Some musings on Free Will.

C.S. Lews supposedly said "You ARE a Soul you HAVE a body." Basically this suggests that the soul is the important bit and the body, while nice, doesn't matter overly much in the long run. It is going to be worm food anyway. I have always liked this as a notion of free will. Biology only determines so much, your soul decides what type of person you will be.

As I have listen more to various NPR stories and read a few things on the subject, I am becomming less and less convinced. Studies regarding sexuality, addiction, risk taking, etcetera all suggest a STRONG biological component. This suggests more and more that we aren't so much making decisions as we are playing to our programming.

I am a big fan of free will. The notions that our actions are little more than biological programming really upsets me. But then that may be my biological programming talking.

I once had a long talk with some Rationalist/Athiests about this topic. I suggested that a prt of me LIKED the idea of magic actually existing, because I liked the idea that sometimes "things just happen" without explanation. It makes free will all the more likely. I asked 'do you believe that it is possible to make a computer that will determine all actions of the past and all actions that will be based on mathematical precision? I was the only one who said that I thought it would be a BAD thing if this were true. Both of my Rationalist friends said that while the technology doesn't currently exist, and may never reach that point, they beleived that it was theoretically possible to do so.

So what do people think? How much free will can we be said to have?
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Flames... Burning on the side of my face...

Why is it, that almost invariably when I tell someone that what they are doing is wrong or illegal, their response is to tell me either "Some other place says I can do this" or "This is the way we've done it hundreds of time."

I didn't ask either of those questions. I made a legal statement as to the correctness or incorrectness of your actions. The fact that someone else may let you get away with it, or that you may have performed an illegal act hundreds of times before and not gotten caught, in no way makes your actions legal!

Next time I get pulled over for speeding, I am going to use this defense: Officer, I regularly drive 80 Miles an Hour on the interstate. I've done it hundreds of times. You can't give me a ticket.

Yeah... that will work.
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In Memoriam Jasmine Maurer (Family Pet)

My wife always says before giving bad news, always say whats ok. When I called swiftwind23 to tell him I wouldn't be at dinner and poker because Jasmine had a seizure, apparently I was not clear as to whom Jasmine was and he was worried that a human being had had a seizure and maybe that twelveoaks had. So. I include in the In Memoriam that Jasmine is a dog and not a sister or something.

When Cosmo was about 6 or so, she really wanted a dog. Mongasika was only 2 and so she wasn't quite as vehemant, but anything her sister wanted, she wanted as well. It was all we heard for a while. Dog dog dog. My wife and I put her off for a good while, explaining she needed to be older, that she would not want to take care of a dog, etc. The clinching point was when a neighbor up the street had puppies and was giving them away for free. We had visions of Cosmo coming home, having convinced the family that we agreed to take one. We knew we had to act fast.

tha_monsta's wife worked with an animal shelter. We asked her for an older dog.We didn't want to have to teach it potty training. We didn't want it chewing up our furniture. We didn't want it running around and tearing up the house. We ended up with Jasmine. She was about 8 years old when we got her. Well into doggy middle age. She was a sedate grand lady. Her only real bad habit was that if you left food unsupervised, she would eat it. Apparently she was a street dog and her scavanger skills were honed to a fine art. She could get food from the table, she could probably eventually get food off the kitchen counter.

She had other problems as well. She somehow managed to stink no matter how many baths we gave her. Her farts were truly things of legend. She had a bit of a limp in her hind leg, the vet thinks it was an incident with a car that never fully healed. Her head had a bony ridge that was the result of malnutrition over a long period of time. Even when she was new to us, she developed the nick name "Litch Dog." But she put up with everything with stoic good humor. Even when we got the cats, she would occasionally bark at them and chase them to show her dominance then go back to sleeping in her bean bag chair. Life went on like that for about 4-5 years

Over the past year or so, things started sliding downhill for her. She started losing weight. She had a week or so of really bad vertigo where we were all sure we were going to lose her. She could barely walk. She threw up everything she ate. It was pitiful. Back in December the vet said that she was becoming dangerously unhealthy weight wise, and that her heart murmur made it almost impossible to put her under and run any tests that might hellp us hep her. In any event she was already around 14 years old and that was pretty old for a dog her size. She started having trouble with incontinence which was quite the treat I tell you. I probably cleaned up dog mess ona weekly basis. So I was sure that despite losing weight, she was eating! Often my wife or I would carry her up the stairs so she could sleep in our room.

