists of a simple, moderate life spent with friends and in philosophical discussions. I might add that: This blog recognizes this form of pleasure, and it is one of its goal to create a favorable space for that. [An alternative pimp house if you may call it!] - Hope it has been able to deliver that...

Some schools of thought advocate that it is unwise to indulge deeply into some pleasures as it might induce counter-intuitive side-effect. In particular, they advocate that a person should not indulge in pleasures that belittle other pleasures; For example, extreme sexual fetches might cause a person to lose interest in the milder forms of sexual pleasures and lead to dissatisfaction in the general sense of human experiences. I might add that I generally oppose the view that indulging in one pleasure diminishes the enjoyment of later pleasures.

On a final note, some schools challenge the view that pain as an opposite of pleasure. Generally, masochistic fetishes provide the biggest challenge to the "minimize pain" part of the definition. It is obvious that pleasure-through-pain proves that pain is not the opposite of pleasure. For this reason, I prefer to amend the second part of the definition to: "maximize pleasant experiences and minimize unpleasant ones"; where pleasant experiences include all types of pleasure, including: happiness, sensual pleasure, and even pain when applicable.

In this series:
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 3: What Kind Of Pleasure?
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 4: Egoism VS Utilitarianism

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation

There are numerous schools with subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the way choices can be evaluated; the most argued variable is whether the calculation has to be quantitative or qualitative. The quantitative approach suggests that pleasure is calculated by its intensity multiplied by its duration, so the best case scenario is feeling intense pleasure for a long period of time. The quantitative approach usually relies solely on the duration regardless of the intensity.

Other differences are whether pleasure and pain add up as scalars, or are taken as a ratio... Lets say one person had 10 points of pleasure and 5 points of pain; Another had 4 points of pleasure and 1 of pain. The scalar summation says that the first guy had 5 more points of pleasure so he has favorable life experience, while the ratio based schools says that the second guy had four times pleasure as pain so he has favorable life experience.

Yet there are those who radically change the methods of calculation, and instead some schools of thought argues that one has to maximize pleasure regardless of pain. Others argue that one has to minimize pain regardless of pleasure. Those two schools are more common in Utilitarianism; Consider a hypothetical situation where unjustifiably killing a few people would help a large civilization. Some would argue that the common good is more important than a few lives, while others would argue that regardless of the benefits of sacrificing a few, unjustifiably killing someone is not acceptable. The first position is usually called positive utilitarianism, while the second is usually called negative utilitarianism.

It seems interesting that some people actually tried to formulate hedonistic calculations through what is called hedonistic calculus! It has been argued that the happiness of different people is incommensurable, and thus hedonistic calculus is impossible - not only in practice, but even in principle...

In this series:
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 3: What Kind Of Pleasure?
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 4: Egoism VS Utilitarianism

Sunday, September 24, 2006

How Much Are They Paying You?

In the film Lost and Delirious , when Mary felt other people looking down on her because she hangs out with her lesbian friend, she turned for advise from her wise friend the school gardener:
Mary: How much does it matter what other people think?
Gardener: Well, it depends on how much they are paying you, I guess... How much are they paying you? (source)

If you find yourself wasting so much time thinking about what other people think, maybe you should think again!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Religious Perspectives: An Insight Into Modern Satanism

The following excerpts are taken from "Religious Perspectives" - an interview with Oz Tech, a Satanic priestess from the temple of Set.

Basic Beliefs:
Q: Do Setians then worship the personification of evil?
A: We believe that the prince of darkness is responsible for consciousness, the psyche, what divides human being from animals, one aspect of aspects of that is an understanding of the idea of good and evil. We don’t worship a god of evil. We admire a being who takes the idea of good and evil, works with it and makes enlightened choices.

Q: Who or what does the Setians believe or worship?
A: The Setians believes in him or herself; worships his or her capacity to think, to choose, to evaluate, and to create. The Setian strives to become his or her own god.

Q: So what’s next on your agenda? World conquest?
A: What we are after is an individual awakening. We are looking for people who want to walk their own path in the world, who want to improve themselves. We are looking for people who are interested in pursuing the challenges like Prometheus; the people who are going to steal the privileges of the Gods and hand them over to humankind. Those are the people who are Satanists.

