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.

  • 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