Last night, just before we left to go to our weekly Wild Wing dinner and poker event, she had a massive seizure right in the middle of the lviing room. She thrashed. her teeth chattered and her entire body was stiff as a board. It lasted about five minutes. After that she was calm but still rigid and still had trouble moving at all. We called the vet and took her in. The vet told us that the likely reason for the seizure was a brain tumor. And that the brain tumor would also explain the incontinence and the loss of weight. He said that in order to help her we would have to spend several thousand dollars in diagnostic tests. And that the results of those tests would likely be fatal whatever they were. The best we could really do was determine her condition and medicate that condition for the remainder of her life, which would likely be short and filled with seizures. Fairly quickly we agreed that the best option was Euthenasia.

loresinger brought the kids to say good bye. Jasmine was fairly heavily sedated so she would not have any more seizures. They got to cry and pet Jasmine as much as they wanted. Mongasika had made a little picture of a heart with Jasmine inside of it and wrote Jasmine's name at the bottom. We all cried ad reminised about good Jasmine stories. I pointed out that she got a last meal. That she ate some pizza that the Mines Kids left out on the coffee table. The girls went and sat in the lobby with loresinger while twelveoaks and I watched the doctor Euthanize our dog. It only took a few minutes before Jasmine was gone. The vet made an impression of her paw to take with us. The medium was sculpy. We were given instructions on how to properly bake sculpy and laughed a bit about the irony.

This weekend we will probably buy a bush and plant it in the yard. We will put Jasmine's sculpy paw print under it. It is interesting. When I saw my dad's body back in 1996, I lost my faith for about a year. I said that there was obviously no god, that my dad was gone, and that there was no afterlife to look forward to. Ultimately I did come back to my faith and have remained strong in it, if not my religion. This time, when Jasmine died, I did feel a sense of peace. I was reminded of the statement made, I think it was by DeLenn in Babylon five that said "The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are star-stuff. We are the Universe, made manifest, trying to figure itself out" I really felt that when I said good bye to Jasmine. We are all the same thing. We are all star-stuff. And that Jasmine is still part of us.
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A Weekend of Rift

So thanks to a friend I got to try Rift for a weekend. Since I have a number of gamers on my LJ I thought I'd give my impressions.

MMO Geekery within.Collapse )

If I had to chose now between the two, I would pick Rift, but it is not so much better that I would leave my friends over it. In addition, I still need to know how Instancing, PVP and endgame plays out.
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Congratulations Jorge and Amy!

In an effort to raise international awareness of the Tsunami and Earthquake, Japanese Gameshows are hosting "International Week" and flying citizens from 21 countries to Japan for a week of tourism, visiting disaster sites, and of course, playing their games. Atlanta's own Jorge Diaz was chosen out of thousands of American Applicants, and you can't guess which Game Show he'll be participating in....

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Too Much Internet before bed time.. Or too many Japaneese game shows

So I dreamed last night that I was on some sort of game show. At just below waist level there were a number of carboard tiles. The tiles had prizes listed on them, mostly cash prizes as I recall. The purpose of the game was to ejaculate on as many tiles as you could in 1/2 an hour. I remember thinking "I might be able to go twice, but thats really asking a lot." And then I woke up and thought "WTF was that?"

Just thought I'd share.
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Two Stories from NPR

It saddens me greatly that NPR is under attack again. They are really such a wonderful resource. The breadth and depth of their stories are far greater than any other american news outlet that I am aware of. In addition they have personal interest stories that go well beyond "Missing White Girl" or "The Drug Antics of Charlie Sheen." I listen to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" regularly and I get a bit of information from it, albeit with a humorous spin. I also regularly listen to Fresh Air which is often topical but not directly news. On the way to work I listened to two stories that struck me as completely facinating.

The first story was about "Hela Cells." A woman Named Henrietta Lacks went to Hopkins Hospital around 1950 for cervical cancer. The doctor took samples of her cancerous cells and her healthy cells. The healthy cells died off but the cancer cells grew like mad. Cultures of Hela Cells were sent to all sorts of labs for experiments and medical research. They were instrumental in the breakthroughs on the Polio Vaccine, research into cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and many other scientific pursuits. There are over 60,000 scientific articles that rely on Hela Cells for their work. Hela Cells are listed as an "immortal" cell line and in fact they apparently are so prolific that they get into a lot of other cell lines and corrupt them because the Hela Cells grow so quickly.

I thought there has to be some sort of gaming application for this process. The NPR article discussed that her family considers Henrietta herself immortal and that she was made immortal so that she could cure diseases. I thought a "Church of Henrietta Lacks" would make a great organization! The immortal body of Henrietta Lacks is immense. More than **50,000,000 METRIC TONS** of Henrietta Lacks has been created. Her body could be wrapped aroudn the earth 3 times! This is a being that makes Akira or even Cthulhu look like a guppy! She is born of cancer and yet cures diseases. The Lacks family believes also that the corruption of other cell lines by Hela Cells is a sign of her wrath for the misuse of her cells and the ill treatment of her decendants (many of whom live in abject poverty while multi-billion dollar corporations exist because of the research on Hela Cells). If i ever run my Nobilis campaign, somehow there is goign to be a Cult of Henrietta.

The second story was about a brilliant chef who made all sorts of avant garde foods. Apparently many of his meals were 30+ courses of bite sized foods. One such dish included a cube geletanized Brandy and a cube of geletanized sweet potato stuck like a dumbell between a cinnimon stick and lit on fire! Unfortunately this chef contracted tongue cancer and lost his sense of taste. I was wondering where I had heard about this, when it hit me. This was a Sketch in "That Mitchell and Webb Look." The chef made a robot to taste for him. It did a terrible job. Hillarity ensued. Anyone who has not see "That Mitchell and Webb Look" should give it a shot. The first three seasons are available on Netflix Streaming. Multiple skits are available on Youtube. In fact. I will leave you with the Chef Skit here. If you don't like it, double your money back!