Q: What is the eventual goal of the Setian?
A: The eventual goal of the Setian is to become his or her own God. To create the universe in which he or she lives. To experience. To learn. To attain wisdom. To reach undreamed of capabilities through the exercise of will and intelligence.

Ancient Myths And Symbology:
Q: Then how do you perceive the prince of darkness?
A: The prince of darkness was originally a compliment to the Lords of light in the ancient Egypt. This has to be seen in view of an earlier philosophy, a philosophy which sees in the dark, a philosophy which is not afraid the dark, a philosophy that draws a line between the people who cower around a camp fire in the darkness and talk about the monsters out in the dark while they are waiting, and the people who pick up a torch, the light bearers, who then go out into that darkness, who go out and explore the unknown.

Q: This is what I cannot understand: if Lucifer is the so called the bearer of light, then why do you call him the prince of darkness?
A: Set was originally the lord of darkness; he is a stellar deity in the Egyptian mythos. I might point out that while the darkness is the symbol of ignorance to people who are themselves ignorant, most of our knowledge about true the position of man in the cosmos comes from the astronomers, the people who found knowledge in darkness. It’s no accident that Galileo was prosecuted by the church to his death. There is wisdom in darkness; there is wisdom to be found going the solitary way, against the doctrines of the church, the doctrines of society. There is a refining of the individual intellect that comes with the path of the rebel, and the path of innovator. There is Prometheus who gave the gift of fire to mankind. The gods punished him for this.

Q: And I suppose your medallion that you are wearing gives you some sort of a special power to accomplish that goal, right? [The medallion is an upside-down pentagram]
A: This medallion is the insignia of the temple of Set. It shows the pentagram; a very old symbol. In the time of ancient Greece, it was the secret of the Pythagoreans, a fraternal band of mathematicians and philosophers who wanted to inquire into the secret things of nature. Today this symbol still represents the desire to inquire into the structure of the cosmos and to know its secrets. There is no more magic in this medallion than the magic of understanding that is found in the enlightened human mind.

Deformed Perception Of Satanism:
Q: Ok. What about Richard Remer and those other satanic slaves?
A: Psychotic killers are failures. Drug cultists who are using voodoo to keep people in line are failures. Our philosophy is not a philosophy of failure, violence, and mayhem. [It is baseless] To say that the prince of darkness or the philosophy of Satanism is responsible for the combination of ignorance and psychosis that one sees in these crimes which have nothing to do with Satan or Satanism.

Q: What about books like "Michelle Remembers" written by ex-cultists who describe blood rituals, sexual perversion, and brain washing?
A: Stephen King makes a lot of money writing such things as fiction, others make a lot of money writing such things as fact. There is no evidence that any of these things have actually happened. Where are the convictions? Where are the trials? You get these people on talk shows. They never talk to police departments. They talk on television. Talk in books. Give me a break!

The Fall Of Biblical Churches:
Q: But that was one small period when the church fell from the grace of god.
A: This was the time when Christian faith had its strongest hold on the mind of men. You judge for yourself what the product was. Today that grip is weakening, technology is moving ahead, progress is being made, people are living longer, they have more freedom and more enjoyment in life. You tell me what Christianity has brought to humanity. At its hype, people were being burnt at the stake, hanged for heresy, people were dying in their 20'es and 30'es, filth and disease, and people said it was god's will. I’d rather be my own god if that’s the god that Christians have to offer.

PS: Download a text version of the interview here
PS: View the full interview here

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction

Lets first start by stating what Hedonism is: Hedonism declares pleasure as the highest good, and that the humans' ultimate goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Variations from this straight forward definition do exist and that's whats will be discussed in this series.

Hedonism assumes that humans seek pleasure (others claim that happiness is what humans seek not pleasure - for now pick what you think fits). Since the rightness of an action is measured by the degree it fulfills its purpose (by definition), thus pleasure is the highest good - as Hedonism suggests.

Several attempts have been tried to discredit Hedonism, the most notorious of which is the paradox of Hedonism which goes like this: A person cannot seek happiness and obtain it - but, when one pursues some other purpose (eg. a challenging career, a project important to humanity, a code of ethics, a religious commitment), one achieves happiness. A philosopher once said: "Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so."

It is important to notice that the paradox of Hedonism isn't really paradoxical; Hedonism states that humans seek happiness, but if a person - for psychological reasons - fails to achieve happiness by pursuing happiness then if it works for them they can pursue another goal which diverts their attention from focusing on that happiness - which consequently helps them achieve happiness which is the stated purpose as Hedonism suggests.

Another thing worth notice is that seeking pleasure doesn't necessarily undermine pleasure - as the paradox of Hedonism suggests. Proclaiming Hedonism and pursuing pleasure can work flawlessly - it can have counter-intuitive side effects on some, but that's their problem!

In this series:
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 1: Introduction
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 2: Methods Of Evaluation
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 3: What Kind Of Pleasure?
Schools Of Hedonism - Part 4: Egoism VS Utilitarianism

Friday, September 08, 2006

Slow Coming Blogging Material

For the last couple of weeks, there has been scarce new material on this blog and I think I know why! Its the vacation! Yes, on vacations I'd be onto every lazy past time and no juices are flowing in my head.... Considering the way things are going, most of my material comes to me on my way to university: I live in amman and my university is near Irbid, a 1-hour distance, and when I am on the bus for one hour with nothing else to do but enjoying thoughts flowing through my head I get ideas... On vacations, lazy past times are more indulging...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Friends And Romantic Companions

Girl: I think the worse mistake a guy might commit is to suggest love to a female friend of his!
Me: Why?!
Girl: Many people confuse getting used to someone with loving them. Its normal that if you spend a long period of time with someone you start feeling close to them: This closeness is not love...
Me: So you are suggesting that if a guy and girl are casual friends they should never become romantic companions?!
Girl: Pretty much! Those who do so usually confuse closeness with love!
Me: I disagree... As opposed to what you suggest I guess relationships advance and morph through time! I think its almost impossible for a healthy relationship to jump right away to the love phase before a relaxed friendship phase...
Girl: That's a mess you will never want to go throught!! Friendship and romance are better not be mixed up!

As has been suggested before I am pro open relationships! Not many people understand the true meaning of being an open relationist... Generally, open relationists have a blur line between different types of relationships: That's to say open relationists don't make formal differentiation between: A friend, a romantic companion, a one-nighter, a fuck buddy, a soul-mate, a spouse, or whatever of the numerous categorizations other people make; Rather they view all those as interpersonal relationships and being such its really hard to draw any lines (not all open relationists submit to this description - but personally, I do agree to some extent)!!
Having such blur lines and with my unconventional view of relationships, I have been at times challenged with similar views as above that thrive on the distinctions between friendship and romantic companionship....

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Redefining A Planet

Some of you might have heard the news, our solar system has been formally diminished by one planet!! Its no longer a 9-planet system, but an 8-planet one... Pluto was omitted from the planets' definition! This incidence reminds us of the utmost importance of definitions as the slightest change in the wording of a definition might include or exclude stuff from the set of things that a word describes!! It can be easily noted that imprecise definition cause most of the disagreements and misunderstandings...

I always like to provide the "prime numbers" definition example: Is 1 a prime number? Short answer: NO! But why? The answer to this question comes from the definition of a prime number: A prime number is a positive integer that is divisible (integer division without remainder) by exactly two different positive integers: 1 and itself only!! Considering one, one is divisible by one and also divisible by itself... The problem is one and itself are not "different"!!

Numerous other examples can be given so let's remember: Definitions make the difference between hell and heaven!! Definitions are the ultimate references for any concrete argument... Enough said!!

Back to the planets issue: Apparently scientists made few discoveries about bodies that goes around the sun; Bodies which are comparable to Pluto in terms of size and orbit, led to a situation where either the minor bodies would be added the list of officially recognized planets, or older ones would need to be removed, in order to ensure consistency of definition. The definition for planet is now officially "a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape and (c) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit." Pluto fails to satisfy condition (c) and therefore here we are now: One less planet we have!

Sources: wikipedia, neowin.net

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blogger Infrastructural Changes

Google's Blogger service is in a transition state: A new beta blog manager is being rolled out incrementally to users of blogger into the beta program that uses Google Accounts!! To read more about the beta check here!

It is important to note that, currently Blogger and its beta are being managed as separate services which means that a beta user cannot comment on a non-beta blog as a registered account and vice versa (but obviously they still can comment anonymously)...