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Convincing John

False Equvilancies abound!

I've been thinking about the shooting in Arizona a bit. From what I saw, the shooter gave the left little real ammo to use, although that didn't stop a lot of people. If anything, I actually agreed with James Carville who said "this isn't an issue about talk show hosts, it should be about gun control" more or less. Naturally the NRA has been screaming 'they want to take our guns' at the top of their lungs on the matter.

So, do I blame talk radio for the shooting in Arizona? Absolutely not. This guy was obviously a mental case who had tons of problems. Listening to or not listening to the Right Wing Noise Machine wass not going to affect his delusions very much. He may be a case for preventing mentally disabled people from owning weapons, but that is going to be a very thorny issue. I've been to a psychiatrist and proscribed medication for anxiety in the past (mostly when the firm was falling down around my head) so am I ineligable to own a handgun?

Anyway, the usual response from the Right to the left's allegations of hate speach was not to say 'this shooting had nothing to do with hate speach' and respond with 'The left also engages in hate speach.' This response is disingenous. While there are relatively common events of individuals spouting off (Like Rep. Steve Cohen likening Republicans to Klansmen and Nazis), they tend not to be embraced by the Left in General. No one ever apologized to Keith Olbermann for daring to criticise him. Sure the left has Cynthia McKinney but she's seen even by her own party as kind of a nutjob (who managed to lose her congressional seat TWICE in the last decade). The right on the other hand has seriously hateful speach coming out of presidential contenders (Palin, Gingrich) and they seem to have almost unlimited air time on FOX who will give them a platform any time they wish it.

Now. I will admit that I listen to Overtime with Bill Maher. I certainly don't quote him to score political points, as some people do with Limbaugh. He also doesn't seem near as over the top as Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh. I mean look at the recent Chineese kerfuffle Limbaugh got into. It was truly tasteless. I never listened to Keith Olbermann. I don't know if he is in the league with the big three I mentioned on the right.

But basically 'both sides do it' is like one guy using a spitgun and the other guy using an uzi. And that frustrates me.
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Things I learned playing Solitare

If you play long enough... YOU WIN. I refer mostly to economics/employment stuff, butI refer mostly to economics/employment stuff, but it does count in other places as well. I've been winning most of the other games so long I can't really remember losing.

I think thats something I need to keep in mind for the next 30 years or so. I was certainly winning from about 2000-2006 in the whole employment game. I was secure. Business was coming in. I was making more money than I ever expected to (even before I left Ron's Office). I hit the skids bad in 2006-current but when you look at it, I'm still paying all my bills. I haven't had to default on anything. I haven't had to declare bankrupcty. I haven't had to move back in with my parents (or twelveoaks's parents more likely). So its hard to say I am still not "winning" I am just not as ahead as I used to be.

Thats where the anxiety stuff really eats away at me. I tend to look at any downward trend as something that will continue and that if I am -100 now, I will be -1000 in the future. But thats just not the way life works. If you play long enough.. you win. If you go bankrupt and default on everythign and live with your parents. The next job may pull you out of all of that. I actually know lots of people that went through just that. Rush Limbaugh failed at several businesses before he started his media empire. George W. Bush ran everything into the ground and he's still making a decent pension ($191,300 give or take) and free secret service protectionfor 10 years (and free healthcare!). Now I am not expecting to be the next Limbaugh or Bush (for which about 70% of my readers will be greatful) but after you hit bottom there is no where to go but up.

And like I said, I think this theory works in other places. Terrible divorce/horrible romance? If you play long enough... YOU WIN! Lots of people don't get married until their 40s and then live happily ever after. I had a friend who had cystic fibrosis. His parents said he wouldn't survive to his teens. He was told as a teenager he wouldn't see 20. I think he made it to just about 30. Every day was a win for him.

So you may lose a hand. When you play solitare, you lose most of them.. Just shuffle the deck and give it another whirl. If you play long enough... YOU WIN.
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Attitude vs. Reality

So I have been kinda stressy and anxious for the past month or so. I suspect a lot of it has to do with the season. But a lot of it seems to be comming out of nowhere. That always frustrates me.

I've posted before about would I rather be a content idiot living in a trailer park and watching mindless reality shows or would I rather be discontent but more active and involved in life and self descovery. Pretty much every time I pick the latter, but when I start to worry to much, I wonder how much IQ and Ambition I would give up to just not worry anymore. You get to the whole "Perhaps if I were just committed and lived my life in a bathrobe being fed my meds, I would have a rather content life."

Naturally as much of a control freak as I am, this would be a special type of hell, but when I get upset and nervous, I sometimes think about it.

Thoughts about Reality/HappinessCollapse )
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