I have already moved into the beta program, and so the blog is in a transition state (in terms of design)... Obvious side effects include: Non-beta Blogger users need to temporarily use the commenting option for non-registered users. Another obvious side effect is the ugly template... The template used will be in flux until i can fix it back to the way it was - or better!! For technical issues, due to the fact that I am using a beta some parts may not function well: Google is promising that most technical issues will be amended in less than a couple of weeks; If Google keeps its promises then everything should be fixed in less than a couple of weeks!!

In addition, one of the best new features included with this beta are the "Labels" (or some people call them "tags")... Old posts didnt have labels and I am in a continuous process of assigning Labels to those older posts: It might take a month or two to fully assign all posts to their respective Labels!

Edit: Stroke out inaccurate information

Staind's Best Three

Staind in "Outside":
But I'm on the outside
I'm looking in
I can see through you
See your true colors
'Cause inside you're ugly
You're ugly like me

I can see through you
See to the real you (Full lyrics)


Staind in "Fray":
You wouldn't listen even if i told you
Who the fuck am i to say?
You're too busy with the lies they sold you
Another cure to fix your day
Open wide for all the shit they feed you
While the TV defecates
And blindly walk wherever they will lead you
While the edges slowly fray (Full lyrics)


Staind in "Right Here":
But you always find a way to
keep me right here waiting
You always find the words to say to
keep me right here waiting
And if you chose to walk away
I'd still be right here waiting
Searching for the things to say to
keep you right here waiting
(Full lyrics)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lebanese Civilians: The Greatest Loss Of All

Me: What's the fuss about Hizbolla having won over Israel? Is there any substantial grounds for such claims? Am I missing something here?
Dad: See Zaid, You are an A-student... What happens when you get a B? You feel underachieving... But what happens when an F-student gets a D? They celebrate their overachievement, because achievement is directly related to the expected result... Most Arabs view themselves as totally helpless, below zero you may say... So no matter how much they lose, they only see it as an overachievement!!
Me: So one can say that those who see victory are the ones who believe that they are incapable?
Dad: Well.... I guess you can! See: Hizbolla captured two Israeli soldiers and Israel has failed to retrieve them... Hizbolla takes that as a victory although the cost was thousands of Lebanese civilians: This only shows that to them those two soldiers are way more valuable than thousands of Lebanese civilians... That's the real plague!!

Uh... Finally cease fire! And the cost? Thousands of Lebanese lives.... Has Hizbolla won? Maybe, only time can tell!! Has Israel won? Considering that the 'claimed' goal of the attack was to retrieve the two soldiers, I guess they failed in that respect... I cannot tell about other goals of the attack, whether any of which was satisfied or not!!

But don't you see? We are talking Hizbolla VS Israel? But where is Lebanon? Lebanon was the battle ground... The battle ground for Hizbolla and Israel to get even!! This war has brought nothing but destruction and loss to Lebanon! Can a legitimate political party use a country as a battle ground for its operations? The way I see it, Hizbolla has put their own political agenda prior to any considerations for the country that is hosting them... Could a legitimate political party lead a country to a war without the accordance of its government and more importantly its people? Could a legitimate political party lead a country to a war that it couldn't shield against?! Hizbolla has lead Lebanon to a war that neither Lebanon nor Hizbolla have been able to shield against!!

Hizbolla might have satisfied one goal, but the best interest of Lebanon evidently has no place on Hizbolla's agenda... Hizbolla - as a political party - might have achieved something, but Lebanon had lost the most thing that matters: The lives of its own people!!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Logical Demonstration: Tautology

What is the logical value of the following statement:
If [1+1=3] Then ["m" is the first alphabetic letter]

This little mind teaser should be no challenge to anyone in the computer industry or mathmaticians, or generally anyone who has minimal knowledge in logic...

The statement is a Tautology (ie. always true). A formal proof goes like this:

Say, p: 1+1=3 , q: "m" is the first alphabetic letter
p => q
= ~p + q ; since p is a contradiction, so always ~p
= TRUE ; since always ~p


For the ones not familiar with logic operators, here is a friendly demonstration (as simple as I can put it):

Since, ( If X Then Y ) is equivalent to ( Y OR NOT X ) [see below]*
If [1+1=3] Then ["m" is the first alphabetic letter]
= ["m" is the first alphabetic letter] OR NOT [1+1 is Equal to 3]
= ["m" is the first alphabetic letter] OR [1+1 is Not Equal to 3]
= ["m" is the first alphabetic letter] OR TRUE
= TRUE [see below]**


* Consider this statement: If [You Study] Then [You Pass]... This statement holds in three conditions: 1- You Study AND Pass, OR 2- You dont Study AND Fail, OR 3- You dont Study AND Pass.... So from {1,3} the statement holds when you Pass (whether you study or not), OR from {2,3} it holds when you dont study (wether you pass or not)! So the statement is equivalent to: [You Pass] OR [You don't Study]! So ( If X Then Y ) is equivalent to ( Y OR NOT X ) as required!!

** Consider this statement: [Your Pen's Color is Blue] OR [Sunday follows Saturday]... The second part of the statement (ie. Sunday follows Saturday) is always true, so the statement is always true regardless wether the Pen's Color is Blue or not... So, ( [Any Statement] OR [True Statement] ) is necessarily True!!

So, any conclusion based on an always false condition is necessarily true!! So when someone tells you: "If now I had a million dollars, I will unrelectantly give them all to you!!" dare not call him a liar, cuz no matter how cynical this statement might seem - This person is no liar, he is speaking an undeniable truth!!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Could Error Be The Rightest Option?

Merovingian: I have told you before, there's no escaping the nature of the universe. It is that nature that has again brought you to me. Where some see coincidence, I see consequence. Where others see chance, I see cost. (source)

I simply dont believe in chance: I believe in premeditation! Even the most -seemingly- random events are caused by a reason, and the reason for a new cause!! Similarly, I dont believe in error either (ie. error yielding correct results)...

Could we justifiably call a premeditated error an error? Is the question even consistent? Does this question even make sense?... You might be wondering why I am talking of such absurdities, here is the thing: I had quite a disagreement with my Electronics teacher, functionally speaking (and actually on every account I took into consideration): I was right... I had the correct answer and nobody can even argue about that!! Nonetheless the teacher decided (mystically) to give a zero mark for that part of the question... The issue was that during an intermediate step, i commited a small inconsistency... An error if you want to call it - The only problem was: It has been a premeditated error... I actually committed two errors, but magically (magically from the teacher's point of view, NOT mine) the two errors cancelled out to give the correct result...

The thing is, I knew where i committed the error, and I planned my correction scheme, and this was PROVED by the correct final answer!

If you were a teacher, do you think such (unconventional) method of solution should get Full credit? Partial credit? Or a Zero?! What do you think?!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Right To Marriage

How would you feel if you had to ask 260 million people for the right to marry? - Check this small video....

PS: Alternative link here

Hint: The video addresses same-sex marriages

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Dream Example: Domain-Specific Knowledge

Skepticism for long has been accused to suggest that knowledge is unattainable; While this might seem like a reasonable conclusion, it isn't particularly so.... Denying knowledge is equivalent to denying all rationality, which isnt particularly the purpose Skepticism is aiming at.... On the other hand, Skepticism thrives to enlighten our rational choices by admitting the limits of our knowledge and perception of the world: Which is what is about to be presented.

To help better understand the arguments, lets consider the dream example: PersonX dreams of having been to Italy. Now, If they say: "Yesterday, In my dream, I was in Italy", they are justified! But if they say: "Yesterday, I went to Italy", then they are not justified!! This simple scenario illustrates how the domain affects the accuracy of claims.

Now, lets say that PersonX claims that: "Yesterday, In my dream, I went to France", this is a false claim just as much as "Yesterday, I went to Italy" is... So although dreams are merely non-actual worlds truth values still holds at least within that domain... Somehow, things that never actually happened are like facts in the realm of fantasy!

Within scenarios like the Matrix it becomes necessary to make a distinction between the realm of our consciousness (the "Common World") and the "Actual World"... This means, while we may have absolutely no knowledge at all about the Actual World, we still have functionally useful knowledge about the Common World - the world that our senses percieve!!....

The relation of the Dream World to our Common World is similar to the relation of the Common World to the Actual World!! Practically, the Actual World may have no real significance as opposed to the Common World; The argument here, assuming your current consciousness leads you to believe that you are pursuing GoalX, then you will want to fulfill this goal regardless of wether your consciousness is within the Dream World, Common World, or the Actual World... In all cases you fulfill the goal according to the "physics" of the world your consciousness lives within!!

PS: Inspired by this entry [recommended-read]

Transsexuals And Gender Stereotypes

What drives a person to change their gender? This could be a mysterious question to ponder, and to search one's inner thoughts and feelings towards sex and genders.... Many people at one point or another fantasize about being part of the other sex, but what makes such fantasy so strong that one has to undergo a sex reassignment operation?

A classical scenario would go like: "I feel like a man trapped in a woman's body?" - Many people reason that they dont look on the outside that way they feel on the inside.... How far could this argument go? Could we really say that there is a direct relation between how one looks and what they are on the inside? Could one actually modify themselves to look superficially the same way they feel inside their own heads?

The way i see it, such claims emphasize stereotyped correlations that societies form through ruthless and unsubstantiated prejudice... Lets look at the claim again: "I feel like a man trapped in a woman's body?" - How exactly does a man feel? What a woman is not supposed to feel? How do you know that you are not from one gender but the other? Such claims assumes a clear line between whats masculine and whats feminine.... Could such segregation be unprejudiced and not stereotyped? My point is, while some think that transsexualism eliminates grounds for gender stereotypes I think in one way or another it's serving making the distinction more profound....

Gender transformation could be justified and motivated diversely among many people, but I wandered around one of the largely used arguments in that field and showed my discontent for the kind of reasoning behind it... This is not to claim that all of the justifications are necessarily flawed - and obviously the transformation remains a personal judgment call!!

PS: Partly inspired by South Park S9-Ep01

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Is Science Justified?

Following the tracks of radical Skepticism one has to wonder if science or anyother empirical line of thought can be justifiable within that philosophical stance... Many (including philosophers) have accused Skepticism to be in contradiction with Rationalism, the greatest concern was that Skepticism suggests that knowledge is unattainable - which is a false accusation (as demonstrated in this post)!!

The argument goes like this: Skepticism implies that perception is an unreliable source for information, that all information collected through perception is deteriorated and misleading to the truth of things... Skepticism holds that one cannot be certain of anything, and that empirical observation doesn't lead to factualness... Skepticism also holds the position that all scientific observations might have systematic errors and that all science is prone to error, no matter how solid it might seem (consider how Einstein redefined Newtonian physics)....

Most of these arguments are more or less true, BUT NOT the conclusion: Some have concluded that if Skepticism was true then all science has to be abandoned, and no-one would ever be justified to seek knowledge... I object to anyone who claims that Skepticism advocates abandoning science or rationality!

I think the Newtonian physics example is a good one: We all know that ( Force = Mass * Acceleration ), this formula was constructed by Newton, and proved to be wrong by Einstein! This is an example of scientific fallibilism which demonstrates that even scientific propositions cannot be held as certain... But lets consider the functional view: This formula has been a great assist in numerous sciences and inventions including but not limited to sky rockets, cars, projectiles,...etc. So at the functional level, although this formula has NOT been absolutely true it has made our life easier and got us to technological advances that would have been otherwise unattainable!!

So while Skepticism questions the factualness of science and empirical observation, it does NOT imply that they are not justified based on functional and practical grounds... Therefore it is justified and need not be abandoned - because its serving its purpose!

Literally SHIT: Challenge Your Stomach

Disclaimer: Repulsive Content

Coprophilia is the paraphilia involving sexual pleasure through human feces, or rather to its excretion.

Coprophilia is the attraction to the smell, taste or sight of the act of defecation as a primary means of sexual arousal and gratification. Erotic fulfilment with excrement may be practiced alone or with a sexual partner. A common slang term for this is "scat sex", other less common ones may exist.

Some coprophiliacs engage in coprophagia, the eating of feces. (source)

Coprophilia -commonly known as "scat"- is truely a stomach challenge, for those who think they are not easily disgusted I suggest you take a look at some coprophilia, and if you'r still not convinced try to download a small clip!!!

Check out those screenshots:
Start easy: Classy Dinner - Yet another Dinner - Playing with Dirt - Brownies
More disgusting: Swallowing Included - Yummy - Yummy2

In case you are not challenged yet try to download an actual scat movie (puretna.com has plenty)... If you werent moved then immediately visit the nearest asylum demanding your "steel stomach" certificate!!

I think those people take Korn's words in "Make me bad" way too literally:
I need to feel the sickness in you (Full lyrics)


PS: Repulsive material included
PS: Some links contain explicit and repulsive photographic content